Cocke County Partnership President Lucas Graham on Thursday presented a positive report on recent economic activities. He said progress is developing rapidly on Project Destination, with a local firm hired for project design and engineering which is in the early stages. Land agreements have been reached for Project Trailer, a "significant project development" for Exit 432 of I-40. Graham said an incentive package is being prepared. And agreements or proposals have been drafted or are in place for several other projects Recent studies and upgrades to the Hartford area, have resulted in developer interest in that area. Project Adventure is under consideration by two development firms and an economic impact study has been completed on another project. Contractors have completed a Recreation Trails Master Plan and plans continue to progress for a workforce development building for joint technical training by ConAgra and Walters State. Executive Assistant Jennifer Brown reported that city and county funding is expected to remain at the current level in the new year. As a result funding for engineering and design work has been removed from the new budget. In response, Newport Utilities General Manager Glenn Ray said the utility has discretionary funds that can be used for engineering. The board re-appointed Linda Wester and Truitt Ottinger to additional one-year terms on the board. Chamber of Commerce Director Lynn Ramsey reported that a video soon will be offered on local Internet sites and to moviegoers at Newport Cinema 4, addressing the East Broadway water and sewer upgrade project. "Lots of businesses are concerned about the street closure and Brandon Joynt of Newport Cinema Four has agreed to produce a public service announcement. We say we want downtown re-vitalized and so if we want the new businesses and to keep our current businesses, we may have to walk a few more feet and support them during this difficult time." Ramsey said the Partnership will pick up the production costs for the announcement. The Rhythm on the River music series will begin on June 7 from 7-9 pm, and will feature Gritts from Dumplin Valley. Music will be offered every other Thursday through July. And applications are already coming in for this years Harvest Street Festival. Tourism Director Linda Lewanski reported that Newport Planner Gary Carver has a tentative list of tenants for the Tanner Cultural Center when it is renovated. The prospective tenants are the Senior Center, Cocke County Partnership, Keep Cocke County Beautiful and the Cocke County Visitors Center. The Center will provide lots of area brochures, possibly displays, artifacts and possibly interpretation of the Rosenwald Tanner School. All of that is yet to be determined." Lewanski also reported that The Great Smoky Mountains National Park will offer educational classes in Cherokee Drumming, history, music and cooking, beginning June 22. The National Geographic Mapguide soon will shoot a video of Cocke County for on-line viewing. And this year's cleanup of the Pigeon River is planned for Hartford on June 3, beginning at 10 am.
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