The Williamson City Council approved an application for a West Virginia economic development grant to fund construction of the Tug River dam remediation project. The motion was unanimously approved after a presentation by local project leader John Burchett.
The dam is necessary to hold back a few feet of river water to supply the city's drinking water intake pipe but creates a very dangerous drowning hydraulic as water passes over the top and falls to the downstream side, according to Burchett. The remediation project plan calls for placement of various sizes of rocks to fill in below the dam and create a 200-foot long rock riffle area with a 25-foot-wide recreation navigable center channel. The channel is planned to be on a 5% slope providing an interesting but not challenging ride through the area. Four to six feet of boulders will be placed in "ribs" extending out from the center channel every 25 feet down the river from the water plant dam to create a mix of small pools and riffles.
"The area below the dam is a local favorite fishing hole. While it will undoubtedly be different after the project is completed, the plan has been developed to create an excellent fishery habitat for its entire 200-foot length and should remain a great fishing location," Burchett said.
"First and foremost, the project removes a very serious life safety issue from our river, but also, by opening the river to small boat navigation, provides increased local recreational and tourism opportunities," Burchett said. "Our Tug Fork River is another piece of the tourism puzzle that will tie in nicely to the Hatfield-McCoy trail system, allowing visitors more reason to extend their stay and enjoy more of what our area has to offer."
The National Coal Heritage Area Authority has been working toward getting the Tug River designated as a water trail and hopes to accomplish that goal before the end of 2019. The water trail designation will open other resources for development of the entire length of the river.
In other City Council business:
n Heard from resident Bill Phillips asking for removal of a tree that had fallen on his property. Mayor Charlie Hatfield said it was on the list and that the city had several trees that had to be cut and removed due to recent storms.
n Diane Maynard, a resident of West Williamson, praised the Williamson City Police for extra patrols in her neighborhood. She said recently one man had been going around knocking on doors and asking people for money. She said the extra police presence was appreciated.
n Approved Rick Wilkerson's request to block off Vinson Street for a Fourth of July celebration in that community from 8-11 p.m. There will be fireworks. Hatfield pledged the help of the street department, and also police and fire departments if needed.
n Veolia supervisor Zack Maynard announced the Fourth of July garbage schedule. Veolia and other city employees will be off Thursday for the holiday. Thus, the garbage pick-up schedule has changed for Williamson. Thursday's garbage will be picked up on Wednesday. Friday's garbage will be picked up on the regular schedule.
n In his final remarks, Hatfield mentioned that plans were going forward to paint the water tower along U.S. 119 at the West End exit. The tank is rusty and is considered an eyesore. Hatfield said the city is seeking donations to help pay for the project. More information will be given at a later date.
Kyle Lovern is editor for the Williamson Daily News. He can be contacted at 304-236-3526 or via e-mail at klovern@HDMediaLLC.com.