UPDATE: Blue Cove Hideaway closed for good
UPDATE: Blue Cove Hideaway in McMinn County has been ordered to permanently close.
The state ruled the popular swimming hole a “public nuisance,” and documents claimed it’s “detrimental to the public welfare and safety.”
“I said thank God for little favors!” Neighbor Loraine Morfiele said about hearing Blue Cove is closed.
She can see Blue Cove from her front porch.
“I don’t think people should be swimming in something like that,” she said.
It was temporarily closed a few weeks ago, but now the state said it’s a public nuisance and closed it for good.
The order also said the owners did not have a business license or the permits needed to have an organized campground or sell food.
The owner, Charles Womack, said he is not running a business or selling food or campsites. However, he said people pay to get in, there are signs advertising the sale of food and Womack said he charges people to stay overnight.
“I’ll rent you the property for the day to swim and picnic in. If you want to, I’ll rent it to you overnight to swim and picnic in. That’s all,” Womack explained.
Womack also claimed the charges are donations.
“I don’t charge them. I’ve got a sign that says anything I take in is donation only,” Womack claimed.
We did not see that sign.
The order also alleges complaints of underage drinking and other illegal activities.
Blue Cove has also been the site of multiple injuries and drownings.
“It’s 100 percent more dangerous being on the road to come here and to go home than it is being here,” Womack added. “Anything you do here, you do by choice. Period.”
Womack said he will continue to fight to reopen.
PREVIOUS STORY: The state of Tennessee has declared a popular swimming spot a public nuisance and shut the business down.
Charles and Enola Womac, owners of the McMinn County property, were ordered to shut down the business in documents filed August 8, 2018.
The state alleges that the Womacs are in violation of laws "by maintaining a place detrimental to the public welfare and safety."
Allegations of drunkenness, complaints of underage drinking and illegal drug use were also noted in the order.
When McMinn County Sheriff's deputies arrived at the Blue Cove Hideaway in March or April of 2018 to execute a warrant, Womac refused to them onto the property.
The order goes on to state that the Womacs do not have a McMinn County business license to operate the facility.
Other allegations by the state include no valid permit for an organized camp and operation of a food establishment without proper permitting.
PREVIOUS STORY: McMinn County sheriff's deputies arrested a business owner for the second time in 24 hours.
Charles Womac who owns the Blue Cove Hideaway on County Road 116 is accused of ignoring a court order that temporarily shut down his business Friday.
Sheriff Joe Guy said Womac was telling people to walk around the locked gates.
Sheriff Guy told Channel 3 one person was taken to the hospital because they hurt their back after jumping from a high cliff at Blue Cove on Saturday.
Womac bonded out on Saturday.
PREVIOUS STORY: A McMinn County business that deputies have responded to several times has been temporarily shut down.
Sheriff Joe Guy said the owners of Blue Cove Hideaway on County Road 116 were served on Friday under Tennessee's public nuisance law.
Over three years, the sheriff said deputies have responded to complaints from residents, two deaths, arson, underage drinking, illegal camping and food sales, and narcotics violations.
Deputies arrested one of the owners, 67-year-old Charles Womac, later on Friday.
He was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting stop, frisk, and halt along with false imprisonment. The charges stemmed from an incident on June 23 when deputies responded to the business for a 911 call involving drug use and trafficking, according to the sheriff.
Womac was released on a $4500 bond. A hearing for the business closure is expected to be on Thursday.
Channel 3 reached out to Womac who told us he plans to fight the business closure.