Happy Trails

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 12, 2006

Surprises in life are not always welcome ones.

In the case of Philip Herring, recently retired as manager of Sherling Lake Park and Campground, the big surprise he received on Tuesday was a most welcome one.

Herring’s extended family, city employees and many friends and members of the media flocked to the park that morning for the unveiling of the new sign designating the park’s walking trail as the &uot;Philip Herring Walking Trail.&uot;

Mayor Dexter McLendon came up with the idea of dedicating the trail to Herring, who spent more than 23 years working in and improving the park’s facilities.

&uot;He just deserves this honor. It was his dedication and love for this place that has made it such a wonderful place to visit,&uot; McLendon said.

While his family was in on the secret, Herring said Tuesday’s announcement was a pleasant shock for him.

&uot;It was a total surprise and very humbling. Yes, it’s a place I came to everyday to work, but I totally enjoyed it,&uot; Herring said with a broad smile, adding with a twinkle is his eye, &uot;They usually only do things like this after you’re dead.&uot;

The former Sherling Lake Park manager said he had many fond memories of his time managing the park.

&uot;I got to meet lots of wonderful people, church groups, camping groups, hunters from all around the country. Even though I am retired, we still keep in contact through e-mail and letters they send us.&uot;

Herring, who turned 71 in September, said he was continuing to enjoy his retirement.

&uot;We are going a lot, doing what we love. We just got back and soon we’ll be going again,&uot; he laughed.

As he looked at his friends and family scattered around the entrance to the walking trail, Herring nodded and smiled.

&uot;It is a wonderful place. I am so happy to have been just a small part of it. To see it change and grow – it’s a place that appeals to people locally and from all over.&uot;

McLendon said to the best of his knowledge, this was the first time part of the city’s property had been re-named after a city employee.

&uot;Everyone loves Mr. Philip. He’s made out of good stuff and his faith is strong. We got worried about him and his heart problems a while back, but are so thankful to still have him here. As I said, he is made of good stuff,&uot; the mayor said.

McLendon also said Herring’s careful management of the park over the years had helped make it a favorite – and lucrative –

stop for travelers through the area.

&uot;We probably get back over $100,000 a year from fees paid by those using and staying in the park, not to mention what’s brought in when they buy food, gas, spend money at the golf course and so on. Sherling Lake Park has been very good for the city.&uot;