published Monday, June 27th, 2011

Rhea County gets money for creek maintenance

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DAYTON, Tenn. — Rhea County Executive George Thacker recently announced the county qualified for National Emergency Grant funding to help remove debris that has caused flooding in creeks and parks across the county.

At last week’s County Commission meeting, Thacker passed out notifications that Rhea County could receive up to $250,000 in federal assistance for safety gear and full-time employee positions for the cleanup.

Stephen Dunn, regional projects manager with the Southeast Tennessee Development District, said Friday that the grant money would help restore areas affected after April’s storms.

Thacker said several Tennessee counties qualified for the funding but chose not to participate.

He said flooding “is a major problem in Rhea County … and [assistance] has been needed for years.”

Overgrown trees can create dams, Thacker said, and the summer months bring additional difficulties with creek waters elevated and more snakes present.

Dunn said the Southeast Tennessee Development District would oversee the hiring of nine or 10 full-time, temporary maintenance workers.

Each worker will earn about $450 per week for nearly 19 weeks until Nov. 15, he said.

Dunn estimated it would cost up to $100,000, which was approved, to fund the positions and the purchase of safety goggles, steel-toed boots, hard hats and gloves for each worker, along with the leasing of chain saws and other necessary equipment.

“I have the resources now,” Thacker said, adding workers will attend an orientation Tuesday and start work within the next week at Roaring Creek in Graysville.

Graysville officials had asked to oversee that creek’s maintenance until the announcement of the grant money.

Ted Doss, mayor of Graysville, said that was because flooding of the creek “affects us more than the county.”

Other areas listed for assistance include Morgantown Creek and the Judge David Campbell Memorial Park in Dayton, along with Piney Creek and Rhea Springs Park in Spring City.

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