COVINGTON – Construction will begin shortly on paved pathways in Chimney Park, thanks to a recent successful fundraising tribute to local hero David Waller held at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center. The first major fundraising project by Friends of Newton Parks Inc. (FONP), developers of Chimney Park, exceeded the original goal, according to Jean Austin, FONP chair.
"The outpouring of community support for an evening that honored David and raised funds for the park was heart-warming," she said. "We will be able to complete the paving by our annual Twilights at Chimney Park festival on Dec. 8, but we also have enough funds now to install the stone fire pit that will be built in the heart of the park. We couldn’t be more grateful to our donors, sponsors and attendees for the success of this project that was months in the making and required thousands of volunteer hours."
Chimney Park is located on 12 county-owned, tree-shaded acres adjacent to the Newton County Library and Health Building. The paved pathways into the park will begin at the new entrance at the southern end of the Health Building parking lot. FONP has authority from the Newton County Board of Commissioners to develop Chimney Park as a place where people of all ages and abilities can enjoy passive play activities and reconnect with nature.
FONP honored Waller for his legacy as retired director of the Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and for his efforts as a leader in the trails, parks and green space movement in Newton County. As WRD head from 1990-2003, Waller saw 100,000 acres added to Georgia’s Wildlife Management and Natural Area systems, which conserved habitat for many species.
Also, under his leadership, the WRD developed six regional education centers across the state, including the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center in Mansfield.
Waller and his wife, Connie, were early supporters of Chimney Park.
The Tribute to David Waller included dinner, a silent auction of donated goods and services, and a live auction emceed by Dr. Dale Evans, a close friend of the Wallers. Auctioned items included, but were not limited to: quail hunting at private clubs; an Alaska fishing trip; trout fishing in north Georgia; fishing on the Georgia coast; elegant dinners; a champagne brunch; a hand-carved knife created by Scott Fuss; cocktail party hors d’oeuvres; barbecue for 40; portrait photography; oil paintings; sports tickets; a handmade tool cabinet; and a cooking class with Nathalie Dupree. Speakers came from around the state to pay homage to Waller. Supporters included: Snapping Shoals EMC; Sweetwater Brewing Co.; United Bank; Air Conditioning Specialists; Ginn Motors; Sunbelt Builders; and Capes Property Management. Advertisers included: Newton Federal Bank; Coldwell Banker; Gerri Murphy Realty Inc.; GraphicThink; Holder Landscape Management; FFA Wildlife Camp; and Step in Time Therapy. Among other sponsors were: Covington Ford; Stephanie and Billy Fortson; Rob and Jean Fowler; Maurice and Kim Carter; D&M Apartments LLC.; Richard and Janet Brown; Hoyt and LaTrelle Oliver; and Burge.