Tourism to move forward on grant application for canal

At Tuesday Middlesboro City Council meeting, Bell County Tourism Director Jon Grace gave an update on upcoming events and grant opportunities for tourism.

“The Levitt Foundation is actually using photographs from our series here as their main promotional material for the entire Levitt Amp Series nationwide,” Grace explained. “They are using a lot of the photographs that we have taken, and I think that is a great testament to how that series has grown over the last couple of years and all the hard work that everybody in the community has put toward it.”

Grace also wanted to extend his gratitude for having Main Street and the Chamber under one roof.

“It’s been really great having the chamber and downtown Middlesboro in the same office,” he explained. “It’s great, and we are able to collaborate on a lot of the same projects so having them there has been a real blessing.”

Grace explained that he was also there to present the latest grant that tourism is in the process of applying for.

“On the interest of the improvements to the historic canal walk, this has been something that we’ve looked at for several years and we’ve looked at it a bit more seriously,” he said. “After doing some of the leg work, there is obviously a lot of work that needs to be done on the canal walk but there is still a lot that needs to be done.”

Grace told the council that he has spoken with engineers that worked on the original project and they recommended that they do the work in phases.

“That way we are not sinking so much time and effort into something that needs to be done in segments,” he said.

The Recreational Trails Grant is up to $250,000 and a minimum of $25,000 and is an 80/20 match.

“The phase one improvements that have been included in the grant, that I would like to ask the council if they would like me to proceed to applying for, include improved lighting, benches, waste containers, security cameras along the trail and trail side signage, and interpretive panels. All together that comes to a total of about $41,000,” Grace explained.

The council approved that Grace move forward applying for the grant, and he reported that the grant availability would be this fall. The grant is a reimbursement grant that the city would pay for then get 80 percent of the cost reimbursed back. The match can be used for any kind of labor.

The community is also invited to the Cumberland Mountain Fall Festival Committee meeting on April 26 at 6 p.m. The meeting will be held in the Alexander Arthur Museum and will include the annual election of officers and a planning session for this year’s events.

For more information, email jon@bellcountytourism.com or call 6060-248-2482.