The Gap Gazer: February 2018

Hi Gazer Reader!

My husband asked me a thought provoking question. At first I thought it would require a Musings response but then realized that in my one page format, I often wrote about controversial and immediate Aldermen Board issues and didn't have room for the more mundane business of running a small town assigned to the elected aldermen. So in fairness to the Board, this month I pulled out every task I remembered that board members were assigned, Some do these jobs more effectively and thoroughly than others, Most do attend every meeting and do what is assigned them; one alderman misses a lot of meetings and is given little responsibility and that member does this well! I still give this member kudos for even running as so few will choose to take the office.

Anyway, I have presented a no means exhaustive list of the tasks Aldermen do...without pay and often without thanks. Let me be the first to say "Thank You" as I have had my share of politics when I was younger and enjoy just reporting on and researching issues now! I may not always agree with decisions, I may feel that important issues are overlooked and less, more easily handled, issues are pursued but unless I am ready to do this thankless job, I will just continue attempting to be as honest and fair in my reporting as possible.

The Polar Bear Dip survived in spite of the cancellation! and this paper, in a sense, has gone to the dogs! (read it and smile!)


Kathy Matthews, Editor


616–540-7532 or 281-754-3457

News tips are appreciated!

Volume 9, Issue 2

What Does An Alderman Do?

Often The Gap Gazer covers immediate issues handled by the Aldermen Board. Due to the Gazer’s one page format, there is minimal space for ongoing projects. This following list is not exhaustive but begins to answer the question of “What ongoing responsibilities does the Gap Board of elected Aldermen have assigned them?”

  • Water system maintenance: Expensive major water leakage in the city was once up to over 60% and now is consistently below 20%; The Board is using grant monies for purchase and installation of accurate home meters, uncovering and repairing many costly leaks.

  • City road repairs: The lines on the roads are scheduled to be replaced when the weather breaks. The Gap Creek bed on Llewelyn Ave. has now been bid out and repaired.

  • Law enforcement: A city court has been organized and a city shared policeman employed. Citation books are ready to use.

  • Park Maintenance: The town restrooms at Berkau Park will be updated with new toilets and hand-dryers when they reopen in March. The Board has removed the invading roots of Festival Park trees and is actively researching effective and beautiful replacements

  • Operating Capital: The Aldermen continually seek grant money to benefit the Gap— to purchase and fix equipment and to obtain needed additional working capital for the Gap

  • ​Management of the sewer: The Board is responsible for keeping the sewer plant running (grants are being sought for a broken generator, flow meters have been installed)

  • Budget: The board approves and maintains the yearly budget developed by secretary Linda Moyers and keeps the town in compliance with governmental requirements.

  • Time devoted: Board, members must attend planning, board, committee & special meetings as well as create & enforce local ordinances and to do outside research needed...

  • Fire Department: Staffed and run by LMU volunteers, it is under the administration of the board.

  • Beer Board: Beer permits awarded, complaints and difficulties arising from these.

  • Tourism: oversee all tourism events in the Gap and maintain the quaint look of our small village, keeping it appealing and unique.

Can’t Keep a Polar Bear Down!

The 2018 Polar Bear Dip was officially canceled due to “circumstances beyond the control’ of organizer Ralph McClanahan. Last spring, McClanahan wrote a letter to the Gap Aldermen Board requesting that the Gap Creek river bank in front of the Little Congress Bicycle Museum be repaired.

The board brought in professionals to diagnose and repair it but the repair was finally finished four days before the scheduled 2018 event. McClanahan had already canceled the 2018 Dip due to the uncertainty of the safety of the venue.

However, at noon, on January 1st , 2018, Knoxville TV station WBIR arrived to re-port on the event. Several faithful partici-pants from prior years also appeared. The stream was not blocked to allow for deep-ened water as in official years, so those who did come proceeded to sit in only inches of water and lay claim to participat-ing in the 18th dip, which wasn’t officially being held. WBIR filmed the event any-way and the Polar Bear Dip tradition stub-bornly held on despite the well-intended cancellation. McClanahan has announced that, with such a loyal following, the Dip must go on! The 2019 Polar Bear Dip will take place on January 1st at noon in front of the Little Congress Bicycle Museum. Since a renegade dip unfolded for the 18th event despite the official cancellation, the next year’s event will probably be called either the 18 ½ or 19th Polar Bear Dip in Cumberland Gap, Tennessee! The Polar Bear Dip will come back even stronger!

Good-bye to 3 Gap Businesses

The Cumberland Gap Boutique, The Red Balloon and Peace, Love and Art, all in the Cumberland Gap Town Center building on Brooklyn, have closed their doors. The building awaits new business ventures again.

Recycling Option in the Gap

The Aldermen Board, concerned about their aging 1989 garbage truck, the length of time personal garbage pickup takes, and the fees for use of the landfill, is exploring options for the current Gap garbage pickup system. The Board is attempting to reduce the amount of garbage and to make garbage collection less expensive and more manageable. Exploring all possibilities, they have asked for bids from outside carriers. Bell County Recycle Center of Middlesboro KY presented a no cost proposal for picking up recyclables. This program requires no sorting of plastics, cardboard, paper which is able to be shredded, newsprint, rinsed tin and aluminum cans, copper cords, glass bottles and jars, electronics and major appliances. Those living in the town will be given a door to door choice to participate and those choosing to recycle this way, will be issued blue plastic recycling bags.When asked if savings will be passed on to consumers, the mayor replied that garbage fees would possibly have had to go up if the current system continued and new procedures could avoid this. It would take major savings for any benefit to be passed to the consumers’ bills. More information will be forthcoming as the aldermen continue to investigate options for the current collection system.

Matthews’ Musings

Matthews’ family members. Ziggy (age 9) and Freya (age 15) on vacation at the La Quinta Inn on South Padre Island, Texas (25 degree wind chill outside, warm and cozy inside). No more need be said:


Upcoming Events Cumberland Mountain Music Show featuring the “music and heritage of the mountain people “Jan 28, Feb. 18 & March 10 @ 7:30 pm - LMU Convention Center $12 at the door

Polar Bear Dip! Jan. 1, 2019 Noon In front of Little Congress Bicycle Museum

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.

#TheGapGazer #KathyMatthews