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Dale Ditmanson Plans Retirement from Park Service

Dale Ditmanson

Dale Ditmanson

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent, Dale Ditmanson, announced plans to retire on January 3, 2014 after 36 years with the National Park Service (NPS). He has served in the Smokies as Superintendent since May of 2004 and has been recognized for his exceptional leadership as the 2009 Southeast Region’s Superintendent of the Year and the 2013 Association of Public Lands’ Agency Partner of the Year which he shared with recently retired Deputy Superintendent Kevin FitzGerald. Ditmanson is also a recipient of the Department of Interior’s Honor Award for Meritorious Service. “Dale Ditmanson exemplifies the best of the National Park Service career employees: dedicated to the mission, driven to excellence and willing to fight to protect our National Parks. I appreciate all he has done for the American people throughout his NPS career and wish him well in retirement,” said NPS Director Jon Jarvis.

Among his many accomplishments, Ditmanson provided the vision and leadership, working closely with a tremendous management team and park partners, leading to the construction of facilities that will serve the public well into the future. Ditmanson also worked tirelessly with gateway communities, partner groups, congressional staff, NPS staff, and Park neighbors to secure approval of a Memorandum of Agreement for the future of the Elkmont Historic District, accomplished a resolution leading to the North Shore Road settlement decision with Swain County, and developed the Trails Forever partnership between Friends of the Smokies and the Park. Ditmanson has also championed the protection of natural and cultural resources while serving in the Smokies working closely with Resource Management and Science Staff to support the reintroduction of Elk, pushing for improved air and water quality standards, and helping to secure needed funds for the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid suppression efforts.

More information will follow regarding a farewell celebration for Ditmanson in early January. For more information, please contact Park’s Public Information Office at 865-436-1207 or 865-436-1203.

Newfound Gap Road Reopens

From left to right: Chief Hicks, Park Superintendent Ditmanson, and Congressman Meadows

From left to right: Chief Hicks, Park Superintendent Ditmanson, and Congressman Meadows

Today, park officials and local politicians, held a press conference to announce the reopening of US 441/Newfound Gap Road, the main thoroughfare that runs through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and connects Eastern Tennessee to Western North Carolina. On January 16, 2013, a major landslide due to heavy rainfall, destroyed a large section of the road leaving it closed for months. Local contractors Phillips & Jordan were awarded a $3.9 million contract to begin the rebuilding process on February 20, 2013. In that contract, officials agreed to a daily incentive of an additional $18,000 dollars, up to $500,000, for early completion before the May 15 deadline. With today’s reopening announced, Phillips & Jordan completed the project 30 days early and will be awarded the full $500,000 as agreed. Local politicians Congressman Mike Meadows, and Chief Michell Hicks of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indian were at the press conference to add their words of praise to Phillips & Jordan’s efforts. When asked about the $250,000 of the $500,000 early completion award that the tribe contributed, Chief Hicks said, “It was money well spent.”

The newly constructed stretch of Newfound Gap Road

The newly constructed stretch of Newfound Gap Road