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Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014

Pathway leads to good health

Friday, October 19, 2001

(Photo)
Completed about a week ago, the new walking trail is already becoming a popular spot for walkers, joggers and even those riding their bikes.
NEW MADRID - Everyone knows walking is good exercise.

But a recent survey by the New Madrid County Health

Department found many people, rather than dodge

traffic or barking dogs, have simply put off that

healthful stroll.

Today, their excuses not to don their walking shoes

are gone. A grant-funded project, partnering the City

of New Madrid, the New Madrid County Health Department

and the Missouri Department of Health, has created a

new seven-tenths of a mile walking trail for public

use.

The paved trail winds through Hunter-Dawson Park,

meandering past swingsets and slides, along the tennis

courts and across from little league baseball fields.

Eight-feet wide throughout the park, there is plenty

of room for walkers and it will soon be lighted for

those who wait until evening to take their strolls.

The creation of the trail was over a year in the

making.

According to Dr. Charles Baker and Tammy Bennett with

the county health department, New Madrid County is one

of five counties in the Bootheel which received grant

funding in June 2000 to meet cardio-vascular problems.

The program targeted New Madrid as the area to begin

its focus.

Baker, Bennett and Michele Brazel, administrator,

pointed to a community survey as the idea behind the

walking trail.

"We asked people what needed to be done, what

prohibits them from exercising," said Bennett. People

cited things such as lack of sidewalks, traffic and

animals.

"We thought a walking trail would give them some place

where they would feel safe to go," she said.

And walking, the community health official emphasized,

is an excellent way to fight cardio-vascular disease.

It builds up flexibility and strengthens the heart,

Bennett said.

"I recommend that everybody walk," she said. However,

Bennett did caution that those with health problems

should always check with their healthcare provider

before beginning an exercise program.

Walkers will especially enjoy the new walking trail,

Bennett said. She noted the location in the park, just

off Highway U in New Madrid, is easily accessible to

community members.

Baker said as they considered various locations, they

approached the city about becoming a partner in the

project. He described their response as enthusiastic.

City Administrator Ferg Hunter said the New Madrid

City Council saw the partnership as a way to continue

improvements to the town's parks.

Hunter and others created the path's design with city

workers pouring the asphalt for the track. At Monday's

City Council meeting, councilmembers voted to use

money from this year's budget to provide lighting for

the trail. Also plans call for landscaping and

benches.

Catching the enthusiasm for the trail and its health

benefits, the city even applied for a supplemental

grant which would fund the construction of various

exercise stations. However, Hunter said, due to state

budget cutbacks these grants are currently on hold.

But even without these additions, Hunter described it

as a "first-class walking track. There is nothing like

it in any other of the city's parks. It provides an

opportunity for people who like to walk and

encouragement for those just getting started on a

healthier lifestyle."

The health department administrator said the community

feedback since the trail was opened just a week ago is

positive. "It is very nice and in a wonderful area,"

said Brazel. "Everyone worked very well in this

together and now it is here for the public to enjoy."

A grand opening is being planned for Nov. 1 to

officially inaugurate the trail.