The proposal, read by Ronnie Daniels of the Kentucky Mountain Crawlers, will use outdoor tourism coal severance funds for various projects and equipment relating to adventure tourism.
The projects, which were categorized into two phases, include purchasing a new UTV, a new Jeep Rubicon, a 200-foot by 50-foot pavilion and fencing around the Verda Field at a total cost of $180,010 as part of phase one. Phase two would consist of restrooms and showers at the Verda Field, riverside tables and benches, quality camp sites and a signage/trail maintenance plan for a total of $100,000.
“This has really been a vision of many of us in the county. We have been working on this for four or five years now,” Daniels said about the proposal. “What we are looking at is a way to do some things ourselves and generate revenue ourselves to maintain and improve as time moves along and to bring some tourists and money into the county. I think that’s a win-win situation for the county.”
“Do you think as you move forward that you could be self-sustaining?” Harlan County Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop asked.
“I really feel that we can, and I think we can be self-sustaining fairly soon. That is where this plan comes into play,” Daniels said.
Grieshop said the proposal shows the board is moving in a good direction.
“What I like is that you have a plan. You are moving us in a direction, and if we can find a way to work with you, that is what we should do,” he said.
Grieshop added that he would like to see adventure tourism eventually become self-sustaining.
“One of the biggest concerns that different magistrates have discussed with me is the continuing input of money from the fiscal court. The fiscal court had to see a way for this thing to eventually balance out so we can go on with other projects,” he said. “Your plan today is a great plan, and if the magistrates can find a way to support that we have an opportunity to move on this.”
Jim Roark, the magistrate for District 5, said he would like to review the information and continue discussions at the next fiscal court meeting.
“I would like the chance to look it over and bring it back at the next meeting. I don’t see a thing in the world wrong with it, but I would like the chance to look at it before we move on it,” Roark said.
Grieshop said there is potential to hold a large number of events at the Verda Field.
“If we were to look at the use of that field — if we had true planning and had the structures there — there would be something there at least every third week or so,” he said. “That’s part of this plan. We would like to establish a calendar of local clubs, local government activities that would be scheduled on a yearly basis. Then, this person would bring in all of these other events,” Daniels added.
Daniels later stressed the importance of not wasting the opportunity to attract more tourists.
“Other counties are not sitting around on their butts and not doing anything. These other counties have visions of their own,” he said. “We have something right now that is attracting people from all over the United States. If we build on that, we will benefit more. We don’t want to overlook that.”
“We have something the other counties in Kentucky don’t have. We have the highest peak, and we have a beautiful county compared to some of the others. So when people come here they get a ride with a view. Plus, our hospitality is second to none,” Grieshop added.
In other action, the court:
-- Approved a grant agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration for the Tucker-Guthrie Memorial Airport for an expanded apron (phase 2) project number: 3-21-0022-08-2008 in the amount of $75,030, and authorized the judge to sign any and all documents;
-- Approved various reports as follows: Animal control officer, road/bridge department, recycling/solid waste, PRIDE, inmate work program and Stone Mountain Boat Dock (boat slip rentals);
-- Announced the county clerk has received special district budgets.