- Associated Press - Thursday, April 2, 2015

EFFINGHAM, Ill. (AP) - Joe and Suzette Brumleve had hoped to turn a 53-acre parcel they owned west of Effingham into a nature center for future generations to enjoy.

But the Brumleves died three days before Christmas 2008 in a plane crash near their home in northwest Colorado, where they had moved full-time after retirement.

Their dream didn’t die with them.

Trail Recreation Effingham County (TREC) bought that 53 acres and plans to develop the Brumleve Nature Center in the couple’s honor. The parcel is alongside the Little Wabash River and the trail segment between Nazarene Church Road and Ryan’s Crossing, the pedestrian bridge over the Little Wabash named in honor of Ryan Wolters, who died in childhood. He was the son of businesspeople Bob and Karen Wolters.

The Brumleves and Wolters’ were good friends and planned to get together for Christmas before the plane crash. Karen Wolters said Monday that their friends would be pleased with the efforts being made in their name.

“They loved the outdoors,” Wolters said. “But they were also dedicated to giving back to their community. I think they would be thrilled and I also think this is a remarkable thing that is being done.”

TREC president Frank Brummer said the tentative plan is to develop some unpaved trails around the tract with interpretive signage.

“We want to develop a place for children to learn about and commune with nature,” Brummer said.

Brummer said plans also include a pavilion, picnic tables and a playground. He, too, believes the finished product will be a fitting legacy to the Brumleves.

“This was their dream,” he said. “Joe and Suzette had a big vision and we just want to make that vision happen because it’s the right thing to do.”

Brummer said TREC board members hope to begin implementing plans for the center sometime this year, either with the help of a partner agency or on their own. But that’s not all the organization has on tap for 2015.

Bids have already been let for an eighth-mile connector between Phases 1 and 3 of the trail near the south end of Nazarene Church Road. John Lewis Construction is expected to start work on the $24,000 project as soon as weather permits, with a target completion date of late spring or early summer.

Brummer also hopes to seek bids for Phase 4 of the trail system sometime in July. Phase 4 would be a quarter-mile link between the trailhead on Outer Belt West and the pedestrian bridge that runs over Interstate 57/70. The link would go under Outer Belt West and require a bridge over Calico Creek. With all that, the engineer’s estimate is $260,000, but Brummer said TREC already has a federal grant for 80 percent of the project, leaving TREC $52,000 to raise through donations.

“This will provide safe access between Fayette Avenue and the trail without any car traffic,” Brummer said.

Other plans for 2015 include implementation of the Effingham Comprehensive Bike/Pedestrian Plan, as well as naming existing trails and creating signage and mile markers for those trails.

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Source: Effingham Daily News, https://bit.ly/1L8dRhE

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Information from: Effingham Daily News, https://www.effinghamdailynews.com

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