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Greenway Volunteers Honored

Bob and Maryellen Goodlatte with the framed greenway photo given to the congressman.

The Roanoke Valley Greenway Commission honored volunteers and donors in the Pathfinders for Greenways program with a picnic and several awards last Sunday. The event took place at Salem Rotary Park, the starting point for a one-mile segment of the Roanoke River Greenway that was dedicated within the past year. Many took advantage to walk the new trail before the picnic got underway.

Sixth District Congressman Bob Goodlatte, later honored for his help in securing federal funds that helped get the Roanoke River Greenway started (the $64 million flood reduction project), noted that Salem “has been very aggressive about building their greenways…without flood reduction project [funds].”

Salem is building their portion of the greenway towards Roanoke, as the city works its way west. “Let’s get this greenway [built] all the way across from the Bedford County line to the Montgomery County line,” said Goodlatte, who also noted the progress that had been made so far: “we’ve come a long way baby.”

Salem City Council member Jane Johnson noted that the section of the Roanoke River adjacent to what is now called Salem Rotary Park (near 419 and Apperson Drive), “wasn’t quite so beautiful,” before it was cleaned of debris. “A lot of time and effort was put in to this park.”

Greenways coordinator Liz Belcher, who works with all local jurisdictions to get the urban trails built, said the annual picnic was started 10-11 years ago “as a way to say thank you,” to all of the volunteers that build trails or contribute private funding.

In announcing the award for Goodlatte – a large, framed photograph of the Roanoke River Greenway taken from the 9th St. Bridge in Roanoke – Belcher said, “this person has done so much for our community. I cannot think of a person more deserving of this award.” Goodlatte and his wife Maryellen, a prominent local attorney, posed with the photograph. “This is going in my office,” remarked Goodlatte.

Also honored as the Outstanding Contributors of the Year was the “midweek crew,” a cadre of mostly people with the flexibility to build and maintain trails at times other than on the weekend. “These guys work 50 weeks a year,” said Belcher.

Besides having a catered picnic, some walked away with safety devices they could wear while running, walking or biking on the greenways. Belcher made another pitch for greenway etiquette, which was the subject of a program recently offered by Roanoke City Parks & Recreation. “Give a warning while passing in the morning,” Belcher quoted reading from a list of rhymes concerning greenway biking etiquette.

By Gene Marrano
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