June 25, 2003

Everyone knows my feelings about the abilities of the people of Jellico and all of Campbell County. I genuinely feel that we have folks capable of handing any situation - politics or no politics and regardless of the responsibilities involved. Our governmental system in America on all levels is based upon the will of the majority and that inherently involves politics. And anyone who thinks hiring someone from outside Campbell County will eliminate all or even most of the political influences simply is not living in the real world.

But our new Director (Superintendent) of Schools from out of the county (Elizabethton, Tennessee) comes very, very highly recommended by several Campbell County Board of Education members who reported that they had extensively checked out her background of training and experience. The reports were glowing to say the least. (They reminded me of a recommendation that Charles Allen once made. Wanting to put the applicant in the best light possible, he jokingly said that he stopped just short of telling the inquirer that the individual could fly.)

The members of the board of education didn't go quite that far in praising the new director before she was hired but they sure greatly raised public expectations of what she will be able to accomplish - especially with a total monetary compensation package of ญญญญญ $ 107,000.00 including matching benefits. Here's hoping that she can fulfill those expectations and earn that kind of money for the benefit of the children of Jellico and for all of Campbell County. But the Board of Education did its evaluation of the candidates for the position and now our citizens will be doing their own evaluation of their choice.

I recently had the pleasure of addressing the Williamsburg, Kentucky Kiwanis Club during one of its regular meetings. The topic of my address was the proposed development of Rarity Mountain five (5) miles south of Jellico and how that project ties in with our drive to renovate and revitalize our town. Prior to making the presentation, I talked with the office of Developer Mike Ross who furnished me with an update on progress on that project.

According to Mr. Ross at that time, the call for bids on the all-important interchange off I-75 were still planned for June 20th.. Current plans include second-home and vacation cottages and cabins to total near twelve hundred (1,200 ) dwelling units. On site amenities are planned to include a convention/visitor center, two (2) eighteen hole golf courses - the first to be constructed as a mountain resort course and the later a residential course for primary or second-home residents. Other planned amenities include hiking trails, nature study programs, camping, mountain biking, rock climbing, a full-service spa and lodge facility, banquet and dining services and a wide variety of planned activities.

An approximately forty (40) acre highway commercial site is to be located just off the Interstate within the community and is being planned to accommodate a hotel site, off-highway retail (fast food, fuel) in addition to resort retail, support type small businesses such as a general store, discovery center and onsite registration.

Based on an economic survey conducted for Rarity Communities in 1998, a Rarity Mountain will have a significant impact on the local economy. The study by the Economic Resources Agency (ERA) projected the creation of over six-hundred (600) construction related jobs over a thirteen (13) months period with a total compensation for this period being in excess of sixteen (16) million dollars. Once the planned facilities are in operation, the ERA study projected the creation of almost two-hundred (200) additional on-going jobs to operate the facilities with a payroll of over six (6) million dollars per year. These new jobs should favorably impact the local economy and create even more employment opportunities indirectly. Additionally, the local economy should be further stimulated by additional property tax collections. The ERA study estimated this number to be an approximate slightly over three and one-half (3.6) million dollars over a period of thirteen (13) years following onset of onsite operations.

Rarity Communities expects to begin pre-sales in the spring of next year with work to begin on the first golf course in the fall of 2004.

(Mr. Ross told us at a meeting of the Jellico City Council several months ago that he expects Jellico to be "town" for the residents of Rarity Mountain and that provides more incentive for renovation and development of our downtown. Prospective businesses can reasonably expect to have an increased pool of potential customers if shops stocked with items of interest are made available - not to mention a clean restaurant with atmosphere, courteous service and good food.)

Rather than drying out, it seems that we have had more and more rain as we enter the summer season. And it goes without saying that we are not getting much done in the downtown area.

Recently there was quite a bit of talk - whether accurate or not - about drugs in the downtown area and especially Veterans Park. And police officers have been making extra effort to keep a sharp eye on the situation. But I have talked with folks from several other towns during the past months and years and they all say that the answer to the problem lies only partially with law enforcement agencies no matter their efforts. In fact they say that the best solution to the problem is to do just what we are trying to do - clean up, paint up, fix up and light up the area and make it a place where decent law-abiding citizens will once again want to come, to meet and to shop.

According to those that I have talked with from those other towns, the drug dealers and drug users do not want to be around those kinds of folks. And regardless of what our present situation may be, I believe that it will improve if the appearance and life of our downtown improve!

And speaking of development of our downtown, I have been informed that our television cable service that is now under new management and known as "Access Cable", will move its offices from Hospital Road to 268 North Main Street

Addressing that civic club in Williamsburg made me once again aware of the fact that we have few if any similar clubs taking on an active role in Jellico anymore. When I was a young boy in Jellico, we had a very active Kiwanis Club, Lions Club, Rotary Club, American Legion Post, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post, Garden Club, in addition to the Masons and possibly other lodges.. Later we had an Optimist Club and a Jaycees Club organized that functioned for a time.

We badly need some kind of organized and active club now that will work for the good of our entire community. Lack of civic pride that is so strongly emphasized by such clubs has been conspicuously missing for several years now and the results are evident. But it is never too late to reverse the trend. And several of the members of the Williamsburg Kiwanis Club are from Jellico and they expressed the interest in possibly working for a club here. I hope that they follow through and develop an organization that gets involved in community projects and not - as one member in attendance warned against that day - a club that only "meets and eats".

Everyone is reminded of the "CLASSIC CAR SHOW" this Saturday, June 21st.. The show has grown during its first two years and we are hopeful that the trend will continue. Members of the Jellico Tourism Commission along with other interested citizens have worked hard to organize and promote this year's event and their efforts are greatly appreciated.

The "EASTERN ROCK CRAWLING COMPETITON (EROCC)" will be here next weekend (June 27-29). The participants will begin arriving in Veterans Park sometime around noon on Friday, July 27th where they will remain until 7:00 PM.. They invite everyone to come to the park during that time for their "Show and Shine" to meet and talk with them and to look over their vehicles. (The actual competition will take place at White Oak where it may possibly be televised nationally by ESPN-2 although that has not yet been finalized.)

Tourism Director Jake Bennett has released a tentative schedule for the FOURTH OF JULY activities including the evening entertainment obtained and organized by the Cupp family. Readers may want to save and post the following schedule.

Jellico Community Hospital (JCH) will provide the usual attractions for the kids as well as their annual health checks. The Jellico Fire Department will also have the "water curtain" going for the enjoyment of the kids.

(According to Jake, the JCH will leave its large tent in place for the benefit of spectators so everyone can bring their lawn chairs, etc. and be out of the sun and/or weather.)

*** The new speaker system for Veterans Park is expected to be in place by that time which will hopefully allow for the choreographing of music with the fireworks that can be heard around town while at the same time regulating the sound for spectators in the park.

The Mountain Women's Exchange, 205 Fifth Street has asked me to announce that tutoring will be available at that facility for students at all levels. Monday thru Friday 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM

JOHN CLIFTON, Mayor, City of Jellico

E-mail me at: mayor@jellico.tn.us

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