Acting Cumberland Gap National Park Superintendent John Slaughter spoke at the monthly Soup and Sandwich event held by the Bell County Chamber of Commerce at Chinatown Cafe. Slaughter spoke about the importance of the park and how people can get involved.
Slaughter said in 2011, communities in the Tri-State area benefited from visitors spending over $44 million. That money supported over 600 jobs including 380 in lodging, food and beverage, 100 in recreation and entertainment, 65 in other retail, 42 in transportation and 15 in whole sale and manufacturing.
“All in all, parks are economic engines,” said Slaughter.
Slaughter said he sees the park as a tool to promote businesses and economic development.
“This is your national park,” said Slaughter. “We’re here to serve you.”
Slaughter also showed his support for the trial town initiative being pushed by the city of Middlesboro and Discover Downtown Middlesboro Executive Director Isaac Kremer. Slaughter said supporting the trial town movement is one way citizens can help the park.
“It’s really an amazing integration opportunity to really integrate this national park into the trail system, which you all are developing here in the community,” said Slaughter.
Slaughter also said citizens can help by joining the group called “Friends of the Cumberland Gap” and by encouraging the youth to get involved with the park.
Slaughter didn’t exit the meeting without mentioning the previous park superintendent Mark Woods.
“He’s not only been a superintendent here, but he’s been a friend to the community,” said Slaughter.
Woods was at the park approximately 16 years. Slaughter said in that time he built a strong park leadership team and relationship with the community.
Reach Anthony Cloud at 606-248-1010, ext. 208, firstname.lastname@example.org