- Associated Press - Friday, January 6, 2017

SPENCER, Tenn. (AP) - State employees gathered outside the Fall Creek Falls Inn to protest the proposed move toward privatizing a key portion of Tennessee’s most-visited state park.

News outlets report that a few dozen protesters braved the cold Thursday while Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation officials met privately with five companies interested in operating the park’s hospitality services.

The state has planned to spend up to $22.1 million to rebuild the 46-year-old inn, which would be owned by the state but run by a private company.

Opposition is centered on the impending loss of state jobs for inn employees, who would be displaced for two years during construction. Officials have said the state will seek placements for those affected.

Opponents also fear that the rebuilt inn would be too expensive for families.

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