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An endorsement of 'muscle-powered transportation system' on 'a new cultural Main Street'

Dr. Ken Shelton, an avid road biker, thanked county commissioners for advancing the Ecusta Trail.

Ken Shelton, avid road biker, fitness advocate and tireless crusader for the Ecusta Trail for the past 15 years, delivered a powerful endorsement of the rail-trail on Wednesday morning when he rose to thank the Board of Commissioners in advance for authorizing a $10 million contract to build the first six miles of the greenway and for awarding a contract to an engineering firm to design the next five-mile segment — from Horse Shoe to the county line. A retired radiologist and resident of Henderson County since 1987, Shelton is a founding leader of and remains a board member of the Friends of the Ecusta Trail. He also serves on the board of Conserving Carolina, the owner of the rail corridor, and on the Henderson County Rail Trail Advisory Committee. He was also, by the way, a wide receiver for the University of Virginia Cavaliers from 1971 to 1975 — caught eight touchdown passes in 1974, still holds the school's single-game record for receiving yards — and was drafted by the Denver Broncos. Instead, "med school said it was now or never." Here are remarks Dr. Shelton made during public comment time at the Board of Commissioners meeting:

“I speak today because you the commissioners hopefully will vote to approve construction funding for the first six miles of the Ecusta Trail from Hendersonville to Horse Shoe and to hire an engineering firm to design the remaining five miles to the county line.

“Repurposing this unused rail corridor to a rail-trail will be transformational to our region. In time it will link to other greenway and trail systems, including the Oklawaha Greenway, the Estatoe Trail in Brevard and future trails in Western North Carolina. This linear park will connect communities, promote health, enrich our economy and improve the quality of life for everyone. Shared outdoor spaces will bring people of different walks of life together for stronger community and social cohesion and create a new cultural Main Street.

“It will invite locals and tourists to enjoy our beautiful countryside — linking people to their destinations and community resources. It will beckon people of all ages and all abilities to get outside on foot, by wheelchair, bicycle, stroller or scooter. Kids and families will have more places to play and time to spend together. This muscle-powered active transportation system means less air pollution, traffic and better health.

“To realize these goals we need everyone's help to create this generational legacy. Under the steady hand, guidance and support of our county and you, our commissioners, I offer my sincere thanks to your dedication to improve our collective future. There is broad communitywide support for your actions, vision and commitment to the Ecusta Trail, and with your continued support the future impact of the Ecusta Trail is extremely bright. Ecusta Trail supporters openly thank the vision and leadership exhibited by the commissioners by approving this construction and design.”