Nolichucky River Clean-up and Celebration, June 4

Debbie Briscoe reporting

We had record attendance at the cleanup this year!  But first let me say and I couldn’t have done it without the support of our club officers Jerry, Cheryl, Wes, Jeff and Scott.  Their assistance with organizing, getting the food, and picking up donations and TVA bags was a huge help!  At sign-in, we had an exciting and overwhelming period of giving out location assignments and organizing clean teams.  After getting everyone on their way to the specific focus points, I teamed up with a small band of merry volunteers and set off to the Saw Mill put in.  The weather was perfect and the water was wonderful!

From this year’s heavy rains there were a lot of debris piles full of bottles and other stuff.  We found clothes, boots, cans, pipes, plastic, metal pieces, barbed wire, and even a microwave oven and stuffed animals!  What was the name of that doll again Phyllis?  Jerry reports that we cleaned up three truck loads of trash with several tires.  And Michael took trailer loads of trash too.  I also have reports that many of you took your bags directly to the dump; so we really got a lot out of the river!

One participant who was new to the cleanup said it made her mad to find so much trash carelessly left in the river.  That comment reminded me of when we started concentrating on these sections of river.  It used to be much, much worse.  I can’t explain how bad it was through Bumpass Cove and across from the Saw Mill a decade ago.  Heck, I can remember there being a mini-van in the river that stayed there for two years before the County got it out!

At Chestoa Park, the Sheriff showed up with manpower to help out, and that was a total surprise!  They will definitely get a letter of gratitude from us!

We timed our duties to be finished around 3:00pm and were all getting off the river and playing in the hole at the Big Rock about the same time.  It’s always such a pleasure to be at the Riverpark Campground.  The atmosphere is so festive when the river is right and the boaters are there!  Cheryl’s pics reflect the good time had by all!  Nancy and Brucie are heroes for letting us have free access to it for the cleanup!

The food was wonderful.  Cheryl out did herself with BBQ from the best local restaurant and all the fixins and some WONDERFUL cookies!  There weren’t even crumbs left of those!  I made the club-style beans that we look forward to each year and many others helped with the set up.

The Toluenes band was a big hit.  They are an acoustic duo from Gatlinburg with really good stage presence, coming out into the crowd and working it for audience participation.  They helped give away all the prizes donated by our sponsors, holding the grand prize for last, a scholarship for a swift water rescue course at Landmark Learning.  The winners were a new couple who own property on the river and are boaters too!  I won it one year and it is a really good course that has made me a safer boater!

I want to thank the volunteers from The Carolina Canoe Club, TEHCC, The Chota Club and The Johnson City Team River Runners.  This was the first year TRR has participated.  They were a big help with parking, driving a trash runner trailer and with shuttling; not to mention their hard work on the river!

Special thanks to Mahoney’s this year.  They were responsible for getting a monetary donation from Columbia Sportswear and then matched it!  It completely covered our food and band expenses!  On top of that, they sent a team to help with the cleanup!

Thanks to all!  But in the grand finale of this report, it was such a pleasure to see so many APE’s come out this year and give their ALL!  Our work brings a smile to my face every time I paddle the Nolichucky and see how much better the river is looking!