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New city park calls attention to water quality

Johnson City Press • Jan 8, 2016 at 12:00 AM

There’s a fundraiser scheduled Saturday at East Tennessee State University that will help develop a special teaching component at Johnson City’s newest park. Daniel Norris, a graduate of Science Hill High School who has found fame as a Major League Baseball pitcher, will host an event in ETSU’s D.P. Culp University Center auditorium to raise money for an outdoor classroom at Jacob’s Nature Park at Sinking Creek.

Guests who purchase one of the 100 VIP $50 tickets will begin the evening at 5 p.m., while those with $20 general admission tickets (or $10 tickets for those ages 5-17) will arrive at 5:30 p.m. for a live auction, interview with Norris and a screening of the baseball-themed movie “Field of Dreams.”

Tickets can be purchased at jacobfrancisco.com or by calling Bill Francisco at 794-0794 or by email at [email protected]

As Press staff writer Sue Guinn Legg reported last week, the Sinking Creek park project is a cooperative effort of the Johnson City Parks and Recreation Department and the nonprofit Boone Watershed Partnership. The educational nature park has been in the works for about four years and is being developed in honor of 6-year-old Jacob Francisco, who died in 2004 from complications of an E. coli infection.

Plans for the park include the construction of a handicap-accessible boardwalk over a portion of the wetlands and a covered outdoor classroom devoted to environmental studies.

Jacob’s father, Bill Francisco, has championed efforts to develop the wetlands park as a means of promoting awareness of the importance of clean water and to raise funds to prevent E. coli contamination.

Francisco and others involved with the Sinking Creek Restoration Project have been working to tackle a probable source of E. coli here in Johnson City. Sinking Creek has been identified as “impaired water” by the state of Tennessee because of E. coli contamination.

The source of this contamination is likely linked to storm water/sewer and pasture runoff. This contamination can be eliminated, or at least dramatically reduced, with better pasture management and septic systems connecting to the city’s sewer system.

Water is a primary ingredient for sustaining life on this planet. Jacob’s Nature Park at Sinking Creek will help educate both the young and the old as to the importance of protecting this resource that we all rely on everyday for our very survival.

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