"When we build trails, we do it right," agreed Don Noble II, Board President. "Taking care of all of the drainage issues now will save us from horrendous problems and major expenses in the future." Noble began the business meeting by introducing board members and honoring two who are going off the board. Katie VanZile, who has served as Board Secretary for four years is opening up more time to spend with her busy family. Phil Grimm, who has served for nine years as manager of The Sippo Trail from Dalton to the Stark County line, is stepping down in order to turn his attention to other related interests. Grimm introduced John Tyrrell who has volunteered to take on oversight of the Sippo Trail in conjunction with the Village of Dalton.
"Our board members are all volunteers as are the many people who help us with work projects and maintenance," said Noble. "We also want to add a note of appreciation for Lee Simpson, our webmaster. Lee does a great job of keeping our website current and works with us to add new features."
Officers elected for a one-year term were Noble, President, Ted Short, Vice President, David L. Lehman, Treasurer, and Jenni Reusser, Secretary. Board Members re-elected for another three year term were Keith Workman and Keith Winkler. Newly elected for a three-year term was John Stevic.
The evening's program also included important information about the Ohio to Erie Trail and the recently launched project called The Great American Rail Trail.The OTET is a continuous trail from the Ohio River to Lake Erie. The GART will provide a route from Washington State to Washington, D.C. It is important to note that Wayne County is a critical part of both exciting projects. "We are a very important part of the rapidly growing nationwide interest and enthusiasm to build trails for recreational and transportation purposes," said Noble.
Jewell also announced that work is once again underway on the current 2.4-mile project of The Heartland Trail from Forrer Road to Marshallville. Completion of the project is anticipated for May. A ribbon cutting date will be announced when ready. She also showed the location of the trail that will be under construction this year connecting Main Street to Allen Avenue, with hopes of then completing the connection to Forrer Road in 2020.
Present at the meeting were Orrville Mayor Dave Handwerk, Marshallville Mayor Bob Brooker, and Rittman Mayor Bill Robertson, all in recognition of the value of having a rail trail in their community. Tom Alexander, who serves on the Board of the Holmes County Park District, was present and spoke very favorably about the importance of The Heartland Trail project in terms of economic development and property values. He also announced the Holmes County Rails-to-Trails Coalition's Benefit Auction to be held on June 8 at Harvest Ridge in Millersburg. Alexander and Noble both serve on the Ohio to Erie Trail Board. Also in attendance was Keith Amstutz, Vice President - Civil Engineer at Shaffer, Johnston, Lichtenwalter & Associates, Inc. Amstutz is the lead engineer and advisor on The Heartland Trail project.
Rails-to-Trails of Wayne County, founded 24 years ago, has successfully built the Sippo Trail, the County Line Trail from Rittman to Creston, and a short stretch of trail from Fredericksburg to the Holmes County line. "We are diligent about applying for grants and other funding," Noble explained to the audience, "but the base of our funding comes from you. We are grateful for your interest and support." Today's cost to complete one mile of asphalt trail is approximately $500,000.
To close the meeting, board members Noble, Jewell, Grimm, Workman, Reusser and Paul Vance shared their personal stories of how and why they are committed to building trails, based on the theme of Passion, Persistence, Patience...Progress. Light refreshments were served by board member Pat Glessner. Board members who were unable to be present are Ted Short, Susan Baker and Tom Bahl.