Tag Archive for: Tanglefoot Trail

NEMiss.News Main Street's Trick or Treat Trail


In Downtown New Albany

Halloween got an early start in New Albany yesterday evening. While Halloween (a contraction of “All Hallows Eve”) isn’t really until Monday, October 31st, more than a thousand children and adults kicked it off early.

NEMiss.News Brady Shettles controls traffic

NAFD’s Brady Shettles demonstrates his artistic traffic control moves.


The Thursday evening party stretched from New Albany City Hall all the way south along the Tanglefoot Trail to the Winston County Library. “Trick or Treat Trail” is sponsored by New Albany Main Street and its Community Partners.

NEMiss.News Dorothy & Toto

Dorothy & Toto have special admirers.

Children and a good many adults dressed up in a variety of costumes and enjoyed “Trick or Treating” downtown and along the trail.

The New Albany Fire Department (NAFD) joined the festivities. Almost every parking space in and near downtown was occupied, some more than once as people came and went. Motor vehicle traffic at Bankhead Street and Railroad Avenue was heavy, so NAFD Fireman Brady Shettles pitched in and directed traffic at the intersection.

NEMiss.News The Mad Hatter Whiteside

The Trick or Treat trail was Mad Hatter Whiteside’s cup of tea.

Fire Chief Mark Whiteside wore a stylish “Mad Hatter” costume, complete with wig and appropriate theatrical make-up. Children enjoyed having their photograph taken with the Chief.


At the Union County Heritage Museum

A few blocks north of downtown, and interpretative art installation, “Articulating Yoknapatawpha: an Exhibit of Kinetic Art,2” opened at the Union County Heritage Museum. Architect Spence Kellum’s exhibit of mobiles drew several dozen art lovers for the reception and costume party. Visitors were encouraged to attend the opening dressed as a favorite literary character.

NEMiss.News Blood Money

“Blood Money” by Spence Kellum represents William Faulkner’s manual typewriter and is designed for display in the Faulkner Garden.

The museum’s Stephen Bennett got into both the literary and the Halloween spirit for the Kellum exhibit opening. Bennett wore a ghost costume, which referenced the “ghosts” in William Faulkner’s short story, A Rose for Emily.

There were, of course, no actual ghosts in Faulkner’s story, but many consider it a “Gothic horror story.” Bennett’s “ghost” certainly added a bit of haunting humor to the occasion.

NEMiss.News Stephen Bennett's ghost

Stephen Bennett as a Faulkner story “ghost” in A Rose for Emily.

The museum had further celebrated Kellum’s exhibit with a day of free classes on the making of mobiles.

A trip to the Union County Heritage Museum in the next two days will reward visitors with two excellent exhibits. Bill Steber’s ‘Spirit in the Soil: Objects and Evocations of the Mississippi Blues’ will also be hanging through November.

More about the Bill Steber Exhibit.

NEMiss.News Sheriff's Dept. Vehicle


Saturday afternoon, October 30, a man from Houston (the one in Chickasaw County, Mississippi) was riding his bicycle on the Tanglefoot Trail in Union County.

His bike had a flat tire.

Along came David Taylor, the public safety guy who regularly patrols the Tanglefoot Trail, driving a golf cart. Taylor called the Union County Sheriff’s office. Taylor, the Union County deputies and the cyclist concluded that the tire could not be repaired.

The bicycle rider from Houston had no one he could contact to come pick him and his bike up and get him home.

Taylor and the county deputies figured out a simple solution.

Taylor rode his golf cart to his home near the Union/Pontotoc County line. Then he drove his personal pickup truck back to where the man with the flat bicycle tire was waiting.

They put the bicycle in the pickup bed, the stranded cyclist in the passenger seat, and David Taylor drove the man to his home in Houston.

Not a big deal. Maybe not even a proper news story. But another example of a simple truth: public safety people in Union County and everywhere in America, while often maligned during the last couple of years, are mainly in the business of helping people when they need help.

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Work to improve the Tanglefoot Trail welcome center plaza is about complete except for landscaping in the two islands.

The large brick plaza will be a good location for outdoor library programs and private as well as public events. This is especially true in that the library meeting room is sometimes at capacity.

It will also benefit King Therapies next door across the trail because clients sometime engage in outdoor activities as well.

Some of the native plants have been retained and new steps make it easier for one to gain access to the plaza from the trail. The patio area extends to the library parking lot to the north.

The plaza was actually part of the original welcome center design when the building was slated to be north of its present location, where some trees are on the edge of the library parking area. It would have been in the area between the welcome center and the library.

The entire welcome center project was paid for with an MDOT grant plus money saved for the purpose from New Albany tourism tax revenues over several years.

No date was given as to when the improved plaza will be formally dedicated and placed into use.

Anyone who has used the Tanglefoot Trail or visited the Union County Library recently likely could not help but notice the work going on around the trail welcome center.

Some of the area with native plants is being replaced by an expansion of the terrace area, along with included landscaping.

Some of the plants will remain but curbs and steps have been added to improve appearance of the area.

The larger terrace area is actually a part of the original design for the welcome center.

The area has been extensively for library activities as well as trail-related functions.


National Park Service landscape architect and community planner Russell Clark presented his conceptual master plan for a river and trail park area to about a dozen concerned citizens Wednesday.

Those present included aldermen-elect Parks Smith from Ward One and Drew Horn from Ward Two. Incumbents Alderman-at-Large Keith Conlee, Ward Three Alderman Kevin Dale White, Ward Four Alderman Will Tucker and Mayor Tim Kent did not attend, although Kent had met with Clark earlier.

Clark’s plan dealt primarily with the area between Bankhead Street and I-22. Added areas had been discussed earlier but were not primary goals and would likely require considerable property acquisition.

Clark, who works with the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program and was here thanks to a Heritage Hills grant, emphasized tying the river park, downtown and Tanglefoot Trail areas together. His suggestions all incorporated recreation, conservation and education, using loop trails to keep returning people rather than sending them away.

“I focused on the river way,” he said. “Expand the park and utilize conservation initiatives.”

Clark toured the area with local landscape architect Sam Creekmore to consider possibilities. “I was thoroughly impressed,” he said. “Cities more than double this size don’t have what you have to offer.”

Clark remarked that our resources are all “walkable” with a lot in a compact area.

He said a basic need for a water trail is simply access to the river. For float purposes, access every six to eight miles would be good for a half day, while 12 would be appropriate for a full day on the river.

That means one at the Park Along the River and a second just above I-22 would be sufficient.

But access may involve more than one might think, he said. “The river has muddy, slippery banks,” he said. “The water lever fluctuates.”

The solution he recommends is slabs of rock cut into the bank in steps, about 12 feet wide at the lowest point and narrowing toward the top. The rock would be easy to remove mud from and would facilitate kayak launches.

Access would also mean more than just a path. He said there should be a road, parking space, room to turn around and perhaps a way to launch.

Clark would like to see a second bridge over the river at the lower end of the park. He mentioned high rope and swinging bridges as possibilities, as well as zip lines over the river in both directions.

Clark was surprised to see the rapids just under the I-22 bridge because most of the rivers he has dealt with have mud bottoms. “I was very surprised to see that,” he said. “That’s a very exciting feature to have.” The rapids could contribute to a loop system that could return people to the upper end of the park after they have floated down.

Because the river water level drops dramatically in the summer, he recommended construction of a low head dam just upstream of the I-22 bridge. This would keep water up to a usable level in the park and falling water over the top of the dam would be an attractive feature, he said.

A multi-function feature could be added along the east side of the river. That would be a detention basin. The basin’s shape would be determined by topography but it would catch storm water from Camp Creek Branch and the two ditches that that feed into the river from the Carter Avenue side.

The basin would release the excess water into the river gradually by means of underground pipes and would catch sediment before the water is released.

The basin would not just be a pool, however. “I would plant native species of trees and shrubs and it would provide an educational opportunity,” he said. “You would have a walkway around it and a boardwalk over it to observe wildlife and plant species.”

He sees making the upper part of the park as a nature center, perhaps even with a dedicated educational building.

Clark also sees possibilities for the pool that already exists beside I-22 near the soccer fields and tennis courts. “That would be an ideal learning center for paddle boarders,” he said, because of the size and calm water. “Although you might expand it a little and add a couple of docks.”

He noted that the city already needs more signage for its present features but added the new wayfaring might be largely technological. QR codes that can be scanned by smartphones would link to websites or other information about various opportunities.

Clark mentioned that he learned New Albany is working to become a certified retirement city and that led to an idea not mentioned in earlier conservations.

“What is the dynamic wow factor to bring seniors here,” he asked. “Seniors really like swimming pools.”

This led to a discussion about the possible need for a municipal swimming pool. Although it could be used for senior citizens and swimming instruction, for instance, construction cost could be in the millions of dollars with annual maintenance in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Aldermen in the past have said the city can’t afford that.

Clark said a pool would indeed be one of the most expensive things to have and operate, but also one with the highest demand for use. It would require maintenance, staffing and rigorous scheduling, he added.

A surprising suggestion connected to becoming a retirement community was addition of a senior center.

Clark suggested putting it on the west side of the river just off Bankhead Street. “It would be visible and accessible,” he said. “It would be walkable to downtown and you might even adjust the grade (of the river bank) so you could see the river from the center.”

He mentioned cleaning up Camp Creek beside the Park Along the River for children to use but cautioned that water sampling and testing should be done for two or three years to make sure it is safe.

Clark said there is a need for primitive campsites as well as more elaborate RV spaces. While we have some limited sites, they are not advertised on the internet so visitors might not even know they are there.

Upon learning that the city wastewater treatment plant is being mostly phased out, he suggested that area for an RV park. It would be convenient to the park and could provide revenue to the city. “I can’t think of a more ideal location,” he said. People could walk to games at the sportplex, to the park or downtown.”

He recommended looking into something called the Trail Tour Program,” which would establish state certification with check lists and testing periods. Rep. Sam Creekmore is researching this, he added.

He said his next step is to take suggestions from Wednesday and do a final expanded plan and report, along with a list of funding resources.

“What you have is unique,” he said. “Develop it and protect it.”

“Local experiences, unique restaurants, not fast food, is what people look for in an outdoor recreation destination,” he said.

Clark had one other reminder people may not think of: “Your folks who live here are tourists as well,” he said.

Community Development Director Billye Jean Stroud said the plan is workable but needs to be pursued in a coherent, unified effort.

“People were naysayers about the Tanglefoot Trail but it proved them wrong,” she said. “I believe this will as well. We have all this in our back yard; there is no reason not to take advantage of it.”


Russell Clark, the national field representative for the National Park Service, is expected to present a preliminary master plan Wednesday for development of New Albany’s river park system.

Clark, here thanks to a grant from the Mississippi Hills Heritage Alliance, spent Tuesday touring the river park area and hearing comments and suggestions from interested citizens.

Clark said he planned to present a map with several overlaps showing important points and suggested improvements. He will then use comments from Wednesday’s presentation to create a final master plan for the area.

He did not give a timetable for the completed plan but the implication was that it would be weeks or a few months at most.

Some suggestions involved the Little Tallahatchie River itself while others would affect the immediate area and contribute to tourism generally.

Most of the ideas concerned the eastern side of the river because, as Clark said, the western side with Tallahatchie Trails is already well developed.

One of Clark’s suggestions was taking a swampy area near the river and making it a nature preserve. Nothing would be changed but a boardwalk would be added that would not disturb the ecosystem and educational signs placed throughout.

Residents’ suggestions included seeing a boutique hotel on Tanglefoot Trail and perhaps a zip line from one side of the river to another. A lower bridge across the Tallahatchie might be added as well.

A suggestion that has been backed by Mayor Tim Kent for some time is the construction of a low-head, or weir dam, on the lower part of the river. This would raise the water level in the park area to make the river suitable for paddle boarding or kayaking year-round. If the dam were far enough down, people could also go tubing in the river.

Clark would like to see a holding pond near Barnes Crossing Chevrolet. It would serve as storm water control, catching large water flow and releasing it slowly into the river. The pond could have plant life, perhaps an island that one could walk to, and more interpretive materials.

When asked about practicality, Clark was positive.

“A community this size with this level of resources is almost unheard of,” he said. “You have the components of a trail tourism outdoor destination. You have a fantastic trail system. It is a jewel.”

Concerning the river itself, Clark said safe access points were needed, “not a muddy bank.”

He suggested stones laid out in a stair step design that would allow access no matter what the water level might. That design would facilitate getting into kayaks could be used for fishing and would be easier to clean the inevitable mud from.

Clark said the Corps of Engineers would allow this work to be done, although there is a permit process to go through.

Critical to the success of a trail tourism program would be people in the community, according to Clark. “You would need to change the DNA in attitudes they have about trail tourism,” he said. We don’t want hotel, restaurant or retail staff saying “nothing” when visitors ask what there is to do here, he added. A training program might be provided for tourism-related local staff to educate them about and expose them to the community’s attractions.

When asked how close we are to achieving trail tourism destination status, Clark answered, “I think you’re really close.”

However, Clark said we need to look beyond our city limits to see what we can promote. He asked if mountain biking trails were available in the national forest or wildlife area.

Clark said we need more RV parking and campsite areas, and they need to be promoted on the internet. This could also be a money-making opportunity for the city, he said. A few RV hookups are available at the sportsplex and fairgrounds but more and better are needed.

Those at the meeting Tuesday seemed to agree it might be good to eventually develop the river area from the closed North Street bridge all the way down to Martintown Road, about five miles. Clark said typically it is good to have river access every six to eight miles and that 12 miles is a good distance for a day’s paddle boarding or kayaking.

Museum director Jill Smith has been interested for some time in developing Camp Creek Branch, which runs along the edge of The Park Along the River. Not only is it one of the original boundaries for the city, but it is small enough to potentially be a play area for children.

It would need to be cleaned out some and the water tested to make sure it is safe, but it could be a good learning and play area, they said.

A surprising suggestion was to have a place for equestrians to keep horses and equipment overnight as they travel from one part of the country. It would have a secure area for exercise, feeding and storing equipment over night. “They spend more than any other group,” Clark said.

A way to improve tourism is to study “heat maps” to see where people are going more. That information could be used to create loops to draw them back here, he said.

Clark said the group needs to do a study of the economic impact of the trail corridor. “Your folks need to know that,” he said. “Where people are coming from and how much they are spending.”

It was determined that a study has been done and will be made available to the group.

“Visitors don’t want fast food,” he said. “Keep your history in the forefront.” But he cautioned that, “Corporate America will want to come in and destroy the character of the community,” once the area does become a trail tourism destination.

State Rep. Sam Creekmore, who has been working with Clark, is considering legislation that would create a state tourism trail certification process similar to that used in other states such as Kentucky.

Clark said that, while his office did not come here with a checkbook, he has compiled a list of sources where assistance, financial or otherwise, might be obtained.

He was scheduled to present the tentative plan at the Union County Heritage Museum at 3 p.m. and was confident he would have some good suggestions.

“What you have here is unique,” he said. “Keep it.”

A crowd showed up for the ribbon-cutting at the Tanglefoot Trail Welcome Center and Autism Acceptance walk despite a threat of rain Saturday.

Community Development Director Billye Jean Stroud said she was pleased with the attendance, especially considering the weather.

The formal opening, in conjunction with the seasonal opening of the trail itself, comes three years after work on the welcome center began. It is still not open on a regular basis.

In addition to the ribbon-cutting, King Therapies Behavioral Solutions and the New Albany Community Development Office sponsored an autism acceptance walk to help mark the annual autism awareness month. A group of about 75, many of them wearing blue autism awareness shirts and accompanying those with autism, walked down the trail after the ribbon-cutting.

The Union County Library, next to the welcome center, provided coffee and other snacks and had activities available for kids. Lemonade and cookies were offered in the welcome center, where visitors could purchase Tanglefoot Trail T-shirts, which come in two styles.

Saturday was Celebrate Trails Day, started by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy in 2013. It is on the fourth Saturday each April and encourages people throughout the country to get outside and enjoy the nation’s trail systems.

Work on the trail began in earnest in 2012 and plans called for welcome centers in New Albany, Pontotoc and Houston. At a then-estimated cost of $350,000 each, funding was not available.

There was still interest in having a welcome center here with several potential locations discussed including using an office just off the trailhead plaza and building one in the library parking lot.

Aldermen finally approved a plan in 2018 but funding was still a problem.

The low bid by Roberts Construction of Ripley was $218,000. However, most of the cost was to come from an MDOC grant originally intended for an access road to the trail pavilion between Camp and the South Central intersection. Aldermen initially rejected the grant for the road but later asked to use it for the welcome center.

The amount was cut to $125,000 – only about half the cost – because of the scope of the project had changed.

Mayor Tim Kent was able to get $40,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission but that would leave the project about $70,000 short. The alternative then was to borrow $70,000 and pay it back using tourism tax money. That’s how the million-dollar tennis complex is being paid for.

The welcome center has essentially been empty and closed the past couple of years, except for some large informational panels on the walls providing information about the history of the railroad and trail.

People are using the sheltered outdoor area often and the exterior restrooms are open during trail hours. However, there is no tourism information inside, other souvenirs for sale or anyone to welcome visitors and tell them about eating, shopping and lodging opportunities, as well as other tourism attractions.

Private citizens are hoping to organize a group to support the welcome center with staffing and raise money to purchase the fixtures needed inside.

New Albany residents will have the opportunity to attend a full day of events Saturday with two ribbon-cuttings, a walk, library program and car show.

Several of the events will be tied to the official season opening of Tanglefoot Trail while the car drive-in will be later in the day.

Hosted on the fourth Saturday of April and started by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy in 2013, Celebrate Trails Day is an annual spring celebration of America’s trails. The celebration encourages people throughout the country to get outside and enjoy the nation’s trail systems.

New Albany is home to the northern trailhead of the Tanglefoot Trail, Mississippi’s longest Rails-to-Trails conversion that preserves an abandoned railroad corridor, which was built in 1871. The Tanglefoot Trail is a 43.6-mile-long, 10-foot-wide paved route for bicyclists and pedestrians. In 2019, the trail was inducted into the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s Rail-Trail Hall of Fame.

Saturday, April 24, from 9 a.m. – noon, New Albany’s office of Community Development staff and volunteers will be sharing cookies and lemonade at the recently built Welcome Center at the Tanglefoot Trailhead, located next to the Union County Library at 219 King Street. T-shirts will be available for purchase, and anyone with a library card can borrow a bike from the Union County Library. A 9:30 a.m. ribbon-cutting will officially open the Tanglefoot Trail Trailhead for the season.

At 10 a.m., King Therapies Behavioral Solutions, with its new home located just off of the trail, Union County Library, and New Albany Main Street will host an Autism Acceptance Walk. This short, sweet walk will begin at the Trailhead Welcome Center and all are invited. The goal of this collaboration is to celebrate differences and become more inclusive of individuals with autism. Following the walk, the library staff will have crafts and stories for walk participants to enjoy.

Billye Jean Stroud, director of Community Development and Main Street, said, “The Community Development and Main Street board members encourage me and my staff to coordinate family friendly events and this weekend will be a great way to kick off spending time outdoors.”

At 1 p.m., there will be a ribbon-cutting at the New Albany Dog Park located next to the BNA Bank Tennis Complex at 505 Tallahatchie Trail. Families and their socialized dogs are welcome to come for this informal ceremony and group picture.

To close out a busy day, Pharoahs Mississippi Car Club will be set up in the lower library parking lot. Their Cruise-In will begin at 4 p.m. and, weather permitting, will be there until 8 p.m. The car show is free for spectators to attend, and there is a registration fee for people to enter their vehicles in the show. It is not required to be a member of the Pharaohs to put a car in the show, but it is preferable if cars in the show are eligible for an antique tag.

Stroud added, “In addition to great dining and shopping, outdoor spaces, and friendly people there will be lots to do in the Best Southern Small Town on Saturday, April 24, and we hope to see many of our community members and visitors out enjoying!”

For more information about any of the April 24 activities, contact New Albany’s office of Community Development at 662-534-3438 or email visitnewalbany@gmail.com.


The Tanglefoot Trail Welcome Center beside the library will officially open Saturday, April 24.

There will be an informal ceremony and the open house will be from 9 a.m. to noon.

Library Director Sissy Bullock will provide coffee and have activities for kids as well.

The date was chosen in part because that also is the formal spring opening date for the Tanglefoot Trail itself.

The welcome center, designed to have some architectural elements of the city’s old railroad depots, was partially funded by a $125,000 MDOT transportation grant. The grant was originally intended to pay for an access road from Gulf Street to the pavilion beside the trail on Carter Avenue. Aldermen rejected the initial grant but the city was later able to get it repurposed for the welcome center.

Mayor Tim Kent was also able to get $40,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission, leaving about $70,000 needed from dormant city funds.

A phase two plan exists in which a meeting room would be added to the north end of the welcome center but no funds have been available for that.

The welcome center includes rest rooms, displays showing the history of the railroad and space for information or souvenir sales.

The original trail plan included three welcome centers, one each in New Albany, Pontotoc and Houston, but no funds were available then for the estimated $350,000 cost of that design.

People driving through downtown may have noticed something new in the pocket park across from the police station since this past weekend.

A new sculpture by local artist Katie Sappington has been placed there.

Community Development Director Billye Jean Stroud said Sappington was commissioned to create the sculpture, which was funded by a grant from the Mississippi Hills Heritage Alliance.

Stroud said the sculpture, which is owned by the city, will remain in the pocket park for a year, then be moved to some other park location here and a new one will be commissioned.

The sculpture comprises an adult bicycle, two children’s bikes, a vintage tricycle and miscellaneous bicycle parts. It is 12 feet tall and hand-painted in bright colors.

Sappington said the sculpture was designed to highlight the nearby Tanglefoot Trail as well as the Union County Library’s bicycle loan service.

An added bonus is that the sculpture design is suitable for good photos from various angles at the same time.

This is Sappington’s first large public art creation.

“It has been a dream of mine since I was a child to have a public art installation, so this was a such a tremendously rewarding labor of love for me!” she said in a post. “I know all ages can appreciate and relate to the freedom and fun that comes with riding your bicycle. The Tanglefoot Trail is such a marvelous way to do just that while also exploring this beautiful area of Northeast Mississippi.”

The pocket park had previously displayed “Swamp Flower,” a sculpture by Louisiana artist Mia Kaplan.

That sculpture was installed in 2017 and here for two years after being displayed at the University of Mississippi as well as New Orleans and throughout the South.

Pedaling for Hope on the Tanglefoot Trail will be held Saturday, June 27.

All proceeds will benefit the Regional Rehab Center in Tupelo and the New Albany Main Street Association.

Riders may choose 25- or 50-mile routes, or ride a 100K, either on or off Tanglefoot Trail. There also will be a kids’ fun ride and activities for them.

Food and drinks will be provided after the ride.

The entry fee is $35 for adult rides and $25 for fun rides.

Registration the day of the rides will be at 7 a.m. at Tanglefoot Trail Plaza at 100 E. Bankhead St.

Anyone also may register online at raceroster.com/events2020/29949/pedaling-for-hope-on-the-tanglefoot-trail-2020.

All participants will receive T-shirts.

Jerseys were for sale for $80 but the deadline to order them was May 2.

Regional Rehab provides a variety of services for Union County residents at no cost to the patients, their families or insurance companies, and relies on contributions. Their services include outpatient physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, dyslexia treatment, audiology services and early childhood intervention. They serve all ages.

The New Albany Main Street Association is non-profit and committed to historic preservation and community vibrancy. They follow the four-point program of The National Main Street Center of the National Trust for Historic Preservation: Organization, Design, Promotion and Economic Restructuring.

Saturday evening, about 9 p.m., a fireworks display will be presented from Tallahatchie Trails in honor of the July 4 holiday, which is the following week. The display should be visible from many sections of town with people able to stay in their vehicles if they choose.

For information about Pedaling for Hope, call Regional Rehab Center at 662-842-1891 or New Albany Main Street Association at 662-534-3438.

dog bite graphic

An older woman was treated and released from the hospital after being bitten by a dog on the Tanglefoot Trail shortly before noon Thursday.

Police Chief Chris Robertson said a man and woman were walking their dogs along the trail when a stray dog came up to them and began playing with their dogs.

Eventually the stray was becoming more aggressive when the woman tried to separate the dogs but was unsuccessful. When she tried to spray the dog with pepper spray it bit her, he said.

She was treated for bites along her arm at the Baptist Memorial Hospital Emergency Department but not reported seriously injured.

The animal control officer took the dog, which was wearing a collar but no tag, into his custody.

No other information was immediately provided, pending any further investigation.

The incident apparently happened in the vicinity of the welcome center and plaza, the chief said.