Taste of Anderson County on Sept. 19 helps United Way, Free Medical Clinic

Taste of Oak Ridge 2013

The Taste of Oak Ridge, which has become the Taste of Anderson County, is pictured above in 2013. (File photo)

 

The Taste of Anderson County on September 19 will feature food and music and help two local organizations: United Way of Anderson County and the Free Medical Clinic.

The Taste of Anderson County, which has been expanded from the previous Taste of Oak Ridge, will be at Jackson Square starting at 4 p.m. Saturday, September 19.

“Flavors from some of the area’s favorite restaurants and the sounds of local musicians will fill the newly renovated parking lot at Jackson Square,” a press release said. “This year will be bigger and better than ever with vendors from all over the county. More importantly, this event brings a substantial amount of support for two local causes: United Way of Anderson County, and the Free Medical Clinic. Both of these nonprofits are working hard this year to make a big impact in the community. But they can’t do it without the community there to support them.”

The entertainment lineup includes comedian and magician Danny Whitson as the master of ceremonies. Whitson is a professional entertainer from Oak Ridge who specializes in magic and comedy. He has been performing for 15 years, the press release said. [Read more…]

Good news: Interactive fountain arrives at Jackson Square

Interactive Fountain Vault at Jackson Square

The interactive fountain has arrived at Jackson Square. It’s the central component in the $1 million renovation of the square’s parking lot. Above, workers unload the fountain’s vault, which is essentially its operating system, early Thursday afternoon. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)

 

Note: This story was updated at 4 p.m.

The interactive water fountain has arrived at Jackson Square. It’s a central component in the $1 million renovation of the shopping center’s parking lot.

The fountain components that arrived on a semi truck early Thursday afternoon were a large vault, which is the fountain’s operating system, and a collection tank. Spray pods that will go around the fountain were already here.

The entire fountain, which was custom-built by Roman Fountains of New Mexico, is now on site, said Angel Rich, president of Rich Construction Inc. of Lenoir City. The parking lot renovation, which is mostly funded with a state grant and includes the fountain, is expected to be substantially complete by September 15. That would be in time for the Taste of Anderson County on September 19 at Jackson Square.

Rich said the next steps are to dig a hole for the fountain and install it, run electrical and water lines to it, and tie it into the city’s sewer system. [Read more…]

Frustration increases, Council not pleased as Jackson Square work stretches into fall

Jackson Square Parking Lot Meeting

Oak Ridge municipal staff members and Mayor Warren Gooch met with Jackson Square merchants at Razzleberry’s Ice Cream Lab and Kitchen on Wednesday, July 29, to discuss the $1 million parking lot renovation, which is not yet finished but could be “substantially complete” by Sept. 15. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)

 

One merchant said he’s lost more than $100,000 in sales. Another said she had to close her business. And a third has posted signs that express frustration with the pace of construction at Jackson Square.

At one time, there was hope that the $1 million parking lot renovation at Jackson Square would be complete by the Lavender Festival in mid-June. But that didn’t happen. Now, the latest construction schedule estimates that it will be “substantially complete” by September 15—in time for Taste of Anderson County—but not finished until the end of October.

Officials have said the primary delay has been with the interactive fountain that will be installed in the center of Jackson Square. It still hasn’t arrived, and officials have said it could take four weeks to install. On Monday, the contractor and her attorney said the fountain could arrive in Oak Ridge on Wednesday.

Even business owners who had an optimistic outlook earlier have lost their patience with the project, which is mostly funded with a state grant. Their primary frustrations: The work has taken much longer than expected, the schedule keeps getting extended, and there have been too many days when, they say, they’ve seen no signs of work. In the meantime, the parking lot in front of their stores was closed for months, and they believe that the construction fencing and orange barrels drove away some potential customers.

“Why can’t they finish this?” asked Jonathan Goldstein of The String Workshop.

“We’ve been nice long enough,” said Dean Russell, owner of Dean’s Restaurant and Bakery.

“I think our frustration is how many days we’ve seen nothing happening as our customer base declines,” said Steve Seivers, who has a law practice in the square, the city’s original town center.

On Monday, the Oak Ridge City Council joined the chorus of frustration. [Read more…]

Knoxville has First Friday, now Oak Ridge has Third Friday

The Locally Grown Gallery, home to 39 regional artists, will be hosting events from 5:30-9 p.m. in their gallery and studio as part of a new Third Friday.

The Locally Grown Gallery is located ​behind the Soup Kitchen in Greenwich Village Mall in historic Jackson Square.

The ​inaugural Locally Grown Gallery Third Friday event will be August 21. Weaver Andy Lyle and author B.J. Gillum will be the featured artists.

Lyle is an Oak Ridge native and member of the Foo​thills Craft Guild. She will be demonstrating on her large loom as well as teaching easy beginner projects. She will have small loom kits and fiber available for purchase. [Read more…]

Letter: Rich Construction, city ‘should be ashamed’ over Jackson Square work

To the Editor:

The Rich Construction Company leadership and some officials of the City of Oak Ridge should be ashamed of themselves for the total disaster that is the reconstruction allegedly going on at Jackson Square.

My family and I have been steady customers of Dean’s Restaurant and Bakery as well as some of the other businesses there for over a year. We have seen the “progress” on the project at least weekly since its beginning. The rate of progress has been abysmal at best. There have many, many clear weather days throughout last winter and spring where work could have been going on, but there was no one in sight. In fact, the only time there seemed to be ANY sign of urgency was the two days before the Lavender Festival in June. The work then was only to minimally accommodate that event. And as soon as it was over, work stopped again.

The initial completion date the business owners were promised was in June. By that time they had suffered through over five months of loss of business and disappointed customers. When it wasn’t completed by then, the owners were promised a completion date of mid-August. Well, that didn’t happen either! Now the latest promised completion date is in mid-September. Almost 10 months after the project started. Unbelievable! [Read more…]

Taste of Anderson County offers local food, music; benefits United Way, Free Medical

Taste of Oak Ridge

File photo courtesy Atom Ray Photography

 

The Seventh Annual Taste of Anderson County will be at Jackson Square on Saturday, September 19, and it will feature food and local musicians.

Visitors will be able to enjoy a sampling of food from some of Anderson County’s best restaurants, which will showcase their fare in small, taste-sized portions, a press release said.

“This event is a great opportunity for local restaurants to share some of their favorite dishes, while proceeds will benefit the United Way of Anderson County and the Free Medical Clinic,” the release said.

“Tastes” from each vendor will be priced from $1 to $4 per item. Tickets will be available to purchase for $1 at entrances to the event. Attendees may buy as many tickets as they like; in addition, beer and wine will be available for sale. [Read more…]

Construction: Part of Broadway to close on Saturday mornings for Farmers Market

Oak Ridge Farmers Market and Jackson Square

The Oak Ridge Farmers Market is pictured above with Jackson Square in the background. The section of Broadway in front of Jackson Square will be closed on Saturday mornings for the Farmers Market until more parking becomes available. (Photo by Julio Culiat)

 

The Oak Ridge Farmers Market will be set up differently at Jackson Square starting Saturday, July 11, and for the next six to eight weeks to provide additional parking for customers.

Because both Blankenship Field and Jackson Square parking lots are closed for repaving, the City of Oak Ridge will be closing Broadway Avenue every Saturday morning from 8 a.m. to noon in front of Jackson Square until more parking becomes available.

This will allow some farmers to set up on Broadway Avenue, while others will remain in a smaller area of the Farmers Market parking lot, allowing more space for customer parking. The Farmers Market will not block any sidewalks in Jackson Square, so that customers can still get to the shops and businesses there, a press release said. [Read more…]

Schedule: Installation of Jackson Square fountain could start July 27, last four weeks

Angel Rich Johnson and Roger Flynn

Angel Rich Johnson, left, president of Rich Construction Inc. of Lenoir City, and Roger Flynn, Oak Ridge Public Works engineer, are pictured above at Jackson Square on Monday, January 5, 2015. The Jackson Square renovations started in January.

 

Note: This story was updated at 2:15 p.m. July 7.

Installation of the interactive fountain at the center of Jackson Square could start July 27 and last four weeks, according to an estimated construction timeline.

The sidewalks and the majority of the parking lot have been finished, and Roger Flynn, acting Oak Ridge city engineer, said he has discussed project completion with Rich Construction, the contractor for the $1 million rebuild of the Jackson Square parking lot.

Construction started in January, and enough paving work was completed that merchants and vendors were able to have the annual Lavender Festival at Jackson Square on June 20. Renovations are expected to be complete by the end of August.

Flynn told merchants in a June 24 email that the remaining work is expected to take place in this order: [Read more…]

Merchants frustrated with progress at Jackson Square; protest sign posted

Jackson Square Parking Lot Renovations Sign

There has been some frustration among merchants at Jackson Square about not being able to use the partially paved parking lot while they wait for renovations to be completed. This protest sign saying “Free Our Parking Lot!!” was posted on Wednesday.

 

Merchants have grown frustrated with the pace of renovations at Jackson Square, and on Wednesday a protest sign was posted. “Free Our Parking Lot!” said the sign, which has since been removed.

For now, the parking lot inside Jackson Square remains closed off behind construction fencing as work continues on a $1 million renovation mostly funded by a state grant awarded in 2012.

But merchants wonder why they can’t use the parking lot since it was used for the Lavender Festival on June 20.

Compounding their frustration is the closure of the lower parking lot at Blankenship Field. It’s one of two lots on the north side of Broadway Avenue and Jackson Square. Employees at nearby businesses who used to park in the Blankenship Field lot are now using the second lot, the one used by the Farmers Market, reducing the parking spaces available there, one merchant said.

The Blankenship Field work, which was approved by the Oak Ridge City Council in June, is also causing concern for the Farmers Market. The Farmer Market’s vendors set up in the second parking lot on Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings, and they now don’t have parking available at either the Blankenship Field lot or inside the Jackson Square lot. [Read more…]

Photos: Lavender Festival on Saturday

Lavender Festival in Oak Ridge 2015

The Lavender Festival celebrates “all things herbal” in Jackson Square from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 20, 2015. (Photo by Julio Culiat)

 

The Lavender Festival celebrates “all things herbal” in Jackson Square until 3 p.m. today (Saturday, June 20).

It’s the 17th annual festival, and there is no cost to attend. Here are photos by Julio Culiat.

The Lavender Festival focuses on herbs, health, gardening, and cooking, and it features more than 100 vendors, a dozen herb and health presentations, children’s activities, and many musicians. Vendors line the covered walkways of Jackson Square, the parking lot, and both sides of Broadway Avenue, which is closed to traffic.

See this previous story for more information.

[Read more…]

Lavender Festival celebrates herbal products on Saturday

Lavender Festival Crowd

The Lavender Festival will celebrate “all things herbal” in Jackson Square on Saturday.

The 17th annual festival is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 20. There is no cost to attend.

“Jackson Square has been under renovations since January, but they are expected to be finished in time for the festival, which will go on as planned,” organizers said.

They said free parking is available in surrounding city and business lots, and on side streets.

The Lavender Festival focuses on herbs, health, gardening, and cooking, and it features more than 100 vendors, a dozen herb and health presentations, children’s activities, and many musicians. Vendors will line the covered walkways of Jackson Square, the parking lot, and both sides of Broadway Avenue, which will be closed to traffic. [Read more…]

Crunch time: Crews start paving Jackson Square parking lot

Jackson Square Paving June 15, 2015

Work crews started paving the new parking lot at Jackson Square on Monday, June 15, preparing it for this weekend’s Lavender Festival.

 

Work crews started paving the new parking lot at Jackson Square on Monday, preparing to put down enough pavement to have the Lavender Festival there this weekend.

Workers won’t stripe the pavement before the annual festival, and they may have to finish paving the parking lot after the festival, said Roger Flynn, Oak Ridge’s acting city engineer.

He said he is optimistic that enough work will be done that organizers can have the festival, and vendors know that the project won’t be complete.

Crews will temporarily remove exterior fencing around the square for the festival. And workers will fill in ditches and other areas to prevent tripping, Flynn said. [Read more…]