WYSH Radio/Oak Ridge Today
A bill that will allow Lake City to officially change its name to Rocky Top was unanimously approved in the Tennessee Senate on Thursday, three days after the state House of Representatives also unanimously voted to support the measure.
Lake City Council members approved the name change, seen as a vital first step toward developing a Rocky Top theme park in the former coal mining town, in November. The bill will now go to Gov. Bill Halslam’s desk for his signature, then the Lake City Council must ratify it by a two-thirds majority.
The name change is seen as a necessary first step toward turning the former coal mining town into a tourist destination, taking advantage of its two exits off of I-75. Plans call for an interactive 3-D theater, a restaurant, a water park and a hotel, as well as other attractions.
But the name change is being challenged in U.S. District Court by House of Bryant Publications LLC, the Gatlinburg publisher of “Rocky Top”—a bluegrass tune, state song, and unofficial anthem for the University of Tennessee. House of Bryant filed a federal lawsuit in March that seeks to prevent the name change.
The House bill was sponsored by Rep. John Ragan of Oak Ridge, and the Senate version was sponsored by Sen. Randy McNally of Oak Ridge.