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Wednesday, 13 February 2013 14:02

Parkway chief to retire

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Parkway Superintendent Phil Francis has announced that he will retire on April 1 after 41 years in the National Park Service. During his eight years at the Parkway, he faced continuous budget cuts, which reduced the number of full-time employees at the Parkway from more than 240 to 160.

The Parkway, which receives more visitors than Yellowstone, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon combined, currently runs on a budget of approximately $1 per visitor per year.

Francis was credited with keeping the parkway functioning during those times and working with local communities and the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation to do more with less.

Francis came to the Parkway from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where he was the long-time assistant superintendent.

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    That was the question I posed to myself when I found out my girlfriend was visiting from Upstate New York. She is someone who has never been to Western North Carolina, never been to Southern Appalachia, let alone anywhere in the South for that matter. 

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