Alliance, COVID-19, Roane Chamber, Roane County, Shop Roane, Shopping, Unite Roane

Moving Roane County Forward Together

The last six weeks have been an unsettling time as we all had to learn how to live as normally as possible but avoid an invisible, deadly new threat called COVID-19.  Working from home or becoming unemployed, staying away from parents and friends, not leaving the house for weeks – all became the new normal for most of us. And while some of you found yourselves unexpectedly on the front lines (thank you nurses and grocery workers, just to name a few!), those who lost their job or livelihood were thrown into a much-worse new normal that made it difficult to even afford the basics.

So, we have to find another new normal that involves getting our businesses back open while not allowing the virus to destroy more lives.   For some, these past weeks forced us to reflect and slow down, so we realize now there has to be a better balance between work and home.  But I would guess that most everyone is as ready as I am to get back out there and begin figuring out the next ‘new normal.’   And since the virus isn’t going away, we all have to learn to do our part to help alleviate the threat while growing our economy.   It’s going to take time to get back to even close to where our economy was before the pandemic, not to mention Roane County was already showing signs of a slowing economy with closed stores and declining population.

I am confident that Roane County can emerge stronger, and I challenge everyone to help move Roane County forward together!  It will take us all, but if we all follow the state’s suggestions and take the TN Pledge, I firmly believe we can bring our community through this crises better and stronger than ever.  By everyone being aware, posting the information and following simple guidelines, could mean we get through this faster and safer:

  • Screen employees returning to work;
  • Keep workplace disenfected;
  • Practice social distancing at work and in public;
  • Post signage and reminders at work;
  • Limit self-service activities;
  • Wash hands often & wear a cloth mask; and
  • Allow working from home when possible and require staying at home when ill.

The Roane Alliance staff understands first-hand the challenges that the entire business community has had and will continue to face for some time. We are ready to move forward and to help our businesses and community move forward.  We receive daily information from our US and state representatives and organizations like the SBA, US Chamber and TN Chamber.  We will continue to be a resource and work hard to keep our local businesses and community informed and updated through the use of our website RoaneAlliance.org.  We are also a shoulder to lean on.  Have a question?  If we don’t know the answer, we will try to find it.

And we especially appreciate our Chamber members, many of whom we have been in contact with these past weeks.  I hope we were able to help you during this crisis.  As a Chamber member you have invested in your community so be assured that the Roane Chamber plans to continue to invest in you.

If your business has been negatively impacted, please know the Roane Chamber is prepared to employ strategies to help.  We do not want to lose you as a member, so if your renewal is due we can defer payment or setup installments.   We want to be part of the solution to get you back to where you were before the pandemic hit.  And, I ask that if your business is in the position to help the Chamber by paying quickly, either in full or partially, to please consider as it would go a long way to help us continue our efforts to help our members and the community get through this.

One last ask.  Remember the Roane Chamber’s #UniteRoane campaign that began five years ago with a membership drive?  Well we are bringing it back because it means more now than ever before – saving our businesses and community.  I hope everyone will get behind it, join and share the social conversations, plan to shop local for everything and #UniteRoane.   Learn more about the Roane Chamber’s shop local programs by visiting the Shop Roane webpage.   And don’t forget #UniteRoane #ShowYourLoveforLocal and lets move #RoaneForwardTogether!

 

#SoakinRoane, harriman, Nature, Places

David Webb Riverfront Park Celebrates 21 Years!

gazebo2Today, the City of Harriman, celebrated 21 years at David Webb Riverfront Park.  And of course, the namesake and man behind the park – David Webb – was honored, along with friends and family who built memorials or gardens to make it the park it is today.  This marked the 21st anniversary of the opening celebration on October 18, 1998.  David talked about the history of the park and showed a slideshow of where it started to how and what it is today.

Interesting details about the park that I didn’t know – a $10,000 grant from TVA got the park started, while bricks used for the fountain came from the former Emory Gap School and flag pole from the old post office.  A large number of businesses and individuals over the years have donated plants, playground equipment, materials, and labor; and specifically, the first piece of equipment for the playground was donated by Roane Medical Center and the entire property where the park is located was donated by Christmas Lumber Company.  Dr. Julian Ahler was instrumental in building the gazebo where so many special moments have been made – whether it was the crowning of Miss Tennessee Polk Salad, being the backdrop for a beautiful wedding, or a celebration like today.  It truly has been a community effort.

The Tennessee Polk Salad Festival was held in the park for many years in the spring and at one time was not only one of the most unique festivals in the region but also one of the most popular.  People flocked to the festival to see antique cars, buy handmade and local goods, listen to bluegrass and gospel music, and of course – enjoy a mess of poke sallet cooked up special for the day.

There were other days where people flocked to the park – special Veteran’s Day ceremonies, Sunday afternoon concerts by the Babahatchie Community Band, movies in the park, and the ever-popular Cobbler Fest where you could try any flavor of homemade cobbler!  And David Webb and his wife, Mildred were not only there to enjoy every moment but were also there ahead of time to get the park ready and do whatever they could to make it perfect for the community.

Riverfront Park fountain & pavilionAnd that was in addition to David and Mildred running a large local country store – Rocky Top General Store.  David has certainly left his mark, not just on the city and the county, but also on visitors and people passing through Roane County.  He is the best ambassador for all things good in the county, and in fact, he had us set up a ‘satellite visitors bureau’ at the general store so he could provide brochures and information to visitors, along with his famous free popcorn.  And if anyone had the pleasure of being there when a group tour bus pulled in – well you know, he loved having Rocky Top blaring from the speakers when the bus pulled in the parking lot.  The store has sense closed to allow David to “retire” but all of us that know him know that word doesnt really exist for David.  In fact, he already has ideas for what to do on the expanded property at the east end of the park under the overpass.  He thinks he would like to build a waterfall for everyone to enjoy!

The park includes a walking trail, playground, pavilions (available for rent), park benches, fishing pier and a number of memorials honoring military, fireman, police and more.  It is also home to Harriman’s Farmers Market held in the summer on Saturday and Wednesdays.  For more details visit VisitRoane.com.

#SoakinRoane, Roane County, Roane Tourism, Watts Bar Lake

More Visitors Are Soaking in Roane

Muir Fest booth SIR

Soak in Roane booth at John Muir Fest (l-r): Marilyn Calfee, Roane Chamber Chair; Eddie May; Pam May, Vice President and Teresa Jackson, Member Services Coordinator, the Roane Alliance

Four years ago Roane Tourism amped up our marketing program by first creating a more visual website – after all, people do come here because of the beauty.  So this  required photo and video shoots to capture life in Roane.  Then we went to work marketing all over about how you could Soak in Roane (SIR), the first-ever tourism campaign  that launched early spring with social media contests throughout the summer with SIR swag, a Jackson kayak from Uncle Lem’s and a weekend stay in an RV from Caney Creek RV Resort.

We created new visual media such as pull-up banners, post cards, visitors guide plus SIR t-shirts, stickers, koozies and bags.  Not to mention, WBIR’s spotlight on Watts Bar Lake in July, with a live remote for Live at Five at Four at Kingston’s City Park. Whew!  What a busy year!   But the amount of advertising even surprised us when it was all said and done.  Take a glimpse as I flip through the 2017 Media Marketing book!

And the numbers show those efforts are working.  Comparing 2017 to 2013 (before we amped up the marketing program), visitor spending in Roane increased by $5.3 million, creating $380,000 more in local tax receipts that goes directly to our schools.  Increasing visitors also provides more jobs in the hospitality businesses.  In that same time, 70 more tourism jobs became available that provided $2.5 million in payroll.   So yes, we feel our efforts are working and can’t wait to meet even more visitors coming to Soak in Roane!

Want to know more about the Roane Alliance and how we work to increase Roane’s economy?   Check out our 2017 Annual Report and visit www.VisitRoane.com to learn more about tourism in Roane.