If Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs runs for Tennessee governor in 2026, he can tout as a major accomplishment his creation of the Knox County Water Trail – an almost perfect project for a small-government, freedom-loving Republican.
At limited cost to Knox County, the water trail is really the product of vision, volunteer labor and business donations, supported by local government.
Roy Arthur kicked it off. As watershed coordinator for several years, he worked with developers to secure access to Beaver Creek. In particular, Arthur’s work with developer Scott Davis led to creation of a stormwater park on Harrell Road between Karns and Powell. Robert Bray, Dr. Bob Collier, Tim and Pat Ezzell, Margaret Massey-Cox and others created the Beaver Creek Watershed Association which met monthly and dreamed big.
Momentum came from Charlie Austin and the folks at the Beaver Creek Kayak Club. These folks actually got into the creek, moving obstructions and picking up trash and rubble. The first Beaver Creek Flotilla came six years ago, initiated by Steven Goodpaster of Powell.
The first flotilla went from Powell High School to the Weigel’s on Clinton Highway. The trip took almost three hours. Bill Weigel was the floatmaster at age 80. He grew up on Beaver Creek and wanted others to experience what he had enjoyed as a youngster.
Larsen Jay, at-large county commissioner, was at the first flotilla. He brought a paddleboard and said he dodged low-hanging branches all the way. But Jay became a believer. He has worked with the project every step of the way.
Carol Evans, executive director of Legacy Parks Foundation, preaches the economic benefits of playing outdoors (tourism). She helped secure donations to install the first handicapped accessible launches. Randy Burleson, owner of Aubrey’s Restaurants, was the big donor and the launch at Powell High Landing, Brickyard Road, is named Aubrey’s Launch.
Its companion launch, at the Roy Arthur Stormwater Park, 7221 Harrell Rd., was named by a vote of Knox County Commission, Charlie’s Launch, in honor of Charlie Austin. If anyone else wants naming rights for a launch, call Carol Evans. She will work it out. Larsen Jay projects 11 launches would be nice to move folks from Clayton Park in Halls to Melton Hill Lake.
The flotilla on May 20, 2023, saw a longer route – from Aubrey’s Launch to Charlie’s. Because of the work Knox County had done to clear the creek, the trip took about three hours. There’s no report on how the paddleboarders fared.
Mayor Jacobs and his senior director of Parks & Rec, Joe Mack, budgeted county funds to cover a three-member crew that patrols the creek, removing fallen trees and debris jams. Jason Halliburton narrates a video that shows the crew at work.
Jacobs writes on the county website: “Over the next few years, Knox County Parks & Recreation will work with strategic partners to clear a significant number of tree jams that are impeding the water flow and access, then work to clean up Beaver Creek of trash and debris, and finally build a program to care for this vital waterway that stretches all across the northern half of Knox County.
“When complete, the Knox County Water Trail project will help mitigate flooding issues, improve water quality and establish Beaver Creek as an ever-lasting recreational facility for generations to come.”
Note: We printed this in the mailer to parts of Karns and Hardin Valley this week and I wanted to get it on the record for newcomers and oldtimers who wonder what the heck we’re talking about.