By: Amy Oakley
Carter County Times
The Grayson City Council convened on Tuesday, July 11 for their regular monthly meeting to discuss their monthly department budget reports and future plans of the Grayson Recreational Economy Board.
The Grayson Recreational Economy Board is a new group with a focus on how the city of Grayson can leverage its natural assets to grow into a recreational economy. Often, citizens of Grayson will find themselves asking the question “What is there to do around here?” Instead of leaving Grayson to travel to bigger cities, the mission of the board is to enhance and support existing tourism opportunities and community groups who offer events that bring people to town.
Director of Business and Innovation at Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR), Sabrina McWhorter led the presentation of the board’s mission, future plans, and goals.
“Our focus is on community projects that way it cultivates support and nurtures a thriving culture,” McWhorter said.
Through offering different recreational opportunities, they are hoping to get individuals, families and the entire community to engage in actual outdoor activities. Free options such as hiking, biking, kayaking, camping, fishing and more are all available to the community in our surrounding parks, but are recreational opportunities that are usually not thought about.
“We’re looking to support both our existing tourism and community groups. We have an amazing Grayson tourism and an amazing Carter County tourism. We have so many different entities that are really striving to create projects and create activities for our region,” McWhorter said.
“One of the goals is to actively collaborate with those existing groups as well as recognizing the valuable contributions to the local economy and cultural fabric that we all have,” she added.
Essentially the main goal of the board is to get people to work together and leverage all the opportunities that are presented to them to create a great environment for people to live in. In order to strengthen social bonds within the community, prioritizing community projects is at the top of their list to help create those bonds.
“It’s a really great opportunity to add value without taking away from anybody else. Through that, we can provide education as well as outreach and cultural events and really deepen that appreciation for what we already have here,” McWhorter said.
By embracing natural assets within the city and county, citizens of Grayson will be able to deepen that appreciation McWhorter told the council. Within a 40-mile radius, Grayson has several opportunities that other cities don’t, she said.
Other cities, she said, could only “dream of (the outdoor opportunities we have.) So, we should really embrace that and be optimistic about it.”
Through federal funding and technical assistance, one of the big goals they want to aim toward is river town status. The label is provided through the National Park Service and having a river town status would set Grayson apart from other towns and give it that National Park Service recognition.
The status, McWhorter said, could help with, “Getting all those people out there in Grayson and the surrounding areas that love the outdoors to put their money where their mouth is.”
Through a strategic plan, the board hopes to begin engaging with the community to understand what they want. After engaging with the community, the board will then gather and analyze data to fit the community’s needs and wants.
Hopefully by next year the board will have created a strategic plan to hold the first community event, a paddle fest in the Little Sandy River. Although the event is over a year away, the board and McWhorter feel hopeful in their future planning
Also presented at the meeting were monthly budgeting reports from the departments within the city. No department chief had any special comments during their allotted time.
The next regular city council meeting will be held on Tuesday, August 7 at 5:30 p.m.