As we enter the New Year of 2019, we in Cocke County have hope for our world, our country and our county. Sometimes it seems we have to look far and wide to see the possibility of change and hope to improve our lives and those of our community. Little did you know for the last three years there has been work happening right here in Cocke County to bring hope and positive change to our county.

The ConAgra Group, made up of ConAgra Food Foundation partners, volunteers and friends have been working behind the scenes to bring a new resource to this county.

It is no secret that we live in a poor community. Many of our neighbors require help and assistance from various programs available fore children, elderly and all those in between who find life difficult. After a tornado in Newport damaged the Tanner Building in 2011, these organizations were forced to find new locations to work and are now spread out all around the county, continuing to provide service to those in need. Now, with this project there is a plan to bring them all together in one building, which will allow each organization to better meet their goals of reaching all our residents in need in an efficient and timely way.

The plan that has been developed over the last three years would house all of these agencies under one roof to ease the delivery of services and maximize efficiency for all participants. This building will be located on Cope Boulvard on three-plus acres of land, deeded by the Cocke County Legislative Body, and it has the capacity to house six organizations that currently are working in multiple locations throughout the county. This building will have an industrial kitchen, loading dock into the building and ample parking for all those who use the facility.

This endeavor will not only help those who are currently receiving service, but it will also offer opportunities for new job creation and will help keep services we are now benefiting from as a community here in Cocke County. If we retain and build on the services we have, we can better serve our neighbors and experience the hope we all seek.

This will be a community resource and the help we have had from town leadership and state and local government has been instrumental in getting this project off the ground, but to be successful in going forward we will need support from everyone. More information will soon be sent out to all community members to help reach the goal of success for service that will serve our community.

If you have questions, concerns or an urge to get involved on the ground level, please reach out to one of the board members: Ben Hooper, Margie Lunsford, Dr. Ken Johnson, John Foy, Mechelle Robinson, Dennis Gregg or their agent, Jeanne Wilson Birdwell, who will provide all the information you need. Lucas Graham, President fo the Cocke County Partnership, is very familiar with the project along with interested members of the ConAgra group. Several other groups have also shown interest.

The Cocke County Legislative Body has donated the accessible land for the project, seeing the need for this project and our governmental Mayors have attended and supported the endeavors of the ConAgra group.

As interested volunteers in Cocke County we are excited about seeing this project move forward and hope all our citizens embrace and support this project.

David and Sara Kenney, Volunteers

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