One of the area’s largest races intends to spread both the wealth and the health with a donation to the Tweetsie Trail project.
An announcement was made at Memorial Park Community Center on Tuesday afternoon in which City Commissioner Jenny Brock, speaking on behalf of the Up & At ’Em Johnson City Turkey Trot road race and walk held on Thanksgiving morning, donated a check for $25,000 to the 10-mile recreation trail’s funds.
“The Tweetsie Trail is a perfect complement to the goal of Up & At ’Em and the Turkey Trot,” said Brock, who was wearing a bright yellow Turkey Trot sweatshirt. “The Turkey Trot may be a one-day event, but its purpose is a lifestyle. The trail will be an amenity that each of us can use to exercise or recreate on a daily basis.”
Tweetsie Trail Chairman Dr. Dan Schumaier gladly accepted the check from Brock and her fellow race committee members, including Mark Finucane, Alice Spurling, Karen Hubbs, Dan Reese, Mayor Ralph Van Brocklin, a comically oversized turkey and young members of Fairmont Elementary School, who were receiving an award of $1,000 of their own from the Turkey Trot for being the local school with the largest number of students competing in the race.
Schumaier said there was no reason to believe the projected Labor Day weekend opening date of the Tweetsie Trail would not be reached. He said everything has either gone according to plan or ahead of schedule for the trail, which would connect Johnson City by way of a starting point on Alabama Street to Elizabethton to form a 10-mile recreational trail.
Schumaier said he’d been on out the trail, and was looking forward to hiking and enjoying it himself, as well as watching everyone else enjoy it, too.
He and Van Brocklin said Johnson City crews, designated to clear and prepare the trail, were out doing just that ahead of the first of the year, which they had projected. Six miles of the trail had already been cleared, with more progress being made daily.
Schumaier said the donated money would go a long way in buying supplies for the trail, including cinder for footing and building materials for benches, railings and signage.
Naming rights for six of the seven bridges on the trail have been sold to individuals and companies who forever want certain names on the trail. One bridge remains: the biggest of them all, the one spanning the Elizabethton Highway. It has a price tag of $60,000 on it. Schumaier said he hadn’t pitched the bridge to several interested parties just yet, but wasn’t worried that it would sell.
Total monetary donations are at about $125,000 right now, Schumaier said.
Down the road after phase one is reached, Schumaier has aspirations that many locations on the outskirts of the trail will be tied into it. This would include connections to other parts of Johnson City, the Tipton-Haynes State Historic Site, Sycamore Shoals and other locations that would add to the trail’s prestige as a historic place for recreation.
“Everything should be done in a few years,” Schumaier said with confidence. He also alluded to a race event that would take place on the trail’s opening day, saying that task force member and former world-class distance runner Ray Flynn was in the preliminary stages of planning such an event.
In the coming weeks, a big push for donations will come in the form of mailings and at the project’s website, www.tweetsietrail.com, with the site having the capabilities to accept donations via the Internet. In-kind donations, or donated supplies from those who have building materials rather than cash, are coming in strong, too, Schumaier said.