A popular Monroe County campground will not be rebuilt after it was destroyed by a tornado this spring.
Tellico Plains KOA found itself in the path of an EF-2 tornado March 2. That storm damaged more than 30 homes.
The campground, which is owned by the Stokely Company of Knoxville, annually brought Monroe County more than $5,000 in lodging tax revenue, according to Tellico Plains Mayor Patrick Hawkins.
The Stokely Company released this statement on its decision July 30:
"After much thought, analysis, discussion, and yes prayer, the decision has been made to not rebuild the KOA. In the final analysis we looked at our 11 years in operations, receiving numerous awards, having an excellent staff, great campers, and a beautiful setting, however, with all these working in our favor, the business was not as successful financially as it needed to be. After the tornado hit on March 2nd and destroyed our beautiful KOA, we considered many options. With the down economy over the last few years and its impact on our industry, we do not see the business turning around in the short term. Therefore, it does not make good business sense to rebuild, now."
"We still believe in the Tellico Plains area and its future opportunities, but must deal with the hand we have been dealt for now with respect to the KOA campground."
Despite Stokely's decision not to rebuild on the site, the company told 10News it still owns the campground land.
Mayor Hawkins said Stokely's decision is a big loss for Tellico Plains.
"It [was] really the only lodging attraction we had," he said.
Hawkins also said there is a developer currently looking at possibly building a hotel in the Tellico area.
However, one local business, the Outpost Pavilion at Tellico, said it has already seen customers decrease because of KOA's closure.
"We've lost some KOA customers, some have gone to Sweetwater and come here, but far less," said Outpost Owner Jim DeBernardi.