New Chattahoochee Bend State Park opens today

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Building a bridge along the trail at Chattahoochee Bend State Park are Kyle Shuman, Derrick Hunter, William Newman and Mitchell Jones.

By SARAH FAY CAMPBELL sarah@newnan.com Today is the big day -- the long-awaited grand opening of Chattahoochee Bend State Park in western Coweta County. A grand opening ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. at the park's visitors center, on Bobwhite Way.
There will be no parking at the visitors center. Instead, guests are to park along the river, at the end of Bobwhite Way, and take shuttle vans to the visitors center. Guests are encouraged to arrive between 10 and 10:30 a.m. to have plenty of time to get to the visitors center for the ceremony. To get to the park, take Hwy. 34 West/ Franklin Highway to Thomas Powers Road. Go right on Thomas Powers, and continue through stop signs, as the road changes names. Take a right on Flat Rock Road, and follow the paved road all the way to the end. The park -- the first new one in the state system in 20 years and the first in Coweta County -- is located on 2,910 acres along the Chattahoochee River. The ceremony will begin with Rachael Starnes singing "The Star-Spangled Banner." There will be remarks by Mark Williams, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Becky Kelley, director, Georgia State Parks, Recreation and Historic Sites; Andy Bush, representing U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland; State Sen. Mitch Seabaugh; State Rep. Lynn Smith, Coweta County Commissioner Tim Lassetter; and Glenn Flake, president of the Friends of Chattahoochee Bend State Park. Scheduled to take part in the ribbon cutting will be DNR Board Member Warren Budd of Coweta County, Bush, Flake, Kelley, Seabaugh, Smith, Williams and Steven Woodruff. Afterwards, there will be music beside the river, guided Riverwalk tours, and limited free kayak and canoe tours of the park by Georgia Outfitters. Volunteers with the Friends of Chattahoochee Bend State Park, as well as park staff, have been busy trying to get things ready for the opening. Also this week, Boy Scouts were out working on the first of many bridges that will be built on hiking trails as Eagle Scout projects. Life Scout and Eagle candidate William Newman, of Boy Scout Troop 47, finished the bridge on Thursday. He was assisted by fellow scouts Mitchell Jones, Tanner Brandner, Ben Ketelsen and Kyle Shuman, and friend Derrick Hunter. Newman worked with an engineer friend to come up with designs for the bridge, based on a similar bridge project at Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park. Newman said the plans the DNR originally presented were for a very extensive bridge, that would also be very expensive. He was able to get the new plans approved by the DNR, and then set to work raising money. Newman decided to pick a challenging project -- a 24-foot bridge over a ravine on the trail. With plans approved, money raised, and materials purchased or donated, Newman and friends started work at his home on Saturday, cutting board and pre-drilling holes, and began work on site Tuesday, finishing up the bridge on Thursday.


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