The new “Safe Routes” sidewalk in Farwell was dedicated to Ellen Agle last Friday in a special ceremony.
Farwell’s new walkway between downtown, the schools and Surrey Road, over a mile north, is now open and in use by students and community members.
Construction wrapped up on the second part of the Safe Routes to School (SR2S) project at the beginning of last November. Earlier, the Village had completed the portion of the sidewalk inside the Village limits.
The SR2S project planning began more than four years ago when community members met over the need for a safer alternative for students traveling from the school to the athletic complex, or to and from Surrey Road to the school. Students were at risk because they had to walk in the roadway.
Ellen Agle of the Farwell Public Relations Committe, is credited with planting the seeds that led to today’s completed walkway, said Committee Chair and Farwell Superintendent Carl Seiter. “Through her concern and foresight, the SR2S project was born.”
Agle said, “This is just a thrill for me because for years we’ve watched the kids come out to the athletic field and, with all the traffic, we’ve been so concerned for their safety.”
Gerald Agle, Ellen’s husband, said, “Ellen’s been fighting for this for quite a while. She realized these kids needed a safe way to school for a long time. We would watch the kids cross back and forth across that road every day and it’s a miracle that no one has ever been hurt.”
Farwell Superintendent Carl Seiter said, “Ellen Agle provided us with a vision. Her original concerns for the safety of our children traveling to and from school each day fueled her relentless pursuit of this safe sidewalk for the community. These initial discussions prompted the application for the Safe Routes to School grant. I want to thank Ellen Agle, the Farwell PR Committee, Village of Farwell, Surrey Township, Officer Erica Vredevelt, Dave Peterson and the residents along North Road for the efforts and support to bring this safe sidewalk to the Farwell community.”
Clare County Sheriff’s Department Liaison Officer and now Detective Erica Vredevelt said, “All I can say is that Tuesday, when I was driving down to the school, I saw people using the sidewalk to walk their dogs and I saw the kids using the sidewalk to get to the track and it brought tears to my eyes. It was such an awesome realization that it’s finally completed and people are using it.”
She continued, “It’s such a huge asset to be able to connect the various areas of our community together with this sidewalk. The kids from the Lake 13 area now have a safe way to ride their bikes into town. Along with the Rails to Trails, we now have safer routes of travel almost anywhere in and out of town. It ties everything together. We are allowed up to three projects with this grant, so we’re hoping our next Safe Routes to School project will be a new sidewalk running down Kapplinger to the bridge outside of town.”