Accepting Decorah’s All Star Community Award last weekend, are, from left, John Hjelle of Erdman Engineering in Decorah, Trails of Winneshiek (TOW) member Harlan Satrom, Decorah Mayor Don Arendt, TOW member Mike Huinker, former Decorah City Manager Jerry Freund and Lindsay Erdman of Erdman Engineering.
The Iowa League of Cities recognized the city of Decorah as a 2013 All-Star Community at its annual conference and exhibit in Dubuque last weekend.
The All-Star Community Award is the most prestigious honor given by the League to cities. Entries are judged by a panel of former city officials and others familiar with municipal government.
Judges determine winners based on innovative efforts in areas such as urban renewal, development, preservation, service sharing or quality of life improvements. Decorah was one of seven of Iowa's 946 cities to garner the recognition for its Trout Run Trail Project.
Trails of Winneshiek (TOW), a partnership formed through a 28E agreement between the city of Decorah and the Winneshiek County Conservation Board, tackled the task of expanding the trail system in Decorah. In 2004, the group had raised enough funds to begin trail development, and at a rate of about one-mile each year the circular trail was completed in 2012.
"In just 11 miles, bikers, runner and walkers see varied landscapes and natural beauty, maybe even getting a glimpse of the famous Decorah eagles. In addition to nature, the leads to the campground and shopping areas, making it a transportation path not just a recreational route," a news release from the League said.
A total of 24 landowners gave consent for the trail to cross their property.
Hotel/motel tax proceeds are used to maintain the trail and to advertise and promote the loop outside the city of Decorah and Winneshiek County. Studies by Winneshiek County Economic Development and Winneshiek County Convention and Visitors Bureau have documented economic benefits from the trail.
This year's other All-Star Community Award winners were Belle Plaine, Carroll and Marquette, as well as Camanche, Clinton and Low Moor, which received a joint award.
The Iowa League of Cities is the oldest, continuously operating municipal league in the country. Founded in 1898, the League is a not-for-profit organization that serves as a unified voice for cities, providing advocacy, training and guidance to the cities of Iowa.