Former Tennessee Wildlife and Resources Agency biologist alleges agency manipulated data on deer diseaseWritten by Anita Wadhwani
In a lawsuit filed against the agency, the former employee claims officials misled the public about the rate of a neurological disorder in deer, changing protocols to avoid admitting mistakes.
This story was originally published by Tennessee Lookout.
NASHVILLE — A former state biologist claims he was confronted in his home by law enforcement officers with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency on the same day he sent his boss’s superiors evidence the state was falsifying data on wildlife diseases.
After his cell phone, laptops and other items were confiscated, the biologist said he was then subjected to hours of questioning by officers — among them the husband of his immediate supervisor.
James Kelly (video link features Kelly at 10 minutes), a wildlife biologist, led the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s deer management program, chaired the agency’s Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Deer Management Standing Team and served as a wildlife biologist until he was fired in 2022.
In a whistleblower lawsuit filed this week, Kelly alleges state officials manipulated data and misled the public about the prevalence of chronic wasting disease, a fatal and infectious disease that attacks deer populations.
(TWRA would not comment on the specific allegations in the filing, but said its data was solid).
Public hearing on proposed Oak Ridge airport suggests there is no easy glide path for project
OAK RIDGE — Citizens of Oak Ridge and surrounding communities continue to debate the pros and cons of a new airport in the area. A public forum on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2023, brought together those for and against the proposed airport to study documents and discuss the project.
The city plans to construct a 5,000-foot runway, partial parallel taxiway, and associated facilities at a location north of U.S. 58 between Perimeter and Blair roads. It’s in the Heritage Center around the former K-25 site from the Manhattan Project era.
The city of Oak Ridge government commissioned GMC to write an Environmental Assessment and the Federal Aviation Administration will review it, along with public comments to make decisions about moving forward with the airport construction. In a press release the city of Oak Ridge stated it organized the hearing to follow federal laws and policies. Other reasons for the meeting included issues such as “area wetland, streams, and ponds; archaeological and historical sites; biological issues; airport noise and social effects such as road closures and realignments; view shed and lighting impacts.”
- oak ridge airport environmental assessment
- oak ridge general aviation airport proposal
- mark paslick
- coqui radiopharmaceuticals corp depew
- sandra goss
- save the bats
- indiana bat
- northern long eared bat
- k25 overlook and visitor center
- manhattan project national historical park
- james lewis
- rachel kovac
- thomas fraser
- ben pounds
- liz porter
- faa regulation
- tennessee citizens for wilderness planning
- jeff gilpin
- endangered bat
How would the airport project affect livability and property values?
OAK RIDGE — For the past three decades, the City of Oak Ridge has been complaining that most who get hired to work in Oak Ridge prefer to live in Knoxville or Farragut. Low population growth and few new home starts did not make up for increasing costs of city services. A considerable amount of city-budget increases, however, were a consequence of poor decisions, driven by wishful thinking. The payback of grandiose plans that had no solid economic foundation was measly, if not lacking for years and ever more years. The underutilized Parcel A Centennial Golf Course and Horizon Center are particularly memorable examples.
Some of our readers may also remember the scandal when DOE sold a strip of riverfront property near Brashear Island on the Clinch at a price of $54 per acre — drastically below fair market value. That incidence was related in a roundabout way to another so-called “self-sufficiency parcel,” Parcel E. The latter was sold to the City in 1987 for transfer to the Boeing Company, which planned to build an industrial facility. The project never materialized.
Updated 8/8: UT-Battelle affirms support for project as park service says it will study the effect on public NPS assets. How much would Oak Ridge taxpayers be on the hook for an airport?Written by Thomas Fraser
City says it presently has little idea how to cover potential cost overruns and the public liability behind proposed Oak Ridge airport
OAK RIDGE — Opponents of a plan to build a 323-acre general aviation airport near the site of the former K-25 facility on the western side of the Oak Ridge Reservation have voiced ample environmental concerns, but many also have economic-related questions about the $55 million project originally priced in 2016.
Meanwhile, UT-Battelle, which manages Oak Ridge National Laboratory, provided a statement fully endorsing the project, while the National Park Service said it would closely review the proposed airport’s effect on components of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.
“The planned airport project at the East Tennessee Technology Park is an essential component in the future economic growth of the region and an important feature for potential business development. Many businesses or projects that could be positively impacted by the construction of the airport have ongoing research partnerships with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which is managed for the US Department of Energy by UT-Battelle, LLC,” according to a statement from UT-Battelle.
In perhaps a bit of contrast, the National Park Service said it would investigate the potential impact of the proposed airport on national park assets, including a visitors center and interpretive facilities centered around the K-25 site in question.
“The National Park Service has a responsibility to ensure protection of cultural resources significant at the local, state, and national levels. Resource impacts should be considered in their cultural contexts and managed in light of their values. The NPS is reviewing the document to better understand effects and impacts of the proposal,” according to a statement from Niki Stephanie Nicholas, the site manager for the Manhattan Project National Historical Site.
That statement was issued Monday. A full public hearing on the proposal will commence at 6 p.m. today (Aug. 8) at the DoubleTree Hotel on Illinois Avenue in Oak Ridge.
The original story continues below:
While Advocates for the Oak Ridge Reservation (AFORR) has warned of ecological damage to wetlands, woodlands and wildlife in the current proposed airport footprint (and some plans call for the rerouting of Oak Ridge Turnpike adjacent to the site), another citizen group feels the project will lead to another city boondoggle propped up by taxpayers.
Grants from the Department of Energy, Tennessee Department of Transportation, Appalachian Regional Commission, and other external sources will fund construction of the 5,000-foot runway, apron, and hangars planned for the Heritage Center in west Oak Ridge. Half of the stated cost would go toward extensive grading work that would erase wetlands and fill a remediated pond on the property that is adored by birdwatchers. Several concepts also call for the rerouting of the western end of Oak Ridge Turnpike.
The City of Oak Ridge would be fiscally obligated by contract with the Federal Aviation Administration to keep the airport fully operational for a minimum of 20 years upon accepting federal grant funding for its construction. There also would be a risk of potentially very high liability cost in case of an accident, should the City be found negligent in fulfilling its obligations.
- oak ridge general aviation airport proposal
- east tennessee technology park
- heritage center
- oak ridge reservation
- oak ridge turnpike
- rarity ridge
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- the preserve at clinch river
- the preserve marina
- roane county
- cost overrun
- city of oak ridge, tn
- appalachian regional commission
- george jones memorial baptist church
- wheat community
- oak ridgers for responsible development
- don barkman
- steve goodpasture
- lauren gray
- federal aviation administration
- environmental assessment
- mcgheetyson regional airport
- pellissippi parkway
- patriotic millionaires
- institute for policy studies
- taxable asset base
- oportunity cost
- wheat alumni association
- no significant impact
- national register of historic places
Desperate necessity or boondoggle in the making?
OAK RIDGE — The City of Oak Ridge will conduct a public hearing at the Double Tree Hotel, August 8, 2023 from 6 to 8 P.M. EDT on the Oak Ridge Airport Environmental Assessment, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
The Foundation for Global Sustainability (FGS) believes that a full environmental impact statement would be required under NEPA if the City of Oak Ridge wants to use Federal funding to build an airport here. The provided Environmental Assessment is mistaken in declaring that the project will have “no significant impact.”
Please check back here often as we will update this article with more information on important issues over the coming week.
Comments submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration by Advocates for the Oak Ridge Reservation
(Updated: Inadvertently we had included bullet points from a draft of the expanded and mailed letter.)
AFORR recognizes general aviation (GA) airports are a big part of the US national economy and understands that they can be justified for a local economy. However, in the specific instance of a proposed GA airport in Oak Ridge, we believe there are no compelling merits, needs, or justifications for such an airport. The following points support our position that the development of an Oak Ridge airport is not warranted or needed.
— There is no defensible need for the airport. Oak Ridge has convenient access to three modern airports serving general aviation — DKX, RKW, & TYS. The proposed airport location in Oak Ridge does not meet one of the key FAA entry criteria for a new GA airport. It is a 25-minute ground travel time from the proposed Oak Ridge airport site to the Rockwood Municipal Airport (RKW). FAA Order5090.3C Chapter 2 Entry Criteria requires a new GA airport to be 30 minutes or more average ground travel time from the nearest airport under the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems.
Solar? Gas? Future of Kingston plant up in the air
KINGSTON — Tennessee Valley Authority is considering whether to go with gas or solar power after it closes the infamous Kingston Fossil Plant in Tennessee.
The plant has stood since 1955 in Roane County. The federal utility plans to close Kingston Fossil plant and is looking at ways to replace the power it generated. It’s asking the public for comments. The utility’s proposals center around replacing the power generated by the plant with either solar generation or natural gas. One option includes replacing the coal-powered plant at the site with a fossil gas plant.
TVA recently proposed to retire three units between 2026 and 2031 and the other six units between 2027 and 2033. Ash spilled from a dike at this plant in 2008. A lawsuit was recently resolved surrounding the health damage to people working on cleaning up the spill. TVA has identified trouble with starting up and shutting down the plant for power generation and technical issues with lower boilers as the reasons for closing the plant, not the spill.
In Hellbender Press interview, heralded writer describes the way natural sounds shape our world
David George Haskell encourages you to pay attention to the sounds of the natural world.
It’s what led him to write four books; two have been finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, including his latest book, “Sounds Wild and Broken: Sonic Marvels, Evolution’s Creativity, and the Crisis of Sensory Extinction.”
A link on Haskell’s website provides a gateway into natural sounds he describes in the book through the essay “The Voices of Birds and the Language of Belonging.” Visitors to this essay’s page can read the piece or listen to a recording of Haskell reading it, accompanied by recorded bird songs providing a soundtrack for the topic.
Haskell is fascinated by sound. His dissertation, written in the 1990s, was a study of bird sounds. Predators hunt birds largely by ear, which has influenced the evolution of birdsong. His writing is a powerful and beautiful way to understand our relationships with the world through bird sounds.
Generations of Black Americans have faced racism, redlining and environmental injustices, such as breathing 40 percent dirtier air and being twice as likely as white Americans to be hospitalized or die from climate-related health problems.
AMERICA TODAY — This week, NPR’s Living on Earth podcast and illustrated transcript elucidates how relevant the broader meaning and historic context of Juneteenth is for all American citizens and residents.
Host Steve Curwood discusses with Heather McTeer Toney her new book, ‘Before the Streetlights Come On: Black America’s Urgent Call for Climate Solution.’
McTeer served as the Southeast Regional Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in the Obama administration and is now Executive Director of Beyond Petrochemicals. She argues that the quest for racial justice must include addressing the climate emergency and that the insights of people who experienced the negative health and socio-economic impacts of the petrochemical industry must be tapped to develop solutions that will work on the ground.
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- racial justice
- heather mcteer toney
- social justice
- air pollution
- petrochemical industry
- living on earth
- npr podcast
- history of slavery
- climate emergency
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- steve curwood
- public health
- environmental racism
- mississipi river
- baton rouge
- black vote
- black and brown people
- interfaith power and light
- evangelical on the right
- religious leadership
- evangelicals for the environment
Cormac McCarthy, a beautiful chronicler of our darkest and best hearts who drew from his Knoxville roots, dies at 89Written by JJ Stambaugh
‘A malign star kept him:’ McCarthy offered a fever-dream toast to Knoxville’s frontier river town roots
KNOXVILLE — Cormac McCarthy, the onetime Knoxvillian who rose from obscurity to the heights of fame by penning some of the most violent works in the Western literary canon, died Tuesday, June 13 at his home in New Mexico.
McCarthy was considered by some critics to be America’s greatest living author. He won the Pulitzer Prize for his 2007 novel “The Road.” Another novel, “All The Pretty Horses,” won the National Book Award in 1992 and a movie made from his book “No Country For Old Men” won the 2008 Academy Award for Best Picture.
The novelist studied at the University of Tennessee and became an infamous recluse who lived at points in a dairy barn and an RV. He rarely gave interviews, and was known to prefer the company of scientists to that of other writers.
McCarthy admired the works of Herman Melville, Fyodor Dostoevsky and William Faulkner, and he is the only Knoxvillian to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction other than James Agee. His work was often divisive, however, as his relentlessly masculine and unsentimental outlook led him to plumb the depths of human desperation and depravity through characters such as cannibals, necrophiliacs and mass murderers.
His literary vision focused on humankind’s cosmic insignificance by pitting rough-hewn men against primordial nature on a succession of vividly realized stages carved from history and myth. Faulkner might have said the only thing worth writing about is the human heart in conflict with itself, but McCarthy opined that serious authors should focus on the struggle of life against death.
According to Knoxville historian Jack Neely, McCarthy drew heavily from his surroundings, especially in the vivid depictions of Knoxville contained in “Suttree.”
“The descriptions of Market Square, in both “Suttree” and his first novel, “The Orchard Keeper,” are dense, accurate, unsparing and poetic,” Neely said. “I quoted them in my Market Square book, and a passage from ‘Suttree’ is engraved in marble in the middle of the square.
“One, from Suttree, ostensibly from a day in 1951, could have described a scene I witnessed there last week: ‘He went among vendors and beggars and wild street preachers haranguing a lost world with a vigor unknown to the sane.’”
Neely also singled out another passage that comes just paragraphs later, where McCarthy describes the old Market House: “Where brick the color of dried blood rose turreted and cupolaed and crazed into the heat of the day form on form in demented accretion without precedent or counterpart in the annals of architecture.”
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- no country for old men
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- blood meridian
- mccarthy’s olivetti typewriter
- mccarthy obituary
Nonprofit’s plan to purchase equestrian property faced opposition but raised important future farmland issues
UPDATE: The Jefferson County Regional Planning Commission rejected the proposal for a KARM facility citing zoning restrictions. Knoxville Area Rescue Ministries may still bring the proposal to the Jefferson County Board of Zoning Appeals.
NEW MARKET — Knoxville Area Rescue Ministries plans to purchase River Glen, a storied equestrian facility in Jefferson County, to eventually help disadvantaged clients overcome substance-abuse issues and societal disparities.
The proposal has detractors, but proponents cast it as a way to also ensure the continued operation of an established working horse farm and long-term site of equestrian events, especially dressage. The horses could even provide therapy.
The New Market debate also raises questions about aging U.S. farmers and ultimate disposition of their agricultural lands.
President and Chief Executive Officer of KARM Danita McCartney said her group plans to purchase 185 acres. In addition to its show-worthy horse facilities, the property borders the Holston River and retains a significant amount of forest along the river and sharp ridge lines.
The property’s owner, Bill Graves, spoke highly of the potential new owners and said he was selling the land largely because he wanted to retire from running the business.
The Jefferson County Planning Commission planned to discuss the nonprofit’s plan for the site at a meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 23 at the Courthouse at 202 W. Main St. in Dandridge.
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- river glen
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- knoxville area rescue ministries
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- knoxville dressage
- horse farms and environmental preservation
- mattalyn rogers horse trainer
- horse therapy east tennessee
- katie fleenor
- foothills land conservancy
- bill clabough
As their twilight approaches, elders supercharge climate action on behalf of future generations
This story was originally published by The Revelator. Eduardo Garcia is a New York-based climate journalist. A native of Spain, he has written about climate solutions for Thomson Reuters, The New York Times, Treehugger and Slate. He is the author of Things You Can Do: How to Fight Climate Change and Reduce Waste, an illustrated book about reducing personal carbon footprints.
Thousands of senior Americans took to the streets in March in 30 states to demand that the country’s major banks divest from fossil fuels.
This “rocking chair rebellion” — organized by Third Act, a fast-growing climate action group focused on older Americans — shows that Baby Boomers are becoming a new force in the climate movement.
Third Act cofounder Bill McKibben, who joined a Washington, D.C., protest, says it’s unfair to put all the weight of climate activism on the shoulders of young people. It’s time for older Americans to take a central role.
“Young people don’t have the structural power necessary to make changes,” McKibben tells The Revelator. “But old people do. There are 70 million Americans over the age of 60. Many of us vote, we’re politically engaged, and have a lot of financial resources. So if you want to press either the political system or the financial system, older people are a useful group to have.”
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Researchers quantify the effects of feral hogs on Smokies salamander populations
GATLINBURG — A recent study investigating the relationship between Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s beloved salamanders and its hated hogs concluded that the rooting of feral pigs decreases the abundance and diversity of Smokies salamanders.
Generally, across seasons and especially in the summer, the hogs’ foraging seemed to hurt salamander abundance and diversity. Funk is a student under Eastern Kentucky University’s Director for the Division of Natural Areas Stephen Richter but had help from Benjamin Fitzpatrick of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. The study involved Funk going out late at night on Balsam Mountain in the spring, summer and fall of 2022.
Smokies African American studies trace a great musician with roots in Oconaluftee
GATLINBURG — Black history, let alone jazz history, isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when most people think about the Smokies.
But famed jazz musician Charles Mingus Jr.’s family has roots in what is now Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
At the recent virtual Discover Life in America Colloquium, previously reported on by Hellbender Press, Appalachian Highlands Science Education Coordinator Antoine Fletcher was the sole presenter on social sciences. He went into the Mingus family history and Black history in the Southern Appalachian region.
Fletcher said the Mingus story derives from the African American Experiences in the Smokies Project, which he described as “a project that is focusing on the untold stories of African Americans in the park and the Southern Appalachian region.”
“There’s a huge story to tell,” he said of his research. “There are stories of the human vestiges that we have from 900-plus years.”
If you care about growth and transportation in Knox County, attend one of these meetings to share your ideas and express your opinions.
This article was updated on March 27 with first impressions from the March 27 meeting.
KNOXVILLE — Based on previous public input and data analysis, the Advance Knox project team has developed a list of proposed transportation projects that will accompany a future land use plan.
Advance Knox is an effort to define a vision and create a plan that will guide growth, land use, transportation, economic prosperity and quality of life in Knox County for years to come.
This is the first time the County has created an integrated land use and transportation plan, that is billed as having “the potential to be transformative.”
“Bringing land use and transportation components together is what will set this plan up for success,” said Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs. “Our teams are eager to hear community feedback and move toward adopting a final plan.”
Will this plan result in the transformation that you hope for?
Now is the time for you to check that it meets your needs, expectations and wishes. Or, to argue for better solutions by participating in this process.
Priorities Week is the third and final round of Advance Knox community outreach!