Psalms 18:36 You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.
The Loop Trail, Laurens County’s future connection to the super-successful Swamp Rabbit Trail of Upstate South Carolina, opened Thursday with a scripture that thanks God for a clear path.
Recognizing that there are trail-blazers, State Senator Danny Verdin said the event for Laurens County is a celebration of “overcoming hardships and getting on a good path; for us to be on a path together, it is a blessing, it is collaborative - let’s get on our feet and get fit, let’s get out there and take steps, it’s going to be fun.”
The Loop Trail is the vision of the Laurens County Trails Association, which sought advice from the National Parks Service, and developed a plan to connect Clinton and Laurens and, by extension, Gray Court and on to the Swamp Rabbit Trail in the northeast, and the under-development Clinton Recreation Center, Millers Fork Trail and the statewide Palmetto Trail in the southeast.
It’s a big loop, right through Laurens County, emphasized Andy Howard, Laurens County’s director of parks, recreation and tourism.
“We will work hard to get it built in our lifetime, so y’all pony up,” he said, referring to the Capital Projects Sales Tax which includes The Loop Trail in its 16 projects now done and/or under construction.
“We made that choice for ourselves,” said Bobby Smith, vice-chairman of the CPST planning committee, which sold the tax to voters prior to Nov. 3, 2020, when it was approved by a majority vote. “Nobody else is telling us. You know some of the most important words are in The Preamble — ‘for ourselves and our posterity.’ I’m so happy today; it is not only for us, for us to enjoy and for our health, but for those who come after us. It’s a labor of love. This (community dedication event) is what we do it for.”
The tax sunsets in 8 years, but can be renewed for another set of projects with another majority approval vote.
Even without the tax, Laurens County Council Chairman Brown Patterson said local governments are committed to trails projects and other healthy living initiatives. “My 7 year old is really excited to ride his bike here and that will happen real soon.”
Also the vice-chairman of the Laurens Economic Development Corporation board, Patterson said there is an economic component to trails-development. “This does as much as anything for economic development. It used to be industries would ask ‘how are your workers’; now they ask ‘what are your quality of life aspects’. This is a huge, huge quality of life aspect for the community.
Laurens County Hospital CEO Justin Benfield said the Prisma health organization partners with the Swamp Rabbit Trail as part of “our shared commitment to keeping the community healthy; projects like this reduce barriers to physical health.”
The Loop Trail, he said, is “a safe and equitable access to the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Laurens County; we are creating a better state of health.”
This new trail is behind the hospital, just off U.S. Highway 76, in the Professional Park, between Laurens and Clinton, and is marked with signs.
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