Lynch said county officials and the nonprofit Coal Creek Watershed Foundation, co-sponsors of the project, will use the grant to begin studying and planning ways to make the area more productive and beneficial to the area. He said tourism is perceived as an ideal use for the area, which is rich in coal-mining history but also environmentally hurt by its coal-mining past.
"Environmental degradation and related economic problems have left the area struggling since the departure of the coal industry," Lynch stated in a news release this morning. "The project will involve the community at every stage of the process."
The Brownfield Assessment Pilot grant is the initial grant for entities wishing to make areas more financially viable. The county will be able to apply for more grants in the future.
Lynch announced to County Commission Monday night that he had received notification from the White House about the initial grant's approval that afternoon.
The executive thanked the Foundation, specifically Barry Thacker and Carol Moore, for their leadership in obtaining the grant and AmeriCorps VISTA Kylene McLucas for compiling the grant application. He also thanked workers for U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, R-3rd District, and the county's Buildings and Grants Department for assistance in obtaining the funding.
The brownfield grants provide money to restore these parcels to productive, beneficial use by either the private sector or for public use, he said.
The county is hoping to get another brownfield grant to help pay for the remediation of the old Blockhouse Valley landfill site in Clinton. The city of Clinton is hoping to get a similar grant to study how to best use the old Magnet Mills site on Charles Seivers Boulevard.
The foundation held 100th-year commemorative activities for the Fraterville Mining Explosion of 1902 last weekend. The group of volunteers recently received the East Tennessee Historical Society's Award of Distinction.
Donna Smith can be contacted at (865) 220-5502 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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