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Hawkins commission, Rogersville BMA seeking same tourism grant

Jeff Bobo • Jun 12, 2020 at 2:00 PM

ROGERSVILLE — The Hawkins County Commission and the Rogersville Board of Mayor and Aldermen are competing this summer for the same $75,000 state tourism grant — one to restore the historic Rogersville Depot facility and the other to make improvements at Laurel Run Park.

Whitney Good, who makes grant applications for the Hawkins County mayor's office, told the Times News on Thursday that there's no limit to the amount of state tourism funding a county can receive, so conceivably both the city and the county could receive the award.

On Tuesday, the Rogersville Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted unanimously to apply for a $75,000 Tennessee Department of Tourism Development “Tourism Enhancement Grant,” which requires a 10% local match if awarded.

The city hopes to use grant funds to make repairs to the exterior of the depot, which is at the intersection of Depot Street and Broadway Street.

Earlier this year, the Hawkins County Commission agreed to transfer ownership of the 130-year-old Rogersville Depot to the city after the county declined to accept a grant that would have helped restore the facility.

Due to faulty guttering, a big section of the wood siding on the back of the building is rotted and in need of replacement.

Earlier this year, Rogersville building inspector Steve Nelson told the Times News it will cost an estimated $70,000 to $80,000 to replace all the rotted siding, replace the guttering and paint.

The depot, which was built in 1890, was donated to the county in 1986 by the Southern Railway Company. In 1987 the county agreed to lease the depot to the Rogersville Heritage Association for 99 years. Currently, the depot serves as the headquarters of the RHA and is also the Tennessee Newspaper and Printing Museum.

When the County Commission meets on June 22, it will consider approval of a resolution authorizing Mayor Jim Lee to apply for that same $75,000 tourism grant.

Good told the Times News on Thursday that Mayor Lee and his staff are still formulating a specific plan for upgrades at Laurel Run Park if the grant is awarded, but the tentative plan is to improve and/or add picnic shelters and build a new amphitheater.

“We had discussed upgrading some of the shelters, and maybe enclosing one or two of them,” Good said. “We have a lot of people coming through the park, but when there's inclement weather or we hit the colder months we lose a lot of people who visit the park. We thought if we could enclose one or two that would keep people visiting the park.”

A few years back the county demolished and removed the old Laurel Run Park amphitheater because it had deteriorated beyond repair.

Good noted that the park hosted a lot of events at the old amphitheater, so another goal with the grant would be to build a new amphitheater, and depending on the cost, maybe add some new picnic shelters as well.

The grant applications are due in to the state by July 15.

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