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NR Trail Extension dedicated

PULASKI — This weekend’s hot weather didn’t exhaust the spirits of dignitaries and citizens who turned out for the Town of Pulaski’s dedication ceremony for the New River Trail Extension.
Despite the fact temperatures were in the 80s by 9 a.m., a good crowd was on hand to take part in activities and the 11 a.m. dedication ceremony held at Heritage Park. Ninth District Congressman Rick Boucher gave the official address, pointing out how nice it is to attend an informal event that doesn’t require a tie.
Boucher said the New River Trail “is truly a Southwest Virginia success story.”
He pointed out it was “launched” by former Gov. Jerry Baliles in 1986, who had a vision of creating a tremendous recreation and tourism attraction for Southwest Virginia.
“He had the idea of creating Virginia’s longest and thinnest state park, the New River Trail State Park.”
The railroad agreed to donate the right-of-way “and the rest is history,” Boucher added.
Now, 22 years later, almost a million people “enjoy the use of the New River Trail on an annual basis,” thus improving the health and recreational facilities of Southwest Virginians and its “expanding our growing tourism economy.”
Boucher pointed out the dedication was taking place on National Trails Day when the nation recognizes the importance of recreation trails.
“It’s fitting this long-awaited event occurred on that very day.”
He noted tourism is the fastest growing segment of southwestern Virginia’s economy.
“Our region boasts the best outdoor experience that can be had anywhere in the State of Virginia. The highest mountains, the most interesting rivers, the best boating and camping and fishing and bike riding opportunities that you can find anywhere in Virginia. I would argue it’s the best in the Southeastern United States.”
With Saturday’s event, he said the trail now extends into downtown Galax, Fries and Pulaski, whose mayors were all in attendance.
“This truly is a long-awaited event. I can remember talking to Gary Hancock about this during the years he was mayor of Pulaski. We talked about it, we talked to the railroad, and we talked to funding sources to try to make this happen,” Boucher added. “We’ve had to wait a while for the process to mature, but today we can celebrate the fact that it did” and the growth of tourism to Pulaski that it will bring.
He said he foresees new businesses such as bike rental shops, outdoor “fitters,” restaurants and others coming to Pulaski as a result of the trail. Plus, he noted, it also will benefit existing businesses.
Boucher said the cost of the extension was about $330,000, with about $200,000 being federal transportation enhancement funds.
He recognized Salem District Commonwealth Transportation Board member Dana Martin for helping to see that funds got allocated to the trail project by VDOT and the transportation board.
Noting that the Town of Pulaski contributed about $130,000 of its money to make the extension happen, Boucher called the project “a great partnership involving the federal government, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Town of Pulaski.”
Martin, who also was in attendance, took the audience’s minds off the hot weather with a number of humorous remarks.
He pointed out “nature has provided us with ample hot air” so he would be keeping that in mind and not use up the time he was allotted to speak.
Martin said not many people know what transportation board members do, but “when it all comes down to it, we’re the ones who approve the money.”
However, he said Boucher had “blown my cover” because the commissioners “don’t like admitting” they are responsible for allocating transportation funds.
He explained “there is never enough to go around. And you give away all that you have, and someone is still going to get ticked off at you.
“But at least I’m in a friendly crowd this morning.”
He pointed out that transportation is more than highways or “ribbons of concrete,” it is also about having a place to use your feet and bikes.
Martin said local elected and unelected officials are critical in making projects such as the trail extension a reality because they must communicate their vision to the Transportation Board to convince them of the importance of funding a project and then see that all the steps are taken to reach the goal.
As an example of how important every person is in the process, he pointed out how Pulaski Clerk of Council Trish Cruise gave him the directions to get to the ceremony (without getting lost), was helping Saturday morning to set up for the event, then helped prepare hot dogs for the meal following the dedication.
Another special guest, Galax Mayor C.M. Mitchell, said one of the greatest assets southwestern Virginia has is “each and every one of you” — the friendliness of the people and their spirit.
He said Galax and Pulaski have always been connected in one way or another because “we’ve kind of grown up together” having celebrated their centennials only a few years apart. Plus, he noted their economic ties by pointing out how both economies were hit by the changes in textile and furniture industries.
Therefore, he said he is pleased to see the Town of Pulaski is thinking ahead and being proactive.
“I think it’s important to remember we’re connected in many ways other than the New River Trail State Park, but that is an important connection we share,” Mitchell added. He said it is his hope the citizens of Pulaski will enjoy the trail on this end and to visit them if they are so inclined to make the 57-mile trip.
Mitchell presented Pulaski Mayor Charles Wade with a congratulatory resolution passed by Galax City Council. The resolution was delivered by a cyclist who left Galax around 8:30 a.m. and biked to Pulaski. The cyclist was joined by two Pulaski cyclists along the way.
The resolution noted that Galax and Pulaski would be planting a dogwood tree during the event to symbolize their common bond and the fact the extension will allow bikers and hikers to travel between the towns.
He said Galax extends its “collective hands in friendship” to Pulaski as a “sister community” at the northern gateway to the New River Trail State Park.
After accepting the resolution, Wade commented, “Only a community that cares would do this.”
Mitchell also presented a basket of Galax leaves, from which the city gets its name, to be planted around the base of the tree as a remembrance of the people of Galax.
At the beginning of the ceremony, Wade welcomed everyone to the “great town of Pulaski. The town that’s now getting the reputation as the town that won’t give up.”
While introducing dignitaries from other areas who were in attendance, he commented, “This is the first time in the nine years I’ve lived here that we’ve done anything on a regional basis.” He said he hopes it’s the first of many more.
However, he noted, “Without a vision, today would not have occurred.”
He introduced former Mayor Hancock, noting that earlier that morning Hancock “told me he didn’t think it (the trail extension) would happen in his lifetime, and I told him you’re not alone because I didn’t think it would happen in mine either. But it has and we are moving forward in the Town of Pulaski.”
Also speaking was former Mayor Charles Stewart, who was instrumental in speaking with property owners along Peak Creek and seeing that property was acquired for the project.
Stewart said his “full dream is a greenway along Peak Creek” from Heritage Park to Route 99, but “that will take years and years and years” to come about.
He encouraged the next council and Mayor-elect Jeff Worrell to work toward such new projects.

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NR Trail Extension dedicated

PULASKI — This weekend’s hot weather didn’t exhaust the spirits of dignitaries and citizens who turned out for the Town of Pulaski’s dedication ceremony for the New River Trail Extension.
Despite the fact temperatures were in the 80s by 9 a.m., a good crowd was on hand to take part in activities and the 11 a.m. dedication ceremony held at Heritage Park. Ninth District Congressman Rick Boucher gave the official address, pointing out how nice it is to attend an informal event that doesn’t require a tie.
Boucher said the New River Trail “is truly a Southwest Virginia success story.”
He pointed out it was “launched” by former Gov. Jerry Baliles in 1986, who had a vision of creating a tremendous recreation and tourism attraction for Southwest Virginia.
“He had the idea of creating Virginia’s longest and thinnest state park, the New River Trail State Park.”
The railroad agreed to donate the right-of-way “and the rest is history,” Boucher added.
Now, 22 years later, almost a million people “enjoy the use of the New River Trail on an annual basis,” thus improving the health and recreational facilities of Southwest Virginians and its “expanding our growing tourism economy.”
Boucher pointed out the dedication was taking place on National Trails Day when the nation recognizes the importance of recreation trails.
“It’s fitting this long-awaited event occurred on that very day.”
He noted tourism is the fastest growing segment of southwestern Virginia’s economy.
“Our region boasts the best outdoor experience that can be had anywhere in the State of Virginia. The highest mountains, the most interesting rivers, the best boating and camping and fishing and bike riding opportunities that you can find anywhere in Virginia. I would argue it’s the best in the Southeastern United States.”
With Saturday’s event, he said the trail now extends into downtown Galax, Fries and Pulaski, whose mayors were all in attendance.
“This truly is a long-awaited event. I can remember talking to Gary Hancock about this during the years he was mayor of Pulaski. We talked about it, we talked to the railroad, and we talked to funding sources to try to make this happen,” Boucher added. “We’ve had to wait a while for the process to mature, but today we can celebrate the fact that it did” and the growth of tourism to Pulaski that it will bring.
He said he foresees new businesses such as bike rental shops, outdoor “fitters,” restaurants and others coming to Pulaski as a result of the trail. Plus, he noted, it also will benefit existing businesses.
Boucher said the cost of the extension was about $330,000, with about $200,000 being federal transportation enhancement funds.
He recognized Salem District Commonwealth Transportation Board member Dana Martin for helping to see that funds got allocated to the trail project by VDOT and the transportation board.
Noting that the Town of Pulaski contributed about $130,000 of its money to make the extension happen, Boucher called the project “a great partnership involving the federal government, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Town of Pulaski.”
Martin, who also was in attendance, took the audience’s minds off the hot weather with a number of humorous remarks.
He pointed out “nature has provided us with ample hot air” so he would be keeping that in mind and not use up the time he was allotted to speak.
Martin said not many people know what transportation board members do, but “when it all comes down to it, we’re the ones who approve the money.”
However, he said Boucher had “blown my cover” because the commissioners “don’t like admitting” they are responsible for allocating transportation funds.
He explained “there is never enough to go around. And you give away all that you have, and someone is still going to get ticked off at you.
“But at least I’m in a friendly crowd this morning.”
He pointed out that transportation is more than highways or “ribbons of concrete,” it is also about having a place to use your feet and bikes.
Martin said local elected and unelected officials are critical in making projects such as the trail extension a reality because they must communicate their vision to the Transportation Board to convince them of the importance of funding a project and then see that all the steps are taken to reach the goal.
As an example of how important every person is in the process, he pointed out how Pulaski Clerk of Council Trish Cruise gave him the directions to get to the ceremony (without getting lost), was helping Saturday morning to set up for the event, then helped prepare hot dogs for the meal following the dedication.
Another special guest, Galax Mayor C.M. Mitchell, said one of the greatest assets southwestern Virginia has is “each and every one of you” — the friendliness of the people and their spirit.
He said Galax and Pulaski have always been connected in one way or another because “we’ve kind of grown up together” having celebrated their centennials only a few years apart. Plus, he noted their economic ties by pointing out how both economies were hit by the changes in textile and furniture industries.
Therefore, he said he is pleased to see the Town of Pulaski is thinking ahead and being proactive.
“I think it’s important to remember we’re connected in many ways other than the New River Trail State Park, but that is an important connection we share,” Mitchell added. He said it is his hope the citizens of Pulaski will enjoy the trail on this end and to visit them if they are so inclined to make the 57-mile trip.
Mitchell presented Pulaski Mayor Charles Wade with a congratulatory resolution passed by Galax City Council. The resolution was delivered by a cyclist who left Galax around 8:30 a.m. and biked to Pulaski. The cyclist was joined by two Pulaski cyclists along the way.
The resolution noted that Galax and Pulaski would be planting a dogwood tree during the event to symbolize their common bond and the fact the extension will allow bikers and hikers to travel between the towns.
He said Galax extends its “collective hands in friendship” to Pulaski as a “sister community” at the northern gateway to the New River Trail State Park.
After accepting the resolution, Wade commented, “Only a community that cares would do this.”
Mitchell also presented a basket of Galax leaves, from which the city gets its name, to be planted around the base of the tree as a remembrance of the people of Galax.
At the beginning of the ceremony, Wade welcomed everyone to the “great town of Pulaski. The town that’s now getting the reputation as the town that won’t give up.”
While introducing dignitaries from other areas who were in attendance, he commented, “This is the first time in the nine years I’ve lived here that we’ve done anything on a regional basis.” He said he hopes it’s the first of many more.
However, he noted, “Without a vision, today would not have occurred.”
He introduced former Mayor Hancock, noting that earlier that morning Hancock “told me he didn’t think it (the trail extension) would happen in his lifetime, and I told him you’re not alone because I didn’t think it would happen in mine either. But it has and we are moving forward in the Town of Pulaski.”
Also speaking was former Mayor Charles Stewart, who was instrumental in speaking with property owners along Peak Creek and seeing that property was acquired for the project.
Stewart said his “full dream is a greenway along Peak Creek” from Heritage Park to Route 99, but “that will take years and years and years” to come about.
He encouraged the next council and Mayor-elect Jeff Worrell to work toward such new projects.

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