Chautauqua Rails to Trails is undergoing a transition period, which is celebratory of the past and the future.
The annual meeting was held on Sept. 13, on the patio of the Carlson Center at Mayville Park.
It was Jim Fincher’s last meeting after a 22-year tenure as trail manager and later as president. The organization is honoring Fincher by naming a trail segment after him, a one-mile stretch between Route 430 and Honeysette Road in Mayville.
Improvements to the surface of the trail will occur in the next year.
County legislator and musician/entertainer Bill Ward will be the new president.
“Being associated with Rails to Trails for these many years has been a wonderful experience,” Fincher said. “The people we worked with have been great. Underneath all our activity is the idea that the trails are for everyone’s use, to gain knowledge of nature, quiet solitude and a wonderful way to get exercise leading to good health.”
Ward expressed his outlook on taking over the role as president.
“I’m not sure there’s anyone who can fill the shoes of our outgoing president,” Ward said. “Jim has done more for the organization than perhaps any singular individual. It is with both a sense of honor and humble responsibility that Vice President Dr. John McCune and I are able to take on this role.”
Highlights of the meeting included installation of officers for the next year and the induction of one new board member. The Signage subcommittee reported on its latest achievements, one of which was the creation and erecting of the James C. “Jim” Fincher Nature Trail sign.
Other agenda items included updates on the ongoing efforts of Patrick Johnson to make the rail trail viable between Sherman and Clymer; plans for needed repairs to the Swank culvert on the Ney Trail; progress on the Town of Carroll Trail in Frewsburg; recognition of volunteer mowers; edits to the trail guide; improvements to the entrance segment of the Webb Trail at Route 394; and an update on the large culvert near Woleben Road and funding for needed repair.
Patrick Johnson was elected to the 16-member board of directors.
The new officers are Bill Ward of Mayville, president; Dr. John McCune of Fredonia, vice president; Virginia King of Sherman, treasurer; and Wendy Lewellen of Bemus Point, secretary. Judy Takats of Portland agreed to continue as membership chair.
Chautauqua Rails to Trails is an all-volunteer organization. The 501c3 nonprofit organization strives to improve the quality of life in Chautauqua County by the conversion and maintenance of former railroad beds for recreational use by hikers, bikers, cross-country skiers, birdwatchers, horseback riders and snowmobilers.
More information can be obtained at chaurtt.org and on Facebook.