At its regular meeting Monday night, the town board of St. Germain agreed to sign as a co-sponsor of a $3 million grant request with the Town of Cloverland for a proposed bicycle and pedestrian trail.
The trail would connect St. Germain to Eagle River.
The proposed thoroughfare would begin at the trailhead of St. Germain’s existing bike-and-hike trails and head east through the Town of Cloverland. Pending engineering recommendations, portions of both townships’ rights-of-way along Old Highway 70 would be incorporated in the route.
A bridge would need to be constructed over the Wisconsin River near Oneida County Trunk Highway H, which would parallel the existing Wisconsin State Highway 70 bridge.
From there, the River Trail would lead to the trailhead of the Three Eagle Trail in downtown Eagle River, which heads southeast and leads to Three Lakes.
The western terminus of the River Trail would link to St. Germain, where trails already connect to more than 55 miles of the Heart of Vilas Trail System.
If the River Trail were completed, bikers or pedestrians could travel from Mercer to Three Lakes on dedicated hard-surface trails.
Supervisor Jim Swenson, who is also a member of the River Trail Commission and the St. Germain Non-Motorized Trails Committee, said proceeds from the grant (if awarded) would only apply to the St. Germain and Cloverland portions of the trail, and would not include the proposed bridge or any work east of the river.
“We’re looking to do from the end of our trail at (Oneida County Trunk Highway) O and through Cloverland,” Swenson said. “They want to go ahead and get that part done. Eagle River has got more issues and it’s more difficult for them to get all in line by the deadline.”
Jeff Currie requested the town’s assistance on behalf of the Great Headwaters Trail (GHT) Foundation and the River Trail Commission. He explained the organizations must move quickly if they want their share of the money being awarded by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. The grant was announced in September and the deadline for application is Dec. 6.
“We have a good chance to get started on the trail because of the Multi-Modal Supplement Program,” Currie said. “We could build anywhere from two to six miles of the trail here at the western end, which is St. Germain and mostly Cloverland. If we build six miles, we need to go for about $3 million on this grant; less than that if we can only go for 2.3.”
Supervisor Brian Cooper asked about any potential financial responsibility which might fall to St. Germain as a result of its sponsorship.
“There wouldn’t be any cost to the town,” Currie answered. “And the local cost-share isn’t going to be borne by our taxpayers. That’s money that GHT has agreed to raise.”
In addition to signing as a co-sponsor, Currie asked the town board to submit a letter of support for the project.
“So the letter of support from St. Germain is not a letter of financial commitment?” supervisor Ted Ritter asked
“No,” Currie answered. “It’s basically just saying what the town said when the commission was born, which was ‘We think this is a good project and we want it to go forward.’ They want any municipality with any ownership to be a secondary sponsor. Cloverland, as the primary sponsor, is responsible for the local cost-share ... Cloverland would also handle all of the paperwork and be responsible for paying the bills until all the reimbursements came in.”
“It’s a 90-10 percent grant, and hopefully we’d get it at that level, which is pretty amazing,” Currie said.
“Wow,” Ritter said. “I don’t see why we wouldn’t support this.”
“I don’t, either,” town chairman Tom Christensen said.
The board voted unanimously to have Christensen sign both the grant application (as secondary sponsor) and a letter of support on behalf of the town.
‘I was in the infantry’
Town treasurer Marion Janssen announced town resident — and U.S. Army veteran — Phil Monday had been selected to participate in the Never Forgotten Honor Flight in 2020.
That particular Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. originates four times a year from Mosinee’s Central Wisconsin Airport.
“The kids at the school over here had been raising money for the cost of my ticket,” Monday told The Lakeland Times. “And they presented that to me today.”
“I’d been signed up for a while,” Monday said of the Honor Flight Network program, which shuttles veterans to and from Washington, D.C. for commemorations and VIP tours of war memorials. “I’ll either go in April or May or September or October.”
Monday was deployed in Vietnam from April of 1966 to April of 1968.
“I was in the infantry,” he said. “I was a ground-pounder; part of a recon platoon.”
Monday was congratulated by Christensen on behalf of the entire town board and all in attendance responded with applause.