Townsend, Tennessee - Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  There is dense fog and it is cool in Townsend, Tennessee this morning.  The temperature was 39 degrees when I drove to work.  At the swinging bridge there were two young guys fishing.  They were using worms and had not caught a fish.  They were not getting down deep enough and I told one of them that.  Hopefully they figured it out and caught some trout.  That run is stocked full of rainbows.  The colors in the mountains are beautiful right now.  I was off yesterday and stayed at home tying flies all day.  But, I read about the rockslide on the Laurel Creek Road near Cades Cove.  The slide was eventually cleared but I can’t imagine the traffic problems caused by that during the leaf season. 

Last night I awoke to something screaming outside our house.  I didn’t look at the clock but it was probably way after midnight.  I got up and opened the door to our upstairs deck and listened.  I didn’t hear a thing.  It had to have been a big cat.  It was probably a bobcat.  Maybe it was mountain lion.  The official word around here is, there are no cougars.  I know too many credible people who have seen them.  I saw mountain lion tracks in the snow near our house once.  They are here.  There may not be many but they are here.

Little River is flowing just a tad above normal.  The flow is 83 cubic feet per second.  Median flow is 77 cfs for this date.  The water temperature this morning is 52 degrees.  It is going to be sunny today and tomorrow with highs in the 70’s.  The low tonight should be in the high 30’s again.  In the Park the water will be cooler than here.  Fish nymphs deep early in the day then try dry flies after the water warms up.  I would use a Prince, Bead Head Pheasant Tail, Tellico, Hare’s Ear or Copper John early.  Then I might switch to a Stimulator, Orange Palmer or Elk Hair Caddis.  Orange seems to be the preferred color this time of year. 

TWRA is considering allowing hunting for Sandhill Cranes.  Evidently they are good to eat and they have made a comeback.  Other states allow hunting of these birds.  HERE IS THE LINK to an article on the KnoxNews website.  There is opposition of course.  I have no opinion on the matter.  I trust the biologists to make that decision.

We held our City Planning Commission meeting Thursday night.  Wow, I could not believe how many business owners showed up.  I’ve never seen a turnout like that one.  The reason for the turnout is the interest in the outcome of the our Tennessee Department of Transportation issue.  Many businesses have structures, parking lots, signs and other encroachments on the State right-of-way.  Land owners may be able to buy their encroachments and they may also be able to purchase more excess land.  On the other hand, do we want the State to sell all of the right of way?  That means you would be seeing signs and buildings close to the highway.  Some people would like to buy the property all the way to the street.  Others want to keep our greenspace in tact.  And, there are others who want something in between. 

Since I’m in charge of communicating between TDOT, the City and the people, our Mayor immediately turned the meeting over to me.  We knew of course why all the citizens were there.  For some reason and I don’t know why, I actually like being the person trying to get people thinking together and solving big problems.  This one has certainly been a challenge and I don’t want to make mistakes trying to settle it.  The stakes are high.  Failure is not an option.  People have some very important personal issues.  If this is not handled right, some businesses might have to close. 

We all decided to hold some TDOT workshops to gain input from all citizens and business owners in town.  The first meeting will be held a week from Thursday at the Townsend Elementary School cafeteria.  And guess who the facilitator is going to be?  Yours truly.

I expect maybe 100 people will show up and the task at hand will be to develop a consensus on how to handle our problem.  We are contacting everyone we can by mail.  Also, our City Recorder, Vice Mayor, Building Inspector and Maintenance Supervisor will go to each resident, door to door to hand out leaflets announcing the workshop.

I have already been working with top TDOT people both in Nashville and at our Regional Office in Knoxville.  I have found them all to be very nice, sympathetic and willing to help our citizens solve this problem.  TDOT handles encroachments and settlements of those problems every day.  But they have never seen one as large as this.  Over 80 landowners are involved.  The Townsend/TDOT resolution is going to set a precedence.     

I did this once before in Townsend.  About 3 years ago the Visitor’s Bureau decided to pursue purchasing 10 acres next to the Visitors Center.  The cost would be $1.4 million.  It would require a increase in the hotel/motel tax.  The County Government would have to approve it.  Then the State House and Senate would approve opening the private act and making the change.  I was the spokesperson.  It took over a year to get it done.  Some people got mad at me and fought it.  But it happened anyway and I don’t think many people are still mad at me.  If they were, they wouldn’t want me handling this TDOT problem.  We have some really nice people here.  And, I’ve been thanked many times for getting involved in sticky situations.  I view it as an opportunity that I will enjoy.  I like helping my friends in the community.

I’m sure the Mayor will be here today or tomorrow to see what my plans are.  And, he will talk me into changing some of them for the good of everyone.  We make a great team. I really like working with Pat. He's smart.

Have a great day and thank you for being here with us.

Byron Begley
October 16, 2010  

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