The development of a system of trails in Jefferson County came another step closer to reality Saturday at Friendship Park.
That's where local officials announced that the Jefferson County Fairgrounds Trail would be open in 2012.
The announcement, made by members of the county fair board and the Jefferson County Trails and Greenways Task Force, means area residents will have another option for recreation come next spring.
When it is officially opened, the trail will offer several benefits. First, it will provide another reason for residents to visit the fairgrounds at times of the year other than the one week the fair is held in August. That's a goal of the fair board, according to Debbie Hukill, treasurer of the Jefferson County Agricultural Society.
Second, it can be used as a rehabilitation facility, thanks to the cooperation of Dr. Ron Runkel of Rehab Plus, whose efforts will have the trail marked every one-16th of a mile.
Third, and perhaps most important, expansion of the area's trail system improves the quality of life of everyone in our area, a point not lost on Mike Paprocki, task force chair, and Ken Perkins, a task force member.
The county's trails and greenways plan has grown out of the Jefferson County Community Investment Plan, which was completed in 2008 and coordinated through the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce and Progress Alliance, according to Sue Hershey, chamber president. Trail development is being handled through the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission; the Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District; the National Park Service; and Cross Roads Resource Conservation and Development, Hershey added.
Paprocki said the trail will open the park to a new audience, people who may never have made the trip to Smithfield. Perkins, meanwhile, said Jefferson County trails were a natural complement to nearby trails in Harrison, Belmont and Columbiana counties in Ohio, as well as West Virginia's Northern Panhandle and Western Pennsylvania.
We're glad to see the work of the task force and other area officials is paying dividends and are excited at the prospect of having a system of trails for our area residents to enjoy.