Farmers Markets open this weekend

The longest continuous operating farmers markets in East Tennessee will open for the season on Friday, April 11, in Knoxville, and Saturday, April 12, in Oak Ridge. The second Knoxville market location will open on Wednesday, April 16. 

“After a long winter, it’s always a welcome sign of spring when the farmers markets open and we see the first of the spring harvest coming in,” said Steve Colvin, president of the East Tennessee Farmers Association for Retail Marketing, or FARM. “We’re hoping the final cold snaps won’t take too much of a toll on the early crops.”

FARM operates markets on Fridays from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m. in the parking lot of the Laurel Church of Christ, 3457 Kingston Pike at Cherokee Boulevard. On Wednesdays, the FARM Market operates at Ebenezer United Methodist Church, 1001 Ebenezer Road near Westland Avenue. The Saturday market is held from 8 a.m. until noon in the parking lot adjacent to historic Jackson Square in Oak Ridge. [Read more...]

Farmers Markets to open this weekend in Knoxville, Oak Ridge

Farmers Market

The longest continuous operating farmers markets in East Tennessee will open for the season on Friday, April 11, in Knoxville, and Saturday, April 12, in Oak Ridge. The second Knoxville market location will open on Wednesday, April 16. 

“After a long winter, it’s always a welcome sign of spring when the farmers markets open and we see the first of the spring harvest coming in,” said Steve Colvin, president of the East Tennessee Farmers Association for Retail Marketing, or FARM. “We’re hoping the final cold snaps won’t take too much of a toll on the early crops.”

FARM operates markets on Fridays from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m. in the parking lot of the Laurel Church of Christ, 3457 Kingston Pike at Cherokee Boulevard. On Wednesdays, the FARM Market operates at Ebenezer United Methodist Church, 1001 Ebenezer Road near Westland Avenue. The Saturday market is held from 8 a.m. until noon in the parking lot adjacent to historic Jackson Square in Oak Ridge. [Read more...]

Guest column: The New China Palace—historic restaurant in Oak Ridge

New China Palace Restaurant Interior

The interior of the New China Palace restaurant on Central Avenue is pictured above.

The New China Palace was established in September 1973 by Chuang Nan Chou and served authentic Chinese, Mandarin-Peking Hunan, and Szechuan style food.

Over the years, it became well-known in the Oak Ridge and Knoxville area and to many customers from other countries who came to Oak Ridge to visit the government facilities of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Y-12 National Security Complex, the K-25 plant, and Oak Ridge Associated Universities. A large customer base developed, and the restaurant prospered.

In 2010, the City of Oak Ridge delivered a letter to the New China Palace saying their lease for the city building at the Oak Ridge Marina would not be renewed. Ideas for developing a facility for rowing and a “casual restaurant” were mentioned as the reason for this sudden change of heart by their landlord. This was announced in the newspapers and caused a huge negative reaction by their customers. [Read more...]

Ridge City Ramblers have CD release party on Wednesday

Ridge City Ramblers

The Ridge City Ramblers will have a CD release party in Oak Ridge on Wednesday. Members of the band are, from left, Gary Coleman, Mary Tuskan, Scott Linn, Abbie Hoerner, Oak Ridge Mayor Tom Beehan and Steve Reddick. (Submitted photo)

The Ridge City Ramblers will have a CD release party to celebrate their first CD from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Razzleberry’s Ice Cream Lab and Kitchen in Jackson Square.

“Ramblin’ on my mind” is the title of the band’s CD. The Ramblers draw their inspiration from bluegrass, blues, traditional, and Americana music, and the band’s musicians bring experience with a host of musical styles and performing groups.

An Oak Ridge band, the Ramblers will entertain the Razzleberry’s audience with songs from the CD and other selections. [Read more...]

Officials celebrate conversion of historic hotel to assisted living center

Alexander Inn Groundbreaking

Local, state, and federal officials join volunteers and nonprofit and business executives for a groundbreaking ceremony at the historic Alexander Inn on Thursday.

Top military leaders and scientists once stayed at this historic two-story hotel in the heart of Oak Ridge, and now it’s being converted into an assisted living center.

The $5.5 million renovation of the Alexander Inn at Jackson Square started in July, the culmination of a years-long preservation effort. It could be complete by mid-2014, said Rick Dover, manager of Family Pride Corp., the company converting the hotel.

The Guest House Senior Living at the Alexander Inn will have 62 rooms, including a 17-room memory care wing.

The hotel was built during the Manhattan Project, a top-secret federal program to build the world’s first atomic bombs during World War II. Guests who once stayed there included Gen. Leslie Groves, Secretary of War Henry Stimson, and physicists J. Robert Oppenheimer and Enrico Fermi. [Read more...]

Pedestrian safety project at Jackson Square to be completed soon

Jackson Square Pedestrian Improvements

Workers repave Broadway at Jackson Square on Oct. 25 as part of a pedestrian safety improvement project paid for with red light camera money.

The city-owned parking lot on the north side of Jackson Square now has two handicapped-accessible areas, and the pedestrian safety improvements under way there could be finished in another week, an official said Tuesday.

The project, which includes road and sidewalk work, is being done under a contract approved by Oak Ridge City Council in August.

It’s part of more than $500,000 worth of projects that use red light camera money. The other projects are designed to make eight Oak Ridge Turnpike intersections safer for pedestrians. Those improvements, which will provide a pedestrian walkway and crosswalk system near Oak Ridge Turnpike businesses, are estimated at $370,000. [Read more...]

Gatti’s Pizza, Market House restaurants close

Gatti's Pizza

A sign posted on the door of the former Gatti’s Pizza next to the Oak Ridge Mall says the business has been sold.

A longtime pizza restaurant and a newer “farm-to-table” diner have closed in Oak Ridge.

A sign posted on the front door of the former Gatti’s Pizza earlier this month said the business has been sold.

Meanwhile, the owners of The Market House at Jackson Square posted on their Facebook page on Oct. 14 that they will no longer be open but will continue to fulfill any private party obligations.

Oak Ridge Today has not been able to reach the owners of either business to elaborate. [Read more...]

Big Ed’s Pizza owner David Neusel dies; restaurant still open

Big Ed's Pizza

David Neusel, the owner and operator of Big Ed’s Pizza in Jackson Square, died Thursday. The front of the landmark restaurant is pictured above.

David Neusel, the owner and operator of Big Ed’s Pizza in Oak Ridge, died Thursday in Nashville, longtime friend Randy Tedford said.

The cause of Neusel’s death and his age weren’t immediately available. It also wasn’t immediately clear who would now own and operate the landmark restaurant in the city’s historic Jackson Square area. (Note: More information on Neusel’s death, funeral, and the future of the restaurant is available in this newer story here.)

But Big Ed’s, which was recognized as one of America’s 51 great pizza parlors in 2010, is still open, server Kim Paluso said Friday morning. As far as she knows, the popular pizzeria will continue operating as usual.

“It was pretty hard for everybody,” Paluso said of Neusel’s death. “A lot of people showed up last night for support.” [Read more...]

Taste of Oak Ridge features food, music

Local food and music will fill Jackson Square from 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. for this community-focused event. It will feature small portions from some of the finest local restaurants and music provided by popular local musicians.

The “tastes” from each vendor will cost $1 or $2 per item. Attendees can buy as many tickets as they want for $1 each. In addition, beer and wine will be available for sale.

Sponsored by the Jackson Square Merchants Association, proceeds raised will benefit the Free Medical Clinic of Oak Ridge. The Free Clinic serves the healthcare needs of uninsured residents of Anderson, Roane and Morgan counties.

For additional information on the event, call Manderley Swain at (865) 964-2178 or Barbara Ferrell at (865) 483-0961.

Historic preservation awards to be presented to bank, school

A nonprofit organization will present this year’s historic preservation awards today, Oak Ridge’s birthday.

Two awards will be presented this year, one to CapitalMark Bank and Trust in Jackson Square and the other to the Oak Ridge School Administration Building, formerly the Pine Valley School.

The awards will be presented by the Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association in back-to-back ceremonies this afternoon. The first ceremony at Pine Valley School starts at 3 p.m., and the second at CapitalMark Bank and Trust at 3:45 p.m.

The SAB Building is at 304 New York Ave., and CapitalMark Bank and Trust is at 231 Jackson Square.

Happy 71st birthday, Oak Ridge!

Oak Ridge Birthday Sign

A sign at the Midtown Community Center on Robertsville Road celebrates the 71st birthday of Oak Ridge on Thursday (Submitted photo)

By Martin and Anne McBride

On Sept. 19, 1942, only two days after being appointed the head of the Manhattan Project in September 1942, Gen. Leslie R. Groves selected Oak Ridge as the first major site of the Manhattan Project, a top-secret federal program to build the world’s first atomic bombs during World War II.

Ultimately, $1.1 billion was spent on the huge, first-of-a-kind Oak Ridge nuclear plants and the fledgling “Secret City” of Oak Ridge. This expenditure represented 72 percent of the money spent on the three principal Manhattan Project sites: Oak Ridge; Hanford, Wash.; and Los Alamos, N.M.

The Oak Ridge tract was approximately 17 miles long by an average of seven miles wide. The Corps of Engineers paid $2.6 million dollars for the land and initially named the site the “Kingston Demolition Range.” Local opposition to having a demolition range in the area caused the name to be changed to “Clinton Engineer Works.” [Read more...]

Historic preservation awards to be presented to bank, school Thursday

CapitalMark Bank and Trust

CapitalMark Bank and Trust Oak Ridge President David Bradshaw is pictured at the original Hamilton National Bank vault. (Submitted photo)

A nonprofit organization will present this year’s historic preservation awards on Thursday, Oak Ridge’s birthday.

Two awards will be presented this year, one to CapitalMark Bank and Trust in Jackson Square and the other to the Oak Ridge School Administration Building, formerly the Pine Valley School.

The awards will be presented by the Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association in back-to-back ceremonies Thursday afternoon. The first ceremony at Pine Valley School starts at 3 p.m., and the second at CapitalMark Bank and Trust at 3:45 p.m. [Read more...]