Boone’s Ridge opening pushed back to 2025

Published 11:08 am Friday, January 12, 2024

By Jay Compton

jay.compton@middlesboronews.com

A projected opening date for the Boone’s Ridge wildlife center has been pushed back to 2025 after a delay with equipment needed for the facility’s sewer system, Bell County Judge-Executive Alley Brock revealed at Tuesday’s Fiscal Court meeting.

Magistrate Eddie Saylor asked Brock for an update on progress being made at Boone’s Ridge.

“They’re still working on it,” Brock said. “I do know that they’ve got some problems with some of the equipment associated with their sewer package that has got them delayed now.”

Saylor also asked about a date for the center to open.

“They’re into 2025 now because of that sewer issue,” Brock said. “Probably the middle of the summer in 2025. They won’t open during what they consider their off-season so even if they’re done they won’t open in the winter.”

Saylor also asked about progress being made at the Flash Steelworks site in Middlesboro.

“That is going real well. We’re still a little ahead of schedule and hopefully it will be finished on time,” Brock said. “(Flash Steel owner) Mr. (Gary) Cola is thrilled with where we’re at.”

Saylor also asked Brock if there was any update on the proposed Lewis Ridge pumped storage hydroelectric project. Magistrates attended a meeting about the project last January. It would be constructed by digging two large reservoirs • one uphill from the other. When the water is released from the upper reservoir to the lower one it would pass through a turbine and generate enough hydroelectric power to the grid to power 67,000 homes for up to eight hours. Before the project can move forward several feasibility and environment studies have to be completed for both state and federal approval.

“There are still doing what they told us they would be doing a year ago. I know they’ve made contact with some of the folks that live around it,” Brock said.

Brian O’Brien said it had been recently reported by the Lexington Herald-Leader that a new investor was involved with the project but feasibility studies are continuing and the planned project is moving forward.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting the court:

• approved the 2022 Bell County Gas and Oil Settlement from the Bell County Sheriff’s office;

• approve the calendar year 2023 Fee Account Quarterly Report and Annual Settlement from the Bell County Sheriff’s office;

• hired Hunter Luttrell as full-time Sheriff’s Deputy at $15.25 per hour effective Jan. 11;

• hired Barbara Venable as part-time employee at the Bell County Detention Center at $9.00 per hour effective Jan. 11;

• hired Alexandra Baker as part-time EMT at $11.50 per hour effective Jan. 11;

• accepted checks in the amount of $344,423.72 from Sheriff Mitch Williams and in the amount of $31,942.87 from Bell County Clerk Debbie Gambrel.