CADIZ Â-- Trigg County officials will continue to meet to organize response and activities for the upcoming total solar eclipse.
Representatives from several area first responders agencies, Land Between the Lakes, the city of Cadiz, Trigg County schools. and the Cadiz-Trigg County Tourist and Convention Commission met Thursday to touch base on plans and crowd estimates in preparation for the event. The cosmic event is expected to bring thousands to view the total solar eclipse Aug. 21 to the region, where longest duration of total darkness is anticipated to occur.
Many are doing their part to get a head start on preparations. Jeff Laird, customer service manager for LBL, told meeting attendees that the park was planning for about 50,000 visitors for the weekend, and staff have already designated optimal viewing sites.
"We had staff go out actually in August and go out to all these different rec areas and places to see if they could see where the sun was at around the same time as the eclipse," Laird said. "So (we have) a description of all these different areas. Many of them are undeveloped, relatively undeveloped, where people can have a hopefully a more private viewing than other places. But then our developed campgrounds, our reservations are open for those already. Piney Campground is full, Hillman is ... it's full now and Energy (campground) is full."
Laird said backcountry camping passes would still be available, though, which could open the door for more visitors. LBL officials are also planning to host vendors at Fenton and invite some to participate in an LBL designated area event. Officials are also planning to host special shows and programs at the planetarium and other LBL attractions.
Trigg County Schools Director of Student Services and Personnel James Mangels said the school system was doing its best to prepare as well. Mangels said Trigg County schools intended to close for the day in anticipation of large crowds.
"We're trying to petition KDE based on the information I get from this meeting to allow us to use a 'Snowmazing' day where kids can work from home, because there's a number of tremendous activities that could be done in collaboration with the eclipse," Mangels said. "Whether we get the approval from KDE to get to use a non-traditional instructional day or not, we will be closed. If we have the non-traditional instructional day, it will count as an instructional day and kids will have activities to work on while they're at home."
Mangels said it was possible that school grounds could be used as observational areas for the public, as classes would not be held that day.
Bill Stevens, executive director for Cadiz-Trigg County Tourism, said local merchants were considering hosting activities of their own in the days leading up to the eclipse, as well. Merchants were in the early planning stages of providing informational, food and craft vendors. Stevens said no concrete location had been set and plans were still in their infancy.
Representatives will meet again at 11 a.m. April 12 at Trigg County EOC to check progress and continue coordinating efforts. The group intends to meet monthly thereafter.