Jasper, Tenn., church members upset over water shutoff

Jasper, Tenn., church members upset over water shutoff

July 17th, 2017 by Ryan Harris in Local Regional News

Jasper, Tenn., Alderman Steve Looney, left, and Mayor Paul Evans, right, discuss the smart meter purchase in 2014.

Photo by Ryan Lewis /Times Free Press.

JASPER, Tenn. — A mishap with the Tennessee Department of Transportation's project to connect State Highways 150 and 28 and a lack of communication about the problem aggravated some local church members last weekend.

George Jackson, treasurer at McKendree United Methodist Church, said the facility didn't have any water over the weekend and church leaders were not told until Sunday morning.

Jackson said the church could have been hosting a wedding or a funeral on Saturday, and those events would have been ruined without some communication from city leaders.

The start of the church's Vacation Bible School had to be postponed and an Alcoholics Anonymous district meeting was canceled without much advance notice.

"We would like to have had a little warning so that we could call people and let them know the church would not be available," Jackson said. "We understand things like that happen. The thing that irritated us was the fact that nobody at the church was aware that the water was being turned off. We didn't have enough time to get things rescheduled. That's what irritated us. The fact there was no communication to us."

Two Jasper aldermen are members of the church, but they were not informed about the problem until Sunday morning either.

Mayor Paul Evans took full responsibility for not communicating with church leaders.

He said he found out there was a "major leak" near the construction site Friday night.

Water was "coming up through the road" near the church, and the town's engineer and other officials decided to turn off the water so the leak wouldn't wash out a new section of road.

"It was starting to undercut the road," Evans said. "All day Saturday, we were trying to come up with a solution."

At least 150 feet of 1-inch copper tubing was needed to make the repair, but he said that was unavailable at the time.

"Yes, I should have contacted [the church and aldermen] earlier," Evans said. "When I found out for sure it was not going to be fixed over the weekend, I sent the text. We worked on it all weekend."

Evans apologized to church members for the miscommunication.

"It won't happen again," he said. "I promise you."

Jackson said the church accepted Evans' apology.

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.