RMSP’s Helle receives top honor from state

Published 4:36 pm Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The hard work and dedication going on at Roan Mountain State Park continues to be recognized at a statewide level.
Park Ranger Keifer Helle was named a Star Award recipient along with 11 other rangers during a ceremony held Monday, June 12, at the State Capitol in Nashville.
“Keifer has been with the park for two years now and brings a ton of energy to the table,” said Park Manager J.R. Tinch, who attended the ceremony with Helle. “He’s such an asset to the park and this award shows his hard work, which is something our staff continues to do each day. It’s a great honor for Keifer, Roan Mountain State Park and we couldn’t be prouder of him. “
Tinch added that Helle was nominated for the award by a fellow ranger, and the award is presented to rangers that go above and beyond at the job and proves to be an example of what it means to be a Tennessee State Park Ranger.
The accolade continues a whirlwind of a year for Roan Mountain State Park, which was presented with the “State Park of the Year” award by Tennessee State Parks for 2016.
“It’s been a whirlwind of a year,” Tinch said. “We’re excited to see Roan Mountain receive this type of recognition. It’s a testament to the work our staff puts in each day.”
Over the past year, the park manager added park visitation has increased. Attendance will also reach a fever pitch this weekend for the 71st annual Rhododendron Festival, put on by the Roan Mountain Citizens Club and aided by the state park. Both Tinch and Helle also serve as members of the Citizens Club.
“We had a great kickoff for Memorial Day,” Tinch said. “We also have the Rhododendron Festival going on this weekend and we’re expecting a lot of people to come out. There’s so much momentum going on at the park and it comes back to the staff, the Roan Mountain community, Carter County and everyone that comes in to support the park.”
Both Roan Mountain State Park and Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park continue to provide ammunition for the success of Tennessee State Parks with Carter County being one of two counties that have two parks.
The success of the parks as a whole is also being recognized at a national level with the system recently being named a finalist for the 2017 National Gold Medal Awards for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management. The awards are organized by the American Academy for Park Recreation Administration (AAPRA) in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA).
Tennessee State Parks is operated under the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) umbrella and Commissioner Bob Martineau recently praised the efforts of the state for allowing the system to be nominated as a finalist.
“To be named a finalist for this prestigious award validates the commitments made by the Department, our park’s staff, Gov. Haslam and the Tennessee General Assembly to ensure the protection and preservation of our natural, cultural and historic resources in Tennessee,” Martineau said in a release. “We have worked hard over the past six years to add three new parks and more than 30,000 acres to our system, to protect and preserve our resources, and to enhance the visitors’ experience at our parks with improved facilities and expanded interpretive programming. We are very excited and proud that these efforts are being recognized at the national level.”

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