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Update October 16, 2013 - Great Smoky Mountains National Park Reopens
The Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau received official word that Great Smoky Mountains National Park opened early this morning, Wednesday, October 16, 2013 until Sunday, October 20, 2013. The entire Park will be open for visitors including the campgrounds. Park staff is hoping to have all roads and facilities open by noon.
This has come about through an agreement with the Federal government and the State of Tennessee. The total cost to re-open the Park for five days is $300,000. The expense will be split between the State, who is covering $240,000, and Blount and Sevier Counties who will split the remaining cost of $60,000.
“We want to express our gratitude to Governor Haslam, our County Mayor Larry Waters and Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell for working so diligently on opening the Park,” comments Vicki Simms, Executive Director of Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We are excited that our visitors can enjoy this beautiful jewel called Great Smoky Mountains again.”
For more information about Great Smoky Mountains National Park call 865-436-1200.
Forbes Touts Gatlinburg As One of America’s Prettiest Towns
All of us are aware of how special this place we live in really is. Now, Forbes.com has noticed, ranking Gatlinburg among the Prettiest Towns in America, along with such places as Newport, Rhode Island; St. Augustine and Key West, Florida; Taos, New Mexico; and Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The website created the rankings with input from sources such as National Geographic and The Travel Channel. To see the listings, please visit their website.
"With its charming, quaint old buildings in the center of town, its dramatic mountain backdrop and the only ski resort in Tennessee, Gatlinburg has become a popular tourist destination for regional fun-seekers. Located on the border of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg benefits from its location as a tourist draw and reinforces it with attractions such as an aerial tramway, an aquarium, whitewater rafting, hiking, and even a haunted house. But let’s not kid ourselves: as pretty and irresistible (as) the town is, the real draw in this part of Tennessee is the nature. 'The wildflowers around Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are absolutely spectacular in the spring as they burst with wildflowers at their peak,’ says Zain Habboo, National Geographic's director of travel." Forbes.com
"We are very thrilled with this honor from Forbes," said Gatlinburg City Manager Cindy Cameron Ogle. "We are blessed to live in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains and we take pride in being the gateway community to the country’s most-visited national park. It truly is a wonderful place to enjoy.”
The City of Gatlinburg is completing the sixth phase of its Underground Utilities and Streetscape Project. Since the late 1990s, Gatlinburg has been burying utilities underground and improving the aesthetics of the downtown area, something that Ogle says takes the cooperation of the City, the business community and residents.
“Of course, it has taken a lot of people doing a lot of good things to allow us to earn this lofty recognition,” said Ogle. “It's been a great public-private collaboration of dedication that has dramatically improved the aesthetics of the Parkway and helped us blend in with the Smokies.”
Come to Gatlinburg and see for yourself!
Links to www.forbes.com:
Gatlinburg Convention Center is Honored with ConventionSouth’s Prestigious Annual Readers’ Choice Award
It is with honor that the publishers and editors of ConventionSouth, the national multimedia resource for planning events in the South, present Gatlinburg Convention Center with a Readers’ Choice Award.
“ConventionSouth readers have nominated and voted to decide the best meeting sites in the South, and it is no surprise to us that Gatlinburg Convention Center has been selected to receive our annual Readers’ Choice Award,” said ConventionSouth Publisher J. Talty O’Connor. “The value in receiving this prestigious recognition is that it comes from the United States’ top meeting professionals who book events held in the South. These planners demand the highest level of customer service and quality facilities, and they have contributed in determining that Gatlinburg Convention Center indeed displays the commitment to professionalism, creativity and service that they require.”
Gatlinburg Convention Center is among 100 convention and visitor bureaus (CVBs), meeting facilities and hotels located across the South to receive this year’s Readers’ Choice Award. Throughout the year, meeting professionals nominated the meeting sites they believe provide exemplary service for group events. The nominated properties were then compiled onto an online ballot where meeting professionals were asked to vote for the best of the best. More than 1,500 voters participated this year in the selection process.
This is the first year that Gatlinburg Convention Center has received this award, making it an even greater honor to?present it with a 2012 Readers’ Choice Award. Gatlinburg Convention Center will be featured as an award?recipient in the December 2012 Awards Issue of ConventionSouth magazine. This exciting issue will also?showcase some of the most talented meeting professionals in the nation as ConventionSouth also presents I planners with its annual “Meeting Professionals To Watch” designation. “Featuring peer advice and trade secrets from our Meeting Professionals to Watch in 2013, our Awards Issue is one of the most popular must-read resources within the meetings industry,” O’Connor said.
Celebrating 30 years as a leading meeting planning resource, ConventionSouth magazine is based in Gulf Shores, Ala., and is distributed to more than 18,000 meeting professionals located across the country who book meetings held within the South, according to O’Connor.
A complete list of award winners can be found online at: http://www.conventionsouth.com/2012_readers_choice_awards.htm
South End of Parkway Enhanced By Completion of Undergrounding Phase
At long last, Phase VI of the Underground Utilities and Streetscape Project is substantially complete. And in the opinion of many of those parties involved, the lasting improvements were worth the inconveniences.
The section of Parkway extending from the Gatlinburg Convention Center to the boundary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park now features the same aesthetic upgrades which enhance much of the rest of Parkway, including new streetlights, public sidewalks and furnishings, all without the clutter of utility lines and poles.
“We appreciate the patience and cooperation of the business community on the South end of town as well as our residents and visitors,” said City Manager Cindy Cameron Ogle. “It has been a long, challenging undertaking which has required some sacrifices, a good bit of tolerance and a lot of faith, but I believe everyone can agree that the change in the look and feel of the entire project area is quite dramatic.”
The difficult, detailed process of transforming the area began in mid-August of last year. At approximately 1,850 feet in length, Phase VI is the largest single Underground Phase to date. It included the construction of underground duct banks to house electrical, telephone and cable television lines on both sides of Parkway. Water and sewer improvements were also encompassed in the project.
The replacement of the steel bridge at the intersection of Parkway and Leconte Street was one of the most challenging components of Phase VI, including the widening of the turning radius from Parkway to Leconte Street.
The Underground Utilities and Streetscape Project was a joint effort of the City, the design firm Barge, Waggoner, Sumner and Cannon, Inc., the contractor Efficient Electric, and local utilities involved in the undertaking.
New street lighting, benches, trash receptacles and signage are strategically placed along the street and new sidewalk has been installed on public right-of-ways. Several planters have been placed to accommodate seasonal plantings and small trees.
Distinctive crosswalks will be installed in the area in mid-July with updated signage also still to be added.
Including the $7.8 million that covers both design engineering and construction costs of Phase VI, the City of Gatlinburg and business community have now invested approximately $24 million in the Underground Utilities and Streetscape Project, dating to the late 1990s with the development of the original master plan and Riverwalk/Aquarium area.
Property owners in the Phase VI area will be assessed 20 percent of the cost, approximately $1.52 million, which may be paid over a 15 year timeframe or on a lump-sum basis.