By Diane Turner
As Aug. 21 approaches, many things will be going on around town. On that day, Hopkinsville will be in the spotlight — or should I say “in the dark” — for a total of 2 minutes and 40 seconds as the Great American Total Solar Eclipse takes place.
Brooke Jung, who is the Hopkinsville eclipse coordinator, has had many inquiries about the eclipse from local landowners.
“We have two main questions when local residents call: they want to know how they can list their property as a place for people to rent during the eclipse or how to prevent people from using their property,” Jung said.
She wants this opportunity for locals to not be an inconvenience but a benefit.
“If people do not want their land to be used, I have suggested that they put up no trespassing signs, which they can get from their insurance company.”
Jung said extra law enforcement is being requested from the Kentucky State Police and the National Guard. Crowds are expecting to range from 50,000 to 60,000, in addition to the normal population.
If you want to list your property for use by campers or RVs, be sure to contact Jung at 270-887-4290 or log on to the events website, www.eclipseville.com. Listing your property on the website costs $15, and you can set your own price per night. Jung is currently working with HWEA on securing a dump site for RV waste at Cherokee Park.
“This way people do not have to worry about creating a waste site on their own property,” she said. “I have also suggested to people that they rent portable restrooms.”
Sanitation and food safety is a concern since thousands of visitors will be flocking to the area. The Christian County Health Department is requesting that anyone who plans to sell food on their property contact the health department to get a temporary food permit. A 1-to-3 day permit is $50. A food permit for 4 to 7 days is $75, and 8 to 14 days is $100.
Chad Burch, environmental program manager at CCHD, said, “With every permit we will give out a set of Temporary Food Service Set-Up Guidelines. These guidelines explain how to set up a wash, rinse and sanitizing stations using a container system.”
According to the guidelines issued by the state, food vendors need the following items: a food permit, three buckets, a cooler with a spigot, a bucket for sanitizer, waste tank, metal stem thermometer, bleach or quaternary ammonia, test strips, soap and disposable hand towels, thermometer, hair restraint and gloves or a utensil to use as a barrier with ready-to-eat food.
The point of greatest eclipse is where the axis of the moon’s shadow passes closest to the earth, meaning that people who view the event from our area will have the best view of the moon’s coverage of the sun and its ring of light for the longest duration of time. This exact point is at the property of Mark Cansler, known as Orchard Dale Farm.
Jung said temporary cell phone towers will be put up around Cansler’s property to improve signal in the area. A VIP and media area will be set up, playing host to TIME magazine and other official media outlets covering the event.
Jung said she is in search of landowners who live near Pennyrile Parkway exits.
“We are discouraging people from just pulling over on the side of the road. There are many dangers associated with this practice. We are looking for landowners who live near the parkway, so that officials can route them to these properties for safe viewing sites.”
There will be nearly 15 events occurring during the weekend before the Eclipse. SolQuest, an evangelical event, is one of the larger happenings with over 6,000 people expected to attend. The Summer Salute Festival in downtown Hopkinsville expects to attract thousands as well. There will be 50 to 100 food vendors set up.
Other events are planned for Pennyrile State Park, Christian Way Farm, Copper Canyon Ranch, Casey Jones Distillery, Jefferson Davis Monument, James E. Bruce Convention Center, Stadium of Champions and MB Roland Distillery. The Kelly community will host the Kelly Little Green Men Festival, and Oak Grove has scheduled the Oak Grove Experience for the weekend.
The big question is “what happens if the weather is not favorable for viewing on the 21st?”
According to www.eclipse2017.org, “If it’s cloudy, you won’t see what you will see if it’s clear — simple as that. If the Sun is behind a cloud during totality, you will still experience the temperature drop, and the sunset glow on the horizon.”
Landowners or vendors can purchase event insurance from their local insurance company, in the event of rain or inclement weather. And it’s not a bad idea to have campers sign a waiver or to increase liability coverage if people will be staying on your property, Jung suggested. Also, do not forget to have eclipse-viewing glasses available. These can be purchased directly from the Parks and Recreation Department at the Thomas Street Center for $1 per pair.