Those spearheading future special events inside the town of Cumberland Gap will no longer have the worry of signing what has become a controversial document holding the town “harmless.”
The Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) unanimously adopted on second and final reading an ordinance that originally carried the Hold Harmless Agreement as part and parcel of the entire legislation – but not before pulling the document.
Apparently, Mayor Bill McGaffee had a change of heart and, according to town recorder Linda Moyers, “refused to sign the ordinance” after its passage on first reading last month due to the attached agreement.
Town attorney James Estep III said the Hold Harmless Agreement “is only as good as your (the town’s) insurance.
“If it’s not a special, organized event carried on in the town – if it’s a normal daily routine use of our facilities, it would be covered under our liability insurance,” said Estep.
With the adoption of the amended ordinance, event holders will still need to acquire liability insurance as part of the permit application process.
In other action, Carl Nichols, who was the director of the Claiborne Tourism Commission at the time of the meeting, updated the board on several projects currently under way.
Nichols said the Three Corners Trail Committee recently submitted its application for a federal grant that, if approved, will bring funding into the three-state region to promote development of walking, hiking, biking, ATV and horseback trails.
The recent Powell River Regatta and the award-winning White Lightning Festival played a heavy role in the Tourism Commission being granted permission to apply for the funding, he said.
The Commission, Nichols said, is working alongside the National Park Service to acquire a Blue Ways Trails designation for the Powell River. If successful, the river will be one of only ten from across the nation to hold the designation.
Nichols estimated this one project could take upwards of three years to complete. Once done, Claiborne and surrounding counties in Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia will see a substantial influx of tourist dollars due to the heavy, free advertising the Blue Ways Trails receives in national publications and maps.
Up to $100,000 in federal money could be awarded to Claiborne County, Nichols said, through a National Endowment for the Arts Folk Art Grant. If successful, the Tennessee Arts Commission has promised to double the amount.
The acquisition of the grant would bring national recognition and countless tourism dollars to the Cumberland Gap region, he said.
The Tourism Commission is working on other projects including the Battle of Tazewell Civil War Festival and the second annual Powell River Regatta.
Nichols was recently elected vice-president of the Middle East Tennessee Tourism Council, which envelops 16 counties within the state. In his new position, Nichols says he will be at the helm alongside his counterparts from other counties who are striving to develop new ways to bring tourism to the region.
In another matter, nearby Lincoln Memorial University will be utilizing the historic downtown district of Cumberland Gap for its Homecoming Alumni Association Weekend, slated for Oct. 8-10.
As part of the festivities, the monthly Cumberland Mountain Music Show will be moved to the out of doors. The street running directly in front of its usual venue, the Gap Conference Center, will be blocked from through traffic to allow the show to go on.
Steve Gulley and his fellow entertainers will be picking and grinning from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Oct. 10.
Due to the upcoming Labor Day holiday, the next council meeting will be held on Sept. 8.
Reach Jan Runions at 423-254-5588 or on Twitter @scribeCP.