The Illinois Department of Transportation recently announced three area schools brought home about $333,000 of $5.9 million in Safe Routes to School grants awarded to communities around the state.

  • $158,400 to replace sidewalks to Waverly CUSD #6 campus
  • $62,880 for a footbridge and sidewalks to connect a subdivision and Pittsfield/Pikeland schools
  • $111,029 to Carlinville for sidewalks, traffic control devices, pedestrian crossing improvements and secure bicycle parking facilities.

Jacksonville and School District 117 can take advantage of this grant pool to encourage kids to walk and bike to school (including a path along the Town Brook) as part of the Turner Junior High School renovation.

On Hoagland along the Town Brook to Turner Junior High — the perfect place for a protected bike lane.

On Hoagland along the Town Brook to Turner Junior High — the perfect place for a protected bike lane.

Please familiarize yourself with the Community Health Needs Assessment done by the Morgan County Health Department and Passavant Area Hospital. Part of the study included BMI measurements on local school children which showed . . .

  • 24% of Kindergarten students were overweight or obese
  • 42% of 6th grade students were overweight or obese and
  • 46% of freshmen students were overweight or obese.

Controlling metabolic syndrome is one of the community’s health challenges, increasing physical activity is the prescription, and schools are an important part of making this improvement to community health possible.

When School District 117 starts planning for the rehabilitation of Turner Junior High School, please get active and work to ensure Safe Routes to School (including a path along the Town Brook) are incorporated in the designs.

Thanks to all those who participated in our Premier Town Brook 5k last month! The event was organized by Dave McCollum, and we really appreciate all the work he did setting up the course and getting his buddies to run the finish line. He’s passed on the times . . .

  1. Jay Wessler 21:23
  2. Richard Cody 22:16
  3. Rachel Langdon 22:46
  4. Philip Langdon 24:07
  5. Tyler Stewart 24:09
  6. Emily West 24:16
  7. Rachel Antle 26:24
  8. Beki Allen 28:10
  9. Tyler Wood 28:13
  10. Jeremy Bell 28:21
  11. Anna Wagner 28:21
  12. Addie Boston 28:22
  13. Stacey Vaniter 28:46
  14. Sandy Ballard 29:35
  15. Tammy Bone 29:57
  16. Alicia Wood 31:04
  17. David Killebrew 31:26
  18. Amy Wilson 31:56
  19. Jennifer Taylor 34:19
  20. Julie Kunzeman 35:05
  21. Karen Sibert 35:10
  22. Linda Strubbe 35:18
  23. Amanda Hagloch 42:56
  24. Mary Gray 45:40
  25. Tina Vernor 45:40
  26. Becky Hartz 47:25
  27. Melisa Thomas 47:40
  28. Howard Bryant 47:40
  29. Rhea Drake 47:40

The event was a fundraiser for the Jacksonville Park Foundation to support health, recreation and families. Since the run volunteers have been busy with projects like the Jacksonville Children’s Garden, and advocating for a pedestrian bridge on West Lake Road (so people running and riding their bikes can circumnavigate Lake Jacksonville).

As for next year, the Downtown Celebration is moving to the last weekend in May. That conflicts with the Passavant-Powerade 5k and 10k Race, so we are exploring other options.

 

Jacksonville, Illinois 62650 has a new disc golf course at Foreman Grove. Located on the east end of Jacksonville at Old State Road/Old Jacksonville Road and the crossing of Mauvaisterre Creek/the Town Brook at Johnson Street.

Here’s a quick map of the course. Baskets are in as of Saturday May 10, 2014. Tees will be put in with the week, and an opening ceremony will be in the next couple weeks. Download hi res map by Guido Strotheide of the Springfield Illinois Disc Golf Club.

Guide to Jacksonville Illinois Disc Golf at Foreman Grove: Top is North (College Ave-Old State Road/Old Jacksonville Road), left if Johnson Street, blue at bottom is Mauvaisterre Creek/Town Brook. (revised 22 May 2014)

Guide to Jacksonville Illinois Disc Golf at Foreman Grove: Top is North (College Ave-Old State Road/Old Jacksonville Road), left if Johnson Street, blue at bottom is Mauvaisterre Creek/Town Brook. (revised 22 May 2014)

Illinois College students Nathan Zimmerman and Caleb Harris pushed for the course, put in by the city of Jacksonville. They, along with MacMurray College students Janson Shehorn and Cydny Saxer and others, have been working with the Parks & Lakes Department on plans for a course in the little-used park. They raised funds from sponsors donated via the Jacksonville Park Foundation to the city. Funds also came from the city of Jacksonville’s Goveia Family Trust, and parks funds. More photos . . .

Foreman Grove Disc Golf, Jacksonville Illinois.

Foreman Grove Disc Golf, Jacksonville Illinois.

Foreman Grove Disc Golf, Jacksonville Illinois.

Foreman Grove Disc Golf, Jacksonville Illinois.

Foreman Grove Disc Golf, Jacksonville Illinois.

Foreman Grove Disc Golf, Jacksonville Illinois.

Please be welcome over to Jacksonville to check out our new disc golf course. Saturday May 17th 2014 is the Downtown Celebration, and you can make a day of it in Jacksonville including a 5k, fun run/walk, fun ride, long bike ride or nature walk on the Town Brook. Or bring your mountain bike and take part in the first werewolf ride of the season at Audubon Woods Trails. More to do listed at Jacksonville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.

From Springfield, Illinois get to Foreman Grove via Old Jacksonville Road/Old State Road; or take I 72 to Exit 68 and take first right to get up to Old Jax.

Posted by Steve Warmowski

Jacksonville mountain bikers have developed trails at the Audubon Woods preserve, located at the east end of Mauvaisterre Lake on Woods Lane between Vandalia and Country Club roads. Every Saturday after the full moon, cyclists will meet at sundown, strap on lights and ride the trails. Check for updates on the Jacksonville, Ill Trails group on Facebook.

Spider web backlight by cyclist

First one on the trails gets to clear the spiders!

The first ride of the year 8:10 pm Saturday May 17th coincides with the Downtown Celebration and the Jacksonville Town Brook run/ride/walk. If you’re coming to Jacksonville, consider making a day of it and doing the Town Brook 5k and/or Mauvaisterre Ride 17.5 miles in the morning, taking in the Jacksonville Main Street events in the day, and capping off the day by riding in the woods. Register for those events at jacksonvilleparkfoundation.com

 

2014 Werewolf Ride schedule (at sunset)
Saturday May 17
Saturday June 14
Saturday July 12
Saturday August 9
Saturday September 6
Saturday October 4
Saturday November 8
Saturday December 6

Please check the group page before going out. Event will be called off it the trails are too muddy to use without damaging the tracks with too much rutting.
Note: the public can use the trails at any time, but don’t go in the mud! It takes too much volunteer time to fix ruts. Event is crowd-sourced, and not an official event of any organized group or organization.

Posted by Steve Warmowski

At the Jacksonville Main Street annual meeting today the organization unveiled a new vision for growing downtown — as a place to visit, live, work and play. The vision includes safety for pedestrians and a bike friendly environment to attract people downtown.

As a place to live, downtown communities are a preferred location for retiring boomers and young professionals. Both of these demographic groups are attracted to areas that are pedestrian and bike friendly. As a place to play, designs that attract people on foot and on bike to visit downtown.

Projects like a recreational trail along the Town Brook. Connecting to downtown, say, along Sandy Street with a pocket park where Illinois Power is removing their stream-side substation. A parkway where people can transverse the city, from Foreman Grove/Pioneer Woods to Wal-Mart. A project that not only brings people downtown, but spreads revitalization energy out into the rest of the city.

Projects like a bike route along State Street. Folks from Springfield can come in via Old State Road and cross a pedestrian/bicycle bridge (replacing the old State Street bridge). Traverse the city hitting sights like ISVI, Lonzeratti’s, MacMurray College, downtown, architecture on West State Street, Duncan Park, ISD, on Lafayette past Eisenhower School. West of town take Liberty Road and parallel the old Northern Cross Route (the first railroad west of the Alleghenies) to cross the river at Meredosia and to points west.

The Town Brook Initiative of the Jacksonville Park Foundation seeks to work with community leaders and interested parties to plan these projects through local governments.

Written by Steve Warmowski

Earlier this month Gov. Pat Quinn and the Illinois Department of Transportation announced $52.7 million in grants for community transportation projects. The IDOT’s Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program puts federal funds back into local communities. The program is designed to promote alternative transportation options, including bike and pedestrian travel, along with streetscape beautification.

Take a look at the projects — when you do the math . . .

  • 93% of grants went to recreational trails, improving bike transportation and pedestrian projects
  • 7% went to sidewalk and pedestrian projects (included in 93%)
  • 7% went to streetscape beautification, like making highways to O’Hare pretty, or pretty railroad stations, or pretty bricks in downtown Petersburg

So to slice the numbers 93 percent of funding went to transportation alternatives, and 84 percent of the funding went to recreational trails and bike transportation like the projects suggested locally of a bike/run route to and around Lake Jacksonville, a recreational trail along the Town Brook, a bike route along State Street (including connections east to Sangamon County on Old State Road and west along the old Northern Cross Route).

Compare this to the 2013 IDOT ITEP projects, when only 47 percent of funding went to recreational trails and bike transportation. Jacksonville was lucky enough to be selected for Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program grants for both segments of the Downtown Turnaround, including the upcoming work on North Main. With the current priorities towards transportation alternatives, it looks like Jacksonville timed the downtown revival work just right!

Looking forward to the future, the best chance the Jacksonville community has to land more of these grants is to work together to develop recreational trails, bike routes, pedestrian safety improvements and other transportation alternatives! Please join up with the Town Brook Initiative of the Jacksonville Park Foundation to work with local governments to get this done.

Written by Steve Warmowski

The Jacksonville Park Foundation and Passavant Area Hospital are partnering with Illinois College Professor Dr. Jeremy Turner to give away helmets to every fourth grade student in Jacksonville.

The Protect the Melon! campaign encourages youth to wear a helmet when biking, roller skating, riding a scooter, skateboarding or any other “wheeled” activity. “The importance of wearing a helmet has been shown to save lives and protect against brain injuries,” said Dr. Turner. “Being active is essential to being a healthy child, and with that comes falls and tumbles.”

Illinois College psychology students have been presenting the brain awareness program and giving away bicycle helmets to fourth graders at Lincoln Elementary for a number of years. Jacksonville Park Foundation founding board member Harry Ford had the idea to expand the program to all the schools in the community. Passavant has agreed to provide proceeds from the May 31 Passavant-Powerade 5K and 10K Race to provide helmets for all 350-plus fourth graders in Jacksonville public and private schools.

Dr Helmet and Illinois College students in front of trailer

Illinois College’s (from left) Ashley Lanzara, Doug Allgaier and Amanda Jones helped “Dr. Helmet” Dr. Joseph Cangas drop off a load of helmets at Illinois College recently. Helmets will be given away to Jacksonville fourth graders to Protect the Melon!

 

On Thursday, April 17, Illinois College students will travel to District 117 schools to give a lesson on how the brain works, show how a melon with and without a helmet fares when hitting the pavement, and distribute the helmets. Distribution to Our Saviour School, Salem Lutheran School, Westfair Christian Academy and Illinois School for the Deaf will be at a later date.

Links, tips and information on being a Melonhead is available at ic.edu/melonhead.

The Jacksonville Park Foundation is working with the Pilot Club, Helmets First!, the Illinois College Psychology Club and others in the community to fund the program for future years. Contact Foundation President Steve Warmowski via jacksonvilleparkfoundation.com to help. Community members can also take part in a Town Brook 5k and fun run, bike rides and nature walk during the Fourth Annual Downtown Celebration on May 17th, or attend performances of the Ken Bradbury play Brook Tales May 17 at Grace UMC and May 18 at Centenary UMC, to support the project.

The Jacksonville Park Foundation focuses on health, recreation and families. Volunteers in the group have started several initiatives to improve the quality of life in the Jacksonville community such as promoting youth health, a Town Brook recreational trail, park enhancements, healthy food and a SEED 2.0 environmental education club revival. The foundation is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization and is solely reliant on private funding.

You can contribute by making a check out to Jacksonville Park Foundation and mailing to Laura Marks/JPF Treasurer, Jacksonville Savings Bank, 1211 W. Morton Ave., Jacksonville, IL 62650.

Jacksonville Park Foundation board member Dave McCollum at last fall's cleanup.

Jacksonville Park Foundation board member Dave McCollum at last fall’s cleanup.

The Town Brook Initiative of the Jacksonville Parks Foundation encourages all to participate in the city’s Town Brook Cleanup 9-11 am Saturday April 12, 2014. The event starts at Foreman Grove (on the city’s east side, off State Street) at the confluence of the Town Brook and Mauvaisterre Creek. The cleanup will focus on the downstream area to the east of MacMurray College.

The event is organized by Alderman Lori Large Oldenettel and the City of Jacksonville’s Special Studies Town Brook Committee. Volunteers must be 18 years of age and everyone must sign a waiver. Volunteers are asked to wear long pants and soled shoes. Everyone is encouraged to wear gloves and bring a litter grabber.

This cleanup is being funded in part by a grant received from a $500 SCALE (Streambank Cleanup And Lakeshore Enhancement) grant from the EPA. A successful cleanup puts the city in line for a future $5,000 grant.

Read past stories about plans for cleanup, and the last cleanup. And check out the site of the future disc golf course.

Prefer to help out with some other things this weekend?

Starhill Forest Spring Work Day

Join Friends of Starhill Forest for a morning of tree planting at the Arboretum Saturday April 12th. Tools and training will be provided. Bring gloves. At noon socialize with Friends at a provided lunch.

This is not only a great opportunity, but having Town Brook supporters with training on the proper way to transplant trees will be a very important skill set. Once the city figures out the plan to manage the city’s Town Brook as a park, all that experience will help in planting trees here in Jacksonville. The Arboretum is a program of Illinois College.

Youth Camp Cleanup

Western Illinois Youth Camp Saturday-Sunday. From 8-noon Saturday, and 1-4 Sunday April 12-13. Come help a local resource on Lake Jacksonville that does lots to connect children and the community to the natural world. Map.

wiyc_cleanup

The Audubon Woods Mountain Bikers will have a trail cleanup 1pm Saturday March 22nd. Starting on Woods Lane between Country Club Road & Vandalia on the east end of Lake Mauvaisterre, there will be a much-needed litter cleanup in & around the Emma Mae Leonard Wildlife Sanctuary and Audubon Woods Recreation Trails.

From organizer CJ Bahan: I would like to invite you to join me. If you’re unfamiliar with this area, it is a user-maintained, public space here in Jacksonville open to walkers, runners, birders, cyclists, canoeists, etc. Please bring trash bags, gloves, pick-up sticks, & anything else you may need. This will be a non-sponsored, crowd-sourced event. Please dress for the weather, however if the weather is too bad I will re-schedule. If the ground is too soft & muddy on the trails, we will only do clean-up on the roadsides around the Sanctuary. Please share with your friends, thanks! Follow the Facebook event for updates.

This is a crowd-sourced, independent cleanup. No age restrictions like with the city’s cleanups (this spring’s scheduled for 9-11am April 12th – from Foreman’s Grove upstream to Hardin).

If you’d like to find out how you can make Jacksonville more bicycle friendly, come to the Illinois Bike Summit Tuesday April 15th in Champaign. Meet, network with and learn from bicycle advocates from around the state. Day includes workshops, breakout sessions and bike rides. Registration is only $35, includes trial membership in League of Illinois Bicyclists and lunch. Topics include . . .

  • IDOT’s new Bicycle Transportation Plan, with summary from IDOT Secretary Ann Schneider
  • Plan implementation priorities of the bicycling community from League of Illinois Bicyclists’ Ed Barsotti
  • Local bike advocacy case studies
  • Bicycle-Friendly Universities
  • Trail project successes
  • The Bronze Age of Champaign-Urbana: The Making of Two Bicycle-Friendly Communities
  • Health community/bike advocacy partnership case studies
  • Education and enforcement
  • Mountain biking facilities
  • Enhancing your own bicycling
  • Bike sharing programs
  • Bring your bike for an hour-long, early-morning ride through the Champaign and Urbana Communities and the U of I campus.
  • The very popular “Coffee Talks” of past summits will be held again from 8:30-9:30 am, tentatively including: Producing your First Bike Map, Running a Community Bike Workshop, Bike Counts & What we learned from our first Campus Bike Census, Bike to School Day, and Bike to Work Day events.
  • Post-conference reception tradition will continue, hang out for a bit longer for some refreshments and extended networking time
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