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HILLSVILLE — Steps to create the George Lafayette Carter Recreational Trail can begin soon, now that the state has funded a grant for $96,962 to make it happen.
The Carroll County Public Schools recently learned of the grant award by letter from the state Department of Conservation and Recreation's Virginia Recreational Trails Program.
Referring to Carroll's own mining and railroad magnate, the grant application sought funds to create a multi-use trail on the property where the Carter homeplace once stood and Hillsville Elementary School stands now.
(Only a chimney remains of the home where George L. Carter grew up.)
The grant funds along with about $25,000 in local match will pay for the construction of a three-mile trail on the 93-acre school site, following the Virginia Recreational Trails Program Manual.
The local match can be in-kind work.
The Carter trail will be developed alongside farm and forest, the school, the remains of the home and a stream bank mitigation required for the U.S. 58 bypass road construction, explained educator Bob Martin, who wrote the grant for the school system.
The Virginia Department of Transportation continues to plan for the stream bank mitigation, which involves planting native shrubs and trees to provide wildlife habitat and improve water quality, Schools Superintendent Greg Smith noted.
"That will re-channel the creek there and repopulate it with native species of plants and that whole bottom area will become a kind of conservatory," the superintendent said.
He foresees people in the community using the trail as a nature walk and as a way to get exercise on top of the educational opportunities for the students there.
This opens up the property to even more uses, Martin said. In the future, there could be signs talking about Carroll County history.
The portion of the trail around the school will be 100 percent handicapped accessible.
"Somebody told me you do as much good for as many people as you possibly can," Martin said.
A forestry grant of $20,000 will pay for tree planting scattered around the property. Maybe even that former forest staple of the mountains, chestnut trees, which were almost eradicated by a blight.
"You could do all kinds of things along the trail," Martin said. "One of these days, it'll all come together."
Each part of the project will enhance the property and it's uses.
"It'll be free and open to public use for people to enjoy," Smith said.