Soak Creek earns Scenic River designation

Friday, July 29, 2016, Vol. 40, No. 31

Gov. Haslam signing the bill making Soak Creek a designated Scenic River. From left: Jane Polansky, TN State Parks State Scenic Rivers Coordinator; Brian Bivens, Bivens & Associates; TDEC Deputy Commissioner Brock Hill; State Senator Ken Yager; Alex Wyss, The Nature Conservancy-TN Chapter; Terry Cook, The Nature Conservancy-TN Chapter; Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam; Lucian Geise, TDEC Legislative Director; State Rep. Ron Travis; and TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau

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The Tennessee state legislature has named Soak Creek, a tributary of the Piney River in East Tennessee, as the state’s newest Scenic River.

It is the first such designation since 2001.

Gov. Bill Haslam signed legislation adding Soak Creek to the list of 15 state waterways designated as Scenic Rivers.

Soak Creek winding through Bledsoe, Cumberland and Rhea Counties. A specific segment of Soak Creek – from its junction with Georgia Branch near Stinging Falls State Natural Area to its intersection with the Piney River near Piney Falls State Natural Area – received the designation.

“This scenic river designation will preserve and protect the pristine ecology and waters of Soak Creek,” said Deputy Commissioner of Parks and Conservation Brock Hill. “It will also provide a high-quality outdoor experience on the water and hiking trails at the adjacent Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park. The opportunities for place-based economic development from tourism in the area have the potential to be significant.”

Senator Ken Yager and Rep. Ron Travis introduced the legislation that provides protection to the river without impacting property rights.

“As a landowner along Soak Creek and a father of kids who love nature, I am thrilled to see this amazing piece of wilderness receive the recognition it deserves,” said George Lindemann, one of the property owners who supported the project. “I believe we protect the places we experience and it just makes sense to set aside some of these incredible creeks and rivers so everyone has the chance to experience this part of Tennessee.”

East Tennessee claims historic grants

The Tennessee Historical Commission has awarded grants from the federal Historic Preservation Fund to East Tennessee community and civic organizations for “projects that support the preservation of historic and archaeological resources.’’

The Tennessee Historical Commission reviewed 55 applications. Funding requests totaling approximately $1.2 million, nearly double the amount of funding available.

“Tennessee’s treasured historic places make our state unique and contribute to our quality of life,” said Patrick McIntyre, state historic preservation officer and executive director of the Tennessee Historical Commission. “These grants will help protect the sites for future generations to study and enjoy.”

Grant recipients, sites of projects, from East Tennessee are:

Bradley County: City of Cleveland, $19,191 to restore plaster and wood in the historic Craigmiles House, the city library

Carter County: East Tennessee State University, $10,000 to fund a geophysical survey at the Carter Mansion

Jefferson County: Town of Dandridge, $6,300 to fund the restoration of the Hickman Tavern, city hall

Knox County: Historic Ramsey House, $20,000 to fund the restoration of the historic Ramsey House in Knoxville

McMinn County, First United Presbyterian Church of Athens, $36,000 to fund the restoration of the historic First United Presbyterian Church

Washington County, City of Johnson City, Funds to conduct a Commission Assistance and Mentoring Program

Unicoi County, Tennessee Division of Archaeology, $9,000 to fund a continuation of a survey of the Flint Creek Battle site

The multi-county grants involving East Tennessee counties are:

Tennessee Preservation Trust, $12,000 to fund the Statewide Historic Preservation Conference

East Tennessee Development District, $36,000 to fund a preservation specialist staff position for the East Tennessee Development District

First Tennessee Development District, $30,000 to fund a preservation specialist staff position for the First Tennessee Development District

Southeast Tennessee Development District, $54,000 to fund a preservation specialist staff position for the Southeast Tennessee Development District

State hands out solid waste grants

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has announced grants for development districts in East Tennessee to support solid waste managements.

“The support provided by Tennessee development district offices has been instrumental in the planning and implementation of the Solid Waste Management Act,” said TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau. “We’re pleased to be able to continue our support of this important work.” The grants for East Tennessee include:

East Tennessee Development District: $65,358

First Tennessee Development District: $71,690

Southeast Tennessee Development District: $47,753

Greenway Corridor public meeting set

The city of Knoxville will host a Greenway Corridor Project public meeting on Thursday, Aug. 11 at 5:30 p.m. at the John T. O’Connor Center, 611 Winona St., as plans for the project are finalized.

Mayor Madeline Rogero, City Council members, Lori Goerlich (city greenways coordinator), members of the greenways commission and representatives of Ross/Fowler, landscape architect firm, will be on hand to discuss the Greenway Corridor Feasibility and Assessment Project.

At the public meeting, Ross/Fowler will present its findings, and city officials will discuss the immediate opportunities in moving ahead with the comprehensive greenways build-out plan.

The plan includes building connections in 13 different corridors, and the new greenway connections will create a transportation network for walking and biking.

Mayor Rogero and the council have budgeted more than $3 million in the past three years for new greenway connections.

“We have some great segments in our greenway system, but many of them are disconnected,” Mayor Rogero said. “This comprehensive plan is a blueprint for turning those segments into a connected network. This will be a focal point of our investments in outdoor recreation and alternative transportation for the next 20 years.”

KUB upgrades will close greenway section

A small section of the Second Creek and Neyland Greenways will be closed through the end of September as the Knoxville Utilities Board and its contractor complete upgrades to the wastewater collection system.

The closed section will extend from the Neyland Greenway pedestrian bridge south along the parking area to where the greenways intersect Neyland Drive.

Greenway users should take the detour along Neyland Greenway connector underneath Neyland Drive to access either side of the greenway.

Greenway patrons should take note of the ongoing utility work in the area along the side of Second Creek between Cumberland Avenue and Neyland Drive.

This will include the narrowing of the footpath to allow for equipment set up and operation. Greenway users should use caution when in this area.

Asbury Place Kingsport invests $8 million

Asbury Place Kingsport has broken ground on a long-term health care housing concept for seniors at the Baysmont campus.

The facility will offer 22 resident rooms based on a household model at the campus on Netherland Lane.

The addition brings a $8 million investment to the campus. Construction is expected to be completed in 2017.

“Our team has worked hard and looked forward to this day; we’re so excited to provide this new model for East Tennessee seniors,” said Marjorie Shonnard, chief operating officer for Asbury Place. “We anticipate having these long-term care household rooms available for area seniors next year.”

Following the same household model, Asbury Place Maryville broke ground on an $18.5 million expansion that will add three buildings and 66 household residential units to its campus there.

Thaw Hall gets upgrade, makeover

Maryville College’s 94-year-old Thaw Hall is undergoing a significant renovation.

The project includes “enhancements that will help the building last another 100 years,” said Barry Brooke, executive vice president of Knoxville-based company Lawler Wood, LLC, the College’s owner’s representative and project manager for the project.

Much of the work involves moisture intrusion control, Brooke said, noting that foundation waterproofing was not common in the 1920s.

“Moisture is the worst thing for buildings.”

Inside the building, a sag in the main floor will be corrected.

Brooke said that the project is in line with the College’s commitment to sustainability.

Thaw Hall houses the College’s Lamar Memorial Library, Academic Support Center, Social Sciences Division and classrooms.

Lamar Memorial Library will remain open during construction. Work on the inside of Thaw Hall will be finished before the fall semester begins on Aug. 31.

McCarty Holsaple McCarty is the architect, and Joseph Construction is the general contractor.