Officials celebrate ADA Kayak Launch opening

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In Pelzer By Stan Welch – On a raw, rainy day, a variety of county officials and dignitaries gathered on the banks of the Saluda River in Pelzer to officially open Anderson County’s second kayak launch. The Timmerman Jr. Kayak Launch Facility is fully compliant with the American Disabilities Act, and will provide access to the river, in addition to an identical facility located at the Dolly Cooper Park. The Dolly Cooper facility was the first ADA kayak launch in the state.

County Administrator Rusty Burns, County Councilwoman Cindy Wilson and County Councilman Ken Waters were on hand, along with Pelzer Mayor Steve McGregor, Town Councilman Roger Scott, and West Pelzer Mayor Blake Sanders. A group of special needs kayakers known as the Rainbow Gang, as well as members of the Pelzer Heritage group also braved the weather to attend.
Emily DeRoberts represented Duke Energy, which donated ninety nine thousand dollars of the cost of the one hundred thirty thousand dollar project from the Duke Energy Water Resources Fund. The launch facilities are a key element in the county’s Saluda River Corridor Development plan, which encompasses a forty eight mile stretch between the Saluda Lake Dam and Ware Shoals. The stretch between the two kayak launches measures 6.5 miles.
Councilwoman Wilson said that the facility, and the adjacent fishing deck and one acre park will be a blessing to Pelzer and to river enthusiasts. “After some tough times, the people of Pelzer, in a wonderful exhibition of the human spirit, are coming back.”
Mayor McGregor agreed, referring to the ‘new Pelzer’, which expanded from thirty four homes to six hundred homes as a result of annexation. He also acknowledged a growing spirit of cooperation between his town and West Pelzer. “As we continue to join hands for the benefit of all our citizens, we hope to see more successes such as this”.
Mayor Blake Sanders pointed out that Pelzer, despite public perception, was not founded as a mill town. “It was founded as a river town. It’s value as a source of food and a means of transportation was well known to the native Americans who inhabited this area. Pelzer was founded because of its prime location on the river. Later, the waters of the Saluda were harnessed to provide energy and fuel the textile mills. West Pelzer was founded because the people of Pelzer disapproved of alcohol and gambling and dogs. But we are working together in new and better ways. The presence and development of greenways and blueways will play key roles in the growth of this area in the future.”
Katie Hottle, representing Upstate Forever, lauded Anderson County for its commitment to provide and improve access to the Saluda. “The many benefits of our rivers continue to become known to the public and to attract outdoors enthusiasts to the Upstate. The commitment of Anderson County to those resources is very gratifying.”
County PRT director Glenn Brill spoke about the economic benefits of the county’s natural resources, pointing out that thousands of kayakers and other boaters live in the Upstate area.
Matt Schell, who has been a driving force in the county’s movement into the blueways arena reminded everyone that the Annual Saluda River Rally will be held at Dolly Cooper Park in June, and is expected to continue its rapid growth, attracting both new and repeat participants.
For details, visit saludariverrally.com