There are times in any community where everything stops for an instance, people draw together, and they witness something that they know will forever change their town and the way they live. These are big, huge occasions often with much fan fare and a realization that things are different now and that people will view you community in a different light. These moments are few and far between but recently, this past Saturday morning, July 22nd, one of these exciting events occurred right here near Granger Park and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. That event was the official opening of the Model Mile, the first section of the Thread.
In recent months, people have watched as crews worked around the clock in the great field behind the church. The foundation was made and the concrete was poured all along the backside of the field stretching all the way around the ball fields at LaGrange High School. It progress was updated regularly and the second that the concrete dried, people were already exercising on this wonderful new amenity. Finally, as summer begins to wind down, the first mile of the Thread is complete and officially open for the public. When it is all said and done, the Thread will completely change the dynamic of La-Grange and Troup County forever.
The Thread is not a new concept by any mean but one that is revolutionary in its design, completion, and transformation to the community. Like the Greenbelt in Carrolton or the Beltline in Atlanta, in each city where a trail or walking system such as this exists, it completely changes the dynamic of the area and brings with it not only a more active, healthy life style but also many retail, restaurant, and other expansion opportunities. It is a transformative project that touches different aspects of a community in tremendous ways.
Specifically to all of us here in the LaGrange/Troup County community, the Thread is a proposed 29 mile trail system that will link around and connect a large majority of LaGrange. It can be used for walking, biking, walking your dog, and any other form of transportation that is not motorized, with the exception of a wheelchair. The name the Thread is an homage to LaGrange’s textile and industrial past and as Mayor Jim Thornton put it a that morning’s ribbon cutting ceremony, it will sew the community together. The rest of the segments will go out to bid individually and could potentially be funded through SPLOST dollars, as was the first section at Granger. The second part of the trail is already being planned at Eastside Park and Calumet near Shuford Fields.
That Saturday mornings ribbon cutting was heavily attended by many from the community. Families with the children and pets roamed all across the great field and played different games. There was corn hole, Frisbee golf, free tatertots from the Supertots truck, the Kona Ice truck with snow cones, and merchandise foe the Thread just to name a few. There were many volunteers there that morning, all dressed in their yellow Thread t-shirts that were lending a helping hand wherever they were needed. Before the ribbon was to be cut, several of our key leaders from the community had an opportunity to speak to the crowd.
Mayor Jim Thornton opened the ceremony by speaking on the purpose and the origin of the Thread and their early meeting with the Chairman of the Friends of the Thread Bob Goehring who had the original idea for the system. County Commission Chairman Patrick Crews also commented on the success of the Thread and the citizens that truly got the project started. He also spoke of the importance of the SPLSOT vote and how it helps fund projects such as this. The President of the Callaway Foundation, Speer Burdette, also spoke about the history of the lot everyone was standing on and of how it used to be filled with kudzu and a tone point was even a section of a landfill. Today the Thread is an incredible partnership between the City, the county, the Callaway Foundation, and the Troup County School System as each of these entities is connected with the land that the Thread sits upon in one way or another.
The last speaker of the day was Scott Landa, the Vice Chair of the Friends of the Thread and the Director of Keep Troup Beautiful. Landa was there that morning representing the Friends of the Thread which made this entire project possible. He thanked all of the Friends of the Thread, the volunteers, and everyone who has supported this project along the way. He also officiated the handing off of the mile marker from the sponsors of section one (the model mile) to the sponsors of the second section of the Thread at Eastside Park and Calumet Village. After all of the ceremony, the guests were lined up behind the ribbon and cut it, signifying the first step in a process that will take between five to ten years for the entirety to be completed. The model mile is the first step in an incredible and unifying process for all of LaGrange and Troup County.