Swain County Manager Kevin King and Commissioners David Monteith and Phil Carson drove about eight hours from the small town of Bryson City to the big city of D.C. at the end of last month to speak with federal officials about the North Shore settlement money (see related story).
The trio pulled off the three-day trip for $2,000. About a quarter of the budget was spent on hotel rooms in the Hamilton Crowne Plaza Hotel on 14th Street in downtown.
With the four trips altogether, King estimated that the county has only expended about $10,000, adding that such costs are necessary.
“If you don’t go up there, they are not going to come to you. You have to get in front of them,” King said.
During their trip, they also met with the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service and Tennessee Valley Authority officials to talk about partnering on exhibits in the county’s new museum. The county is currently converting its old historic courthouse into a visitor center and cultural heritage museum.
“We want them to participate in all our heritage projects,” King said. “The Forest Service was very receptive to that as was the TVA.”
One particular point of interest for Monteith was the condition of Hall Cabin and Calhoun House. Both are historic homes located in the Swain County section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and are supposed to be maintained as a cultural resource by the park service. However, Monteith said houses have fallen into disrepair.
“Inside of them is withering away. It’s pathetic,” Monteith said.
Hall Cabin has holes in the roof of the porch, leading to further damage the longer it goes unrepaired. Meanwhile, the Calhoun House looks nice on the outside but the inside is a different story.
“You would be so disheartened,” Monteith said of the houses’ appearance.
If the park service isn’t willing to take care of them, Monteith said, then the commissioners would rather they be moved out of the park onto county property. That way, the county can care for them. He even suggested moving one of the houses next to the courthouse museum and making it an historic attraction.