Tag Archives: Tennessee Valley Authority

Planning Ahead for Roane County

{Ron Woody, Roane County Executive}

The county has recently taken some progressive steps in planning the county’s future. If one feels that nothing has been accomplished we understand, but below the surface, work has been going on, plans have been formulating, and execution of plans have taken place and/or are ready to take place. So, what plans are we talking about?

First, I think more of our county leadership recognizes that Roane County is not an industrial mecca. As an industrial agent recently said, “More than half of our proposals are put in the waste can because we are in a high wage, low unemployment area and new companies do not want to compete for the workforce.” The high wage, low unemployment is due to TVA, DOE, and related contractors. Slowly, a shift in thinking is taking place. What are our county’s assets? Great climate, a beautiful water system of rivers in Tennessee, Emory and Clinch, and friendly cities and communities. Maybe investments should be made in our recreation and tourism industries?

The county has been putting plans together for years for recreation and tourism development and as noted in last month’s newsletter, has hired master planners to complete the process. This year the county is eligible for a $250,000 recreation grant but we must match $250,000 local funds. The county does not have $250,000 but has taken the needed steps in the 2020 Budget to secure a large portion. Further, the county is applying for Tennessee RiverLine 652 project from the University of Tennessee. More details about this will be discussed in a future article.

The county is further working with Legacy Park Foundation and the National Park Service as the Manhattan Project Historical National Park is coming online in Roane County.

New trail systems, (both land and water), a National Park within Roane County, new courtesy boat docks on the reservoir, enhancements to Riley Creek Campground, and other recreation assets are helping Roane County lay the foundation for a vacation, recreation, and tourism destination.

More to come…

Swan Pond Sports Complex and Roane County Park

{Mike Beard, Director of Roane County Parks and Recreation}

Swan Pond Sports Complex

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Department of Health, along with TVA are finalizing the sampling plan. For the SPSC. Based on a timeline submitted by the TDEC it appears that the SPSC will be closed throughout the summer and hopefully the interpretation of the sampling will be completed by the Fall. We have our fingers crossed for a Fall season. Sampling has not begun yet.

AYSO has found other suitable locations for the spring season and this could be the case for the rest of the year. TDEC and the TN Department of Health have submitted a preliminary timeline for the necessary work. This timeline will conclude in early Fall 2019.

Happening In Roane County Park

Our Roane County Park volunteer groundskeeper asked for new mulch for this Spring’s planting. Your Parks and Recreation staff was happy to comply.

TVA visits the Caney Creek Recreation Area footbridge location as part of the permitting process.

Roane County’s Certified Sites Still Top Prospects

{Pam May – Interim President & CEO, The Roane Alliance}

Since the program began in 2012, 55 sites across the state have become Select Tennessee Certified Sites. Out of those 55 sites, only nine sites have sold in the program’s seven years. 

Roane County has three certified sites out of the current inventory of 46: 

  • the 44-acre Cardiff Valley Road Site located in Roane County Industrial Park;
  • the 40- acre Jones Road Site located in Roane Regional Business & Technology Park; and
  • the 110-acre Development Area 6 Site located in Oak Ridge’s Horizon Center Industrial Park. 

The program was created to help communities prepare industrial sites for private investment and job creation.  By setting rigorous standards, Tennessee can ensure these sites are prime for development and can provide companies detailed and reliable information about those sites to help with the selection process.  In addition, opportunities have been available through grants to update these sites.  One of those was the Jones Road site that now has a newly constructed industrial grade road leading directly to the site and approximately 11 flat, pad ready acres that were graded to support the buildout of a facility up to 200,000 square feet. 

Having a certified site in your community does not guarantee the success of landing a prospect.  Qualifications for certification require at least 20 acres of developable land for industrial operations, documented environmental conditions and geotechnical analysis, existing onsite utilities or a formal plan to extend utilities to the site, and truck-quality road access.  But much more goes into selecting a site – location, community demographics, quality of life, workforce initiatives, and business climate are some of the most important. 

The Roane Alliance is optimistic, having seen an increase in interest for all three sites, since achieving certification.  The three sites have collectively been receiving around 15 prospect visits each year.  And interest in the Jones Road site continues to gain even more interest because of the addition of the road and pad ready acres.

Interest has also increased because of the relationships built with our economic development partners such as TVA and the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development (TNECD).  Since many prospects and leads come through them, the Roane Alliance has been using the certified sites as a way to stay in the forefront of their minds.  Each quarter, those sites are highlighted in an email that has resulted in some quick replies about potential prospects.  One such prospect is currently considering Roane County, and though the business does not qualify for the Jones Road Site due to jobs and wage requirements we have set, it has led to interest for other sites, including Cardiff Valley. 

Standards for the sites have to be maintained and re-evaluated every three years to receive recertification.  This process ensures the most current and accurate information is available to prospects.   All three sites are due for recertification this year, and the Roane Alliance has begun the process for Cardiff Valley and Jones Road, while Oak Ridge City will submit for Horizon Center. 

To learn more about the Select Tennessee Site Certification Program please visit https://tnecd.com/sites/certified-sites/.

Reviewing Priorities and Adjusting – Feb 2019

{Ron Woody, Roane County Executive}

In our last newsletter, we discussed the planning steps of putting together the 2020 Budget. During this past month, we checked off the first step by reviewing with our departments their 2019 capital plans and budgets and worked with the budget committee on a few adjustments. This important process allows the departments to review priorities and make needed adjustments which then sets a clean tablet for the 2020 capital budget and the following 19 years. Our department heads and commission understands the importance of reviewing your goals and objectives and making the needed changes.

One of the most significant changes was the realization that the county recreation master plan probably needs updating. As we reviewed the recreation capital plan, we asked the question, “When was the last masterplan?” The plan exceeded 15 years. Thus it had been 15 years since the general public had an opportunity to make formal comments on the county recreation plan. The recreation plan includes current and potential recreation services for Roane County Residents and the county tourism industry. Since the last plan the county has taken over a TVA campground (Riley Creek), leased and built the Swan Pond Sports Complex, and the State Department of Transportation has built a multi-use crossing that connects the Roane State Community College Expo Center and Walking Trails to a potential walking trail, horse trail, or campsites at the Old Caney Creek campground area of 60 acres. Keep up with the formal recreation planning process in our future newsletters as the county recreation advisory board, and park and recreation committee begins their work.

Founders Day – Nov 2018

{Amber Cofer, Assistant to the County Executive}

Pause and Honor Our County’s Treasures
Roane County was officially founded on November 6, 1801. In 2007 Roane County began celebrating Roane County’s Birthday with the Founder’s Day Celebration by naming a Class of Roane Treasures each year. Every year we pause to honor the individuals who have shaped Roane County into the county it is today. These individual have made tremendous contributions not only to our county but also the state and nation. The Treasures are individuals who have helped shape the county’s history through different endeavors.

Roane County will be honoring the following individuals at this year’s Founder’s Day Celebration:
Roane Treasures (70-90 years old): James Little, Dillard Moore, Earl Nall, Jessie June Raby Nelson, and Alton Richards.
Golden Treasures (90 years or older): Gerald Lay, Charles Harris, and Warren Kocher We welcome all to celebrate Roane County’s 217th birthday as we honor the Twelfth Class of Roane Treasures.

Among those honored will be the first African American coal tester at TVA in Kingston, a senior fitness instructor, Boys and Girls Clubs mentors, military veterans and a WWII POW survivor.

Roane County Facilities Are Looking Brighter – Aug 2018

{Lynn Farnham – Roane County Purchasing Agent}

The County Commission appropriated funds in the 2017-18 capital budget to perform lighting upgrades in the courthouse, the Sheriff’s Office & Jail, and the Office of Emergency Services. The project replaced all fluorescent lamps and ballasts to L.E.D. lamps and ballasts. Not only has this allowed for savings on the utility bills, but it will also improve the quality of lighting in these facilities. The Purchasing Department arranged to have TVA audits done of county facilities to determine the savings potential for each location. It was found that there was the potential for significant savings in each of the facilities that were audited. The table below is a summary of the information from the TVA audits. The amounts listed below are estimates based on the audit.

FacilityCostAnnual - kWh Savings - Monetary
Ambulance &
HWY Building
$7,200 96024.097$9,600
Courthouse$14,75085307.035$8,500
Sheriff, Jail, & OES$16,95072692.406$7,300

An Invitation to Bid for the lamps and ballasts was issued by the Purchasing Department. This is an annual contract that can be renewed to purchase lamps and ballasts for future upgrades as funding becomes available. The lamps and ballasts have a 10-year warranty. The projects listed above are complete. Most all of the installation of the L.E.D. lighting was performed by county inmates. Many thanks to Sheriff Stockton for providing the county with this valuable service.

Watts Bar TVA Grave Removal

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

In preparation for the building of Watts Bar Dam, some single graves and entire cemeteries were removed because those areas would be flooded by the backwaters created by Watts Bar Dam. To move the graves, TVA required a family member to approve the grave to be moved. If no relative was found or the family did not wish for the graves to be removed, TVA left the graves there, and they were covered by the backwaters. Two cemeteries, the Jackson Cemetery, and the Perry Cemetery, both located in the Tennessee River, are now located on islands. In the Jackson Cemetery (located across from Boyd Woody’s house) there are 35 graves, and in the Perry Cemetery (which is located on Thief Neck Island) there are six graves. In all, about 100 graves were moved. The most graves that were removed from a single cemetery were forty-seven graves which were located in the Kendrick Cemetery near the New Hope Community. The graves that were removed from the various cemeteries were relocated to several different cemeteries. Some were removed to the Oak Grove Cemetery in Rockwood, Luminary Cemetery (South of the River), Eagle Furnace Cemetery, and Cedar Grove Church Cemetery near Paint Rock among others. Some graves were removed to cemeteries in Rhea and Meigs County. New roads were also created to provide access to other cemeteries in which the old roads were covered.

Originally written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, June 2017.

The Controversial Dike in Kingston

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

In 1939 – 1940, the Tennessee Valley Authority drew up plans to create a dike on Highway 70 at Kingston which would keep the waters of Watts Bar Dam from flooding the town of Kingston. This plan was supported by TVA and many of the citizens of Kingston and Roane County. The dike allowed traffic to travel directly on Highway 70 West from Knoxville, instead of the route which had for many decades required drivers to turn right onto Kentucky Street coming from Race Street and then turn left on Cumberland Street. The plan was controversial, in that there were people who were for the dike and those who opposed the building of it. Those for the plan pointed out the amount of land that it would take up and the amount of flooding that still would occur if the dike was not built. Plus the costs would have included Roane County having to replace Roane County High School. Still, there were some citizens who were opposed to it. However, many of these opponents would have ended up with lakefront property. But the plans continued as originally designed.

The following article appeared in The Rockwood Times, July 3, 1941, about the completion and the description of the dike.

“Work on Kingston Dike Against Lake Nears Completion. Roadway On Structure To Make Beautiful View Of Lake Area Available.” The much talk of the dike being erected by the TVA to keep the backwaters of Watts Bar dam from inundating the town of Kingston is now receiving the finishing touches. The main construction has been completed and the roadway on top of the dike has been aided with a temporary rock surface which will be later converted to concrete or asphalt. The main dike is tied into the hill just beyond the home of Hugh E. Wyatt and extends out through what was the Wilkey bottom through the Evans, Muecke and Oran lots coming to grade at the intersection of Cumberland Street and Harriman avenue where the dike and Highway 70 or Broadway of America come together. The highway has been raised too, so as to become a part of the dike on out to the old Clinch River Bridge. Most local travel will now go down Cumberland Street and go on the new highway where the dike and highway come together. The main travel through town will come down Race Street which has been raised to go onto the dike near the M.E. Church property. Highway 58 intersects with Race Street at the junction with Kentucky Street and the travel going over this highway will go into Race Street and on over the dike. The dike itself is approximately 35 feet high, 160 feet wide at the base and is 1550 feet long. The top is 40 feet wide with a roadway and sidewalk on the side. The north side of the dike is being sodded (sic) and the south or lakeside is being rip-rapped with a heavy stone. At the west end of the dike, a boat ramp and parking area is being erected. From the top of the dike is one of the best scenic views in all the TVA territory and thousands will stop and gaze upon the beauties of the lake extending down the Pellissippi (sic) to historic Southwest Point and the main lake of the Tennessee River. The boating and fishing of this immediate lake cannot be surpassed in all the country of the Tennessee Valley.— “Roane County Banner.”

Originally written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, February 2017.

How Kingston Was Named

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

Kingston became a town before Roane County became a county. It was created by an act of the Tennessee State Legislature on 23 Oct 1799. It is about the eighth oldest city in Tennessee. It is named after Robert King who gave the land for the creation of the city. When Roane County was created in 1801, as Kingston was the only town in the county, it became the county seat.

In 1807, Kingston became state capital for one day. This was to fulfill the requirements of a treaty with the Indians in which the land around Fort Southwest Point was ceded to the State. The State Legislature met at the home of James Gordon which was located on the corner of Race and Third Street across from the current courthouse. The Roane County Court made many improvements to the house in order that it would be adequate for the state legislature to meet. Unfortunately, after meeting in Kingston for one day, the state legislature voted to return to Knoxville, the former state capital. It is interesting to note that in 1844, Kingston was considered again for the state capital. The Senate voted for Kingston while the House voted for Murfreesboro. As a compromise, Nashville was chosen as the permanent state capital.

Throughout its history, Kingston has had many ups and downs. When the river was king, steamboats traveled from Kingston to Knoxville and Chattanooga. Also, many of the roads leading west passed through Kingston. However, when the railroads became a major part of transportation, the river declined. At least two times in the 1870s and 1880s, the citizens voted to dissolve the city. Rockwood and Harriman had surpassed the importance of Kingston. One of the main reasons that Kingston survived where other towns have disappeared is that Kingston was still the county seat. In the 1890s there was a move to make Harriman the county seat as it was difficult to get to Kingston because of the rivers. At that time the only way to get across was through ferries. In dry weather, one could also ford across the Clinch River. County Court then decided to build a bridge that connected to the other side. With the coming of Oak Ridge and T.V.A., Kingston became a bedroom community. The coming of Interstate 40 also created more traffic in Kingston.

Originally Written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, August 2013.

The Beginnings of Oak Ridge & The Secret City

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

There have been many important events that have occurred throughout the history of Roane County. The coming of industry to create Rockwood, the Temperance movement which brought about Harriman, the Tennessee Valley Authority which brought power to rural areas and many others made dramatic impacts in Roane County. However, the creation of “Oak Ridge” may have had the most impact. The bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese brought the United States into World War II. Here in Oak Ridge and other plants in the United States, the atomic bomb was developed which were dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The development of the atomic bomb had to be kept top secret. The first code name for the project was called the “Kingston Demolition Range” but was later renamed “Clinton Engineer Works” after the city of Clinton. One of the reasons this area was chosen was that the area was isolated. It also had power provided by T.V.A., and there were two railroads. Land acquisition began in the fall of 1942. Approximately 56,200 acres in Roane and Anderson Counties were acquired for the project. An important aspect of the land was the ridges which divided the valleys. A plant was located in each valley. At this time there were only about 1,000 families in the area. The average cost of an acre paid was $45 per acre. However, many families received much less. Among the items located in the Roane County Archives are the maps of the Kingston Demolition Range showing all the owners of the different properties which were acquired by the Federal Government.

Among the acquisitions was the Wheat High School, located near the K-25 plant, which was only one of three High Schools ran by Roane County. The other two were Roane County High and Rockwood High. The Harriman High School was run by the City of Harriman. Most of the homes, barns and other outbuildings were destroyed to discourage people and others from moving into them. Those buildings not torn down were used for storage. Two churches, the George Jones Baptist church near the K-25 plant and the New Bethel Baptist Church near the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (X-10), which was used for storage, were not torn down and are all that remain in the Oak Ridge part of Roane County before the building of the city.

The Gaseous Diffusion Plant (K-25) was the first of the three (K-25, X-10, and Y-12) plants to be built. Construction of the Gaseous Diffusion Plant (K-25) began in 1943 and was built primarily by the J.A. Jones Construction Co., of Charlotte, N.C. at the cost of about $500 million. Carbide and Carbon Chemical Company, later Union Carbide Corporation, became the operating contractor because of its experience in the chemical and metallurgical fields and earlier contributions to the atomic energy program. K-25 was the war code name for the plant “K” representing the Kellex Corporation which designed the plant. In 1945, about 10 percent of all the electric power generated in the United States was required to operate K-25. It consisted of five process buildings—K-25, K-27, K-29, and K-33 and about 70 auxiliary buildings covering about 640 acres. The U-shaped K-25 building was a half-mile long and was the largest building in the world under one roof at that time. Each wing is 2,450 feet long, averages 400 feet in width, and is 60 feet in height. The total area of the building covered 44 acres. Along with K-27, the K-25 process building was shut down in 1964. The plant produced large quantities of enriched uranium-235 from uranium 238 through the gaseous diffusion process to be used either in weapons or to fuel nuclear reactors.

K-25 Footprint

K-25 Aerial View

K-25 Union Carbide Corp USAEC

X10 Reactor Face

X-10


The X-10 (Oak Ridge National Laboratory) plant was built by DuPont for 12 million dollars and completed in October 1943. The letter “X” was used by the University of Chicago in its description of the area. The number 10 had no special significance. It was much smaller than the K-25 and Y-12 plants. During the war, it employed 1,513 people. The primary mission was to build a Graphite Reactor to show that the production of plutonium from uranium in a reactor could fuel an atomic bomb. Its job was to show that plutonium could be extracted from irradiated uranium slugs, and its first major challenge was to produce a self-sustaining chain reaction. And in 1944, chemists produced the world’s first few grams of plutonium. The Graphite Reactor operated from 1943 to 1963. Among the accomplishments through the years at X-10 were:

(1) Production of the first electricity from nuclear energy;
(2) The first reactor was used for studying the nature of matter and the health hazards of radioactivity.
(3) Providing radioisotopes for medicine, agriculture, industry, and other purposes.

The Oak Ridge National Lab is a world-wide known research center for energy, environment, and other things. The Graphite Reactor was declared a registered National Historic Landmark in 1966 and is Roane County’s only such National landmark.

The Y-12 plant was designed and constructed by the Stone and Webster Engineering Corporation of Boston at the cost of about $427, 000. The name of the plant has no special significance. It contained about 170 buildings and was built on 500 acres. The plant was put into use by the operating company, the Tennessee Eastman Corporation of Kingsport, TN, in January 1944. At its peak in 1945, it employed 22,000 people. Its purpose was to separate uranium atoms (U-235 from U-238) using an electromagnetic process developed by Dr. E.O. Lawrence of the University of California. It was the first and only plant of its kind in the world. Y-12 separated the uranium that was used in “Little Boy” the uranium bomb which was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945. It was the first atomic bomb to be used as a weapon. The other bomb, “Fat Man,” a plutonium bomb, which was developed in Hanford, Washington, was dropped three days later on Nagasaki, Japan. After the war, the plant started manufacturing uranium components for nuclear weapons. The construction of parts for nuclear weapons by the Y-12 plant played an important part in eventually ending the Cold War with the Soviet Union.

Knoxville News-Sentinel Headline

Originally written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community between June and September 2012.