Saturday, September 19, 2009

It's March Time 2009

Below is a summary of what has been going on concerning this years March. This was submitted by Mike Dahl.

Well, it's time. I'll be leaving for Abingdon Sunday about mid day.

Great job to Doug Ledbetter and the Nolichucky Settlement Chapter for their work in preparing for the first ever March of Sevier's route to the muster at Sycamore Shoals.

The communities have done an extraordinary job of preparing what will be the most intensive out-reach OVTA has ever been involved in.

The communities project 5,530 school kids for program attendance for those venues that have been funded by the National Parks Foundation Active Trails Grant. Plus, we may have as many as 2,000 more from venues that were not funded.

We have funded events in 13 of the 15 counties in the Trail corridor. The counties that were not included were Avery and Caldwell where we have no active OVTA people working (at least not yet--I think Avery will be on board by next year).

As of about an hour ago, we have disbursed a total of $37,196.83 of the $50,000 Active Trails Grant to the communities to fund their events.

We have received a total of $4,100 so far in donations that will be used to match the National Parks Foundation. They will match what ever we raise up to $10,000 so we're almost halfway there.

We have $16,903.17 remaining in the grant, plus add in the $4,100 in match we've raised. Those funds are what we will use to plan and conduct the National Trails Day event on June 5, 2010. Paul has already supplied with a list of the 70 miles of trail that are open to the public and walkable that will be the focus of that event.

Alan, Paul, Fran, Marc Bowen, RG and I have served as the grant committee. Hats off to each of the them for making my job of working with the communities as easy as they could. They did good.

There is a whole new energy along the Trail that is born of the opportunities the grant has brought us. I am including an excerpt of an email I received today from Anne Swann who has led the planning for the events at the Joseph McDowell House in Marion on September 29th.

"For many years we have wanted to find some way to make this program work in McDowell County. Seems that we were always "on the edge", but never could quite make it happen. Thanks to you, this year's event will be the biggest and best that we have ever hosted! We expect an enthusiastic crowd of fourth-graders, 16 demonstrators!!
and a lot of tired, but happy, volunteers!"

That's pretty cool isn't it.

I've been getting raffle ticket money in the mail this week. As of today, after making the final bank deposit before the March, we have sold 199 tickets bringing in $716.00 for an average of $3.60 per ticket. Ronnie Lail and Jerry Mustin are the sales leaders up till now.

I've received word that the Muster Ground in Abingdon is still wet and soggy from the deluge they suffered in late July and early August. As a result, we probably won't be able to set up where we usually do. I won't know where to set camp until after I arrive in Abingdon or maybe even on Monday morning. But, as always, we will made do.

Per the board vote last month, I have disbursed the $500 grant from OVTA's general fund to Anna McVey to produce the first trial run (market testing if you will) of the Overmountain Victory Trail Mix. We've kept in touch and she will have the packets with the OVTA logo ready. We decided to hold off on putting the "history card"
inside the packets until National Trails Day. There just wasn't time to get the text written for the cards and the production things that needed to be done.
Hey Gary Werner and Steve Elkinton--How about this for an idea--Overmountain Victory Trail Mix--a healthy mix of fruit and granola in a 2 oz package with that name and our Logo on it. The next phase will have a small card the tells a piece of the story of the Trail in it. The first school to collect all the cards--the
whole story--will win... Cool huh.

Christian Thompson, the grad student from the East Tennessee State University Story Telling program is already at work. He is in Spruce Pine this weekend to work with Bill Carson to take a look at how they conduct their program during the Overmountain Festival at the Mineral Museum.
We paid the university $6,000 out of the Active Trail Grant to cover Christian's time for the fall and winter semesters working 20 hours a week. After the March, he will be working with several communities telling the story of the Trail and doing some training of their own volunteers. Cool, huh.

Heather from the new Chesapeake Bay National Historic Trail will be visiting us in Abingdon. She'll arrive on Sunday evening and leave Tuesday evening. She is coming down to see how Abingdon conducts their education days. She wants to observe on Monday and actually help out in the stations on Tuesday.
We met Heather in Missoula in July at the Partnership for the National Trails System conference. Nice lady. Look forward to doing what we can to give her ideas on how to make her Trail better. First time I recall we've had a visitor from another NHT come look at us. That's pretty cool, and of course Abingdon is the place to come.

Speaking of Abingdon, I have gotten their Model Trail Community plaque made and we will be presenting it to the town leaders on Monday, September 21 at 6PM at the Muster Ground. The first award of its kind. And I can absolutely guarantee that it won't be the last.
I've sent the Model Trail Community strategy out to all the communities leaders we've worked with on the Active Trails Grant. Asked them to compare the events they have planned against the check-list in the strategy to see how much they have accomplished towards completing the Trail in their community by this one endeavor using the Active Trails Grant money. A step at a time folks. And before you know it...

Been working with Paula Messing, she's the part-timer working for Paul on the Trail. She's been the liaison with all the planning and disbursing of funds at Cowpens. Couldn't write them a check directly, so we sent checks to each of the 7 schools covering the cost of transportation so they could come to Education Days at Cowpens.
She will be visiting all the schools that will be part of the Active Trail Grant events and programs before the OVTA Marchers arrive giving them some background and getting them excited about what's coming down the Trail. That way, when we arrive, they'll be ready for us.

Richard Luce, that fine artist friend of ours, will be on the March again this year. He will be judging the art and poster contests at the Active Trails Grant venues. How cool for the kids to have their artwork judged by one of the top historic artist in the county.
Richard will also be doing a station at the programs. His station will focus on how art is used to tell the story of history and actually work with the kids on sketches and building a painting. Now that's cool. Never been done on the March before.

So, Jerry Mustin came over today and we cleaned out the trailer and reloaded it for the March. Took as much out as we could to save weight and space. So the trailers loaded now. I'll start preparing and packing tomorrow. Having had a chance to get my own stuff ready, but I'll get it tomorrow.

So, again. It's time. Been a bunch of work getting ready this year with the Grant and bringing opportunities to several new communities.
To date, I've put in 233.4 hours on the contract implementing the Active Trails Grant. Been worth every minute. I'm sitting here smiling now that everything has come together. Not a single problem that didn't just crumble and disappear.

So, again and again. As Paul Carson has been saying for the past three years now, "This will be the best March ever". Yup. Let me say that again, Yup.

So, again and again and again. Folks, it IS time for the March. It is time to bring the American Spirit home. Get ready, here it comes.

Have a good one,
See you in the spaces between the footsteps,

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