Several volunteers put in work to beautify river access point in Hampton

Published 4:42 pm Monday, April 10, 2017

Tourism in the Hampton community is expected to receive a boost thanks to an initiative started up by a handful of citizens from Carter County.
Cars lined up on the side of the road off Highway 19E Saturday morning as various residents, businessmen and professionals working by trade came together to beautiful the river access across the road from Hampton High School.
In just four hours, individuals were able to clear the area and have a celebratory sail down the Doe River to commemorate the first step into attracting tourism into the region while assisting the local economy. The property, which was donated by the Carter County Schools System, is being marketed currently as a river access for where the Little Doe feeds into Doe River and fishing area for residents while the future could possibly see more additions at the premise.
“It is amazing, simply amazing,” said Metin Eryasa, IDEAS Group member and work day coordinator. “To see so many different people come together to work toward a goal, it’s just amazing. This is old school, this was the way we were raised. It’s all about coming together to get the job done. It surpassed my expectations, but it didn’t surpass the dream.”
Eryasa added people from as far as Greeneville stopped by to lend a hand for the cleanup.
Four Carter County Commissioners assisted in the cleanup while City Councilman Kim Birchfield served as the safety officer and oversaw individuals that checked in to help. Each volunteer signed a waiver before delving into work. Chris Little with the IDEAS Group added that individuals that provided time and efforts were documented to be used possibly for grants for further restoration of the property.
Representation from the Carter County Sheriff’s Department, the Appalachian Paddling Enthusiasts (APES) group and different businesses were also on hand. John “Bull” Malone and John Seehorn provided lunch from Jiggy Ray’s Pizzeria in downtown Elizabethton while Jarrod Ellis from J’s Corner donated gravel to be used for vehicles looking to access the drop off.
“Metin asked if we would donate a little time and equipment and I said ‘what do you need?’ They have guys here that volunteer to push brush, pull brush and chip brush and we had the availability to come over and grade off the parking lot,” said Mike “Acey” Ensor with Ensor Construction.
Acey and his father, Henry, provided service along with Eryasa to grade out the parking area for the property.
“You’ve got business people, members of the county commission, professionals … everybody is chipping in and lending a hand,” Acey said. “People have donated money, donated time, donated equipment. It is just a great thing. Me and my dad were grateful to volunteer a day, we didn’t mind a bit because we give to the school system, county … we want to volunteer our time and effort. This is going to generate a lot of community interest and lead to more and more projects down the road.”
Community interest was what brought James Smith to the property Saturday. A resident of Hampton for 77 years, the native expressed his excitement for what’s to come while adding it was important for the community to come out and support the endeavor.
“I just came out to work today because I felt like it was my civic duty,” he said. “You look at a place like Roan Mountain when it comes to a park, and we really don’t have anything here like this. I think this would be an asset to the community. All the kayakers, it would be a great picnic area for our citizens and it’s just right off the road. I just like to help people.
“I heard they were going to be something like a park here and I heard they were looking for volunteers,” he continued. “There’s another thing too. Right over there where they are working, there used to be a green bridge across that river there. That place where the park could be has been called ‘the Green Bridge’ for at least 100 years. And I think by rights this area should be called the Green Bridge Park.”
The property is now in the ballcourt of the Carter County Parks and Recreation Department, which work alongside the group for further progress at the property.
As far as the IDEAS Group is concerned, Saturday was just one step in what will be busy months ahead. Eryasa added one of the biggest joys of the group is that no one is looking for publicity or wanting to get their name out to the public, but it was able coming together to move the community forward with appealing destinations and sights to further the progress of Carter County and Elizabethton.
The work day coordinator also added some words of encouragement for community members looking to help Elizabethton and Carter County.
“Look at what we did in four hours,” Eryasa said with a smile. “If you think you can’t make an impact, I beg to differ with that idea. In the span of four hours, we’ve probably heard ‘amazing’ about a thousand times today. That’s the word of the day and that’s what happened here. We’re only getting started.”
Residents serious about getting involved are encouraged to send an invitation to the Elizabethton IDEAS Group Facebook group online to learn more about what’s ahead for the future.

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