After seven years and a community effort that raised more than $500,000, the iconic High Knob Tower in Wise County is officially open.
The ribbon was cut and visitors got their first glimpse of the new and improved tower. We talked with those who've worked tirelessly to bring it back after arsonists destroyed it Halloween night in 2007.
The re-dedication ceremony for the opening of the new High Knob Tower was long, because there were so many to people to thank for it's existence. From corporate donors to school kids, the whole community has given what they could to bring it back.
The speeches sounded more like a revival, but the tower represents the hope for the future of the economically troubled region. After the ribbon was cut, just like a congregation, the crowd marched in unison to the top of the mountain to get a glimpse of the 360-degree view of five states.
"It stands in part as an icon, but really I think it stands more as a beacon calling people that live in Southwest Virginia, calling people to come home who grew up here, calling people to become part of creating the new Southwest Virginia," Lu Ellsworth with the High Knob Enhancement Corporation said.
It took a lot of partners to bring it back better than ever. Not the least was the U.S. Forest Service, because its a part of the George Washington-Jefferson National Forest. "This we hope is just one part that the Forest Service is showing that we're being good partners, good neighbors and there can be a revivial. We want to be a part of that," Superintendent Tom Speaks says.
The idea is to bring tourism to the region and the tower is just one more piece to that puzzle. "I see a need for us to develop tourism. Now tourism is not going to be a magic bullet that cures everything for us here in the county but its going to be something that going to make it better because it will bring people in. It will bring dollars in," says Board of Supervisors member Robby Robbins.
And give visitors a chance to see the abundant natural resource that the region has, its natural beauty.