Twenty-nine qualify to run for 16 seats on Anderson County Commission

Twenty-nine candidates have qualified to run for 16 seats on the Anderson County Commission in the county general election in August. There are also three people running for the Tennessee House of Representatives in District 33, a new appointed Oak Ridge school board member running in a special election in August, and a Democratic challenger to Tennessee Senator Randy McNally, an Oak Ridge resident who is also lieutenant governor. The deadline to qualify to run in the August 2 election, which will also feature contested elections for Anderson County sheriff and trustee, was noon Thursday. Anderson County has eight County Commission districts, and there are two commissioners per district. The offices are non-partisan, meaning that, unlike some other county offices, they are not part of the Democratic and Republican primary elections on May 1. [Read more…]

Commissioners plan tour with video, showing need for guardrails on New River Highway

Graves Gap Wildfire

A section of New River Highway, also known as Highway 116, is pictured above between Briceville and Rosedale in November 2012, when the Graves Gap wildfire was reported on a mountain east of the highway (to the right in the photo above). (File photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)


Two Anderson County commissioners have planned a mountain drive on Tuesday that they say will again show the need for guardrails along Highway 116, also known as New River Highway, in north Anderson County.

The commissioners, Tim Isbel and Shain Vowell, represent District Four in Anderson County. That district includes Briceville and Rosedale, among other parts of mountainous north Anderson County.

They have scheduled a meeting with a representative of the Tennessee Department of Transportation at about 8:15 a.m. Tuesday, September 26, at the Anderson County Career and Technical Center beside the Anderson County High School. The purpose is to explain the need for the guardrails, the commissioners said in an email forwarded to other county commissioners, county officials, and the media. [Read more…]

Crisis intervention training helps save life in Rocky Top

Twenty law enforcement personnel graduated from Crisis Intervention Team, or CIT, training on March 10, 2017. The graduates represented Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, Oak Ridge Police Department, Rocky Top Police Department, Anderson County Corrections Office, and Blount Memorial Security. (Submitted photo)

Twenty law enforcement personnel graduated from Crisis Intervention Team, or CIT, training on March 10, 2017. The graduates represented Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, Oak Ridge Police Department, Rocky Top Police Department, Anderson County Corrections Office, and Blount Memorial Security. (Submitted photo)


Twenty law enforcement personnel graduated from Crisis Intervention Team, or CIT, training on March 10. The graduates represented Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, Oak Ridge Police Department, Rocky Top Police Department, Anderson County Corrections Office, and Blount Memorial Security.

CIT is an innovative first-responder model of police-based crisis intervention with community, health care, and advocacy partnerships. CIT provides 40 hours of specialized training for problem solving and de-escalating crisis situations with individuals who have a mental illness. Studies show it also improves the safety of patrol officers, consumers, family members, and citizens within the community, a press release said.

“Thanks to the partnership between the Oak Ridge City Police Department, Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, Ridgeview Behavioral Health, NAMI Oak Ridge, the Mental Health Association of East Tennessee, and other community health advocates, our community has better equipped itself with first responders who have an effective set of communication and problem solving skills,” Oak Ridge Police Department Chief James Akagi said in his opening remarks.

So far, the East Tennessee Crisis Intervention Team has trained more than 180 law enforcement personnel, the press release said. [Read more…]

Term limits: Who could no longer serve if two-term limit was in place now?

Jerry Creasey

Jerry Creasey, an Anderson County commissioner from Oak Ridge, could no longer serve if a two-term limit were in place now. Now in his seventh term, Creasey is the longest-serving commissioner. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)


Note: This story was last updated at 6:15 p.m.

If the proposed two-term limit was in place now, Jerry Creasey, the longest-serving Anderson County commissioner, could no longer serve.

Neither could Mark Alderson, who is in his fifth term; Chuck Fritts or Jerry White (both are in their fourth terms); or Whitey Hitchcock, Robert McKamey, or Tracy Wandell (all three are in their third terms).

Creasey is in his seventh term, according to information from the Anderson County Election Commission.

It’s not clear if Myron Iwanski would be term-limited at this point. Iwanski is in his sixth term, but those terms were interrupted by his service as interim Anderson County mayor from January 2011 to August 2012—after former mayor Rex Lynch resigned and before current mayor Terry Frank was elected. Whether Iwanski would be term-limited would depend upon whether term limits, assuming a two-term limit was enacted, were consecutive or lifetime limits.

Assuming Iwanski was term-limited, though, that would mean that eight of the 16 commissioners, or half of them, would be past their second term and not able to serve if a two-term limit were in place.

No term limits are in place now, and they can’t officially be proposed, debated, or recommended to voters until after the eight-member Anderson County Charter Commission is elected November 8. Whether they are even considered is likely to depend upon which candidates are elected. The Charter Commission is not obligated to consider term limits, but it will have the authority to do so. (See a story on the Charter Commission process here.) [Read more…]

Yager wins special election for Anderson County Commission, District 8

Phil Yager

Phil Yager


Note: This story was last updated at 12:05 a.m.

Phil Yager beat two other candidates to win a seat on Anderson County Commission in District 8 in Oak Ridge on Thursday.

The special election for the District 8 seat was held along with the county general election and state and federal primaries on Thursday, August 4. District 8 includes the Emory Valley, Hendrix Creek, and Woodland voting precincts in Oak Ridge.

Yager finished with 542 votes, compared to 239 for Angeleque McNutt and 227 for Myra Mansfield, according to unofficial results posted on the Anderson County Election Commission website.

The final results from all 27 precincts, plus early, absentee, and write-in ballots, were posted at 10:41 p.m. Thursday. [Read more…]

Lake City recommends Rocky Top name change, but receives copyright warning

Lake City Council Approves Rocky Top Name Change

The Lake City Council votes 4-0 on Thursday to recommend changing the town’s name to Rocky Top, and Rep. John Ragan, right, said he has drafted legislation to approve the rechristening in the state legislature.

LAKE CITY—Just hours before a historic vote to change this town’s name for the second time in less than a century, Lake City Mayor Tim Sharp received a legal letter warning him that a proposal to build a Rocky Top theme park here could violate trademark rights and should be dropped.

But project supporters packed City Hall on Thursday, and the Lake City Council pressed on, voting 4-0 to recommend changing the name of this former coal mining town to Rocky Top. It’s the first step in a project to build a multi-million dollar theme park that could include an interactive Knotty Pine 3-D theater, water park, hotel, and restaurant.

The last-minute letter from an intellectual property attorney in Nashville could have Lake City officials and the park’s investors scrambling to answer legal questions. The notice was “very unexpected,” Sharp said. [Read more…]

Oliver Springs liquor vote, Norris Council race remain close

Unofficial results from Tuesday’s election remained close on an Oliver Springs liquor referendum and the race for a fifth seat on the Norris City Council, and it wasn’t clear how provisional ballots could change the final vote tallies.

Oliver Springs voters appeared to have rejected the liquor referendum, with 486 voting yes and 519 voting “no” in Anderson and Roane counties. The referendum would allow package stores to sell alcoholic beverages.

But there are about 50 provisional ballots in Anderson County and an unknown number in Roane County, election officials said Wednesday. It wasn’t clear how many of those were from Oliver Springs, or how the ballots and a post-election audit might affect the final vote when results are certified Nov. 19.

Results in the race for four of the five seats on Norris City Council seemed clear. Chris Mitchell, Bill Grieve Jr., Loretta A. Painter, and Jack Black all received more than 500 votes, according to the unofficial results.

But the write-in race between four candidates competing for a fifth seat was close. York Haverkamp had 166 write-in votes and Eugene F. Oates had 154.

Anderson County Election Commission Administrator Mark Stephens said the write-in ballots will have to be checked vote by vote.

“We have really never had to do this in the past,” he said.

In other races in Anderson County, Steven R. Emert received the most votes in the special election to represent District 3 on Anderson County Commission. That district includes Andersonville, Fairview, Norris, and Glen Alpine. Former commissioner Johnny Alley resigned from the seat after he was elected Anderson County property assessor in the Aug. 2 election.

Also Tuesday, Shain Vowell and Andrew Howard won two seats on Lake City City Council, Vowell with 231 votes and Howard with 191.

Most of the other results mirrored results in larger regions, with the exception of the presidential race. Republican Bob Corker beat Democrat Mark E. Clayton in the U.S. Senate race, Republican Chuck Fleischmann defeated Democrat Mary M. Headrick in the battle to represent Tennessee’s Third District in the U.S. House of Representatives, and Republican Dennis Powers trounced Independent Virgil Kidwell.