Lenoir City unveils refurbished cabin

Lenoir City Mayor Tony Aikens, left, GFWC Suburbia Women’s Club President Mary Bright, center, and GFWC Suburbia Women’s Club charter member Maxine McKinney unveil a dedication plaque Friday for a cabin at Lenoir City Park.

Distinguished guests and officials from Loudon County gathered Friday at Lenoir City Park to dedicate a refurbished cabin to the GFWC Suburbia Women’s Club.

“This is an exciting time,” Lenoir City Mayor Tony Aikens said. “Don White, our public safety director, came to me several months ago and, after looking at the budget, said, ‘Hey, we’re really losing money over there at the park.’ He started explaining to me why and he just said we needed to try something different. I thought, ‘What better organization to the turn the cabin over to than the Suburbia Women’s Club?’ The cabin had gotten run down and we felt like this was the direction to go.”

The cabin was finished on schedule, just one day before the 57th annual Lenoir City Arts and Crafts Festival put on by the club.

Aikens praised the club’s efforts in helping bring visitors and revenue to the city with the festival.

“They bring thousands and thousands of visitors to Lenoir City each year during the first weekend of June with just a small group of ladies. Just think of the snowball effect that creates. You have people coming to Lenoir City, spending their tax dollars, eating in our restaurants, buying our gas and staying in our hotels. We are very grateful for them.”

Maxine McKinney, club charter member and former vice president, said Friday’s unveiling was a proud moment.

“Mary B. Lynch, if you can remember, was really the instigator,” McKinney said. “She was a teacher at Highland Park and came up from Chattanooga. We just supported her from the peninsula across the bridge. I am just in awe of what this group has done. It’s just a wonderful feeling.”

Before the official opening, Aikens honored two guests with a plaque for their hard work and time spent with the project.

Ed Loy was responsible for the addition of the Lenoir City Dog Park.

“Ed has contributed many, many years toward the Humane Society,” Aikens said. “Ed built the dog park, which is right around the corner here. He didn’t ask for anything. It was probably in upwards of $100,000 I would say. He didn’t just build the dog park. Steve (Harrelson) would call on him at various times if we had something to break loose or needed something out on the water. He’s always been right there for us.”

Ken Brewster, Brewster’s Services Group owner, was also recognized for his contributions in helping clear brush around the cabin.

“All of this area behind the cabin was grown up and I called Ken,” Aikens said. “Ken is well-known and he helps the city of Loudon a lot. He’s just gone above and beyond. We’ve applied for a grant to, hopefully, put in some sidewalks and some lighting behind the cabin, but he cleared all that out. He brought his men over and they worked about two or three weeks solid. It looks great.”

The club previously met at the Loudon County Visitors Bureau, which limited meeting and event space. Moving to the cabin will be a major upgrade.

“It’s a real honor that they thought of us to give the house to us,” Mary Bright, club president, said. “They’ve done an outstanding job getting it fixed. We can utilize it during the festival, we can utilize it for planning meetings, so it’s very special. It’ll help us tremendously because we will be right here in the park where we put on this festival.”

Lenoir City Council approved a four-year lease March 25. The club is responsible for paying $1 per year.

The city will help maintain the grounds, while the club will maintain the cabin.

The club also presented Lenoir City a $50,000 donation for a pavilion and splash pad in downtown’s Central Park.

“Over the last four decades, we’ve donated over $600,000 to Loudon County in different forms — different scholarships and different organizations,” Bright said. “We wanted to do something else that we really felt strongly about, as far as something that would help our community.”