BOE, City Council to tour possible new preschool building

161 Mitchell Road

The Oak Ridge Board of Education and City Council will tour this building at 161 Mitchell Road on Thursday afternoon. It’s a possible new home for the Oak Ridge Preschool.

 

Note: This story was last updated at 8 p.m.

The Oak Ridge Board of Education and City Council will tour a building on Mitchell Road on Thursday afternoon that could be a new home for the Preschool.

Built as a temporary building, the current Preschool on New York Avenue is 70 years old and in need of repairs.

A new School Administration Building and Preschool has been on the city’s wish list for years. But now education officials say the Preschool has to be renovated or vacated by next year in order for the school system to continue to receive federal Head Start funding.

They’ve recommended a long-term lease for the Preschool, with an option to purchase. Oak Ridge Schools has also recommended buying the Chamber of Commerce building for a new School Administration Building and remodeling the G Building at Oak Ridge High School to accommodate administration support services, a “better defined” Alternative School program, and the ROTC program. [Read more…]

Letter: Supports schools’ proposal for Preschool, Administration building

To the Editor:

Kudos to Dr. Bruce Borchers and the school staff for the creative and practical fresh look and proposal for resolving the dilemma of our 71-year-old pre-K and Administration building. I believe this solution is fiscally far more attractive and feasible than any alternatives that were suggested in the past. At this point, I am soundly behind it.

Kudos too, to Parker Hardy and the Chamber for being willing to discuss the possibility of letting their building be part of the plan. [Read more…]

Letter: Asks Council, BOE to work together to approve, fund Preschool plan

To the Editor:

We have a unique opportunity for this community to come together, not just for the good of the schools, but for the good of the people.

The Oak Ridge school system is a big draw for newcomers to the area. When our family chose to relocate to East Tennessee, the Oak Ridge school’s reputation was a large factor in purchasing a home here and joining this community. As our oldest moves through elementary school, I can say this was the best decision for our family.

Oak Ridge is filled with teachers who truly care for their students. And, the Preschool is no different.

The Oak Ridge Preschool is an essential, irreplaceable entity that serves so many families. Two of my children have had the privilege of attending the Preschool and growing through the care of the teachers and staff. [Read more…]

Letter: Chinn wants to be mayor, help attract new families, industries

Rick Chinn

Rick Chinn

City Manager Mark Watson and honorable members of Oak Ridge City Council,

First, I would like to congratulate the new members elected to Council and express my enthusiasm in working with the three sitting members of Council for the coming years. I feel we have a great group of leaders and know that if we work together, we can accomplish some great things for the City of Oak Ridge.

In my opinion, a key to making these great things happen is working together in electing and supporting our new mayor. That said, I would like to officially announce my interest in becoming the new mayor.

I believe the mayor’s position is much more than cutting ribbons and running the monthly meetings. The mayor, in my opinion, is the chief lobbyist of the city.

We are unique from most cities in the fact that our health as a city is tied closely to the choices that are made by both state and federal lawmakers. [Read more…]

Letter: Asks City Council to appoint Gooch as mayor

To the Editor:

Let me begin by saying thank you to those members of both City Council and the School Board who elected to not run again, and to those who did run but were not successful in their efforts. I appreciate each of them stepping up to the plate to make this community a better place, and I hope they all continue to remain active in a positive manner to keep this community moving forward.

Also, with the most recent election behind us and several new faces taking on the leadership responsibilities for the city and school system, I look forward to each of the newly elected representatives bringing their vision to the table and working with the existing members to make Oak Ridge an outstanding community to live, work, and play.

During the November 24 City Council meeting, City Council members will be electing a new mayor for a two-year term. In our “weak mayor” form of local government, the mayor has no power outside of Council, so the mayoral role is solely to lead the City Council meetings and to be the main representative of the city for various meetings, activities, and events. [Read more…]

2014 Election: Interest in mayor position, mall redevelopment, better ties with BOE

Oak Ridge City Council Candidate Forum

Nine of the 10 Oak Ridge City Council candidates are pictured above. From right, they are Kelly Callison, Rick Chinn, incumbent Anne Garcia Garland, Warren Gooch, Gary Love, incumbent David Mosby, Pedro Otaduy, former Council member Ellen Smith, and Eric Tobler. Not pictured is Aditya “Doc” Savara.

 

A majority of the Oak Ridge City Council candidates said they would consider running for mayor or vice mayor if elected on Tuesday, and almost all supported the incentives recommended for the proposed redevelopers of the former Oak Ridge Mall.

The candidates were mixed on whether to bring back red-light cameras, and most seemed to think the city’s property tax rate is about right, in light of current budget needs.

Asked to grade the current Council as leaders, the candidates handed out grades ranging from “A” to “F.”

In a series of recent forums, the candidates generally advocated for better communication between the City Council and Oak Ridge Board of Education and, for the most part, seemed to be in favor of taking over Clark Center Park in south Oak Ridge, although their approvals would hinge on factors such as cost and property restrictions.

There are 10 candidates running for four seats on the seven-member Council in Tuesday’s election. Two of the incumbents—Anne Garcia Garland and David Mosby—are seeking re-election—and two others—Mayor Tom Beehan and Mayor Pro Tem Jane Miller—are not.

Many consider it a critical election, with a business boom under way and major projects on the horizon, including the proposed redevelopment of the mall and the planned $6.5 billion Uranium Processing Facility at Y-12 National Security Complex.

The new Council is expected to elect a new mayor and mayor pro tem (like a vice mayor) during its next meeting after Tuesday’s election.

Here is a look at some of what the candidates said during the recent forums. [Read more…]

Letter: Chinn can help make needed changes

To the Editor:

There was a recent letter to the editor in The Oak Ridger with mention of how involved a candidate should (or should not be) while running for City Council. I was disappointed that this person would not expect or want a person to be extremely active in our community prior to being elected.

Rick Chinn was specifically mentioned as being too involved to be a good candidate. Does that person realize how backwards that is? We don’t want a heavily involved businessman, community leader, and father to lead our city in the future? My candidate must have all these skills and more to get my vote! [Read more…]

Letter: Smith informed, intelligent, civil, sensible

To the Editor:

Oak Ridgers are fortunate in having a candidate of the caliber of Ellen Smith willing to once again serve on City Council, where, between 2007 and 2012, we benefited greatly from her wise, intelligent, and highly informed voice.

In addition to her service on Council, Ellen has long been involved in community affairs, and has participated in local government. This, plus her professional background, has made her a strong and consistent advocate for protecting the environmental values of lands and waters of the city and of the Oak Ridge Reservation.

Her activities have also given her a broad understanding of governmental matters additional to the diverse environmental issues and concerns that face Oak Ridge. She is committed to be part of a community leadership that recognizes the challenges we face and makes choices that maximize our assets and opportunities. [Read more…]

Letter: Congressional debate, candidate answers available online

To the Editor:

Oak Ridge voters in the Third Congressional District might like to know that they can view the Monday night, October 27, debate between Rep. Chuck Fleischmann and Dr. Mary Headrick at https://www.facebook.com/EastTennesseePBS.

Voters might also like to see answers from City Council and School Board candidates to questions asked of them by DFET (Democracy for East Tennessee) following the Candidates’ Reception sponsored by the group on October 9 in Oak Ridge at www.dfet.org.

DFET Executive Committee:

Tom Burns, Leslie Agron, Joan Cassens, Virginia Jones

Oak Ridge

Traffic Safety, Environmental Advisory board member running for City Council

Aditya "Doc" Savara

Aditya “Doc” Savara

Aditya “Doc” Savara, a member of two city boards, is running for Oak Ridge City Council in the November 4 municipal election.

In a press release, Savara said he has been involved in local politics during the past two years and served on the Traffic Safety Advisory Board and the Environmental Quality Advisory Board. Savara said he has attended and commented during public comment periods at City Council meetings, is knowledgeable about the issues facing the city, and has been vocal about them.

“In 2012-2013, an ordinance came before Oak Ridge City Council regarding whether property owners Jack and Myra Mansfield could build a single home on their property in a neighborhood zoned as R1, for single-family dwellings,” Savara said in the release. “Adjacent homeowners asserted property values would drop if the Mansfields were allowed to build a home on the open space. I pointed out that the neighbors could have bought the open property themselves if they wanted to keep it as open space. I stated that the neighbors didn’t want to buy the cow, but wanted to have the milk for free, and that it was not too late for the neighbors to make the Mansfields a fair offer. [Read more…]

Letter: Questions candidate’s criticism of Library

To the editor:

Sadly, as a voter I have come to accept a certain amount of hyperbole, half-truths, and skewed statistics from candidates for federal and state offices. I’m sorry to see it reach our municipal election.

I’m talking specifically about the candidate for City Council, Doc Savara, whose platform and door-to-door campaign includes sharp criticism of the Oak Ridge Public Library, the library director, and staff. He alleges inefficient use of taxpayer dollars, bloated fees, and over-staffing, and he bases his findings on a check of national statistics and a story he has heard from a library patron who obviously had an unhappy experience. [Read more…]

Watson to discuss State of the City at Lunch with League on Tuesday

Mark Watson

Mark Watson

Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson will discuss the State of the City with the League of Women Voters on Tuesday.

During the annual event, Watson is also expected to give his perspective on issues facing the city, a press release said.

The Tuesday meeting starts at noon Tuesday, October 21, in the Social Hall of the new Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church location at 809 Oak Ridge Turnpike (north of the Joe L. Evins Federal Building, which is home to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office). [Read more…]