Impact Stories

The River Launch

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The River Launch

By: Rachel Snavely

In Henry County, the local population enjoys many hidden gems. One gem, in particular, has been made possible by generous donors through the Henry County Community Foundation. Beautify Knightstown INC received an HCCF grant to renovate the Sunset Park Extension for the kayak and canoe launch.

Initially, the surrounding area was full of underbrush and inaccessible, and now it is a mowed maintained area, with picnic tables and a view of the river. The HCCF grant provided the installation of concrete pads for picnic tables and the ADA-accessible path from the gate to the dock for better access. The concrete slabs were installed, and six refurbished picnic tables were painted and transferred to the area. “The Canoe/Kayak Launch was achieved through support, donations, and volunteers,” said Linda Lashbrook, Chair of the Parks Advisory Committee and Treasurer for Beautify Knightstown.

Larry Lovall, part-time Parks Manager, added, “These picnic areas and paths would not be here if it weren’t for the grant from the Foundation.” Larry managed to clear out sections of underbrush to access the sandbar, which is a great place for launching. Larry commented on the upgrades, “We planned for it to be a ‘pocket park,’ but the past few months, I’ve been impressed with the amount of people canoeing and kayaking.” He shared how people from the Knightstown community and beyond utilize the beautiful park. 

They both noted the many grants from the Foundation, which have allowed the Knightstown community to develop amenities that promote tourism and economic growth. Linda explained, “This park adds another option for getting outdoors and enjoying nature. It’s a win-win that a new amenity can offer a healthy option to use as leisure time and is an enjoyable recreational experience while maintaining and respecting the beauty of nature.” The area is an avenue for families to enjoy the outdoors together.

Building and renovating this park has been a rewarding process for many. The most rewarding part for Larry is seeing all the people enjoy the space they worked diligently to accomplish. Larry is pleasantly surprised at how popular the area is, “Seeing all the people enjoy the space is rewarding. It makes me more excited to work hard and keep clearing the area. The part I like best about it is when people bring their kids and families out here.”

Both Linda and Larry are thankful for the support from donors through the Foundation and the support from Knightstown. “The grant helped assure me it would be doable. Without the grant from the Foundation, it wouldn’t be possible. This is a place that residents can enjoy, and it attracts river enthusiasts from other areas. The Big Blue River is a great natural resource that Knightstown can use to encourage tourism,” shared Linda.

Once again, the funds to complete this project would not be possible without the generous donations from our community donors. The Foundation is grateful for all the donors who made these upgrades possible, who gave back to the community through this project. After a fun time exploring the renovations at the river and meeting the faces behind this project, we are so excited for the benefit people will have by utilizing this greenspace.