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Citizens ask county to repair, restore 2 scenic overlook sites

The scenic overlook on Lewis Chapel Mountain, alongside SR 111, showing decay and damage that has happened over the years.

June 18, 2019 – Two county residents addressed the Sequatchie County Commission Monday night to ask that something be done to repair two scenic overlooks – one on SR 111, Lewis Chapel Mountain, and the other on US 127, Signal Mountain.

Pauline Geary of Lone Oak and Karen House of Dunlap stated that although the scenic overlook sites on the two highways are the property and responsibility of the state of Tennessee, the county commission should be able to do something to repair the small wayside parks that are popular stops for tourists and visitors to the area.

The commission has been working to bring tourists into the area,” House said. “You were talking about a big grant for tourism enhancement. When tourists come, they might eat at one of the restaurants, go to the Cookie Jar, or visit the river, but one place they all stop at is the scenic overlook. The state put one of those color-blind viewers up at the overlook. This is one of just 12 places in the state that they put one of those, so they must think this is an unusually beautiful place.”

Geary pointed out that photos of both scenic overlooks show significant damage and deterioration, to posts, rails, and stairs, making them not only unsightly but dangerous. She suggested that the county commission authorize County Executive Keith Cartwright to write a letter to state officials asking them to take responsibility and see to needed repairs.

You've lit a torch under us,” Cartwright stated. “Maybe something can be done.”

The meeting Monday, June 17, was a special called meeting to approve the purchase of an empty factory in the county industrial park.

On the recommendation of the Budget Committee, all commissioners present approved buying 4.3 acres with a 16,000-square foot building at 543 Sequatchie Industrial Park Rd. for $375,000.

Commissioners discussed leasing the property to Carbon Black Global for use as a sanitary waste disposal plant. The company has been experimenting with cutting edge technology at its pilot plant on Fredonia Mountain since 2015, turning a variety of materials – including garbage – into carbon and electricity. 

For several years, Sequatchie County has been transporting household waste to a landfill in Marion County, where they pay $33 per load, tipping fee. But that cost will increase Jan. 1, 2020, to $46-48 per load. And Marion County currently is seeking a new site for a landfill, possibly in north Alabama, which they can use when the landfill now in use runs out of space in the next few years.

The commission is looking at other options, and since Carbon Black Global began its research into the new process for disposing of trash here in Sequatchie County, commissioners are anxious to take advantage of that connection.

We can redirect these monies to them,” Cartwright said in the Budget Committee meeting, “taking care of our garbage up here. And maybe even bringing in other counties. They get a pass from the EPA on air quality.”

Because the process used is not considered incineration and is not expected to produce any air pollution, the Environment Protection Agency has declared the process exempt from their oversight.

Representatives from Carbon Black Global and from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) are scheduled to be at the July 15 meeting of the Sequatchie County Commission to discuss the proposal.

At the Budget Committee meeting that preceded the meeting of the full commission last night, committee members reviewed a draft of the FY2020 budget, making a few adjustments and amendments, including:

Commissioners that were absent from Monday's meeting were Bobby Sherman, Jimbo Breland, and Ray Hobbs.

The next called meeting of the Sequatchie County Commission is Thursday, June 27, at 7 p.m. CDT, to review budget requests by the school system and the highway department.

The next regular quarterly meeting of the commission is Monday, July 15, at 7 p.m. CDT.

Meetings are at the upstairs courtroom in the Sequatchie County Courthouse on Cherry Street, Dunlap. They are usually preceded by a Budget Committee meeting. All meetings are open to the public.

The property that the county is purchasing in the Sequatchie County Industrial Park with the idea of leasing it to Carbon Black Global.