Special to the Daily News
PIKEVILLE, Ky. — After noticing a kiosk touting Kentucky’s state parks was missing a brochure for The Breaks, Pike County Judge-Executive Wayne T. Rutherford reached out to the tourism secretary and parks commissioner.
A letter dated Sept. 19, to Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Marcheta Sparrow outlined Rutherford’s concerns in regard to The Breaks being slighted.
“Although we at first could not believe The Breaks was omitted (from the kiosk),” Rutherford said in the letter, “sad to say I was not surprised. I often say that Pike County seems to be the tail that wags the dog. Our county gets no attention and no consideration on way too many issues.”
After receiving the letter, Sparrow and Department of Parks Commissioner Elaine Walker, along with others from the cabinet, made the trip to The Breaks and toured Pike County.
“Sometimes you write cabinet and department secretaries at the state level and never even get a response,” Rutherford said. “This wasn’t the case with Sec. Sparrow, she responded in a big way.”
Sparrow brought nine members of the cabinet with her to Pike County. During their visit, they dined at Chirico’s, and led by Reed Potter, they toured the Hatfield-McCoy sites, visited other sites in the City of Pikeville and around the county and enjoyed the amenities and beauty offered by The Breaks Interstate Park.
“Our Cabinet’s visit to Pikeville and Pike County was an excellent experience,” Sparrow said. “It gave us a firsthand view of all of the great tourism opportunities available within the city and county. We were greatly impressed by the warm hospitality and entrepreneurial spirit of Pike County’s tourism community.”
Before departing Pike County, a working lunch was held at the Rhododendron Lodge where Rutherford, Pikeville City Manager Donovan Blackburn and members of Pike County Tourism and Pikeville Tourism.
“We are overwhelmed by their response,” Tony Tackett, Executive Director of the Pike County Tourism Convention and Visitors Bureau, said. “The people in Frankfort realize now that Pike County can and will be a vacation destination.”
Blackburn feels a tourism boon is imminent.
“It is just a matter of time before people will flock to visit our attractions,” he said. “The Hatfield-McCoy craze has created one wave of tourists, and the next wave will be just as widespread.”
Rutherford and Blackburn both agreed that with the construction of the new US 460, lack of accessibility would no longer be an issue when coming to Pike County or anywhere in eastern Kentucky.