Haslam, SL Tennessee to make economic development announcement Friday

Governor Bill Haslam

Bill Haslam

Gov. Bill Haslam and executives from SL Tennessee will make a significant economic development announcement in Clinton on Friday, a press release said.

The ceremony starts at 10:15 a.m. Friday at SL Tennessee at 311 Frank L. Diggs Drive.

Others expected to attend include U.S. senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker; Rep. Chuck Fleischmann; Y.K. Woo, SL America president; Scott Laska, SL Tennessee business development manager; Clinton Mayor Scott Burton; Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank; and other local elected officials.

Volkswagen to expand auto plant in Chattanooga, build new SUV

Volkswagen will expand its automotive plant in Chattanooga, the company’s only U.S. manufacturing facility, and build a new midsize SUV for the American market.

Volkswagen’s total global investment for the expansion will be $900 million, and $600 million of that will be invested in Tennessee. The company expects to create 2,000 jobs in Hamilton County.

The announcement was made by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Volkswagen Group of America officials in a Monday morning press release. [Read more...]

Lake City is now Rocky Top, Tennessee

Lake City to Rocky Top Vote

The Lake City Council on Thursday agreed to change the town’s name to Rocky Top as part of an effort to attract a multi-million dollar development that could include a water park, interactive theater with children’s museum, and coal miners music theater, among other things.

 

Note: This story was last updated at 1:10 p.m. June 28.

LAKE CITY—Lake City is now Rocky Top, Tennessee.

For most people, Rocky Top has been, until now, the name of a bluegrass song that is wildly popular in East Tennessee and the unofficial anthem of the University of Tennessee Volunteers. Hikers might know it as a sub-peak of Thunderhead Mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains. And shoppers might recognize it as the name of a bookstore, or gas station, or wine trail, or one of many other businesses registered in Tennessee.

But officials and business leaders here have worked for months to make their town to first to use it in a city name.

The idea is to use the name change to spur developments along Interstate 75 that could be worth up to $237 million. Proposed projects include an indoor and outdoor water park, interactive theater with a children’s museum, a coal miners music theater, and laser tag, among other things. Officials have said those developments—which have also included other options such as a hotel, restaurant, and candy company—won’t happen without the name change.

Residents hope the change and subsequent developments will create jobs, add sales tax revenues, and provide a vital economic boost to this depressed town of 1,800 people in northern Anderson County. [Read more...]

U.S. judge denies request to stop Lake City’s name change to Rocky Top

Tim Isbel at Hearing on Lake City Name Change to Rocky Top

Tim Isbel, president of the Rocky Top Marketing and Manufacturing Co., at a federal court hearing in May on Lake City’s proposed name change to Rocky Top.

A federal judge on Wednesday denied for now a request to stop Lake City from changing its name to Rocky Top.

The preliminary injunction had been requested by House of Bryant Publications LLC, the Gatlinburg publisher of “Rocky Top,” a well-known bluegrass song closely identified with the University of Tennessee and its Volunteers athletics program.

The Lake City Council could reconsider the name change as early as June. The council endorsed the name change in November, and it was approved by the Tennessee General Assembly this year in a bill that has already been signed by Gov. Bill Haslam. Anderson County Commissioner Tim Isbel has said Lake City could become Rocky Top on July 3 under the new state law.

Isbel is president of Rocky Top Tennessee Marketing and Manufacturing Co. That company has proposed a development that could be worth up to $450 million over six years and include an indoor and outdoor water park, coal miners theater, children’s museum, train rides, restaurant, and a candy company on some 300 acres near two exits off Interstate 75. Officials have said it could bring 200 new jobs to Lake City and generate another $6 million in sales tax per year. But the project hinges on the name change. [Read more...]

EMS luncheon to honor crews, give awards, name scholarship winner

Anderson County Emergency Services Logo

Anderson County EMS and UT Lifestar are having their annual EMS Week luncheon on Tuesday, May 20. The event is from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., and it is open to the public.

“We will be honoring our crews and also giving out our EMT-IV, paramedic, and officer of the year awards,” a press release said. “We have received certificates of appreciation from Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam for some crew members involved on a call earlier this year. Plus, we will be announcing our first-ever recipient of the Next Steps Scholarship.”

The luncheon will be at the EMS main garage complex at 314 Public Safety Lane in Clinton. Call Anderson County EMS at (865) 457-8609 for more information. Lunch will be provided for attendees. The event is meant to thank Anderson County emergency providers for the work they do each day, a flyer said. [Read more...]

Oak Ridge receives $3 million state wastewater loan

City of Oak Ridge Seal

Tennessee awards more than $8.2 million in low-interest water, wastewater construction loans

NASHVILLE—Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau on Tuesday announced that one community and one utility district have been approved to receive more than $8.2 million in low-interest loans for water and wastewater infrastructure improvements.

Oak Ridge received a $3 million state wastewater loan.

“It’s great to see local governments using this important program to help address critical drinking water and wastewater needs,” Haslam said in a press release. “Making these infrastructure improvements will benefit the health of these communities and economic growth.” [Read more...]

Lake City’s name change to Rocky Top on hold for now

Tim Isbel at Hearing on Lake City Name Change to Rocky Top

Tim Isbel, president of the Rocky Top Marketing and Manufacturing Co., at a federal court hearing on Monday on Lake City’s proposed name change to Rocky Top.

Note: this story was updated at 2:52 a.m.

KNOXVILLE—Lake City’s proposed name change to Rocky Top is on hold for now as a federal judge considers a request to stop the move.

The name change has been proposed as part of an expensive plan to convert the former coal mining town in northern Anderson County into a tourist destination. But it has been challenged by the publisher of “Rocky Top,” a well-known bluegrass song and unofficial University of Tennessee anthem.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has signed a bill that allows the name change, but the proposal has not yet gone back to the Lake City Council for final approval. Under the state law, Lake City could become Rocky Top on July 3, said Tim Isbel, an Anderson County Commissioner and president of Rocky Top Tennessee Marketing and Manufacturing Co.

That company has proposed a development that could be worth up to $450 million over six years and include an indoor and outdoor water park, coal miners theater, children’s museum, train rides, restaurant, and candy company on some 300 acres near two exits off Interstate 75. During a hearing in U.S. District Court in Knoxville on Monday, officials said it could bring 200 new jobs to Lake City and generate another $6 million in sales tax per year. But the project hinges on the name change. [Read more...]

Anderson County receives $64,600 in funding to reduce tobacco use

Tennessee Commissioner and Anti-Tobacco at Anderson County Health Department

Anderson County has received almost $65,000 in funds to support initiatives that reduce tobacco use. Local officials recently received the check from Tennessee Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner. (Photo Courtesy of Anderson County Health Department)

CLINTON—Tennessee Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner visited the Anderson County Health Department on Friday to present $64,600 in funding as part of the Tennessee Tobacco Settlement Program.

Dreyzehner was in East Tennessee last week to present tobacco settlement checks to the Roane County Health Department ($38,860) and the Loudon County Health Department ($38,103) as well as the check to Anderson County.

Each county in Tennessee will receive funding annually during the three-year program to reduce the burden of tobacco use in the state.

Locally, the Anderson County Health Department is using the funds to support a new “Baby and Me—Tobacco Free” program as well as a partnership with Allies for Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) of Anderson County and the Coordinated School Health programs in each of the three school systems in Anderson County. [Read more...]

Senate approves Lake City’s name change to Rocky Top

Lake City Council Approves Rocky Top Name Change

The Lake City Council votes 4-0 in November to change the town’s name to Rocky Top, and Rep. John Ragan said he had draft legislation to approve the name change to introduce in the Tennessee General Assembly. (File photo)

WYSH Radio/Oak Ridge Today

A bill that will allow Lake City to officially change its name to Rocky Top was unanimously approved in the Tennessee Senate on Thursday, three days after the state House of Representatives also unanimously voted to support the measure.

Lake City Council members approved the name change, seen as a vital first step toward developing a Rocky Top theme park in the former coal mining town, in November. The bill will now go to Gov. Bill Halslam’s desk for his signature, then the Lake City Council must ratify it by a two-thirds majority.

The name change is seen as a necessary first step toward turning the former coal mining town into a tourist destination, taking advantage of its two exits off of I-75. Plans call for an interactive 3-D theater, a restaurant, a water park and a hotel, as well as other attractions. [Read more...]

K-25: Large, flat, close to ORNL, interstate—good for economic development

Gov. Bill Haslam Visits ETTP/K-25

Sue Cange gives Gov. Bill Haslam, right, an update on the almost-completed demolition of the mile-long, U-shaped K-25 Building. Cange is deputy manager of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management. Also pictured are Leo Sain, left, president of cleanup contractor UCOR, and Jeff Tucker, UCOR deactivation and decommissioning manager.

It was built during World War II to help enrich uranium for the world’s first atomic bombs. Then, it helped win the Cold War. Now, the former K-25 site in west Oak Ridge presents a giant opportunity for economic development in Tennessee, Gov. Bill Haslam said during a tour last Friday.

“We have a real interest in what happens here,” Haslam said in a short meeting with reporters before getting a brief update on the demolition of the former mile-long, U-shaped K-25 Building, which was once the world’s largest building under one roof.

The governor said the K-25 site, now known as East Tennessee Technology Park or Heritage Center, has 2,000 flat acres with infrastructure already in place, including roads and rails, and it’s three miles from Interstate 40 and seven miles from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the U.S. Department of Energy’s largest science and energy laboratory.

“We don’t have that opportunity in a lot of places,” Haslam said. “Finding 2,000 flat acres in East Tennessee is virtually impossible.” [Read more...]

Boyd to discuss Gov. Haslam’s ‘Drive to 55′ campaign at Altrusa

Randy Boyd

Randy Boyd

Randy Boyd, Knoxville CEO of Radio Systems and special education adviser to Gov. Bill Haslam, will discuss the statewide initiative “Drive to 55″ during a Wednesday luncheon in Oak Ridge.

Boyd will also discuss the Tennessee Promise, which aims to raise the percentage of Tennesseans with degrees or certificates from 32 percent to 55 percent by 2025, during a Wednesday meeting of the Altrusa Club at the Doubletree Hotel.

“The Tennessee Promise will provide all Tennessee high school graduates with the opportunity to attend a community college or Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) free of tuition and fees and provide them with a mentor to ensure their success,” Boyd said. [Read more...]