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Council move helps keep trail project on track

By DARREL RADFORD - dradford@thecouriertimes.com

During his life, the late Ted Fitzgerald blazed a trail of kindness and compassion for youth. New Castle City Councilman Rex Peckinpaugh believes it is extremely appropriate that a badly needed trail in the Wilbur Wright Elementary School area – the place Fitzgerald served so well – be named in his honor.

Plans for the trail on the north side of Washington Street continue to take shape. At a recent City Council meeting, Peckinpaugh’s motion to allocate $50,000 in riverboat gambling revenue for initial trail expenses was enthusiastically passed.

Peckinpaugh said the money would help pay for initial costs leading up to construction of the trail.

“We may spend some of the $50,000, but I don’t think we’ll spend all of it,” Peckinpaugh said. “This will take us up to construction, basically.”

HWC, the engineering firm in charge of the project, wants to let bids for in December, 2020.

“They said we could get the cheapest bids then, because it’s off-season,” said Ed Hill, the city’s GIS and MS4 coordinator.

The $584,000 grant is through the Safe Routes to Schools program, matched by $146,000 in local funds.

Peckinpaugh said he and former City Councilman Jimmy Kidd saw the need for such a project.

“There have been times when they’ve taken a little field trip from Wilbur Wright Elementary School to Osborne Park and they had to bring the police out for traffic control because there was no place to walk,” Peckinpaugh explained. “Jimmy Kidd and I knew we needed something out there and so we applied for a grant. I brought up Ted and everybody thought it was a great idea to name it after him.”

Peckinpaugh said the council doesn’t spend money from the riverboat funding freely but thought this would be appropriate to keep the project moving. He added that donations will be sought to help with the trail project and as those come in, some of the riverboat money may be paid back for other uses.

Fitzgerald, who died in 2007, was principal at Wilbur Wright Elementary School for many years and also served as a school board member. He was a founding member of the New Castle Wrestling Club.

Trash schedules to be a day behind next week.

In observance of President’s Day Monday, February 18, City Offices will be closed, according to Kendra Kennedy, the New Castle mayor's assistant. The trash schedule for the week will be one day behind for everyone.