A Day in the Life...Dr. William Blackley, A Founding Father of the Elkin Valley Trails Association
Dr. William Blackley, an Elkin resident of 41 years and well known family physician, started Elkin Jonesville Family Medicine and retired at 65 years old. He has been active with the Boy Scouts of America and is a member of the Rotary Club, Elkin Presbyterian Church and the VFW.
Dr. Blackley is also a strong supporter of Explore Elkin and Yadkin Valley Strong. In the Fall of 2011, the Elkin Valley Trails Association (EVTA) was founded by a group of about 40 people who at the time called themselves “Vibrant Elkin.” Dr. Blackley was one of these founders and the first chairperson of the association. He no longer holds a position as chairperson but is an advisor/facilitator within the organization.
There were three goals the Vibrant Elkin volunteers wanted to accomplish to help Commissioners and Staff and to stretch our tax dollars were: to improve the entry from Jonesville to Elkin, to help recruit new business, and to build a trail system/greenway. Since EVTA began, more than 20 bridges have been built and more than 24 miles of trails have been developed. The trails accommodate those with varying skill levels and abilities. Everyone who is a part of the EVTA is a volunteer, but there are also other people in the community who contribute to the trails as well. Last year, the EVTA had 5,000 volunteer service hours in planning, writing grants, fundraising, building and maintaining bridges and trails, attending meetings, corresponding, etc. There are sculptures and gongs made by people in the community. Also, high school seniors, church groups, Interact and Beta Club, Football and basketball teams (men and women) and scouts have contributed to the trails by initiating and completing building projects such as stairs, bridges, etc.
When Dr. Blackley gets up each morning, he makes a to-do-list and spends time brainstorming and thinking about how to enhance the trails. He spends a few hours a day communicating with other volunteers who think about, schedule, and organize volunteer events/meetings and plan trail maintenance and expansion. Once a month, the EVTA has a board meeting about budgets and ideas for the trails. Dr. Blackley enjoys these meetings because it is a chance for everyone to hear each other's ideas and suggestions. The current or ongoing projects that the EVTA is working on include putting 20 railroad ties in the Carter Falls parking lot, planting wildflowers, fixing fences, planning a new bridge and trail including the Skull Camp spur, etc. The EVTA just created a new information brochure with 5 maps of some of the best hiking trails. Expanding the trails depends on landowners willing to allow the trail over their property.
COVID-19 Effects on Meetings and Work Days: When the EVTA has their monthly budget meetings they must social distance and wear masks when appropriate. Also, on trail work days they usually field groups of 7-14 volunteers at one time to accommodate social distancing. This is unlike the groups of 25 or more volunteers pre COVID-19.
It can be costly to keep the trails maintained and to continue to expand them for the enjoyment of locals and visitors. The EVTA gets a majority of their funds from grants, donations, t-shirt and gear sales, and fundraising events. The grants that the EVTA has applied for have helped fund large bridges on the trail that were crucial to trail expansion. Every year the EVTA has held a fundraiser called the Trail Boogie Dance, the Duck & Turtle Regatta, the Yadkin Valley Tour de Vino and the Insane Terrain, 5, 10 or 25 K runs, however with COVID-19 these events and others have been postponed until it is save for groups to gather. Dr. Blackley says that the EVTA hopes to create an online store to boost their t-shirt and gear sales, and welcomes any donations or ideas for fundraising to keep the building momentum going through the COVID-19 period of restricted activity.
Dr. Blackley and the EVTA welcome anyone who is willing to volunteer to enhance and maintain the trails to contribute to the common good of the community and those who use the trails.
9/11 workday - pre COVID-19
Elkin & Alleghany Rails-to-Trails work party. Please note the COVID-19 family bubbles.
Wells Knob work day - Pre COVID-19