Lions name Tom Koshiol "Citizen of the Year"

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 11/17/98.

The Paynesville Lions Club honored Tom Koshiol (at right), Paynesville, as their Citizen of the Year.

The honor was bestowed upon Koshiol Monday night, Nov. 16, Lions president, Nacy Landmark (at left) during a Lions Club meeting.

ďI was really surprised and honored when they informed me of the selection,Ē Koshiol said.

A native of Paynesville, Koshiol can be found working with area youth every Saturday morning from April through October. The North Fork Crow River Trail Guards was formed in 1992 evolving from the river cleanup program.

Since its formation, about 108 youth ranging in age from eight to 19 have been members of the Trail Guards. This year there were 40 active members working on projects with their average age 13 years.

ďThe main focus of the Trail Guards is to connect kids with the outdoors,Ē Koshiol said. ďI promote environmental awareness through positive actions. The Trail Guards provide kids an opportunity to be involved with ongoing creation and maintenance of the North Fork Crow River Nature Park.Ē

Koshiol has three rules by which the Trail Guards are required to follow: 1) Nobody has to work, however, if you donít work, you donít get to eat pizza for lunch; 2) no swearing and 3) no smoking.

ďI believe if you follow your heart good things happen and that is exactly what has happened with the Trail Guards,Ē Koshiol added. ďThe kids arenít pressured to be there, they come because they want to be involved.Ē

Koshiol explains the Trail Guards provide wholesome exciting outdoor adventure rewards to the youth. They have earned trips to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, white water rafting, held rollerskating parties in February, and held local fishing and canoeing days on Lake Koronis in the summer.

Each summer the kids have a root beer float stand at the Town and Country Days carnival as a fund raiser and also sell pop during the parade.

The Trail Guards also receive financial help from the UPS, Paynesville Lions Club, Paynesville American Legion, Lutheran Brotherhood, and the Paynesville Sportsmenís Club.

Since the formation of the Trail Guards, they have built a bridge across a creek, benches along the trail, a stairway from Richmond Street down to the trail, a picnic shelter and picnic area, bathroom, and parking area.

They also maintain four trails (Mosquito Loop, Maple Street Trail, Cedar Street Trail, and Trail Guard Run) totaling 3,800 feet along the North Fork Crow River.

ďI take the trail work one year at a time. The projects have grown and taken their own direction without advance planning,Ē Koshiol said. ďThe whole Trail Guard program is very flexible.Ē

Koshiol is a member of the Paynesville Sportsmenís Club, chairman of the Paynesville Park Board and is a former member and officer of the Lake Henry Sportsmenís Club. Koshiol has also been a firearm safety training instructor for 11 years.

He is a 14-year employee of Voss Plumbing and Heating where he is a service technician.

Koshiol has two sons, Joe 16, and Jacob, 2. His wife, Patrice, works at Wishiní Well. He lists as his interests canoeing, hunting, his family and his work.

ďI enjoy working with the kids and find it rewarding to see them grow as individuals,Ē Koshiol added.

Koshiol explained his only goal for the future of the Trail Guards is that it be a self-sustaining organization.

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