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Marina starts with a splash
Event marks the start of construction
Instead of a traditional groundbreaking for the new marina on Philpott Lake, dignitaries on Wednesday splashed in the water with oars from the dock at Boat Ramp No. 1. Shown are (above, from left) Col. Steven A. Baker, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Clay Jackson with Cornerstone Construction Co., contractor for the project; Jennifer Doss, director of tourism for the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp.; Roger Adams, director of Henry County Parks and Recreation; Allyson Rothrock, president of the Harvest Foundation; and Jim Adams, chairman of the Henry County Board of Supervisors. Behind them are other members of the board of supervisors and officials. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
A marina to be built at Philpott Lake should draw more tourists there, which would boost the local economy, according to a federal official.
About 500,000 people visit the lake each year, contributing up to $20 million to the local economy, said Col. Steven Baker, commander of the Wilmington (N.C.) District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The marina “hopefully will add to that,” Baker said during a “groundbreaking ceremony” Wednesday afternoon near Boat Ramp 1.
Mark Heath, president and CEO of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. (EDC), said the lake is “a key element” of his organization’s efforts to boost the local economy. Those efforts include recruiting new businesses and industries as well as promoting tourism locally.
Instead of shoveling dirt, local dignitaries gathered on a pier, put boat oars into the lake and splashed water.
About 50 people attended the ceremony. A fisherman in a boat nearby cast his line to try his luck.
The Corps of Engineers oversees the lake and operates its hydroelectric dam, but the Henry County Parks and Recreation Department will run the marina.
Construction will begin immediately and is expected to be finished this summer, said county Parks and Recreation Director Roger Adams.
He noted that renovations to a nearby group campground are under way. Each campground site will have water/sewer service and electricity. The campground also will have a restroom/shower facility and a picnic shelter, officials have said.
The parks and recreation department will take campground reservations and rent 40 boat slips at the marina. Adams said about 55 people already have called the department to inquire about renting slips.
A shop at the marina will sell bait and tackle supplies, concessions and nonethanol gasoline, he said.
After it is built, the marina will be “a nice place to hang out at the lake and enjoy the day,” he added.
Construction is estimated to cost $1.35 million. The Harvest Foundation is giving $250,000, and the EDC is giving $150,000. The county is to pay the rest of the cost.
A previous marina on the Franklin County side of the lake was destroyed by fire in 2001. The new marina is intended to replace that one, officials said.
County officials worked with Craig “Rocky” Rockwell, the engineering corps’ operations manager for Philpott, to develop plans for the new marina, according to Jim Adams, chairman of the Henry County Board of Supervisors.
The marina will be “another spark in rekindling the fires of economic growth in Henry County,” said Adams, who represents the Blackberry District where the lake is located.
He said various local contractors are involved in the project, and they worked closely with the county to ensure construction costs would be affordable.
Rockwell recalled that former Henry County administrator Benny Summerlin, who died last year after a lengthy illness, was actively involved in the project and considered it to be “his swansong.”
“I’m sorry he couldn’t share (the ceremony) with us today,” Baker said.
Wednesday was “a day that a lot of people have worked toward” for a long time, Rockwell said of the groundbreaking.
After the marina opens, it will be the 26th recreational facility operated by the county, Adams said.