Shutdown thwarts Blount Co. school bus route

While politicians argue about the budget, some East Tennessee families are already feeling the immediate effects of a shutdown.

The Great Smoky Mountains are closed, along with a number of roads overseen by rangers. Now, a handful of school children and their parents will have to find another way to get to class.

With the Foothills Parkway closed, one Blount County school bus cannot make its route.

Bus #49 takes about two dozen students from the Top of the World community to three area schools: Heritage High, Heritage Middle, and Walland Elementary. Although there are other roads to access that community, they are too steep and curvy to drive the bus safely.

"It's dangerous," explained Nancy Kemp, Communications Director for Blount County Schools. "It's very curvy, and straight up the mountain. It's just not a safe route."

Parents of those students now have to drop off and pick up their children at school, until further notice.

"We'll make an adjustment when the federal government tells us to," she said.

"I've already talked with some neighbors, we're going to be carpooling," said Danielle McClurg, who has two children at Walland Elementary. "We'll be going down Butterfly Gap, we'll have to leave a little bit early to get through all that, coming out on Rocky Branch on 321 and hit Walland. So, it's going to be very inconvenient for our community."

McClurg doesn't blame the school district for what's happened.

"I think they've handled it the best they can with what they have," she said. "They've done a great job."

Barbara Cunningham's children are grown, so the bus won't be an issue for her. However, she will be missing the Foothills Parkway access to her Top of the World Home.

"I think that's ridiculous. All these people are going to have to go way out of their way to get to town or to get to school," she said.

She's also fed with the politics that led to the shutdown.

"I think that's crazy," she said "They can't sit down together and figure anything out. They act like little kids fighting over toys."

"They just don't seem to want to sit down and talk about it," added her neighbor, Buzz King. "That's what aggravates me about the whole thing."

He called the alternate roads to Top of the World "white knuckle routes."

"It's going to be tough on people up here. Definitely tough."


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment