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BCPS Property

(l-r) BCPS Auxiliary Services Director Dr. Bob Acord, BCPS Superintendent Dr. Mike Swan, local trail advoacte Beth Heil, Representative Hugh Blackwell, DHS Principal Jeanene Burris, BCPS Board Chair Wendi Craven, BCPS Assistant Superintendent Dr. Karen Auton, Burke County Commissioner Chair Scott Mulwee

Burke County Public School Board of Education (BCPS BOE) owns acreage along the corridor in Valdese north of Draughn High School (DHS). In a meeting at the school, stakeholders discussed the options for the trail to cross the property. One option is to combine the property with Valdese Lakeside Park and the other is to provide a trail easement. The trail easement allows hikers to access the property but takes away the school’s liability. A non-profit or local government would hold the easement.

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Morganton – Grace Ridge Meeting

Steps are continuing to plan the Burke River Trail from the end of the Fonta Flora State Trail (end of the Morganton Greenway) to the north side of Grace Ridge. An MOU is being prepared to allow City of Morganton engineers on the property to determine a feasible route. Then a trail easement can be drawn up with a more precise location of the trail on the property.

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Morganton – Waste Water Area

Trail enthusiast Bryant Lindsey took BRTA President Beth Heile on a tour of the Morganton Waste Water Plant Property and the Skeet Range.

It seems going south of the Skeet Range is the safest option!

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Public Input Meeting

After 3 zoom meetings and 10 site visits, the proposed Catawba River Trail Corridor was revealed at a drop in public input meeting at the outdoor Pavilion behind Connelly Springs Town Hall. Attendees reviewed the maps, discussed the routes and provide additional feedback.

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River Cleanup

Volunteers with Catawba River Wildlife Coalition and Friends of the Valdese Rec participated in the Catawba Riversweep on Saturday by cleaning the river from Rocky Ford Access to Huffman Bridge. The 10 volunteers collected 10 bags of trash along the 4.5 mile route. Yes, that is a hippity hop!

Part of the cleanup was checking the shoreline on the south side of the river for the future Burke River Trail.

Pictured left to right – Eric Heile, Adele Ritchie, Dannie Ritchie, Averi Ritchie, Beth Heile, Jason Toney, Tom Troy, Ted Carothers, Rachael Dial, Leslie Thacker

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Vulcan, Connelly Springs, Long View

The planning team for the Catawba River Trail (former working title – Burke River Trail) met with a surprising partner on Wednesday. Vulcan Materials Company owns property on the river in Morganton which would provide about one-half mile of trail along the waterfront and is interested in sharing their natural resources with their neighbors.

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Rhodhiss and Hildebran

The Burke River Trail town tour continues had stops in Rhodhiss and Hildebran this week. On Monday, Representative Blackwell, FVR President Beth Heile and representatives from Western Piedmont Council of Governments (WPCOG) got a tour of Town of Rhodhiss from new Town Manager Rick Justice. Justice took the group to the Rhodhiss Boat Access on Weaver Lane which would be an incredible stop on the trail with restrooms and parking. The town-owned Horseshoe Trail Park was also a must see. It includes a walking path across the old dam, kayak launch, and views of the current Rhodhiss Dam. Robin Nicholson, Duke Energy Government and Community Relations said Duke Energy has archived pictures of the construction of Rhodhiss Dam that could be used for educational signage along the trail near the dam.

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Rutherford College on Board

After Rutherford College Mayor Gary McClure and Town Manager Kenneth Geathers met with planners from Western Piedmont Council of Governments (WPCOG) to learn more, they are on board with what the trail will bring to Rutherford College.

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Morganton and Drexel

Morganton City Manager Sally Sandy was more than ready for the visit from the Burke River Trail planning team which included Representative Blackwell, Western Piedmont Council of Governments (WPCOG) GIS Analyst Todd Stroupe and Beth Heile. The City of Morganton had explored the idea of expanding the Catawba River Greenway to the east in the past and Sandy’s staff was full of ideas and route suggestions. The greenway continuation is in line with the Burke River Trail that Representative Blackwell is spearheading with the goal of improving the health of citizens and the health of local economies.

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WPCOG Assistance

In April, 2020, Western Piedmont Council of Government (WPCOG) committed to a feasibility study for the Burke Catawba River Trail. Beth Heile met with WPCOG Planners Alison Adams and John Wear to create a list of stakeholders and developed starting plan. Stakeholders would be town managers, land owners, land trust, tourism and the county.

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Foundation Laid – Valdese

Burke River Trail Meeting Attendees: Doug Setzer – BCPS Director of Auxiliary Services, Wendi Craven – BCPS Board of Education, Averi Ritchie – WPCOG Planner, Larry Bragg – Natural Land Alliance, Representative Hugh Blackwell, Scott Carpenter – Deputy Burke County Manager, Doug Knight – Valdese Parks and Recreation Director, Shane Gardner – Principal DHS, Doug Hallyburton – Assistant Principal/Athletic Director. Not pictured: Beth Heile – President, Friends of the Valdese Rec

The foundation was laid today for the first section of the Burke River Trail – 4 miles from McGalliard Falls to Valdese Lakeside Park to Draughn High School to a private development.

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The Original Idea

In October 2018, Representative Blackwell talked to Beth Heile at the Valdese Rotary Pancake Breakfast about a trail along the river. The trail would reach each municipality in eastern Burke County, bringing health for the citizens mind and bodies, and boosting the local economy. At the time, Representative Blackwell was involved with the Wilderness Gateway State Trail and Heile with Valdese Lakeside Park.