History

History  *  Education  *  Fundraising  *  Grants

Ever since 1995, the Baldwin County Trailblazers, a non-profit organization, has engaged in a campaign to fund and build a continuous multi-purpose recreation trail along the eastern shore of Mobile Bay in Baldwin County, Alabama. Founder Teko Wiseman’s vision was to connect cities and towns and encourage a pedestrian and bike-friendly community. The initial challenge was to create a public appetite for sidewalks in small communities where none existed and then to connect the communities.

The Trailblazers worked with county commissioners, mayors and the local press to sell the concept. Well-known national trail enthusiasts Dan Burden, Jeff Speck, and Ed McMahon provided guidance and encouragement at Trailblazer conferences and public-input meetings. The cities of Daphne and Fairhope, the Alabama Department of Transportation, and the Baldwin County Highway Department helped to design, produce and install both trail and trail signage and continue to provide maintenance and repairs.

The initial construction of the Trail began in 1998 in Olde Towne Daphne on Main Street (Scenic Highway 98). Construction of the final 1.5 mile segment on Scenic Hwy 98 between Co. Rd. 13 and Hwy 181 in the Barnwell area is slated to begin in early  2015.

In September 2013 the Trailblazers and the Baldwin County Commission were awarded a Federal Transportation Alternatives Program grant of $308,324.00 toward this segment’s construction. On December 3, 2013, the Trailblazers presented a check for $77,041 in Trailblazers-raised matching funds to the Baldwin County Commission for this final segment’s construction – the completion of the Eastern Shore Trail.

To date, the Trailblazers have written grants and helped raise matching funds for the Trail’s development and construction for a total of nearly 7 million dollars. In addition to planning and fundraising for the Trail, the organization serves as its steward: representing and advocating for it with local leaders, agencies and governments; monitoring maintenance and repair issues; addressing local and visitor questions and concerns; hosting volunteer work days to help with clean-up and beautification; promoting it as a destination attraction locally, regionally and nationally; and keeping the press and the public aware of its purpose, benefits, unique features and diverse beauty.

 

Gator Alley opening

Pictured at Gator Alley in 2013

Left to right:

 Daphne Beautification Committee members David Dueitt, Selena Vaughn, Elaine Maxime, Rebecca Trosclair, Trailblazers President Valery Wiseman De Laney (in right rear amid the committee members), Tomasina Werner, and Dorothy Morrison

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Community Education

  • 1998-  First annual meeting held at U.S. Sports Academy showcases recreational trail system in Florida.
  • 2000-  Trailblazers host first annual “Walk Your Child to School Day” for Spanish Fort, Daphne, and Fairhope schools.  3,000 participants walk in a safety survey of home-to-school routes.  Findings reported to Baldwin County Schools and ALDOT.
  • 2001-  Trailblazers host second “Walk Your Child to School Day”.
  • 2001-  Wilbur Smith Associates (national trail design and engineering firm) helps host open house at Fairhope Civic Center to showcase yearlong feasibility study of EST.
  • 2001-  Trailblazers co-host statewide ADECA grant writing workshop with the City of Fairhope.
  • 2002-  Trailblazers host nationally recognized Smart Growth planner, Dan Burden at Faulkner State Community College in Fairhope to conduct his Walkable Communities presentation; Cohosts: Baldwin County Association of Realtors, Homebuilders Association of Baldwin County, cities of Gulf Shores and Fairhope.
  • 2003-  Trailblazers host “Smart Growth” presentation by nationally celebrated urban planner Jeff Speck at Fairhope’s Faulkner State Community College.
  • 2005-  Baldwin County Commission approves posting Trailblazer’s “Share the Road” signs on county roads favored by cyclists.
  • 2007-  “Walkable Communities” Dan Burden returns to deliver nine messages in two days. Including power point presentations and walking audits in Daphne, Spanish Fort, Foley, Bay Minette, Robertsdale, and downtown Mobile.
  • 2007-  Trailblazers kick off first “Bikes for Tikes” campaign and purchase 60 children bikes and helmets distributed through the Rotary Boy’s and Girl’s Club.
  • 2009-  Liz Smith-Incer from the National Parks-Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance  facilitates a board of directors brainstorming retreat at the Weeks Bay Foundation Training Center.
  • 2010-  Trailblazers partner with BayArt to host an art competition between local youths to create art for kiosk panels along the Eastern Shore Trail.  Winning art panels displayed at Windmill Market in Fairhope before trail installation.
  • 2012-  Trailblazers partner with Weeks Bay Foundation to host a 1 mile Fun Run on the newly constructed Weeks Bay segment of EST.
  • 2012-  Trailblazers attend and set up display at the annual Alabama Trails Conference at Jacksonville State University.
  • 2013-  Trailblazers partner with city of Fairhope’s Ped/Bike Committee to establish the first free “Bike Valet” during Fairhope’s annual Arts and Crafts Festival.  156 bikes park in designated area behind the Fairhope Museum over the three day festival.
  • 2013-  Vince Calametti of ALDOT agrees to place “Share the Road” signs on AL 90, “the causeway.”
  • 2013-  New and improved trifold presentation board of the Trailblazers and the EST is created for use at public events.  (Display used at Ala Hiking Trail Society Conference, Bike Valet, Grandman, Alabama’s Magnificent Bicycle Adventure-AMBA, Earth Day…)
  • 2013-  Letter addressing lawn maintenance vehicles parking on trail and residents placing yard debris on trail mailed to all EST residents from Grand Hotel to Weeks Bay.  Educational message, cooperation requested.
  • 2013- New e-newsletter designed on MailChimp
  • 2014- New signage designed for Eastern Shore Trail from Gator Alley to Weeks Bay
  • 2014- Baldwin County Highway Dept installs wooden bollards at Battles Wharf Market to keep restaurant patrons from parking on the Eastern Shore Trail
  • 2014 – Trailblazers partner with Fairhope Bike-Ped Committee to host Free Bike Valet at Fairhope Arts and Crafts Festival and Fairhope Earth Day-Mobile Bay.

Fundraising

  • 1998-  Trailblazers start fundraising project selling inscribed brick pavers to match Sybil Smith $25,000 challenge grant for “Daphne Greenway”.
  • 1999-  First “Big Band Swing Night” fundraising dance at Fairhope Civic Center on Nov 12.
  • 2000-  Second “Big Band Dance” on Nov 10 with volunteer Randy Davis band at Fairhope Civic Center
  • 2001-  First annual Pelican Point Triathlon on June 30, organized by Jeff and Erica Pollack attracts 320 athletes.
  • 2002-  Second Pelican Point Triathlon on June 8 led by founders Jeff and Erika Pollock attracts 303 athletes.
  • 2003-  Third Pelican Point Triathlon on May 31
  • 2004-  Grandman Triathlon June 19.
  • 2005-  Trailblazers partner with Mobile Bay Watch,/Mobile Baykeeper to host Grandman Triathlon on June 18.
  • 2006-  Trailblazers partner with Mobile Bay Keeper to host Grandman Triathlon on June 3.
  • 2007-  Group stages first “Fairways to Trailways” benefit golf tournament at Grand Hotel’s Lakewood Golf course on March 31.
  • 2007-  Trailblazers partner with Mobile Bay Keeper to host Grandman Triathlon on June 2.
  • 2008-  Trailblazers partner with Mobile Bay Keeper for Grandman Triathlon on May 31. Trailblazers begin managing all the water stations along the race.
  • 2009-  Trailblazers partner with the Foley Lions Club to host first Tour de Foley bike ride on Oct 24.
  • 2009-  Trailblazers partner with Mobile Bay Keeper for Grandman Triathlon on May 30 by managing water stations. 2010-  Trailblazers partner with Mobile Bay Keeper for annual Grandman Triathlon on June 5.
  • 2010-  Trailblazers partner with Foley Lions Club to host Tour de Foley bike ride on October 23.  2011-  Trailblazers partner with Mobile Bay Keeper for fifth Grandman Triathlon.  Athletes- 727
  • 2011-  Trailblazers partner with Foley Lions Club for Tour de Foley bike ride on Oct 15.
  • 2012-  Trailblazers partner with Mobile Bay Keeper to host Grandman Triathlon.  Trailblazers set up and man water stations.
  • 2012-  Trailblazers partner with Foley Lions Club to host Tour de Foley, Oct 13.
  • 2013-  Trailblazers partner with Mobile Bay Keeper to host Grandman Triathlon on June 1 and manage water stations along route.
  • 2013-  Trailblazers partner with Foley Lions Club to host Baldwin Bicycle Fest featuring Le Tour de Foley on November 2.

Awarded Grants

  • 1998-  Congressman Sonny Callahan earmarks $1,016,250  “federal demonstration project funds” for what would later become known as the Eastern Shore Trail (EST)  Monies are to be distributed over 5 years with a $203,250 match over 5 years.
  • 1998-  ALDOT okays $200,000 ISTEA grant for Main Street trail in Old Towne Daphne with a $50,000 match by the city of Daphne.
  • 1999-  Fairhope is awarded a $200,000 ISTEA grant for US 98 with a 20% $50,000 local match, $10,000 covered by Trailblazer donation to city.  US 98 from Gayfer Court to Middle Street, both sides of US 98.
  • 1999-  Fairhope is awarded ADECA grant of $100,000 for Section Street with a $25,000 match from the city. (Section Street from CR 104 to Gayfer Avenue)
  • 2001-  EST Gator Alley (Interstate 10 underpass) connecting Daphne and Spanish Fort is funded with $198,000 TE grant, 20% match by Daphne.
  • 2002-  Congressman Sonny Callahan delivers a $1,486,961 grant for Montrose segment of EST.  Baldwin County Commission agrees to administer grant.  No match required.
  • 2005-  Jill Hall Trail (EST, Scenic 98 from Fairhope to Grand Hotel) asphalt repair project begins, funded with $100,000 from ADECA and $20,000 from the Trailblazers.
  • 2006-  Trailblazers plant 50 crepe myrtles along the Point Clear segment of the EST, and various shrubs along the Montrose trail, funded by Alabama Power Company’s “Plant a Tree in Alabama” grant for $1,750.
  • 2006-  Trailblazers and city of Spanish Fort are awarded TE grant of $278,640 local match $69,660 to connect Gator Alley in Daphne US 98 to US 31 up to Spanish Fort Elementary’s School Street. -1.5  miles
  • 2007-  EST Scenic 98 from Grand Hotel to CR 32 is funded with $539,452 TE grant, 20% match. -1 mile
  • 2008-  EST Scenic 98 from Mullet Point to CR 13 is funded with $313,820 TE funds with county match of $28,450, Trailblazer match $50,000. -2.25 miles
  • 2008-  Group receives $20,000 grant from ADECA to fund printing brochures and nine kiosks along the trail designed by landscape architect Will Mastin.  $3,200 match from Trailblazers
  • 2008-  EST Scenic 98 from AL 181 to Weeks Bay Education Resource Center is funded with TE grant $110,060 with local match of $27,515. – .85 mile asphalt trail.
  • 2009-  Trailblazers and City of Daphne awarded “Safe Routes to School” ALDOT sidewalk grant for CR 13 in front of Daphne Middle School and Daphne Elementary School for $148,250.
  • 2013- Trailblazers and Baldwin County Commission awarded Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant to complete the last segment of the EST on Scenic 98 from CR 13 to AL 181.  Grant awarded $308,324., local match $77,081.
  • 2014- Trailblazers awarded ADECA RTP grant of $27,192. to fund a Trailhead at Battleship Memorial Park for road cyclists traveling from the Park to the Eastern Shore Trail at Gator Alley in Daphne.
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