The Oak Ridger
May 10, 2000

Story last updated at 12:53 p.m. on Wednesday, May 10, 2000

Residents veto proposed plan to clean up creek

by Donna Smith
Oak Ridger staff

Residents living along Coal Creek in northern Anderson County have vetoed a proposed plan to clean up the creek and prevent it from flooding their homes and land.

"It doesn't appear the problem is insurmountable," the Rev. Roy Daugherty, chairman of the group of residents in the Briceville and Fraterville communities, told the county's Operations Committee Monday night.

He advocated the removal of debris and dead wood from the creek as a short-term fix to the flooding problem.

Furthermore, he said, the top layers of the silt peninsulas need to be removed so the floodwaters will flow over them rather than backing up behind them, leading to flooding of homes.

In addition, the pastor at Briceville Community Church said something needs to be done to stop people from removing river rocks from the creek bed. This adds to the problem, he said.

"They're carrying the creek beds off," Daugherty said.

Johnson's letter of recommendations on dealing with Coal Creek points to several conflicts in dealing with the problem on a long-term basis. These conflicts include the fact that many of the homes are located within the 100-year flood plain and that any work to correct the creek's problems at one location could lead to problems downstream.

On a short-term basis he proposed:

* Removing debris from railroad and highway bridge supports along the creek.

* Preparing an emergency response plan. Daugherty pointed out that Briceville has warning sirens to alert people of the flooding but that Fraterville does not.

* Developing criteria to evaluate properties for help in controlling erosion.

* Evaluating locations along the creek that could be used for flow control structures such as weir dams.

The committee, meeting at the Anderson County Courthouse, listened to citizens. They asked Barry Thacker, who is spearheading an effort to improve the Coal Creek watershed by obtaining federal or state funds for work, to give his presentation on the creek at 6 p.m. Monday in Room 312 of the Courthouse for the public to hear.

The creek has not been cleaned up in approximately 20 years, although in the past the County Commission approved a pact to allocate $15,000 to creek cleanup each year. The county had also entered a pact with the Tennessee Valley Authority to keep the creek clear of debris and silt that would cause flooding.

In other committee action, the commissioners:

* Heard a report from Scientific and Technical Resources STR Secure Storage division in Oak Ridge. The company is offering to store the county's records, which by law must be maintained.

* Agreed to get County Attorney David Clark's opinion on whether the county can continue to allow game hunting on the county's property near Blockhouse Valley Road in Clinton and whether signs should be posted. The area also contains a potentially hazardous former landfill and the Sheriff's Department firing range, and is a location for several school environmental programs.

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