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An elected board member in Maggie Valley has collected $6,500 in commission from the town after acting as the town’s real estate agent in the purchase of land for a small park.

People are saying the new Ghost Town will be a shot in the arm for Maggie Valley. That’s probably an understatement, but the new development and its cash infusion into this tourist town will also provide an important opportunity to talk about the future of Western North Carolina, especially as it pertains to the number of visitors and the changing tourism industry.

Hundreds of people ascended to Ghost Town, a beloved mountaintop amusement park in Maggie Valley, for an open house Monday celebrating news that the park will reopen next year.

When Todd Berrong, a former gun fighter at Ghost Town amusement park, walked through the gate of his old stomping grounds this week, he saw a circle of six men dressed in cowboy hats and boots, gun holsters slung around their waist, complete with leather vests and chaps.

As the new owners of Ghost Town in the Sky pondered whether the dated mountaintop amusement park was a good business venture, one of their first questions was how many visitors they could feasibly expect to attract.

By Sarah Kucharski • Staff Writer

Once more, for the last time — Ghost Town has sold.

The announcement came Tuesday morning as regional economic developers unveiled plans for the Maggie Valley theme park to reopen in May 2007. Hank Woodburn, owner of Adventure Landing, which has nine amusement attractions in four states, Al Harper, owner of the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, and Peter Hairston, an independent venture capitalist were expected to close the deal with Ghost Town owner R.B. Coburn Tuesday afternoon.

Checking email has gotten a lot more exciting for Wendy Johnson lately.

As the organizer for the 28th Annual Maggie Valley Moonlight Race this year, Johnson sees a message show up in her in-box every time a runner registers on-line. It’s averaging about 15 a day, and Johnson revels in opening each one to see where the runners are coming from.

Wade Reece, a well-known figure in Maggie Valley civic life and the tourism industry, passed away last week, leaving a void that will be hard to fill, according to the Maggie Valley business community.

Elected town and county leaders will be dragged into the Haywood County tourism saga this week.

They will be asked to weigh in on how much of the $600,000 in tourism tax dollars should be dolled out in the form of grants for events. The Haywood County Tourism Development Authority, a nine-member board, is granted oversight of money generated by a 3 percent tax on overnight lodging by state statute.

The Haywood County Tourism Development Authority is split over a budget for the coming fiscal year that would reduce funding for festivals and local chambers of commerce and instead put the money toward a marketing plan.

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