• Last modified 1078 days ago (July 7, 2021)


Hillsboro walks to healthier lifestyles

Staff writer

Three pop-up tents and a crowd of 30 joined city officials in opening Hillsboro’s new walking path Friday.

The concrete hiking and biking trail took four years to arrange and four months to build after it received 80% funding from Kansas Department of Transportation.

It leads from Main Street to Hillsboro Community Hospital. While it has been in use by Hillsboro residents for months, Friday marked its official dedication.

The path follows portions of an old rail bed that used to run in the same spot, meaning less legal work and manpower was needed to build it.

“The new Kansas Rail Conservancy has the surface rights to it, and they released it to us for use as a trail,” mayor Lou Thurston said.

As Hillsboro’s first official walking trail, the path can provide an attraction and may serve as host for future activities like story walks.

“There’s a lot of potential for further development along it,” Thurston said. “We’ve had requests for additions of benches, some kind of a drinking fountain, and trash receptacles, for example. We’re looking into that right now.”

The city has applied to the Kansas Department of Transportation for money to create more paths. Thurston and city officials are waiting on the outcome.

Hillsboro Community Hospital already is planning to use the path for its new Walk with a Doc program.

The international program, funded by organizations including Blue Cross and Blue Shield, encourages individuals to improve and maintain health by offering one-mile group walks guided by a physician, nurse, or physical therapist.

Pam Cartwright, registered nurse and director of community health services at HCH, is leading the program.

“Our first walk is Friday at 9 a.m.,” Cartwright said. “We’ll give a short three- to five-minute health presentation, and then we’ll walk.”

Cartwright spread awareness of the program through a tent at the path’s opening and by word of mouth between doctors and their patients in HCH and at Hillsboro’s senior center.

“It’ll be an excellent way for them to improve their health and learn more about other health topics,” she said. “Hopefully, they’ll learn a lot to improve their health.”

Thurston also is eager to provide an exercise option for Hillsboro residents.

“People can utilize it to walk or bike for a healthy lifestyle. It’s very attractive for communities like Hillsboro to offer,” he said. “We’re proud of it, we’re excited to have it, and we absolutely feel like it is an advantage for our community, no question.”

Last modified July 7, 2021