Repairs needed, school system considers three options for Preschool

Oak Ridge Preschool and School Administration Building

The Oak Ridge Board of Education will consider three options for the Oak Ridge Schools Preschool on New York Avenue during a Monday night meeting. The building—which has lead paint that needs to be repaired, replaced, and painted, among other things—has to be renovated or vacated for the Head Start program to receive funding in the 2015-2016 school year.


It’s 70 years old and in need of repairs. Federal officials want it renovated or vacated by next year in order for the school system to continue to receive Head Start funding.

So, on Monday, the Oak Ridge Board of Education will consider what to do about the Oak Ridge Preschool, a building on New York Avenue that’s been on the repair wish list for years.

The school board will consider three options:

  • stay in the building and renovate it;
  • move the Preschool and its roughly 200 students to a different site, possibly by leasing space;
  • move the Preschool classes and split them up among the elementary schools.

There is one option that is not on the table, school officials said Thursday.

“We have no intention…of shutting down the Preschool in any form or fashion,” said Chris Marczak, Oak Ridge Schools assistant superintendent. [Read more...]


NNSA achieves 50 percent production for W76-1 units

Frank Klotz

Frank Klotz

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The National Nuclear Security Administration said last week that it had reached the halfway point in the production phase of the W76-1 warhead Life Extension Program, or LEP. An event held at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas, underscored NNSA’s commitment to meeting the U.S. Navy’s requirements for the W76-1.

Gen. Frank G. Klotz, U.S. Department of Energy under secretary for nuclear security and NNSA administrator, was on hand to personally thank the men and women of Pantex who helped achieve the production milestone.

“The W76-1 Life Extension Program is one of several steps we must take as a nation to ensure that America’s smaller nuclear arsenal remains safe, secure, and effective,” Klotz said. “The highly skilled Pantex team will continue to play an indispensable role in protecting the security of the United States, as well as our allies and partners, for many years to come. For that reason, it’s imperative that we continue to invest in the people and in the infrastructure needed to carry out that important, enduring task.” [Read more...]


Roane State’s Fain sets record for female living underwater

Jessica Fain

Jessica Fain

As Roane State Community College educators Jessica Fain and Bruce Cantrell pursue a world record for longest time spent living underwater, Fain has already made her mark.

Cantrell, a biology professor, and Fain, an adjunct professor, are living and working in an underwater habitat—Jules’ Undersea Lodge on Key Largo in the Florida Keys—for 73 days.

Cantrell, an expert in the history of underwater habitats, noted that Fain has set the record for a female living underwater. The previous mark was 14 days, set in 1970 by renowned scientist Sylvia Earle and her team during their stay in the Tektite habitat. The Tektite program was the first nationally sponsored effort to place scientists in the sea to live.

As of Saturday, October 18, Fain and Cantrell had lived continuously underwater for 15 days. [Read more...]

ORNL technology transfer continues strong upward trend

Mike Paulus Technology Transfer

Mike Paulus, director of Technology Transfer, says initiatives like SPARK! have been effective at connecting entrepreneurs, investors, and industry experts with ORNL technologies and capabilities. (Submitted photo)


New methods are improving connections between private businesses and technology from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, with 101 licenses and options executed during the last three years.

Mike Paulus, director of Technology Transfer, attributes the growth in large part to the Technology Innovation Program, Bridging the Gap, and SPARK! These programs helped the lab double the number of licenses for the fiscal years 2012-2014 compared to 2009-2011, and Paulus expects a new initiative, the Invention to Innovation Webinar Series, to help maintain the upward trend.

“We have a talented staff that has worked very hard to identify, develop, and market high-potential technologies that provide the best opportunities to licensees,” Paulus said. “Our two-pronged approach focuses on increasing the overall deal volume while at the same time concentrating on our most promising technologies.” [Read more...]

Follow-up: ORPD investigating suspicious ATM device that could be card ‘skimmer’

Oak Ridge Police Department Logo

A suspicious device found on an ATM machine on Sunday could be a “skimmer,” and detectives are working with bank officials to determine if any debit or credit cards were compromised, the Oak Ridge Police Department said Wednesday.

A customer found the suspicious device on Sunday at the SunTrust Bank at 1188 Oak Ridge Turnpike, the ORPD said in a press release.

Police think it was a debit or credit card “skimmer.” A “skimmer” is a small device that is usually placed over the card slot of ATMs and gas pumps to steal debit/credit card information. “Skimmers” are sometimes accompanied by small cameras or keypad covers to steal PIN numbers associated with the cards. [Read more...]

Council approves $1 million contract for Jackson Square parking lot project

Jackson Square Plaza Improvements Map

Note: This story was updated at 11:35 a.m. Oct. 29.

The Oak Ridge City Council on Monday awarded a $1 million contract for a project funded with help from a state grant to rebuild the Jackson Square parking lot area.

The contract was awarded to Rich Construction Inc. of Lenoir City. Oak Ridge officials will have a pre-construction conference in 10 days, and they are hopeful that work will start in late November, City Manager Mark Watson said.

He said the project could take 180 days, or about six months. That means it would be done before the Lavender Festival in 2015.

The work will include a landscaped pedestrian plaza with parking, an interactive fountain, stone pavers, curbing, asphalt paving, utilities, benches, sidewalks, and upgrades under the American with Disabilities Act. There will a slight increase in the number of parking spaces. [Read more...]

ORPD investigating auto burglaries, offers prevention tips

Oak Ridge Police Department Logo

The Oak Ridge Police Department is investigating a series of motor vehicle burglaries that have occurred throughout the city since August, and authorities are warning residents that vehicle break-ins increase during the holiday season, from late October to the new year.

The ORPD said there have been more than 25 reported auto burglaries from August through last week.

“The common thread is unattended vehicles left in fairly secluded parking lots, (with the) majority occurring around parks along Melton Lake Drive (and) Edgemoor Road,” the ORPD said last week. “The most current location is along Outer Drive. Time of day for each of the burglaries has varied, ranging from broad daylight, dusk, and dark. Items stolen from vehicles appear to have been in plain view.”

The most-stolen items include purses, cell phones, iPads and tablets, laptop computers, GPS units, other electronic items, and cash. [Read more...]

ACSD investigating reported robbery

Information from WYSH Radio

An Anderson County man reported that he was robbed by two men early Saturday morning.

According to the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, Eric Davis was returning to his Dutch Valley Road home after work at around 6 a.m. Saturday when he said he spotted a man bent over in the gravel driveway leading to his house. When he stopped, a second man allegedly grabbed him, assaulted him, and put him in a headlock while the second bandit stole his wallet, which contained about $600.

Davis said both men had something covering their heads and was unable to give a physical description of his assailants, but the ACSD report indicates he followed the suspects’ getaway vehicle long enough to get the tag number, which he provided to investigators.

Davis was not seriously injured in the incident.

No one injured in apartment kitchen fire

Wakefield Road Apartment Fire

No one was injured in a kitchen fire on Monday evening at an apartment complex on Wakefield Road. The fire was reported at about 5:48 p.m. Monday in the apartment at 103D Wakefield Road, which is on the far right of the building pictured above.


No one was injured in a kitchen fire on Monday evening in an apartment on Wakefield Road.

The fire was reported at 5:48 p.m. Monday, Oak Ridge Assistant Fire Chief Josh Waldo said. No one was home at the time.

Waldo said firefighters are still trying to determine the cause, but the small fire might have started on the stove. It destroyed the stove and damaged a few cabinets, but was confined to the kitchen and caused minimal smoke damage, Waldo said. He estimated the total damage at about $2,500. [Read more...]

Despite championship loss, coaches tell Rams to ‘hold your head high’

Chris Jackson of Robertsville Rams Makes CAK Tackle

Chris Jackson (7) of the Robertsville Middle School Rams makes a tackle against the CAK Warriors during a TVAC Championship game at Blankenship Field on Thursday. (Photos by Luther Simmons)


RMS Ram Football Coach James Branson

Robertsville Middle School Rams head coach James Branson with the TVAC Middle School Runner Up trophy.

It was a painful loss, a tearful way to end the season.

But the Robertsville Middle School Rams coaching staff tried to console their football team after a 20-16 championship loss to the CAK Warriors at Blankenship Field on Thursday night.

If you put everything you had into the game, the coaches said, then “hold your head high.”

The Rams finished the year with a 6-2 record. They lost one game in the regular season to Rhea County, and they beat CAK 14-8 during the regular season, said first-year head coach James Branson.

“This whole season, I don’t think there was a lot expected of them,” Branson said. “They compete. They came ready to play. [Read more...]

Animal Shelter reopens Tuesday; changes made after distemper outbreak

Oak Ridge Animal Shelter

The Oak Ridge Animal Shelter on Belgrade Road is pictured above.

Changes have been made, and the Oak Ridge Animal Shelter will reopen Tuesday after a temporary closure last week following the second distemper outbreak this year, city officials said.

The shelter staff will show reporters the changes that have been made to protect animals during an 8:30 a.m. Tuesday tour, and the shelter will open to the public at 11 a.m.

The Oak Ridge Animal Shelter is located at 395 Belgrade Road.

City officials said last week that 51 animals were euthanized because of this month’s distemper outbreak, and the shelter was temporarily closed after canine distemper tests came back positive. All dogs that tested positive were euthanized to prevent the disease from spreading. [Read more...]