Alexander Will Introduce Bipartisan Legislation To Provide More Funding For National Parks

Friday, February 23, 2018
Senator Lamar Alexander spoke with members of the Blount County Chamber of Commerce Friday about legislation he will introduce in the coming weeks to help address the $215 million backlog of projects in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 
Senator Alexader said, "The Great Smoky Mountains National Park – as well as other national parks across our state and our country -- are struggling with a backlog of maintenance needs that are not being addressed. The maintenance backlog – which includes roads, buildings, campgrounds, trails, water systems and more – limits access to our national parks and diminishes visitors’ experience,” Alexander said.
“In the Smokies, the maintenance backlog exceeds $200 million – and around 75 percent 80 percent of that is roads. Park employees and volunteers are filling this gap and doing a lot of things we take for granted.  Last year, roughly 2,800 volunteers donated nearly 115,000 hours to the Smokies – helping to maintain trails, serving as campground hosts and doing all kinds of things to make visitors feel welcome and learn more about the park.
“President Trump and Secretary Zinke have made addressing the growing maintenance backlog a top priority, and I agree we have a responsibility to address the growing maintenance backlog in our national parks. This is an issue Congress has been focused on for many years, and working with Secretary Zinke, I hope to introduce legislation in the coming weeks with some of my colleagues to help restore and rebuild our parks.
“The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of America’s treasures – and it has a tremendous economic impact in East Tennessee, attracting nearly twice the visitors of any other national park. Addressing the $215 million backlog of projects in the Smokies will help attract even more visitors, bring more good jobs to East Tennessee and ensure future generations can enjoy the outdoors like we have.”
President Trump included the proposal to help address the National Park Service maintenance backlog in his infrastructure plan and the Department of the Interior’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget request. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke talked about the importance of addressing the maintenance backlog when he visited the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with the senator in August to mark the 101st anniversary of the U.S. National Park Service.

Crabtree Farms Spring Plant Sale And Festival Set For April 6-8

Crabtree Farms will hold their 18th Annual Spring Plant Sale & Festival on Friday, April 6 through Sunday, April 8.  Gardeners come to fulfill their dreams – to obtain a plethora of edible delights.    “More than 300 varieties of sustainably grown vegetable, fruit, herb and flower seedlings make this event unique,” said Avery Patten, Crabtree’s spokesperson.  ... (click for more)

Lula Lake Land Trust Welcomes New Director Of Development And Communications

Lula Lake Land Trust announced Tuesday that Matthew Hubbard has joined the staff as the director of development and communications. Mr. Hubbard joins Lula Lake after seven years in nonprofit development. He graduated with a B.S. in marketing from Jacksonville State University and holds additional degrees in English and psychology.   As a native of Northeast Alabama, Mr. ... (click for more)

City May Make It Easier For Food Trucks To Operate In Chattanooga

The City Council is considering action that would make it easier for food trucks to operate in Chattanooga.  City Attorney Wade Hinton said cities like Austin and Portland have thriving food truck operations and Chattanooga is studying those models. He said, "It's truly an industry there." He said a 2013 food truck ordinance was limited and did not allow food trucks on ... (click for more)

Magistrate Says She Was Fired Because Philyaw Did Not Want To Be Seen With Someone Openly Gay

A former magistrate at Juvenile Court said she was fired because Judge Rob Philyaw and Court Administrator Sam Mairs "wanted me gone because I was openly gay." County Attorney Rheubin Taylor said Elizabeth Gentzler was not the only gay at Juvenile Court and Hamilton County government, indicating that may be part of the county's defense. Attorney Stuart James, representing Ms. ... (click for more)

The Panhandling "Tax" On Gunbarrel

I’ve been reading about the panhandling problem in downtown; it is a huge problem in the Gunbarrel area, too.  It’s commonplace to be accosted by panhandlers when walking from your parked car into a commercial establishment.  And often they are aggressive.  I look carefully around my car before getting out, but sometimes someone will be lurking in between cars and ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Sheriff’s Request

Jim Hammond will talk to members of the Hamilton County School Board on Thursday afternoon and, just like any police officer in the United States, he will request that everybody “stay in their own lane.” Some school board members tend to believe they need to help decide the best methods of protecting our children. They believe this is one of the things they were elected to do in ... (click for more)