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Ribbon cutting held for Erwin Bark Park

Boyd Foundation Founders, University of Tennessee President Randy Boyd, and Jenny Boyd with Erwin Mayor Doris Hensley. (Staff Photo by Richard Rourk)

By Richard Rourk

Town of Erwin officials finally got the chance to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Bark Park located on the Linear Trail.

“We want to be sure that we have Randy and Jenny Boyd (of the Boyd Foundation) available before we have a ribbon cutting,” Erwin Mayor Doris Hensley told The Erwin Record. “A dog park has been on the town’s wish list for the past four or five years, but the budget just never seemed to allow for a dog park, so we are very thankful for the Boyds for this wonderful gift. We are so thankful for all of the Town of Erwin employees who worked tirelessly to make this a reality.”

The Boyds, who presented the Town of Erwin with a check of $25,000 in August 2018 had previously said that Erwin was the perfect spot for one of the 100 new dog parks they planned to support.

The Boyds were in town on Wednesday, Oct. 1, to see their investment first hand.

“I don’t think we have been to a dog park this pretty on such a beautiful day,” Randy Boyd, who also serves as the president of the University of Tennessee, said of the four-acre park. “This was a contest and Erwin won. This is one of the fastest builds I’ve seen. There are some cities that won grants that still don’t have their park done. Not only is it a beautiful park, it was executed in time.”

According to Boyd, investing in dog parks throughout Tennessee has been a rewarding endeavor.

“We are in the pet business,” Boyd said. “Our company makes invisible fences and around 4,000 other pet supplies. Because so many people have bought our products and supported us, Jenny and I have been very blessed. We knew we wanted to give back so we set out to make Tennessee the most pet friendly state in America.”

For Boyd, dog parks have been a place that has brought people together in a time of great division.

“I have seen firsthand young and old, fortunate and less fortunate, and even on occasion, I have seen Republicans and Democrats talking together about their dogs at the dog park,” Boyd said.

According to Boyd, there are economic benefits to having a dog park in your city.

“As a former commissioner of economic development, I can say that businesses want to locate where they want to live,” Boyd told The Erwin Record. “If you don’t have amenities, businesses will not come. Having a dog park is a great selling point and helps with individuals quality of life and that attracts businesses.”

Unicoi County Animal Welfare Board Treasurer Linda Mathes also spoke with The Erwin Record at the event and provided an update for shelter events.

“We have really slowed down the fundraising due to the pandemic, but we are always in need of donations,” Mathes said.

If you are interested in donating supplies such as blankets, laundry detergent, food, cat litter, cleaning supplies or if you wish to make a monetary donation please contact the animal shelter during normal business hours. You can also follow Unicoi County Animal Shelter on Facebook.

If you are interested in adopting a shelter pet, Unicoi County Animal Shelter has their available pets on