Ridgely to receive new walking track

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Annalea Cothron speaks at Ridgely Senior Center about the upcoming construction on a walking track. Photo by Lindsey Bell.

During a special lunch last week Ridgely Senior Center participants learned that construction for a new walking track in Ridgely will soon be underway. 

Annalea Cothron with Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability and Susan Hill with Northwest Area Agency on Aging and Disability made the announcement on Thursday, which TDH confirmed Friday.

The new walking track comes courtesy of a grant called Ridgely Seniors on the Move from the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH).

When Ridgely was awarded the grant, a survey was conducted among participants at the senior center to find out what they thought would help them get more exercise. Survey responses indicated an overwhelming vote for a walking track.

“We heard you loud and clear,” Cothron said during the lunch. “We appreciate you working with us and we appreciate your enthusiasm.”

Construction:

The track will be behind Ridgely Senior Center and will be open to the community. It will go around the memorial in the existing park area. The City of Ridgely owns that lot. The walking track will include benches for resting and markers to let walkers know how far they have walked.

The track will be by the community garden, which is one of the largest and most plentiful community gardens in the state, according to the Ridgely Seniors on the Move grant proposal. However, the track will not require the garden to be moved or scaled back. Crops from the garden are used to supplement the senior center’s noon meals on weekdays.

Grant funds for construction are approximately $70,000, with plans to begin construction early next year. The track may be completed as early as July 2020.

Improvements to the county:

In recent years Lake County has made significant efforts to improve citizens’ health. Another new walking track is nearing completion at Sunkist Beach and several years ago a grant brought in the UT Extension.

“Did you know five years ago we were the state’s most unhealthy county,” said Lake County Mayor Denny Johnson at the lunch. “Now we are not even in the bottom five.”

Lake County is home to 1,500 adults over 60. Ridgely is home to more than 300 adults over the age of 65.

During the announcement, Cothron pointed out that older adults are the fastest growing population in the state. She also mentioned that there were discussions about more funding for senior centers at a recent state budget hearing. 

“To have someone help out by writing this grant,” said Connie Hopper, director of Ridgely Senior Center, “we know somebody is looking out for us.”

Anyone who needs assistance in aging matters can contact Northwest Area Agency on Aging and Disability or contact Ridgely Senior Center on Facebook.

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