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By TERRI LIKENS
Don Simon could be a poster child for the kind of people Roane County officials say they want to attract.
The retired American Greetings executive has a comfortable home on the waterfront. He is active — a man who cares about his community.
He has plenty of time now for his passion — barefoot endurance water skiing — and has a great appreciation for the smooth “perfect waters” that drew him here four years ago.
Jolting roads and what he deems a lack of concern by officials now has him reconsidering his decision.
“Do I want to move? I’m only four years in my home,” Simon said.
That home is in Swan Harbour, a high-end development off of Swan Pond Circle Road.
Now he is reconsidering his decision.
While he worries about possible future health impacts of the TVA ash spill nearby, his biggest concern these days involves danger on the road.
Much of Swan Pond Circle Road is narrow, by modern standards, but the traffic from heavy, gravel-laden trucks is taking a huge toll on the roadway.
The trucks, 9-feet-wide from mirror to mrror,: Simn said, have been hauling rock for TVA’s clean-up.
At times, 12 to 15 trucks leave in a group, and often they dominate the road.
In many places, the now-crumbling sides of the road resemble an asphalt alligator’s back.
Deep ruts run beside the road where truck wheel shave gone off the pavement.
The difference in the road before the ash spill and after is readily apparent.
A wider, reinforced section of the road always had some truck traffic from a quarry on the penninsula, but after the ash spill, trucks have been busy along the length of the road.
Simon, who is on a citizens committee of Swan Pond residents that formed after the ash spill, said TVA was lucky it had no loss of life during the initial spill.
He’s not so sure someone won’t get killed on the deteriorating roads, however.
It’s not just Swan Pond Circle Road that has been affected, Simon noted.
With the closure of portions of it and Swan Pond Road, traffic is spilling onto other road.
One of them is Hassler Mill Road, which has sections that look like they were built in the horse and buggy days.
Recently, even a TVA officer’s vehicle went off the road there, Simon said.
“They had to use a wrecker,” he said.
He has been able to coax the county road department to patch a few holes, but the cold patch doesn’t last long under the traffic.
Simon, who has been assigned the task of overseeing roads for the citizens committee, also worries about changes to come.
Although his development is not in direct contact with the fly ash, many there have put their houses up for sale and have expressed plans to move.
“Will I end up in a ghost town?” he asks.
And if TVA does buy many of the residents out, will they maintain the lawns and homes to the standard now required by the Swan Harbour homeowners association?
Simon doesn’t have answers to these questions, but not for the lack of asking.
After a recent tour of the roads in Swan Pond, he put in a call to the committee’s contact with TVA, leaving a chagrined message about the lack of a returned phone call.
“One thing that makes me mad is phone calls,” Simon said. “They don’t return them.”
He wondered why TVA didn’t just cut new access roads instead of causing more damage to exisitng roads.
Simon also noted that local police are now often posted at Swan Pond Road and Hwy. 70 to direct truck traffic, “when local Swan Pond residents can’t get any help.”
“We need safety issues addressed now,” he said. “Not a month from now — now — before someone gets killed.”