Leadership Dorchester kicks off project

  • Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Provided Dane Schemel, Gary Brewer, Rita May Ranck and Alicia Smith, all classmates in Leadership Dorchester 2014, await passers-by at their booth during Third Thursday on June 19.

Leadership Dorchester plans to tackle the Sawmill Branch Trail as a community service project – and it kicked off on Third Thursday.

Alicia Smith from the Greater Summerville/Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce — and current member in the class — said Leadership Dorchester used Third Thursday as a chance to show Summerville residents what the class hopes to do to the trail this year. Every year the Leadership Dorchester class selects a project based on the needs of the community. This year’s class selected the revitalization of the Sawmill Branch Trail as its project to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Summerville, as well as Dorchester County, by increasing access and awareness of the trail.

Smith said right now the trail is well-manicured but the class would like to “spruce it up.” The group hopes to beautify and improve amenities on the trail by adding new benches, trash cans, signage, mile markers and water fountains.

Smith said the class’s booth at Third Thursday included a survey of what residents would like to see done to the trail, and residents could check out a map visualizing the class’s goals for the trail. The class also held a drawing for a fitness bag full of goodies.

“It was just a way to get people to come over and engage with us,” Smith said. “We got a lot of positive feedback.”

Smith added that the class would love to go out to the trail and have a “get dirty day” when it installs new plants and benches.

“We hope to leave a legacy, and that organizations will want to continue with the Sawmill Branch Trail,” she said.

Project leader Beau Ganas, an associate at Dixon Hughes Goodman, said the class would like to create an “oasis” at four points along the trail. Each oasis comes with landscaping, a water fountain, benches and a safety call box. The group would also like to cluster fitness stations at the oasis points.

Right now, Ganas said, the group is in the planning phase. It hopes to finalize plans within the next two to three weeks and then enter the fundraising and awareness campaign. Implementation of the project will take place between September and October – and should finish by the end of October.

Another leg to the project, Ganas said, is to initiate a 501-(c)3 organization called Friends of the Sawmill Branch Trail – a vehicle to keep up the trail’s awareness and also maintain the trail.

“I really think it’s going to be a big success,” Ganas said. “It’s almost overwhelming, the amount of community support that has sprung up.

“There’s been a huge amount of interest,” Ganas added. “It’s going to be big, I think.”

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