The construction of the sidewalk is about more than just convenience and history: in the long term, it’s about student safety.
The new sidewalk is part of a trail that begins at the Chadwick Community Building and runs along Highway 125 to the school.
“The project has immediate benefits,” Mrs. Jacklyn Aldrich, who wrote a series of grants to fund the project, explained. “It will help our community and the students within our community have access to the school and our school’s facilities.” She hopes this will encourage the community to become closer and more involved with the school and all its resources, such as the new track and field area, which is open to the public when not in use by the school.
She also said that the increased public access will open up funding opportunities that may help the school solve an ongoing safety concern: students crossing the highway from the main school campus to access the baseball field and track. She plans to apply for additional grants to fund the continuation of the trail, including a safe pedestrian crosswalk with crossing signals.
The path to getting funding for the sidewalk project was not an easy one.
In 2016, Mrs. Aldrich wrote a grant through the Community Development Block Grant Program Infrastructure Grant (CDBG) to improve parking around the preschool and to add a circle drive. She also requested funds for a sidewalk along Highway 125.
The circle drive and the parking lot were completely funded and finished. However, the funds for the sidewalk were part of a matching grant for $60,000.
She applied for a Transportation Alternatives Program grant to provide the matching funds, but was denied. She reapplied in 2018 and was denied again.
She also applied for another grant through the Recreational Trails Project (RTP). They accepted her proposal and provided $150,000 in funding for the new sidewalk and dedicated the walkway as a part of the historic Chadwick Flyer Trail.
The Chadwick Flyer was the name of the train that traveled daily from Springfield to Chadwick transporting railroad ties, timber, other goods, and passengers. The Chadwick branch was no longer operational after the Great Depression, but remains an important part of the town’s identity.
The Chadwick Flyer Trail will allow visitors to walk from the site of the old train depot at the community building to the school where one of many industrial wood mills were located.
The entire project was eventually covered through multiple grants and the school did not have to pay anything out of pocket. Funds for the project came from the following grants:
- $80,000 from Community Development Block
- $150,000 from Recreational Trails Project
- $50,000 from Department of Natural Resources
- $30,000 from Impact 100
- $3,500 from Lowe’s Toolbox for Education
- $2,000 from Fuel Up to Play 60
Now that the construction is finished, Mrs. Aldrich will begin working to find additional funding to extend the trail across the highway, which she hopes will end the decades-long safety concern.
On August 12, the Board of Education accepted the Chadwick Flyer Trail bid in the amount of $206,244.00 from A.T. Urban Development, a locally owned business known for completing a wide range of services with a focus on public works projects, including the recent work on the Ozark Square as part of the Downtown Ozark Revitalization Project.
A.T. Urban Development superintendent Travis Smith said the most difficult and time-consuming part was a retaining wall across the hollow, but the work was completed in just a few weeks, from October 1 to October 24.