By MIKE WILLIAMS
Friends of former Board of Supervisors Chairman Joe Sheffey gathered last Friday afternoon along Hazel Hollow Road in Fairlawn for a groundbreaking ceremony for Sheffey Park.
Located at 7422 Hazel Hollow Road next to the old railroad bridge across the New River near Radford, the park will feature a boat landing and a walking trail that will follow along the river under Memorial Bridge and all the way to the old Riverlawn Elementary School and Smith Farm Park, which is also currently under development in Fairlawn.
Being that the parks are in his district, Cloyd District Supervisor Adam Hall opened the ceremony with praise for Sheffey.
“When I was appointed to the Board of Supervisors this past year, you were one of the first to call me to not only congratulate me, but to offer your assistance and help wherever you could, and I appreciate that,” Hall said.
Hall said Sheffey is still serving the district and the county through his work on the Fairlawn Sewer Authority Board.
“Everything you do comes across to me as servitude and volunteerism even during your retirement,” Hall added.
Next up, Assistant County Administrator Anthony Akers said he couldn’t say enough good about Sheffey and his wife, Jeanette, and what they have meant to him.
“We thank them for the impact they have had and continue to have in our community. This (Sheffey Park) is the least we could do to honor you. So, thank you for everything,” Akers said.
Akers directed the attention of those gathered to a kiosk on the park property, built by the county’s Bill Warden showing an overview of what the park will eventually look like.
Akers recognized representatives of the Virginia Outdoors Foundation who were in attendance. He said the foundation has provided funding for the Smith Farm Project and it will tie in together with Sheffey Park to “make an extremely phenomenal, great attraction for Pulaski County.”
Akers said plans are to complete the Sheffey Park project next year.
Next, Supervisors Chairman Laura Walters said the board is “super excited” about Sheffey Park.
“I guess I’ve known Joe for as long as anybody,” Walters said, adding she first met Sheffey in 1985 through their work with the community college system.
“Joe has been my co-worker, a colleague, a board member, and I’m really proud to call him a friend. I’m really proud to follow in his footsteps [as board chairman], although I can’t fill those footsteps,” Walters said.
She continued that Sheffey was the first African-American to be elected to the board and the first minority board chair. He served longer than any other supervisor in county history – for 28 years, before retiring from the board in 2015.
Sheffey served as vice chairman from 1992 to 1995 before becoming chairman.
Walters noted Sheffey has served on over 40 local boards and organizations in addition to the Board of Supervisors and continues to serve on some of those still today.
“He has received so many awards,” Walters said, noting Sheffey had been recognized as Executive of the Year by the Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce in 2002, the Community College Hall of Fame in 2003 and received the Legacy Award from the chamber in 2015. That year he also won the New River Valley Planning District Commission’s Champion of the Valley recognition.
“Joe started out at New River Community College. They just couldn’t get rid of him I guess and he came back to go to work there,” Walters joked. “But then he went on to Virginia Tech and got his bachelor’s and then to Radford for his master’s. He had 36 years in Financial Aid and Veterans Affairs as coordinator for New River Community College.
“Highlights of Joe’s board career include sound planning through adoption and updating of the county’s comprehensive plan and our county-wide zoning, creation of a long-term plan for school building improvements, improving education by renovating and expanding Snowville, Critzer and Dublin elementary schools, constructing Pulaski and Riverlawn elementaries, improving the HVAC system and access at Pulaski County High School, restoration of the old courthouse following the fire in 1989 as well as expansion and modernization of the court and jail facilities,” Walters said.
“Additionally, he fostered our economic development by expanding our industrial parks, extending strong support to existing business and industry and the construction and acquisition of several additional economic development buildings for businesses.
“Joe was also instrumental in improving recreation for the county, both with the acquisition and improvement of Dehaven Park, the restoration of the Draper Mountain Overlook, which we’re still pursuing today, acquisition and improvement of Loving Field and the big one – construction of Randolph Park. So, it is so appropriate that this park is dedicated to Joe.”
“To see this to be developed, you know, this is something that we have talked about many, many times, but to see it happen like this, it’s remarkable,” Sheffey said.