In addition to honoring exemplary athletes, the Surry County Sports Hall of Fame aims to recognize individuals/organizations that had a profound impact on the athletic tradition of Surry County.
A man who made it his business to improve facilities in order to move county athletics into the future is former Surry County commissioner, Jimmy W. Miller. Miller was inducted into the Surry County Sports Ring of Honor Class of 2017 last month for his role in helping the next generation through education and providing new and updated facilities.
Before his role as commissioner, Miller served as a Little League baseball coach for several years. Miller’s former players have gone on to serve as leaders in Surry County, serving roles such as president and vice president of a corporation, school teacher, and director of a community recreation center.
Miller’s most well-known work in the community came during his 20-plus-year tenure as Surry County commissioner. Miller played a pivotal role in improving Fisher River Park, the Lowgap Recreational Center, the White Plains Youth Foundation, and Franklin Fields.
Fisher River Park was once a hub for impoverished residents. The land wasn’t designated for recreational use until the mid-1970s.
The park now serves as a center for recreational and causal athletics alike. Various grants throughout the 1990s and 2000s were approved by Miller and the other commissioners to help shape the park into its current state.
Soccer and baseball/softball fields were graded and constructed in 1998. This was also when the animal shelter was constructed.
Miller’s work on the parks has not only benefited Surry County locals, but neighboring counties as well.
“Every time I’m there, I run into somebody from somewhere else who has either read about the park or heard about what It has to offer,” said Surry County Parks and Recreation Director Daniel White in a 2015 interview about the park.
Fisher River Park serves as the host for numerous sports tournaments, practice fields, church activities, and school events in Surry, Stokes and Forsyth County schools. The park also has hosted events for the Special Olympics and Yadkin Valley Senior Games.
Another example of Miller’s work can be seen at the Franklin Youth Foundation ball fields. Miller called the parking situation of the fields unsafe and that it didn’t meet the needs of the foundation.
The board approved funding for park improvement as well as funding for a Mountain-to-Sea Trail.
The County Hall of Fame is not the first time Miller has been honored for his service. Miller received a Long-Time County Service Award from David Nicholson of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners in 2009.
At the 2009 ceremony, former Surry County Commissioner Craig Hunter credited Miller as his inspiration to become a commissioner.
“He still wants to do it the old school way,” Hunter said. “And he wants to do it right, and he wants to do it now.”
Reach Cory Smith on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith