John brings to this position decades of experience in planning, community and government relations, writing, and project management for public- and private-sector clients. A native of Grinnell, Iowa (population about 8,500 when he was growing up there), his experience encompasses historic preservation projects in rural, small community, and urban settings in Georgia, Alabama, Iowa, Kentucky and the Carolinas.
“This position interests me for many reasons, not least of which is that I understand the tremendous benefits the completed Firefly Trail will bring to communities along the trail and to much of Northeast Georgia,” John said. “These benefits will positively impact residents of all ages, business owners, and visitors to the region.”
John has worked as an historic preservation consultant in Northeast Georgia since 1995, including preparation of National Register nominations and historic property inventories, in Athens, Gainesville, Greensboro and Washington, Ga., among others. Most recently, he served for nine years as the administrator of Hands on Athens, a volunteer-based program of the Athens Heritage Foundation that provides home repair and maintenance for low-income property owners in Athens-Clarke County.
A runner and bicyclist, John is a member of the Athens-Clarke County Rails-to-Trails Committee and a special contributor to Running Times and Runner’s World magazines. He earned his bachelor’s degree in history from Grinnell College, Iowa, a master’s degree in planning from the University of Virginia School of Architecture in Charlottesville, and completed graduate coursework in historic preservation at the University of Georgia. He and his wife, Amy, live in Athens and have two grown children.
“We are thrilled to have John on board as our trail development coordinator,” said Mark Ralston, president of Firefly Trail, Inc., a non-profit corporation created to foster development of the trail. “John has tremendous knowledge of trails. He understands the benefits they provide. And he has a real passion for the people and communities the Firefly Trail will connect. Those qualities make him the perfect person to be our trail development coordinator.”
When completed, the Firefly Trail will provide a wide, level and potentially paved 39-mile, off-road path from Athens to Union Point along the historic corridor of the Georgia Railroad Athens Branch. Designed for non-motorized transportation and recreation, the trail will enhance health, safety, tourism and economic development. The first mile of the Firefly Trail has been completed in Athens, and sections are fully or partially funded in Winterville, eastern Athens-Clarke County, Maxeys and Union Point.