The Saluda Grade Trail: Making a Dream A Reality

    The Saluda Grade Trail: Making a Dream A Reality

    Imagine a new rail trail that will transform the quality of life for those in the Carolinas.

    From decades of dreaming of such a trail, PAL, along with Conserving Carolinas and Upstate Forever, are working towards a game-changing 31-mile trail that will provide access along the countryside of Upstate South Carolina to the breathtaking mountain views of Western North Carolina.

    This vision will turn the historic Saluda Grade Railroad into a place that welcomes runners, bikers, hikers, and dog walkers. 

    Improvement of Quality of Life 

    We are excited about the opportunity to provide an outlet for outdoor recreation and quality of life improvements to the people that live along the trail.

    Visitors who explore the trail will enjoy scenic views, lively downtowns, historic landmarks, and natural sites of majestic lakes and waterfalls along the 16 miles in South Carolina and 15 miles in North Carolina – a great partnership between the two states. 

    Revitalizing Local Economies 

    Quality of life is a critical driver for economic development, and PAL and our partners are pursuing the purchase of the Saluda Grade corridor from Norfolk Southern Railroad.

    Similar to the Virginia Creeper Trail, this legacy project is good for the local economies as it starts just north of Spartanburg, SC, in Inman and continues to Zirconia, North Carolina, just south of Hendersonville.

    Travelers will pass through Campobello, Landrum, Tryon, and Saluda as they make their way through the area.  

    Numerous case studies testify that rail trails have become economic drivers for local communities.

    The trails bring customers to local businesses, attract tourists, and appeal to companies looking to locate in areas with high quality of life.

    Recently published in the Tryon Daily Bulletin, “While the cost associated with the Saluda Grade Trail is steep, the economic benefits from the trail will be a significant windfall for the communities along the route, according to an economic impact study conducted by Clemson University.

    The study predicts communities will see a direct economic benefit of $27-30 million per year with an anticipated 282-313 new jobs created by the trail, including initial construction, ongoing maintenance of the trail, new businesses and development, and expenditures at those businesses by patrons and visitors along the trail corridor.” In 2011, a national study found that every $1 invested in land conservation (including parkland) returned $4 in economic value. 

    The opportunity to strengthen local businesses, grow the local tax base, celebrate local history, and connect visitors with the natural world of this beautiful area is a win-win for all. 

    History of the Saluda Grade Railroad 

    Active from Independence Day 1878, the Saluda Grade Railroad was considered the steepest standard gauge mainline railroad ever built in the United States.

    It connected Asheville to Spartanburg and crossed the Blue Ridge Escarpment with a grade of 5% along its route.

    The tracks have an elevation of 606 feet in less than just 3 miles in the area between Melrose and Saluda, North Carolina. Currently operated by Norfolk Southern for the past 40 years, and the last train ran in 2001. 

    Conserving The Carolina’s Natural Beauty 

    The Saluda Grade project will transform the northern part of Spartanburg County and serve as a regional destination and want everyone, locals and visitors, to enjoy a relaxing walk to an unforgettable hike as they experience Carolina’s exquisite views.  

    The trail would also offer an unbroken corridor for wildlife. It would help connect protected natural areas like Lake Summit, the Greenville Watershed, Chestnut Ridge Heritage Preserve, the Green River Game Lands, Pearsons Falls, Melrose Falls, and Norman Wilder Forest.

    Abundant wildlife will enhance recreation by making the trail an excellent place for birding and enjoying nature.   

    Making Way for Future Connections 

    This project has the potential to connect to the growing Palmetto Trail, Hellbender Trail, The Daniel Morgan Trail System, and the Ecusta Trail.

    Through partnerships, creating the Saluda Grade Trail will provide endless possibilities for people of all ages and abilities to reach their favorite destinations by walking, running, or biking. 


    Now is Our Chance  

    This project is a community effort, and we need your help constructing this trail to make the area’s dream a reality.

    PAL and others see a window of opportunity with current federal trail funding, and we are excited about bringing the Saluda Grade Trail to our communities.

    Due to strong partnerships with One Spartanburg and the Spartanburg County delegation, the state budget includes a $5 million allocation toward acquiring the South Carolina corridor portion. 

    All of these benefits add up to significantly raise our quality of life. We’re creating communities where we can enjoy good health and economic opportunity.

    Our work will cultivate a pride of place and a sense of history.

    We’re deepening joy by finding more ways to connect with nature and each other.  

    Will you help create the Saluda Grade Trail?

    Our elected leaders need to know that there is overwhelming public support for this new rail trail Sign up for emails about the Saluda Grade Trail, and the PAL team will let you know how you can support the trail. 

    Follow this project and learn more about PAL’s initiatives and the upcoming 18th Annual United Community Bank Turkey Day 8K; visit

    The Dream Center

    The Dream Center

    The Dream Center is a faith-based, 501(c)3 non-profit that has been assisting those in need in the Upstate of South Carolina since May 2012.

    Our primary focus is to encourage, educate, and empower people in need by offering them a hand up instead of a hand out. A hand-up limits one-way giving to emergencies only and prevents “toxic charity”.

    All of the programs have been developed to empower and equip people with the tools to become self-sufficient.

    The Dream Center offers hope and empowerment through education by providing free classes to the public.

    All of the classes that we offer are taught by volunteers. Class topics include parenting, budgeting, health, Bible Study, and more.

    When someone attends a class, they earn $8 Dream Dollars that can be used to purchase items from the General Store at The Dream Center or from any four of our Resale Stores. Dream Dollars can also be redeemed for use of the laundry or shower facilities.

    The Santa Shoppe is an exciting Christmas assistance program offered by The Dream Center.

    This is a referral-based program that allows qualifying parents in need to earn Christmas gifts for their children, instead of depending on organizations that provide gifts through one-way giving. Families who need assistance are referred to The Dream Center by their child’s school.

    Parents are then required to attend free classes to earn a shopping voucher. Parents are also able to receive Santa Shoppe credit for attendance at pre-approved school family literacy nights, parent night, or parenting classes offered by Title One schools.

    To complete their shopping experience, a gift-wrapping area is also provided. At the Santa Shoppe, toys are selected, gifts are wrapped, life stories are shared and relationships are made. 100% of parents who have participated in Santa Shoppe said that they do not want to return to one-way giving at Christmas time. Our Santa Shoppe is in need of new toy and gift donations for this year. If you, your organization, church, school, or business would like to donate toys, we would be so grateful.

    The Dream Center does not receive any government funding and depends on the resale proceeds to operate. 100% of the store proceeds go directly to support the programs at The Dream Center. We currently have four resale store locations:

    Easley (5991 Calhoun Memorial Hwy, Easley, SC 29640)
    Greenville (2111 J North Pleasantburg Dr, Greenville, SC 29609)
    Pickens (529C Hampton Ave, Pickens, SC 29671)
    Seneca (11011 North Radio Station Rd, Seneca, SC 29678).

    All of our stores are open Monday-Saturday from 10:00am-6:00pm.
    Donations are accepted during business hours.
    For a free furniture donation pick up, you can call us at (864) 722-3030

    Another program that we offer is Crisis Intervention.

    We realize that there are emergency situations that arise that do require immediate attention. Intake specialists are able to meet with individuals who need assistance Monday-Thursday from 9:00am-4:00pm.

    The specialist will meet with the individual, hear their story, and determine an action plan that is specific to that person.

    We offer food boxes, showers, store vouchers, or a change of clothes in these emergency situations. We are also able to offer housing and employment assistance.

    The program we are most known for is the Opportunity Village which is a year-long residential homeless program for women and women with children developed by The Dream Center. Using a “tiny house” model, the village provides 23 tiny houses and 10 transitional houses.

    The program requires residents to take measurable action steps to regain their health, specifically in the areas of physical, financial, behavioral, spiritual, and workforce development. Throughout the program, each resident works through their Individualized Success Plan with their Social Worker,

    Financial Coach, Care Coach, and the Opportunity Village staff. Upon graduation from the program, residents are working, have reliable transportation, savings, and are offered the opportunity to enter the Bridge Program.

    Bridge residents live in the transitional houses for an additional year, while working and maintaining connection with The Dream Center.

    Want to get involved?
    The Dream Center has over 600 volunteers that help in all aspects of the ministry.

    All volunteers must attend a Dream Center orientation prior to serving as a volunteer.

    Orientations are offered twice a month to anyone that would like to hear about the vision and ministries of The Dream Center, take a tour, and learn about volunteer opportunities.

    You can sign up for orientation on our website at under the “Get Involved” tab.

    Dream Big is our annual fundraising event.
    This year, Dream Big will be extra special as we celebrate The Dream Center’s 10 year anniversary.

    This event will take place on November 15th at The Greenville Convention Center where guests will enjoy dinner, an update from The Dream Center, and a silent auction. Come join us as we celebrate the last 10 years, hear stories of life transformation, and look forward to what is to come.

    Sponsorships and tickets are available to purchase on our website under the “Events” tab. If you would like more information about sponsorships or would like to donate an item to the silent auction, please email Sarah Shupert at We hope to see you there!

    Ten At The Top Is Hiring: Communications Coordinator Job Description

    Ten At The Top Is Hiring: Communications Coordinator Job Description

    Communications Coordinator Job Description 

    Job Purpose: The mission of Ten at the Top is to foster collaboration and increase collective capacity across the 10-county Upstate SC region around issues that impact economic vitality and quality of life. TATT is looking for a self-starter with communications skills and experience to lead marketing, communications, and social media efforts for the organization. 

    Basic Requirements: 

    • Minimum of two years of full-time work experience in a professional setting 

    • Experience with online newsletter tools and web site maintenance 

    • Proficiency with Microsoft Office products (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher) 

    • Experience in graphic design (programs such as InDesign, Illustrator, Canva) and familiarity with website development tools (especially WordPress) 

    • Writing and editing proficiency and the ability to create original content 

    • Experience using social media in a business promotion context 

    • Attention to detail and the ability to produce quality work in a timely manner 

    • Ability to manage multiple projects or initiatives at one time 

    • Ability to work independently and accomplish tasks with minimal daily supervision 

    • Strong organizational, customer service, and networking skills 

    • Bachelor’s Degree 


    Key Responsibilities: 

    1. Maintain and regularly update TATT’s web site platforms 

    2. Create graphics and images for social media, web site and print publications 

    3. Coordinate organizational content & outreach on all social media platforms 

    4. Manage the content and development of TATT weekly & monthly electronic publications 

    5. Develop in-house publications and marketing material 

    6. Build relationships with media, TATT partners and board members 

    7. Write business & community features, program summaries, press releases, and support material as needed 

    8. Serve as the primary media contact for the organization 

    9. Develop & implement an organizational marketing & communications strategy 

    10. Represent organization in a professional manner at meetings and community events 

    11. Availability to attend occasional early morning or evening events, as well as some travel across the Upstate 

    12. Participate as needed in outreach efforts, including networking events, special projects, and one-time events 


    Position Information: 

    • Full-time 40-hour per week salaried position 

    • Salary Range: $46,000-$62,000 (depending on experience and background) 

    • Benefits include health insurance stipend, cell phone stipend, paid vacation, and paid holidays 

    • Desired start date is January 3, 2023. Applications will be accepted until position is filled 


    Interested candidates should send cover letter, resume, and writing/website/newsletter/graphic design samples to: 

    Dean Hybl 

    Executive Director 

    Implementating Union County’s Comprehensive Plan – A Shared Vision for our Tomorrow

    Implementating Union County’s Comprehensive Plan – A Shared Vision for our Tomorrow

    Union County is making significant progress by working through its newly adopted Comprehensive Plan addressing a variety of priority topics such as economic and community development, transportation, housing, community facilities, and public engagement. The plan defines a shared vision for Union County’s future that will improve the quality of life by balancing social, economic, and environmental needs of the community. A key element to the success of the planning process was public engagement and involvement as citizens, local officials, and stakeholders developed a plan that residents would support and embrace.

    Economic and Community Development

    Union County continues to grow a healthy economic climate by recruiting targeted industries, providing support for existing industry, and encouraging diverse business growth. As a result of these efforts, MycoWorks, a biotechnology company specializing in luxuryleather alternatives, announced plans to establish operations in Midway Green Industrial Park by upfitting the Midway Green Industrial Spec Building through a $107 million investment creating 400 new jobs. Through a $10.8 investment, Tiger Companies purchased the former Midway Milliken Plant to establish distribution and light manufacturing operations serving the construction, surveying, office, and medical markets; the company expects to create over 61 new jobs. Other companies announcing new investment and job creation include Covalent Chemical, Standard Textile, CSL Plasma, Milliken, and Dollar General.

    Union County is on the move attracting new retail establishments to the community. Small towns continue to face hardships in this area but Union County has overcome the odds by having a large number of nearby companies, services, and industries providing the infrastructure to assist in attracting retail and commercial businesses to the area. In addition, the County’s close proximity to more urban areas and designation as a micropolitan city, has provided a competitive edge in business recruitment. Starbucks will open its doors within a few weeks providing the company’s flagship brand to citizens. Tractor Supply, the leading rural lifestyle retailer targeting farmers, ranchers, home improvements, and garden maintenance, expects to open in December 2022. Both companies will become valued partners through their mission to support and strengthen the communities they serve. Also, the County is working through several strategies to support its small business network and grow the presence of an entrepreneurial ecosystem along the Main Street area.


    Public transportation will soon be available to residents in Union County through a partnership with The Chester Connector. The three-year pilot program is funded through a SCDOT grant and local matching funds from Union County. “Demand Response” service will run Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., providing access to medical appointments, grocery stores, pharmacies, and essential shopping needs. Passenger fare is $1.00 per trip or $2.00 round trip. Initially, passenger trips will remain in Union County during the three-year pilot program. Service is expected to begin in December 2022.


    Results from Union County’s 2021 Housing Market Study indicated a definite need for single family housing evidenced by job growth in the industrial sector and the lack of available housing to support demand. Planning for a new subdivision is currently underway along the SC Hwy 215 corridor close to existing retail, restaurants, and commercial businesses. The preliminary layout provides the potential for 50 new single-family homes in Phase 1 of the project along with other residential amenities. In addition, the site could accommodate future buildout of additional homes, retail, restaurants, and office space. Construction is expected to begin within the next 6-12 months.


    In partnership with Charter Communications, the County’s Broadband Focus Group is working through several initiatives to expand broadband infrastructure to unserved and underserved areas of Union County. Currently, Charter is completing Phase 1 of RDOF (Rural Digital Opportunity Fund) buildout in the County targeting well over 2,500 locations considered unserved or in difficult development areas. In addition, the taskforce, local leaders, and stakeholders worked alongside Charter representatives in August 2022 to gather information and data for the American Rescue Plan Act -State Fiscal Recovery Fund Grant. Deployment will target mapped priority areas generally located in the more rural areas of Union County.

    Community Facilities and Public Engagement

    Improvements to community facilities are currently underway delivering building renovations, utility infrastructure improvements, industrial site development, and a host of other projects targeting the County’s parks and recreation facilities. The majority of funding will come from grants and public- private partnerships.

    Encouraging participation and active living through community wide events is a top priority in order to plan for events that enhance the quality of life. Union County offers a variety of community sponsored events each year bringing people to together in public spaces which highlight the County’s assets and celebrates its special character. Ongoing events include the local Farmer’s Market, festivals, concerts, athletic and specialty events, and outdoor gatherings. For over 100 years, people have come together for one week out of the year to experience fun, food, and entertainment at the Union County Agricultural Fair.  This year’s event runs October 18 -22 at the Union County Fairgrounds, 120 Kirby Street, Union SC.

    Union County’s Comprehensive Plan is a roadmap for the next 10 years. Public support and engagement will be crucial to the Plan’s success. Join us as we make Union County an even greater place to live, work, play, and call home.

    She Served Too! – Showing Thanks to Local Women Veterans by Providing Needed Resources

    She Served Too! – Showing Thanks to Local Women Veterans by Providing Needed Resources

    “But Thank You For Your Service”

    It’s a statement many women veterans in need have come to dread hearing. Unfortunately, this all-to-common phrase usually follows being told that in some way her needs just cannot be met. Sometimes it is not having enough “qualified service”. Other times it is not having the expected disability requirement. And more often it is simply not having space to support her. The lack of supportive resources for women veterans can be drilled down to two main barriers: access and availability.

    BattleBetty Foundation is working to remove those barriers. With a mission focused on women veterans BattleBetty makes sure that no woman is every turned away for support because of the component she served in, her character of discharge, or if she has a VA rated disability. BattleBetty’s founder DeAndria L. Hardy said, “The hardest part about being in need wasn’t the need. It was being told over and over again that my service didn’t matter enough for someone to help me. When I was able to help someone else, I wanted to do my best to make sure no other sister-veteran felt that way”

    Since August 2018 BattleBetty Foundation has been working to increase the availability of resources for women veterans. The organization started by participating in local homeless standdowns hosted in the spring and fall by providing hygiene kits. After the standdown, BattleBetty began incorporating “street outreach” and  providing supplies to women veterans in need who were not capable of attending standdowns or crowds.


    And just over two years later BattleBetty continued to grow by adding South Carolina’s first Women Veteran Resource Center in early 2021.  The Center provides a 90-day Shelter program along with additional resources of a Clothes Closet and Essentials Gear Locker. But it was during their continued “street outreach” efforts that BattleBetty met Kory, a 50-year-old Army veteran, living in a wooded encampment in Greenville. She was a chronically homeless veteran who struggled with social interactions, substance abuse, and maintaining her finances to remain sheltered.

    Kory had a confluence of barriers that limited her access and availability to needed resources. Her struggles were made all the more dire by being unsheltered during the winter. “It doesn’t matter where she is or how long she’s been out [of the military]. No woman should ever feel like she doesn’t deserve help.”, Hardy said. For Kory that meant providing her with proper cold weather rated sleeping bag, waterproof boots, clothes, other clothing items and weekly food drops. Although the barriers presented were unique the mission for BattleBetty was the same, to remove the immediate barriers that prevented safety and stability for that veteran.


    And though it took some time, through a major collaborative effort, as of August 2022 Kory was finally permanently housed!

    Did You Know?

    • Since initiating its Shelter program BattleBetty has provided over 330 nights of warm, safe shelter
    • According to the VA, the 10 Counties of the Upstate are home to 8600+ women veterans
    • In a year, 13-15% of women veterans experience some form of homelessness
    • Across the whole Upstate there are less than 10 women only/women and children dedicated homeless shelters (that are not add-ons or housed with a men’s program)
    • $750 helps cover the cost of a 30-day shelter stay, meals, transportation, clothing, and case management costs that assist women veterans on the road to permanent housing placement

    Like Kory, there are many women veterans that are not quite ready to be housed. Some veterans need more support than what a 90-day program or basic outreach can offer. They need an additional bridge to help get them from homelessness to permanency. Hardy’s goal is to grow into a Shelter to Transitional Housing step-up program. Hardy says, “Providing long term support gives veterans their best chance at achieving lasting stability.” This aim is to have a built-in continuity pathway for women who need additional supportive services.

    The first steps to bring this program, Heroine’s Home, to fruition have already been taken. We are very excited to continue bring supportive service to women veterans of the Upstate.

    Get Involved

    BattleBetty Foundation will host Beyond the Battle 5K from November 6th-Novemeber 12th, 2022. This marks the 3rd year of the virtual 5K fundraiser with proceeds going to benefit homeless women veterans. You can ruck, run, or walk from wherever you are!

    Heroine’s Home is an ongoing project to bring a first-of-its-kind transitional housing program for women veterans to the Upstate. Through a collaborative partnership with the City of Spartanburg we were granted permission of use of a vacant lot to build the home. From site prep to materials to finishing landscaping, we are looking for motivated patriotic philanthropic partners to make this resource a reality.

    Be a Hero’s Hero by Supporting Our Mission

    Become a partner or help support local women veterans and provide resources for she-roes still in need.

    BattleBetty Foundation

    PO Box 277

    Fairforest, SC 29336



    Charity EIN: 83-2015836