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Friday, October 8, 2010

The Tuna Valley Trail Association (TVTA) has blazed a new trail.

From left, Tuna Valley Trail Association president Rick Esch helps Fred Fesenmyer and his wife Loni celebrate the opening of the Blaisdell-Emery Trail, the newest trail in the Tuna Valley Trail system Wednesday night at the Masonic Center. (Photo courtesy of Glenn Melvin)

TVTA dedicates Blaisdell-Emery Trail; honors partners at recognition dinner

BRADFORD, Pa. – The Tuna Valley Trail Association (TVTA) has blazed a new trail.

The TVTA dedicated its new trail – the Blaisdell-Emery Trail – during the first-ever recognition dinner Wednesday night at the Masonic Center on South Avenue. The evening started with a guided hike from Lewis Run to the trailhead at Owens Way. This was followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The 3.8-mile trail, which runs from the Penn Brad Oil Museum to the Keystone Powdered Metal plant in Lewis Run, pays homage to two men who blazed their own trails and left an indelible mark on Bradford in their own right.

TVTA president Rick Esch described how both men made in impact on the community.

George G. Blaisdell, inventor of the Zippo lighter, came from humble beginnings and struggled in the early part of his life. He later created an American icon and left a legacy of charity along the way.

“He was very generous to the community,” Esch said. That generosity continues today with the Philo and Sarah Blaisdell Foundation as well as the charitable works by his descendants.

The Hon. Lewis Emery Jr. was “more than a local leader - he was national, international,” Esch said, adding he left his mark on the business community by waging a battle with John D. Rockefeller and leading the fight against his monopoly on transportation within the oil industry.

“He was a maverick who outsmarted Rockefeller,” Esch said.

With these two people in mind, the board members of the TVTA felt it was only fitting to honor these men with naming its new trail in their honor.

“May all those who walk on the trail be inspired by the lives of the men its named after,” Esch said.

The TVTA also honored a descendant of Emery with this dedication. Fred Fesenmyer, Emery’s great-grandson, has been a valuable partner with the TVTA before this trail was even designed, Esch said.

“Fred was there from the beginning,” Esch said. “He was very receptive to be part of the trail association. He was ready right then, day one” to assist in developing a trail system.

The night also included special recognition to the Tuna Trekkers, those who traversed the 32 miles in the TVTA trail system for a good cause.

The proceeds from the Tuna Trekker program, which continues to grow each year, benefit the McKean-Potter Counties American Red Cross.

“We raised $3,500 this year. Last year, it was $2,500,” said Rick Lutz, who spearheaded the Tuna Trekker program.

The top fund-raiser two years in a row was 12-year-old Matt Moonan of Bradford, Lutz said.

“This provides a great resource in the community,” Jason Bange, executive director of the local Red Cross, said of the TVTA. The Tuna Trekker program has “increased knowledge of the trails. More people are getting out on the trails. This is a great partnership we have put together that will continue for years to come.”

And just like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes many partners to form a trail system.

TVTA officials also recognized those who participate in the Adopt-A-Trail program. They are Bradford Rotary Club, Bradford Volunteer Fire Department, Beacon Light Behavioral Health System and Dean and Jean Bauer.

The Adopt-A-Trail program includes volunteers who assist with the maintenance of the trails, including mowing.

Land partners who were recognized were Minard Run Oil Co., the first land partner, Bradford Flood Control Authority, the Bryner family, Bradford City Water Authority, Beacon Light Behavioral Health System, Bradford Area School District and the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.

The land partners have opened up their private property for trail use, something which is not always done in other communities, said Sara Andrews, a member of the TVTA.

The TVTA also honored two of its own for the special work they have done for the association.

John Shinaberger and Gene Cornelius were lauded for their commitment and volunteer hours they contribute to the association.

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