We hope that today’s “IS IT TRUE” will provoke honest and open dialogue concerning issues that we, as responsible citizens of this community, need to address in a rational and responsible way?IS IT TRUE last night members of the Evansville City Council took up ordinance F-2019-24 amended? …in order to balance this year’s budget members of Evansville City Council voted to transfer many hundred of thousands of dollars from one city account to another? …City Council took the money from the Local Option Tax fund account?…after all that the City of Evansville is still is forced to carry a $2.6 million employee hospitalization deficit into 2020? …can you believe that some of our elected officials think that this is balancing the city budget?IS IT TRUE the good news for the Evansville taxpayers is that the State Board Of Accounts (SBOA) has passed a new State Law that gives Governmental entities six (6) months to find a remedy to correct the problems of overdrawn city accounts? IS IT TRUE we are told that the practice of not posting unrecorded accounts payable in a timely manner will come to an end starting January 1, 2020? …starting in 2020 Finra and the SEC will require cities with populations greater than 100k to submit the year-end financial report to the State Board of Accounts by using the accrual method of accounting?IS IT TRUE that six out of 10 TSA members signed up to speak at the most recent EVCS School Board meeting? …according to an article in a national publication that only one person was allowed to speak during the last EVSC School Board meeting and it was alleged that the others five (5) individuals were denied the right to speak by EVSC President Karen Ragland? …later on, the other five were allowed to speak after a protest was launched by the TSA?IS IT TRUE that EVSC School Board members continue to stifle the of “Freedom Of Speech”, disallows “Public Access To Public Records” and possible violations of the “Executive Sessions” (closed-door meetings)? …these are the reasons why that many people are hoping that local attorney Charles Berger will force the officials at EVSC to create an atmosphere of open communication with the citizens they serve?IS IT TRUE last week it was announced that Evansville has been awarded the 71st National Square Dance Convention, to take place June 22–25, 2022? …this event is estimated to attract around 3,000 to 4,000 people to our area? …we wonder why anyone would announce an event scheduled two (2) years from now?IS IT TRUE several years ago Steve Hammer was defeated in an extremely competitive Republican primary race for County Commissioner but he still remains involved in our community? … that Steve Hammer continues to be active in Vanderburgh County CASA, “A Hundred Men Who Cook”, “A Hundred Guys Who Cares”, YWCA Of Evansville, Ziemer Society Of St. Vincent, helping with the “Mickey’s Kingdom” playground project at Sunset Park? …we would also thank him for hiring long-term unemployed veterans to work at the Roca Bar-North and helping to feed the less fortunate citizens of our community?IS IT TRUE the saga continues concerning individuals competing for the Evansville City Council attorney position starting in 2020?…all three candidates continue to lobby all nine city council members but it looks like the trend is going towards current City Attorney Josh Claybourn ways?Today’s non-scientific but trendy “Readers Poll” question is: Do you feel that its time to make a decision concerning the Vanderburgh County jail?If you would like to advertise on the CCO please contact us at City-County [email protected] comments posted in this column do not represent the views or opinions of the City-County Observer or our advertisers. FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmail
Between the low rolling hills of the Piedmont and the steep slopes of the Blue Ridge Escarpment lies the isolated mountain range of the South Mountains in North Carolina, a range of mountains often forgotten to its bigger neighbors to the north and west. The South Mountains include many clear mountain streams, beautiful waterfalls, scenic vistas, and elevations that rise up to 3,000 ft. And almost half of the range is protected from development as either State Park or Game Lands, encompassing nearly 40,000 acres of the highest peaks and headwaters of the mountain range.I have been running in South Mountains State Park for years. Due to its relatively close proximity to my work and home in the Catawba Valley, I have been a frequent user of the state park and its near 40 mile trail system in the park’s eastern side. That being said though, a recent western addition to the park has nearly brought the park’s boundaries to my doorstep and countless others’ in nearby Morganton, N.C. Nearly all of this land is just a short drive of 10-15 minutes from Morganton, unlike the current entrance which is almost 30-40 minutes away. The only problem with this, though, is that there is currently limited access into this section of the park and little to no trails in its near 9,000 acres, which is almost half of the park’s size.Every year in January I am reminded of this lack of recreational opportunity in the western half of the South Mountains when I join fellow adventurers and friends for the running of the Sultan 50K, which is a joyous “fun run” celebration of birthdays including red velvet cake and fuzzy crowns. The run starts in the western end of the park along Roper Hollow Road and continues into the eastern end of the park and its developed trail system. This road straddles the boundary of the State Park and the State Game Lands and follows it for nearly 10 extremely scenic miles. In my opinion, this gravel/dirt road might be the most scenic of all paths in the South Mountains. It is also the main gateway to explore the western end of the park and the surrounding Game Lands.After this year’s running of the Sultan 50K, I decided to return to Roper Hollow Road with some friends and explore more of what the area had to offer. I had noticed many paths leading into the Game Lands off the road during the Sultan 50K and we decided to explore those first. To our surprise, we soon entered into a ridgeline wildlife field and witnessed one of the most spectacular views of the Blue Ridge I had ever seen (along with a rare bobcat sighting). Not only could we see the surrounding peaks of the South Mountains, but the view stretched from the highest ridges of the Hickory Nut Gorge all the way past the northernmost peak of the towering Black Mountain Range. The Game Lands are riddled with many of these trails, but there is currently no public map of where they all lead. This, coupled with the fact that hunters do frequent the area, has probably kept curious adventurers from exploring this gem of land, that offers much more recreational opportunity other than just hunting.After being in awe of the views we had just experienced, our group next set our sights onto Buzzards Roost, the highest peak within South Mountains State Park, which sits at just under 3,000 ft in elevation and towers 1,900 ft above the surrounding valley. Surprisingly, there is no trail to this iconic peak of the South Mountains. Therefore, it was time for some bushwhacking. After a short mile and half bushwhack to the summit, we headed just down slope to a cliff and we were rewarded with another breathtaking view of the mountains of North Carolina. Our view now stretched from the Craggies in the south all the way past Grandfather Mountain in the north. The view also afforded us a look right into the heart of the Linville Gorge. The lack of a trail to this location just seemed odd to me.As we returned from our wanderlust into the western end of the South Mountains, I was perplexed by the lack of recreational opportunity that lied there, but also excited to explore it even more. I have spoken with the rangers of the park on many occasions about the lack of recreation on the western side and they too expressed my desire to open the western end up with more trails and other recreational opportunities, but currently there is a lack of allocated funding to make that happen. It would be great to see a ground swell of support for the further development of recreational opportunities in the western end of the park, but I doubt many folks even realize the potential that lies within its borders. Maybe with the mass support of the outdoor community, we can all see the untapped potential of the South Mountains become a reality to more than just the ambitious adventurer.