County, tribe to seek sidewalk along U.S. 441 in Qualla

By: Quintin Ellison

Local leaders here and in Cherokee want the state to build a sidewalk and add some street lights along U.S. 441 in Qualla after two men were run over by cars and killed last October in separate accidents. The sidewalk would span, roughly speaking, from the reservation boundary to Olivet Road.

County commissioners, meeting Monday, Feb. 3, agreed to join with Tribal Council members and ask the state Department of Transportation to do the work. The question of who would maintain the sidewalk posed a potential snag because the state doesn’t repair sidewalks after building them. County Manager Chuck Wooten said the county probably would assume that oversight.

There’s not much maintenance involved in sidewalk maintenance, he told commissioners.

Randy Driver, 44, of the Whittier area, died the night of Oct. 9 after a Cherokee police officer struck him and his son near the Cherokee Casino Mart McDonald’s. A Cherokee officer turned to follow a vehicle with only one working headlight and hit the men; results of an investigation into the accident haven’t been released.

Timothy Daniel Allison, 46, also of the Whittier area, died the night of Oct. 12 in a hit and run. A second man with Allison was treated and released from a hospital; the two were crossing the highway in front of Catamount Travel Center.

A month later, officers charged three Cherokee residents in connection with Allison’s death: Cinda Justine Taylor, 25, with felony hit and run; Michael Anthony Jumper, 40, with aid and abet; and Ermelinda Montelongo, 55, with aid and abet.

Commissioner Charles Elders represents Qualla; he said members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians have urged him to help get sidewalks and lighting along U.S. 441 in that area.

Chairman Jack Debnam and Commissioner Doug Cody missed the meeting because of individual family obligations.