Tennessee fishing representative speaking about potential initiatives in Massena

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MASSENA — How bass fishing tournaments helped turn a small Tennessee city’s fortunes around in a situation similar to Massena’s will be the subject of a 7 p.m. public presentation tonight in the Massena Town Hall.

Massena Town Supervisor Joseph D. Gray said Dennis Tumlin, director of FishDayton, will be talking about how bass fishing brought some life back to Dayton, Tenn., after a major plant closed and 700 jobs went with it.

He said Donald Meissner, Massena’s sports fishing promotion director, had come to his office after seeing a news item about how the city had used bass fishing tournaments to its best advantage.

“I found the story. Sure enough, it’s about this city called Dayton, Tennessee. It was a little feature on how they turned fishing into economic development,” Mr. Gray said.

The video can be viewed at http://wdt.me/basstown.

He said he tried to find a person who had been interviewed in the piece and linked up with Mr. Tumlin, who said he would come up and talk about it — and take in some fishing, too, of course.

“I was amazed by his story of how a community of 9,100 people reacted to the devastating loss of employment with bass fishing,” Mr. Gray said. “After several phone calls with Dennis, we made arrangements for him to travel to Massena to tell us and our neighbors about Dayton’s journey.”

Mr. Tumlin was scheduled to arrive in Massena Monday afternoon, with fishing on his schedule Tuesday morning. Mr. Gray said Mr. Tumlin had seen some of the fish caught during the BASSMASTER Elite tournament and was impressed with what he saw.

Mr. Gray said town officials plan to hold a stakeholder meeting Tuesday afternoon, and the public presentation by Mr. Tumlin will be held at 7 p.m.

“It’s a great opportunity to learn how to they did it. The parallels are just remarkable,” he said.

Mr. Gray said Dayton, which is located on Lake Chickamauga in southeastern Tennessee, hosted 30 bass tournaments last year, which brought in $14 million in tourism dollars. The attention garnered by the tournaments also caught the eye of restaurants and hotel chains and improved the job outlook and quality of life in Dayton, he said.

He said Mr. Tumlin believes the city’s development is a direct result of the fishing tournaments, along with investments made by the city in fishing-related infrastructure and sponsorship fees spent on the tournaments.

Mr. Gray said that although he doesn’t know “if it’s any magic bullet for us,” it’s still worth investigating.

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