A south central Kentucky community is celebrating for a variety of reasons today. Students from Greensburg and Green County Middle School gathered at the new Green River Paddle Trail to release nearly 5,000 fish into the Green River.
The releasing of the catfish was done to symbolize the cleaner river the city now has, thanks to the new sewer project. While some children just enjoyed throwing the fish in the water others realized how the fish will affect them years down the road.
Kelsay Scott is one of the students who participated. She says: "We were releasing them and they were kind of flippy in our hands. They were real slimy. We put them in there and it was a nice feeling to see them go cause when we go fishing a few years later they'll grow bigger and we'll get to catch them."
The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife provided the fish for the event.
In addition to having a cleaner water supply the city is also celebrating the grand opening of the Green River Paddle Trail and Lodge. It's something city officials are optimistic about turning around the economy.
Greensburg Mayor, George Lisle Cheatham, says: "It's really been an issue for us to be able to create jobs and economic stability to the community."
Over the last few years the city of Greensburg has been hit hard with economic losses. The city ranked 117th out of 120 Kentucky counties for tourism revenue. Now with the opening of a major tourist attraction city officials are hoping to turn things around.
Dr. Richie Kessler is with the Nature Conservancy. He says: "When you take a look at the map and you look at areas between Green River Dam and Mammoth Cave most of that land is privately owned so opportunities to experience the river are very limited."
The Green River Paddle Trail and Lodge is the city's way of bringing in tourists. The cabins can be rented for between $45 and $65 a night. A canoe trip is $20 per person.
Mayor Cheatham says: "Based on the projected scores from the feasibility report, we really anticipate in a three year time period we ought to be looking at an economic impact of over $2 million a year."
With that revenue came more jobs. The city has already added around forty jobs to shops and restaurants in the downtown revitalization project.
Mayor Cheatham says: "By bringing in another 1800-2000 visitors a year to shop those stores, and eat in those restaurants we really anticipate another 40-60 jobs to come from that."
Making a town that was becoming something of a ghost town the self-proclaimed "Hottest Town" in the state.
If you want to find out more about the Green River Paddle Trail and Lodge you can call Greensburg City Hall at (270) 932-4298. Or visit the city's Web site at www.greensburgonline.com.