County Connections: Hopkins County prepares for influx of visitors for total solar eclipse in August

06/28/2017 09:54 AM

MADISONVILLE — Millions of Americans will see the sight of a lifetime on Aug. 21 when a rare total solar eclipse sweeps the nation from Oregon to South Carolina, and Hopkins County will be one of the prime spots in the nation to experience the event.

Visitors to the county will experience darkness in totality beginning at 1:24 p.m. from 2 minutes, 31 seconds in Dawson Springs to 1 minute, 47 seconds in Madisonville and points in between.

The city of Madisonville is hosting Solar Madness 2017, which will feature a weekend of concerts, local street markets and other entertainment leading up to the eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21.

Madisonville business owner Jenny Gibson, who is co-chair of Solar Madness 2017, says that while she is excited about the possibilities of hosting such a once-in-a-lifetime event, the uncertainty of how many people will be in the area is daunting.

“We received a communication from NASA two weeks ago that said that they estimate between 100,000 and 500,000 in our area, the 170 miles that runs through Kentucky, so that pinpoint accuracy doesn’t really help us a whole lot,” Gibson said. “We know were are in a very accessible location. We have some larger population centers to our north, and Madisonville is the easiest place to get to.”

Gibson says that she and other city planners have been busy this summer going over plans to help make the event run as smooth as possible, not only for visitors, but for vendors as well.

“We certainly don’t want to create panic. However, we want to encourage respect of the situation and preparedness,” Gibson said. “The more we are prepared and overprepared in some areas, we feel the more our residents will enjoy what they’re witnessing. We’ve had multiple meetings and will continue to do so with the major stakeholders, police fire, sanitation, road crews, emergency management for the county, and they have been reaching out to surrounding counties as well.”

The city of Madisonville has also been busy meeting with local businesses in the area to help them prepare for the potentially big weekend.

“Early, mid next month the city will be hosting an information session and question and answer session for local businesses,” Gibson said. “We’re reaching out through the chamber of commerce and local media to inform as to what we think may happen, and it will be up to business to decide how they want to deal with that.”

Gibson says that while accommodations are still available, they come at a premium price.

“As it is all along the eclipse path, the rooms are not at standard rates nor are they under standard terms,” Gibson said. “Most of our hotels are requiring a three-day minimum stay, and Sunday night, the night prior to the eclipse, you will see a drastic increase in the room rate.”

The average rate per night for weekend is over $300.

Gibson says all the fun will begin on Friday, Aug. 18 with a weekend of festivities in Madisonville leading up to the big event.

“We’ll have our ‘Friday Night Live’ event which is downtown, and we will feature the Conch Republic, a Jimmy Buffett tribute band,” Gibson said. “All of our events over the weekend feature a fun-in-the-sun-type theme. We’re going to celebrate summer and the sun.”

Gibson admits that many of the locals were kind of indifferent about the event when it was first being talked about, but as the event draws closer, so has the interest.

“Three months ago, when I started doing presentations with civic groups and what not, no one seemed to think it was going to be that big of a deal,” Gibson said. “Now that the national media is starting to pick up on this, now they’re starting to understand that OK, this might really be something significant.”

Click here for a list of all activities related to Solar Madness 2017 in Madisonville.

The Dawson Springs Post Office has unveiled the “Total Eclipse of the Sun” stamp.

For the first time, the U.S. Postal Service is using a thermochromic ink for the commemorative stamp. The first image is the eclipse. By using your fingers to warm up the stamp with body heat, the image will change to the moon.
You can buy the stamp at the Dawson Springs Post Office or order on line at:
https://store.com/store/

Don Weber

Don Weber is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers politics and education on Pure Politics, Kentucky’s only nightly program dedicated to state politics. Don is a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He spent many years covering sports in the Northern Kentucky area before shifting primarily to politics. You can watch Don’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. If you have a story idea you can reach Don at donald.weber@charter.com.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.

TWEETS ABOUT KY POLITICS