Source: The Oak Ridger | Darrell Richardson | December 13, 2016

Credit: Darrell Richardson, The Oak Ridger

“Now I know why I had to fly in so early,” said U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, after receiving the East Tennessee Economic Council’s “Muddy Boot” on Friday. “I didn’t think it was my speech.”

Nevertheless, the congressman’s pre-Muddy Boot presentation was a humdinger, following remarks made during ETEC’s 2016 annual meeting and awards celebration by state senator/incoming lieutenant governor Randy McNally of Oak Ridge as well as Sue Cange, whose title of “acting” principal deputy assistant secretary for Environmental Management at the U.S. Department of Energy was elevated to simply EM’s principal deputy assistant secretary on Thursday.

“Sue is a trusted and effective leader with a deep understanding of EM’s cleanup mission and passion for advancing our mission,” EM Assistant Secretary Monica Regalbuto stated in a Dec. 8 release. “With a strong track record of leading organizations to complete cleanup work safely and efficiently, she will be integral to our progress.”

Cange has nearly three decades of DOE leadership experience, serving most recently as manager of EM’s Oak Ridge, Tenn., office. She was a founding member of Oak Ridge’s reindustrialization program, which transfers underutilized assets to the private sector to accelerate cleanup and promote economic development, a release stated.

Prior to her roles in Oak Ridge, Cange worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, developing policy to govern work under Superfund – a federal program designed to fund cleanup of contaminated sites.

Credit: Darrell Richardson, The Oak Ridger

“She has integrated knowledge with communication skills in a highly successful career that involves a broad spectrum of stakeholders, including federal and state regulators, state and local government officials, the corporate community, concerned citizen groups and the media,” the release went on to state of Cange, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in environmental engineering from Vanderbilt University.

“I’ve been known to say Oak Ridge is the best in the DOE community … because this community has so many special attributes such as working together and banding together to achieve common goals,” Cange told the ETEC crowd gathered in the DoubleTree by Hilton.

“I want to thank the entire EM team for continuing to make progress in Oak Ridge.”

Cange said her recent promotion to Washington, D.C., has been “bittersweet” because “I really have a very special place in my heart for Oak Ridge and always will.”

When it was McNally’s time to speak, the longtime state lawmaker underscored the importance, during the upcoming Legislative session, of maintaining Tennessee’s strong financial position, continuing to build on the state’s industrial growth and recruitment, and continuing to train a work force that can meet both the state’s current and future needs.

“The people I represent and the state I represent,” McNally said, “are some of the finest in the world.”

Fleischmann agreed with McNally, opining that “one of the reasons our state is so great is the jewel that is Oak Ridge.” He touched on the critical roles The Secret City plays in science, national security and, of course, environmental management.

“We not only clean it up here,” Fleischmann said. “We reclaim it. The future of Oak Ridge is exceedlingly bright, and our potential is limitless.

“You make my job (as a congressman) easier when the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Y-12 National Security Complex, EM and ORAU get it right,” the U.S. representative remarked, prior to being announced as one of three “Muddy Boot” recipients on Friday. After actually being presented with the award – by state Sen. McNally no less – Fleischmann recommitted “to do my best to earn your confidence in the future.”

The congressman returned from Washington to receive his award.

Also receiving the Muddy Boot Award was Mike Belbeck, executive vice president for operations of Covenant Health and an active participant in numerous organizations across the region, and – in absentia – Mike Pasqua, who helped found and grow SAIC’s Oak Ridge offices before later leading the transition to Leidos.

Covenant Health’s Jan McNally, who recruited Belbeck to be her successor as administrator of Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge, presented his award, noting that Belbeck “made it clear he had no trouble filling any size shoes” and adding “it was quite easy to justify why (Belbeck) should qualify for the Muddy Boot.”

Upon receiving his award, Belbeck said it was humbling “to even be considered in the same category” as past recipients of the Muddy Boot Award, which dates back to 1973 and the founders of ETEC – then known as the Roane Anderson Economic Council. The award itself takes its name from the Manhattan Project founders of The Secret City who were often referred to as “muddy booters” as they worked through adverse conditions to build a unique community that would bring an end to World War II.

Among the close to now a hundred past recipients of the Muddy Boot are Howard Baker, Shigeko Uppuluri, A.K. Bissell, “Buzz” Elkins, Al Gore, Gene Joyce, Bill Manly, Alvin Weinberg, Horace Wells, Herman Postma, Bill Wilcox, Jenny Freeman and Barbara Ferrell.

The Muddy Boot is given to people who get things done,” ETEC president Jim Campbell has said in the past. “It recognizes those who’ve gone above and beyond to make this community and this region prosper.”

Stating Oak Ridge is a “very special place,” Muddy Boot recipient Belbeck said, “We are proud to be a part of this community, and this means the world to me.”

ETEC’s Pat Postma presented this year’s Postma Young Professional Medal to Wade Creswell, CEO of the Roane Alliance. Prior to the presentation, she said, “Wade is very adept at riding the roller coaster.”

Creswell’s response?

“What an incredible honor to represent this community and this whole region,” he said. “I’m a partnership guy, I’m a regional guy. Selling our hometown to the world every day and to help bring growth to the area is the greatest job in the world.”

The Postma Young Professional Medal was created by ETEC to honor the accomplishments of young professionals who have made an impact and fostered a community culture in the region. A release states that “former ORNL director Herman Postma epitomized this spirit during his life; and his wife Pat continues the tradition of service today through her involvement in the Oak Ridge community.”

Creswell joined the Alliance team in 2014 as president and CEO, having previously served as VP of development, public relations and health services at the Michael Dunn Center. Among his many accomplishments, he has served on Kingston City Council and as vice mayor.

Darrell Richardson can be contacted at (865) 220-5510.