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  • Thu July 12 2007
  • Posted Jul 12, 2007
By KAREN HEINSELMAN, Courier Staff Writer READLYN --- On paper, the trail extends from Franklin to Bremer County. Those in Readlyn behind the planned trail system are working to make their six-mile stretch a reality. Grump Trail enthusiasts are busy collecting donations and raising dollars needed to match and claim grant money for the $1.4 million project. Supporter Andrew Sexton thinks recent improvements in town --- such as a bike trail and renovations in the community's parks --- show state officials that Readlyn is serious about recreational amenities. " ... We are investing in it ourselves," he said. "I think it's paid off." Sexton represents the Grump Trail Foundation, named for the city's annual celebration, Grump Days, and following the town's welcome sign: "Readlyn: 857 friendly people and one old grump." Once completed the Grump Trail will serve outdoor enthusiasts, including walkers, joggers, cyclists and cross-country skiers. The rural path from U.S. Highway 63 into Readlyn will offer a scenic tour through farmland and enhance the quality of life for residents, Sexton said. Down the road, a larger tricounty trail system --- known as the Rolling Prairie Trail --- could also attract visitors to the area, advocates claim. The proposed trail will run between Readlyn and Coulter. Each community to come on-line increases the marketability of the entire trail system, said Jeff Kolb, executive director of the Butler County Development Group. Out-of-state visitors may not be interested in traveling to the area to ride a six-mile stretch, he added, but a more extensive network might make a trip worthwhile. " ... If they can come ride a trail that is 30 to 40 miles in length and there are several small communities to visit, then it becomes a regional attraction," Kolb said. "And that's what makes a bike trail successful." Enthusiasts can use a trail to get from Allison to Clarksville and from Waverly to Denver. The leg from Clarksville to Shell Rock has a limestone surface but will likely be paved in later this year. Some communities are still trying to acquire property, typically old railroad lines, needed for the trails. Project advocates in Franklin County have submitted a request and an offer to Union Pacific Railroad for a 32-mile route from Coulter to Allison. "It's making progress," said Dennis Carlson, director for Franklin County Conservation. Readlyn is ahead of the game in that regard, Sexton said. Bremer County supervisors already secured land needed for Readlyn's project. Ideally, the Grump Trail would be functional by 2009. " ... Get the trail built, and I think a lot of good things will come from it," Sexton said. Readlyn Mayor Herb Clemen also hopes trails will eventually connect his town with more northern communities in Bremer County, such as Tripoli. But he notes the initial project alone is impressive. "This is only going to help our community," Clemen said. Raising money is the most pressing need, Sexton said. Project supporters were heartened in February to receive a $940,000 grant. They have also applied for a Community Attraction and Tourism grant, which would require matching dollars. To date, trail donations add up to a little more than $100,600. Fundraisers hope to generate an additional $20,000 by Aug. 1. To encourage contributors, Readlyn Savings Bank issued a challenge to match $10,000, going cent-to-cent with individual donations up to $100. So far, $4,600 is eligible for the match. Today, students from the Wapsie Valley School district plan to canvass neighborhoods to generate support. And on Sept. 9, the public is invited to a benefit dinner and auction at the Center Inn in Readlyn. Items for the auction are needed. Contact Karen Heinselman at (319) 291-1581 or karen.heinselman@wcfcourier.com. How to help For information on donating to the Grump Trail Foundation, call Andrew Sexton, at (319) 279-3321 or mail contributions to the Readlyn Grump Trail Foundation c/o Readlyn Savings Bank, 141 Main St., PO Box 40, Readlyn, IA 50668

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