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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

Rotary, county unite for trail project
The 5K Family Fitness Trail will be created at Waid Park
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Staff Photo by Charles Boothe: Mark Hudzik, a member of the Rocky Mount Rotary Club, is spearheading the club’s community project this year, which is to complete a 5K Family Fitness Trail at Waid Park. Hudzik is pictured above on the part of the trail that circles the park’s playground.

Monday, May 19, 2014

By CHARLES BOOTHE - Staff Writer

Franklin County and the Rocky Mount Rotary Club are teaming up to create a 3.2-mile running/walking trail at Waid Park.

Rotarian Mark Hudzik is spearheading the project and said part of the proceeds from raffle ticket sales at this year's Rotary Club Independence Day Festival will go toward the project.

The county and Rotary club are working together, but it's really a community undertaking, and for a good reason, Hudzik said.

"Our project this year was a collaborative effort with the community as we worked closely with Franklin County and Carilion Franklin Memorial Hospital (Bill Jacobsen), recognizing the importance of the hospital's community health assessment," he said. "Once we were able to obtain the report, we wanted to find a way to create a strong partnership with other organizations to serve residents of all ages."

That health assessment report indicated many challenges, including obesity, diabetes and other health related issues, as well as a lack of access to exercise facilities.

"In the past, we (the Rotary club) have created facilities geared towards specific ages, focusing on youth," he said. "This year, we wanted to create a facility where residents of all ages could benefit from the use."

That project will be the 5K Family Fitness Trail.

Currently there are 1.5 miles of surfaced trails at Waid Park that are disconnected.

"This project would be expanded and connect existing trails to create 3.2 miles (5 Kilometers) with hardened surfaces," he said. "The hardened surface would allow for wheelchairs and jogging strollers, as well as be open for all-weather use. Trail design would be installed with minimal grades suitable for all abilities."

The trail can serve all residents of the county of all ages, giving them an opportunity to live a healthier lifestyle, as well as "enjoy our beautiful county including parks, rivers, and the countryside we often take for granted," Hudzik said.

Waid Park provides an ideal setting for the project, he added.

The trail will also allow other non-profits access to a course that can be used for fitness fundraising agendas, including running, walking and hiking, he said. Many fundraising events feature a 5K run/walk.

The project has already gotten a big boost. Hudzik applied for, and will receive, a $3,000 matching grant from Rotary District 7570.

Rotary club members are selling their usual $100 raffle tickets, money that will go toward providing those matching funds and more.

Franklin County has agreed to maintain the trail after it is finished.

Hudzik said the trail will add to the many features at the park, which include a soccer and lacrosse complex, baseball diamonds, canoe and kayaking, picnic shelters, playgrounds and a multi-use trail system.

Danielle Gray of Ferrum was running on part of the trail last week, pushing two of her five children in a stroller while the others played at the nearby playground.

"I just started running in the spring," she said. "But my husband and I use the park a lot."

Gray said connecting the existing trails to create the 3.2-mile trail with a better surface would be "great."

Plans also include installing fitness stations along the trail, giving walkers and runners a chance to perform various exercises during their trek.

Paul Chapman, director of the county's parks and recreation department, presented the plan to the board of supervisors in April and it was approved.

Chapman said parks and rec will provide staff time to operate equipment and install pathways for the trail.

The county will also maintain the trail after completion, which is tentatively estimated to be in October.

This year, the Rotary club has tagged the 5K Family Fitness Trail for its annual project and plans to raise about $10,000, with $3,000 of that used for the matching grant.

To accomplish this, the club will sell $100 raffle tickets and the winners will be announced at the annual Independence Day Festival, set for Thursday, July 3 at the Franklin County High School football complex.

Waid Park is situated on about 450 acres along the Pigg River, west of Rocky Mount off Six Mile Post Road.

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