WATE 6 On Your Side
by: Robert Holder
KODAK, Tenn. (WATE) — For years, we’ve watched Challenger the bald eagle soar over sporting events as an ambassador for the American Eagle Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to rehab and reintroduce amazing birds to the wild.
Since the 1980s, home base has been the American Eagle Foundation in Pigeon Forge and Dollywood’s Eagle Mountain. Now, a new home is underway with the same mission, only on a much larger scale. There’s a way you can help.
It’s a vibrant spot of land, 57 acres in Kodak, soon to be the home of majestic bald eagle Challenger, George the vulture, and the famous Friar Tuck, who snaps up donations at Dollywood’s Wings of America show.
There was a lot of fanfare this week to celebrate the American Eagle Foundation’s Project Eagle, starting with a groundbreaking.
“This will be the nation’s largest education and rehabilitation center for birds of prey right here in the Smoky Mountains,” said the foundation’s Executive Director Jessica Hall.
At the luncheon celebrating the construction kickoff, the community learned more about the planned impact of Project Eagle. The new birds of prey rehabilitation center will be open for field trips, a rehab hospital, and things we can start doing now to protect the majestic birds.
“We have over 80 birds of prey so we’re going to have an expanding educational fleet,” Educational Content Specialist Robyn Miller told us.
“They may not realize that by leaving behind lead fishing tackle or shards from lead ammunition, they are inadvertently poisoning our eagles,” Miller said. “It takes a lead fragment the size of a grain of rice to be lethal to a mature bald eagle and that’s a risk that we are closely monitoring.”
The American Eagle Foundation said Project Eagle will cost around $12 million. Half of that has been raised so far. The land in Kodak, said Hall, will cost close to $500,000.
“It’s absolutely the perfect spot,” Hall said. “We couldn’t ask for a better spot and ironically enough, we purchased it right in the middle of a global pandemic.”
Project Eagle is set to open next fall.
If you’d like to support this project, there are many ways to do that. You can purchase a brick that will be used to pave the main walkway, sponsor an aviary for a special bird, or you can simply make a donation. Visit their website at www.eagles.org/project-eagle/.
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TENNESSEE (WATE) — Week 6 of high school football across East Tennessee has come and gone, here’s a look at the highlights across the region.
Find all the high school football final scores on WATE’s Friday Frenzy page.
SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Visitors heading into the Great Smoky Mountains from I-40 will be able to stop at a Buc-ee’s along the way in about a year and a half. On Friday, the company officially broke ground on what’s going to be the largest convenience store in the world.
The new Buc-ee’s location is being built just off the 407 exit. It’s the first-named business going into the Kituwah, LLC and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ project dubbed “The 407: Gateway to Adventure.” Sevier County and Sevierville leaders, leaders and royalty of the EBCI, project developers and the president of Buc-ee’s were all at the groundbreaking Friday.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — It’s challenging to summarize a lifetime of public service, or even 16 years on the Tennessee Supreme Court, but to many, Justice Connie Clark can be summed up with four words: an advocate for all.
“She had a passion for making sure that everybody, every Tennessean, had access to justice, access to the advice and the support that is needed to get through legal issues,” said Kathryn Ellis, director of the Knoxville Family Justice Center.