RUTLEDGE – Clinch-Powell Resource Conservation and Development Council (RC & D) is serving Grainger County in a variety of ways.
Clinch-Powell RC & D is a non-profit organization. It was founded in 1989 as an effort between Tennessee and Virginia to protect freshwater mussels in the Clinch and Powell Rivers. Federal funding for the conservation program ended circa 2008. Outreach Coordinator Elizabeth Grisham said while Clinch-Powell RC & D’s focus is not entirely dedicated to protecting freshwater environments anymore, it is still a large part of the organization.
Grisham said Clinch-Powell RC & D’s Executive Director Lindy Turner has been involved with the program since its establishment. She is the second woman in Tennessee to qualify to serve in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Grisham said Turner split the funding for the organization between programs, allowing it to continue services when the conservation program ended.
Grisham said Clinch-Powell RC & D, who is partnered with the USDA, now utilizes its time to help people in rural communities. It became a community housing development organization in the early 2000s. It helps people in Grainger County and surrounding counties find solutions to their housing needs. Clinch-Powell RC & D teaches responsible homeownership, credit building, homeowner education and financial solutions to those in need. The organization also helps repair homes and has a home building program.
Clinch-Powell RC & D works with a variety of people from low to moderately high incomes across the state. She said houses are typically built in local developments. Grainger County’s local development is Pleasant Ridge Community in Bean Station. Clinch-Powell RC & D also has housing developments in Hawkins County and Hancock County. Grisham said the organization not only builds new homes, it finances existing homes as well.
Grisham said Clinch-Powell RC & D has recently partnered with the Rural Income Support Corporation (RISC). The partnership allows Clinch-Powell RC & D to offer help as a financial opportunity center. Basic financial and budget counseling, income support and employment opportunities are topics of focus through the program. Its goal is to strengthen rural communities.
Grisham said Clinch-Powell RC & D is also partnered with the American Job Center. It can assist anyone in need of employment counseling or anyone who needs help navigating the American Job Center website.
Clinch-Powell RC & D offers small business loans to businesses in need. It also hosts one of the largest Americorp programs in Tennessee, according to Grisham. Americorp is a volunteer civil support group, whose main goal is to help others meet critical needs. All Clinch-Powell RC & D staff members are current or former Americorp members.
Several counseling services are available from foreclosure counseling to credit counseling. All counseling services are free for anyone in need.
Clinch-Powell RC & D is now offering a monthly financial webinar called “Money Moves.” It is designed to help people gain financial stability. Classes are held Mondays and typically last anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. Grisham said if someone cannot make it to the class, sessions can be recorded and sent to those who want to participate. She said classes are interactive. Anyone who would like to participate in the webinar series can call (865) 828-5927 or through Facebook messenger.
The organization’s business has spread throughout several counties. It owns River Place on the Clinch in Hancock County, which is a place where people can have a home-cooked meal, spend time outdoors and shop. It also takes part in the Appalachian Quilt Trail.
Clients are currently being served by appointment. Anyone who would like to schedule an appointment can call (865) 828-5927 or visit Clinch-Powell RC & D at www.clinchpowell.net or its Facebook page. Clinch-Powell RC & D is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.