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The People’s Choice

South Boston News
AWARD WINNING TEAM AT STAUNTON RIVER STATE PARK — From left,Craig Seaver, district operations manager for Virginia State Parks; Adam Layman, acting park manager; Keith Morrison, Corey Rosche, Brent Shepherd, John Hatcher, Eric Glass, park rangers; Stephanie Allen, office manager, and Katie Snead, contact ranger.
SoVaNow.com / June 17, 2013
Staunton River State Park in Scottsburg was ranked No. 1 in customer satisfaction among park users last year, Virginia State Parks officials announced Friday. The 2012 ranking comes from survey responses provided by visitors at all 35 parks in the Virginia State Parks system.

“Both permanent and seasonal park staff should be congratulated for their dedication in attaining this top ranking,” said Tim Vest, district manager for State Parks in Southern Virginia. “A lot of training and dedication goes into providing the level of operations and customer service for which Staunton River State Park is noted.”

According to Vest, many of the park’s part-time seasonal employees return to the park to work year-after-year — maintaining continuity and excellence in park operations.

Adam Layman, who is both the assistant and the acting park manager for Staunton River State Park, said the honor comes on the heels of a great deal of work by park staff. “We’ve been working toward this goal for some time. The staff worked hard to achieve it.” He also said he was “pleased that the hard work and dedication of the staff is recognized by the visitors.”

Virginia State Parks emphasize customer satisfaction in all areas, including camping and cabins, nature, hiking, biking, and equestrian trails, swimming, restrooms, bathhouses, programs and customer service. Park visitors are encouraged to offer feedback on their experiences by completing the “Your Comments Count” surveys available in every park.

The surveys are tabulated and an annual report produced by Dr. Vincent P. Magnini of Virginia Tech’s Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

Last year 130,000 people enjoyed the amenities offered at the 2,600 acre Staunton River State Park, including the swimming pool, campsites, hiking and riding trails, cabins and access to Buggs Island Lake from both the Dan and the Staunton Rivers.

In addition to the overall ranking, Staunton River topped the list for satisfaction for activities and programs, cultural and historic programs, gifts and souvenirs, and park signage.

Layman highlighted to reasons he felt the park earned its No. 1 ranking. First, “we are the only truly public pool in the area, the only pool where you do not have to pay a membership to use the facility.” The other is an event that takes place each spring and fall, the Staunton River Star Party.

For five days in March and October, members of the Chapel Hill Astronomical and Observation Society observe the night skies. “They camp out in a nearby field during the day, but spend each night watching the stars,” Layman said. One night, usually Saturday, the public is invited to the park, for free, to meet and speak the astronomers, and even look through their scopes.

The next Staunton River Star Party is scheduled for October 1-6. The event is open to the public on Saturday night, October 5.

The park is also constantly looking at ways to improve or add additional facilities to meet the demands of its visitors. Recently, Staunton River opened a new equestrian center with 13 campsites, 20 horse stalls and an additional 6 miles of trails. The park now has 18 miles of hiking, walking and riding trails.

Staunton River State Park is one of Virginia’s six original state parks that opened June 15, 1936. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register. Layman said one little known fact about the park is that many of its historic cabins were made by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps from trees cut down on the park grounds. Even though the cabins contain modern kitchen and bath facilities, each upgrade was done with care to maintain the original rustic nature of the cabins.

Virginia’s 35 state parks are managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. For more information about Virginia State Parks activities and amenities or to make reservations in one of the more than 1,800 campsites or 300 climate-controlled cabins, call the Virginia State Parks Reservation Center at 800-933-7275 or visit http://www.virginiastateparks.gov.

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