Jefferson County Health Center Opens a New Walking Trail

Walking Trail

Written by Vicki Tillis, Fairfield Ledger Lifestyles Editor 

Jefferson County Health Center officials are inviting walkers, hikers, joggers and bicyclists to try out the new nine-tenths mile-long trail on the facility’s campus.

The 4,628-foot-long, 5- to 6-foot-wide gravel trail basically follows the perimeter of the health center’s 34-acre site. It connects to the Fairfield Loop Trail on the south side of the health center property, follows it west to the fence line, then turns north and goes along the east side of the “Hammes house” and turns east.

That section of trail, as suggested by Ron Blair, who was instrumental in the development of the Jefferson County Trails System, was placed in the 9-foot easement along Libertyville Road.

The trail continues past the Southeastern Renal Dialysis Center in the northeast corner of the campus and hooks back into the Loop Trail on the east side of the health center campus.

“Chuck Espy initiated the entire conversation and got us to thinking about a trail,” said health center administrator and CEO, Deb Cardin. “He sent me an email with reasons why he felt it would be a benefit.”

Espy explained while his wife was a patient last summer at the health center, instead of walking along the trail near their home, he walked on the nearby Loop Trail section between the hospital and the Maasdam Barns.

The Loop Trail was on the east and south ends of the health center, “ but there was no way to get totally around the hospital,” said Espy.

Espy said he knew vice president of clinical services “Joneane Parker and all the gals who run the place” were dedicated to promoting health and wellness, so he started “peppering them with emails.”

“A trail sure made a lot of sense to me,” he continued.

Espy thought the trail could offer those who walk in the health center’s halls an option to walk outdoors when the weather is cooperative, plus those on the Loop Trail could veer around the hospital for a change of scenery.

“The idea took hold,” he continued, “and I stayed in touch with them and got Ron Blair involved to give advice on finding a contractor and trail width, depth and placement.”

“Basically, we decided to do it to keep with our mission to promote health and wellness in the community,” said Cardin.

The trail, she pointed out, is flat and easily walkable, with easy access for health center staff, visitors and community members.

“People are using it, especially our staff,” she continued. “I can look outside and see people all the time, even in the heat we’ve had.”

Larry Mitchell, the health center facility engineer, asks trail users to park in the southeast corner of the parking lot.

“It looks really nice,” said trustee Greg Hanshaw, and the other trustees agreed the contractor, Bob Brown Excavating, had done a nice job on the graveled trail.

Cardin said the trail doesn’t have a name yet, but “we need to come up with one.”

Espy suggested the Jefferson County Health Center Wellness Trail.

Espy also would like to see the trail landscaped with trees, bushes and benches and — “to make it meaningful,” marked in one-tenth mile sections.

The marked sections would make it easier for walkers to gauge their distances and know if they’re meeting any instructions given to them by their health care providers, said Espy.