• Tue December 09 2008
  • Posted Dec 9, 2008
By JENNIFER JACOBS The old inn that Sarah Brewster is fixing up is at the edge of a much-anticipated bike trail. The trail in west-central Iowa was set to debut next summer as the longest looping trail in the United States. "It has always been why I bought the B&B," said Brewster, 38, who is living at the 1890s inn in Yale while she renovates it. But the date for finishing the 72-mile loop through Dallas and Guthrie counties is now uncertain. It's one of the four projects that were just on the cusp of securing their last, critical piece of funding - a Vision Iowa grant - when Gov. Chet Culver rerouted the program's money to help pay for disaster recovery. Also at the top of the approval pipeline were a nature center, a downtown streetscape renovation and a recreation center. Organizers of all four said the stalled grants are a setback. They face the loss of donations that hinged on Vision Iowa grants, or the prospect of higher construction costs because of delayed groundbreaking. Some face the stress of deciding whether to invest in their projects now, even though expenses paid for before a grant is awarded won't count toward their match. But all four are determined to press forward. There's already serious buzz in out-of-state bicycling circles about the Iowa's Raccoon River Valley Trail, which will have 89 hard-surfaced miles in all, including the 72-mile loop, said project leader Mike Wallace. Wallace predicts more than 200,000 people a year will roll along under its canopies of trees and over its restored railroad trestle bridges. They can stop at the restored railroad depot in Dawson, or the reopened Hotel Pattee in Perry, or an ice cream stand in Dallas Center, or the pub known for its tenderloins in Jamaica. "You can start at any community on any Saturday and go halfway, stay all night, and finish it on Sunday," Wallace said. "You won't be able to find that opportunity anywhere else." Wallace said he knows of two businesses that intend to open once the trail is paved. Just Ethel's in Yale is just waiting, too. The cafe and bar was originally called Lucy & Ethel's, after the scheming best friends in the TV comedy "I Love Lucy." But the stresses of business ruined the friendship of the two owners. Sue Mozingo has been cooking up hot beef sandwiches and fried fish as the sole owner for a decade now. "Some days you wonder why you're open, and the next day it's really, really good," she said. Mozingo is counting on the looping bike path to bring in extra beer drinkers and sandwich eaters. Vision Iowa's board was set to dish out another round of grants in November. The meeting was canceled because there was no money to give. Board chairman Andy Anderson said he can't predict when or if money will flow again. "I think it's probably the most popular state program," Anderson said. "I think it would just be a shame to see it go." Click on the source below for lots mroe info!

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