Dacey Trail Ribbon Cutting

Members of the Dacey Trail Committee and dignitaries prepare to cut the ribbon officially opening the trail, at the Grand Opening on July 20th. Shown (L-R): Alan Spesard, Noel Bolinger, Ben Dawdy, Jerry Yockey, George Frazier, Lewis Yockey, Bob Flider, Kathy Niksic, and Andrea Lewis.

The General Dacey Trail Committee held their grand opening on Wednesday, July 20. The ceremony was held at pavilion # 5 which sits behind the Scout Cabin in Forest Park, Shelbyville. The first phase of this trail begins at that pavilion and extends almost a mile to the Ninth Street Boat Ramp parking lot.

Over fifty people packed the pavilion to join in the ceremonies. Jerry Yockey, Chairman of the General Dacey Trail spoke briefly about the work that has been done and introduced the speakers lined up for this event.

The first speaker was Andrea Lewis, Operations Manager for Lake Shelbyville.

“My first thought was this is a great idea, I knew this could be done, but we would have to get all of our ducks in a row to make it happen,” said Lewis. “Then I had to tell him (Yockey) OK, but understand you are working for the government. We don’t move very fast.”

Lewis said here it is six years later and we having the grand opening. Lewis went on to say this is the start of a regional trail that is purposed to go 170 miles.

“This is the first stage of it and hopefully it will go around the lake connecting all of our recreation areas as well as connecting all the communities and providing benefits to the region,” continued Lewis.

Lewis praised Yockey and the Dacey Trail Committee.

“This trail would not be here if it wasn’t for the leadership and the tenacity of Jerry Yockey and his Dacey Trail Committee and the work they put in, and getting all the people to buy into it,” continued Lewis.

Lewis also talked about the financial support for the trail by the City of Shelbyville, the engineering assistance by the city engineer, Alan Spesard. She also mentioned the Illinois Department of Natural Resources which aided in the grants. Lewis talked about the economic impact the trail could have on the area. She said her office e has received letters from as far away as Utah and West Virginia requesting information on the trail.

Next Lewis Yockey of the Department of Natural Resources spoke briefly to the group. He also talked about the economic impact the trail will hold for the future.

Then Shelbyville Park Commissioner Noel Bolinger spoke. He talked about how he has seen so many people using the trail since it was established.

“It (the trail) is used a lot all day long by walkers and bikers and all kinds of people,” said Bolinger. “It (trail) is really a good asset to the citizens that live here, the tourists and everybody else. It is a tremendous improvement and I am really looking forward to Phase II and Phase III.”

Bolinger went on to talk about the great cooperation he has witnessed with this effort.

The next speaker was State Representative Bob Flider (D-Mt. Zion). He talked about the mutual cooperation also.

“This project is the epitome of people working together in cooperation,” said Flider.

He said this project involved members of local government, county government, state government and the federal government. He also talked about the regional concept of the lake and how working together as a region will reap more benefits.

“What will happen here is this project will benefit the entire region,” said Flider. “It is time we take advantage of this lake from the standpoint of the economic opportunities that it provides.”

County Engineer Alan Spesard next spoke about Phase II and Phase III of this project.

“Eight tenths of a mile out of the way,” joked Spesard. “When I talk about a project, there are hills and valleys during the process of a project, Jerry’s (Yockey) favorite term is its been a roller coaster.”

Spesard talked about the next phase which will be about a mile and a quarter long and extend from that pavilion down through the Hulick Addition east to the lake. He said they are hoping to let the contract on that next phase this fall.

“Then we are hoping to start construction next spring,” continued Spesard.

Last of all Jerry Yockey spoke briefly and he reminded the audience that Congressman John Shimkus (R-Centralia) was in the Shelbyville area a few weeks ago and he also visited the trail. Shimkus sent a letter congratulating the Dacey Committee. Yockey said he also received a letter from Shelbyville mayor Gary Crowder.

“He wished us success, he could not be at the grand opening because of his work schedule,” Yockey told the group.

Yockey acknowledged his original committee members which includes Andy Cichalewski, Mike Dove, Ben Dawdy, Andrea Lewis, Alan Spesard, Dick Gloede, George Frazier, Dale Smith and of course, Yockey himself.

“This committee put a lot of hours in, they did whatever I asked of them, and I truly appreciate them,” said Yockey.

Yockey also wanted to mention Brad Agney who was the contractor for the project. Agney donated the work on the parking lot across from the pavilion.

Yockey had much praise for the countless volunteers who have worked on the trail.

“I wanted to count them, I think there were about eighty, and these are the people that came to our work day,” Yockey said.

“We had a work day last Saturday (July 15), and it was 90 some degrees and we had seventeen people here, and that support is what keeps me going,” said Yockey.

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