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For the past few years we have had a grassroots movement to launch a potential whitewater park project in my hometown. Recently a major goal was completed in the project with the Elizabethton City Council approving Engineering Studies for Phase 1 of ‘Surf Betsy’ waterpark. Here is some of the press releases from that action:

Growing widespread community interest and educating community members on the project has been a process for sure. Project advocacy has taken many forms to build the fire of favor; from taking city leaders down a river trip on the Nantahala River, to a community meeting in a downtown historic theater w/ some great keynote speakers. It has been amazing to me the connection that has been made to help make this potential project come to like.

Earlier this year I was approached by our local Elizabethton Arts and Cultural Alliance who wanted to help support the Surf Betsy project with a downtown art display. They needed a kayak for the sculpture in the works, so I was happy to donate them an old Jackson Kayak Mega Rocker (Formally known as the BATYAK with its black color) my wife & I had been using as a planter for many years. Then the artistic juices began to flow from local artists…

A few months later the “Mondrian Kayak” art installation debuts in downtown and already gaining good attention by many locals. It was created by Robert Benfield & Mary Ruden on behalf of the Elizabethton Arts and Cultural Alliance. The project was made possible through the Tennessee Arts Commission Arts Builds Community Grant. The installation was specifically designed for Riverside Taphouse, aimed at educating the community on the importance of art and outdoor recreation in Carter County.