Osceola continues setting the path for a healthier future


Published: Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015 3:51 p.m. CST

The city of Osceola, along with Clarke County, continues to build on the “Let’s Move Osceola” program and improve on the beauty and draw of the community through the construction of an intricate trail system.

These trails will ultimately connect area parks to the “Safe Routes to School” program, as well as the Osceola square and, eventually, expand to connect with other health-conscious communities.

Community health-focused trail systems are adding value and regional appeal to many rural areas throughout Iowa, and Osceola is one community leading the way.

The “Let’s Move Osceola” program, based on a 2005 study, was the genesis of a concept to create a trail system throughout Osceola. Focused on inspiring healthy activities throughout the community, the trails system was estimated to be in excess of $3 million to develop. Through consideration and budget reviews, the program was shelved to focus on immediate needs like the “Safe Routes to School” program for local students.

When the “Safe Routes to School” program was kick-started by a $75,000 grant from Wellmark, Clarke County Development Corporation (CCDC) and the city of Osceola devised a strategy of also launching the “Let’s Move Osceola” trail system, but one piece at a time, complementing and augmenting the Safe Routes map, as well as removing the burden of funding for the entire project.

“When we saw the interest Wellmark and other sponsors of the Safe Routes program were showing, we knew we had a great plan,” said Bill Trickey, CCDC executive director. “By breaking up the overall project, the ‘Let’s Move Osceola’ program fit seamlessly with the bigger picture of inspiring our entire community to pursue a healthier active lifestyle.”

The final proposed map for the two programs has access to pathways that wind through and around Osceola and the surrounding areas.

By partnering with Joe Johnston, owner of Johnston Properties, Bill Black, one the members of the Osceola Board of Supervisors, and Knapp Krause LC, CCDC and the city of Osceola procured the land needed for the first part of the extended trail in the southwest corner of Q Pond Park.

While the first designs had the trail created with gravel, it was determined to be in the best interest of the community to make the trail concrete.

Ty Wheeler, Osceola city administrator, began the task of gathering bids and finding the capital to make the “Let’s Move Osceola” trail system a reality.

Through the combined backing efforts of the CCDC Board, the city of Osceola and  Osceola Chamber Main Street, the start of a beautiful trail is now available, winding its way along Clay Street out to Q Pond Park, where it can then be taken along the west side of the park out to Q Pond Park dam.

Soon, Osceola residents and travelers from surrounding communities will be able to walk, run or bike from East Lake Park, to Q Pond, through the city square and out to Grade Lake, creating a health-focused destination in Osceola and Clarke County.

Future improvements funded by an already-approved grant from Iowa Health Department, as well as donations from the Rotary Club and other beneficiaries, include exercise stations along the trail to help improve the health and wellness of the community and all who will come enjoy the new trails.

By integrating with the “Safe Routes to School” system, students also will be able to safely take walking field trips down Kossuth Street to Highway 34 where they can travel out to East Lake Park to study nature, observe the swans at the lake, get some fresh air and exercise.

Be sure to get out and see the trail in its gorgeous fall foliage and continue watching for further improvement announcements.

For more information concerning the “Let’s Move Osceola” and “Safe Routes to School” programs, contact Trickey at 115 E. Washington St., Osceola, IA 50213, Phone: 641-342-2944, Fax: 641-342-6352, Web: http://ClarkeCountyIowa.com, Email: info@clarkecountyiowa.com