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Paynesville Press - September 26, 2001

Stearns County agrees to aid Koronis trail

By Michael Jacobson

The Stearns County Board of Commissioners approved five measures last week to help the proposed pedestrian trail from the city of Paynesville to Lake Koronis.

The board approved a $2,500 contribution to the planning effort, a donation already made by Meeker County. Paynesville Township and the city of Paynesville have both contributed to the project already.

The county commissioners also approved including the trail on the Central Minnesota trail plan, directed the county's park commission to meet with the trail organizers, directed county staff to work with the project, and allowed trail organizers to work with the county plans to create a county park in the Chain of Lakes area.

Jeff Bertram, who has been hired by Paynesville Township to spearhead the trail effort, called the county board's action a positive step for the trail. Bertram said he subscribed to the "Big Tent Theory," that calls for getting as many people involved as possible.

So far, the trail effort had received little support from the county, and none from the park commission, said Bertram. He is pleased to add their expertise to the trail cause.

The county's expertise should be especially valuable in grant writing, Bertram said. The Koronis Trail will need federal T-21 funds for construction if it is to become a reality. "If this is going to happen in the short term, we have to have this money," said Bertram.

The county has received T-21 money for both the Lake Wobegon Trail and the Quarry Park in recent years.

The trail committee applied for T-21 funds last winter for the first time and did not receive any. Bertram hopes the county's help will make their next application successful.

Even if the Koronis Trail is successful this year, the funds would not be available for years.

Ultimately, organizers envision the trail circling the lake and linking to other regional trails.

The trail would be built in segments. The first segment would connect the city with the city beach. Part of this segment will be along Old Lake Road, which is being widened this fall to add six-foot shoulders for pedestrian traffic.

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