Ice rink possibility added to lists of holiday attractions

Published 3:50 pm Tuesday, September 14, 2021

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Members of the Carter County Budget and Nominating Committee moved one step closer to adding a new winter attraction to the area – an ice skating rink.

Joy McCray, Executive Director of the Elizabethton-Carter County Chamber of Commerce, appeared before the Budget Committee to ask for $36,000 to be used for the rink for four weeks in December and located at the Covered Bridge Park.

The Elizabethton Park and Rec Department, the City of Elizabethton, the Elizabethton-Carter County Chamber of Commerce, and the Carter County Commission would share the project, which McCray says would enhance winter tourism in the community.

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McCray explained that the City would be providing $10,000 plus the labor for the event and the liability insurance while the Chamber would be taking care of promoting the ice skating rink.

Elizabethton Park and Rec Director Mike Mains told the committee that the Park and Rec will be spending another $8,500 on lights for the park plus adding some other events during the time the ice skating rink is operating to help draw even more people to the area.

Mains said during weekdays there are normally 30 to 50 people who take advantage of the park while on the weekends often that ranges from 150 people on up, adding he felt the skating rink would be great for tourism to the community.

McCray said the rink could account for nearly 20,000 people visiting the Covered Bridge Park. With the price of tickets at $10 for one hour of skating plus ice skates, that would equate to $200,000 that could possibly be brought in plus additional money being spent elsewhere in the county.

Also, the rink could be rented out for birthday parties, church youth groups, and other groups who might want to reserve the rink during the week.

“This will be a great opportunity for families from out of town when they come home to come to the Covered Bridge Park and make special memories together,” said McCray.

Committee Chairman Austin Jaynes said that he would like to see the rink stay longer than just the four weeks in December, and suggested possibly checking to see what the cost would be to go to the second week of January.

Other concerns were the size of the rink, which Mains addressed by suggesting that Cat Island Park could be an alternative with additional lights along the walk to the park to create somewhat of the atmosphere much like driving through the lights at the Bristol Motor Speedway.

A motion was made to approve the money but with the understanding that the Chamber set aside at least $70,000 for next year as the event is expected to draw even more people in the years to come and by setting the money aside, it would keep the Chamber from having to come back and ask for more next year.

The rest of the funds according to McCray will be given to a non-profit to which Jaynes suggested Keep Carter County Clean as the organization serves both the city and county.

When the vote was cast, it was 6-2 in favor of passing the project to the full commission for a final vote.

In other business, the Committee agreed unanimously to approve the request for $100,000 to complete the Workforce Development Complex CTE Chemistry Lab subject to the Carter County School Board matching the $100,000 commitment.

Also, a request for $632,732 for four new dump trucks at $158,183 each. The money would come from the Highway Fund Balance which currently has $4 million dollars in the fund which leaves approximately $3.4 million in the fund.

The vote was 8-0 in approval.

Another unanimous vote came in favor of hiring Brown and Edwards to do an outside audit on the books in the Finance Department with the department to provide a scope of work to be performed.

The firm charges on a per hour basis as the Committee approved up to $65,000 for the work to be performed.

One last request of $1,080 was approved for uniforms for the EMA. The money is to replace the money spent from the EMA budget on a Deputy Director who recently resigned.

All items will go before the full commission for final approval.