Paul Grist State Park to reopen Thursday

Published 10:07 am Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Dallas County has heard back from the state on leasing Paul Grist State Park.

Paul Grist State Park will reopen Thursday morning when state officials hand over keys to the Dallas County Commission.

Paul Grist State Park will reopen Thursday morning when state officials hand over keys to the Dallas County Commission.

The park, located between Selma and Plantersville, has been closed since Oct. 15 and was among four state parks — three in the Black Belt — shuttered due to budget cuts.

Dallas County Probate Judge Kim Ballard said an agreement between the state and county has been finalized and needed just one more signature Wednesday morning to be official.

Email newsletter signup

Ballard said he would be able to release more details Thursday about a long-term lease between the state and county.

The park generated about $40,000 in revenue last year on a $170,000 budget, but most of that — more than $100,000 — went to pay the salaries of three full-time employees. Two of those workers have transferred to other state parks and another retired.

The retired employee will work on a contract for the county to help maintain the park and coordinate volunteers interested in helping.

County commissioners, state park officials and park patrons will be on hand Thursday for a ceremony to mark the park’s reopening.

Anita Ellison with the Facebook page “Save Paul Grist State Park” said everyone is welcome to attend and that the reopening is only the beginning of a lot of work to come.

“The supporters have stepped up and said we’ll help. We’ll volunteer our time,” Ellison said.

She said the cooperation between the state and county has shown how government should work and how people can rally for a common cause.

“It renewed our trust in the government that something can work right,” Ellison said. “It renews your trust that people are still out there to help each other … if you have that common bond, people will come out and support it and help do whatever you can to get it done.”

The park should be opened this weekend. Admission is still $3 for adults and $1 for children and seniors.

The park’s address is 1546 Paul Grist Road, Selma, AL 36701.

To learn how to volunteer with the Save Paul Grist State Park effort, see the group’s page on Facebook.

The other parks to close include Bladon Springs in Choctaw County, Chickasaw in Marengo County, Florala in Covington County and Roland Cooper in Wilcox County.

Florala reopened within a week of closing as a city park. The city of Camden and Wilcox County are still in talks with the state about the future over the park on the Alabama River.

Staff writer Justin Fedich contributed to this report.