Seeking a way to translate my visionary skill-set into a career, I purchased the an abandoned store in my home town. When I was a child, the little farming community in northeast Alabama had two stores, a service station, a restaurant, a post office, and a school. All of which had been closed for at least fifteen years, making it a challenge to revive commerce for the community and tourists visiting the area. This was 2015, before state parks were threatened.
I, being the only business owner in the area and standing to be affected by the local state parks’ closure, attended a public town hall meeting with the governor of the state. Full of passion and pride, I stood up in the room full of over 400 attendees including politicians and reporters, and plead my case for the park to remain open. After the meeting, the governor pulled me over to discuss the matter further. The parks remained open for a while but eventually the campground was closed March of 2016 by Governor Bentley.
Buck’s Pocket State Park received a federal grant to upgrade the campground facilities and build an OHV trail. The state of Alabama has started implementing said improvements in the summer and fall of 2019. Hopefully, to reopen our beloved state park soon, shooting for spring of 2020.
Joe Cagle wrote a nice piece on the story: Jamie Godwin and The Grove Oak Store
When improvements are completed, Buck’s Pocket State Park will reopen the campground and have one of the only OHV trails in North Alabama. We, in Grove Oak, are looking forward to having our park open and fully accessible again. Through it all, the Grove Oak Store has remained open.
The Spring of 2020, our park was finally reopened. This opened up traffic and tourism to our area, Consequently, I have been able to expand my business and improve services. Thanks to the dedicated park staff, we have been able to revive our small town further. We have gasoline, non ethanol 93 octane, diesel fuel and food, drinks, and other necessities.
For my leadership and commitment to community in DeKalb County, AL, the local newspaper, The Times Journal selected me as a part of DeKalb’s Top 40 in 2016.
And the Alabama Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association included my preservation efforts in their newletter:
Two miles from my country store sits our only county park, High Falls. Check it out at http://www.seehighfalls.com. I was appointed onto the High Falls board in the spring of 2016, making me the first woman to ever hold that position. I’m not on the Board any more, but I did make some local history and the falls are cool.
Of course, I’ve tried to make things better, improve safety and services for everyone here in Grove Oak. I have acted as Pseudo-Mayor from time to time, as needed.
A huge thank you to everyone that has supported this effort to keep Grove Oak alive!