November 6th, 2014

Persistence pays off in western Pennsylvania

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Two women riding bikes along the beach

The theme for today is persistence. Webster?s defines it as, ?the quality that allows someone to continue doing something or trying to do something even though it is difficult or opposed by other people.?

Sound familiar?

Now, I?m guessing that anybody who rides a bike, whether in Portland’s rain, Tucson’s heat, or Minneapolis? snow is intimately acquainted with this concept. I could spend from now until Sunday giving you examples from my roster of grant recipients of persistence in action. But after looking at some sunny pics of a new bridge in rural Pennsylvania, I?m going to give you just one.

The Mountain Watershed Association (MWA) has been working in western PA for years, turning abandoned railroad beds into trails for the enjoyment of residents and visitors alike. Tourism is important here?it brings a much-needed economic boost to a part of the state that needs it. Places to hike, bike and enjoy the beauty of the region are largely why people visit.

But you know how it is. Things get in the way. Land ownership, leases, surveying, engineering, approvals and, of course, money all have to come together at the right time in the right place to make something actually happen.

On Monday, November 3rd, they did. Locals and officials celebrated the opening of the Donegal Bridge, a key link for the Indian Creek Valley Trail that creates nine miles of uninterrupted rail trail and connects to 26 more. Years in the making, today the bridge is there to be enjoyed by all.

MWA’s Co-President, Roger Pritts, called out the persistence of octogenarian board member, Alonzo (Lon) Kalp, Jr., as instrumental in making the bridge?and the trail itself?a reality. According to Roger and MWA Executive Director Beverly Braverman, Lon still serves on MWA’s board and still pushes them to do more. ?Today we dedicate this bridge to Lon,? Roger said, ?but it will be truly dedicated when Lon’s grandchildren and generations to come enjoy this trail, which is connected by Lon’s bridge.?

Persistence. Some might call it being a pain in the butt. But I say it’s a beautiful thing.

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