Wildcat Falls gets major cleanup
By Kim Swindell Wood | August 5, 2019 2:17 pm
By Rachel Auberger
Wildcat Falls, located on Highway 70 on Bon Air Mountain, got a recent facelift when the Tennessee Department of Correction’s Offender Work Crew Program stepped in to clean up the landmark in eastern White County.
The Offender Work Crew Program provides services, free of charge, to communities and non-profit agencies, according to the department of correction’s public information officer, Rob Reburn. Reburn said the program creates huge savings to the agencies it helps as well as providing future benefits to the offenders on the work crews.
“The offenders involved benefit from the program because it gives them the opportunity to learn skills and learn to operate equipment and machinery,” Reburn said. “These skills translate to potential employment when they have completed their time in the correctional facility and are released.”
Reburn said to become a part of the program, offenders must fill out an application and then are thoroughly vetted before being accepted into the program and permitted to work outside of the facility in which they are housed. He said all persons accepted into the program are considered to be at a low-risk level to make the program beneficial to the communities they serve.
“The offenders have a real sense of pride in having been selected,” Reburn said. “They want to give back to the communities they have hurt and try, in some way, to right the wrongs they have done.”
The Offender Work Crew that helped with the cleanup at Wildcat Falls consisted of eight to 10 workers and two supervisors. The crew worked six hours a day the week of July 22 and spent a total of approximately 30 hours cutting down small saplings and cleaning underbrush to help improve the overall look and accessibility of the falls.
Originally, there were issues with determining which entity had the right of way to the falls: White County or the state of Tennessee. Once it was determined that since the falls belong to the state because of its location being on the Highway 70 right of way, the state was responsible for the upkeep and cleanup of the falls. State Representative Paul Sherrell, of White County, was instrumental in bringing the work crew program to the project so there would not be a need to wait for state money to get the project completed.
“Wildcat Falls is a beautiful area and a source of pride for the White County community,” Reburn said. “We were glad to be able to provide services to help with this cleanup.”