Gadsden State to construct new walking trail

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The Alabama Power Co. recently granted $50,000 to Gadsden State Community College to construct a new walking and running trail along the perimeter of the Wallace Drive Campus that borders the Coosa River.

Known as the Coosa River Trail at Gadsden State, the multi-purpose venue will be open to college employees and students and members of the community for walking, running and enjoying nature. Future plans include an outdoor classroom for Gadsden State and public school students to study plants, trees, wildlife, fish and birds indigenous to the area. Identifiers will be on trees, bushes and wildflowers along with information about the Coosa River.

“Alabama Power is excited to support this venture with Gadsden State,” said Spencer Williams, community relations manager in Gadsden. “We make it our mission to enhance the quality of life and economic potential in the region. The latest investment with one our key strategic partners, speaks to both of those objectives.”

The Coosa River Trail at Gadsden State will be the home base for the Gadsden State cross country team and will be up to 10K in length. Administrators hope that it will attract cross country meets to Gadsden.

“Two cross country meets in Huntsville provided a combined economic impact of $1.4 million dollars last year,” said Gadsden State Athletic Director Blake Lewis. “That was in just one weekend. Hosting meets at the Coosa River Trail has big potential to bring visitors who will spend money on lodging, food and entertainment in Etowah County.”

Future trail plans also include fiber optic cables for real-time video and scoring for the races. This capability will also help to monitor the course for security purposes.

“The Coosa River Trail will be a natural recruitment tool for Gadsden State,” said GSCC President Dr. Kathy Murphy. “It will bring more people to campus and will serve as a reminder that Gadsden State is an affordable option for students wanting a good education close to home.”

Elizabeth Wheatley, who wrote the grant that secured the $50,000 donation, anticipates some people becoming reacquainted with Gadsden State after not being on campus for a while.

“This project will increase activity on campus and create a buzz that something amazing is going on at Gadsden State,” she said. “Ultimately, it will create a ‘wow’ factor when walkers, runners and lovers of nature get a glimpse of the Coose River from a vantage point that they may have never seen before.”

Construction of the Coosa River Trail at Gadsden State is expected to begin this year. It will be constructed in phases as funding is available.

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