By John Yoder, president
Friends of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, Inc.
When I look back on the beginnings of our Friends organization and our efforts to create this greenway, and when I remember the obstacles we overcame to get to this ribbon cutting, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that it’s something of a miracle we’re standing here today. What made today possible were many small miracles that happened along the way.
· When we needed an expert to research the title to the Pumpkinvine corridor, Jim Ingold was there.
· When we needed legal advice on how to begin a non-profit organization, Galen Kauffmann volunteered.
· When we needed property-law expertise, Jim Byron, Jim Brother, Chuck Grodnik and Doug Mulvany offered to work pro bono.
· When we needed $100,000 to purchase the land, 135 founders opened their checkbooks to buy the corridor.
· When we needed a banker to help us get a $40,000 loan to complete the purchase, C.J. Yoder lent us his expertise.
· When we needed an appraisal to determine the value of the land as a local match, Iverson Grove volunteered his time.
· When we needed the experience of established trails to guide our decision making, Rory Robinson of the National Park Service and Bob Bronson gave us excellent advice.
· When we needed to form partnerships with Goshen Parks, Rich Fay and Sherri Howland became those partners.
· When the trail pushed into Elkhart County, Dan Seltenright and Larry Neff became board members.
· When we had the opportunity build a demo section of trail in Middlebury, John McKee and Mark Salee made it happen.
· When we needed advocates in Shipshewana, Norm Kauffmann, Mike Puro, Sheryl Kelly and Roger Yoder became those advocates.
· When our organization needed someone who obsessed about the details needed to negotiate land swaps with adjacent land owners, Jim Smith and Bob Carrico gave us outstanding leadership.
· When we needed a person to create a signature bike ride to publicize and raise funds for the trail, Danny Graber volunteered for the job.
Time does not permit a recitation of the contribution of all 42 people who have served on our board of directors, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention several who have served 10 years or more: Mike Bontreger, Bob Hatch, Quinn Holdeman, Jr. , Merritt Lehman and Myron Yoder.
On behalf of the Friends of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, Inc., I want to thank everyone who contributed their time, talent and money to create, what I think, will be a wonderful community asset.
They had the faith and vision to make the idea of a greenway into the reality we celebrate today.