By ROBBIE EDWARDS
CNHI News Service
MT. VERNON — A ribbon cutting for the Casey and Cedarhurst Family Fitness trail was held at the corner of N. 24th Street and Richview Road in Mt. Vernon on Saturday.
Mayor Mary Jane Chesley did the honors in cutting the ribbon to mark the observance.
Improving the quality of life was mentioned by many for the reason for their excitement and support for the opening of the bike trail. Safety was listed as another concern.
Phil Gustafson, president of Good Samaritan Regional Health Center was the featured speaker.
Gustafson said exercising helps by improving mental and overall health in correlation to breast cancer awareness. Gustafson was pleased with all the work by the community that has went into putting the trail together.
Doug Vangilder, captain of Conti Cycling, was in full riding gear to show his support at the ribbon cutting for the first official off road bike trail in Mt. Vernon. Vangilder is one of 30 active riders in the cycling club sponsored by Continental Tire of the Americas. The trail is a little over a mile long, it was reported.
"This is a great place for bikers, joggers and kids to get out and not have to worry about cars," said Vangilder.
Jeffery Ballantyne, also a member of the Conti Cycling Club, shared his story about being hit by a semi while only four miles from his house in Ashley. Ballantyne was a victim of a hit and run. The truck driver allegedly was over the white line by six inches and did not make any effort to move over. Ballantyne was clipped and knocked into the ditch while wearing reflective gear and using a flashing LED tail light and using all the precautions while sharing the road with others.
"Normally I get a lot of respect from motorists," said Ballantyne.
Ballantyne spent a week in the hospital with several injuries such as a broken shoulder blade, a broken arm, four cracked ribs, lacerated spleen, a punctured lung, and deep tissue damage to his right hip and thigh. Ballantyne is improving each day and can now walk without a limp.
"I don't know about riding on the highways anymore. It will be trails and back road for me," said Ballantyne.
Chesley thanked the council, City Manager Ron Neibert and hospital officials for supporting the bike trail project