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Trail grant given by Walton foundation

by Annette Beard | May 6, 2021 at 1:00 a.m.

PEA RIDGE -- Strong support within the Pea Ridge Community evidenced by the large number of people who have volunteered over the past several months was helpful in garnering a $100,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation, according to Josh Johnson, one of the Blackhawk Cycling Club coaches, who credited Merrill White with "bringing the Walton Foundation to the table."

"I'm really beside myself," Johnson said. "This is great!"

"Merrill White actually brought the Walton Foundation to the table," Johnson said.

"Mission accomplished!" said White, who said he specifically mentioned that he wanted to bring trails and sidewalks to Pea Ridge when he campaigned for City Council last November. White and Johnson worked with Walton Family Foundation grant coordinators to seek the funds.

"I made it part of my goal to bring trails and sidewalks to Pea Ridge. This is just one step in the larger goal for everybody ... that's open to the public."

"Josh Johnson and Keln Taylor are the backbone of this, and I'm working behind the scenes getting the financing," White said. "That's one of the bigger things that's come to Pea Ridge that people can use year-round."

Johnson said he learned of the grant approval this past weekend and said Rock Solid Trail Contracting will enhance areas that have already been built, widen the tread and make easier access for beginners as well as work on sections of the trail that are too steep for the volunteers to work.

"They'll build a chip seal pump track for little kids," Johnson said, "and a jump line.

"We will be able to take the [National Interscholastic Cycling Association] team out there to practice -- whether novices or advanced riders."

According to the plan proposal, "In the long term, the city of Pea Ridge would like to connect the Baker Hayes park to the Razorback Greenway, Heritage Way and to the Pea Ridge Military Park. These connectors will increase accessibility to Baker Hayes Park from the surrounding neighborhoods and provide a direct path to downtown Pea Ridge."

Johnson said he plans another work day in early June to prep the site for Rock Solid coming in and plans to flag and mark where the trail will go, where the features will go and then Rock Solid will bring in equipment and start moving dirt and rocks.

"It's going to be a pocket park, so all trails will mix and mingle together," he said. "It's not going to be a lot of miles, but there will be a lot of features."

"We had six trail build days out there with at least 20 people each time," Johnson said, estimating at least 240 man hours of work.

He also credited Rob Reno of Ozark Off Road Cyclists.

"Without their help, we would not have gotten the trails built," he said.

"Blackhawk Cycling is very enthusiastic," Johnson said, crediting coaches Keln Taylor and Randal Wilkerson and many more volunteers. "A lot of kids are showing interest."

Annette Beard may be reached by email at abeard@nwadg.com.

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