OAKHURST–Questions often arise about the maintenance of the Oakhurst River Parkway, an out-and-back trail that stretches 2.8 miles from the Oakhurst Community Park to Yosemite High School.
People frequently ask who manages the trail system and how did it come to be. The answer is the Eastern Madera County Foundation. Quietly working in the background to improve the community, the foundation has served the area since 1992. “We get a lot of calls at County regarding the River Parkway Trail as well as the Oakhurst Community Park” said Bobby Macaulay, Chief of Staff to Supervisor Tom Wheeler. “That said, it is helpful that I was on the Foundation board and am able to help resolve their concerns,” he continued.
The EMC Foundation is a local nonprofit with the stated purpose of providing a vehicle through which Eastern Madera County organizations may complete programs for the “public good,” offering a way to raise funds otherwise not presently available to them.
Aside from the River Parkway Trail, the organization assumes responsibility for other projects in the area including beautification efforts at the corner of Highways 41 and 49, as well as the old Midway Market lot and the mural between Rite Aid and the Oakhurst Community College.
Bass Lake resident Sandy Brinley has a passion for enhancing the quality of life for fellow mountain community residents of Madera County. She has been the driving and sustaining force for much of the progress made along the Oakhurst River Parkway. Sandy has served on the board for over a decade and is well known for her efforts and dedication to the Oakhurst River Parkway. She cites the River Restoration Project as one of the major accomplishments during her tenure.
Recently, through the collaborative efforts of mountain area chambers of commerce, Visit Yosemite | Madera County, Madera County Economic Development Commission, and the office of Supervisor Tom Wheeler; Sandy and her fellow board members on the EMC Foundation have been able to take steps towards reenergizing the board. To this effect, the EMC Foundation Board will be joined by the Eastern Madera County Chamber Alliance.
The Alliance was designed for the Bass Lake, North Fork, Coarsegold and Oakhurst Chambers and their members to collaborate on regional economic development projects and other common interests. As the two organizations share similar goals, the Alliance will eventually dissolve and transfer its assets to the Foundation, strengthening the group’s ability to move towards a stronger and more resilient community. “I have seen this community work together when times are tough, and I know what we are capable of, we can accomplish great things when we all work together, and I am excited for these changes” she explained.
With the recent changes to the EMC Foundation, the board will now be comprised of a representative from each area chamber (Bass Lake, North Fork, Coarsegold, and Oakhurst), a representative from Visit Yosemite | Madera County and several community stakeholders from throughout the mountain area.
The group aims to help existing nonprofits better accomplish their respective missions and goals through coordinated efforts and technical support. Under the leadership of Rhonda Salisbury, CEO of Visit Yosemite | Madera County, the group will be aided by a team of grant writers at the Criscom Company. “We don’t need to reinvent the wheel here; we have some terrific non-profits in the community and our goal is to give them the support they need to serve the community,” said Rhonda. “We are beyond excited to partner with Criscom to help bring in some federal and state funding that will help us all get the job done” she continued.
The EMC Foundation Board actively seeks community members to represent the North Fork, Oakhurst, Yosemite Lakes Park and Raymond areas. The board will be voting on new members at their next meeting on November 24. Those interested in joining the board should email Bobby Macaulay at Robert.Macaulay@MaderaCounty.com for more details and an application.