Construction on Carthage’s new walking trail is underway — although as it always is with building and repair projects, whether it moves along as planned all depends on the weather.

The city’s project started several weeks ago but was delayed by rains. City administrators are hopeful that Phase One of the new walking track being built at the ballpark will be complete in early September.

“We broke ground in May 2019 and plan to have the trail open September 1,” Carthage City Administrative Assistant Teresa Dennard said.

The city plans to hold a dedication service when Phase One is finished. They’ve also begun the paperwork for a grant for Phase Two of the project.

Background

Phase One is just about finished, but that’s relative. In 2015, the first and second grants the Panola Alliance for Wellness wrote to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for the trail were denied — but the third grant was the charm.

The $200,000 grant included a stipulation that the group had to raise 20 percent of that money themselves; the Charles C. Matthews Foundation provided that money, putting the walking trail funds at $240,000. The city also held two 5-K Runs to help raise the money.

But then more delays came.

For some reason, in 2017, the money wasn’t being sent. It turns out the state wanted an archaeological study completed. The city finally received money to begin construction in May, awarding a $249,311 bid to Southline Services of Tyler.

Trail Plans

The trailhead begins at a small parking lot beside the Panola County Appraisal District and EMS buildings at the ballpark, and it will wind throughout the woods for about three-fourths of a mile.

Weather the last few weeks has held up progress, but that has turned out to be good, Dennard said.

“If the rains had not come, we would not have found out that a long portion of the decomposed granite trail would have been washed away,” she said.

Now a wooden bridge is being built in that section. It will be one of two on the trail.

Just after the trail begins, there will be benches, tables, landscaping and a water fountain. Benches will also be found throughout the trail, alongside sacks and receptacles for pet refuse.

The project’s Phase Two, if a state grant is awarded, includes taking the trail down past the softball fields, around the soccer fields and over to the Carthage Civic Center.

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