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DRBA receives $700,000 grant from Harvest Foundation for outdoor recreational projects

LEFT TO RIGHT: Sheryl Agee, impact officer and team leader at The Harvest Foundation, Tiffany Haworth, executive director of the Dan River Basin Association and Sonya Wolen, president of the DRBA Board of Directors

MARTINSVILLE – The Dan River Basin Association received a five-year $700,000 challenge grant from The Harvest Foundation.

This will assist with resource development for the 2019 Outdoor Recreation Master Plan for Rivers and Trails, which includes numerous outdoor recreational projects in Martinsville and Henry County.

Sheryl Agee, impact officer and team leader at The Harvest Foundation, said the challenge grant will provide operational support for DRBA as they work to leverage the needed $7 million in funding and resources to fully implement the master plan. 

The challenge grant will provide two years of funding to the organization for the initial start-up, with additional support made available in years three through five contingent upon the organization achieving annual fundraising goals.

“This was a strong and aggressive proposal from DRBA that ties back to what Harvest and the entire community has been working on for the past decade,” Agee said. “Developing trails, blueways, and other outdoor amenities is a key component to revitalization for Martinsville and Henry County because it attracts new businesses and industry as well as a younger workforce. This is a different type of investment for us, and we are excited to extend this challenge to DRBA as the return on investment could mean leveraging millions of dollars to our community to fully implement the master plan.”

The Master Plan was adopted by Henry County and the City of Martinsville earlier this year.

Both municipalities have made a commitment to provide substantial in-kind resources for plan implementation that include trail construction, engineering, mapping, permitting, blueway improvements and more totaling nearly half a million dollars.

“Based on the success of the 2008 plan, I believe the implementation of the 2019 master plan will further the economic development strategy for driving business, retirees, millennials, tourists and other visitors to our region,” said Tim Hall, Henry County administrator, in a letter supporting the initiative.

The master plan includes seventeen projects throughout Martinsville and Henry County that will improve existing amenities and develop new ones.

Major projects include the development of a Fieldale extension of the Dick & Willie Passage Rail Trail, trails in Bassett, Stanleytown and Fieldale connected to the Smith River Small Towns Collaborative work, and numerous trail and river enhancements along the Smith River.

Local parks and ballfields also are marked for improvements.

"We are pleased to be a part of the continuing effort in Martinsville and Henry County to provide outdoor recreational opportunities for our community,” said Brian Williams, DRBA’s Virginia Program Manager. “The projects and concepts outlined in the MHC Outdoor Recreational Master Plan are designed to enhance quality of life for our local citizens and be a catalyst for tourism in our region.”

Tiffany Haworth, DRBA’s executive director, said she looks forward to working with the many partners that will help turn concepts from the master plan into reality.

“The Harvest Foundation has been a consistent strategic partner in the planning and development of the incredible assets in our county,” Haworth said. “This grant provides the support that allows us to bring in additional resources to help Henry County and Martinsville develop infrastructure that will boost economic development, help support health initiatives for local citizens and protect our natural resources.”

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