Thursday, December 6, 2007

'Creek Trail' built at SMU

By Lindsay Dickson

Cross-country skiers from the Winona community, both beginners and experts, will benefit from the newly constructed trail on the Saint Mary’s University campus this winter.

The new trail, unofficially named the “Creek Trail,” is 2-kilometers (1.2 miles) in length and runs along Gilmore Creek. Double tracks will be set for traditional skiing.

“So many of the people who use the trails are beginners,” said Brother Jerome Rademacher, Ph.D. Brother Jerome felt that the trail would benefit skiers of a wide variety of skill and experience.

The addition of the Creek Trail is a result of an ongoing cooperation between Brother Jerome and the Winona Ski Club, said Vice President for Student Development Chris Kendall.

The construction of the trail is a step toward the Winona Recreational Projects Capital Campaign proposal that has been recently discussed among various community members.

If brought to the Winona polls, voters will either approve or reject the following proposals: a second sheet of ice for the Bud King Arena; a complete renovation of softball and baseball fields in the Bambenek Complex on Sarnia Street; a Victorian Boat House on Lake Winona to hold canoes, kayaks, and rowing sculls; repavement and lighting of the Lake Park bike path; and upgraded ski trails on the SMU campus. The city of Winona would enact a $5 million property tax referendum if the proposals are approved. In addition, $2.5 million would be raised privately.

SMU has particular interest in the improvement of the trail system. If approved, the city of Winona would provide lights for new, easier trails in addition to a snowmaker. A future trail would be constructed around the approved track and field complex and would connect with the Creek Trail. SMU is considering purchasing more land just south of the New Village for the improved trail system. SMU would maintain this property, but the entire Winona community could benefit.

Kendall said that the timing of the trail and the proposals is great for SMU’s outdoor recreation because of recent recreational additions to the campus. “Because of our school and our location, our great assets are the land and the environment,” said Kendall. “It’s who we are and it’s making us better.” In addition to being able to host public, high school, and college ski races, SMU could possibly bring back the cross-country ski team or club if there are major additions to the trails.

Both Kendall and Brother Jerome hope that the new trail will bring more students and community members out into the bluffs. “It pleases me that people are using the trails,” said Brother Jerome.

Brother Jerome has been working on the trails since 1975, shortly after he learned to ski with Brother John Grover, FSC. “[Trail work] is very natural for me. While other people do it for a living, I do it for fun,” said Brother Jerome. “It’s a labor of love; I really love the outdoors.” A favorite memory of trail work is the thanks he got from a community member in a note dropped in the donations box at the trailhead. The note said that the trails had saved his marriage; the couple used to walk the trails and they appreciated Brother Jerome’s hard work.

After teaching math and physics at SMU for many years, Brother Jerome plans to retire this spring. He plans to stay living on campus and working in the labs, but he will have no official duties.

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