U.S. House passes Manhattan Project park bill that includes Oak Ridge

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander

Lamar Alexander

U.S. Representative Chuck Fleischmann

Chuck Fleischmann

Note: This story was last updated at 8:30 p.m.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill that would create a Manhattan Project National Historical Park that would include Oak Ridge, federal officials said Thursday afternoon.

Passage of the bill, pursued for years by historic preservationists, was announced by U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander and Representative Chuck Fleischmann, both Tennessee Republicans. It was an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, which passed in a 300-119 vote.

The bill would designate three sites that were part of the World War II-era Manhattan Project. Besides Oak Ridge, the sites include Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Hanford, Washington. The U.S. Senate is expected to pass the 2015 NDAA legislation without amendments before adjourning for the Christmas recess, perhaps as early as next week, according to the Atomic Heritage Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that has helped lead efforts to establish the park for more than a decade.

The Manhattan Project was a top-secret federal program to build the world’s first atomic bombs. Oak Ridge sites that would be included in the park are the Beta-3 racetracks and Alpha Calutron magnets at Y-12 National Security Complex and the K-25 Building site at the East Tennessee Technology Park. [Read more…]

With deadline looming, supporters hopeful that Manhattan Project parks legislation will pass

Manhattan Project National Historical Park House Hearing

Pictured above at a June 28, 2012, U.S. House hearing on the Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act are, from front left, Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation president; Heather McClenahan, executive director of the Los Alamos Historical Society; and D. Ray Smith, Y-12 National Security Complex historian. Gary Petersen, Tri-City Development Council vice president, is pictured in the background. (Photo courtesy of Atomic Heritage Foundation.

An amendment introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday includes the creation of a long-sought-after Manhattan Project National Historical Park that would include Oak Ridge, and supporters are hopeful that the legislation, which has bipartisan support, will pass before the end of the legislative session.

The bill appears to have a “really good chance of moving forward,” said Kati Schmidt, spokesperson for the National Parks Conservation Association.

Besides Oak Ridge, the Manhattan Project National Historical Park would also include Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Hanford, Washington. Those three areas were among the sites involved in the Manhattan Project, a top-secret federal program to build the world’s first atomic bombs during World War II.

There is currently no national park commemorating the project, which is considered one of the most significant events of the 20th century. Historic preservationists, including in Oak Ridge and at the Atomic Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., have tried for years to change that. [Read more…]

Letter: Headrick has will to solve problems, is knowledgeable, energetic

To the Editor:

Please vote for a candidate who is grounded in reality, not political dogma.

Please vote for Mary Headrick, the Third District candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives. She is a candidate who has the will to solve problems in a timely way and for whom ordinary people are real. She is knowledgeable, capable, and energetic, and will serve this District well.

Virginia M. Jones

Oak Ridge

Nineteen candidates for Oak Ridge City Council, School Board

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Note: This story was last updated at 2 p.m.

Ten candidates have qualified to run for Oak Ridge City Council in the November 4 municipal election, and there are nine candidates for Oak Ridge Board of Education—a total of 19 candidates.

It’s the largest field of candidates in recent memory, and it’s not immediately clear when, or if, there has been a field as large.

The deadline to qualify as a candidate in this fall’s municipal elections in Anderson County was noon Thursday.

There is a mix of incumbents and newcomers in Oak Ridge, Clinton, Rocky Top (Lake City), Norris, and Oliver Springs.

Oak Ridge

In Oak Ridge, two incumbents, including Mayor Tom Beehan and Mayor Pro Tem Jane Miller, are not seeking re-election. Meanwhile, the other two incumbents whose terms expire this November, Anne Garcia Garland and David Mosby, are running for another four-year term.

In addition to Garcia Garland and Mosby, the other Oak Ridge City Council candidates are:

  • Kelly Callison,
  • R.G. “Rick” Chinn,
  • Warren L. Gooch,
  • Gary L. Love,
  • Pedro J. Otaduy,
  • Aditya “Doc” Savara,
  • Ellen D. Smith, and
  • Eric Tobler.

[Read more…]

Thursday deadline to qualify for municipal elections across Anderson County

Vote Logo

Thursday is the deadline to qualify for municipal elections across Anderson County, and so far, there appears to be a mix of incumbents and newcomers in Oak Ridge, Clinton, Rocky Top (Lake City), Norris, and Oliver Springs.

Eleven people, including the four incumbents, have expressed an interest in running for four seats on Oak Ridge City Council in November, and seven candidates have qualified so far.

Meanwhile, three people, including one incumbent, have qualified to run for three seats on the Oak Ridge Board of Education. A total of nine potential candidates, including the three who have qualified, have picked up petitions to run for Oak Ridge school board.

The November 4 election is the last in a series of three elections this year. The deadline to qualify is noon Thursday, August 21. A candidate needs 25 verified signatures on a nomination petition to qualify.

Those who have qualified to run for Oak Ridge City Council are: [Read more…]

Oak Ridge Chamber has Q&A with mayor, sheriff candidates Thursday morning

Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce

The Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce is pictured above.

Learn more about the three candidates for Anderson County mayor and two candidates for Anderson County sheriff on Thursday morning at the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce.

The first “Election Selection” event is 7:30 a.m. Thursday, July 10, in the Joyce Conference Room at the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce. It’s open to the public.

All five candidates for mayor and sheriff have confirmed their plans to attend, the Chamber said. Here are the candidates: [Read more…]

U.S. House candidate Wamp launches RV tour in Third District

Weston Wamp RV

Weston Wamp, a Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, has launched an RV tour of East Tennessee’s Third District. The campaign visited Oak Ridge on Friday morning.

Weston Wamp, a Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, has launched an RV tour of East Tennessee’s Third District. The campaign stopped in Oak Ridge on Friday, the fifth day of the tour.

The recreational vehicle—its exterior painted with red, white, and blue campaign slogans, and blue and green mountain vistas—will serve as a rolling campaign headquarters, hotel, and billboard, Wamp said during a Friday morning stop at Roane State Community College.

“I call it our seven-ton commitment to bringing Congress home,” Wamp said. “I hope that it ends up being iconic.”

The RV will make stops at events ranging from baseball games to pancake breakfasts in cities from Athens and Sweetwater in the south to Oneida and Oliver Springs in the north. The campaign will spend three nights a week on the road, generally staying outside of the Chattanooga area, where Wamp lives. The goal is to stay in virtually every incorporated town before the Aug. 7 primary. [Read more…]

Weston Wamp announces congressional campaign leadership

Weston Wamp

Weston Wamp

Weston Wamp, a Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Tennessee’s Third District, announced the first members of his campaign staff and leadership team this week.

The group includes three notable Chattanooga entrepreneurs as well as a former staffer for the incumbent, Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, and a 25-year veteran of the Chattanooga Police Department, a press release said.

“I’m honored that people of this caliber have joined my campaign for Congress,” Wamp said. “Our campaign team spans three generations, but shares a passion for seeing Washington work to serve the people again. The Congress does not have to be an embarrassment to our country. We deserve much better representation, and with this team I believe we are on our way to a winning campaign and an opportunity to set a higher standard than the current congressman.” [Read more…]

House spending bill avoids government shutdown, provides fiscal certainty, Fleischmann says

U.S. Representative Chuck Fleischmann

Chuck Fleischmann

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill funding the federal government for 2014, avoiding government shutdowns for the rest of the fiscal year and providing some fiscal certainty for the weak economic recovery, Congressman Chuck Fleischmann’s office said in a statement Wednesday.

“For too long Congress has jumped from crisis to crisis, and that is neither good for the economy nor the American people,” said Fleischmann, a Tennessee Republican whose district includes Oak Ridge. “The bill, which passed the House today with bipartisan support, provides zero new funding for Obamacare, protects all current pro-life policies, and provides real fiscal oversight. This bill was a compromise and is not perfect, but it is a step in the right direction and holds the line on spending priorities.”

The vote for the $1.1 trillion spending bill, which will fund the government through October, was 359-67, with 64 Republicans and three Democrats opposed in the Republican-led House. The legislation now goes to the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats, and it is expected to pass it easily this week. [Read more…]

House-passed budget could avoid second shutdown; Senate may vote this week

Y-12 National Security Complex Sign

A bipartisan budget bill being considered in Congress could avoid a second government shutdown and provide relief to federal employees and government contractors in Oak Ridge, including at the Y-12 National Security Complex, which was prepared to furlough up to 3,600 workers during the first shutdown in October.

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a budget bill that could avoid a second government shutdown in mid-January, a development that will likely offer some relief to federal employees and government contractors in Oak Ridge—and to the businesses that support them.

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, a Tennessee Republican, said he supported the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 in the House on Thursday.

“Tonight, the House took a modest step toward reforming spending and setting our government on a more stable path,” said Fleischmann, a second-term congressman whose district includes Oak Ridge.

But the bill still has to pass the deeply divided Senate, which is preparing to take up the budget bill this week. The Washington Post reported that Democrats are still trying to come up with the 60 votes necessary to break a GOP-led filibuster in the Senate. [Read more…]

Passed in House, Manhattan Project Park amendment falls short in Senate

K-25 Aerial

Now mostly demolished, the former mile-long, U-shaped K-25 Building is pictured above. The site could be included in a Manhattan Project National Historical Park. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Energy)

The legislation to create a Manhattan Project National Park that would include Oak Ridge has fallen short in the U.S. Senate, but the representative from Washington state who wrote the House amendment vowed to press ahead next year.

The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives in June as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. But it was not included in the final text of the defense bill released late Tuesday night, said U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, the Washington Republican who wrote the amendment.

Besides Oak Ridge, the park would include Hanford, Wash., and Los Alamos, N.M. The three cities played key roles in the Manhattan Project, a top-secret program to build the world’s first atomic weapons during World War II.

“I’m disappointed, but not deterred,” said Hastings, chair of the House Natural Resources Committee. “To all the advocates for this park: You’ve given great energy, enthusiasm, and expertise to this effort to date, and I know that will continue until our goal is accomplished, which I am confident it will ultimately be.” [Read more…]

Alexander replaces chief of staff after child porn raid at former aide’s home

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander

Lamar Alexander

The former chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander has been taken off the payroll following a child pornography raid at the former aide’s home, and the Republican senator from Tennessee has already named a new chief of staff.

David Cleary, who has worked for Alexander for eight years, is the new chief of staff, Alexander said in a Wednesday evening press release. The senator said Cleary is well-prepared for the position.

Earlier Wednesday, Alexander said the Senate legal counsel’s office told him that law enforcement agents were searching the home of Ryan Loskarn, 35, who had been the senator’s chief of staff in his Washington, D.C., office. The search was related to child pornography allegations, Alexander said.

“I am stunned, surprised, and disappointed by what I have learned,” the senator said. [Read more…]