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Trail Town project making progress

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By Calen McKinney

 

In spring 2012, about 75 people gathered to hear what a Trail Town is all about and just how Campbellsville/Taylor County can become one.

More than a year and lots of work later, nearly all the necessary paperwork is complete and the community could become a certified Trail Town next year.

That will bring many benefits to the area, Donnetta Tungate, chair of the Trail Town task force, and Paul Osborne, who is working to get a bike trail built in the community, say.

"Just to improve our everyday life," Tungate said.

Tungate said the discussion about becoming a Trail Town community began after she and Becky Nash, Taylor County extension agent for family and consumer sciences, attended a meeting and heard about other communities working toward the designation.

They then met with Elaine Wilson, executive director of the Office of Adventure Tourism at the state Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet, about what they needed to do to bring the Trail Town initiative to Taylor County.

Then came the initial meeting to discuss the community's interest in becoming a Trail Town.

Since then, Tungate said, lots of work and time has been put into the effort, with the goal of giving residents the opportunity to be outside, have fun and get fit.

After the initial community meeting, Tungate said, a task force was created. Since then, the group has received several grants and sponsored several events in the community on the way to becoming a certified Trail Town.

The group sponsored Get Fit Taylor County activities in May, a triathlon at Green River Lake, a bike ride for diabetes and other events.

"We wanted to expose people to different types of activity," Tungate said. "It's all about changing ourselves. It's not about being an athlete."

Tungate said there is a group of adults who go on a bike ride each Thursday night. The group meets at 6 p.m. at The Depot. Osborne said the ride is an easy one and is for adults of all ability.

"You don't have to be advanced. You don't have to be fast."

Osborne said there are many components the task force must address, from bicycle safety and routes to creating a trail in the community to funding and becoming accredited to helping with economic development in Taylor County and other projects in the state.

Since the group organized, Tungate said, it has received grants for bicycle safety classes, $11,200 from the state's Share the Road license plates and $5,000 from a Lexington and the local McDonald's to host bicycle rides and other community events. The task force also got a grant to purchase a bicycle for Campbellsville Police Department.

Tungate said she has applied for some other grants and should hear if the group will be awarded them soon.

Osborne said the first bicycle safety class attracted eight people. Twelve came to the second.

"Twenty people in the local community have passed a bicycle safety class."

And four of those have gone on to receive certification from League of Cyclists.

To become a certified Trail Town community, Tungate said, a community must have kiosks and signage posted about the initiative and a trail for resident use.

She said signs are in the process of being posted and the trail doesn't have to be complete for the accreditation to be granted.

The kiosks will be located at the Campbellsville/Taylor County Tourism office on Main Street and the city's new civic center in the former Taylor County Public Library building.

Ultimately, she said, the goal is for the trail to extend from Campbellsville to Green River Lake.

Work is now being done to complete a 2.2-mile Trace/Pitman Greenway trail. The trail will begin at City Lake and extend to KY 210. A map of the trail appears with this story and online at www.cknj.com.

Osborne said he hopes the trail will be complete by the end of the year.

"Now, it will be crude, but it will be open," he said.

Tungate said she believes the trail will help people have a place to exercise and spend more time outdoors.

"This is for everybody to change our life and to have fun," she said.

Since the task force doesn't have much money to work with, Osborne said, many businesses and governmental entities have donated land, materials and labor to help create the trail. Once complete, he said, the trail will allow families and individuals to ride and walk along it safely. Blacktopping will be the final touch to the trail, Tungate said.

There will be no motor vehicles or horses allowed on the trail, though Tungate said horses could at some point be allowed. Osborne said the trail will be able to accommodate wheelchairs and motorized scooters, along with strollers.

Part of the trail, Tungate said, will be a crossway from Trace Creek into Miller Park.

For the final test of whether a community receives Trail Town certification, she said, a family must be able to go to the community and travel the trail by using only the signs posted.

As of now, Tungate said, about 80 percent of the paperwork to request Trail Town certification is complete.

She said she hopes the accreditation will be approved next spring or summer.

Tungate and Osborne said the task force is open to those who want to volunteer with the Trail Town effort.

She said there are always people needed to travel the trail and see if it needs repair. Several people have volunteered their time to help landscape the trail when it is completed, she said.

Tungate said an effort has begun to allow residents to get their bikes repaired for free. And she hopes someone will, someday, open a bike shop in town.

She said Trail Town efforts will continue in the community, despite the task force not having much money to work with.

"If we had more money, we could speed it up," Osborne said. "It'll happen."

The next Trail Town task force meeting will be Monday, Oct. 14, at 6 p.m. at the Campbellsville University Technology Training Center, Room 203. It is open to the public.