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Why live in Pulaski County?

By David Gravely

It only takes a few minutes on social media to find someone complaining about our hometown. While social media platforms are great for keeping in touch with people, they also offer a platform for negativity. For some people, the sky is always falling or there is always a conspiracy theory.

Pulaski County is a great place to live. The biggest issue we have most of the time is ourselves. We post things on social media trashing our hometown. We air our dirty laundry for the whole world to see. Lately I’ve even seen individuals that hold elected offices doing it openly on Facebook.

The big question is why? What is REALLY so bad about Pulaski County?

We’re in a spot where if we want to go to the mall, we can drive there pretty quickly, but we don’t have to deal with having it there every day. Same thing with major sporting events. We can drive to VT in 20 minutes, but we don’t have to deal with that traffic every day. Want to go to the beach, but want salt water instead of fresh water? We can drive to the beach in around five hours. Bristol Motor Speedway is about an hour and a half. Charlotte is just under three if you take your time.

That doesn’t seem too bad.

People complain there is nothing to do in Pulaski County? Claytor Lake, Gatewood and the New River are three great places to take the family. Want to watch some great baseball? Calfee Park. Want to see a movie? Fairlawn has the theater there and just down the road is the Radford theater, but when COVID isn’t an issue the Pulaski Theatre also has some great entertainment, including concerts. We have an older skate park that is either going to be renovated or replaced. We have hiking and bike trails. We have parks. Randolph Park is a true gem, offering walking/jogging trails, Frisbee golf, tennis, basketball and of course the pool. We have a virtual reality gaming center right on Main Street. We have hunting and fishing of some kind available almost all year. You can rent kayaks and other watercraft up to pontoon boats at the lake and at Gatewood.

COVID has hurt a lot of things, but without that we would have had the Concert in the Park series at Jackson Park, Rhythm and Ribs, Downtown Music Festival and Claytor Lake Festival and movies in the park, to name some of the bigger events. There is always music being played somewhere in Pulaski County. Hopefully McGuire’s Campground will get the “Hillbilly Opry” going again soon. There are jam sessions at the senior center or at the VFW throughout the year. We have GRAPE-JAM, which is a group that teaches students from our local school system how to play instruments like the banjo, fiddle, guitar and other instruments used in making music common to the Appalachian music scene and the Crooked Road.

That doesn’t seem so bad.

Complaining about nowhere to eat? Al’s on First, Tom’s, Main Street Grill, Compadres, Ginza, Dawg House, Fatz, Patty’s Kitchen, Verona’s, Twins Pizza, Sal’s Jr., Chang Hau, Big Belly, Perfect Pizza, TJ’s, Draper Merc, Cinco De Mayo, El Ranchero, Preston’s at the River Course, Basil Pizza and King Buffet are just a few of the non-chain places. Then of course you’ve also got all the fast food spots.

That doesn’t seem too bad.

I’ve heard people complain about a shortage of quality homes. Don’t want a run-down home? Don’t buy a run-down home. Better yet, do buy one and fix it up. That seems to be the current trend and some of those fixed up homes are stunning once they are finished. You can get a heck of a deal on an older home that, with a little time and money, can become a dream home.

That doesn’t seem too bad.

Speaking of kids, how about our schools? If you start in Pulaski and drive toward Radford you’ll pass Pulaski Elementary or Critzer, depending on which route you take, then you can pass the new Pulaski County Middle School, the high school, New River Community College, Dublin Elementary and then you’ll eventually come to Riverlawn Elementary. Snowville Elementary is sitting out there for the students of that community, and like all of our schools has been recently updated. We have Radford University, Virginia Tech and Wytheville Community College just outside of our county borders to give us a virtual education row. For younger kids we have preschool options at our elementary schools or at private setups.

That doesn’t seem too bad.

Need a job? EVERYWHERE is hiring right now, you just have to apply. Volvo and all of the other spots that manufacture parts for them are growing and need workers badly. There are “help wanted” signs in about every store and food establishment.

Need groceries? Take your pick of spots ranging from the big box stores like Walmart, Food Lion and Food City to smaller spots, including places like Poor Boys and TA Produce.

We can drive to Tennessee, West Virginia or North Carolina in a very short time for quick get a ways. Cana and Mount Airy, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Floyd, Pearisburg, the Cascades, Foster Falls and Pembroke all offer even quicker day trip adventures for anything from shopping to eating or hiking. Are you a history buff? This place is covered up in historic sites to check out.

Need a new church home? The Virginia Gazetteer and Hometown Locator list 62 churches in Pulaski County, but that number is misleading in that several of the denominations have multiple locations. The Church of God, for example, has at least three locations in Pulaski County including Pulaski, Dublin and Fairlawn. Pulaski County churches range in members from small churches with 25-30 members, up to the bigger churches with 100 or more members. We print a list of churches and their service times each Sunday.

None of those seem too bad.

The cost of living is as low or lower in Pulaski County than in any of the surrounding communities. You can buy more house for your money here than you can in most other surrounding communities. With the current housing market booming, that’s a big deal. We have an entirely new housing development being created directly behind the new middle school. It is going to offer single family homes, town homes and apartments when it’s completed.

That doesn’t sound bad at all.

Want your kids to be involved in sports? The Pulaski County Recreation Department has something for everyone. Our new middle school is starting new programs for soccer, baseball and softball to add to what they already have, with basketball, football, cheer, wrestling, track, cross country, tennis, golf and volleyball.

So far this year, our school teams have recorded two region championships (girls basketball and competition cheer), two state runners-up (girls basketball and boys indoor track), an undefeated regular season in JV girls basketball, middle school girls basketball and varsity girls basketball, an individual state title in the long jump (Armonte Hill-Lewis), a sixth place finish (out of 28 teams) in the state meet with only four girls competing in indoor track and field, four wrestlers competing for state gold and a winning season in volleyball for the first time in many years. Add to that the fact that many of our spring sports teams are expected to be very competitive.

Want your kids to be active but they’re not into sports? We have a fine arts department in our school system that is top notch. Multiple state titles in drama, multiple championships and top finishes in band and a choral department that is always at the top of the list.

Are there a few run down areas of the county that need some attention? Of course there are, just like every other community. Are there drugs in Pulaski County? Are there drugs in every other community? Yes to both. That doesn’t make any of them bad places to live.

Try to start seeing our hometown in a more positive light. There are good and bad things in all aspects of life. What we make of it all, however, is up to us. Do we have everything here? No, but we have room for it. Getting it here becomes harder when the negativity keeps getting spewed out.

Pulaski County is on the verge of seeing more growth and development. Now is the time to jump on board and be a part of the positive direction our hometown is taking.

That doesn’t sound like a bad idea at all.

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