One recent Saturday morning, Ron Ray noticed a couple of trucks pulled off the road near the Sheehan Bridge close to his farm in the Reidland area of McCracken County. Nothing to be alarmed about he continued his morning routine. By 8:30 there was a trailer of nine canoes, several private vehicles with kayak racks on top and about 40 people meandering around laughing and preparing food. Curious, Ray decided to investigate. As he approached the area, he encountered Kevin Murphy, president of the Jackson Purchase Foundation board of directors.
Murphy has canoed the waters of the Clark’s River many times in the past and had recently begun to work through JPF to develop interest and funding to install at least three launch sites along the Clark’s River for his fellow canoeists and kayakers. By selling raffle tickets for two kayaks at the recent BBQ on the River event in Paducah and donations from several local businesses, including Florence and Hutcheson, Atlas Roofing, Mike Petter Septic Service, Croft Concrete and Kingston Portables, the foundation was able to raise enough money to install concrete stairs and a sign at the Sheehan Bridge site. They were also able to create shirts and provide food for the participants during this canoe and kayak trip.
As the first excursion departed for the 3 mile paddle, Ray offered the group the use of his heavy equipment if necessary. “I am glad to see someone use the Clark’s River for something other than a place to dump garbage,” Ray said, “It’s about time someone did something like this.”
This project is in its first phase with at least one additional launch sites planned further upstream. One site will be established on property owned by McCracken County, off of Said Road. JPF also hopes to have a site on property owned by Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge, offering individuals several options for canoeing and kayaking.
To further their vision of “Sustainable Development in Harmony with our Environment, the Jackson Purchase Foundation has many projects in varying stages. One of these projects is a partnership with the City of Benton, the Marshall County Conservation District, the Marshall County Arts Commission, Bacon Farmer Workman Engineering, Kentucky Ready-Mix Concrete Association and other to install the first pervious concrete (porous) in the state of Kentucky west of Hopkinsville.
The Jackson Purchase Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, nongovernmental organization (NGO) working in Ballard, Calloway, Carlisle, Fulton, Graves, Hickman, Marshall, and McCracken counties in western Kentucky. JPF works with local citizens and community leaders to develop ideas, build partnerships, find funding, and implement projects that improve the quality of life for citizens of the Jackson Purchase region.