Gov. Haslam asked to save Horton Inn
By Scott Pearson
Marshall County’s state-level elected officials are continuing to fight to preserve the inn facility at Henry Horton State Park.
State Representative Tillis said that he and Senator Jim Tracy had met with Governor Bill Haslam on Wednesday and had a lengthy discussion about the future of the park.
“I’m feeling positive right now,” Tillis said, clarifying that nothing yet had been decided but that he felt like there was some support for the park.
Haslam initiated a program several years ago to increase efficiency and revenue generation at the state parks, but Tillis left the meeting feeling that the Governor was “very enthusiastic” about re-examining the capital improvement request for the park.
A request for $6.7 million to renovate the inn at Horton was included in the initial capital request for the park in next year’s state budget, but was not included in the Governor’s final budget presented to the legislature.
Without the funds, plans call for the demolition of the inn, leaving the park with only 12 motel-style rooms and five cabins for lodging. Local officials and concerned residents feel that loosing the 60-room inn would cripple the park’s ability to serve as a tourism and meeting destination for the county.
Tillis sent out an email on Wednesday as well suggesting that interested parties send emails in support of restoring funds to the park to the Governor’s Chief of Staff, Jim Henry, and Deputy Chief of Staff, Jennifer Pfeiffer at Jim.Henry@tn.gov and Jennifer.Pfeiffer@tn.gov, respectively.
Messages of support for the renovation and the impact that the loss would have on the county can make a difference in the process, and without much time left in the legislative session, Tillis urged residents to act quickly.
If the Governor’s personal efforts don’t manage to restore the funding, Tillis said that he had a backup plan as well.
Tillis said that he had also filed an amendment, with the support of several other representatives, to the appropriation budget that would restore the $6 million in funding to renovate the inn.