Jarrod Dean
Jarrod Dean lays out plans for park innovations.

Jarrod Dean
Exciting improvements coming for Putnam parks system, says director

January 17, 2017

In the dim light of a foggy morning in late March, a neighbor looked out of his window toward the old Chapman pre-Civil War cemetery off Sunnybrook.

"It was the shock of my life," he said. Walking among the weathered gravestones with musket and backpack was a Confederate soldier.

But it was just one more instance of strange happenings around Putnam's Valley Park.

The Chapman cemetery is close by the park, and the park was hosting its annual Civil War Days, an event which draws soldier reenactors and their ladies to Putnam County from across the country.

Later in the day, cannon volleys and gunfire erupt in the park as Yankees and Rebels fight again the Battles of Scary Creek and Hurricane Bridge.

This year, however, Parks Director Jarrod Dean told Rotarians today, there will be no ghostly apparitions in the Chapman cemetery.

The cannon will be silent as the fighting gives way -- for a time at least -- to a major overhaul for improvements to the Valley Park.

The County Commission has accepted a "tax increment financing" grant, a plan which supports loan repayments through property value increases due to the improvements in a TIF district.

. There will be a two-lane exit out of the park, he said. There will be three new ballfields with artificial turf.

"We're going to be attracting large sporting tournaments in here," said Dean. "Little League, softball, baseball tournaments.

"And the City of Hurricane is also building some ballfields so we will be able to partner-up on some big tournaments.

"In Phase II, we're going to be building a 30,000 square foot convention center where we can be holding large conferences. It will house the Chamber of Commerce dinner, so we will be able to stay within the county.

"We're putting in a close to $400,000 playground with a lot of equipment for kids -- a small Ninja-Warrior obstacle course. Beside it is a two-lane track where kids can use apps to clock their speed.

"There will be a nice green space for community events, whether it be gospel, bluegrass, country, jazz -- whatever.

"We're putting in new maintenance facilities and tennis courts."

The north side of the park which was once farm land will be the site of a "Demonstration Heritage Farm."

"Within the past three weeks, we have planted some apple trees, some paw-paw trees, some pear trees -- forty-two trees total. We're putting in a high tunnel to demonstrate traditional growing and hydroponic growing -- through some grants with West Virginia State and WVU."

The "barn" maintenance building will be remodeled into a multipurpose facility. "We will hold 'barn-style' weddings there, small-scale concerts. We have some fund-raising events already planned for this."

With a nod to technology, solar panels may be utilized for lighting in the picnic shelters and phone charging stations. This is a research project with West Virginia State.

"Concrete is being replaced around the Wave Pool. The liner will come in in March, and we're hoping that we will be open as normal.

"We are very close to going with a contractual agreement with the YMCA to be pool operator at the Waves of Fun. I think this partnership will help membership in the YMCA to increase even more."

Just about the only area not to be changed is the old Chapman cemetery.

But in another spring the Yankee and Rebel soldiers may return to fight again the battles of a bygone era and pay their respects in the old burial ground off Sunnybrook.

      Rotarian Cyndee Adkins has prepared a "live feed" of the program today. To access the video, click HERE!     

More Putnam Rotary News? Click HERE.