An expense for elk

By Kelsey Gerhardt - [email protected]

The Appalachian Wildlife Foundation approached the Bell County Tourism Commission during a meeting on Tuesday to ask for funding to assist with the project.

David Ledford with the AWF said the funding would go toward the relocation of elk, consulting services, habitat enhancement, architectural services and administrative expenses.

“We need to seek legal advice before any of this is done, to make sure that we’re responsible from a fiduciary standpoint. This is a great thing and we’re looking forward to it being here, but we want to make sure it’s right before we do anything,” said Judy Barton with the tourism commission.

Ledford asked for $100,000 from the tourism commission to benefit the project. There is also potential for up to $6 million for the project coming from federal mine reclamation funding.

“This is a great big thing for the county, for the area, and we need to be financially, fiscally sure before we promise any money to anybody,” said Jon Grace with the tourism commission.

The commission has plans to consult with their attorneys and give a letter of recommendation for the project.

As the new director, Grace has started to emphasize advertising on the web including the use of Twitter, YouTube and Facebook more. He is currently in the process of making commercials and short videos for use on those outlets, which he believes will help to engage a different group of tourists.

Grace has also been working on new options to bring tourists to the area during the slower winter months.

The commission approved to fund a total of approximately $39,000 from the restaurant tax for continuing Main Street Pineville projects including Bell Theater renovations, the salary for MSP Director Jacob Roan and additions to the parking lot.

Chris Phillips with Cumberland Gap National Historical Park spoke during the meeting to announce the successes of the centennial park event from early April. The park had more than 10,000 visitors during that weekend.

A historical horseback ride will be coming through the Tri-State area during the weekend of May 15. Reenactors will be coming to the area and camping at several historically significant places, including a campsite at Lincoln Park in Middlesboro and Pine Mountain State Resort Park.

The ride will include several historical programs for the public and storytelling from the Daniel Boone era.

Several meetings for the Three Corners Trail Project will take place next week to continue connectivity efforts for hikers, bikers, canoers, and kayakers to name a few.

“We have so many exciting projects going on right now and this committee can help ensure that our trails get the attention they deserve. They are such an important aspect of our tourism and we need to do everything we can to develop them,” said Grace.

The May 2 meeting will take place at the Laurel Room at PMSRP at 6 p.m. The May 3 meeting is set for 6 p.m. at the Walters State Community College Auditorium. The LMU Vet School in Ewing will host the May 4 meeting at 10 a.m.

The Pine Mountain Zipline Canopy Tour is selling tickets for tours beginning on May 15. They can be purchased online at

Reach Kelsey Gerhardt at 606-302-9093 or on Twitter @kgerhardtmbdn.

By Kelsey Gerhardt

[email protected]

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