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Small towns benefit from Great Allegheny Passage

| Sunday, May 17, 2015, 11:08 p.m.

During World II, soldiers and sailors knew they would have a treat when their trains stopped at the B&O Railroad station along Water Street, Connellsville.

There they feasted on good food, a cup of joe and camaraderie. This was made possible by the volunteer efforts of 600 women of the Connellsville Canteen.

Local bike trail enthusiasts can experience the same positive feelings by attending Tuesday's “Lunch and Learn.”

Italian Oven food will be served at noon, followed by a Trail Town Program update. The event will be held at the Connellsville Canteen on West Crawford Avenue.

It costs $5 to help fund the luncheon / seminar.

So, pull up a chair, chow down and learn how local trail towns have benefited since the Great Allegheny Passage officially opened in June 2013, organizers said.

William Prince, manager of the Trail Town Program, will update the economic impact the GAP has had in small towns along the Youghiogheny River through which the GAP passes. Part of the GAP travels through Connellsville on its way to Ohiopyle State Park.

Connellsville is one of eight towns to be assisted by the Trail Town Program, which covers the GAP from West Newton to Cumberland, Md. At Cumberland, the GAP links with the C&O Canal Towpath Trail. From there, recreationists can proceed to Washington, D.C.

“Lunch and Learn” has been a success thus far, according to Michael Edwards, president of Fayette County Cultural Trust. The trust is assisted by several other organizations, including Connellsville Redevelopment Authority, Downtown Connellsville and Greater Connellsville Chamber of Commerce.

There is plenty of local input from Yough River Trail Council, a volunteer group that maintains the trail between Layton and Bruner Run (near Ohiopyle State Park). Retired music teacher Ted Kovall is president of YRTC. Its volunteers turned out recently to prepare for the trail's summer-through-fall traffic, its busiest months.

The Trail Town Program's motto —“Dream It, Plan It, Find It and Own It” — benefits from the efforts of YRTC and other volunteers along the GAP.

Laura Szepesi is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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