Blount Blanketed: City, county school systems get snow holiday
For the third day this week, Blount County called off schools as an extremely wet snow began to cover the roads Thursday.
All schools in Blount County, including the Alcoa and Maryville city schools, will be closed today. Maryville Schools’ after-school program, Adventure Club, will also be closed, but the district’s central offices will be open noon to 4 p.m.
All schools will also be closed Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Meanwhile, Blount County Highway Department is still recovering from a crushed culvert and a mountain road damaged by a huge wet-weather spring and Maryville Public Works Department is dealing with a large sinkhole near a city school.
Before the snow began falling Thursday afternoon, the highway department had to place barricades on Porter Bridge and Helton, Blockhouse and Grey Ridge roads.
“Before it turned to snow the creeks went up and weren’t able to hold up to this last bit of rain,” Blount County Highway Superintendent Bill Dunlap said, adding that crews would be removing those barricades today.
Several snow plows were sent out across the county Thursday at around 4:30 p.m., and about eight trucks were still operating at 7:30 p.m. Dunlap said they would remain in operation until around 10 p.m., when temperature drops would begin threatening to freeze the snow and slush.
They were scheduled to restart at daybreak today, the superintendent said, with all 15 of the department’s trucks in operation to salt and plow the roadways.
“With that sunshine, we should be able to take care of everything that we’ve got out there on the ground,” Dunlap said.
The Burnette Station Road area and several roads off U.S. 321, including Lovers Lane and Carr’s Creek, Rudd Hollow and Dunn Hollow roads, were hit worst by the snowfall Thursday, he said. There were a couple of inches of accumulation reported in those areas around 7:30 p.m. Thursday. The superintendent said they would be the roads most likely to need salt today.
“That’ll be the main ones we’ll concentrate on,” Dunlap said. “All my foremen will be out and we’ll address it when it comes to them.”
The National Weather Service has forecasted both today and Saturday to be mostly sunny, with highs near 45 and 51 degrees, respectively.
On Tuesday morning, Maryville Director of Utilities Baron Swafford said he received word that a manhole had sunk 18 inches. By 2 a.m. Wednesday, a 20-foot-long, 40-foot-wide and 20-foot-deep sinkhole had developed on Kittrell Avenue near Coulter Grove Intermediate School.
Forty-foot telephone poles were placed across the top of the sinkhole to support the area water line. If it remains stabilized, plans are to put the sewer line back together and fill in the hole.
The broken sewer line goes all the way out Sevierville Road to Northfield Subdivision. An alternate line was hooked up to carry the refuse.
Kittrell Avenue is the road buses use to access Coulter Grove Intermediate School. The buses were detoured through the softball field and the senior center.
“There’s a cavern somewhere. We feel the surface water got into an old abandoned sewer line and caused the sinkhole,” Swafford said. “We only removed two dump trucks full of material and the rest went through the hole once the area was stabilized.”
Maryville City Manager Greg McClain said “it doesn’t appear to be growing. The real question is whether it will seal up over where it started.”
At 12:30 a.m. Thursday, Blount County Highway crews replaced a crushed tile on Carr’s Creek Road, allowing traffic access on the dead end road.
Dunlap closed Long Rifle Road in Homestead Subdivision at Walland on Thursday until further notice.
A wet-weather spring on Wednesday washed the silt fill for one-fourth mile down the road and the water sounds like a river from the road at the top of the slide. The road is located off East Miller’s Cove Road at the Sevier County line.
There are five residences in the mountain development and three have access out through East Miller’s Cove Road in Blount County and the other two through Happy Hollow Road, which runs into Wear’s Valley Road in Sevier County.
“I’m going to take an engineer up there (today) to determine what we will have to do,” said Dunlap.