The Wellmark Foundation announced 16 Iowa organizations will receive Matching Assets to Community Health (MATCH) grants, contingent upon securing the required dollar-for-dollar match, in a press release June 9.
Jones County was one such recipient, receiving $100,000 for phase two of the Wapsipinicon Trail. Phase two of the trail will finish connecting the trail to the City of Anamosa, the Grant Wood Scenic Byway, Hale Bridge and Wapsipinicon State Park.
“The Wellmark Foundation is delighted by the amount of community input and support that was clearly expressed in the applications,” Becky Wampler Bland, The Wellmark Foundation executive director, said. “Each of these projects will provide great options for physical activity within their community that will enhance the quality of life and the overall well-being of their citizens.”
The Jones County Conservation Department was the recipient for MATCH funds for the first phase of the trail. Wellmark even had a representative at the ribbon cutting celebrating the completion of the first phase of the project.
“They’ve been huge supporters,” Jones County Conservation Director Brad Mormann said.
The department also received a six-figure grant for their Central Park Lake project. By repeatedly demonstrating an ability to get projects done in a timely manner and with community support makes organizations more likely to be willing to commit grant funds to the county’s projects, according to Mormann.
To ensure the receipt of the grant for the project, the Jones County Conservation Department and Wapsipinicon Trail Committee have until Sept. 4 to secure their matching funds. Mormann said, including in-kind matches from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for things like engineering and permitting work, approximately $417,00 of the estimated $600,000 project cost have been raised so far.
“We’re trying to do everything we can to make the project happen and make it happen within those grant timelines,” he said.
Engineering on phase two is already underway, and the “heavy lifting” will occur once the Shaw Road project is finished so the trail can fit with the road. The hope is that the project can be bid out late this year with construction on the project to be done in the spring and summer of next year.
Even with the trail just half completed, Mormann has seen plenty of excitement for the projects and projects like it.
“All of us in the conservation field are seeing the excitement of the public,” Mormann said, noting that those excitement levels appear extremely high this year. “And it doesn’t seem to be calming down.”
During a recent trip around Central Park, Mormann saw the electrical campsite filled and a healthy group of primitive campers as well, all while campers observed the necessary precautions.
“People have been pouring into our wildlife areas, our trails, our parks, lakes and rivers to utilize the outdoors and enjoy it,” he said. “It’s incredible.”