A Tribute to Carol Moore

Surprised with
Starfish Award 2014


By Fred Brown, Retired
Knoxville News Sentinel
senior writer emeritus

December 17, 2014



L to R:  Jonathan Sharp & Kyle Leinart (Coal Creek Scholars),
Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank, Barry Thacker PE, Carol,
Anderson County Schools Director Larry Foster

Oak Ridge Carol Moore is one of those sources of energy that casts a beam of determination in all directions. You could say that she is indispensable, but that would only be half right. She is as essential as light itself.

For the past 18 years, she has been both the right and left hands of Geo/Environmental Associates Inc., serving in so many capacities that is it difficult to name one major endeavor in fear of missing many.

Moore is Geo’s Senior Associate/Office Administrator; the one you call on when you need something, now; the one you need when dealing with the public; the person that journalists always turn to for help with a coal-related story on deadline; the person who was more than willing to travel with a reporter and later a group of young theater actors into the maw of a deep coal mine in Kentucky to give all a view of what it is like to be a coal miner.

The Starfish Story:

Click on links for news coverage:

Knoxville News Sentinel -- by Fred Brown

The Oak Ridger -- By Donna Smith

The Clinton Courier News -- By Ken Leinart


Her boss, Barry Thacker, founder of Geo/Environmental, says the past dozen years or more of working in the Briceville community and the startup of the Coal Creek Watershed Foundation (CCWF) would not have been possible without Carol Moore.

“Carol was a founding board member of CCWF.  The organization would have folded long ago without her because she does most of the work, while I get most of the credit.  She has the same importance on the success of our company, Geo/Environmental Associates, which enables us to fund the community service work in Coal Creek,” Thacker says of his right-hand.

The results of that partnership has produced what could and should be considered a model for helping a community to not only look proudly upon its past, but also to incorporate that past into the future.

The Foundation, starting in 2000 with the purpose of cleaning streams in nearby Coal Creek, an historic coal town in Anderson County, slowly but inexorably morphed into a much larger and more important entity: a community-minded non-profit that was not afraid to roll up its sleeves to uncover the past to understand the present.

Carol with Kippie Leinart, Kyle Leinart, and
Jonathan  Sharp (Writer Fred Brown in background)

Master of Ceremonies and very first Starfish Award recipient
Bear Stephenson, Carol Moore, and Award presenter
Rick Morrow, Executive Director of United Way
of Anderson County, TN

Carol with Coal Creek Scholar
Kyle Leinart who is studying
Engineering at University of Tennessee

Carol Moore was the engine driving that effort. She is a tireless dynamo who visited Briceville Elementary School, where once stood an Opera House built by Welsh miners of another era in the coalfields.

She fell in love with the children. And that was their good fortune.

Since then, the CCWF has awarded more than $300,000 in scholarships to Briceville children, who show that they are willing to work, to achieve, to return to their community and pay it forward to those coming behind them.

Just like Carol Moore.

L to R:  Roxanne Reilly (TN Mining Association), Carol,
Kathy Thurman, Buzz Buffington, and
John Thurman with Clinch River Trout Unlimited

The CCWF sponsors the Nantglo Scholarships each year. To date, 36 students have won these awards that range from $2,000 to $10,000. Nantglo was the word chosen for the scholarships because it means “Coal Creek,” in Welsh.

Many of the children of Briceville are descended from those early Welsh coal miners and it was important to Thacker and Moore that the students understand not only their history, but their heritage and to be proud of those things in their lives.

The scholarships are based partly on a student’s continued participation in many extracurricular work projects presented by CCWF to foster a habit of being involved in a community.

But the scholarships are only a part of this picture. The CCWF sponsors essay contests for the Briceville students; health days to provide area children with medical checkups; tree plantings in an attempt to bring back the American Chestnut that was native to the hills of Anderson County; cleaning streams; removing deadwood; painting buildings; helping to restore structures; putting up historical markers on property where the “Coal Creek Wars” unfolded, on land now owned by CCWF.

Carol hugs Bear Stephenson (Bear was the very
first recipient of the Starfish Award)

And when you begin looking at how all this blizzard of activity comes together, you will find Carol Moore working undaunted by the immense responsibility to make it all come together.

For that reason, and for her many other vital duties that go unnoticed by the larger community, but not by those who know her, Carol Moore was awarded the Anderson County Interagency Coalition’s annual Starfish Award for 2014 on Dec. 17.

Carol gets a hug from Coal Creek Scholar
Jonathan Sharp

The award is presented by the Interagency Coalition, a group of social agencies in the county, who understand what it means to help and to be helped, to recognize an outstanding community citizen who has devoted time and effort to help those who are needy, or less fortunate.

Rick Morrow, Executive Director of the Anderson County United Way and emcee of the Starfish Award, put it best.

“Carol has helped 36 students receive scholarships,” he said. And then he extrapolated that number. That means, he said, that 36 families benefited including the children of those children and the grandchildren and later great-grandchildren who were also affected by that aid."

“It’s lifting up one life at a time,” he said.


Here is how Casey Prosise Swindall, CCWF’s second scholarship winner said it in a letter to Thacker about Carol’s Starfish Award:

“Carol, thank you for giving up your Saturday mornings to meet with me about college applications. Thank you for giving up your weekends to do community service right alongside us. Thank you for your continuous words of encouragement and insistence on applying for scholarships and putting in the work up front; and thank you for continuing to stand with us today as we pursue our careers, our families, and our dreams.

You have given the most important thing you can to these kids, your time and your effort.  In turn, many of us have given ourselves better lives. Without your tireless efforts many would never consider the possibilities that lie ahead.  “You truly are a gift to the community and to Briceville students.”

Swindall graduated from the University of Tennessee Chattanooga in 2007 with a degree in Human Resources and General Management and is now pursuing an MBA degree with a concentration in Human Resources.

Carol Moore is unbowed by the work; unbowed by the demands; unbowed by the time it takes to create an understanding of giving something back to your community in order to make it a better place for everyone.

She is, however, humbled when she witnesses the pure glee and happiness in an elementary school child’s face when the thought of a future first blooms.

Carol Moore bestows love and is beloved by those who know her and understand just what she means to the future of many children.

There is none other like her.

Carol at Starfish award ceremony with many of the Coal Creek volunteers who have helped the effort succeed!

Front Row (L to R):  Patsy Thomas & Tony Thomas (Tony is Briceville native and well known singer),
Dick Geiger - TU, Kippie Leinart-Mother of scholar Kyle Leinart and member of staff of Briceville school, Carol Moore,
Roxanne Reilly - Leader of TN Mining Association, Kathy Thurman-Retired Anderson County High School educator,
Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank, Cindy Shipman and Steve Brown- TU
Back Row (L to R):  Larry Foster - Director of Anderson County Schools, Stephanie Ailey Wells-Director of Anderson County Tourism Council,
Former Anderson County Mayor Rex Lynch, Jonathan Sharp-Coal Creek Scholar, Kyle Leinart-Coal Creek Scholar,
Barry Thacker PE, President and Founder of Coal Creek Watershed Foundation and Geo/Environmental Associates, Inc.,
Buzz Buffington-TU, John Thurman-Charter Board Member Coal Creek Watershed Foundation and Cinch River Trout Unlimited

Carol thanks all of these folks and hundreds of other volunteers who have helped the Coal Creek Watershed Foundation
over the past fourteen years in all its efforts.  There is NO WAY things would happen without them!!


Amy Dugger Crabtree – The very first winner of the Coal Creek Scholarship said this about Carol:

“Carol has always believed in me. She is such a positive person, and has found her calling in inspiring young adults to reach beyond their wildest dreams and conquer any barrier that gets in the way.  I am the PROUD first recipient of the Coal Creek scholarship, and can only hope that my chosen career in Social Work can help carry on Carol’s legacy of helping others.  With Carol’s belief in me and my dreams, I’ve accomplished so much: being the first to graduate college in my family, receiving a Master’s Degree in Social Work, licensure in my field, now working part time as a therapist and spending my days off with my amazing 18-month old son, Chance, and husband Jesse.

The Starfish Story exemplifies what Carol is all about – helping make a difference.  It brings me great joy to hear that her dedication, successes, and caring nature have found a place of recognition.”

Carol was tickled to receive
beautiful flowers in
honor of her
surprise award!

The Briceville Elementary
School students and their
Principal Sandra Patton
presented an
arrangement on
Coal Creek Scholars Day.

John and Patty Bachner had
beautiful flowers delivered
to Carol's office in Knoxville.
John has been the leader of
ASFE/GBA for decades and
Patty leads the Engineering
Better Readers program.

Geo/Environmental Associates, Inc.

A Schnabel Engineering Company