Work of Connellsville trail volunteers recognized
“She really believed in the city and she believed in the bike trail,” Fayette County President Judge John Wagner said of his late wife, Christine Wagner, who was honored Sunday during a dedication ceremony in which a pavilion at Yough River Park was named in her honor.
“She did all her work from the heart rather than expecting any recognition. She would be truly humbled by this,” Wagner said.
The dedication was a part of the annual Yough River Trail Council's Fall Foliage Ride/Walk that drew more than 150 participants from all around the area.
“Chris Wagner started all of this 19 years ago,” said Ted Kovall, president of the Yough River Trail Council board, referring to Sunday's race. “She realized back then at the beginning that we needed funding to get the trail going. In the beginning, we only had about 60 maybe 70 people. She continued to do this, and this year, we have the most that we have ever had.”
The Fall Foliage Ride was important to Christine Wagner and Kovall said she would be happy to see how it has drawn people to town. Walter and Beverly Stevens from Los Angeles, California, heard about the Fall Foliage Ride and wanted to participate as part of their bicycle trip from Cumberland, Md., to Pittsburgh.
“This is absolutely wonderful,” Walter Stevens said. “We enjoyed this so much. We had heard that this was one of the best bike trails on the East Coast, but I can say that I think it's one of the best trails in the country.”
Kovall said the council felt the rededication of the pavilion in Christine Wagner's name was a fitting tribute to the volunteer who worked relentlessly to get the trail started, never ceasing.
Several of Christine Wagner's family members and friends were at the dedication.
“We are extremely proud and touched by this,” said daughter Kate McCombie of Connellsville. “She really believed in what she was working for. This is really a lovely tribute and it will be a reminder of all that she did.”
Daughter Courtney Wagner traveled from Boston to be a part of the dedication. She said she will always be proud of her mother's accomplishments and achievements in the city.
“I remember growing up as a kid all that she did and all her work,” Wagner said. “Now every time I go by here I will be reminded of her and how she always kept going.”
In addition to the pavilion, a second dedication was held for the new Wall of Honor, located up the bike trail from the Yough River Park area.
Christine Wagner had a map of the trail installed and the Wall of Honor now covers the flip side of the map, listing names of those who dedicated time and talent to the trail over the years.
Five names have been engraved on the Wall of Honor, including Chris Wagner, June Newill, Dave Tremba, Frank Decker and Ron Rittenberger.
“These are people who have really dedicated time to the trail over the years,” Kovall said. Decker, Newill and Christine Wagner are dead.
“Hopefully we will have a number of names on that plaque. These are some of the finest people that you will never see,” Kovall said.
Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer.