The ribbon was cut on Friday, Oct. 12 for the recently completed 1.5-mile section of the “Let’s Connect” trail.
The nine-mile project will connect the Raccoon River Valley Trail and the High Trestle Trail, from Perry to Woodward.
The Oct. 12 ribbon cutting ceremony was held to open the first 1.5 miles of the trail.
The Perry High School band marched on the trail to start the ceremony, performing sections of its field program for the crowd.
Mike Wallace, director of the Dallas County Conservation Board, then welcomed the crowd gathered near the trail.
“We’re here today to open the first segment of what will be called an extension of the High Trestle Trail,” he said.
A multitude of partners, Wallace added, have contributed to the “Let’s Connect” project. There have been between 500 and 600 individual donors, in addition to those who have donated land.
One of the partners for the project is the Perry Community School District. Wallace said he approached the school board about assisting in making the connector trail a better one by letting them use a section near the golf driving range by the Perry High School.
“We’re tickled to be a partner with Mike and his team,” Superintendent Clark Wicks said. “There is one word that comes to mind for me and that’s teamwork. Teamwork does work, partnership does work.”
That partnership extended to Kirk VanKirk and his family, who donated another portion for the “Let’s Connect” trail. Wallace said the land donated by the school board, VanKirk family and another parcel helped make up the initial 1.5-mile section.
Kirk VanKirk said that when he and his brother Darek bought the property a number of years ago, it was meant to be used for recreational purposes.
“Never in our wildest dreams at that time did we think recreational purposes was going to go to a bike trail,” he said. “But we’re really excited and happy to be able to contribute to this. I think it’s going to be a wonderful thing for Perry. I think 10 years from now we’re going to be amazed about what it has done for this community.”
He then looked out over the crowd and said a lot people put a lot of work into the project. Borrowing from Wicks, VanKirk said a lot of teamwork went into making the “Let’s Connect” project a reality.
The nine-mile project is estimated to cost $5 million. Currently, Wallace said they have 57 percent of the funds raised.
“We still have a ways to go, but we’ll do one step at a time putting this thing together,” he said.
Those looking to support the connector project should contact the Dallas County Conservation Board at 515-465-3577 or visit www.dallascountyiowa.gov/conservation or www.letsconnectdallascounty.com.