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    December 17, 2020
     The Village of Port Edwards, Wisconsin ---  Two early holiday gifts for the Village of Port Edwards and the Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce Leadership team 2021.  On December 1st, 2020,  the Village of Port Edwards Board of Trustees voted 7 to 0 to  approve a New Dog park in the Village.  This  4-8 acre Dog park,  located in the Villages Ripple Creek park system,  will not  only  serve the 1800 residents of Port Edwards but  also the 72,000 residents of Wood County, Wisconsin.  Currently there are no major Dog Parks within a 15 mile distance from this location  and this will be a great asset to the inventory of  our  recreational activity network.  This  initiative is in collaboration with a non-profit organization, SCENTRAILs Bark Community park Inc.,  a very  enthusiastic group of  citizens  wanting  a safe and secure place to  visit with their animals.  The Total project  will cost  close to  $40,000 once complete (funded by donations from interested citizens and organizations) and it will be maintained in partnership by the Village  of Port Edwards and Scentrails inc. to  ensure its well-groomed, clean and operated effectively.  The Village looks at this collaboration as a win-win for the partners and the region.  This  also  will be a great marketing draw for visitors to  our County,  since its located along the existing trail network  for Bikers, Hikers, ATVs and Snowmobiles. 
    The second gift  came in the form of a  $19,000 Grant from the Wood County Conservation, Education & Economic Development Committee.  On December 15th, 2020, the County  generously awarded these funds to  provide Trail Head signage across the communities of  The Village of Port Edwards, The City of Nekoosa, The Town of Saratoga, the Village of Biron and the Town of Grand Rapids.  This  cooperative was  an initiative by the Recreational Trail Team  as part of the Heartland Chamber of Commerce Leadership  2021 group.  “Having the County support this endeavor will provide signs  that will be purchased and installed locally and will be a great start to our project, this will be matched by  funding to install the signs in 2021  with the five communities that have partnered to  support this effort.”,  stated Ray “Boz” Bossert , the Village administrator for Port Edwards and the leadership 2021 group project chair.  The funds will be  utilized to  design and purchase signs that  will be standardized, informative and durable and then placed along the network of trails in the local communities.  A partnership between the five communities will meet monthly to discuss the  signs and installation timeline.   “I  visited all the communities and participated in their monthly board meetings,  they  all enthusiastically supported this effort and all agreed that having a standardized sign under a HEART (Heartland, Education, Activity and Recreational Trails) network  will help inform their residents as well as provide a marketing tool for the region”, stated Ray “Boz” Bossert. 
    The individual communities will have the ability to  personalize the signs with local mottos, trail names and government logos,  but they will be under the umbrella of  the HEART network  to help identify the collection of trails and destinations in our region.  The Chamber leadership group hopes to  expand the communities involved throughout the County over the next year and as well as neighboring counties and their trail networks. They also hope, working with the County, to  “digitize” the trails and other destinations with a user friendly  application that any smartphone or table can utilize to better inform users of the vast amount of  options they have along our trail networks.  “ The information is out there in various formats,  in many cases it’s collected by the County, Villages and Towns.  We seek to collect all this data, consolidate it, provide a platform  that is user friendly and then  see the gaps in the network  that we can work  with the communities to  address.   It  will show  trails  for Hikers, Bikers, Snowmobilers, ATV’ers as well as boat ramps, parks, restrooms, libraries, playgrounds, Veterans memorials as well as other destinations along our trails in the region, with the ability to  add stores, restaurants and vendors in the future. We want this to  be a  one stop shop  for  the network  and the user but  sustainable over time,” stated Ray “Boz” Bossert.
    For more information please submit questions, comments or if you want to  financially support the HEART network contact us at heart@port-edwards.org .  To donate to the Dog park, visit paypal.me/FriendsofSBCP, email SBCPTreasurer@gmail.com, or contact Friends of Scentrail Bark Community Park, Attn: Treasurer, PO Box 272, Wisconsin Rapids, WI, 54495, noting “Dog Park Donation.”  To learn more, find “FSBCP.WIRapids” on Facebook or email scentrailbarkpark@gmail.com.

    Raymond (Boz) Bossert MPA, MSS, Village Administrator
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