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Education center reopens

After years of hard work, a dream came true yesterday.

“This is a day we’ve all been waiting for for a long time,” said Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow. The day in question? The reopening of Bear Creek Education Center.

Dozens of people had a part in making the reopening a reality, and most of them were present or represented at a special open house Tuesday. Attendees convened at the new Farm Table at Overton restaurant, which is being run by Fourth Street Grill owners Lori and Brent Collum and will be open Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights to the public.

One of the attendees was Don Sibley, who was the Bear Creek Development Authority administrator when the education center was first opened.

“I was afraid these buildings we had put so much sweat and tears in were just going to go back to the woods,” said Sibley, who was returning to the property for the first time in 20 years. “I tell you what, I’m very impressed with the condition of the buildings.”

Morrow recognized a number of special guests, from political figures, to donors, to workers, like the Backcountry Horsemen. Overton descendant Trish Montgomery also spoke at the gathering, emotion overwhelming her as she thanked everyone who has been a part of bringing her old home place back to life. “It’s like coming home,” she said. “I hope people will make memories that will last a lifetime, and that they can learn how to change lives and make a difference.”

Mike Franklin said he too was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and hard work for the education center. Many more plans are in the works as the center continued toward completion and is prepared to open to the public.

“I’m overwhelmed that so many important people would take time out to come down here and support this effort – I feel like we’re going to make it,” Franklin said.