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'We're excited to welcome those people to Jones County': A new park acquisition hopes to bring more attraction

Jones County and The Conservation Fund buy the 28-acre land belonging to one of Georgia's first Black legislators in the General Assembly in 1868.

JONES COUNTY, Ga. — Jacob's Woods will be something for everyone to enjoy in 2024. The property was acquired and will not be protected by Jones County and The Conservation Fund

It's named after Jacob Hutchings, who became one of the first Black legislators in the Georgia General Assembly in 1868. Hutchings was born a slave in 1831 and was bought by R. H. Hutchings of Jones County, Georgia. 

Hutchings later became a stone mason and he hand quarried the boulder field.

The land was passed down from generation to generation and now his family wants the land protected. County administrator Jason Rizner says the land will bring new opportunities to families inside and outside the county. 

"The park will include mountain biking and hiking trails. There's also a sport called bouldering which was new to me and it's something new for us, but there is a very action bouldering community out there we understand. We're excited to welcome those people to Jones County too," Rizner said.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Program helped fund part of the $140,000 land purchase. The 28-acre land will include a hiking trail, boulder climbing, and other historic plaques about Hutchings. 

Other partners working to upkeep Jacob's Woods include the Middle Georgia Regional Commission, Access Fund, Southeastern Climbers Coalition, Atlanta Preservation Center, Old Clinton Historical Society, and the Hutchings family. 

Cameron Price works for Jones County Parks and Recreation, and he says this will be a great addition to the other parks and rec centers in the area. 

"We have Government Center gym, Haddock Park, Highway 18 baseball, and Highway 49 baseball," Price said.

Rizner says one acre of the land was bought last year and they were able to acquire the rest this year. Rizner says the acquisition brings a new opportunity to Gray.

"I think it's a neat opportunity to bring together a great piece of Jones County history and a recreational opportunity, so I think that's great for the people that live here and I think it'll attract people from around the region and maybe around the state," Rizner said.

Rizner says he's not much of a climber, but he'll visit for other reasons like walking his dog.

Jones County Parks and Recreation told 13WMAZ that with the new park, they will be looking to hire more people. You can apply at the government center in Gray.

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