Historic trail receives support from boards


Photo by John Bryant
Members of the Carter County Planning Commission and the Parks and Recreation Board listen to a video about the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail.

  By Lesley Hughes

  lhughes@starhq.com

  A joint effort by the Carter County Planning Commission and the Parks and Recreation Board to endorse the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail will hopefully expand Carter County's portion of the trail for public use.
  In back-to-back monthly meetings, each board approved a resolution supporting the OVNHT.
  Currently, a little over three of 31.5 miles of the trail in Carter County are available to the public through paved trails, greenways, or paths. The entire trail, stepping through four states, covers 330 miles, but only 47 of those miles are for easy access to the public.
  The goal, through support of counties and cities along the historic trail, is to dedicate the entire trail as a national park. In September, two Carter County sections of the trail were dedicated at the Roan Mountain Community Park and at Hampton Creek Cove.
  Paul Carson, superintendent of the OVNHT, said, "National Parks are created forever. This is anticipated to take a long time but it will also be utilized for a long time. Once they (national parks) are created they don't go away."
  Chairman of the Parks and Recreation Board, Chris Schuettler, said, "As we say in planning, 'What we do today will effect us 100 years from now.'"
  Carson also encouraged the Parks and Recreation Board to brainstorm ideas for designating a "Heritage Day." The idea, previously conceived by the board, was approved in a motion to dedicate Sept. 26, 2005 as "Heritage Day."
  Ideas for the event include inviting local school children to Roan Mountain Community Park where they will hear stories told by some of the Overmountain Men and walk the trail, learning lessons by experiencing the history in a hands-on fashion.
  The coming year is also the 25th anniversary of the creation of the OVNHT and the 225th anniversary of the Overmountain Men campaign in 1780. Plans are to make next year the biggest and the best march the Overmountain Men have ever had, according to county officials.
  In other business, Schuettler accepted a motion from the board to support the transfer of the deed of long-term lease of the Elk Mills Community Park to Carter County.
  The park was completely destroyed in the fall due to heavy flooding from Hurricane Ivan. Estimates reached $50,000 in damages, but, unfortunately, the park did not receive any funding from FEMA because it was technically privately owned. The owner has agreed to deed the land or enter into a long-term lease with the county to protect the park in the future.
  Plans are already underway for reconstruction of the park, according to board member Eddie Clawson. All the motions will be considered by the full County Commission at the Jan. 24 meeting.
  The Parks and Recreation Board also elected a new chairman since Schuettler stepped down, but then he was formally named Director of Parks and Recreation, which he already assumed in an informal manner since the board has been inactive since 2001.
  Dale Colbaugh was elected chairman. Sandra Davis was elected vice-chairman.