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Trail fans revel in 'Oklawaha Song,' good news on greenways

The Oklawaha singers are Steve Breckheimer, Chris Berg, David Hoffmann, Martha Huggins, Laura Meklowitz and Katie Breckheimer The Oklawaha singers are Steve Breckheimer, Chris Berg, David Hoffmann, Martha Huggins, Laura Meklowitz and Katie Breckheimer

We know we belong to the land

And the land we belong to is grand

So when we say
Yeow! aye yip aye yo ee ay!

We’re only sayin’
We’re doing fine Oklawaha, Oklawaha OK-L-A-W-A-H-A

Oklawaha! HURRAY!

 

Fans of greenways sipped craft beer and cheered a rousing performance of "The Oklawaha Song" by the Oklawaha Singers before applauding updates on five trails in Western North Carolina that now exist, are soon to be under way or are in the early stages.

The singers — Friends of Oklawaha Trail members Steve Breckheimer, Chris Berg, David Hoffmann, Martha Huggins, Laura Meklowitz and Katie Breckheimer — delivered a spirited tribute to the outdoors and the joy of the 3-mile trail along Mud Creek from Jackson Park to Berkeley Park.

Here are the trail reports:

  • Although Transylvania remains years behind Henderson County, Mark Tooley, president of Friends of the Ecusta Trail and a resident of Brevard, reported that Brevard received a $1 million grant for the design of the western half of the trail. In a recent column, Tooley rebutted negative comments and "misinformation" about the trail, railbanking and railroad right of way uttered by Transylvania County commissioners.
  • Brendan Shanahan, an engineer with the city of Hendersonville, reported on the status of the Clear Creek Greenway, a 1½-mile paved trail that will fork off the Oklawaha Greenway to the north, pass Carolina Village and cross under I-26 before ending near the post office annex on Lakewood Road. "We're excited to be able to our current system," he said. "The good thing about the Clear Creek Greenway trail is we've got a lot of momentum behind our back." The city is competing for grants from the French Broad MPO and the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund. "We're really excited to see this becoming a reality," he said. Katie Breckheimer, who introduced the greenway speakers, added: "I'm excited about it because it gets under the interstate. I want to go all the way out to Edneyville."
  • The Hellbender, a trail system in Buncombe County, was introduced by Hannah Bagli of the Land of Sky Regional Council. Breckheimer added: "The greatest thing she said is about connecting all the greenways."
  • Suzanne Hale, president of the Friends of the Oklawaha Trail, noted that the county's greenway master plan envisions 70 miles of greenway. "We're not the longest greenway but we've got the best song," she quipped.
  • The newest Greenway to be announced for the region is the Saluda Grade Trail, a 31-mile rail-trail from Upstate South Carolina to Zirconia that would pass through Landrum, Campobello and Inman, South Carolina, and Tryon and Saluda. The trail advocates announced last week that land conservancies in the two states have reached a deal with Norfolk Southern to buy the rail corridor and railbank it for the greenway. Top feature: The trail goes up, and down, the steepest standard-gauge mainline railroad grade in the U.S.