Emily's Bark Park, which opened last summer in Munford and is the only dog park in Tipton County, will be getting an upgrade over the coming months after Munford was awarded a $25,000 grant. 

The grant was awarded Tuesday afternoon after Munford won a contest called Dog Park Dash. It is an initiative organized by Randy Boyd and his Boyd Foundation, which has committed to handing out $3 million over three years for communities in Tennessee to build, or, in this case, enhance, a dog park. 

Munford Mayor Dwayne Cole said a concrete plan for what improvements will be made is not yet in place, but possibilities include an activity center for the dogs, hydration stations, shaded areas and a paved parking lot. Parks and Recreation Director Griff Fisher and Barbara Dorn, the town's community development director, handled the grant application process. 

"We feel very fortunate to receive this," Cole said. 

About 40 people attended a ceremony Tuesday when the grant was officially awarded, including Boyd, who is the interim University of Tennessee president and was a Republican candidate for governor last year. 

"I've been to Munford multiple times," Boyd said. "What stood out for Munford is just the level of civic engagement. People cared about their dog park and cared about the community and they came out en masse to write letters and post things on social media. The passion, the enthusiasm and the level of engagement made Munford a clear winner."

The park is named after Emily Arthur Clark, a Tipton County woman and animal lover who died of liver cancer four years ago at 57. The park, located in Valentine Park, is enclosed by a four-foot, no-climb fence and includes separate areas for big and small dogs. There's also a double gate that prevents dogs from getting out of the enclosure. Admission is free and the park is open seven days a week from dawn to dusk.

Boyd said when he helped open a dog park in Knoxville several years ago he wasn't sure if it was a good idea or not. Since then dozens of dog parks have opened across the state. The Dog Park Dash contest started last year and will continue through 2020. 

"It's also a place for people," Boyd said. "We need places where people can come together ... And maybe, just maybe, you might even see a Democrat and a Republican sitting on a bench talking to each other."

Jeff Ireland is The Leader's sports editor. To contact him, call 901-476-7116 or email jireland@covingtonleader.com.​

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