North Bend Eagle


Also see:
Eagle story of pavement phase one completion and dedication.

Blazing a path for others to follow:
Feurer leads efforts to improve, extend community trails

by Mary Le Arneal
published 8/16/06

Bob Feurer is a man with vision.

“Building a Path for the Future” is the product of his vision. The project is to build a mile-long, eight-foot wide, concrete walking trail at the arboretum at North Bend Central High School.

“This would be a benefit to the community,” Feurer said. “We want North Bend to be a community with lots of assets to maintain our businesses and population and attract new residents because of what we offer.”

curartor Bob Feurer
Bob Feurer is the curator of the arboretum surrounding NBC. He is leading the effort to lay concrete on the trails to make them more appealing to walkers.

Feurer, as curator of Franklin-Cotterell Greens Arboretum, heads a planning team consisting of Bob Soukup (of Omaha), Vicki Swartz, Jim Lewis and Mark Johnson. The first thing the committee did was to survey regular walkers in the community. The response showed that the No. 1 concern walkers consider when choosing a route was the surface, with concrete being the favored surface.

The committee looked at cheaper alternatives, but a surface that would be used and long-lasting made concrete the winning choice.

Willis and Verda Mueller have been walking since he had heart surgery in 1991. The 82- and 79-year-olds walk a mile every morning, from their home on Cottonwood Street to Highway 79 and back. Willis said they tried the wood chip path at the arboretum once, but didn’t like it.

“We’d be willing to try a concrete path,” Willis said. “If it was cool.”

Mary Kingston, 49, has been power walking for at least four years and likes the straight routes the streets offer for her 2.8 mile jaunt.

“I would definitely use the arboretum for more casual walking,” Kingston said. “I had never really seen it until the Garden Tour. Maybe if it was paved more people would use it and see what a great place we have in town.”

The kickoff for the fund raising effort was during Old Settlers. The Goldenrod Garden Club recently donated $1600 from their Old Settlers garden tour.

“This gave us enough to be affiliated with the Fremont and North Bend Area Community Foundations,” Feurer said. They had to have raised a certain amount in order to qualify to become a component fund of the foundation.
The committee set a goal of $100,000 for the initial project, with dreams that some day there may be a city-wide trail that would link the school, park, library, Veteran’s Park, golf course and downtown, and possibly even the dike and on to Morse Bluff.

“We want to give people a place they can come and exercise off the street,” Feurer said. “In and around trees is a more pleasant walking for the walker. That is what the new trail will offer.”

Bev Nissen has been walking for 15 years with Pat Beebe. When Edee Legge retired she joined the pair walking three miles at least four times a week.

“Every third day is in town,” Nissen said. The other two days are on country roads near Beebe’s home. “We have walked the arboretum during different seasons to see the flowers and color. With the wood chips, you have an uneven surface. Concrete would be a great improvement.”

Nissen, 71, said that the sidewalks in town are not good and they try to set their three mile route to avoid dogs and high school traffic. The trio are casual walkers, with conversation often the best part of their walk, Nissen added.

Feurer said the present woodchip surface in the arboretum has been redone four times since it was first made. The four-foot trees planted 15 years ago have grown to give the walkway a canopy of shade. Feurer said that in the spring and fall there is a wide spectrum of color throughout the arboretum

“Nature has done a lot of work,” Feurer said. “We just help out once in a while.”

Feurer said that there are a number of residents from town and Birchwood Manor that use the present path regularly, but he doesn’t care how many people use the path, he still wants more people to use it. The committee’s goal is to get walkers off the street to facilities that are meant for walking.

Feurer, a science instructor at NBC since 1979, also uses the arboretum as a natural extension of his classroom and has had former students involved in the arboretum plans. Bob Soukup, a 1999 NBC graduate now working in Omaha as an architect, helped with the planning of the path and developing the brochure. Brenda Humlicek, an ‘89 NBC grad, printed the pamphlet.

“We need to think progressively,” Feurer said. “We need to ‘gussy’ up North Bend so that people will come here. There are so many positive things going on in our town. This would be one more.”

Feurer, who has lived in North Bend for 27 years, sees lots of opportunities to raise a family in the community, something he believes we need to promote. He is hoping that the community will rally around this improvement to the arboretum.

“When there is a real community effort,” Feurer said, “those are the things that succeed."

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