Source: Teknovation.biz | Tom Ballar | December 7, 2019

Less than 13 months before he retires from the U.S. Senate, Tennessee’s Senior Senator was in Oak Ridge Friday singing the praises of the region, noting the significant growth in research funding that benefits the area, and continuing to promote the “Oak Ridge Corridor” brand.

The occasion was the annual awards luncheon of the East Tennessee Technology Council where three individuals won the prestigious “Muddy Boot Award” and a fourth individual took home the “Postma Young Professional Medal.”

Senator Lamar Alexander, who served as keynote speaker for the event, was joined by Senate colleague Angus King of Maine who, in turn, came with a delegation from the University of Maine. The academic leaders were visiting Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and finalizing what Senator King called a “hub and spoke” partnership with the lab.

Senator Alexander is known for championing the “Oak Ridge Corridor” brand as a differentiator to mark two national assets – the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) facilities in Oak Ridge and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, the nation’s most visited park. They will eventually be connected when the remaining portion of Pellissippi Parkway in Blount County is constructed.

“It (the branding) will eventually be adopted,” the Senator said, noting the national and international recognition of the Oak Ridge name.

Senator Alexander told the story of Sam Beall Jr., an area resident who came to the University of Tennessee (UT) as a student 80 years ago when DOE’s Oak Ridge reservation was pastureland, TVA’s headquarters was in Alabama, and UT did not have a single graduate program.

“Today, this region is a magnet for the state,” he said, heaping praise on ORNL, the Y-12 National Security Complex, UT, and the recently announced concept of the Oak Ridge Institute. The Senator also noted that total federal funding for ORNL, Y-12 and the environmental clean-up program amounts to $4.6 billion annually with federal appropriations to the national labs increasing 42 percent over the past five years.

Senator King underscored the importance of research and development in the region as well as the country.

“Next to national security, the next most important thing the federal government should do is research,” he said. “What you have here in Oak Ridge is a knowledge factory that is going to change the world.”

After his speech, Senator Alexander picked-up a “Moody Boot Award” that was announced in 2010, but not officially presented until Friday. Other individuals who won this year’s “Muddy Boot” recognition are:

  • Lee Riedinger, a long-time senior executive at both ORNL (Deputy Director for Science and Technology) and UT (Interim Vice Chancellor for Research on three occasions and most recently Director of the Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education);
  • Harold Conner Jr. who recently retired as Senior Advisor to the President of UCOR, the AECOM-led partnership with Jacobs responsible for the cleanup of the East Tennessee Technology Park, the site of the old K-25 Gaseous Diffusion Plant; and
  • Edwina Crowe, currently a Director at Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC, the contractor managing the Y-12 facility.

More than 80 individuals have been recognized with the “Muddy Boot Award” that was created in the 1970s to honor individuals who have gone above the call of duty to make the community, the State of Tennessee and the nation a better place to live and work. A full list of recipients and more information about the award can be found here.

The “Postma Medal” went to community leader and business owner Brad Spears of EnTech Advantage. This award honors the accomplishments of young professionals who have made an impact and fostered a community culture in the region.

To learn more about the recipients, read the ETEC news release (ETEC 2019 Awards Press Release).