A cleanup plan is in motion for a place that’s been called Knox County’s worst illegal dump site, which comes as a church agrees to shoulder part of the burden with the county, avoiding a permanent road closure in the process.
The site along Twin Creek Road is a steep hillside that’s been used for illegal dumping for nearly 50 years. Knox County Solid Waste estimates more than 4,000 tires have been dumped, along with mattresses and tons of other garbage. County leaders temporarily closed a big portion of the road
For more than a week, crews have been cleaning up the mess along Twin Creek Road.
“It’s really bad and it’s really difficult to get to because of the steep slopes,” said Knox County Solid Waste Director Drew Thurman.
County commissioners and Harris Chapel Baptist Church recently came to an agreement. The county will clean up and then the congregation will build a large fence.
“As soon as we get the area clean, get it back and restored by environmental standards, the church will come in and put up the fence. Once the fence is inspected and approved, that road will be back open,” said Commissioner Carson Dailey.
At this point it’s not clear how much time or how much money it will cost to clean up, although commissioners have estimated a budget around $120,000.
“The people who are dumping here are the people who are not following the rules. They came out here to intentionally dump and they’re bad actors and now because of that we’re all having go pay the cost to clean up this really bad dump,” added Thurman.
Commissioner Dailey says he plans to ask the sheriff’s office to do more patrols along Twin Creek Road and they’re also looking into buying trail cameras as a way to catch people.
If someone’s caught illegally dumping, it’s a $50 fine. Commissioner Dailey says he plans to work with state representatives to make this punishment more costly.
“I’m excited that it’s getting clean and my hope and prayer is that it stays that way, that people will not come back and use this as a dumping site,” said Dailey.
Less than one mile away is the county’s recycling center off John Sevier Highway. County leaders are hoping those who were illegally dumping use that center going forward.
The agreement between Harris Chapel Baptist Church requires the congregation to inspect the fence and work to maintain clean conditions, with cleanup every three to six months with the county available to haul off large or heavy items.
If you’d like to read the county’s memorandum of understanding with the full terms, click here.