After presenting an economic impact study to the Berea City Council last month about the Pinnacle trails, Louisa Summers, a professor in the department of health and human performance at Berea College, came before the group once more to report the health impacts the city's multi-use trails hold.
Summers reported more people are using the trails than before, with upwards of 1,000 trail users per month on Short Line Pike and 18,000 on Stephenson Trail.
Since 2017, trail usage has increased by 43%, according to Summers. In her report, she also noted that the estimated 18,000 users of Stephenson Trail each spend around an hour on the trails, traveling an average distance of 3.2 miles using the trails four days a week.
"What we found interesting was that from 2018 to 2019, was a reduction in car use to get to the trails," she said.
Car usage to access the trails decreased 13% between those years.
Summers said these trails were important to help increase exercise through walking, biking and running on the newly connected trails.
"Berea is located in the Appalachian region, which has the highest rate of Type 2 Diabetes, obesity and inactive rates," she said. "Even a small difference, just one mile a day -- about 15 to 20 minutes -- reduces the likelihood of death. Exercise is good for the brain, heart and health."
She applauded the city officials for having the vision to connect the trails and systems together, which they decided to do in January of 2018 costing them almost $500,000. Summers encouraged the city to focus on making Berea a bike-friendly community as its next endeavour.
"I was skeptical of the trails, but the numbers show that they are working," council member Jim Davis said. "In fact, my wife is walking right now."
• Prior to its business meeting, the council held a work session to discuss its ethics ordinance, which is similar to that of the city of Richmond.
• Sandy Rowlette spoke during the public comment period of the meeting regarding the annual Spoonbread Festival and reported more than 200 vendors already signed up. She encouraged community members to sign up to volunteer to help with the festival, or be an event sponsor. To sign up, visit spoonbreadfestival.com.
• Wendy Satterthwaite, a first-grade teacher at Berea Community Schools was given a certificate of recognition signed by the mayor for her successful athletic endeavors and empowerment to women and girls in the Berea community.
• Mayor Bruce Fraley signed a proclamation for drug prevention of e-cigarettes and vaping products, noting that in the past year alone, vaping amongst high schoolers has increased 78%.
• Berea Police Officer Danny Brewer was announced as interim police chief for the department, taking the place of David Gregory, who will become the city's new administrator in August. He will assume the position until someone is hired by the city to take the position permanently.
• Public Works Director, Dwayne Brumley, will transition positions to become the city's new project manager.
The next Berea City Council meeting will be Aug. 20 at 6:30 p.m. at the Berea Municipal Building.
Reach Taylor Six at 624-6623 or follow her on Twitter @TaylorSixRR.