A busy new year

Keith Strange Staff Repporter

January 13, 2014

DOBSON — While many in the county have spent recent days huddled in their homes waiting out single-degree temperatures, one county official is busy working on things to make the county a more fun place to live.

Daniel White, director of Surry County Parks and Recreation, sat down recently to discuss plans for 2014.

“One of the things we’re doing that’s going to be new this year is we’re in the process of implementing online reservations for shelters and other amenities at Fisher River Park,” he said. “They will cover not only the shelters, but the volleyball courts, basketball courts and the arbor.”

While plans are still in the works, White said more information will be available when the system goes live.

White is also in the process of applying for several parks and recreation-related grants to fund improvements and initiatives in the county.

“Right now, one of the grants we’re working on trying to secure is for trail development throughout the county,” he said.

Long-term plans call for a blue-way trail (a trail that runs along a waterway) located at various spots along the Yadkin River that will offer easy waterway, canoeing and kayaking access for visitors.

“We’re hoping this will be a way to increase tourism and public access for things like fishing and canoeing,” White said.

A second grant is designed to make things a little more comfortable for users of Fisher River.

White said he is in the process of applying for a grant that will fund a sun shade at the park’s playground adjacent to the soccer field.

“We’re applying through the American Dermatology Association as a way to help prevent sun-related conditions,” he said.

A third grant in the works is part of a long-term plan with the Elkin Valley Trails Association.

“We’re applying for a grant from the Centers for Disease Control that will be used to create a trail that will ultimately connect Pilot Mountain State Park to Stone Mountain State Park,” White said. “It will be a 50-mile trail when fully completed, and this grant money, if it comes through, will be used to create a master plan for the project.”

In addition to working on grants, White said his office is working on a long-term county-wide master plan for recreation in the county.

“Right now we’re working on the needs assessment that will tell us what is needed and what county residents want as far as recreation opportunities,” White said.

The master plan will be presented to the county’s board of commissioners on Dec. 15.

‘A lot of work’

White said that although many people may be staying indoors during the winter, his office rarely gets a break.

“It’s a lot of work planning for a new year,” he said. “We’re always working on our programs that we offer, reviewing them and trying to tweak them throughout the year.

“And we’re also always planning new events and trying to determine what the county wants and needs.”

White said one of his office’s major responsibilities is working as a support system for other county agencies.

“One of the big things we do is provide facilities for a lot of organizations throughout the year,” he said. “A lot of the events at Fisher River Park, like JoeFest for example, are fundraisers for outside organizations. We work with them to help them be successful, and while it’s only a supporting role, they certainly keep us busy.”