d e c e m b e r   2 0 1 6
v o l u m e  2 ,   i s s u e  1 2

After municipal elections on November 8, two new city council members were selected: Hans Vogel and Jim Dodson (pictured below).

Hans Vogel
Jim Dodson
Chuck Hope
Chuck Hope (above, right) was re-elected in the November election. Hope was the only city council member with an expiring term to seek re-election. Trina Baughn and Charlie Hensley are the outgoing members, both of whom will be honored for their service to the City of Oak Ridge during this month's city council meeting on Monday, December 12.

The current city council (pictured below) is made up of Mayor Warren Gooch (center) and, from top left to bottom right, Rick Chinn, Chuck Hope, Charlie Hensley, Kelly Callison, Trina Baughn, and Mayor Pro Tem Ellen Smith.

The two new city council members, Vogel and Dodson, will also be recognized at the December meeting as they officially begin their terms. City council meetings are held on the second Monday of each month in the municipal building courtroom starting at 7pm.
Sevier County is working to recover after the largest and most devastating fire to strike Tennessee in 100 years. Victims have lost loved ones, homes, businesses, and pets... All this just a few weeks before Christmas. 

The City of Oak Ridge is standing right beside all the amazing volunteers from East Tennessee as we do everything we can to help our neighbors and friends in the Smoky Mountains. Our thoughts and prayers are with all the families affected by this wildfire. This will be a long process for many of the victims.

There are several donation collection and fundraising efforts underway. You can find many of them posted on the Knoxville News Sentinel's website in the following story: UPDATED LIST: How to help in fire's wake.

The article below outlines an incredible search and rescue mission involving Oak Ridge firefighters while they were providing mutual aid to the area. The photos were taken at the scene.


ORFD Capt. Jordan Alcorn (left) and Firefighter James Jordain (right) hike up the road to find the trapped victims.
At 2:33 p.m. on Monday, November 28, the City of Oak Ridge was contacted by the East Tennessee Mutual Aid District to send fire crews to Sevier County to assist with the wildfires in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. A five person crew was dispatched, with the City Manager's approval, to the Pigeon Forge Emergency Operations Center. Upon arrival, the crew and fire chief were assigned to support fire suppression and evacuations in the Wears Valley area. 

Over the next 12 hour period, the Oak Ridge fire crew, along with five Maryville firefighters, worked several fire situations in Pigeon Forge, most of them in the Dollywood area. One of the more significant events was the rescue of 12 visitors who had been staying in rental cabins behind the Dollywood theme park. 

At approximately 11 p.m. Monday evening, the crew was dispatched to Mitchell Road to help a man trapped in a cabin with fire all around him. Firefighters attempted to gain access, but found the road blocked by downed trees and power poles. They began cutting trees until they encountered downed power lines and transformers. Once Sevier County Electric System workers arrived and cut electrical power to the area, the crew again entered the fire area to rescue the man. 

Firefighters reach the people stranded in the cars and help them escape as flames approach on both sides.

Oak Ridge Fire Chief Darryl Kerley had been given a cell phone number to make contact with the man who was trapped. When he called the number, a woman answered the phone. 

"She told me they were all about to die," Chief Kerley said. "I asked who was with her and she told me there were a total of 12 people sitting in their cars with fire all around. I told her we were on the way to rescue them. A few moments later, she said she could see our flashlights through the smoke."

Firefighters spotted three cars in the middle of the road with fire approaching rapidly on both sides. When the fire crew reached the vehicles, the people inside told them they were too afraid to leave. Firefighters reassured them, saying they had to come with them immediately to get to safety. The crew helped all 12 people, as well as four dogs, get to a trolley that transported them to the Pigeon Forge shelter. 

"In my 39 years of service, this has been the worst disaster I have seen in East Tennessee," Chief Kerley said. "Every direction we looked, there were fires burning on the mountainside. We saw cabins explode into fire on the ridge tops and there was nothing we could do. It was a totally helpless feeling." 

Oak Ridge supported Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge with one fire engine and five employees. Fire department crews rotated out of the area every 12 hours due to the physically demanding work they were performing in the mountains. 

"We were saddened to learn of the dire situation facing our friends and neighbors in Sevier County, but thankful to be able to offer assistance when it was needed most," Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson said. "Our fire department's personnel, equipment and expertise helped save lives. We will continue to be there for our sister cities of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge long after these fires are extinguished." 

The City has also provided two Battalion Chiefs to work at the Incident Command Center in Gatlinburg, providing logistics and planning support. "There were agencies from all over East Tennessee supporting this operation," Chief Kerley added, "and our City is honored to be one of many on the ground in Sevier County helping wherever we can."
The City Clerk's Office is currently accepting  applications from interested citizens to serve as a member of a board or commission as part of the city's end-of-year election. The submission deadline has been extended to December 19, 2016.

This year's process is similar to previous years in that interested residents must complete a Boards and Commissions application available on the City Clerk's departmental website

Applicants may also attach additional documents including cover letters, references and resumes. The application allows residents to choose and rank their top three board choices for membership consideration.

The city is recruiting membership for a total of 18 boards and commissions :
  • Anderson County Board of Equalization
  • Anderson County Community Action Commission
  • Anderson County Economic Development Association
  • Beer Permit Board (Oak Ridge)
  • Board of Building and Housing Code Appeals
  • Board of Zoning Appeals
  • Convention and Visitors Bureau (Oak Ridge)
  • Environmental Quality Advisory Board
  • Industrial Development Board
  • Oak Ridge Heritage Railroad Authority
  • Oak Ridge Housing Authority
  • Oak Ridge Land Bank Corporation Board of Directors
  • Oak Ridge Municipal Planning Commission
  • Personnel Advisory Board
  • Recreation and Parks Advisory Board
  • Senior Advisory Board
  • Trade Licensing Board
  • Traffic Safety Advisory Board
Paper editions of the online application are available in the City Clerk's Office located in Room 109 of the Municipal Building on S. Tulane Avenue. C ompleted applications must be submitted to the City Clerk's Office by 5 p.m. on Monday, December 19, 2016. Late applications or submissions will not be considered. 

The election for all boards will take place at the regular Oak Ridge City Council meeting on Monday, January 9, 2017.  Interested residents can also visit the City's website to learn about the different boards' composition , purpose, meeting schedules , and review the special qualifications for membership to certain boards.

For more information, contact Beth Hickman, City Clerk, at (865) 425-3411 or .
The Oak Ridge Woman's Club and the Oak Ridge Recreation and Parks Department sponsored the annual Christmas tree lighting and reception on December 2. 

A large crowd gathered around the tree to see the lights switched on before heading indoors to the Civic Center gymnasium for some live Christmas music.

Electric Department crews have also worked to get lighted Christmas decorations up along some of the main roads through town since last week.

The Christmas Tree lighting is a City tradition started back in the 1980s.
Visit the Oak Ridge Recreation and Parks website at for information about other city events and programs.

See photos taken at the tree lighting ceremony by visiting our Facebook page.
The Oak Ridge Senior Center is having a Holiday Reception for area senior citizens on Friday, December 9. This year, the party will be held in the Oak Ridge Civic Center's gymnasium located at 1403 Oak Ridge Turnpike.
Come join us between 11:30am and 1pm for a light lunch of sandwiches, chips and cookies as well as holiday music and fellowship. The Senior Center guitar group will be playing live Christmas music. Bingo will be offered and door prizes given away. Goodie bags will also be given out while they last. 
The event is sponsored by the Oak Ridge Senior Center and made possible by many generous donations from area businesses. For more information on this program or the many others offered by the Senior Center, call (865) 425-3999.
A big milestone for the Main Street Oak Ridge project: the new main entrance and parking area for Belk was finished and open in time for Black Friday shopping. 

The new facade is already changing the way Main Street looks, providing a new focal point in the area now that demolition is complete.

Belk, along with JCPenney, has remained open throughout the demolition and construction process. Four new stores will be built in a neighboring building to the left of Belk's new front entrance: Maurice's, Rue 21, Rack Room Shoes, and Ulta (see map below).

According to a project manager from RealtyLink, Dick's Sporting Goods and T.J. Maxx are the two new stores expected to open their doors first. The estimated completion and opening is spring or summer of 2017.

Additional stores, including PetSmart, Electronic Express, Rack Room Shoes, Rue 21, and Maurice's are slated to open later in the summer of next year.

Back on July 20, the City held a special event to break ground on the Main Street project and kick off demolition. Since then, we've seen entire buildings brought down and massive piles of rubble sorted and hauled away. The next step for Main Street is vertical construction, which should begin soon.

A detailed map provided by RealtyLink (below) shows what the project is expected to look like once it's finished. You can see where seven of the eight new businesses are going to be located.  More updates are expected as the project moves forward. Visit our City of Oak Ridge Facebook page to see updated photos and videos  of the Main Street project, as well as many other events happening around town. 
"LOI" stands for Letter of Intent.
For a larger and clearer image, visit RealtyLink's website.
A new target date has been set for the Oak Ridge Senior Center's temporary transition to the Civic Center on the Oak Ridge Turnpike. Recreation and Parks Department Director Jon Hetrick says they now expect to begin the move in January.

Senior Center activities will then be held in a wing of the Civic Center near the indoor pool facility. Part of the area currently houses administrative offices for Recreation and Parks employees. Most of those employees will relocate to the Scarboro Center while a City-owned building on Badger Avenue is undergoing minor renovations. Once those changes are complete, staff will move into the Badger Avenue location permanently.

An architectural firm retained by the City is working on plans for a brand new Senior Center. The aim is to locate it on the same property with the Civic Center.

"The new Senior Center will be centrally located, giving area seniors much easier access to other City facilities as well as shopping and dining in Main Street Oak Ridge," Hetrick explained. "The Recreation and Parks Department is working to merge the current Senior Center and Civic Center activity calendars so that we can still offer something for everyone in a single location. It's our goal to manage this transition to the best of our ability, assess the needs of those who will be using the new Senior Center, make some minor accessibility improvements, and get it up and running as soon as possible."

Moving the Senior Center from Emory Valley Road is necessary because Anderson County has chosen to re-purpose the Daniel Arthur Building. It will serve as the new General Sessions Court, which is currently located on Oak Ridge Turnpike, as well as a records storage facility.

The City plans to approve and release the details of the design as soon as they're complete. A possible timeline for the new center's construction is estimated at 18 months.
City of Oak Ridge officials and members of the community gathered in Jackson Square on Veterans Day to take part in the official dedication of a Blue Star Memorial.

The marker reads: 
"A tribute to the Armed Forces who have defended the United States of America."

It is sponsored by the Oak Ridge Garden Club in cooperation with The City of Oak Ridge District IV and the Tennessee Federation of Garden Clubs.

The marker can be seen from E. Tennessee Avenue.  For more photos from the dedication ceremony, you can click here for a link to a photo album post on our Facebook page .
The ENTIRE month of December will be the Oak Ridge Animal Shelter's "Home For the Holidays" celebration. 

All available animals will be just $55! This fee includes spay/neuter, a microchip, booster vaccines, a rabies vaccine, a dose of dewormer, a dose of flea medication, and a nail trim.

The animal shelter will also host a special adoption event on Saturday, December 17, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at their location on Belgrade Road. Help us get all these wonderful animals out of the shelter and in front of the hearth by Christmas!

Holiday schedule: The shelter will be open Tuesday, December 20, through Friday, December 23. The shelter will be CLOSED Saturday, December 24, through Monday, December 26. They will reopen on Tuesday the 27th.
We are closer than ever to seeing the Friendship Bell properly on display once again thanks to a massive fundraising effort that officially kicked off last month.

The bell currently sits on wooden blocks near Badger Avenue. The old structure had to be dismantled after suffering water damage.

In a special presentation at Oak Ridge Associated Universities on November 17, plans for the new Peace Pavilion were unveiled as part of the "Raise and Ring" event. Those plans include moving the Friendship Bell to a new location within A.K. Bissell Park, constructing a large new pavilion to house the bell and incorporating elements from the original structure within the new design.

The fundraising effort for this project officially kicked off with the unveiling, and the community has already shown how passionate they are about making this a reality. As of November 17, $416,579 had been paid or pledged into the fund; that's roughly 56% of the total amount needed for the project.

The new pavilion will feature the bell prominently in the center of the circular, wave-like design. The bell will hang from a concrete cantilever. The cantilever will have wooden arches to shade the bell. Beyond that, there will be pathways, seating, steps, and gardens. Many of the mature trees will feature into the design. Current walkways will also be mostly unaffected. Additionally, the new Peace Pavilion will have soft lighting for evening viewing of the bell.

The Oak Ridge Rotary Community Foundation is grateful for the outpouring of support they've seen for this project so far, but there's still a ways to go. If you'd like to donate, you can do so online at Just click the donate button on the main page. 

The architect who designed the plans had his team create a video showing what the Peace Pavilion will look like once it's complete. You can check that out by clicking here for a link to our Facebook page. You can also stay connected with the project on Facebook: @ORfriendshipbell and on Twitter: @ORfriendshipbel.
The citywide leaf pick-up program started last month and is currently in its third week. Collection efforts will follow the proposed schedule as closely as possible.

The schedule is a general guide and can vary considerably due to weather conditions and the amount of leaves. 

PLEASE NOTE: Streets will be swept approximately two weeks after leaves are picked up in each designated area.

The following guidelines will help make the leaf pickup process easier for crews and homeowners...
  • Residents should place their leaves near, but not beyond the curb. Leaves must not be placed on the sidewalk or in the street, parking spaces or drainage ditches due to posing a pedestrian or traffic hazard and possibly clogging the storm drains. Hazards that are created by improperly placed leaves will be removed by the City at the resident's expense.
  • Leaves must be free of tree branches and twigs as these can cause the leaf vacuums to clog. Because of their impact on production, leaf piles found to contain these items will not be picked up. 

  • All leaves must be placed outside fenced areas. If there is no other location on your property to rake your leaves, then rake them to the end or side of your driveway. Leaves may be placed in plastic bags and will be picked up at the curb during the scheduled program.

  • Only leaves will be collected during this fall's program. Citizens are reminded that the citywide household trash and brush pick-up will be scheduled in April and May. 
The leaf pick-up schedule can be found online.  For more information, please contact Waste Connections of Tennessee at (865) 482-3656.
Haw Ridge Park, North Boundary Greenway and Gallaher Bend Greenway will be closed periodically for Oak Ridge Wildlife Management Area managed quota hunts this fall.

The closure on Haw Ridge includes the portion of Melton Lake Greenway adjacent to the park, from the lake to the parking lot on Edgemoor Road.

The last remaining hunt, which is open only to those pre-selected in a Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency (TWRA) quota drawing, is set to take place on  December 10-11 (Sat-Sun).  Anyone who does not possess a quota hunt permit is asked to stay out of these areas during the hunt dates.

Signs will be posted in the affected areas to notify the public of the closure. Oak Ridge Police Department officers will also assist in keeping non-hunters off the greenways on the morning of each hunt.
For additional information, contact the Recreation and Parks Department at (865) 425-3450 or Aubrey Deck with TWRA at (865) 576-2380. 
Income limits have been raised significantly to allow more residents to qualify for free home upgrades through the  Make Oak Ridge Energy Efficient (MORE2) program.

To spread the word, MORE2 organizers are hosting classes they hope will allow homeowners to look into qualifications and learn how the program works. The classes are also aimed at teaching cost effective ways families can make energy-saving improvements to their homes.

One event is scheduled during the month of December: a class on the 8th from 5:30-6:30pm in the Civic Center's Craft Room.

Those interested in applying can bring the following  items with them to the class:
  • The first two pages of the application, fully filled out
  • Proof of current total monthly household income from occupants age 18 and older
  • Proof of payment of previous year's City and County property tax
  • Photo identification for homeowner and all household members above 15 years of age
  • Most recent electric bill
  • Last three months of bank statements
You can also read success stories from some of the people who've received upgrades to their homes through the MORE2 program. Just visit the  website and click on the "Participant Stories" tab on the top right. 

The next public meeting is scheduled for February 28, 2017, at 4pm. It's being held at the Oak Ridge Housing Authority.  A schedule of other upcoming MORE2 classes and public meetings can be found  online . Walk-ins are welcome, but registration is also available on the website.
The City is hiring an Electric Line Technician (Lineman). Primary job tasks include w orking with various electric department crews installing or repairing high voltage electrical distribution system components, electrical meters, traffic signals and controllers, and electric fixtures in City facilities. This position will perform both underground and overhead work.

The City is also looking for School Crossing Guards.  Applicants m ust be at least 18 years old and able to work 10 hours per week (Morning & afternoon shifts).

For more details on job requirements and instructions for how to apply, visit the City's website and click on Employment.
Our Senior Center hosted a special event for Veterans Day: a pancake brunch honoring local citizens who have served our country.

Volunteers and City employees worked to put together a breakfast feast with three different kinds of pancakes, as well as bacon, hash brown casserole and other goodies.

To see a photo album from the Veterans Day pancake brunch: just visit our Facebook page and look for the post from November 11.

Special guests from the town of Maubeuge in France were visiting Oak Ridge last week and we were able to give them a tour of our municipal building.

The students are part of an exchange program. The group was made up of students from France and their hosts from Oak Ridge High School as well as a few chaperones.

First, the students met with Mayor Warren Gooch and City Manager Mark Watson who welcomed them to the city. After a quick introduction, the students visited the courtroom to learn about city council and municipal government. They took part in a mock city council meeting where they debated and voted on issues like banning homework and the use of smartphones. 

The students also learned all about being a first responder thanks to a presentation and demonstration by the Oak Ridge Fire Department.

Students got to see all the specialized equipment and a fire engine up close, while getting their questions answered by one of our firefighters. We had a lot of fun visiting with them and we hope they learned a lot about Oak Ridge!
Photo of the Supermoon taken in Oak Ridge by Kelly Trisler, edited by Owen Hoffman.
Did you see the Supermoon last month? It was pretty incredible. A local man decided to make it easier for people to have a prime view of the celestial event by setting up a telescope in Oak Ridge.

Dozens of people flocked to the location after Owen Hoffman posted the announcement on Facebook, inviting everyone to attend. He even helped people capture beautiful images through the telescope using just the camera on their smartphones.

Hoffman says he holds "sidewalk astronomy" meetings in Oak Ridge, usually setting up near the pavilion at the marina or near the fountain in Jackson Square.

Owen Hoffman (seen in red) helps attendees use his telescope to view and photograph the Supermoon. Photo by Rick Bunge.
"I like the [Jackson Square] location when there's a near first quarter moon in the sky," Hoffman said. "If this activity gains in popularity, I'll have to recruit more amateur astronomers to join in the fun."

We also spoke with Kelly Trisler, a new resident to Oak Ridge, who attended Hoffman's Supermoon viewing last month. She told us she was able to take an incredible photo using a special adapter that Owen provided.

"We are excited to be in a community that provides constant opportunities for enrichment in the sciences and arts," Trisler explained. "Mr. Hoffman's outreach with this 'sidewalk astronomy' is a great way to get people out to see the universe the way it actually is, in a way that can't be seen without telescopes. There was such a good turn out for his event and we look forward to more!"
This past month, Caitlin and Tina have been hard at work educating different groups about stormwater, as well as completing GPS mapping throughout the City. 

As the winter months approach, Caitlin and Tina want to share a few household tips to reduce your environmental impact in your community...


When applying salt to roads and sidewalks, make sure to follow these practices:
  • Try an alternative to traditional deicers such as Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA)
  • Reduce the amount of salt used on sidewalks and driveways
Excessive salt buildup on roads and sidewalks can run into creeks and streams, creating an inhospitable environment for aquatic life.


When cooking with grease during the Holidays (deep frying a turkey, for example), remember to  "Cease the Grease." 

Never pour leftover cooking grease down the drain. Instead,  pour it into a separate container and then throw the receptacle away.  Be sure to dispose of the grease properly. Grease solidifies after it is poured down a drain and, over time, can clog up pipes and cause sewage overflows.


Holiday Tip: Instead of throwing out your Christmas tree after the holidays, try recycling it. The City of Oak Ridge Recreation and Parks Department will be accepting Christmas trees at both Big Turtle Park and Solway Park on January 14th and 21st. 

Check out the links below to find more information about where you can recycle your tree this holiday season!
City offices will be closed for the Christmas holiday on Friday, December 23, and Monday, December 26. Offices will also be closed for the New Year's holiday on Monday, January 2, 2017.

Waste Connections' household recycling and refuse pickup schedule will not be impacted by Christmas since it falls on a Sunday this year.

NOTE: The Chamber of Commerce's annual Christmas Parade is scheduled for Saturday, December 10. The theme is  "Jingle All the Way." The parade will begin at 6pm. Visit the Chamber's website for more on the parade route.
The Oak Ridge Public Library is displaying photographs and prints from the Oak Ridge Room collection during the month of December.
Three large aerial photographs highlight the Woodland neighborhood. The date of these photographs is uncertain, but there is a large open field where Downtown Shopping Center was built, so the images were probably taken in the early 1950s.
Also on display is Clark Center's "diploma" from Clinton Engineer Works. Mr. Center was known as "Mr. Carbide," and was awarded "the 'onery' degree of Atom Buster."
Visit the Library to view these unique items from the Oak Ridge Room collection. 

City of Oak Ridge | |
200 South Tulane Ave
Oak Ridge, TN 37830