ABINGDON, Va. - The issue of creating a National Heritage Area for the 15 counties that are part of the Crooked Road, Virginia's Heritage Music Trail, is dead.
The issue had divided an otherwise unified tourism effort.
In a surprise move, the board of the Crooked Road has decided to give up their efforts to facilitate a National Heritage Area for the counties and communities it serves.
Several localities have voted to not support the effort, which gave the board pause for thought. "We very much felt that we were hearing a side of this issue that we needed to listen to. We couldn't ignore that and at the same time we were hearing a lot of optimism and hope for this project," said Wood Crenshaw with the board.
At Thursday's announcement, it was unity of the region that brought about the decision. "Our organization has really dedicated itself to bringing the community of Southwest Virginia together and we felt that if we continued with The National Heritage Area that we would risk that mission for ourselves," Crenshaw said.
"We just want to make sure that we step back from it. Those folks that have concerns hopefully now that can be put to rest and we can move forward with the Crooked Road and as the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation," Delegate Terry Kilgore, a foundation member, added.
Obviously, those opposed to the heritage area were pleased to hear of the announcement. "At the heart of the opposition was private property rights. The threat of loss of private property rights, federal government intrusion into our lives more than it already is," Washington County supervisor Bill Gibson said.
With the issue dead, it's back to promoting the region, its music, its culture and its tourism potential.