PADUCAH – Paducah-McCracken County and Calvert City are two of the fifteen Tennessee River communities selected for the inaugural cohort of the Tennessee RiverTowns Program. They are the only Kentucky communities in the Program. Each of these two communities is beginning its journey to become an official Tennessee RiverTown and part of the Tennessee RiverLine, North America’s next great regional trail system incorporating a continuous system of paddling, hiking and biking experiences along the Tennessee River’s 652-mile reach.
Paducah Mayor Brandi Harless said, “Paducah’s involvement in the Tennessee RiverTowns Program is a game changer. The opportunity to enhance recreational use of the natural resource we’ve been given has the potential to make Paducah an even better place to live and visit. We are excited to have our neighbors in Calvert City join us on this endeavor.”
McCracken County Judge Executive Craig Clymer said, “Through the RiverTowns Program, McCracken County is proud to join with Paducah and all our upriver neighbors in promoting and celebrating our mutual fortunes to be located on the great Tennessee River.”
The celebration for being selected for the Tennessee RiverTowns Program, representatives from the City of Paducah, McCracken County, River Discovery Center and Calvert City will take place on Wilson Stage located on Paducah’s riverfront at 2 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 23. Attendees are asked to wear facial coverings and maintain social distancing during the celebration. In the event of rain, it will be moved indoors to the River Discovery Center located at 117 South Water Street.
Calvert City applied to be a part of the Tennessee RiverTowns Program because of its long history and appreciation of the river. According to Calvert City Mayor Lynn B. Jones, “After landing on the banks of the Tennessee River, Potilla Calvert surveyed for high ground for a homestead site that maximized the river’s value. Calvert City was founded and thrived on the fertile ground of the river bottoms that produced abundant crops for farmers.”
Mayor Jones added, “In the late 1940’s, industry saw the benefits of the river and transformed the little farm community into an industrial giant for Kentucky. Sportsmen, river rats, and more enjoy the blessings the river. The Tennessee continues to invite and evolve from the day Mr. Calvert first appreciated the Tennessee’s life-giving water. Calvert City has embraced the river and is proud to be in the Tennessee RiverTowns Program.”
A vital community partner in the Tennessee RiverTowns Program is the River Discovery Center, an interactive museum in downtown Paducah that stimulates curiosity and appreciation of the region’s river systems.
Executive Director Julie Harris said, “The River Discovery Center greatly values its partnership in the Tennessee RiverLine program and is excited about the new RiverTowns Program which will bring more recreational opportunities to Paducah. We are looking forward to some exciting things ahead in 2021!”
The Tennessee RiverLine initiative is led by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in collaboration with the Tennessee RiverLine Partnership. River communities that are invested as part of the Tennessee RiverLine benefit from economic development and entrepreneurship opportunities, quality of life amenities, and increased access to river experiences that improve public health and generations of river advocates that are active participants in its stewardship.
“Tennessee River communities are the beating heart of the Tennessee RiverLine,” said Tennessee RiverLine Partnership Director Brad Collett, an associate professor in UT’s Herbert College of Agriculture and College of Architecture and Design. “We are excited to begin collaborating with such a diverse group of communities through the Tennessee RiverTowns Program as we seek to unlock the river’s latent potentials for the benefit of generations of the region’s residents and visitors.”
The Tennessee RiverTowns Program follows the overwhelming support for the Tennessee RiverLine vision observed in summer 2019 during the Pilot Community Program. Paducah-McCracken County was one of the five pilot communities. In August 2019, Paducah-McCracken County hosted Tennessee RiverLine staff for activities with residents and community leaders. Insights gained during that experience, as well as community-specific recommendations to embrace the Tennessee RiverLine vision locally, are included in a report available at www.tnriverline.org/pilot.
To learn more about the Tennessee RiverLine, stay up-to-date with programs and initiatives by following on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@tnriverline) and visiting tnriverline.org .