LBRCA Board Member Meeting with TVA Personnel, November 14, 2014
On Friday, November 14, 2014, LBRCA Board Members Geoff Edelman (Vice-President), Jim Hudgins, and Randy Hanzlick met with Rebecca Tolene and Frank (Bucky) Edmonson of the TVA. Fannin County Chamber of Commerce President Jan Hackett and Fannin County Development Authority Executive Director Stephanie Sceare also attended. Rebecca Tolene is an executive assistant to the TVA Board of Directors and Bucky Edmondson is a senior manager for public outreach and recreation. They are based in the TVA office in Knoxville and travelled to Blue Ridge specifically for the meeting, which was held at the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce.
Vice-President Edelman stressed LBRCA’s desire to work in a cordial, non-confrontational, and productive way in addressing issues of interest to LBRCA and the Blue Ridge Community. These include issues related to recreation and educational opportunities, economic impact of the lake on the community, safety and emergency response plans, and other topics such as water levels in Lake Blue Ridge.
One important outcome of the meeting is that a need was identified for the TVA, the Forest Service, and the Fannin County Commission to work together in evaluating their lands and existing facilities so plans may be developed to maintain and improve them for recreational purposes. A second outcome was that TVA will re-examine the “preferred alternative” component of its River Operations Study (ROS) and Environmental Impact Study (EIS) which includes provisions that the lake remain at high levels until labor day, knowing that the lake level has actually been lowered far in advance of Labor Day which seems to be in conflict with the intent of the preferred alternative plan. A third and major outcome is that Rebecca Tolene agreed to assist LBRCA in developing a communication plan for LBRCA to get information and requests to appropriate high level TVA management including the Board of Directors which has the authority and responsibility to make important policy changes. Bucky also reported that the house boat situation on Lake Blue Ridge is under review and that a report and plan will probably be available in 2015.
It was also recognized that Lake Blue Ridge and the Toccoa River have special qualities because their beauty, secluded areas, and undeveloped forest service shorelines, and that these are the very qualities which appeal to residents, home owners, and lake and river users. For this very reason, any plans for development and improvement need to be carefully considered, taken step-by-step and slowly, and involve extensive community review and input before they are undertaken.
Following the meeting, Rebecca Tolene and Bucky Edmondson were taken to the Marina and the Dam so they could see the lake, shoreline, and the nature of the area owned by TVA near the dam.
On August 22, 2014, LBRCA Officers and Board Members Jon Pack (President), Geoff Edelman (Vice President), Randy Hanzlick (Board Member), and Jan Hackett (Blue Ridge Chamber of Commerce President) met with David Bowling and John McCormick of TVA at the TVA Chattanooga Office. Bowling and McCormick oversee water management issues for the TVA. The goal of this meeting was to further develop an ongoing working relationship with TVA and to develop methods to more scientifically address issues related to water management, recreation, and economic issues in the Blue Ridge area. Bowling gave a thorough presentation regarding the issues related to river and reservoir management. TVA agreed to make personnel available to come to the Blue Ridge area to provide information and answer questions, and to work with LBRCA on an ongoing basis. No photographs were taken at this meeting. Vice President Geoff Edelman is shown below (photograph taken at September 27th LBRCA meeting).
Since 2012, members of LBRCA have twice met with TVA personnel at the TVA Office in Chattanooga. The first meeting was held November 9, 2012. The main purpose of these meeting was to discuss the management of water levels in Lake Blue Ridge and to develop a positive, ongoing working partnership with the TVA in addressing water management issues.