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 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 started implementing said improvements in the summer and fall of 2019.
Joe Cagle wrote a nice piece on the story: Jamie Godwin and The Grove Oak Store
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, propane, 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 newsletter:
Two miles from The Grove Oak 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 anymore, 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!