LAGRANGE — The LaGrange County Trails has received a $25,000 grant from LaGrange County Community Foundation to support its mission to bring additional trails to LaGrange County. The award comes from the LCCF Community Impact Grant program at the Community Foundation.

Jeff Wingstrom, president of the LaGrange County Trails, said the funds would be used to help his organization plan and start preparing to build the first phase of the Hawpatch Trail. When completed, the Hawpatch bike/pedestrian trail will connect Wolcottville, Topeka and Millersburg.”

“This is tremendous news,” Wingstrom said.

The money will help trails pay for some of the preliminary expenses of creating a new trail, like the cost of planning and engineering.

“This provides seed money for all those things, and to help us along, so it’s a very important grant,” he said.

LaGrange County Trails, Inc, started in 2018 and incorporated in 2019 by a group of volunteers who saw a need to bring trails to the coounty. The proposed Hawpatch Trail would run along the path that was once a line within the Wabash railroad.

Wingstrom said Norfolk Southern still owns significant portions of that land, and is in negotiations with trails about its purchase.

The trail would provide a new transportation corridor between the three communities, and at the same time provide many of the local Amish population a safe route free from car and truck traffic to move about.

We have a lot of workers going into Topeka and Millersburg and they ride their bikes, about 800 to 1,000,” Wingstrom explained. “This will provide a safe avenue of transportation, and get them off the roads making it safer for them.”

Wingstrom said Indiana sees the developed of trails like the proposed Hawpatch Trail as an important link between communities. Eventually, he would like to see the Hawpatch Trail tie in existing trails like the Pumpkinvine Trail out of Elkhart County and the Fishing Line Trail in Noble County.

In order to encourage more trail development, the state has created The Next Level Trails grant program to help fund up to $5 million of the cost of proposed trails like the Hawpatch Trail.

Trail development is expensive, Wingstrom said. “It can cost up to $500,000 a mile when you add up the costs of land acquisition, surveying and construction.”

As proposed the first phase of the trails program would run from C.R. 75W near Wolcottville to Topeka.

The LaGrange County Community Foundation has a mission to inspire and sustain generosity, leadership and service in the community. The foundation connects people to charitable causes and provides resources to nonprofits to make a lasting and sustainable impact.

For more information about the LaGrange County Community Foundation, call 463-4363 or visit lccf.net.

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