Smith River Sports Complex is winning name for the outdoor recreational facility

Winners in sports complex-naming contest are (from left) John Helms, Karen Pratt, Cathy Burton, Kemmy Lackey and Irma Varner. Also shown: Rich Killingsworth (The Harvest Foundation), and Dennis Toney (SVRFA). (Bulletin photo)

September 30, 2007

Martinsville Bulletin

Officials with The Harvest Foundation and the Southern Virginia Recreation Facilities Authority announced Friday that Smith River Sports Complex is the winning name for the outdoor recreational facility planned in Henry County.

A contest to name the facility attracted 309 entries.

Five people submitted the winning name, and each received a $100 share of the top $500 prize. The five are Cathy Burton of Axton, Irma Varner of Bassett, Kemmy Lackey of Cascade, John Helms of Bassett and Karen Pratt of Martinsville.

Burton said she came up with the Smith River Sports Complex name because the complex is to be built "right there by the river; a river runs through it."

The facility will be built at the intersection of the U.S. 220/58 Bypass and Virginia 650 along the Smith River.

Pratt said she proposed the name because she thinks the sports complex will offer diverse activities and will attract people to the area, adding that she knows some out-of-towners who already are familiar with the Smith River.

Richard E. Killingsworth, executive director of The Harvest Foundation, said it was important to include residents "in the process of selecting a name for this important community asset" and that he was pleased with the level of community participation.

A panel of six reviewers narrowed the entries to five finalists and then a group of more than 40 people from the community selected the winner.

The Harvest Foundation will fund the construction of the sports complex, which Killingsworth projects will cost about $8 million. The foundation then will give the complex to the Southern Virginia Recreation Facilities Authority to operate.

Dennis Toney, executive director of that authority, said plans are for the project to go out for bid around January and for construction to start around March or April 2008. Construction is expected to take about a year, he said.

Soccer will be the primary focus of the for-profit multisports complex, which will have several playing fields, Toney said. The exact number of fields has not been determined.

He said he hopes the soccer facilities will be used by local teams and in the first year, at least six soccer tournaments will be held at the complex.

In addition to soccer, the complex could be used for camps such as lacrosse, cheerleading and football.

Also, there will be numerous picnic shelters and interconnecting natural trails at the complex. There will be an access point to the Smith River for canoeists and kayakers, officials said, and state-of-the-art playground equipment.

Meeting space will be available for community groups or small conferences.

More information about the Smith River Sports Complex will be available by the end of October at

Local officials have said they believe the outdoor recreational facility in Henry County and a planned multipurpose field house and arena complex in Martinsville will promote sports and recreation tourism for the area.

Toney said that plans for the city complex will come later.


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