Note: this story was updated at 2:52 a.m.
KNOXVILLE—Lake City’s proposed name change to Rocky Top is on hold for now as a federal judge considers a request to stop the move.
The name change has been proposed as part of an expensive plan to convert the former coal mining town in northern Anderson County into a tourist destination. But it has been challenged by the publisher of “Rocky Top,” a well-known bluegrass song and unofficial University of Tennessee anthem.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has signed a bill that allows the name change, but the proposal has not yet gone back to the Lake City Council for final approval. Under the state law, Lake City could become Rocky Top on July 3, said Tim Isbel, an Anderson County Commissioner and president of Rocky Top Tennessee Marketing and Manufacturing Co.
That company has proposed a development that could be worth up to $450 million over six years and include an indoor and outdoor water park, coal miners theater, children’s museum, train rides, restaurant, and candy company on some 300 acres near two exits off Interstate 75. During a hearing in U.S. District Court in Knoxville on Monday, officials said it could bring 200 new jobs to Lake City and generate another $6 million in sales tax per year. But the project hinges on the name change. [Read more…]