A project to build a trail for disabled individuals and veterans got underway Saturday at Dellinger Park.
The effort is being coordinated by The Home Depot in conjunction with the Bartow County Lions Club and Sharptop Arts Association — a Jasper-based nonprofit that encourages art appreciation and development in North Georgia — as part of The Home Depot’s fifth annual Celebration of Service campaign, which lasts until Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11. Participants in the project include Home Depot associate volunteers known as Team Depot, members of BCLC, members of Boy Scout Troop 12 of Adairsville and others.
Nicholas Barnett, BCLC president and representative for Sharptop, said that he and local Team Depot captain Jordan Heater said they brainstormed together to come up with the idea for the trail.
“So when we started thinking about how we could impact the community for not only the sight-impaired, who [are] a primary focus of the Lions Club organization, but also veterans, because we have a lot of veterans in our area ... we came up with the Freedom Braille Trail,” Barnett stated, noting there are only 33 such trails in the United States. They were even able to obtain a grant to assist with the project, and the Cartersville Parks and Recreation Department provided the location for it.
“So we brainstormed for a long time and then we figured out, ‘Okay, where can we do this at?’ And when we talked to [CPRD], we started bringing different organizations together. [CPRD Director] Greg Anderson said there’s a piece of land at the Dellinger Park that [the park] has had saved for something special one day, but nobody said what it would be,” Barnett recalled. “So we said, ‘Why don’t we build a trail, a Freedom Braille Trail, that would allow sight-impaired [people] as well as disabled veterans or any veterans that just want to come out and enjoy a nature trail [to do so]?’ And [CPRD] said we could have this part of the park.”
The part Barnett referred to is the wooded area next to the pond inside the park. The trail will extend a half mile and have ropes lining the side for navigation purposes. Throughout the trail, there will be 6-by-6-foot informational displays with braille, and the entire path will be lined on both sides with 4-by-4-foot boards.
“It’s been over a year since we’ve been trying to get started on it,” said Heater, noting that the potential impact of the project for local residents was meaningful to him. “I’d say it kind of gives you a sense of pride to be able to come out and just do something for your community.”
Barnett said both he and Heater were like-minded in their approach to community involvement.
“Jordan and I ... [are] both extremely passionate about giving back. We both care about our country, and we care about our veterans. So it all just came together like a puzzle, and it just fits,” he stated.
At least 32 people were present on Saturday to help build phase one of the trail, which includes the boards beside the trail as well as the ground coverage. Heater said the material used for the coverage is packed tightly so wheelchairs and strollers can access it easily. The trail in its entirety will likely take several more work days to build.
“When you look at the grand scheme of this whole project ... the amount of people it possibly will impact, and will impact for sure, is priceless,” added Cartersville Home Depot Store Manager Matt Sellers, who was present to assist with the project. “For us to be able to give back to Bartow County, Cartersville and then the surrounding areas is just huge.”