Prairie Trails Club
Prior Meeting Minutes
July 25, 2015
MEETING MINUTES OF PRAIRIE TRAILS CLUB, INC.
6555 South 100 West
North Judson, IN
July 25, 2015
Call to Order
Bruce Fingerhut, President, called to order a meeting of the Prairie Trails Club at 9:15 a.m., CDT on July 25, 2015 at 6555 South 100 West, North Judson.
Approval of Minutes
The draft minutes of the annual meeting held on February 23, 2015 were approved, without amendment, by acclamation.
Review and Comment on New Website
On July 17, Precept Partners issued a press release to announce that the revamped Prairie Trails Club website was online. Kathy Lucas said she was able to use the new PayPal element of the website to pay annual dues. Marty Lucas reflected the PayPal element was an important advancement. Bruce said the dropdown galleries in the “visit” category require a click and is not activated automatically by positioning the curser over a particular gallery. He believed this aspect of the site should be modified at some point. Although with an understanding the website needs to grow as the organization grows, overall membership comments were favorable to the new website. No immediate modifications were sought.
Review and Adopt Vision for Trail Extension
Steve Lucas said trail planners, agencies, and representatives of the American Discovery Trail and the Panhandle Pathway have recommended that the Prairie Trails Club identify particular goals. Our organization needs to have direction. We need to be able to articulate our goals in seeking support and funding.
To this end, Yancy Lucas was requested to prepare a draft map for member discussion that would illustrate modest extensions both northwest and southeast of the existing nine-mile paved trail. Both extensions are intended to be compatible with the development of the American Discovery Trail, including the possibility of a connection to the trail segment at Monterey. The northwest extension would demonstrate the trail is not intended to end at North Judson and could help link to separate trail systems existing or planned for Jasper County, Porter County and LaPorte County, as well as improve access to Kankakee Fish and Wildlife Area. A southeast extension to Starke County Road 600 East would improve access to Bass Lake with its current active bicycle use. The same extension would bring the trail closer to Tippecanoe River State Park and to the Panhandle Pathway. But the modest extensions identified as priorities in the draft map were also compatible with all of these options and would not be futile if some of the options prove problematic. A copy of the draft was attached to the emails notifying members of the meeting, and printed copies were also circulated at the meeting.
Brian and Anita McMillan said they regularly ride bicycles on U.S. 35 south from Bass Lake or north from the trail’s eastern terminus to Bass Lake. Others expressed a concern that U.S. 35 can be challenging for bicyclists. Marty noted that an extension for the slightly-longer-than one-mile distance from the current terminus on U.S. 35 to C.R. 600 East would improve safety, and the segment of C.R. 600 East north to Bass Lake was “mostly clear” and a would provide a good linkage. If the segment between U.S. 35 and C.R. 600 East were to be improved for cyclists, a configuration on the trail east of U.S. 35 should be developed similarly to what exists at the west terminus of the current trail. There should be a circle and cul-de-sac with railing and signage to make clear that U.S. 35 is the terminus of the new Bass Lake Erie Trail.
Bruce said the organization might consider grading and covering the new Bass Lake Erie Trail with compacted stone. Compacted stone in place of asphalt has been used successfully on other trails. There may be greater vulnerability to vandalism, but long-term maintenance might be less costly. Martin said a trail of compacted stone could be effective and considerably less expensive than an asphalt trail. Brian suggested a trailhead should be developed at the intersection of C.R. 600 East and the Bass Lake Erie Trail. Kathy said she believed greater interest in the trail system as a whole could result with improved access for Bass Lake residents. Signage could be developed to help Bass Lake full-time and summer residents have a sense of ownership and responsibility for the trail. Broader support can be gained from the Bass Lake community. She reported on a recent, favorable story in the online newsletter of the Bass Lake Property Owners Association concerning the existing trail.
Greg Wittig said he believed the club needed to have a vision and to plan for the future. He recommended the design of the draft map be approved as attached. All of those present agreed.
Kathy asked if this endorsement included use of the map to assist with discussions outside the club. Linda responded that she believed it did. Again, the other members agreed.
Maximization of Volunteer Opportunities
Rhonda Milner communicated by email that the Boy Scouts were available to assist with trail maintenance on August 1. She also asked about the possibility of scheduling a community work day on October 17.
Bruce reported he and Rhonda had spoken more recently by telephone and agreed to postpone participation by the Boy Scouts. As a result, the August 1 work day was taken off and would be rescheduled.
The members agreed to schedule a work day for October 17. Details will be provided later.
Kathy has been in contact with Courtney Gant, Campus Administrator of The Crossing-Starke County. Courtney has volunteered two separate groups of about 15 high school students to assist with trail maintenance on July 31. The first group would work from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. The second group would work from 12:30 p.m. until 2:30 p.m.
Members expressed enthusiasm for this new volunteer opportunity, including exposure of more young people to the trail and the needs of the trail. A flexible approach would be applied to the volunteer efforts on July 31, but they might include resealing the two primary trail bridges, exotic species and general weed control, removal of rocks and leaves from the paved trail, and any similar activities. Paul, Linda, Anita, Brian, Kathy and Steve indicated they intended to assist on July 31.
Other Business Identified by Members
Challenges with Equestrian Trail Usage
Bruce reported on concerns raised by citizens with respect to equestrian trail usage. Visitors and volunteers are sometimes frustrated by waste left on the paved portion of the trail. Brian noted persons seeking to ride horses have indicated their access is minimal. The portion of the trail east of C.R. 100 West has a sandy equestrian component, but the only parking space designed to accommodate trailers with horses is at the main trailhead at C.R. 250 West and State Route 10. Also, the growth of vegetation and fallen limbs on the sandy equestrian component makes stretches unsuitable for horses. Anita noted portions of the equestrian component have not been maintained. Linda reflected that more regular usage of the sandy area by horses would help keep it clear of large vegetation. Kathy observed that signage is minimal with respect to expectations for horse usage of the trail corridor. She suggested additional signage could be helpful. Bruce agreed that additional signage and better access for horseback trail usage might be productive but would not resolve all user conflicts. The subject will be addressed again in a subsequent meeting.
Feasibility of Recycled Plastic Lids Project
Kathy suggested a feasibility study to collect plastic lids for the construction of benches or picnic tables for use by trail visitors. She outlined successful collaborative efforts with schools and the Lake County Solid Waste Management District as reported in the Gary Post Tribune and the Northwest Indiana Times. Paul said similar efforts have been pursued by youth groups in our area. He added that only plastic caps are of sufficient durability, and a lot of caps are required for a project. Marty added that the Starke County Solid Waste Management District has been a creative force and might be willing to provide an endorsement or offer other support. The members encouraged Kathy to perform a feasibility study and report back with the results.
Invasive Species Control
Linda and Paul may lead a discussion group to consider invasive species control. A previous discussion group on this topic was well-received. Another session would support a better understanding of the challenges presented by the need to control honeysuckle and other exotic species, both generally and on the trail.
The business meeting was adjourned at 9:45 a.m., CDT. Following the meeting, the members participated in a trail maintenance initiative between C.R. 125 East and C.R. 200 East. The members shared lunch following conclusion of the trail maintenance initiative.
Feb 23, 2015
MEETING MINUTES OF PRAIRIE TRAILS CLUB, INC.
117 Main Street
North Judson, IN
February 23, 2015
Corinne Becknell Lucas
Call to Order
Bruce Fingerhut, President, called to order the annual meeting of the Prairie Trails Club at 6:30 p.m., CST on February 23, 2015 at the Wooden Nickel, North Judson.
Election of Officers
Bruce said the first order of business was the election of officers for 2015. Corinne Becknell Lucas indicated the officers for 2014 were Bruce, President; Rhonda Milner, Vice President; and Marty Lucas, Secretary.
Steve Lucas asked if it would be appropriate for him to move to re-elect the same officers for 2015. Karen Wittig suggested the individuals to serve should express willingness.
Marty offered he would be willing to serve but he was responsible for attending many evening meetings. His preference was that another person be selected Secretary. Bruce recalled that at a prior meeting Steve offered to take minutes, and the primary responsibility of the secretary is taking minutes. He asked if Steve would be willing to serve. Steve responded he would be Secretary if that were the wishes of the members.
After further discussion and by consensus on voice vote, the following officers were elected:
Bruce Fingerhut President
Rhonda Milner Vice President
Steve Lucas Secretary
Standing Committees and Chairs
Bruce indicated also on the agenda was the identification and appointment of Committee Chairs. He suggested at least two standing committees would be helpful: (1) Membership Committee; and, (2) Maintenance Committee.
He said the Membership Committee would take the lead in identifying members, developing an email service list, facilitating membership renewals and sharing thoughts on possible new members. He noted Kathy had worked with Corinne and him to prepare a list to notify members of this meeting. Bruce asked Kathy if she would be willing to serve as Chair of the Membership Committee. She agreed and after further discussion was appointed.
Bruce said the Maintenance Committee would help coordinate maintenance efforts for the existing trail right-of-way. Trail maintenance depends on volunteers on a group and an individual basis. The Committee Chair would not be expected to track all volunteer activities. But the Chair would help with outreach to other volunteers, such as the successful Boy Scouts participation last summer. The Maintenance Committee would also assist with developing strategies for effective control of plants that encroach on the paved way and the horse trail. He praised the efforts by Paul and Linda Byer to control areas along the Eastern end of the trail. In response to a question, Linda identified Pramitol herbicide, used responsibly, as a key additive for both pre-emergent and post-emergent weed control. Also, Bruce acknowledged the importance of supporting native species, and the expertise Linda has provided in this effort. Following discussion, Rhonda agreed to Chair the Maintenance Committee with Linda and Paul providing primary support and technical guidance. Bruce then made these appointments. Rhonda added that she would contact the Boy Scouts for participation this summer after Bruce provides her with his work schedule.
Funding and Website
Susan DeSantis referenced the need for better funding and offered suggestions, including a fundraising website. Bruce spoke of the possibility of a joint effort with the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum to include, on a fee basis, a train ride with a car for bicycles for a bike ride. Greg Wittig expressed support for the concept and suggested the event could produce income and improve public recognition of the Prairie Trails Club.
Linda responded that an impediment to effective funding was the absence of a viable website for the Prairie Trails Club. The existing site does not have a good profile, is outdated, and almost nonfunctional. She added that the 1st Saturday in June is the American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day (this year, June 6), and this date is a good opportunity to increase membership and to encourage funding. In the absence of a viable website, the opportunity would be lost. Bruce said new website language is in the works but not completed, and, to the best of his knowledge, has not been provided to the webmaster.
Marty reported that a workgroup developed text during an informal get together in late January. He agreed there was more that was needed ideally, but he believed the text could be sufficient to form the basis for a viable website. Steve agreed. Following an extended discussion, Marty said he would be willing to provide the webmaster with the new text and to request the webmaster to move forward. If additional material is needed, an informal workgroup would be constituted to draft the needed text. Members would be informed of this effort and invited to participate. Bruce then appointed Marty as Chair of the Temporary Committee on Website Drafting.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:45 p.m., CST.
2011 through 2014
Official minutes in paper form are maintained by the Secretary for these years and may be requested from Stephen Lucas at 317-437-7032 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.