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Citizens ask for hazardous road help

The parking lot at Kleine’s clinic is made almost entirely of gravel, and recent weather has caused a lot of mud around the area. This has caused issues for limited mobility individuals, such as those that use canes. Photo by Joey Icenhour.

By Meg Dickens
Staff Writer

Community members went to the Johnson County Commissioners to discuss issues involving a few roads owned or previously owned by the county. Broken promises, dangerous conditions, and handicap limitations have led to injuries and hardships. Now, these citizens are reaching out for the county’s help and suggestions on how to deal with these situations. Dangerous or inadequate access seemed to be the theme.

Kim Kleine is a nurse practitioner at Northeast Tennessee Health and Home Care, which she renovated and opened on county property in November 2020. After petitioning the County Commission, the unclassified road to her clinic, Kellogg Drive, officially became a county road at the end of 2020. The road was not the correct width and needed several types of improvements to meet county standards. Said improvements are on hold because of funding issues and weather conditions. Road Superintendent Jeff Wagner estimated work would happen sometime around May or June.

Kleine explained that the road is only one lane and extremely muddy. She understands the halt but asks for help or ideas on how to make her parking lot, made of the same materials, safer for elderly and disabled patients, citing a recent incident where a patient on canes nearly fell even with assistance. Kleine revealed that the more pressing issue is traffic from Mountain Youth Academy. She shared that there was a lacking line of sight out of the clinic parking lot, and now it was even more dangerous because of dumpsters blocking the line of sight on the other side of the road.

County Mayor Mike Taylor agreed to send out a letter to Mountain Youth Academy asking them to clean up any trash escaping from the dumpsters and possibly move them. The county plans to add a stipulation to Mountain Youth Academy’s tax abatement deal closing the entrance in question. Taylor spoke to Director Eric Dunkerly who reportedly was willing to make any needed changes. County Lawyer Perry Stout confirmed. The Tomahawk reached out to Dunkerly but did not get a response.

“I spoke with Mountain Youth Academy’s director (Eric Dunkerly),” Taylor told The Tomahawk. “He was very cordial and said he would take care of it. He’s going to have a conversation with the neighbors.”

Danny Wilson is the caretaker for Potter Cemetery. County records show that the road leading there, McCarthy Lane, was given to an individual on the stipulation that he replace it with one of equal or better value to provide access. Wilson explains that the person in question only placed gravel within sight then quit. He told the commissioners that the road is washed out in places and the man locked the gate blocking access. Stout commented that the road had to have been passable at some point or the road legally would not have been turned over.

Taylor told The Tomahawk that this road is now part of Maymead property. The Tomahawk reached out to the organization for a comment but received no response. County Lawyer Perry Stout also reached out and has not heard back yet.

“You need a four-wheel-drive or a good mule to get up there,” Wilson explained. “Is he a man of his word or is he a liar? You tell me.”

According to Wilson, a normal car cannot make it on that road. He continued, saying a member of the Payne family could not be buried with his departed relatives because of the situation, and that man’s wife broke her ankle while attempting to do so. The county voted to give the entity 60 days to either have something done or submit a plan of action to the County Commission in case inclement weather made paving impossible. Road Superintendent Jeff Wagner explained that certain types of weather make paving impossible and that could be a factor in delays.

Both Wilson and Kleine seemed pleased with the county’s response. At this point, no known action has taken place but Kleine agreed to show up to the meeting again this month. Anyone interested in attending can come to the Johnson County Courthouse at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 18.