HEFLIN — About a dozen people gathered at Cahulga Creek Park on Wednesday to celebrate completed grant projects the city of Heflin was awarded during fiscal 2019.
The Coosa Valley Resource Conservation and Development Council presented the city an oversized check, the figure $3,556.50 on it representing the sum already allocated to various environmental education and projects.
Adam Dasinger, the principal at Pleasant Grove Elementary School, said the grant money was instrumental in improving the outdoor opportunities at the park. Dasinger, along with Mark Truett, an avid outdoorsman, helped spearhead the effort to get the Heflin Spur trail officially recognized by the U.S. Forest Service. The Heflin Spur Trail connects Heflin to the Pinhoti Trail.
Dasinger said that most of the grant money was used to erect a large sign/kiosk in the park with information about the Pinhoti Trail and Heflin Spur Trail on one side and birding information on the other.
The Cahulga Creek watershed was designated as an official birding trail location in the Appalachian Highlands Birding Trail last year.
Dasinger held up a framed copy of The Anniston Star from last April which included photos and a story about an education field day for kids for which the grant paid.
Dasinger said that 123 Cleburne County sixth-graders enjoyed an environmentally friendly outing which included hiking, fishing, disc golf and educational stations.
“Just having this day to let the kids know what we have to offer outdoors, get them outside, get them walking, get them running and playing in the water,” said Dasinger.
Dasinger said the grant money also was used for signage at Heflin City Hall which designates it as the trailhead for the Heflin Spur Trail.
State Sen. Randy Price, R-Opelika, was in attendance and told the small crowd he is vice-chairman of the Tourism Committee in the Senate. Price said tourism brings “billions” of dollars into the state.
“Thank y'all for what you’re doing to bring tourism dollars here to Alabama, but to bring them to Cleburne County ... the more dollars we bring in just makes things better,” Price said.
Representing the city, Heflin Parks and Recreation director Tammy Perry told the group that city officials are happy to be a part of Alabama’s ecotourism industry.
Heidi Richards, executive director of the Coosa Valley RC&D, said the Rosewood Community Center in northern Cleburne County was awarded $8,873 for a walking track and a celebration was planned there as well.