Wonder what gets done once you have an Executive Director? Here is what F3ST has accomplished since Beth Heile was hired with a February 1 start date.
Strategic Planning Sessions with Municipalities and Counties
- We gathered planners, managers, trail groups and the like to sit down to look at maps, discuss the routes and the priorities. Four meetings have been held and the final with Asheville will be on June 10.
- The result will be a map showing the trail status (completed, in the planning, seeking funding and the like) for the public and grant administrators. Due date: May 27
- Each jurisdiction is also providing their top 3 priority sections, so we are ready if funding becomes available whether for planning or construction.
Spreading the Word about FFST (existing access points, plans, etc)
- Our Exec Director, Beth Heile as a PARTF member is bringing NC Parks Director Dwayne Patterson to town to see the trail in Burke County and McDowell County.
- Hike and Learn Series – F3ST hosts every other week on an FFST section starting with talk from trail experts, then a moderate 3–4-mile Hike, ending with lunch in the community. So far, had Shane Prisby at FF County Park, FCNC at Old Fort and Clint Bowman & Jen Billstrom at Black Mountain.
- Social Media Posts about trail almost daily working to average posts among the 3 counties.
- Document available listing current trail access points
- Talking to organizations: Friends of Lake James State Park, Old Fort People on the Move, Old Fort Aldermen, City of Morganton Council, Burke County Commissioners, McDowell Trails Association, Marion Rotary, Valdese Rotary, Grace Ridge Residents, On schedule – Catawba Valley Outdoor Club, Burke County Board of Realtors. Let me know if you want me to talk to one of your groups!
- Joined Burke Chamber, McDowell Chamber and Black Mountain-Swannanoa Chamber
- Coverage in newspaper – Front Page of McDowell (including Burke County and McDowell County folks in picture), Page 2 of News Herald with Shane Prisby picture.
- Videos with Scott Carpenter, Burke County and Ed Phillips, Burke County Tourism
Funding from Municipalities, Community, Businesses
- Funding from Municipalities – F3ST received $32,000 in support from McDowell County, City of Marion, Town of Black Mountain, Town of Old Fort and Town of Glen Alpine. This allowed a part time hire of Beth Heile for six months as executive director through July 31. Funding from additional municipalities in July 2021 will allow the position to be extended.
- Membership and Partnership programs – We currently have 72 members (equally spread across the counties). The business partnership program supports our Trail on the Ground fund. With options of $100 or $500, we have 3 Burke County – $1100, 4 Buncombe ($1600), and 3 McDowell – $700.
- Meeting with large individual donors and granting organizations.
- Donation totals: $2375 Buncombe, $4910 Burke, $5552 McDowell, $842 other counties/states
State Funding Possibilities
- The Great State Trails Coalition started work in Jan 2020. Bob Hunter, Kate Dixon (MST) and Bill Holman (Conservation Fund) are the primes. F3ST ED Beth Heile and Treasurer Andrew Kota are secondaries.
- Goals: More money for state trails, money for non-profits supporting state trails
- Due to the Coalition’s work with State Parks, DOT and Legislators by providing information, specific budget possibilities, shovel ready project lists – the following has happened
1) Governor’s Budget – $10M Natural Surface, $10M Paved Trails (grant program for local governments and non-profits)
2) House Bill 936 Support for North Carolina Trails/Greenways – $20M Natural Surface/Paddle Trails, $3M Trail Maintenance, Planning Funds for Greenways – in process
3) House Bill 554 Designate 2023 as Year of the Trail – passed unanimously
- The Coalition has a lobbyist (funded from an MST donor) and his efforts have been extremely helpful in representing trail desires and navigating the process.
Trail Updates – F3ST Involvement
- Old Fort FFST Trailhead and Park – PARTF Grant submitted for $330K for parking, restrooms, 0.25-mile paved FFST trail, dog park, bike garden, central green, and a picnic pavilion area – near I-40 exit 73. F3ST helped with community input session and park planning stakeholder meetings.
- Feasibility Study for Ridgecrest to Black Mountain section – F3ST is looking for funding from area businesses
- F3ST Volunteer program in works for Burke County Trail Maintenance
- Marion – DOT moving forward with study to connect 2 greenway section at Hwy 70 – F3ST worked with FCNC to purchase a needed piece of property.
- F3ST working with USFS for spur/connector trail from FFST to 42 miles of mountain bike trail being built with help of G5 Coalition.
- F3ST will be meeting with new Ridgecrest Conference Center owners regarding easements.
- F3ST is in talks with private property owners in Swannanoa area for easements.
- Bob Hunter contacted all jurisdictions about T&I earmark money available from Congressional members.
- Trip to Knoxville to get ideas from their Urban Wilderness (50 miles of biking/hiking in town).
- Beth is serving on State “Year of the Trail” Committee to plan events for 2023
- Beth participated in the McDowell Tech Sustainable Trail Class with 2 other F3ST members
Running a non-profit
- In addition to the above, Beth created and maintains the web site, handles the social media accounts, prepares for and leads the board meetings, processes donations, keeps the finances (payroll, taxes), all without contracting out for services.