A popular fishing site is no longer, and officials are seeking answers to exactly what happened to cause one of the ponds of the Laurel Campus of Somerset Community College to drain out early Wednesday morning.

According to Travis McQueen, director of the SCC Laurel Campus, a security guard for the Wellness Park that is located below the college campus, noticed the water draining out around 3 a.m.

"We also had a very hard rain last night but we're thinking the overflow pipe had some decay at the bottom where it goes into the drain pipe," McQueen said. "The water just escaped through the existing drainage and ran down the hill."

A small portion of the water in the pond still remains - along with some fish and turtles. McQueen said the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife had been on the scene earlier Wednesday morning and tried to find a solution to the aquatic life.

"They were going to transfer the fish into the other pond, but due to the softness of the sides of the pond and the slope, they thought it was too dangerous to try and send someone down to get the fish out," he continued. "They're still trying to find a way to rescue the fish."

The drainage of the pond also caused the shoulder of the roadway near the pond to collapse, creating cavities near the paved roadway of four to five feet deep. That situation resulted in the roadway around the pond to be closed.

McQueen said, however, that those wishing to use the Wellness Park could still get access to the area by driving between the first and second buildings, which circles around the hillside.

"We closed the road until we're sure it's safe. But people can still access the Wellness Park by driving between the two buildings," he said.

The property is maintained by the college although it adjoins the city-county property that houses the Laurel County Public Library and the Wellness Park.

In the meantime, officials continue their investigation into what caused the drainage of the pond and continue to assess the situation.

Officials are unsure when the twin ponds were built on the property which was previously the home office of James River Coal Company, established by the late Jim Rose.

njohnson@sentinel-echo.com

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