Owner of McMinn County swimming hole speaks out after drowning a - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Owner of McMinn County swimming hole speaks out after drowning accident

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MCMINN COUNTY, TN (WRCB) - The safety of a swimming hole in McMinn County is being questioned after a 31-year-old man jumped from a bluff and drowned earlier this week. But the Blue Cove Hideaway is still operating like normal.

Channel 3 spoke with the Blue Cove's property owner, Charlie Womac. He said he doesn't consider the place a business because it's private property, but all guests must sign a waiver before they can do anything out there.

"I'm not a business, and I don't care if nobody comes. I never have," Womac said.

McMinn County's business licensing office reported there is no operating business license on file for Blue Cove Hideaway. Tennessee law requires any business with yearly sales over $3,000 to be licensed, but there's an exception for camp operators who rent out land.

Womac says that's what he does.

"I'm not open. People just come," he said. "If they want to rent some daytime space from me, I'll rent it to them," he said.

It costs $5 per person to swim or use the land, but Womac wouldn't comment on the yearly profits.

A sign out front says no illegal activity is allowed, but Sheriff Joe Guy said the Blue Cove is a hot spot for underage drinking.

"He (Womac) doesn't check IDs," Guy said. "He does charge a little fee if you want to swim or float around, but he lets people float around basically on pieces of garbage."

According to McMinn County 911, officers have been dispatched to the Blue Cove 12 times since last month for problems like underage drinking and theft or extra police presence requested in the area.

Between May and August of 2014, officers responded 13 times to the property.

"A group of us have gone out there a couple of times to check IDs and speak with the owner to get him to operate more responsibly," said Guy.

"If they think they can close it down, they're more than welcome to," said Womac. "The only way I can see they close it down is to pump (the swimming hole) dry."

The sheriff's office is still investigating the drowning. No charges have been filed.
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