ERWIN –– A sinkhole was found early Saturday morning approximately 30 feet from Love Chapel Elementary School, according to Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Hensley.
Hensley said the sinkhole was found by someone walking their dog around the school, 1426 Love Station Road, and the sheriff’s department received the call at approximately 9:13 a.m.
Upon arrival, the hole was around 25 feet across, 60-70 feet deep and was continuing to fall in. After about an hour, the hole had grown in depth to approximately 122 feet, with around 10-15 feet of water inside.
Hensley said Terry Haynes, highway chief administrator officer, was called in and began making plans to fill the hole with boulders and other materials, while also putting a dye in the water to track the water flow.
He said should any nearby resident notice any changes in water pressure, water flow or anything out of the ordinary, they should contact the sheriff’s department and emergency personnel immediately. Hensley said they would be monitoring nearby water beds, such as the Nolichucky River to see if they spot the yellowish dye that was put in. He said should residents see the dye in their water, to notify authorities.
He said access to the area near the sinkhole and the school has been blocked off to the public as emergency personnel and workers survey the scene.
Hensley said a previous sinkhole found a few months back in a swimming pool area on private property was tracked to be 300 feet from the current sinkhole and those involved are investigating the area to determine whether it is a fault.
He said Denise Brown, director of schools for Unicoi County, has canceled school Monday at Love Chapel, is assessing the sinkhole area with officials and will be releasing a statement about how they plan to proceed at a later time.