The Tennessee Department of Transportation is providing more than $852,000 to help build a memorial for the 2016 Sevier County wildfires.

TDOT is awarding a state Transportation Alternatives Grant to assist in building the Wildfires Memorial and Tribute Project. Governor Bill Lee and TDOT commissioner Clay Bright  presented the check to Sevier County mayor Larry Watters and Gatlinburg mayor Mike Werner on Monday.

After a heavy burst of rain destabilized the hillside near the original proposed site off the Parkway in August, engineers recommended moving the site elsewhere.

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The Memorial Committee with the city of Gatlinburg and Sevier County worked to find a new site for the memorial, deciding on Mynatt Park.

“The Wildfires and Memorial Tribute is an important project for Sevier County,” said Mayor Waters.  “This grant will assist Sevier County and Gatlinburg in ensuring the project is a success.  We thank Governor Bill Lee and Commissioner Bright and our elected officials for their support.”

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The memorial will honor first responders and those who lost their lives in the November 2016 wildfires. 

“We are honored to be able to recognize the first responders who answered the call to serve our communities the night of the fires and in the days afterward,” said City Manager Ogle.  “And above all, the project will provide lasting remembrance of those who lost their lives in this terrible tragedy.”

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The final design and construction of the project is expected to being once the grant contract is executed. The city of Gatlinburg said TDOT and the state of Tennessee have been a key factor in making the project a reality.