By KEN KEFFER
PERRY, Iowa, Oct. 3, 2018 -- A 1.5-mile section of newly constructed trail will be celebrated with a ribbon cutting ceremony at noon on Friday, Oct. 12, in Perry. The event will take place off of 18th Street, just north of the Perry High School.
“The connector trail is now a reality for the community,” said Mike Wallace, Dallas County Conservation Board executive director. “We invite the community to help us recognize this important milestone.”
The ribbon cutting will feature speakers from the conservation board, the City of Perry, Perry Community School District, and the VanKirk Family. The Perry High School Band will provide the soundtrack for the bash, and the Hotel Pattee will contribute a light lunch for the event.
“We are especially honored to have the VanKirk family on hand for this grand opening,” Wallace said.
The late Dallas “Pete” VanKirk and his wife Joyce, were early proponents and supporters for the connector trail vision.
“It’s also important to recognize their sons Kirk and Derek VanKirk, who really came through by donating an important section of the property needed for Phase 1 of this project," the stretch of trail leaving Perry to the east. That's the section that is being completed now and will be celebrated with the ribbon cutting.
The connector trail will eventually bring the Raccoon River Valley and High Trestle Trails together by linking Perry and Woodward. Phase 2 of the construction is slated to begin in 2019. It will start in Woodward and work west.
The 9-mile route has been mapped out and option agreements are in place. The $5 million project will continue moving forward as funding is secured.
Providing recreational opportunities for runners, walkers, bikers, skiers and skaters, the network of paved trails in central Iowa has proven to be a real boost economically for the region. The Raccoon River Valley and High Trestle Trails host hundreds of thousands of visitors annually, and the anticipation of the new trail has created a buzz of enthusiasm for trail users and areas businesses.
The idea for the connector has resonated throughout the region, and that is evident by the number of individual donations that have come in supporting the project. If you’d like to contribute, contact the Dallas County Conservation Board at (515) 465-3577 or visit online at www.dallascountyiowa.gov/conservation or www.letsconnectdallascounty.com.
Ken Keffer, who wrote this story, is the outreach coordinator for the Dallas County Conservation Board. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.