MADISON - Through the generosity of community-based volunteerism and three small grants, a cross country/walking trail will become a reality near Scott High School.
The entrance to the trail will begin at the SHS football stadium, follow a loop around the hill and return at the stadium. The trail, which will extend into a 5 kilometer/3.1 mile loop, will primarily be used as a cross country trail for the SHS cross country team, but will also be available for community use.
The West Virginia Development Hub had organized a community meeting over a year ago and invited community leaders to attend to discuss the possibilities for what could be developed in the Madison area. Joe Linville attended that meeting and is serving as the primary coordinator for the team that is launching the trail.
"There were 60 or so people at that meeting," Linville said. "I was primarily interested in developing tourism opportunities." He eventually became the chair of the Madison Development Hub Tourism Committee.
The Coal Ridge Trail, in development for a year and a half, rests primarily on property owned by Boone County Schools. Fred Byrnside offered a small adjoining property to the project via donation, and permission was granted from other property owners who will have the trail crossing the tip of the property line.
The entire project began with an idea.
"Heather Graffius is Scott's cross country coach and is a member of our committee," Linville said. "She expressed that all of their meets are away because they don't have a trail. Collectively, we thought it would also be a way to enhance tourism in our communities. It gives our high school and middle school team members a place to train and is open for community use. Our teams will be able to host meets and bring people to Madison."
The agreement with the Boone County Board of Education will allow public use for walking and hiking.
"We want the trail to be complete by spring when cross country season starts," he said. "One reason we are so late is all of the underbrush we had to navigate and we waited until it got cold to begin."
The first grant came via the West Virginia Development Hub. The mini-grant was in the amount of $2,000. Two additional mini-grants have brought the working project budget to about $3,500.
Boone County Commissioners came on board with support and offered the use of county equipment for the project if needed. Linville said that as of yet, they have not needed to employ the equipment but the project is just getting started. Ground was broken on Dec. 16 and Richard Knapp could be seen installing drain pipe for the project behind the field house.
Linville said the group could use more volunteers to make the trail come to life and said that helping hands are the biggest challenge.
"We're doing this completely by hand," he said. "There are some existing logging roads that we are able to use that will help."
Steve Thorne, who has built multiple mountain bike trails, has volunteered to help lay out the trail and was with the group last Saturday, offering his help.
There are approximately 10 people on the committee who are volunteering time to the project. Any interested party who would like to help with the construction of the trail can call Joe Linville at 304-546-3044.