Write Your Commissioners for a Rec Center

Posted on Apr 21, 2015

How could a community recreation center benefit Watauga County?  Please read details below.   We have attached a link to a downloadable letter which you can send to our county commissioners if you want to support this great cause.  Also included are email addresses for our county commissioners.

Also, here is a link to the initial feasibility study that Watauga County completed on the swim complex site (from the commissioner budget retreat packet):



Download and send this letter to Watauga County commissioners!

Watauga County Commissioners:







As members of an active community that has a strong passion for recreation, we are striving towards the planning for and building of a recreation center in Watauga County. An indoor recreation center has been identified as a need in our community for decades and has been part of the long term planning for the county and town during that time.  A survey from ASU in 2010 showed overwhelming community support for  an indoor recreation center.   Of 26 counties the same size as ours, only two counties do not have a community recreation center (either a YMCA or a public facility):  Watauga County and Franklin County.  At least the residents of Franklin County (northeast of Raleigh) have access to three YMCAs just across the county line in three different directions.  Watauga County’s lack of an indoor recreation center makes us an anomaly compared to other counties our same size – we need to fix that!

How would a community recreation center benefit Watauga County?

First, it would enrich the lives of the citizens in our community.  Particularly given our local weather issues, an indoor recreation center would give people across the age spectrum exercise opportunities year round.  Access to yearly recreational opportunities would also allow our Recreation Department to increase its programming for local children including summer camps and snow day alternatives.  This will have a significant impact on the physical and mental health of our citizens.  In addition, it will give people in the county an important gathering spot to strengthen the social bonds that make our community vibrant and strong.  Think about all the interactions that happen, for example, at the softball fields when the weather is nice.  An indoor facility would allow that to happen year round.

Second, it would strengthen the economy of our county.  A community recreation center would help our county retain and attract small businesses.  Studies have shown that small businesses have identified quality of life as the most important factor in their location decisions and the number one quality of life issue is recreation (specifically, in order, national/state parks, local parks, community recreation centers).  A community recreation center should be a vital component of any future economic development plans.  In addition, an indoor facility has the potential to generate significant economic activity from youth sports events. Youth sports tourism was a $7 billion industry in 2013 (for example, Kingsport, TN generated almost $10 million in economic activity from youth sports events in 2013).  An indoor facility would allow our community to be part of this economic engine.




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Stone Mtn., Grayson Highlands ranked among nations best

Posted on Apr 13, 2015

Stone Mtn., Grayson Highlands ranked among nations best



Alan Bulluck | Jefferson PostA dog takes in the cool air and scenery at nearby Grayson Highlands State Park.

Alan Bulluck | Jefferson PostA dog takes in the cool air and scenery at nearby Grayson Highlands State Park.
Two nearby state parks, Stone Mountain (Roaring Gap, N.C.) and Grayson Highlands (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), are among two of the 20 nominees for Best State Park.
Hiking enthusiasts and park supporters from across the region have the opportunity to compete on the national level in the USA Today sponsored competition. According to the organization’s website: “the earliest state parks in the United States date back to the mid 1800s, and today, the 50 states collectively manage well over 6,000 state park units that draw in over 700 million annual visitors. With so many parks, it was a tough job narrowing it down to our 20 nominees for Best State Park, but that’s just what our panel of U.S. travel experts were tasked to do.”
Voting began March 1 and while both parks are among the list of candidates, they’re in need of votes.
Current top five leaders include Letchworth State Park in New York, Watkins Glen State Park in New York, Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park in Michigan, Fall Creek Falls State Park in Tennessee and Custer State Park in South Dakota.
Stone Mountain State Park is currently ranked 12 and Grayson Highlands State Park is ranked 20.
The website describes Stone Mountain as a mountain that is “named after the 600-foot-tall granite dome” and “protects 14,000 acres of natural beauty bounded by the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Thurmond Chatham Game Lands.”
The draw for visitors to the area are the more than 18 miles of hiking trails that traverse the park, and 20 miles of designated trout waters that attract fly-fishing enthusiasts. What sets it apart from nearby state parks is the fact that Stone Mountain offers some of the state’s best rock climbing.
Stone Mountain has a historical element as well, with the Hutchinson Homestead carefully preserved through the generations. Hikers have the opportunity to walk on trails marked easy to strenuous, that lead to mountain peaks or beautiful waterfalls.
Grayson Highlands lies along the Appalachian Trail and is home to Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, known as one of the nation’s top hiking destinations.
While exploring the park’s 4,522 acres, hikers can be expected to encounter wild ponies, including newborn colts in late spring.
Voting is now underway and runs through noon on March 30 at www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-state-park/. Anyone 18 and over is eligible to vote. Voters are limited to one vote per day for the remainder of the contest. The winners will be announced as soon as voting ends.
Karen Holbrook can be reached at 336-258-4059 or on Twitter @KarenHolbrook00.
Alan Bulluck contributed to this report.



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Vote for the Top Adventure College

Posted on Apr 13, 2015

Don’t forget to vote!

Blue Ridge Outdoors’ Top Adventure College Tournament asks readers to pick the best outdoor school in the Blue Ridge. Colleges and universities meet in head-to-head matchups in a 32-school bracket.
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High Country Kids’ Triathlon

Posted on Apr 13, 2015

The High Country Kids’ Triathlon will take place at Watauga County Parks and Rec on Saturday, May 23rd, at 10am.

For more information or to register online:

A user's photo.
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