Taste of Anderson County on Saturday, work continues at Jackson Square

Jackson Square Fountain Brick Work

Workers install bricks at the interactive fountain area in Jackson Square on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)


Work continued at the Jackson Square parking lot this week as merchants, organizers, and the city prepare for Taste of Anderson County on Saturday.

The substantial completion date for the parking lot work was expected to be Tuesday, September 15, and the goal is to have the project done in time for Taste of Anderson County.

The annual outdoor festival features food and music. It’s scheduled from 4-9 p.m. Saturday, September 19, in the Jackson Square parking lot. This year, there will be music, more than 20 different restaurant vendors, and a bar stocked with beer, wine, and moonshine cocktails and wings, organizers said.

Taste of Anderson County will benefit two local causes: United Way of Anderson County and the Free Medical Clinic. [Read more…]

Emi Sunshine at Grove Theater on Oct. 30, proceeds benefit United Way

Emi Sunshine at Grove Theater

EmiSunshine, a young East Tennessee musician who has performed on the “Today” show and at the Grand Ole Opry, will play at the Grove Theater in Oak Ridge on October 30, and proceeds will benefit United Way of Anderson County.

EmiSunshine is from Madisonville, and she is an acclaimed singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist.

She will perform with Handsome and the Humbles on Friday, October 30. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the show starts at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. They can be purchased at The Ferrell Shop, Razzleberry’s, Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge, and United Way. Online tickets are available at http://emisushineatthegrove.brownpapertickets.com/. [Read more…]

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…]

United Way announces $1.2 million goal for 2015 campaign

Naomi Asher

Naomi Asher

By United Way of Anderson County

Under new leadership and with renewed focus, United Way of Anderson County announces a goal of $1.2 million for the 2015 fall campaign. The announcement comes as UWAC is ramping up for the campaign kickoff later in August with a full roster of community and fundraising events.

As with previous years, the funds from this year’s campaign will support the agencies working hard in our community to improve the quality of life of our friends and neighbors.

UWAC has been working to re-establish relationships with the people and businesses of Anderson County after the departure of former leader Rick Morrow in March of this year. However, Executive Director Naomi Asher and the UWAC board of directors are working to maximize the impact of this year’s campaign. [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…]

Patterson, Dodson to lead United Way fundraising campaign in 2015-2016

Gene Patterson

Gene Patterson

Art teacher Jim Dodson and Gene Patterson, a former television anchor who now works at Y-12 National Security Complex, will co-chair the 2015-2016 fundraising campaign for United Way of Anderson County, a press release said.

It’s a period of transition and change, the release said, and Dodson and Patterson will “lead the charge as UWAC kicks off its fresh campaign to raise money for local agencies.”

Patterson has been delivering local news for more than 30 years, as an anchor at both WBIR and WATE. He also served his community as deputy to the Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe, focusing on city initiatives and facilitating community task forces. In 2015, Patterson joined the communications team at Consolidated Nuclear Security at Y-12 in Oak Ridge.

Dodson has taught art in the Oak Ridge Schools system since 1987, and has been recognized as both the Tennessee Art Educator of the Year and the National Middle School Art Educator of the Year. In 2015, Dodson received the Distinguished Educator Award and was appointed to the Humanities Tennessee Board. His efforts to establish student art exhibitions all over Tennessee have earned more than $7 million in scholarships for his students. [Read more…]

Asher named executive director of United Way of Anderson County

Naomi Asher

Naomi Asher

Naomi Asher has been selected as the next executive director of the United Way of Anderson County. She starts Monday, May 4.

Asher was picked for the position by the United Way of Anderson County Board of Directors.

“Ms. Asher has the unique set of experiences the Search Committee was looking for in candidates,” said Tom Hilton, incoming president of the United Way Board of Directors. “She knows the community and can hit the ground running on May 4.”

The organization conducted a national search.

“We advertised the position nationwide and were very pleased that we found the perfect match for the organization in our own backyard,” said Greta Ownby, outgoing president of the United Way Board of Directors. [Read more…]

ORNL Federal Credit Union raises $65K for United Way

ORNL FCU Donation to United Way

Pictured above from left to right are Chris Outland (ORNL FCU title services manager), Lydia Birk (2014 UWAC campaign chair), Ben Jones (ORNL FCU Maryville Branch manager), and Bethany Rush (branch floater). (Photo courtesy United Way)


ORNL Federal Credit Union raised $64,861 for the United Way of Anderson County’s annual giving campaign, bringing the total for the last two years to more than $131,000, a press release said.

“At ORNL Federal Credit Union, we are committed to making a difference by giving back and helping to improve the quality of life for others in our communities,” said Colin Anderson, ORNL FCU executive vice president and chief financial officer. “An investment in the United Way is an investment in our community.”

Donations to UWAC are an investment in the community, a United Way press release said. [Read more…]

Guest column: Investments—who do you trust?

Lydia Birk

Lydia Birk

By Lydia Birk

The air waves are filled with commercials regarding which investment firm you should rely on; after all, you want to eventually retire and live comfortably and healthy and maintain your lifestyle. Yet, how much do you personally know about investing: the timing, the company’s track records, transparency, can they be trusted? There is an overload of information spinning around, and for many of us, it is confusing and time-consuming, so we trust our investments to the professionals.

Those of you who donate to the United Way of Anderson County and check the box to have Fund Distribution Volunteers make investment decisions are doing the same thing. Trusting educated, informed, committed people to invest your dollars where they will do the most good. In Anderson County, we have a multitude of programs that serve the needs of youth through food programs, backpack programs, after-school programs, preschool programs, utility assistance so they don’t shiver at night, programs to inspire, to encourage, to challenge. And programs that address the mental and physical health of our youth. Which of these programs are most effective, which ones address the most pressing issues, which ones are transparent in managing your gifts, do you chose to put a roof over their heads or food in their bellies? [Read more…]

Centrus raises more than $16,000 for United Way

Centrus Donates to United Way

Pictured above are Lou Ann Lawson, Faye Grantham, Amanda Smith, Lydia Birk (2014 United Way Campaign Chair), Larry Cutlip, Cindy Light, and Gayla Hunter. United Way Committee members not present are Jamie Poland and Lana DiFiore. (Submitted photo)


Centrus Energy Corporation, formerly known as USEC, recently announced that they raised more than $16,000 in their 2014 United Way of Anderson County campaign. That’s a 10 percent increase compared to 2013, a press release said.

The release said the increase is vitally important for United Way of Anderson County, helping it recover from the last two years, which have been difficult.

“We are delighted that we are part of the solution,” said Larry Cutlip, a Centrus deputy director. “We know our community has struggled the last two years due to changes in federal funding, so our growth is exciting.” [Read more…]

Guest column: Small gifts can have big impact

Lydia Birk

Lydia Birk

By Lydia Birk

United Way of Anderson County 2014 Campaign Chair

You might recognize them, four special days that have grown up around Thanksgiving.

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, “Cyber” Monday, and Giving Tuesday all start with Thanksgiving, a day when all Americans reflect on family and give thanks for their many blessings.

On Black Friday, Americans turn their attention to shop for great deals to stretch out those blessings; Small Business Saturday, we are all asked to support our locally owned small business; and Cyber Monday, Americans are all clicking away online for that Christmas bargain.

#Giving Tuesday is new, only three years old now. Americans everywhere are asked to consider sharing a little of their blessings with organizations that can turn their small gift into large rewards. [Read more…]

Oak Ridge Schools staff, students donate almost $14K to United Way

Oak Ridge Schools and United Way Mike Haygood

Picture above, from left to right are Jefferson Middle School Principal Phil Cox; Rick Morrow, executive director of United Way of Anderson County; JMS Assistant Principal Mike Haygood; and Oak Ridge Schools Superintendent Bruce Borchers. (Submitted photo)


The Oak Ridge Schools staff and students once again stepped up in a big way and donated nearly $14,000 to the United Way of Anderson County’s 2014 campaign, a press release said.

All donors were eligible to win a “Week End Getaway” donated by Tim and Becky Hooks, and this year’s winner was Mike Haygood, assistant principal at Jefferson Middle School.

The press release said the donated funds will go to support 32 agencies and 50 different programs that provide services here in Anderson County. Donations like these helped provide 149 families the supplies to grow their own garden this year, and each garden is expected to produce more than $450 of fresh food. That is more than $67,000 of fresh produce created from the $4,000 invested by UWAC donors.

For more information about UWAC services and to donate to provide this type of assistance to our neighbors, visit www.uwayac.org or call the United Way at (865) 483-8431.