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Newest trail kicks off with art, entertainment
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Cari Zimmer (center), Activate director, cuts the ribbon to open the Silverbell Trail in Martinsville while alongside children who attended the opening ceremony at the trailhead. (Bulletin photos by Mike Wray)
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Monday, December 3, 2012

By TRISHA VAUGHAN - Bulletin Staff Writer

More than 100 people came out Sunday for the opening of the Silverbell Trail in Martinsville.

“I’m so delighted and overwhelmed” with the turnout, said Cari Zimmer, Activate director.

Zimmer recognized those who helped with the trail and cut the ribbon with children who attended the event to officially open it. The trailhead is at the corner of East Church and Oakdale streets.

Cookies and hot apple cider were served on picnic tables, made by Eagle Scouts and Burr Fox, at the beginning of the trail. The scouts also built picnic tables to be placed at the end of the trail, which connects to the Dick & Willie Passage, said Fox.

With the trail close to the Y, Frank Wilson Park and the Virginia Museum of Natural History, more people may come to that area of the city, said Fox. He added that area schools may use the trail for walks and lessons, especially with its proximity to the park and museum.

The Harvest Foundation is “proud to be a part of this” said Allyson Rothrock, president of Harvest. She praised Zimmer for her willingness to work alongside everyone to complete the trail.

The trail “highlights the quality of life our community has to offer,” said Jennifer Doss of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. When businesses or families look at areas to locate, having trails makes the area more attractive and a more “walkable and bikeable” community, she said.

The trail is well-suited for children, Zimmer said, adding that it is 1?4-mile in length and has eight small bronze sculptures along the way, including a bronze rabbit and snake, that children can look for. Also, the return walk features a somewhat steep hill that may tire children out quickly, she added. Several people walking the trail on Sunday said that the hill tired them out as well.

Barbara Holland, who joined the festivities with her husband Morgan and some friends, said she was going to move her car to the end of the trail so her friends would not have to walk up the hill. Even with that hill, the trail is “a tremendous addition” to the area, she added.

Butch and Sandra Stultz gave the easement that allowed the trail to be built. Butch Stultz said he thinks more people should offer land for trails in the area.

Sandra Stultz walked along the trail Sunday with Butch Stultz’s sister, Sue Love Skeens, Skeens’ husband, Robert Skeens, and friends Jane and Johnny Myers. Sandra Stultz said she was impressed with the way the trail turned out. “I love it,” she said, “I think it’s beautiful.”

The Stultzes' son, Mark Stultz, came out to walk the trail with his daughter, Amber Stultz, and her friend Jeffrey Endicott. “I’ve seen it develop,” said Amber Stultz, who walks the trail every Sunday and sometimes during the week. She said she hopes others will like the trail and thinks it will be good for the community.

Walkers along the trail were treated to music and carols by fiddler Montana Young and guitar player Dean Smith, Will Zimmer and Jimmy Jordan, members of the Christ Episcopal Church Choir, Girls on the Run Girls, and Savannah Gwynn and Garrett Sirt.

Sara Zimmers of Martinsville especially liked walking across the raised boardwalk going through part of the trail. The trail is “a really neat addition” to the community, she said. She plans to come back and walk it again since it joins the Dick & Willie Passage.

The trail is named for several Silverbell trees found along the path. Brian Williams of DRBA said the trees are rare in the Piedmont and those at the trail are the only ones he’s seen in Henry County. Zimmer plans to put placards up so people know where to look for the trees, which bloom in the spring.

Trails “always (are) a true partnership”, said Williams. The trail is “right in the heart of downtown Martinsville,” which will help more people find a place to walk away from busy streets.

Williams and Doss created a plan in 2008 for the Smith River Trail System. The plan was created by asking “what do we have? What do we want?” The plan was to “put trails wherever we can put trails then connect them later.” Now, Williams said the plan has to be updated because a lot of the major trails are completed and the connectors are needed.


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