Copied from the Circleville Herald - December 23, 2010
Land purchase to expand trail



Published: Thursday, December 23, 2010 8:15 AM EST

PICKAWAY COUNTY - The county park district closed a deal Wednesday with Dayton Power & Light that will extend the Pickaway Trail into the New Holland area.

The purchase of 122.5 acres, added to the 21.5 acres purchased from DP&L in 2008, will add about 15 miles to the proposed hiking and bike trail that currently runs from Canal Road to Calamus Swamp near state Route 104.

   “The main goal was for this land to be preserved for the county,” said Pete Hartinger, chairman of the Pickaway County Park District. “We like to think of it as a Christmas present for the county, and it’s going to be a big thing in the future.”

   The land was part of the old Penn Central Railroad and was purchased through a grant from the Clean Ohio Fund.

   The park district board intends to hold public meetings in Williamsport and New Holland in the spring of 2011 to address landowner concerns and recruit volunteers to help develop the trail.

   The Pickaway County Park District was established in 2002 with members appointed by the senior county probate judge, Jan Michael Long. The purpose of the district is to ensure that land and green space are maintained for the future of the county.

   The park district meets at 7 p.m. the fourth Thursday of each month at the Pickaway County Public Library, and meetings are open to the public.


   The next regular meeting is slated for Jan. 27.

   More information on the district and its projects can be found on the Internet at

Copied from the Circleville Herald - October 8, 2010

Sunday Community picnic set at site of giant Elm tree



Published: Friday, October 8, 2010 9:07 AM EDT

    CIRCLEVILLE — Logan Elm State Memorial, said to be the site where Chief Logan of the Mingo tribe delivered his eloquent speech on Indian-white relations in 1774, will be rededicated at a special community event Sunday.

    The park, located on State Route 361 south of Circleville, will be opened at 12:30 p.m. Sunday for a community picnic, according to the Pickaway County Park Board, which manages its operations.

    The opening ceremonies begin at 1:30 p.m., and will feature a rededication of the flagpole with a salute by the Ohio County Militia. The National Anthem will be sung by the Logan Elm High School Choir, and those in attendance will be able to sing patriotic songs.

    A highlight of the day’s activities begins at 2 p.m., when everyone in attendance will be asked to gather around the site of the tree, named Logan Elm, for a community picture.

    “When the tree was alive, families used to have picnics under it all the time,” said Michael Patrick, a resident of the area.

    This will be followed by storytelling at each of the park’s monuments by the staff of Logan Elm along with members of the Ohio County Militia.

    Also available will be traditional Irish music by The Kells in the park’s shelterhouse.

    Considered to be one of the largest elms in the U. S., the tree stood 65 feet tall, with a trunk circumference of 24 feet and foliage spread of 180 feet. It died in 1964 from damage by blight and storms.

    The tree’s former location is marked by a plaque. Other plaques and monuments in the park honor Native Americans and early Ohio settlers.

    Logan, born along the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania, was the son of an Indian chief, and also a Christian. He had moved from Pennsylvania to Ohio and had taken up his home with a small tribe of Mingoes, near Steubenville. They soon made him their chief.

    One day a party of Indians was camping at the mouth of Yellow Creek. Some white men were camping on the other side of the Ohio River. The Indians, consisting of five men, a woman and a babe, crossed over to the white camp. The whites gave them rum and when they had made them drunk, they killed them.

    The Indians on the other side of the stream, hearing the shooting, started over to see what was the matter. These were also shot. Among the killed were Logan’s relatives: his father, brother, and sister.

    Logan at once turned into a savage avenger. Blood was now to be shed for blood. He went on the war path and during the summer he himself took thirty scalps. The Indians in Ohio followed his example and soon no white man was safe.

    The Shawnees living on the Scioto, near Circleville, were the leaders in the uprising under their great chief, Cornstalk.

    Logan thought a man by the name of Cresap had killed his family, and once he wrote him a letter in which he said: “What did you kill my people on Yellow Creek for? I thought I must kill, too, and I have been three times to war since. But the Indians are not angry. Only myself. Captain John Logan.”

    The war did not last very long, for the white people in Virginia raised two armies to go against the Indians. A terrible battle was fought where Point Pleasant, on the Ohio River, now stands, October, 1774, and the red men were thoroughly defeated, and hastened back to their homes on the Scioto to sue for peace.

    When Logan was found later under the elm tree, in broken English he burst out in one of the most beautiful speeches ever uttered: “I appeal to any white man to say if ever he entered Logan’s cabin hungry and he gave him not meat; if ever he came cold and naked and he clothed him not. During the course of the last long and bloody war, Logan remained idle in his cabin, an advocate of peace. Such was my love for the whites that my countrymen pointed at me as they passed and said, “Logan is the friend of white men.” I had even thought to have lived with you, but for the injuries of one man, who the last spring in cold blood and unprovoked, murdered all the relatives of Logan, not even sparing my women and children. There runs not a drop of my blood in the veins of any living creature. This called on me for revenge. I have sought it, I have killed many. I have fully glutted my vengeance. For my country I rejoice at the beams of peace. But do not harbor a thought that mine is the joy of fear. Logan never felt fear. He will not turn on his heel to save his life. Who is there to mourn for Logan? Not one.”

    The remainder of the life of Logan was sad. His friends were all dead. His tribe was broken up. His hunting ground had gone to make corn fields for the white man. He wandered about from tribe to tribe, dejected and broken-hearted, a solitary and lonely man. He took to drink and partially lost his mind.

    In the dusk of the evening he sat before his camp fire, at the foot of a tree, with a blanket over his head, his elbows resting on his knees, and his head resting on his hands, thinking, no doubt, of his checkered life. An Indian who had been offended at something Logan had said at a council stole up behind him and sank a tomahawk into his brain.

Copied from the Circleville Herald - July 16, 2010

Park gives OK for negotiation over disputed land ownership

Proposed bike path west of city crosses disputed land


STAFF WRITERPublished: Friday, July 16, 2010 5:06 AM EDT

    CIRCLEVILLE -- The Pickaway County Park Board held a special meeting at the Clarke-May Museum Thursday evening to discuss disputed land ownership in part of the area where the park board’s proposed biking and walking path will be located west of the city.

    The board met with officials from Dayton Power & Light to discuss possible options available to resolve the dispute which challenges ownership of land near State Route 138  near where the old Pennsylvania Railroad crossed the highway west of Circleville.

    A family who resides on the land filed suit against DP&L claiming they  owned the land “based on use,” according to Matt Dicicco, an attorney representing Dayton Power & Light.

    “We disputed that claim and filed a counter-suit. If it goes to court a judge will say you own this and you own that, or the judge will say one party or the other owns all of it,” said Dicicco.

    “What we would like to do is avoid court and sit down with the family and try to reach an agreement where everyone is satisfied. The park board gave us that ability tonight with their motion,” he said.

    The meeting was convened and went straight into executive session. After nearly an hour of executive session the meeting was reconvened and a motion was put on the table giving Dayton Power & Light permission to negotiate with the family to try to reach an out of court settlement.

    The motion passed unanimously.

    “The ultimate goal is to develop the old railroad right of way into a walking and biking path from State Route 104 west to New Holland,” said board member Pete Hartinger. “Right now the main goal is to obtain the land, then we can plan the specifics,” he said.

    One specific is already in place. The project is called the Pickaway Trail.

Copied from the Circleville Herald - June 22, 2010

County closer to control of park

Board to vote Friday on fate of LE Park



Published: Tuesday, June 22, 2010 5:06 AM EDT

    CIRCLEVILLE - Short of being given the keys to the property, Pickaway County Park District commissioners made a giant step towards becoming managers of the Logan Elm State Park.

    “I am impressed with the spirit of community, the pride you have in the history of the park, and the interest in the project,” said Burt Logan, executive director and CEO of the Ohio Historical Society at the conclusion of an informational meeting at the McDowell Exchange School.

    However, fate of the proposed management agreement won’t be decided by the Board of Trustees of the OHS until a Friday meeting in Columbus, he said.

    “It will be a perfect fit, a go-to location for all of the natural history enthusiasts in Pickaway County,” said Pete Hartinger, president of the Park District commissioners. “The giant elm tree that used to be at the park is a symbol of Pickaway County. It’s the center picture in our county flag.”        The proposed agreement would grant the park district management control of the park, which would still be owned by the historical society, for 5 years. It would include a maintenance contract in which the historical society would give the district $4,000 per year for upkeep plus OHS would maintain responsibility for major expenses.

    “If this happens, we need to get local people involved as much as possible to see what needs to be done,” said Ken Speakman, vice president of the local commission. “I see this as a real workable deal because of the accountability we have.”

    When the meeting was proposed, he said he was approached by Dave Harber of Town & Country Lawn Care to mow the park for the remainder of the year.

    “It’s not going to work unless we get volunteers,” said commissioner Bill Richards. “It will take people who want to make it work.”

    Plans are already underway to import a large elm tree to the gated park, repair the open shelter house, install portable restroom units, and the Soldiers Monumental Society plans to repair and outfit the flag pole in the center of the park.

    The five-acre Logan Elm State Memorial, five miles south of Circleville on State Route 361, one mile east of U.S. Route 23, is said to be the site where, in 1774, Chief Logan of the Mingo tribe delivered his eloquent speech on Indian-white relations. The speech was supposedly delivered under a large elm tree. Considered to have been one of the largest elms in the United States, the tree stood 65-feet-tall, with a trunk circumference of 24 feet and foliage spread of 180 feet. The tree died in 1964 from damage by blight and storms.

    The Ohio Historical Society acquired the site in 1912 in conjunction with the efforts of the Pickaway County Historical Association. The property was deeded to the state historical society by Howard and Mary Jones, Fannie Stage, and Fred Fickardt.

    “For a variety of reasons, many of them financial, we have agreed to site management agreements on 46 of our 58 properties across the state,” said George Kane, director of historical sites and facilities for the historical society. “And, they have all worked for the benefits of citizens because we have been able to keep the sites open and available.”

    The Pickaway County Park District was formed in 2002 to benefit the citizens of Pickaway County by preserving of green space, developing recreational activities and preserving the historical and cultural history of the county.

    The Ohio Historical Society is a nonprofit organization that serves as the state’s partner in preserving and interpreting Ohio’s history, archaeology, natural history and historic places. It administers the largest statewide network of sites and museums in the nation.

Copied from the Circleville Herald - May 17, 2010

Starkey smiles on city park

Volunteers work to develop Butterfly Garden



Published: Monday, May 17, 2010 5:06 AM EDT


    That was the word uttered with regularity Saturday by all of the more than 30 volunteers who worked diligently to fulfil the dream of the late Ralph Starkey — the development of the Butterfly Garden at Mary Virginia Crites-Hannan Park.

    “Dad would have loved this,” said Beth Starkey-Hill, his daughter, who was one of the volunteers. “We know he is smiling down from Heaven, watching everything we are doing here,” she said.

    “While his main interest was the development of the park, he spent a significant amount of time at the Butterfly Garden — just walking around staring at it,” she said of her father, 78, who died  Jan. 24.

    The volunteers, who ranged in age from Clyde Gosnell in his 80s to Reggie Amey, 11, were greeted by perhaps the best Saturday weather of the year. And, they all left with dirt and sweat-soaked clothing, sore muscles, blisters, and sunburns.

    “This is phenomenal,” said Dannie Fouts, head of the Friends of the Parks volunteer group, which is undertaking the development of the park with Starkey’s passing.  “It’s a real tribute to Ralph.”

    The volunteers, organized by Jim and Ramona Edmond, served as the labor force for Gosnell and Randy Sanders, two men who share Starkey’s passion for restoration of native land.

    “I remember Ralph calling me, asking my advice on how to turn this 72 acre piece of land into a community park,” said Ashville’s Gosnell, who retired from leadership of the company he founded, Design Group, which specializes in the design of hospitals.

    “We came up with wet and dry prairies with plenty of native plants, wetlands, walking trails, playground equipment, bird houses, and of course, the butterfly garden,” he said.

    He and Sanders recently worked to create a bird and wildlife sanctuary at Old Man’s Cave, and serve together on the Friends of Hocking Hills State Parks, the Appalachian Ohio Alliance conservation group, Land Trust, and the Delaware County educational Farm.

    Saturday’s plan, using 736 native plants and a bag of wildflower seed, had Gosnell and Sanders digging holes for the plants, some of the volunteers doing the planting, others carrying jugs of water to the various planting sites, some delivering wheelbarrow loads of mulch to the gardens, and others raking the mulch.

    The plants ran the gamut of vegetation native to the region from milkweed to Joe Pie.

    “They will produce flowers that will attract butterflies and birds to the park,” Gosnell said.

    “The turtlehead and swamp milkweed we planted in the wetlands will attract Baltimore check spots, large orange and white butterflies that resemble Monarchs,” Sanders said.

    In addition, the volunteers have plans to work with the Association for Tropical Lepidoptera to import native butterflies to the park, both adults and larvae.

    “The caterpillars will eat the leaves of the native vegetation we’ve just planted, burrow into the ground over the winter, and repeat the cycle next year,” Gosnell said. “We probably won’t see them for a couple of years.”

    Starkey served on advisory boards for Circleville Youth Center, National Council on Youth Leadership for Pickaway County, Pickaway County Adult Community Corrections Program and Hocking Valley Community Residential Center.

    He was past chair and current board member of Pickaway County Community Foundation, volunteer coordinator for development of the new city park, initiated the Starkey Fund for Youth of the Pickaway County Community Foundation. The Starkey Fund provides a well-known motivational speaker each fall for the students of Circleville High School.

    He was former Board of Directors Pickaway County Heart Association, six year Board of Directors for Pickaway County United Way, honorary chairman and speaker for successful passage of 2005 operating levy for Circleville City Schools, chairman of Youth Activities Committee, Circleville Noon Rotary and Trustee Circleville Shrine Club.

    He was the recipient of Dr. Bennett Cooper Award for lifetime commitment to community corrections, Circleville Noon Rotary Community Service Award, Sertoma Service to Mankind local and district awards 2005, Circleville Rotary Community Service Award 2003 and Central Ohio Senior Citizen of the Year 2007.

    In the 1960s as Pickaway County Juvenile Probation Officer, Ralph initiated the first clothing center for needy families that continues to operate today. As executive secretary of the Pickaway Child Welfare Board, Ralph started the first workshop for developmentally disabled adults.            

    During his career in juvenile corrections, he served as superintendent of four correctional facilities for youth, regional administrator for the Athens Region and deputy director of the Ohio Department of Youth Services. In the 1980s as deputy director of DYS, Ralph was instrumental in laying groundwork for Circleville as location for the Circleville Youth Center. Shortly after he retired from his career in corrections, the Ohio Dept. of Youth Services dedicated the Ralph C. Starkey High School at the Circleville Juvenile Corrections Facility. After his third retirement, he served another 5 years as Human Resources Director for the City of Circleville.

    Alicia Eckhart, project manager for the park through the Pickaway County Community Foundation, said completion of the park that Starkey envisioned will be the best tribute the community could ever give him.

    “That park is developed and exists for families to come together and play and learn and become healthy because of Ralph Starkey,” she said. “It was his dream to give kids and families a place to go. This summer, kids will be out there splashing around and flying kites and walking their dogs, and that will all be because of him.”

    Starkey is not the only one remembered by the volunteers.     In addition to the generous benevolence of Mary Virginia Crites-Hannan, the Pickaway County Community Foundation paid tribute to Michael Harrison.

    In 2006, Circleville Noon Rotary kicked off the project to develop the  park site  with the establishment of the Mike Harrison Park fund of the Pickaway County Community Foundation to honor the late Harrison for his dedication to the community.

    And, one of Saturday’s volunteers was Faye Hill, widow of Don Hill, who died shortly after Starkey.

    In recent years, his passion was being involved in the new park located near his home. He gave his time and furnished equipment to mow grass, plant and water trees and watch as the people came to enjoy the evolution of a field into a place where they could spend quality time with family, friends and pets.

Copied from the Circleville Herald - January 29, 2010

LE park might return to county

Historical society wants to divest



Published: Friday, January 29, 2010 5:07 AM EST

    The Logan Elm State Memorial is on track to return to Pickaway County.

    The Pickaway County Park District is pursuing a lease/management agreement with the current owner, the Ohio Historical Society, which would return ownership of the park to the county after 10 years.

    “This is a big deal because Pickaway County has a lot to gain,” said board vice president Ken Speakman. “We need to respond quickly to the offer and come up with a decision as soon as possible.”

    And, that's what the board is attempting to do.

    The five-member board plans to meet at the park, located off state Route 361 south of Circleville, 3 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 4, for a walk-through, and also announced plans to meet with Pickaway Township Trustees, the Logan Elm School Board, and the Pickaway County Sheriff's Office for input prior to a final decision.

    The five-acre Logan Elm State Memorial is said to be the site where, in 1774, Chief Logan of the Mingo tribe delivered his eloquent speech on Indian-white relations.

    The speech was supposedly delivered under a large elm tree.  Considered to be one of the largest elms in the U. S., the tree stood 65 feet tall, with a trunk circumference of 24 feet and foliage spread of 180 feet.

    It died in 1964 from damage by blight and storms.

    The tree's former location is marked by a plaque. Other plaques and monuments in the park honor Native Americans and early Ohio settlers. 

    The proposed agreement, according to board chairman Pete Hartinger, would grant the park district management control of the park for 10 years. It would include a maintenance contract in which the historical society would give the district $4,000 per year.

    In other business, members discussed progress on the development of an east-west corridor through Pickaway County, leasing land from Dayton Power and Light.

    "It's been a vision of the Park District to create a hiking, biking, equestrian, handicapped accessible trail through the county," said Hartinger. "And, we hope to have the deal completed this year."

    First part was completion of a two-mile trail from the group's Canal Park to Calamas Swamp. The new extension, currently being surveyed, would extend the trail to the Fayette County line in New Holland, approximately 16 miles.

    Path would be the abandoned Pennsylvania Railroad line, at one time called the Cincinnati Muskingham Valley line, and early plans call for it to be connected with trails developed by similar Park Districts in Fayette and Clinton counties.

    Future plans call fro the local group to obtain a right-of-way for a connecting trail east to Stoutsville, where it could meet with the Fairfield County Heritage Park District.

    "This essentially would connect us with five state parks, ending at Caesars Creek State Park," said Hartinger.

    The District also has a 15-year lease with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to develop a similar trail from Franklin to Ross counties.

    "We are really excited about this opportunity, and would like to invite local citizens to volunteer to make it a reality," he said.

    The Board also announced the pending development of a parking area near Martha Hitler Park thanks to a $25,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Copied from the Circleville Herald - January 26, 2010

Looking for Starkey’s legacy? Park It

Ralph Starkey 1931-2010

Published: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 5:07 AM EST


While the Mary Virginia Crites-Hannan Park on Route 188 bears the name of its most generous benefactor, the site is considered one of the many legacies of the man who spearheaded its continuing development.
Ralph Starkey, 78, passed away suddenly Sunday, but he will long be remembered for his tireless dedication to the new park and the youth of Pickaway County.   

"He was truly a dedicated person to Circleville and our community," said Barry Keller, Circleville city council. "He always had the interest of the youth first and foremost in everything he did, whether it was talking to high school kids, being inspirational to local football teams or being the flag-carrier for this park on 188."

    After a knee injury in the 1950s ended his football career with the New York Giants, Starkey returned to Ohio to begin a career in the juvenile justice system. Employed by the state Department of Youth Services for more than 35 years, Starkey was instrumental in establishing good working relationships between the department and the juvenile courts, according to Linda Modry, deputy director of parole and community services.

    "He made such an impression on people and was such a great leader that we still talk about him," Modry said. "His style of working with the community was probably one of the bigger contributions he made because he really taught people how to work together and how to work on behalf of kids."

    Starkey held many positions in the DYS throughout his career, she said, and was instrumental in bringing the Circleville Juvenile Detention Facility to Pickaway County. In fact, she said, the school at the facility was named after Starkey since its inception.

    He was also deeply committed to the Circleville City School District and used the Starkey Fund he created in his brother’s memory to promote education in Circleville.

    "Ralph did a lot at the high school," said Kirk McMahon, Circleville superintendent. "He would always bring a motivational speaker in at the beginning of the year to get the kids fired up about the new year. He was definitely a friend to the school."

    He was a friend to many people, according to Sheriff Dwight Radcliff, due in large part to loyalty and dedication to his community.

    "I never heard him turn anyone down," Radcliff said. "He was pretty well in tune with anything in this community and the betterment of it, and he was very committed to the youth of this community."

    Starkey also worked as a consultant at the Pickaway County jail on matters of jail and staffing, working with the civil division on appraisals and assisting in the interview process of new department personnel, he said.

    "In his later years, though, his real determination was that park," Radcliff said. "He was out every minute working on behalf of that park. You just couldn’t hold him down."

    Radcliff said Starkey’s loss is a tremendous one, to him personally as well as Pickaway County.

    "I certainly will miss him, I know that," he said. "A lot of more important people than me will miss him. He was plugging every day for that park, and it was that determination that kept him going. It’s a big loss."

    Without Starkey’s guiding force, Radcliff said he hopes progress at the park continues forward to completion.

    While city finances make it difficult to provide much assistance, Keller said he hopes Starkey’s "army of volunteers" will help keep up the momentum.

    "Hopefully we will have someone else in the community who will step up and take that on," Keller said. "With his involvement, the park has evolved into what it is today. There are a lot of projects left to be completed, though, and we as a city need to follow up and make sure they get done."

    The splash pad, a water playground, is currently under construction at the park site, and a four-season shelter house to be named after Starkey will begin construction this spring, Keller said.

    Alicia Eckhart, project manager for the park through the Pickaway County Community Foundation, said completion of the park that Starkey envisioned will be the best tribute the community could ever give him.

    "That park is developed and exists for families to come together and play and learn and become healthy because of Ralph Starkey," she said. "It was his dream to give kids and families a place to go. This summer, kids will be out there splashing around and flying kites and walking their dogs, and that will all be because of him."

    While his mission must carry on, though, McMahon believes Starkey left some difficult shoes to fill.

    "This community has lost some pillars in the last year, and it’s tough to replace those people," he said. "But you really don’t replace a Ralph Starkey."

Copied from the Circleville Herald - July 2, 2009

Marker installed at Martha Hitler Park

Granite rock first step in development



Published: Thursday, July 2, 2009 8:51 AM EDT

Showing how deeply the sandblasting was used to engrave the marker rock is Charlie Wellman.

Also pictured are Andi Humphries, Park Board and Pickaway Visitor's Bureau secretary; Charlie Babb,

Ken Speakman, Pete Hartinger, and Chuck Wellman.

DAVID AMEY/Circleville Herald

    A huge engraved rock has been installed in front of Martha Hitler Park to mark the property, which has been owned and maintained by Washington Township trustees since 1982.

    “This property is really a gem in the rough that not many people know about,” said Pete Hartinger, chairman of the Pickaway County Park District, which has been working through a 15 year lease management agreement with the trustees to facilitate its development. “This is our first step in the development,” he said.

    The granite rock, infused with quartz fissures, was found on the farm land of Mike Bell, Dunkle Road.  Computer-designed engraving by sand blasting was completed and donated by Charlie Wellman of Wellman Monument Co. 

    The rock was placed on a 2.5 foot concrete foundation at the entrance of the 22-acre park, located off Bolender-Pontius Road, through a grant from the Pickaway County Commissioners.

    But, that is not the only change for the park, which is located off Hominy Creek and is the confirmed site of a prehistoric Indian village.

    Using funds generated through the sale of vehicle license plates — a first in Pickaway County, the Park Board is working with the Ohio Department of Transportation for a $25,000 grant for other improvements at the site. This includes a paved parking lot, a hiking trail, and hopefully even a small shelter house.

    “We also have several Eagle Scouts who want to help us by donating projects specific to the property,” said Charlie Babb, a former Park Board member who now assists the group.

    While history of the property is unclear, the Hitler family was one of the first pioneers in Pickaway County, according to Ken Speakman, a member of the Park Board.

    “This land, with its higher elevation, was actually  the site of a prehistoric Indian village,” he said, remembering finding a stone ax and several arrow heads on the property.

    “Dr. Jarod Burks, an archeologist with Ohio State, is planning to visit the park this year with magnetic imaging equipment to try to help us identify which Indian culture it was,” he said. The park is located relatively close to the Hitler Mounds, built by Hopewell Indians. 

Left to Right: Andi Humphries, Park Board and Pickaway Visitor's

Bureau secretary; Charlie Babb, Ken Speakman, Pete Hartinger,

Chuck Wellman and Charlie Wellman.

Pickaway Trail opens near Canal Park



Published: Monday, May 4, 2009 9:34 AM EDT

    Pickaway Trail, a new walking path opened Saturday on Canal Road just south of Canal Park, opened Saturday for area nature enthusiasts.

    The walking trail generally follows the westward path of the old Cincinnati-Muskingum Valley railroad right of way from Canal Road, connecting the Pickaway County Historical Society’s Canal Park with  Calamus Swamp located on state Route 104.”

    At the time of its purchase for development of a walking trail, the CMV railroad right of way was actually owned by Dayton Power and Light Company. The Pickaway County Community Foundation and the Pickaway County Commissioners each contributed $7,000 for the purchase of the land.

    “Our goal eventually is to obtain the CMV right of way all the way to New Holland and one day have a developed trail all the way to the edge of the county,” said Pete Hartinger, Pickaway County Park Board member.

    The opening of the trail was timed to coincide with the historical society’s annual observation of Canal Day.

    “Visitors can start at Canal Park and walk the towpath trail south to where the railroad intersected the canal,” said Ken Speakman of the historical society.  “Once there they can take the footpath over the canal,  walk across Canal Road, and take up the new Pickaway Trail westward to the Calamus Swamp. There is a combination foot paths and boardwalks completely around the swamp that will lead people back to the Pickaway Trail for the return walk.  That is a two mile walk,” he said.

    Along the walk visitors can pause at the Owens-Campbell cemetery located just off the trail. It is one of the oldest family cemeteries in Pickaway County according to Speakman.

    “If you reference Williams Brothers’  History of Franklin and Pickaway Counties, which was published in 1880, it tells of William and Mary Owens coming into Wayne Township in 1830,” said Speakman. “They came in a covered wagon from Maryland.”

    Circleville resident and World War II veteran Wendell Owens is their descendent.


Below are photos that accompanied this article:

John Mylett and Dick Somers were the first two walkers to tackle Pickaway Trail after it opened on Saturday. DAVID AMEY/Circleville Herald

Ada Burke, who donated her family’s property at Calamus Swamp, talks with Ken Speakman after the ribbon cutting. Pickaway Trail is in the tree line behind them. Pickaway County is the home of 11 wildlife preserves. DAVID AMEY/Circleville Herald

Cutting the ribbon for the opening of Pickaway Trail are, from the left, Rodger Southward, County Community Foundation; Charlie Weaver, president of the County Historical Society; Marcia Hall, County Community Foundation; Kenny Speakman and Kenny Temple, County Park Commissioners; Glenn Reeser, County Commissioner; Charlie Babb, member county park board; Bill Richards and Pete Hartinger, County Park Commissioners.

Copied from the Circleville Herald - May 4, 2009

Copied from the Circleville Herald - Janurary 22, 2009

Ice rink should be ready by weekend

Skating may start as soon as Saturday


STAFF WRITERPublished: Thursday, January 22, 2009 10:17 AM EST

    If the weather holds and the water freezes as anticipated, the ice rink at Mary Virginia Crites-Hannan Park should be ready for skating this weekend, according to Ralph Starkey, park organizer.

    “The whole area is covered with water now,” Starkey said. “They’ll go out and put a thin coat on top of what freezes overnight, so hopefully we’ll be opening it up for skating sometime Saturday.”

    Water for the ice rink was pumped in Wednesday from the wetlands area by crews from the city service department, Starkey said. The wetlands area is designed to be able to flood the rink area automatically, but so far this year, the water levels had not risen enough to use the automated system.

    “We were about three inches short of being able to just open the box and let the water flow into it,” Starkey said. “But even if we don’t get up that high, it’s not that big of an issue to run a hose and pump the water out there where we need it.”

    Residents can skate on the rink at their own risk, Starkey said, and a sign is expected to be posted daily to alert visitors whether the ice is safe for skating.

    “Hopefully people can come out there Saturday afternoon and it will be ready to skate on,” he said. “It’s a big area, though. You could probably put 100 kids on there and still have plenty of room.”

    Wood and fire starter also is available around the rink for guests at the ice rink to warm up during their winter activity, Starkey said.

    He said he hopes temperatures will remain below freezing at least long enough for a planned “Fire & Ice” event at the park slated for Feb. 14.

    Originally, Starkey had hoped to get the rink area filled from nearby fire hydrants with the help of the Circleville Fire Department, but the task posed several problems for the department in addition to the cost of water from the city’s utility department.

    “We just don’t have enough old hose to lay on the ground to fill the pond,” said Chief Tim Tener, Circleville Fire Department. “It would take 1,200 feet of hose to go from the hydrant to the pond, and we only have about 300 feet of old hose that isn’t in service.”

    With recent sub-zero temperatures, Tener also knew the hose would freeze as the water was being pumped, potentially damaging equipment that would be costly to replace.

    “One problem with cotton-jacketed hose is that when water flows through it, it’s designed to naturally seep,” Tener said. “As cold as it’s been, the hose would freeze to the ground, and we’d either have to chip it out or wait until it thaws. With old hose, it wouldn’t hurt anything, but I couldn’t responsibly use in-service hose to fill the ice rink and risk not having it for an emergency or having to replace it because it got damaged.”

    But while Tener worked to round up out-of-service hose from other area departments, city employees came up with a solution that cost nothing but a few hours’ time, according to Terry Elliott, director of public services.

    “It’s a long distance from (Route) 188 to the rink, and it’s been extremely cold, so there were some issues with having the fire department do it,” Elliott said. “Dane Patterson suggested since the wetlands was right here, it would be much easier just to fill it that way. We didn’t have the distance problem, and it didn’t cost any money, so it was a win-win situation all around.”

    In the future, Elliott said, the wetlands are expected to self-generate, and filling the rink in the winter months will not require any special planning.

    “The wetlands was just developed late this year, and we just didn’t have enough rainfall this fall for it to fill itself enough to use the boxed valves out there,” he said. “We don’t expect that to be a problem in future years.”

Copied from the Circleville Herald - Saturday, June 21, 2008:

 Park District purchases land for trail

  Canal Park will be linked with Calamus Swamp



A deal signed with Dayton Power & Light lays the groundwork for development of a hiking and biking trail linking Canal Park with Calamus Swamp near state Route 104.

The Pickaway County Park District purchased parts of the old Penn Central Railroad for a two-mile trail, according to Charles Babb, park district board member. The trail is expected to open for hiking in spring 2009 with the bike trail completed at a later date.

"The park district and others have worked for several years to secure this area for future use by the citizens of Pickaway County," Babb said.  "We will be looking for assistance to develop this trail in the form of grants and gifts from private or business donors."

The trail, he said will connect Canal Road and state Route 104 and will run along the old railroad line.

Canal Park, owned the the Pickaway County Historical and Genealogical Society, has a parking area open to the public during the day.

Calamus Swamp, owned by the Columbus branch of the National Audubon Society, is open to the public with parking, boardwalks and blinds for bird watching.

The proposed trail between the two, with the historic Owens-Campbell cemetery at its center, will be owned and maintained by the park district, Babb said.

The Pickaway County Park District was established in 2002 with members appointed by the senior county probate judge, Jan Michael Long. The purpose of the district, Babb said, is to make sure land and green space is available and maintained for the future of the county.

"Some park districts have paid staff, but we are all volunteer," he said. "As a park district, we are still in the infancy stages, but we're working to try and secure land before it gets soaked up by everything else and there's nothing left."

The district currently holds a lease with the state of Ohio for control of 90 percent of the historic canal lands in Pickaway County, Babb said.

It also controls Martha Hitler Park in Washington Township, which will be upgraded with a parking area, hopefully within the next year.

The park district meets at 7 p.m. the fourth Thursday of each month at the Pickaway County Public Library.

Meetings are open, and the public is encouraged to attend.

More information on the district and its projects can be found on the Internet at

— Staff Writer Trish Bennett

can be reached at 474-3133 or

[email protected]

Also See the article in page A1 & A2 of the Circleville Herald June 21st 2008 Issue below:

     Page A1              Page A2      Visit the Circleville Herald Website

Copied from the Circleville Herald - Friday, November 21, 2008:

Park District receives funding

Plan to build hiking, biking trail west of city

The Pickaway County Park District Commissioners have received matching grants from the Pickaway County Community Foundation and the Board of County Commissioners to purchase a two-mile section of the old Penn Central Railroad west of Circleville.

Park Commissioners will develop a hiking and biking trail linking Canal Park on Canal Road with Calamus Swamp near Route 104.

Canal Park has a parking area open to the public during the day; Calamus Swamp is open to the public with parking, boardwalks and blinds for bird watching. The proposed trail between the two areas passes through the historic Owens-Campbell cemetery at its center. The trail is expected to open for hiking in the spring of 2009 with the bike trail completed at a later date.

The purchase of this trail will enable the Park District to work with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Rails to Trails organizations to secure funding to extend the trail to the Pickaway County line and to connect it with the Triangular Trail and other parts of the Ohio bikeway system.

The Park District established in 2002 is governed by volunteer Commissioners whose mission to create, preserve, protect, and manage a system of parks, nature preserves, and outdoor recreational facilities to be held in public ownership with a focus on local natural, historical, and cultural resources and maintained for the leisure use and enjoyment of this and future generations. The Park District has worked for several years to secure this trail and is grateful to the Pickaway County Commissioners and all the county volunteers involved in the effort, especially to the Pickaway County Community Foundation which, since 2001, has been involved in making all of Pickaway County a desirable place to live; work and play.

The Pickaway County Community Foundation is also governed by a volunteer board and has been active in supporting outdoor recreation by taking the lead in development of the Mary Virginia Crites Hannan Park, funding the Canal Park shelter house, the Gazebo at the Ashville Community Park, the Circleville City pool and athletic fields ' throughout Pickaway County. The Foundation provides a vehicle for donors to support philanthropy in Pickaway County.

All donations are tax deductible and the funds are used to provide grants and services to non-profit organizations.

The Park District also recognizes the survey services donated 'by Mike Clark and Associates and legal services provided by the staff of the Pickaway County Prosecutor's office:

Inquiries for receiving more information about the Pickaway County Community Foundation, about making gifts to the Foundation or to request a grant application, should be addressed to the Pickaway County Community Foundation, P.O. Box 3, Circleville, Ohio 43113 or 477-6207.

Website by Michael W. Moore - Surfindipity Enterprises, LLC

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Signing the land purchase agreement Wednesday are (seated, from left) Pete Hartinger, Kenny Temple and Ken Speakman of the Pickaway County Park District and Edward Rizer, manager of facilities and real estate for Dayton Power and Light; (standing, from left) Andi Humphries of the park district and Jayme Fountain, assistant county prosecutor.