The Gap Gazer: January 2018

Volume 9, Issue 1

Victorian Victory

Victorian Christmas on December 2nd, 2017 was a successful venture for the Gap business community. Mother and Father Christmas have come in from the North Pole and visited the Victorian Home of Geri and John Ravnum on the first Saturday in December for well over 20 years. Due to the lack of snow, the usual mode of transport for Father Christmas is a Cumberland Gap Firetruck (One year he traveled in a vintage Ford which proved a poor replacement for a sleigh as Father Christmas had difficulty dismounting the rumble seat) This year at 10 am sharp, Father Christmas climbed off his trusty firetruck, joining Mother Christmas (who had been magically transported to the front sidewalk of the Ravnum’s Traditional Victorian Home). Together they kicked off the day with 5 hours of expectant children sharing their Christmas wishes.

The Artists’ Co-op have tried to stretch the morning activity to an entire day event for two years. The past two years have been filled with learning experiences such as ‘boiled’ roasted chestnuts and thrift store clothing which looked a little more like the attire of the factory families once residing in the village than Victorian garb. Deciding that one business wasn’t doing this expansion well alone, the entire Gap business community exuberantly partici-pated this year. Downtown businesses offered open houses and door prizes on December 2nd. Many business people were dressed in period costume during the day long Victorian themed event. The streets of the town were filled with parents, grandparents, and children, many attired in colorful holiday apparel. Students from LMU filled the air with Christmas melodies in Festival Park.

Stores and restaurants benefited greatly. Representatives of the Gap Greek Coffee House and the Pineapple Tearoom remarked on the increased traffic through their doors that day. The counter person of the Cumberland Gap Artists’ Co-op said . “This was the first time I ever had a line for checkout! Our sales were one of the highest we have had for one day.” When the town Christmas tree was lighted at dusk, most of the downtown businesses were alight also. Cumberland Gap has become a place shining with the spirit of the Christmas season. The success of this year’s Victorian festival will be a precursor for seasons to come. Mother and Father Christmas’s selfless service on the first Saturday in December has now permeated to filling the Gap with the joy of the season, benefiting the entire business community!

Polar Bears, Go Home!

The Traditional Polar Bear plunge has been discontinued. Judge Ralph McClanahan has competently organized this event for seventeen years, involving many citizens and other people of questionable sanity who feel it a privilege to participate; maybe for bragging rights or for the notoriety of supporting the tradition, Memories of Harvey Fuson. murdered proprietor of Ye Olde Drug Store, come alive in the hearts of those who remember that he loyally shot his private cannon on January 1st at noon signaling the Dip and the next new year.

Every successful diver felt a sense of pride and completion and now will deal with a sense of loss at the absence of the 18th dip. Many watchers, bundled in warm coats, are caught up in the passion of the moment and often declare that they will do this next year (these individuals probably are feeling a relief at the event’s closure.)The unique yearly event is over, The reason given for its demise is stated on a sign which replaced the one which hung year around declaring the date of the dip: (Editor’s note: I am truly sorry for the situation which caused the death of the Dip and thank Judge Ralph for his dedication throughout my years in the community

Jumping is a badge of courage for Jim O’Neal, a local resident who has bravely plunged since the event’s conception​

Aldermen Activity

The project of lining city streets has been bid out and assigned but the process of completion has been delayed by needed repairs to surfaces to be lined. The company hired for this aspect has been involved elsewhere and not completed this essential step.

Manholes are being repaired to prevent leakage which overloads sewer plant filters.

Individual home water meters are being replaced with phase two of a grant to the city. While replacing these meters for more accurate measurement, many leaks have been found. These along with many repaired major leaks have reduced the town’s long time water loss. The city seems to be winning this battle as loss percentages have come down greatly.

Currently the Alderman board is exploring outside garbage pickup and recycling as ways to reduce wear on city equipment and free up the already busy town maintenance man.

The demolition order at 601 Pennlyn for violation of city historical codes is now in the hands of the court system and awaiting a hearing. According to the aldermen board, until a decision is finalized, compromise and discussion are possible.

Alderman Hopson is looking into suitable replacements for he recently removed trees in Festival Park whose roots will not damage the park’s structure.

The board planning meeting for January will be Monday Dec. 18th at 6 pm and the board meeting will be held at 7 pm on January 8th. All citizens are encouraged to attend.

Matthews’ Musings

Event insurance was not an issue in the town until three years ago. Now the issue is actually inhibiting growth and business in the Gap. At the last aldermen meeting, Councilman Ravnum presented the idea of revising the current insurance burden on those who want to organize events which profit the town’s residents and businesses. No discussion followed and the mayor assigned Ravnum the task of investigating this. I asked a question as a private tax paying citizen during the “citizen’s comments” part of the Aldermen agenda. Expanding upon the insurance issue introduced by Ravnum, I asked why the Victorian Christmas community event required extra purchased insurance and the Pumpkin Lights community event did not. I was cautioned by the mayor that “citizen’s comments” wasn’t the time to ask about this (I had talked individually to three council people and none had put this on the agenda.)

If an individual family tries to reserve a park for a picnic or posts a sign in the park a day before, it is deemed an ‘advertised event’ and town policy requires an added insurance plan paid by the organizer. $105 is the least expensive policy I could find and this wouldn’t be a blanket policy for all activities. We have parks in the Gap and families cannot use them unless someone plants themselves in the area all night to “reserve it” without scheduling it ahead. Once a required event permit is filed, the planner is immediately required to buy insurance to cover what seems to be an inadequate town insurance policy. Maybe, the board should consider an insurance policy which allows citizens and businesses use of the town facilities without paying twice…once through taxes and again through additional insurance.


Upcoming Events Cumberland Mountain Music Show featuring the “music and heritage of the mountain people “Jan 28 & Feb. 18 @ 7:30 pm-9:30 pm LMU Convention Center $12 at the door

Kathy Matthews, Editor


616–540-7532 or 281-754-3457

News tips are appreciated!

Gap Gazer Statement of Ownership and Responsibility

The Gap Gazer is the creation of Kathy Jo Matthews, a Gap resident, and she alone is responsible for the content. The town government and other agencies have no responsibility for publication and distribution of the Gazer. All articles are based on research and are as factually accurate as the editor can present them. Contact the editor at the phone numbers and email address listed in this issue if any questions arise in the veracity of the news presented. The news in each issue is as journalistically correct and as impartially presented as possible. Events posted are all in the immediate tri-state area and if an event is missed, that usually means no one contacted the editor with the information. The ”Matthews’ Musings” is an editorial and, while still based on fact, may contain editorial comment and opinion. Distribution is via email and through stacks of newspapers distributed to the Gap Post Office, the Gap Creek Coffee House, The Pineapple Tearoom, The National Park and the Cumberland Gap Artists’ Co-op. The Gazer contains no advertising and is responsible to no one for funding. All printing is at the editor’s expense, eliminating any connections with another entity. The Gap Gazer is produced monthly and is in its 8th year of continuous publication.

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