GSMNP closes visitor centers

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have announced the Sugarlands, Oconaluftee, and Cades Cove visitor centers have been closed until further notice.

Seasonally open campgrounds at Smokemont, Cades Cove, Elkmont, and Cosby will no longer accept fees on-site. All campers must reserve and pay for sites online at recreation.gov to minimize the exposure risk for park employees and visitors.

In addition, the park is suspending reservations for gatherings at churches in Cades Cove through April 30. All requests for reservation cancellations for campgrounds, picnic pavilions, churches, and special park use permits will be honored with a full refund without cancellation penalties.

Although visitors centers are closed, seasonal park campgrounds, picnic areas, roads, trails, and restroom facilities located adjacent to the Centers remain open and accessible to the public.

MFD: Call before coming to pick up reports

The Morristown Fire Department has made temporary changes in order to keep proper social distancing, per Center for Disease Control guidelines.

The fire department said Tuesday it is requesting that anyone who needs a fire permit, burn permit or any other business should call 423-586-4651 rather than come into the office.

Daily Bread temporarily ending evening meal service

The Daily Bread Community Kitchen in Morristown will not be serving evening meals at least until March 31, Larry Shropshire, agency director announced this morning.

The Daily Bread will continue to serve lunches from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Instead of dining in, lunches will be served in take-away boxes, which will be distributed at the door, according to Shropshire.

The primary concern, Shropshire says, is the health of the 120-odd volunteers, many of whom are senior citizens. He says that one woman who worked on Wednesday is 99 years old.

“We just can’t put our head in the sand and not feed,” Shropshire said. “I don’t want people to go hungry just because of the virus. Our mission is to feed the hungry, and that’s what we’re going to do. The hunger is here. We’ve just got to be careful.”

Shropshire says he hasn’t seen a decrease in guests since the coronavirus outbreak occurred. The Daily Bread normally serves about 250 per day. The lunch crowd is substantially larger and accounts for about 75 percent of the traffic, according to the agency director.