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Four-legged friends join in dog park dedication, grand opening

By Staff | Apr 13, 2018

Toni Milbourne/Chronicle Dogs of all breeds and sizes brought their owners to the opening of Sam Michael’s Dog Park on Saturday.

More than a dozen dogs arrived with their humans last Saturday morning to open the Jefferson County Parks and Recreation’s Dog Park at Sam Michael’s Park.

While the park has been open for use through much of winter, Saturday marked the official grand opening of the facility.

The two-acre park, on which construction started last fall, is in a portion of the larger boundaries of Sam Michael’s Park that encompasses open and tree-covered areas. Amenities for the dog population include a doggie water fountain, an obstacle course and a walking trail for the pups to lead their humans. There’s also a waste station.

Parks Director Jennifer Myers welcomed all to Saturday’s event, where she said the new park came to fruition after much consideration to use the area’s event center for special event purposes only. Prior to that, dogs and their owners had used the park’s events location as their park, but were often faced with closures and displacement when the field was used for events such as the Mountain Heritage Arts and Crafts Festival.

The new park is solely dedicated to dogs and is open from dawn to dusk. There are no fees to use the park; however, owners are required to clean up after their pets and to monitor them when in the park.

Toni Milbourne/Chronicle Maintenance Manager Tim Lykens and Parks Director Jennifer Myers welcome guests to the Dog Park’s official grand opening at Sam Michael's Park.

The park allows pet owners to exercise their dogs and provides a social atmosphere both for themselves and their canine companions.

Jefferson County Commissioner Jane Tabb was on hand for the opening, taking time so say a few words to all gathered.

“The Parks and Rec staff and their board have done great work in providing this park as well as moving forward on the amphitheater project,” Tabb said.

The Jefferson County Parks Commission is moving forward with plans to begin construction on an amphitheater that was originally discussed as far back as the 1970s as a way to boost tourism within the county. The project sits within the park’s events field and will offer a venue for live entertainment in future years. The beginning phases include a concrete stage and roof; however, complete build-out of the project will span several years.

Jefferson County Parks and Recreation applied for and was awarded a grant from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History to begin construction on the long-awaited amphitheater. Construction will begin in 2018.

Myers said future park plans include agility training stations, although with weather constraints this winter and spring, those amenities have yet to be installed. She also praised the park’s maintenance staff, who regularly walk the park to ensure that all is safe and clean for its users.

The total cost for creation of the new dog park was approximately $30,000.

“We know that there are so many people who use the dog park, and we want to make sure that we were able to offer a location within Sam Michael’s Park for their continued use,” Myers said.