Thursday, June 5, 2005
Teamwork leads to new walking track in Byhalia
By SUE WATSON
A series of circumstances and hard work proved fruitful for the citizens of Byhalia. The new sign at the town park reads “Walking Our Way To Good Health.”
Employees with the Byhalia Family Health Center were present for the official opening of the new walking track because of their role as a key player in getting it established, according to Mayor Scooter Dempsey.
But the walking track was made possible by a group of sponsors, all chipping in a share to improve recreation and physical fitness in the town. More will be added to the park as funds are found, Dempsey said.
He wants to paint the rusting park fence black, get some trees and shrubs installed and growing on the field which now is covered with beautiful green grass, and build some gazebos, a sound stage, some bleachers outside the park fence and make some parking space.
The team that made the walking trail possible includes – the Town of Byhalia, Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad, the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi, the Byhalia Lions Club, the Byhalia Family Health Center, Citizens Bank, Northcentral Electric Power Association, Rep. and Mrs. Tommy Woods and the Presbyterian Women of Byhalia.
The park was originally the football and baseball field for the Byhalia High School campus, before the new campus was built north of Highway 178. The town purchased the old campus from the school district.
Then in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina wiped out the Mississippi and Louisiana Gulf coasts, some playground equipment was built and installed at the ball field so children of families who were sheltered in the old school gym would have a place to play.
The equipment was built and installed by Danny and Asa Adkins.
The next phase of the vision for the park came from a suggestion by Marjorie McKinney, director of the Byhalia Family Health Center.
“The park sat a while, then Marjorie McKinney came to me and said, ‘What about we put a walking trail up here?’
“We’d been wanting one for a long while,” Dempsey said. “So it’s a community effort. What’s good is that mothers can bring their children and infants here. The mothers can exercise because the area is fenced in for the children.”
McKinney explained that the walking track was a collaborative project of the town and clinic to provide a place for diabetic clients to exercise.
The clinic helped write a grant to the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi, which funded a small grant toward the project.
The foundation suggested the money be used to leverage a larger grant, so the town and clinic applied to Burlington Northern Santa Fe Foundation. The award from BNSF was enough to help build the walking track and to get the donations coming in.
McKinney said diabetic clients find many excuses for not getting exercise, which is tough enough for the non-diabetic.
“They say they can’t climb the hills and the sidewalks are uneven,” she said.
There are no hills to climb at the walking track, and the pavement is even with 1,400 feet of walking track or about one-quarter mile.
McKinney added that the clinic participated in a pilot program over the last year where preliminary Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) screening was offered to clients during their primary care visits. The HIV preliminary screen is a rapid test that provides results in just 10 minutes.
“Because we participated, we were honored with a year’s supply of testing supplies and a small check for offering the most tests during the pilot project,” McKinney said.
“We used the check to pay for this event.”
After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the clinic held its quarterly staff meeting under a tent at the park.
The Byhalia Family Health Center employs 59, including four medical doctors, four family nurse practitioners, one dentist and one registered dental hygienist.
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