I have faint but fond memories of picking strawberries as a kid: the twisty, dusty gravel roads leading to the farm, being handed my very own big-girl pail by the strawberry lady and, most notably, sneaking mouthfuls when my mom wasn’t looking.
Macon County commissioners narrowly voted last week to buy a 50-acre tract for $550,000 to create a sprawling baseball and recreation complex. It would take another $550,000 to put in the first two baseball diamonds and a parking lot.
Statewide parks and recreation funding is clashing with fiscal austerity in the current state budget process, in a showdown that has environmentalists and local governments bracing for the worst.
The painstaking process of outlining a clear mission for the U.S. Forest Service and how it will manage its expansive public lands in Western North Carolina and the varied — and sometimes competing — interests of the people that use them has begun. Once completed, the new plan will serve as a reference for the coming 15 years on any major decision made about the Pisgah and Nantahala forests in regards to protected wilderness areas, logging, mountain biking, fires, hiking, hunting and more.
A Macon County commissioner, who prides himself on fiscal conservatism, has been staking out his positions lately.
After questioning the virtue of pay raises for Macon County workers two weeks ago, Commissioner Ron Haven has turned his attention to another proposed outlet of government spending: a large sports complex being considered outside of Franklin.
A $93 million family adventure park in Cherokee would likely turn a profit during its first year of operation, according to early projections from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ finance department.
The mountains rising above the valleys have long been the main attraction for tourists planning a trip to Western North Carolina, but a regional initiative between local government and private entities is looking to capitalize on the recreational potential riding on the rivers beneath.
Outdoors enthusiasts and diehard mountain bikers are waiting in anticipation the winter opening of a seven-mile mountain biking and hiking trail in the Sylva and Cullowhee area.
The trail will be the first of its kind accessible by foot, or bike, from the Western Carolina University campus and is expected to be a vital link in a recreation system that may one day expand to connect county, regional and even state trails.
Jackson County is crafting a new long-range recreation master plan to set priorities and guide spending for its parks, open spaces and recreation centers during the next five years.
But, the process can be a tug-of-war between residents with varied interests, each advocating for their favorite pastimes — soccer versus softball fields, an indoor swimming pool versus greenways, a skatepark versus tennis courts. It can also be a balancing act for county recreation staff trying to delegate limited resources among competing goals.
“Take me out to the ballgame,” is how the old song goes. But the question for Macon County residents in coming years may be “which one?”, as county commissioners lay plans to purchase an expanse of land that would be big enough for eight new fields fit for America’s favorite pastime.