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Manager introduced at Reelfoot state park; changes unveiled

Manager introduced at Reelfoot state park; changes unveiled
Manager introduced at Reelfoot state park; changes unveiled | Manager introduced at Reelfoot state park; changes unveiled
By KEVIN BOWDEN
Staff Reporter
Some major changes are in store for Reelfoot Lake State Park.
First, and most importantly, Alisha Weber has taken over as the new park manager.
She was officially in-troduced at a reception Wednesday afternoon at the Reelfoot Lake Visitors Center. A large gathering of park officials and other officials from around the area attended the reception. Among those were Hornbeak Mayor Dennis Dozier, Mary Nita Bondurant with Discovery Park of America and Obion County Joint Economic Development Corporation economic director Lindsay Frilling.
Mrs. Weber is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Martin and has worked for the state parks department for the past 14 years. She most recently worked as an interpretive specialist at Natchez Trace State Park.
“Every day is better than the last day at Reelfoot Lake,” she announced at Wednesday’s reception.
Mrs. Weber is familiar with Reelfoot Lake from her days as a UTM intern working at the state park.
“There’s such a rich culture here,” Mrs. Weber said. “This whole area has always intrigued me.”
She was quick to recognize her staff at the state park and praised their work promoting the lake.
Mrs. Weber cited the 8,000 to 9,000 students who have been involved in education programs at the state park since she arrived in February. She went on to highlight such events as canoe trips, wildlife programs and special events organized by the Reelfoot staff.
“I feel like we are an instant family,” she said about bonding with the employees.
As the park manager, Mrs. Weber is supervising the staff of 22 as well as summer interns working at the park.
Her arrival at Reelfoot Lake State Park comes at a time of transition for the 800-acre area.
Already the premier tourist attraction in northwest Tennessee, Reelfoot Lake State Park hosted an estimated 700,000 visitors last year, according to state Department of Environment and Conservation deputy commissioner Brock Hill. He also announced Wednesday the state park hosted 994 programs last year, with an estimated 20,000 attendees.
With all that firepower as a tourist attraction, Hill unveiled some illustrations about planned changes coming to Reelfoot Lake.
New cabins will be built along lake’s shoreline just west of the new spillway on Highway 21. The Cabins at Reelfoot Lake will be constructed using concrete designed to look like cypress logs, according to Hill.
“That’s coming soon,” he said. “That’s a great thing that’s coming your way.”
The log cabin development will include two- and three-bedroom units with lake access.
There was no timeframe given as to when the cabin project will begin, but Hill said the project is just part of some major investments planned at Reelfoot Lake.
He said the state is working in partnership with the Mississippi River Corridor to enhance the state park.
Hill also unveiled an architectural rendering of planned upgrades to the visitors center complex.
No changes are planned for Ellington Hall, where Wednesday’s reception was held, but the kitchen area at the facility will be upgraded and there are some significant changes planned for the visitors center. The raptor cage behind the visitors center will be enlarged and major renovations are planned for the exhibit area inside the visitors center.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at kmbowden@ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 5.30.13

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