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County leaders celebrate new walking trail

From left, Etowah Lions President Kathy Nichols, Commissioner David Hill, Parks and Recreation Committee Chair Jeff Donaldson, commissioners Bill Lapsley, Rebecca McCall and Michael Edney and Ward Sequin. From left, Etowah Lions President Kathy Nichols, Commissioner David Hill, Parks and Recreation Committee Chair Jeff Donaldson, commissioners Bill Lapsley, Rebecca McCall and Michael Edney and Ward Sequin.

ETOWAH — County leaders evoked the spirit of Charlie Messer and thanked the Etowah Lions Club as they dedicated an improved walking trail at Etowah Park on Monday.

Messer, a long-serving county commissioner who died last year, "was a big supporter ot Etowah Park for the longest time," County Manager John Mitchell recalled, "and when I look at the work that's been done out here he'd be super excited."

County commissioners Bill Lapsley, Rebecca McCall, David Hill and Michael Edney all attended the ribbon-cutting.

"I grew up in this county and there weren't any parks," McCall said. That changed starting in the 1970s, when commissioners began to invest in parkland, often in partnership with rural communities. "Now we are blessed with some of the best parks in the state. Organizations such as the Lions Club have made that possible. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the Etowah Lions Club because I don't think without them we would ever have this park today."

Ken Wise, a Lions Club board member and past president, said comments from park users had gone from complaints to praise.

"It had a lot of problems on the back side, with roots growing up," he said of the walking trail. "It would push the pavement up. It created a lot of tripping hazards. The numbers have gone way up" since it was repaired.

"I think it's wonderful," Lions Club President Kathy Nichols said. "We really are thankful. This is just a sweet little park but that walking trail was awful and it was dangerous."

The crowd of around 50 people also heard from Ward Sequin, a organizer of the Friends of Etowah Park, who promoted a survey the group is currently conducting on the next improvements the community would like.