Editorial: Three cheers

Feb. 21, 2014 @ 11:29 PM

Pigeon Forge keeps marching ahead

Though the national and local economies may not have totally recovered from the recession, Pigeon Forge keeps improving its own financial standing, thanks to increased tourism and thriving business.

A five percent increase in the city’s gross tax receipts in 2013 set a new record for income in Pigeon Forge — $937 million — which is up from 2012’s record-setting total of $905 million.

The results are interesting, especially considering the wet spring and prominent federal government shutdown during the always busy month of October.

Mayor David Wear announced the numbers Thursday morning at the monthly meeting of the Pigeon Forge Hospitality Association, a group made up of city business leaders.

Wear stressed the important investment of the LeConte Center and its affect on bringing visitors to town.

He said 21 licensed events are scheduled for 2014, and 17 are lined up for 2015. 

Those investments will continue this year, with the expensive Jake Thomas Road extension and the infrastructure associated with the Ripken Experience baseball complex slated to open in 2015. 


Chief remembered for his dedication 

James Atchley was remembered this week for his dedication to the community.

The former Sevierville/Sevier County Volunteer Fire Department chief served for 40 years before stepping down in 1993. Atchley died on Valentine’s Day, at the age of 86.

“He never looked for glory, he never looked for recognition, he did his job,” Sevierville Mayor Bryan Atchley said. “And he did it to almost perfection.”

Memories shared about Atchley revealed him as a figure who believed and gave greatly for the cause he supported — even paying for smoke detectors for families from his own pocket.

“He just did (things) because he saw there was a need, and he filled that need. That’s the kind of man he was,” the mayor said.

Atchley should be long remembered for his service and his dedication to Sevierville and Sevier County.


Russell’s still going strong

On hearing Suzi Otterman describe her, Ruth Russell evokes images of a determined middle-age woman, striving to serve one of the county’s biggest charities.

“She’s a volunteer I can depend on,” Otterman, a supervisor at Sevier County Food Ministries and steering committee member, said.

“If it’s a Tuesday or Thursday, she’s here. She’s just like the Energizer Bunny. I have to arm wrestle her to get her to let me help her.”

The fact that Russell is 93 means nothing.

“It makes me happy because I feel like I’m helping someone else,” Russell said on Tuesday. “People need this food. We’re helping them.”

Russell first began volunteering in the 1990s after the death of her husband.

“She’s a wonderful example of what God expects of all of us,” Otterman said. “I just hope that I grow up to be in her same position, have her same energy and the attitude that she has.”

Russell’s passion and dedication should be an inspiration for us all.