Tag Archives: oak ridge

Firedamp: A Killing At Kettle Island


Special Guest

J. Kyle Johnson

author of a historical fiction book, ‘Firedamp: A  Killing at Kettle Island’  joins  The Housing Hour this week to discuss the history of a coal mining community in Pineville, Kentucky and how a mining explosion on the day of his birth forever changed his life.  Kyle wants to honor that community and its people by depicting a wonderfully entertaining ‘Who-done-it’ book set in the 1930s.

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J. Kyle Johnson lives in retirement among the beautiful mountains and lakes of East Tennessee with his lovely spouse of 46 years (the ‘Little Suzi’ of stories found at jkylejohnson.net).

Kyle permanently changed his technical hat for a creative one after a 35-year career with science and engineering contractors of the federal government. Most of his creative writing can be classified as historical fiction (or ‘creative nonfiction’) that is based on actual characters and events associated with family and friends.

Kyle was born in Pineville, Kentucky, and raised in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He received his BS and MA degrees from Tennessee Tech University (’75, ’77).

Read Kyles story of growing up in Oak Ridge!

Firedamp: A Killing At Kettle Island

On a muggy night in the summer of 1930, Deputy Sam Garrett reports for duty to find his mentor and boss, Sheriff I.D. Atkins, shot and left for dead behind the Bell County, Kentucky, courthouse. Unnerved and out of his depth as a greenhorn lawman, Sam is determined to step into the sheriff’s shoes but soon finds himself mired in a swamp of deceit. FIREDAMP is a fast-moving, first-person tale of a young deputy’s struggle with ruthless bootleggers and crime bosses. Adding to his troubles are his ne’er-do-well brother, Billy Wade, and his brother’s “woman,” Jonetta Isbell, an exotic Melungeon vamp. The story begins with the shooting of the sheriff, then spins off into the investigation of a brutal killing at a coal mine in Kettle Island, where a firedamp (or flash fire) in a deep mine is somehow connected to the murder of a newly arrived miner. But as Sam prepares to deal with the two local crimes, he encounters “friendly fire” from Special Agent L.C. Schilder of the federal Bureau of Investigation (as it was known in 1930). In Newport, Kentucky, the notorious home of vice on the Ohio River during the Prohibition era and America’s original “Sin City,” Agent Schilder entangles the deputy in a peculiar scheme to bring down George Rhodes, a Cincinnati gangster known in the Midwest as the “King of the Bootleggers.”









On September 11, 2001 my mom and I were on our way home from a long European vacation.

I remember sitting in the terminal at Gatwick Airport re-living the prior two weeks in my head.  My mom and I had visited Ireland, Russia, France and England. I had the time of my life and was just disappointed that it was all coming to an end. I was headed back to Atlanta for another week of selling vitamins and gold cards at my GNC store that I managed in Buckhead. I recall wanting to be closer to home.  Spending time with her made me realize just how much I missed Tennessee.

We loaded up on our Boeing 777 Delta flight 11 traveling from Gatwick to Atlanta.

As we made our way into the air my mind drifted. I just felt something tugging at my heart.  I put my head phones on and fell asleep.

I don’t recall exactly how many hours had passed, but I do know that we were over the ocean coming into United States airspace.   The music in my headphones was temporarily interrupted. It was the voice of a noticeably shaken pilot.

What happened next will be etched in my mind for the rest of eternity.

“Ladies and Gentlemen….I need……you… to listen to me very carefully. There has been an attack on the United States. Two commercial planes have flown into the World Trade Center. The United States airspace has been closed and we are being diverted to another location.”

The terror I felt over every inch of my body was intense. I thought I was going to die. I knew we were close to New York because we had the GPS system playing on our screen. He mentioned two planes. Could our plane have hijackers on it? Was this a full scale attack on America and here I was sitting right in the middle of it?  If I died what would happen? Could I survive a plane crash?  These are not questions that I ask myself every day.  A few moments later the pilot came back on and gave us additional information. We were flying to St. Johns Newfoundland until further direction from the United States was given. I was scared.

St. Johns NewfoundlandWe landed in Canada. This Canadian airport was an international airport. It serviced one international flight per week. 27 international Jumbo jets were now sitting on her tarmac.  How long would we have to be on this plane? The pilot only told us to try and relax. I had my video camera and videotaped fighter jets in the air and soldiers with machine guns guarding each plane. I am sorry but relaxing is not what I was doing.  Mom and I were on the phone with my sister Andrea and she was really shook up.  We didn’t know what to tell her because we really didn’t know anything.

I was asking myself a lot of questions.  I had a long time to answer these questions, because the pilot came on the PA system and told us that they were going to unload one plane at a time. They had to search each plane and each passenger. This would take around an hour per plane from smallest to biggest and we were one of the biggest planes that had been diverted there. Well, 19 hours passed before we greeted Canadian soil.  We were carefully brought off the plane. Security was at high alert.  We were greeted by armed guards, some with machine guns.  After making it through customs they loaded us all on buses where they transported us to the local hockey arena which they were using as the central transportation center for all diverted passengers.

When we walked into the arena it was the first time any of us had seen it. There it was on the jumbotron. You could see the planes slamming into each building. The planes looked eerily similar to our plane.  Most Americans watched this horrific tragedy in the comfort of their own home. Mom and I were on uncomfortable seats, had been awake for two days, and had just spent over 20+ hours on a plane.  We still had NO idea what was going on. My heart sank for those who were killed.  I could not even imagine how horrific it was for the families.  My heart aches for them to this day.

Each plane was assigned a section of seats in the arena. We had time to get to know some of our fellow passengers. There was the Director of Communications for Coca Cola UK. There was a VP for a Video Tech company in America. There was a couple that was on their honeymoon. There were so many others but these to just name a few.

Finally we were told that they would transport us to our Hotel. Actually, it was Holy Heart High School. Not really a bed and breakfast. The people were amazing there. The care and love that they showed us made it abundantly clear that God was in control.

We were assigned to the Science room on the second floor. We had about 15 or so people in our room. We were so exhausted so we decided to try and sleep for a few hours. I couldn’t sleep because A) The floor was hard B) The snoring and C) I felt like I had been skinned alive and thrown into the ocean.

The community came together and put their collective arms around us.  I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the way we were treated. They brought us food, sang for us and invited us into their homes. They took us on a tour of their beautiful city which we learned was the eastern most city in North America. They even took us on a boat to show us around.  I found out that the remains of the Titanic were only a short boat trip away. There was actually a group docked in St. Johns that was shooting a documentary about it.   It was the director for the movie Titanic and some other folks.

I had several days in Canada to reflect on my life. What had I accomplished? I was the Region 2 #1 Gold card seller at GNC. I was ranked nationally for my sales per hour and profit margins. But what had I really accomplished.  I could feel God tugging at my heart. He had something in store for me which wasn’t completely clear yet.

So after 4 days we were finally given word that we would be going home. I had mixed emotions. I really didn’t want to get back on a plane, but I really wanted to go home to my apartment in Atlanta.  A week in the bed and several bags of cheetoes is just what I needed.  There was thunderous applause as we lifted off the ground.  The trip home was very solemn. I felt relief and terror all at the same time. The last four days felt like four years. We were the first diverted plane to arrive back in to Atlanta. When we touched down we all cheered and whistled as if we had just scored the winning touchdown to beat Florida in overtime.   As we taxied back to the terminal the Delta employees clearly wanted us to know just how much they cared. There were hundreds of Airport employees lining our route as we taxied in with flags and banners that said, “WELCOME HOME” and “WE LOVE THE USA.” I could not help but to cry, as did most the passengers on the plane. Seeing those American flags and people cheering made me feel safe. Unfortunately, the victims and their families will never feel safe again.  I pray every day for the families.

This was a major moment in American history. It was also a major moment in Kevin’s history. I needed something to change.  I had made changes in my life, but there was something more that I needed to do and God was showing me.  I believe that God was calling me to come back home to Tennessee.  I had lived in Atlanta for over 3 years and I had my Aunt and many friend here.  I needed time to collect my thoughts and let God show me the way.

Then something amazing happened.

I received a job opportunity in Knoxville. With the counsel of my Mom, Dad and those around me, I decided to jump on it.

I came home in April 2002. God works in such amazing ways. I started my new job on May 1, 2002 and my future wife, Pam, started two weeks later.  We started dating in August and I proposed to her one year to the day after our first date, August 11, 2003. We got married on December 20, 2003 and then found out we were having our first child on October 21, 2004. Olivia was born on June 6, 2005. We found out that we were having a little boy on June 18, 2007. Patrick Callaghan Rhea was born on February 22, 2008.

I owe all of this to God. He had a plan for me. Part of His plan is for me to share with Olivia and Patrick the love and Grace of our Lord. His Grace is so incredible in my life. I have problems like the rest of humanity. I have anxiety, loneliness, fear and times of hopelessness. The difference today is that I have a purpose. That purpose is becoming clearer, but part of it is to share His love with others.  I need to get out of my shell and spread the Good News…God has a plan for you too!

September 11 is a day of remembrance for us all. I also use it as a time to reflect on my life.  Where have I been and where am I going.  I regularly get off track and I constantly need to be reminded that God loves me no matter what. It’s easy to let life take over and I start to forget what is most important in my life.

My prayers are with all of the family members who are still suffering with the events of that day. I pray that they may find peace and understanding from a world that knows not these things. I pray for the salvation of a nation that does not know the Truth. Not the truth about worldly things, but the Truth that God loves them.

To all of my fellow passengers in life: I hope and pray that along this journey I might be able to give something back to you. Maybe a kind word or encouraging smile is what you will need. Whatever that is, I hope that God, not me, is in the middle and you have the window seat.

God Bless

Crossroads Ministries -Oak Ridge


Special Guest

Cora Rhew

Executive Director

Crossroads Ministries

joins The Housing Hour this week to share her long time passion for helping homeless and/or at-risk single moms and their young children. Cora founded Crossroads Ministry in 2002 while housing a single mom, her baby, and her 14-year-old sister for six months.    In 2006 she provided a home and safe place for a first time young mom and her baby daughter and from June 2012 to June 2014 provided a home to a single mom trying to regain custody of her daughter who had been taken out of state by the child’s father.  Her passion and dedication to the issue of homeless and/or at-risk single moms and their young children are where her heart and focus is and seeing her vision come to fruition is her goal.  Cora previously volunteered at Choices Resource Center helping with the babies and toddlers during parenting classes and at STAR (Shangri La Therapeutic Academy of Riding) working with teenagers and women working towards a measure of independence while learning handling and coping skills on horseback.  She is currently a Member of the Anderson County Chamber of Commerce, NightTime Altrusa of Anderson County, Tennessee, Networking Today International, Domestic Violence Task Force of Anderson County, CAB (Community Advisory Board of Anderson County), and the Anderson County Homelessness Collaboration.

Read the complete story and view all the construction photos!

Crossroads Ministry is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Corporation.

Will you help Crossroads Ministry today?

The Vision:


Oak Ridge City Manager



Special Guest

watsonMark Watson

Oak Ridge City Manager

joins The Housing Hour this week to discuss the fantastic changes that are in store for the city. New commercial retail spaces including residential complexes will replace the former Oak Ridge Mall area. The city has also received TVA grants that will be used to revitalize some of the existing housing stock into more energy efficient homes.

mall mall 2Oak Ridge City Manager

The City Charter establishes the City Manager as the chief executive officer of the City. The City Manager is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of City Council. The City Manager is responsible for planning, organizing, directing, controlling, and evaluating the operations of the municipal government in order to implement Council policies in an effective, and economic manner. In carrying out these responsibilities, the Manager interprets and implements Council-determined policy; oversees the enforcement of all laws and ordinances; appoints and removes department heads and employees on the basis of merit; exercises control and supervision over all departments; prepares and recommends annual operating and capital improvement budgets; screens and prepares agenda materials; recommends legislation that appears necessary and desirable; advises Council of the financial conditions and future needs of the City; informs the public through reports to Council regarding the operation of City government; represents the City in its relations with the public, the press, and other governmental and private agencies; and performs such other duties as may be described by the City Charter or required by ordinance or resolution of Council

Oak Ridge Pool Turns 70



By Mark Griffith Mortgage Investors Group Branch Manager- Oak Ridge Co-Host of The Housing Hour
By Mark Griffith
Mortgage Investors Group
Branch Manager- Oak Ridge
Co-Host of The Housing Hour








  Oak Ridge Pool Turns 70

By the summer of 1945, WWII was over in Europe. Hitler and Mussolini were dead, and the German armies had surrendered. However, the war was still waging in the Pacific, and uncertainty was felt throughout the world. By mid-July, Oak Ridge, TN was going to supply enriched uranium for the first atomic bomb to be tested in the New Mexico desert; this test would change the course of history and usher in a new age.

July 4, 1945 was a time of paramount celebration. Life for Oak Ridgers was reshaping. As they worked tirelessly poololdphotoon their contributions to ending the war, plans were also being developed for leisure activities in their Secret City. The large spring located across the street from Grove Center was converted to a public pool and was scheduled to open mid-week, on the 4th of July, for the week-long festivities. Life in Oak Ridge had ushered in a new age: an age of freedom, growth, prosperity and inexplicable joy.

For years to come, the new Oak Ridge community swimming pool had bragging rights. However, at that time the Secret City was still on lock-down. If allowed, Oak Ridge could have boasted on having the largest swimming pool in the world with over 2 million gallons of refreshing cool spring fed water and over an acre of surface area to splash, dive and swim.

Keeping the two plus million gallons of water clean was quite difficult. Due to lack of proper valves (the plants were using them) a filtration system was not available, that would come later. By the end of the swimming season, after long hot summer days, the increasing algae levels would turn the water green. But the former Recreation Direcpool1944tor for the City (and a major party responsible for the pool creation), Carl ‘Rabbit’ Yearwood had devised a chlorination plan and method. After buying thousands of gallons of liquid chlorine, recruiting three lifeguards, obtaining two sets of swim fins, and procuring one boat, the chlorination system was ready to be deployed. Two lifeguards would swim alongside the boat, pulling and guiding it while one would sit at the stern and pour the chlorine into the water. They would have to crisscross the one acre of surface area until the proper amount of chlorine was determined. They would repeat this process constantly. Obviously, it wasn’t the most effective method, but like everything else about that generation, whatever it took, that’s what they did.

There have been several improvements to the pool over the years with the latest major renovations occurring in the early 90’s.

During a renovation project in 1955, the city had to order paint for the pool bottom. After placing the order, the paint company called the city back to confirm the quantity amount. Certain there had been an extra zero mistakenly added to the number of gallons needed, the city confirmed the amount was correct (900 gallons). The company informed them that this was the biggest order in their history. As things would turn out, an additional 300 gallons had to be ordered to finish the job. Whateverpool 60s project the city planned for the pool, it was certain, that it would be on a big scale.

The spring filled pool has certainly been refreshing for Oak Ridgers from the early days of the Manhattan Project, but many may not realize the natural spring lake has been refreshing people for hundreds of years. The history of the area around the city pool is fascinating. The pool, located on Robertsville Road, was originally granted to its namesake, Collins Roberts in the early 1800’s. Collin Roberts was given 4000 acres(a disputed number perhaps more like 400 acres) to settle in that East Fork Valley area of Poplar Creek. Robertsville Road used to be called East Fork Valley Road and was a part of the historic Emory (Emery) Coach Road. The Oak Ridge pool used to play an important part in travel history. The large fresh spring fed lake, called Cross Springs (quite possibly named after farm owner and revolutionary drummer bpool500oy, William Cross ), was a stopping point for travelers to water their horses and refresh themselves. Emory Road ran from Blaine, TN, through Oak Ridge, Oliver Springs, Wartburg and crossed into the middle part of that state at Lansing. The road eventually made its way to Monterey, Tn. The eastern section of Emory road was blazed by Peter Avery and sometimes was referred to as the Avery Trace Trail and known originally as the Indian trail, Tahlonteeskee (originating from a Cherokee Village in present day Rockwood, Tn). An original section of the road can be found hidden in the tree line of Oak Ridge next to the Oak Ridge High School football practice field just north of the Oak Ridge Turnpike. Rock Pillar Bridge Emory Road Section Oak Ridge, Tn-horzA State Historical Marker on the Turnpike describes the location as being, ‘…60 yards north-northeast.’In that location, you can find the historic Rock Pillar Bridge. The bridge was built in the early 1900’s, and the asphalt road bed is still partially visible a few yards to the west. The partial route of Emory Road through Oak Ridge has been recreated on google maps starting from the Bull Run Steam plant, through the center of Oak Ridge, past the Oak Ridge pool onward toward Oliver Springs. (Map of OR section of Emory Road)

So as the Oak Ridge pool reaches its 70th birthday and you and your family visit for its cool refreshing waters, be sure to reflect on the rich history of the area, and the wonderful men and women that have maintained the splendor of the body of water once secretly known as, ‘the largest pool in the world’.

Also by Mark, a 1921 murder in pre-Oak Ridge, Tn.

Download (PDF, 7.61MB)

Murder Will Out

pool38to45FThe spring also used to be referred to as ‘The Duck Pond’ in the late 30’s.  (per Eva Wells McCarty)

Old Grove


Oak Ridge Public Library Digital Collection and Teresa Fortney, Library Assistant, Reference, Tennessee Certified Archives Manager (Teresa found the rare, hardly ever seen before, photo of the springs from the Ruth Carey collection.)

National Register of Historic Places

Special Thanks to my historical guide and previous guest on The Housing Hour: Buford Carter-long time OR Library volunteer and original Manhattan Project resident.

buford carter

Tom Beehan, Former Oak Ridge Mayor



Special Guest


Tom Beehan

Affiliate Broker  Former Mayor of Oak Ridge, Tn.

Tom discusses his decade of service for the City of Oak Ridge and the future of the City.

Tom Beehan, Former Oak Ridge Mayor

Tom Beehan joined Betsy Coleman Realty Co. as an affiliate broker in 2007. He became a part of the company shortly after Betsy opened her new office at 21 East Tennessee Ave. in Oak Ridge.


“I am so happy to have the opportunity to work with Tom. He played a big role in our decision to open an office in Jackson Square, and I look forward to growing this business with him,” Coleman said.

Tom retired as a Senior Agency Consultant from State Farm Insurance Company after 25 years with the company. A former insurance agent before he accepted a management role, Beehan said he believes his background is a benefit in his second career as a Realtor.

He has also served as Mayor of Oak Ridge since 2007, with more than a decade’s service on the Oak Ridge City Council. He has served as Chairman of the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce and as Chairman of the non-profit Housing Development Corporation of the Clinch Valley.

Tom is interested and experienced in both commercial and residential real estate.


Jackie Pullen


best of

Special Guest:

Jackie Gonzalez Pullen

Jackie shares her experience of 19 years as a Loan Officer with MIG and how the industry has changed Also, Jackie discusses her secret to helping people who have credit issues.

 Jackie Pullen

Jackie Gonzalez Pullen
Office 865-482-8910 Ext 565
Fax 865-482-5537

113 Lafayette Drive
Building A, Suite 100
Oak Ridge, TN 37830

Apply Now

NMLS Unique Identifier # 185839 TN Lic. # 102356

Mortgage Investors Group, founded by loan officers, is Tennessee’s leading independent mortgage lender. Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer seeking a conventional mortgage or a homeowner interested in refinancing through a government program, I (Jackie Gonzalez Pullen) am committed to helping you find the mortgage program that best fits your individual situation.MIG offers competitive loan rates and a large selection of loan programs, including Conventional, FHA, THDA, VA and USDA. We use on-site Underwriting, Processing and Appraisal services and in-house technology to ensure a swift and professional lending experience.As a licensed Loan Officer, I have the expertise to advise you through the process, answer any questions you may have and help you close on time. You can rest assured that you will receive superior customer service when you work with MIG. That’s how we’ve become leaders in the local mortgage lending market.I look forward to assisting you with your current or future mortgage loan needs. You may reach me at the contact information below. I hope to hear from you soon.

 Last Segment:

The World of Wallets is about to change!

The Wocket

Special Guest: David Tunnell, co-founder and chief architect

The world of wallets is about to change. New exciting technologies are making payments easier than ever. However, many credit card holders either do not possess a smartphone or will be reluctant to use their smartphone for mobile payments due to a variety of reasons.

Rather than depend on a potentially unreliable cell phone, NXT-ID introduces a truly next generation digital wallet: the wocket™. This unique technology takes a very different approach: Instead of replacing the wallet, we are improving it! Our innovative wocket™ reduces the number of cards in your wallet while supporting virtually every payment method currently available at Point-of-Sale (POS) at retailers around the world including magnetic stripe, EMV/NFC and barcode…all within a secure vault within your wallet.

Now you can use the wallet you know and love, but with the wocket™ advanced secure electronic wallet technology from NXT-ID.

MobileBio™ wocket™

*Product in development

David Tunnell Bio:

David Tunnell is an expert in biometrics, secure communications, and wearable technologies.  With over 29 years of experience in building technologies and companies, Mr. Tunnell’s experience spans computer security (COMSEC), signal intelligence (SIGINT), communications intelligence (COMINT), and image intelligence (IMINT).  An advocate of privacy and co-founder of NXT-ID, Inc., an early stage technology company, Mr. Tunnell is leading NXT’s efforts to redefine how private information is protected within mobile applications.  As the chief architect of the Wocket™ smart wallet, Mr. Tunnell is focused on developing technologies with high potential to disrupt industries such as the mobile payment industry with innovative methods that protect privacy.
Mr. Tunnell’s accomplishments include the Technology of the Year award from Frost & Sullivan for biometrics in 2006 and inventor of a Top Ten Invention for the US Army in 2004.  Blessed to work with some of the most inventive engineers and scientists, Mr. Tunnell has pioneered a number of technologies including remote distributed sensing and processing, 3D facial recognition and imaging, 3D fingerprint, voice recognition, dynamic biometric-enabled authentication and encryption key generation, and miniature, low-power wearable technologies.
Mr. Tunnell brings a wealth of product development and product marketing experience to NXT-ID, Inc.  He was the divisional director of 3D identification products at Technest Holdings Inc. from 2003 to 2012.  Prior to Technest, he served as an adjunct faculty teaching various advanced technology courses at the National Cryptologic School while working with various intelligence agencies and later at L3 Communications where he served as Director of Engineering for a subsidiary.  He has also served as the Principle Investigator for numerous research programs with the United States Department of Defense (DoD).  Mr. Tunnell holds a Masters in Technical Management (MSTM) from Johns Hopkins University and a BSEE from the University of Tennessee.

Air Date 11/17/12- Fire Prevention and Awareness!


Presented by:

Mortgage Investors Group Logo

This is one of the most important shows The Housing Hour has done:

….it could save you and your family’s lives!

Fire Prevention and Awareness:  Will your Smoke detector work?

Did you know that Thanksgiving Day is the number one day for cooking fires?

Knoxville City Fire Department Captain DJ Corcoran joins our show and discusses everything from the top things that can cause fires during the holiday season to smoke alarm detectors.

The Housing Hour has learned that under certain conditions the smoke detector in your home could fail to go off.

Common home Smoke Detectors Failing:

Also, we have discovered another study regarding Children under 10 and smoke alarms…we discuss this study and will be posting a video on the study. Every parent with small children must see this video!

Also, on a lighter note….we will be posting video a comical video regarding fires caused by Turkey Fryers.

Please join us for this very important show!

Fire Prevention Website

Kevin Rhea shares 9/11 story with Hallerin Hilton Hill


Kevin Rhea, Host of The Housing Hour, was asked by his friend Hallerin Hilton Hill to come on his show and share his and his mother’s story from 9/11. Kevin and his mother were aboard a plane as the first plane then second plane struck the twin towers on that fateful day. Kevin describes the feelings and emotions as the spent over 20 hours sitting on the tarmac in Canada

Air Date 02-09-13: Crazy Home Inspection Finds!



Special Guest

feldmanJack Feldmann

Crazy Home Inspection Part 1!

Clayton Inspection Service, Inc.

Clayton Inspection Service Inc., a certified member of the American Society of Home Inspectors®, was established in 1989. Located in Knoxville, Tennessee we have completed thousands of inspections and we typically inspect over 1,000,000 square feet per year. With over twenty years of construction experience you can be certain that you will receive the highest level of professional service available in today’s market. Call or write us today for your free brochure.


Clayton Inspection Service Inc.
Jack C. Feldmann

Phone: (865) 693-7109
Fax: (865) 690-4321

Crazy Home Inspection Finds!