Leadership Bell County explores area’s history

Published 4:27 pm Tuesday, March 5, 2024

The 2023-24 Leadership Bell County class enjoyed a history and tourism day last Wednesday as they visited several historic sites in the county and heard presentations about the area’s history and the impact it has on tourism.

“Exploring our county’s history and tourism destinations during our recent Leadership Bell County day was not only enlightening but also reaffirmed the importance of staying involved in our community and keeping our heritage alive,” said Melissa Turner, the director of the Bell County Chamber of Commerce and also a member of the 2024 Leadership class. “Uncovering Bell County’s roots isn’t just about digging up the past; it’s about building our future together.”

After meeting at the Sleep Inn in Middlesboro for breakfast they heard from Joy Taylor, the general manager of both the Sleep Inn and Holiday Inn Express. Then the group traveled to the Arthur Museum where they were given presentations by Celia Shoffner of Middlesboro Main Street and Ann Matheny from the Bell County Historical Society.

Email newsletter signup

The group then went to the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park for a meeting with Dr. Lucas Wilder, the park’s education technician. Lunch was held at Pine Mountain State Resort Park where park director Rita Edmondson spoke to the group about the history of Kentucky’s oldest state park and its plans for future expansion.

While at the park, the Leadership Bell County class stopped at the Laurel Cove Amphitheater and heard a presentation from Bell County Tourism Directory Jon Grace and Kristy Burnett, the chair of the Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival. They closed out the day with a visit to the Bell Theater in downtown Pineville and met with Johnna Callebs of Main Street Pineville.

Other members of this year’s Leadership Bell County class include Chris Epperson, Mikey Long, Jody Risner, Carla Bennett, Chandler Nelson, Megan Hopper, Chris Stotts, Jennifer Williams, Abby Thompson from Pineville High School, Sierra Higgins from Middlesboro High School and Macey Hendrickson from Bell Co High School.