Unicoi County

Love Chapel, a geological high risk

ERWIN, Tenn. - The Love Chapel community is looking for answers after a sink hole has left their elementary school closed, but what happens next with all of the problems under the surface?


Director of Schools Denise Brown said, "We are going to have to build a new school, work with funding bodies, insurance companies, and start finding property."


Geological experts drilled up to 172 feet below the school grounds and found this may be a more wide spread problem. Of the 16 drill sites six are considered problems areas, which leaves the school at what's considered a moderate to high risk for another sink hole.


"It is very difficult process to try and fill a sink hole. You are looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars just to fill up to one, and when you have four active and two weathered I just don't feel like it is safe for our students," said Brown.


Gary Bailey owns property near the school and has many ties to Love Chapel. He too feels that safety is a top priority but  thinks there are other solutions, "I'm familiar with other county schools that have had sink holes where they just fill them and go back to school; I don't see what is wrong with doing that here."


And Bailey has are other concerns, "The school being moved from that location will definitely damage property around it and reduce the value of housing or property."


Time will tell if more problems are going to arise, but that is a risk school leaders are not willing to take.


For now Love Chapel students have been split up between Unicoi Intermediate and Middle Schools. The geological testing was only done on the school grounds not the nearby neighborhood.

It is unclear what will happen to the school property.

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