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PF plans meeting to review West Side Connector routes
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PIGEON FORGE — The city is considering three routes for the West Side Connector, and it will offer them for public consideration during a meeting from 5 to 7 p.m. Oct. 26 in Meeting Room B of the City Hall complex.

The connector is meant to eventually give drivers a route that will take them from Wears Valley to Pine Mountain Road without traveling on the Parkway.

“We hope to improve traffic and give people a better way to get around,” Mayor David Wear said.

The project has been ongoing for years, as the city has been working on it in phases.

The first phase was the McGill Street Connector, which has been completed and runs from McGill Street to Lafollette Circle.

Now, with funds set aside to work on it, the city is hoping to move forward with the entire project.

But in the years since they started, there have been developments that block the original route planned for the project.

City Commission is considering three possible routes to take the road from West Mill Creek to Pine Mountain Road, all of which could impact businesses or homes along the route.

Two routes would mostly run along Mill Creek as it goes by Freedom Baptist Church and Pigeon Forge Care & Rehabilitation Center.

A third route would also begin at West Mill Creek but then go around the north side of the church, impacting a few properties on that side.

The route that goes north of the church would impact three houses.

Now the city is inviting people to the meeting to learn more about the plans, view the routes, and to weigh in on which one they would prefer.

“We’re trying to get people’s feedback, Wear said.

Contact Jeff at jfarrell@themountainpress.com or Twitter at @jeffmtnpress

Play Fore the Kids Golf Tournament raises money for Boys & Girls Club
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SEVIERVILLE — It was a beautiful day on the golf course Wednesday as golfers from around the community came together to support the Boys & Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains.

The 19th annual Play Fore the Kids Golf Tournament took place at the Sevierville Golf Club. The fundraising event featured 60 teams and brought in funds to help run the five clubs in the local Boys & Girls Club system.

“This will be our best tournament ever,” said Mark Ross, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains. “We had the best sponsorships and Volunteer Chevrolet donated a $60,000 pickup truck that we sold 350 $250-each raffle tickets to, so somebody here tonight’s going to drive off in that truck, or if they don’t want the truck they can take $50,000 cash.”

The truck was donated in full to support the event, which ended with a drop of the 350 marked golf balls from a helicopter operated by Sevier County Choppers helicopter tour company.

“We hope we can raise $200,000. It’s our largest special event,” Ross said. “We’re just so fortunate to have great sponsors. A lot of these sponsors have been with us for 15-19 years and they just keep coming back year after year and we just say thank you to them for making a great day for the Boys & Girls Club kids.”

History and Haunts
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SEVIERVILLE — Come explore the downtown streets of Sevierville in this year’s annual History & Haunts on Thursday, Oct. 23, and enjoy a spooky night of eerie tales, activities and food from 6 to 10 p.m.

Beginning at 6 p.m. on Bruce Street and Court Avenue, the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce is hosting a harvest festival that is free for the whole family to attend.

With activities ranging from costume contests, lawn games, a dance party, and a tour of downtown Sevierville to learn of tragic stories from the past, this event will please everyone in the family.

The History & Haunts tour of downtown, which takes visitors around downtown to learn haunting stories of the city’s past, begins at 6 p.m. A second History & Haunts tour will begin at 7:30 p.m.

Storytelling begins at 6:30 p.m. with other storytelling programs scheduled to start at 7, 7:30 and 8 p.m.

Costume contests are also part of the night’s fun.

A children’s costume contest will be held at 7 p.m.

There is even something for animal lovers. This event is pet friendly with a dog costume contest as part of the festivities. The dog costume contest will be at 7:15 p.m.

An adult costume contest will be at 8:30 p.m. Prizes will be given to winners in each costume contest category.

Children’s crafts and family games will also be available from 6 to 9 p.m.

Hayrides begin at 6:30 p.m. and continue until 8:30.

There will be booths featuring community business’ and giveaways, as well History & Haunts T-shirts.

Downtown restaurants will be open, and a food truck will be serving everyone’s favorite festival foods.

Remembering Wes Herrick — local entertainer known as 'Pa Hatfield'
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Accomplished entertainer Wesley “Wes” F. Herrick Jr., 77, known locally for his roles at the Comedy Barn and Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud theaters in Pigeon Forge, died on Sept. 11 in Las Vegas of coronary artery disease.

“Wes is gone but not forgotten as he touched and taught so many here in the Smokies. Through his service to God, country, friends and family the world is truly a better place because of Wes. Thanks for the million plus laughs you gave to the audiences you entertained,” said Jim Hedrick, senior vice president of Fee/Headrick Family Entertainment Group and former co-owner of the Comedy Barn and Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud theaters.

A celebration of life will be held locally at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 17, at the Conference Center at Sun Outdoor Resort, 1004 Parkway, Sevierville (formerly River Plantation).

Military honors will be provided by Honor Guard of American Legion Post 104 of Sevierville. Patriotic attire is encouraged.

Herrick, a native of Concord, New Hampshire, was known in local entertainment as the voice and man behind his self-made one-of-a-kind manatronic man-robotic character “Grandpa Duffy” in the multi-million dollar Comedy Barn Theater in Pigeon Forge. He also played the role of the funny “Granny Hayrak” at the Comedy Barn and “Pa Hatfield” in “The Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud” show.

With dozens of switches for head, eye and mouth control at his feet, Herrick pushed his arms through “Grandpa Duffy’s” sleeves to play banjo, guitar or fiddle. The character had such complicated movements and controls that some audience members even mistook “Grandpa Duffy” for a real person. Before coming to Pigeon Forge, Herrick performed in Las Vegas casino shows.

Herrick was also known as a patriot with a love for his country. He enlisted into the U.S. Air Force in 1961 earned the rank of sergeant. He worked with the military air transport service C-124 military transport and logged approximately 2,500 hours of flying time. He served at Hunter Air Force Base in Savannah, Georgia, and at Donaldson Air Force Base in Greenville, South Carolina. Herrick was assigned to transport and drop 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and did general freight deliveries all over the world. He held the position of aircraft loadmaster. He was responsible for load and off load of all cargo and passengers. He was responsible for troop drops worldwide.

He served valiantly in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War, and like many of his comrades said he was greeted with indifference and scorn from an ungrateful public upon his return. Herrick constantly reminded everyone that “freedom isn’t free.” More than 40 years later Herrick was awarded a Vietnam Service Medal during a surprise presentation at intermission during a performance at the Comedy Barn in 2005.

In spite of his commendation, friends said Herrick was not one to brag about his military service.

“He didn’t care about himself being recognized,” said David Fee, president of Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment Group and former co-owner of the Comedy Barn and the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud theaters. “He wanted our country to get together and to think about other young men and women who are in harm’s way today.

Herrick was also awarded a “Quilt of Valor” and a plaque at “The Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud” in July of 2013. The quilts are presented by the Quilts of Valor Foundation to Vietnam Veterans who have been involved in combat situations and nominated by their peers. The quilt was made by Doyleen Taylor, wife of Dennis Taylor, the Tennessee State Director for Quilts of Valor.

“I was blindsided by this,” Herrick said at the time. “I never expected this but I am grateful. This was a complete surprise.”

For David Fee, Wes was more than just

an employee.

“Wes was one of the first people I met when I moved to Pigeon Forge in 1993. We became fast friends and colleagues,” Fee said.

“My heart aches. He was a Vietnam veteran, a former New Hampshire state trooper, a New Hampshire police chief, a performer, a musician, a devoted husband, father and grandfather, but most of all he was a true friend. I am very proud of his service to our country, very thankful for the talent he provided to our company, but most of all grateful for the friendship he gave to me.

Fee credits Herrick for what the Comedy Barn became.

“Herrick and his wife, Diana, helped build the Comedy Barn in the early days and helped it to become the huge success that it is today,” Fee said. “He loved to make people laugh! He was a very great and talented man. He is very missed by all of his Tennessee family.”

Herrick was a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team member, a retired Teamster, a truck driver and an entrepreneur. He also ran a machine/welding shop in Pigeon Forge, when he wasn’t remodeling houses or entertaining audiences at the theaters. From that shop many Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment Group creations were conceptualized and produced. He even added a motorized toilet to “The Comedy Barn” show dubbed the T.P. Cruizer.

Herrick is survived by his wife, Diana Herrick of Las Vegas (former general manager of the Comedy Barn and the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud theaters); sister, Priscilla (Dave) and their children in New Hampshire; son, Keith Herrick; daughters, Deborah, Donna (Joe); stepson, Donald Holden (Crystal) of Las Vegas; and grandchildren, Christopher and Alex Holden of Las Vegas; and Autumn, Frankie and Jaqueline.

“His loving wife, son, daughter, stepson and grandchildren were his greatest achievement,” Fee said. “He lived on their love and care to the very end.”