PIKEVILLE, Tenn. — As the season for festivals, celebrations, school plays and recitals nears, Pikeville is building a new event stage on Main Street that will be a permanent community venue for Bledsoe County.
Pikeville Mayor Philip Cagle says $15,000 in grant money is funding the project, with most labor provided by inmates from the Bledsoe County Justice Center. The result will be a permanent structure the whole community can use, he said.
Judy Yates, owner of The Loom just around the corner from the project, said she hasn't checked on it recently but hopes the stage will be a downtown booster.
"That'll be great, I think. I hadn't really given it much thought, but it could bring us some people to the downtown area," she said.
Cagle said the city had some additional grant money for downtown revitalization projects and he heard officials from a couple of other towns describing similar projects during a conference call on state grants. That's when he decided to pursue a stage for Pikeville, he said.
Southeast Tennessee Development District Executive Director Beth Jones confirmed in Nashville that the grant money still was available and that the stage was a suitable project, he said, setting the project up for launch in November.
Bledsoe County Mayor Bobby Collier said the city and county will benefit from the new venue.
"It's an exciting idea," said Collier, who noted the stage would be used during festival, historical and holiday events, for speakers and school activities and anything else the community can dream up.
Jay Campbell, Pikeville's overseer for the project, said the work was going well and could be finished ahead of schedule. Work will begin on restrooms and a concession stand next week, he said.
"The deadline is May, but we plan on having it done by April," Campbell said.
"We've been watching it go up," said local bluegrass artist Carrie Hassler, who works across the street from the stage at her family's restaurant, Little Maggie's.
Hassler, who also is Cagle's daughter, said musical acts, community organizations and school groups will enjoy having a permanent stage near the courthouse square.
The new stage fits in with Pikeville's other downtown beautification projects, she said.
Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...