White, Van Buren counties each receive $50,000 tourism grants

By | January 23, 2017 6:36 am

Last Updated: January 23, 2017 at 10:06 am

Janice Curtis and her daughter, Kayla Holland, kayak just off of South Church Street, one of the few kayak drop-in points in White County. (Photo by PAMELA CLAYTOR)

White County, dubbed “The Land of Falling Water,” and home to world-renown Jackson Kayak, has been a haven for kayakers who come from across the state to row the scenic waters.
With a total of six “official” drop-in points sparsely scattered across the county, kayakers often find themselves limited and drive the roads alongside the rivers to find an alternate location to drop their boats.
Now they will have one more spot to drop their kayaks, as Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd announced on Jan. 19 that White County was one of 29 communities to receive a total of more than $1 million in Tourism Enhancement Grants to assist with tourism infrastructure assets.
White County will be receiving $50,000 to create a kayak/canoe access point on the Caney Fork River near the Lost Creek area.
White County Executive Denny Wayne Robinson says the county owns some land near the new bridge on White’s Cave Road that was obtained from the state as part of the right-of-way for the bridge.
This land provides access to the Caney Fork River. Robinson says there will be a parking area right off the roadway, with easy access to the drop point.
“We had an opportunity to apply for a grant that would increase ecotourism in our county that would also open asection of the river not normally accessible to most people,” Robinson stated. “It will be a chance for people who want to enjoy a more leisurely ride to take their family. I look forward to using it myself.”
Van Buren County also received $50,000.
The county has had a grand new entertainment park in the works for some time, with the awarding of a previous grant that provided funds for a large state that is 40 feet by 40 feet.
The park, located near the fairgrounds, which will boast a farmers market and live entertainment, will soon be bolstered by an additional $50,000 they are now receiving with the new tourism enhancement grant.
Van Buren County Mayor Greg Wilson says his plans for the grant include building a semi-open air information center, where visitors can pick up pamphlets and coupons for local businesses and sites, such as Fall Creek Falls State Park.
Additionally, Wilson states the county will use the funds to purchase a large gazebo for entertainment during the weekend farmers markets.
“While you’re shopping for your fruits and vegetables, you’ll be able to enjoy hearing some bluegrass music,” he says.
The park will consist of walking trails, as well. There will not be a playground, as a park with a playground is in close proximity to the new park.
“We want to congratulate the 29 communities that will be receiving Tourism Enhancement Grants,” Haslam said. “Tourism is an important part of our state economy, and these grants showcase how tourist development and economic development work together to make our state not only a great place to live and work, but a top tourist destination. With the assistance of these grants each community will be able to grow and enhance their local tourism assets.”
In a press release from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, they state that the goal of the grants is to help counties and cities improve local assets to increase the economic impact of tourism. This is second round of the Tourism Enhancement Grant program. In July, nearly $1 million was awarded to 29 communities.
“I am happy to announce the 29 communities that have been awarded Tourism Enhancement Grants,” Boyd said. “Tourist development and economic development have a great partnership with a common goal: making sure Tennessee and the communities across the state are able to succeed and grow. With these grants, each participating community has shown that they are investing in economic development and the future growth in our state.”
The Tourism Enhancement Grants are funded through the Rural Economic Opportunity Act, a bill co-sponsored by State Senator Paul Bailey, of White County, which is designed to improve the economic indicators in rural communities across Tennessee. Announcements will follow this spring for Site Development Grants, Main Street Entrepreneur Grants and Asset-Enhancement Grants for distressed communities.
“Arguably the only thing about this program more exciting than announcing the grant recipients is the opportunity it provides these communities,” Tennessee Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Kevin Triplett said. “The Tourism Enhancement Grants help enhance local tourism assets, which is an integral part of every county in Tennessee. Our partners at TNECD realize how critical these assets are in regards to tourism and economic development and I am thankful for the commitment to helping these communities grow.”
An advisory committee made up of staff from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture selected the 29 communities from a pool of 50 grant applications.
The grants awarded include:
– Anderson County – $50,000
-Benton County – $50,000
-Bledsoe County – $10,000
-Campbell County – $47,605
-Carter County – $20,000
-Cocke County – $20,000
-Coffee County – $50,000
-Dyer County, City of Dyersburg – $50,000
-Fayette County – $10,000
-Gibson County, City of Milan – $50,000
-Grundy County – $20,000
-Henry County, City of Paris – $32,900
-Houston County – $50,000
-Jefferson County, Town of Dandridge – $50,000
-Lauderdale County, Town of Halls – $50,000
-Lawrence County – $45,000
-Marion County – $10,000
-Marshall County, City of Lewisburg – $50,000
-McNairy County – $50,000
-Perry County – $20,000
-Polk County – $20,000
-Rhea County – $50,000
-Sequatchie County – $10,000
-Stewart County – $20,000
-Sumner County – $30,000
-Van Buren County – $50,000
-Washington County, Town of Jonesborough – $50,000
-Wayne County, City of Clifton  $47,500
-White County – $50,000

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