Contest win earns funds for trail project

Authored by Jim Langham on Oct 14, 2013

A special project that started as a grandpa-granddaughter project earlier last summer ended up in a check presentation to South Adams Trails this past Friday.
Geneva Councilman Doug Milligan and his granddaughter, Brynlea Houser, entered a, “Spot the Commonwealth Koozie,” contest sponsored earlier last summer by Commonwealth Engineers, Inc.
Commonwealth sent Milligan a koozie which he and Houser were to take pictures of on location at various summer activities between July 1 and Aug. 31. Commonwealth then posted all eligible photographs on their website for clients to vote on during the first week in September. When all votes were tabulated, Milligan and Houser were the winners.
On Oct. 1, Milligan received a letter from Commonwealth Engineers president, Albert Strong, congratulating him on winning the contest.
“To reward you for your efforts, we have enclosed a $500 check made payable to South Adams Trails, as well as a framed picture of your winning entry.
“Along with your entry you stated, ‘there is a 70-year difference in ages but we both appreciate the use of Commonwealth koozies!’ And as you appreciate the koozies, we appreciate your efforts in our contest as well as the community,” Strong said.
Last Friday, Commonwealth representatives came to Geneva to present the check to Milligan who, in turn, presented it to Gary Habegger, president of South Adams Trails, Inc.
“We appreciate Doug Milligan, all of his efforts, and his continued support in presenting this check to us,” said Habegger. “This is a real boost to the cause. We also appreciate Commonwealth and their support. We appreciate this donation.”
It is now estimated that bid letting for the South Adams Trails project will occur in early April 2015, with construction of the first phase possible during the summer and fall of 2015.
Construction and land acquisition were delayed pending the INDOT (Indiana Department of Transportation) approval of the required environmental study, completed by South Adams Trails (SAT) in early 2013. That study was finally approved by INDOT on July 15 of this year and includes the entire length of the trail from Geneva to Berne.
According to Milligan, who originally spearheaded the SAT project, INDOT recently offered possible additional funding and they are considering those trail enhancements.
South Adams Trails is a 501 c (3) not-for-profit organization with the board of directors made up of eight representatives from Berne and eight representatives from Geneva. A total of eight community organizations are represented by board members.
Officers include: Habegger, president; Randy Lehman, vice president; Gregg Sprunger, treasurer; Pam Krause, secretary; Milligan, founding president; and David Baumgartner, counsel.
South Adams Trails is solely responsible for fundraising for the project. To date, a total of $1,282,000 INDOT transportation enhancement growths have been awarded to the project. In addition, more than $200,000 has been raised by SAT for grant matching funds, without a major fundraising effort, thanks to the effort of area citizens and businesses.
The short term plan calls for a multi-purpose walking/biking trail between Berne and Geneva along the bed of the former Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad.


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