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The Times
  • HCCC nature trail receives HealthNet funding

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  • The Herkimer County Community College nature trail will be getting some much-needed work thanks to a $10,000 grant from Herkimer County HealthNet.
    Allison Swartz, Creating Healthy Places Grant coordinator, was on hand at the college Wednesday afternoon to present the check to HCCC President Dr. Ann Marie Murray.
    Murray said that amount has tripled thanks to a $10,000 match by a donor, which can be matched by the SUNY Construction fund to bring the total to $30,000.
    The timing couldn’t be better. The late June flood caused major damage to the trail.
    The college had applied for the grant prior to the flood. Plans called for using the funds to repair washout damage, bridges and rails, add and improve signage and do other remedial work on the trail, according to Associate Dean of Continuing Education Linda Contino Lamb.
    There are 38 stations along the trail to mark points of interest and the improvements were intended to make walking the trail a better experience for students and the public.
    The needs are much greater since the flood, which resulted in the trail being closed to the public.
    “The first bridge was washed away and every other bridge has some structural damage,” according to Biology Professor Ronald Carvin. “I still take my students on the trail, but we don’t go over the bridges.”
    College officials noted cross-country skiers and snowshoers, hikers and bird watchers from the community use the trail as do college students.
    “It amazes me how many people come back to the area to visit,” said Murray. “It’s wonderful to have this nature preserve.”
    Lamb said she has received many calls from people wanting to know when the trail will be repaired.
    Even with the funds, it looks as if people will have to wait a bit longer. Hank Testa, associate dean of academic affairs, said the college will have to purchase the needed materials and he expects work will begin in the spring as soon as the ground thaws.
    Herkimer County HealthNet is a New York State Department of Health funded Rural Health Network with the mission to improve the well being of individuals who live, work, play and learn in Herkimer County. Swartz said HealthNet’s Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work and Play program awards grants for projects that encourage people to be physically active in an effort to fight obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
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