General Fusion locating U.S. headquarters in Oak Ridge

General Fusion Corporation will locate its U.S. headquarters in Oak Ridge as the company advances plans for a commercial pilot plant, Tennessee officials and company executives announced Wednesday.

The headquarters decision was announced Wednesday by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe, and General Fusion Corporation executives.

General Fusion Corporation is based in Vancouver, Canada. The company says fusion could provide a carbon-free power source that would meet the growing global energy demand while fighting climate change.

The U.S.-based subsidiary of General Fusion Incorporated will initially invest $539,000 and create 20 new jobs in Anderson County during the next five years, a press release said. It’s the first private fusion company to establish an office in Tennessee, General Fusion said. The new headquarters in Oak Ridge will be near Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a science and energy lab that is home to the U.S. ITER program. ITER is an experimental fusion device being built in southern France through an international collaboration and planned to be the first such device to produce net energy.

In Oak Ridge, General Fusion said it will collaborate with “world-leading fusion scientists and tap into key engineering talent.”

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Unclear how City of Oak Ridge affected by president’s vaccination mandate

The Oak Ridge Municipal Building is pictured above on Tuesday evening, May 5, 2020. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)

The City of Oak Ridge does not currently require its employees or residents to be vaccinated against COVID-19 under a state law passed this year, a municipal attorney said Tuesday.

But it’s not clear if that state law could be in conflict with a vaccination or testing mandate that President Joe Biden announced this month.

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The Oak Ridge Municipal Building is pictured above on Tuesday evening, May 5, 2020. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)

The City of Oak Ridge does not currently require its employees or residents to be vaccinated against COVID-19 under a state law passed this year, a municipal attorney said Tuesday.

That state law, Senate Bill 187 and House Bill 13 (Public Chapter 513), bars the city from COVID-19 vaccination requirements, said Alexander J. Cramer, staff attorney in the City of Oak Ridge Legal Department.

The Oak Ridge Municipal Building is pictured above on Tuesday evening, May 5, 2020. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)

The City of Oak Ridge does not currently require its employees or residents to be vaccinated against COVID-19 under a state law passed this year, a municipal attorney said Tuesday.

But it’s not clear if that state law could be in conflict with a vaccination or testing mandate that President Joe Biden announced this month.

The rest of this story is available if you are a member.

Already a member? Sign in here.

Not a member? Subscribe here:

Basic

Pro

Temporary

If you prefer to send a check, you may do so by mailing one to:

Oak Ridge Today
P.O. Box 6064
Oak Ridge, TN 37831

We also have advanced subscription options. You can see them here.

We also accept donations. You can donate here. A donation of $50 or more will make you eligible for a subscription.

Thank you for reading Oak Ridge Today. We appreciate your support!

Governor appoints Spitzer as Circuit Court judge

Ryan Spitzer
Ryan Spitzer (File photo)

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has appointed Ryan Spitzer to serve as Circuit Court judge for the Seventh Judicial District to fill the seat left vacant when former judge Don Elledge retired at the end of June.

Spitzer’s appointment is effective immediately, the governor said in an announcement Monday.

“Ryan is a dedicated public servant with an extensive background in criminal prosecution,” Lee said in his announcement. “I am proud to announce his appointment and confident he will serve Tennessee with integrity.”

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Oak Ridge Schools will not require masks after governor’s order

This graph shows the total number of COVID-19 cases in Oak Ridge Schools between Wednesday, Aug. 4, and noon Friday, Aug. 19, 2021. In 2.5 weeks, the number of cases increased from nine to 152. Total cases include both current cases and recovered, and they include both student and staff cases. Gaps in the graph above are days when Oak Ridge Schools didn’t publish data on weekends or when Oak Ridge Today didn’t collect the data. (Data from Oak Ridge Schools/Chart by Oak Ridge Today using Flourish)

Oak Ridge Schools will not require face masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 after Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed an executive order Monday allowing parents to opt out of mask mandates issued by school or health boards. However, Oak Ridge Schools will continue to strongly recommend students wear masks in schools where there is an increase in confirmed COVID cases or evidence of the virus being transmitted in the building.

Before the governor’s order, Oak Ridge Schools had required masks at three schools: Jefferson Middle School, Robertsville Middle School, and Willow Brook Elementary School. Now, the use of masks is strongly encouraged in those schools but not required. All three schools have reported more than 20 COVID cases each.

The governor’s order allowed parents and guardians to use a written notification to opt out of mask mandates for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Some parents and government officials supported the order, while others, including doctors and parents, opposed it. School districts in Nashville and Shelby County said they will continue to require masks. That prompted a retort from Tennessee Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally, an Oak Ridge Republican, who said that “the governor and the General Assembly cannot and will not allow lawful orders to be defied.”

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Governor allows parents to opt children out of school mask mandates

Bill Lee

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee on Monday signed an executive order that gives parents the ability to opt their children out of local mask mandates. Parents can opt out of local mask mandates enacted by either school boards or health boards. Some doctors quickly objected to the governor’s order, and legal objections and questions have already been raised.

The governor said districts will make the decisions that they believe are best for their schools, but parents “will have the ultimate decision-making for their individual child’s health and well-being.

“Right now, some of the greatest frustration is occurring in our K-12 schools, especially around the issue of mask mandates,” Lee said in the announcement of his order. “While local decision-making is important, individual decision-making by a parent on issues regarding the health and well-being of their child is the most important.

“No one cares about the health and well-being of a child more than a parent. I am signing an executive order today that allows parents to opt their children out of a school mask mandate if either a school board or health board enacts one over a district.”

Masks are currently required in three Oak Ridge schools where at least 20 COVID-19 cases have been reported: Jefferson Middle School, Robertsville Middle School, and Willow Brook Elementary School. Masks are optional in the other schools. It wasn’t immediately clear how the governor’s order would affect mask mandates at the three Oak Ridge schools.

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Governor authorizes $10,000 reward in Thomas Thrasher death investigation

Rolling Hills Apartments Building
The Oak Ridge Police Department and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation investigated the death of a 29-year-old man found dead in a second-floor apartment at this Rolling Hills Apartments building in Oak Ridge on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. (File photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has authorized a $10,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the person or people responsible for killing Thomas Steven “T.S.” Thrasher in Oak Ridge on December 8, 2014, Seventh Judicial District Attorney General Dave Clark said Monday.

The reward was requested by Clark.

Thrasher was found dead in his home from a gunshot wound more than six years ago. He and his family lived at 615 West Vanderbilt Drive in the Rolling Hills Apartment Complex in Oak Ridge. Thrasher’s death was investigated by the Oak Ridge Police Department and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

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