Commonwealth Journal

Local News

December 23, 2013

2013: A milestone year for Wolf Creek Dam


Jamestown —

Burcham will make a final decision on whether Lake Cumberland will return to normal operation in time for next summer’s vacation season. Don B. Getty, manager of the rehabilitation project, cautions that giving the go-head is a slow process. He said it could be up to two months before she makes her decision.
Nothing official, but a report out of the final safety review sounds optimistic. “We’re very pleased. It went as expected. There were no unexpected surprises,” commented Getty.
Bad news sells newspapers, so media critics say, and sadly, in some cases it’s true. Good news, as well, rolls hot off the presses.
More than 800 stories and photographs of the lake situation and progress on rehabilitation of Wolf Creek Dam have been published in the Commonwealth Journal during the past eight years. 
This news coverage about troubled Wolf Creek Dam is the most frequent and intense of any subject in the nearly 100-year existence of this newspaper and its predecessors. Since The Commonwealth and Somerset Journal, both weeklies, merged January 3, 1966 into the daily Commonwealth Journal, stories about the unstable dam have appeared on front pages of the Somerset daily more than any other subject. A first-place award from the Kentucky Press Association was presented for coverage of the near breach in the dam during late 1968, a situation that required a decade to make temporary repairs.
The United States Army Corps of Engineers, builder and keeper of Wolf Creek Dam, has, for the most part, been completely frank about problems at the dam. Time and time again, the Corps escorted reporters from Kentucky and Tennessee to the dam site, even taking media personnel into the bowels of the mile-long structure in a “Show and Tell” about the repair process. Corps engineers promptly answered telephone calls from the media, candidly talking about the good and bad.

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