By Keith Kappes - Publisher
Jan. 23, 2013 —
Bolstered by grants totaling nearly $35,000, Olive Hill’s Trail Town Task Force is moving steadily toward its goal of a trailhead park and other trail improvements in the downtown area.
The park will be developed in at least two phases with the first phase starting with a site design and detailed engineering for utilities and other infrastructure requirements.
Debbie Baker Harman, Trail Town coordinator, told a planning session at Carter Caves State Resort Park last Thursday that nearly $10,000 for first phase costs could be realized from a Flex-E-Grant through the Brushy Fork Institute at Berea.
Brushy Fork administers the federal grants in partnership with the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the Kentucky Department for Local Government (DLG) to provide training for community leaders in Kentucky’s distressed Appalachian counties.
The program was designed “to provide small investments in short-term projects that build community capacity to mobilize local resources, gain leadership experience and strengthen community institutions and networks,” according to the ARC website.
Harman said she believes Olive Hill’s broad private citizen involvement in trail development is exactly what Flex-E-Grants are expected to make happen in small communities.
With the City of Olive Hill and other partners helping with in-kind matching support, the volunteer task force hopes to create facilities that will meet the needs of all types of trail users as well as the general public.
Jim Ross of Ashland Cycling Enthusiasts (ACE) told the task force that his group and others are looking constantly for new trails to explore on bicycles, including mountain bikes for those who want to go off-road.
Harman said the needs of hikers, bikers and horseback riders all should be included in the planning of multi-use trails that come through or near Olive Hill.
Organized in response to First Lady Jane Beshear’s statewide adventure tourism initiative, the local task force appears well on its way to helping Olive Hill become one of Kentucky’s first certi- fied Trail Towns.
A state grant of $25,000 was approved in late November to improve an existing trail along Tygart’s Creek in the downtown area and to construct a trailhead restroom facility to serve trail users passing through and others who will utilize campsites to be established in the future.
Key members of the task force have been heavily involved in several successful trail-related projects, including two successful trail rides utilizing a newly-marked trail system in Olive Hill. They also supported the development of the $1.3 million horse campground at Carter Caves which opened in 2011.
The Journal-Times has learned that task force members also have secured a commitment from a nationally-syndicated TV program on trail riding to film a segment in the Olive Hill area.
Trail Town supporters believe that the former Sellers Field, if dedicated to public recreational use and not reopened as an airport, could be utilized as the site of major trail events that could attract thousands of tourists to Olive Hill.
The airport previously was thought to have been decommissioned in 2009 but it was revealed that all of the necessary paperwork had not been filed with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Mayor Kenny Fankell has agreed to wait at least 30 days before signing the decommissioning forms to allow City Council to determine if it wants to reconsider the future of the city-owned property.
Keith Kappes can be reached at email@example.com or by telephone at 606-784-4116.