WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rocky Face Mountain Recreational Area, which is located in Alexander County, has been recognized with an Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties (NACo). The awards honor innovative, effective county government programs that enhance services for residents.
NACo recognized Rocky Face Mountain Recreational Area (also known as Rocky Face Park) in the “Parks and Recreation” awards category. Rocky Face Park received one of 35 awards across North Carolina, and one of only five in the state in the “Parks and Recreation” category. Ten counties in North Carolina earned an Achievement Award, including Alexander, Catawba, Durham, Guilford, Mecklenburg, Onslow, Orange, Pender, Wake, and Wilson counties.
“We are proud of this recognition from the National Association of Counties, and are grateful to them for this prestigious award. I believe this award will help Alexander County and Rocky Face Park garner national attention, and show that great things are happening here in Alexander County,” said Larry Yoder, Alexander County Commission Chairman. “A lot of hard work went into the planning and development of Rocky Face Park as the County stepped up and transformed this property into one of the best parks in North Carolina. I would like to express my appreciation to everyone who played a role in making Rocky Face Park a reality. Rocky Face Park is a tremendous asset to our county, our citizens, and our visitors.”
The NACo Achievement Award was earned by Alexander County for its role in the development of Rocky Face Park, which has become a popular destination for residents and visitors. Prior to becoming a county park, the property was a rock quarry in 1920s and 1940s, which was then abandoned and left to become a site for illegal dumping and graffiti. In 1982, the mountain was purchased by The Felburn Foundation, but the organization did not have the resources to make improvements. By 2002, Rocky Face was a focus of the Carolina Land and Lakes Resource Conservation and Development District (RC&D). The RC&D took control of the property in 2003 and instituted cleanup efforts. Alexander County Government partnered with the RC&D, and in 2011 accepted ownership of the property. The county then applied for a North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) Grant to improve the site. Community meetings were conducted to gather input from local residents about plans for the new park. In 2010, Alexander County was awarded a $477,000 PARTF grant, and park construction began. The park officially opened in May 2012. Park amenities currently include 58 rock-climbing routes, 1/3-mile ADA walking track, picnic shelter, restrooms, park office, five miles of hiking trails, primitive campsite, geocaches, and more. The county is currently in the process of administering a second PARTF grant which will provide a community meeting room, adventure playground, additional picnic areas, and improvements to a wetland area. Since the park opened three years ago, more than 41,000 visits have been logged.
NACo President Riki Hokama, council member, Maui County, Hawaii, said, “The National Association of Counties applauds county governments that are embracing innovative and more effective ways to serve their constituents. The Achievement Awards recognize counties’ outstanding efforts to strengthen services and deliver results for residents across the country.”
Nationally, awards are given in 21 different categories that reflect the vast, comprehensive services that counties provide. The categories include parks and recreation, children and youth, criminal justice, county administration, environmental protection, information technology, health, civic engagement, and others. Started in 1970, NACo’s annual Achievement Award Program is designed to recognize innovative county government programs. Each nominee is judged on its own merits and not against other applications received.
NACo’s 2015 Annual Conference and Exposition is being held in North Carolina this year July 10-13 in Mecklenburg County. The Achievement Awards will be presented at the conference.
Rocky Face Mountain Recreational Area is located at 3451 Rocky Face Church Road, Hiddenite, NC 28636. The park is host to numerous trail races and special events. The most notable event is RockyFest, held annually in the spring, with trail races, live music, rock climbing, vendors, and much more. The park is open to the public from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. in the summer, seven days a week. For more information, visit www.rockyfacepark.com or call (828) 632-1093.