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650 People Visit Legacy Park on Opening Day

Posted on Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

Leader of the Pack: Lance Stinley, age 6, takes an early lead in the Turner School
pre-kindergarten foot race around the 1/2-mile recreational trail at Legacy Park
on March 21.

Ready, set, go! Legacy Park Recreational Trail opened with a flurry of activity on March 21. An estimated 650 people visited the new, 1/2-mile loop northeast of Mercy Health/Love County Hospital during opening day festivities from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

They walked and ran and asked lots of questions about the trail and the growers market nearby.

The hospital developed Legacy Park, a 10-acre tract, in the interest of engaging patients and the public to participate in regular physical activity, and then return to the market building at the trailhead to find farm-fresh fruits and vegetables for a healthy diet.

Only the trail officially opened Monday. The farmers market is not yet open for business.

The trail is 10 feet wide and asphalt-topped for accessibility by walkers, runners, bikers, skaters, wheelchairs, and infant strollers. The market building is 4,300 square feet with a 2,300 square foot awning.

The Love County Senior Volunteer Program has offices in the market. Park restrooms are located on the building's north side.

Hours for Legacy Park are dawn to dusk.

The early-morning ribbon-cutting for the recreational trail attracted 125 participants and spectators. Barbara Sessions, long-time chair of the Love County Community Coalition, was honored by the hospital as the official ribbon cutter. She also was emcee of the event.

"The trail and those who worked so hard to plan it, fund it, and construct it are saying to us: 'Get up, and get moving, Love County!'" Sessions said. 

"The Cooper (aerobics) Institute of Dallas says, 'If every American walked briskly for 30 minutes a day, the public-health battle would be won.'"

"Our Love County Health Center Foundation president Arthur Rickets says, 'I jog for health, weight maintenance, and pleasure.'"

"The British historian George Trevalyan asserted 200 years ago, 'I have two good doctors: my left leg and my right leg.'"

Joining the ceremony were Hospital CEO Richard Barker, Hospital Board of Control chairman Dr. Jack Testerman, clinic director Connie Barker, the hospital's 'mission team' coworkers Michelle Lively, Connie Graham, Carla Bolton, and Angela Lang, and Mercy Hospital Ardmore CEO Daryle Voss.

Speakers included Barker, Testerman, and County Commissioner Linda Hyman.

The hospital managed the Legacy Park project and the County Commissioner District workers constructed the recreational trail. A recreational trail grant from the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation contributed $160,000 in funding.

Special tribute was paid to the Marietta High School state championship girls and boys cross country teams. All-State seniors Abbie Winchester and Ethan Vinson held the black and gold ribbon designated for the ribbon-cutting.

Cross Country Coach Matt Appelman was honored as the official starter for the honorary first lap, which was led by his victorious teams. In four years at the school, Appelman has produced four state champions. The girls have won three in a row, 2013-2015. The boys captured their first ever crown in 2015.

Senior team members besides Winchester and Vinson are Landry Willis, Jaime Alexander, Victoria Vinson, and Jesse Scott. Juniors are Gracie Cane, Michaela Rule, Bailey Sykora, Jason Fraire, Jesus Fernandez, and Tyler Smith. Sophomores are Cynthia De La Torre, Hannah Taylor, Alexandria Spiers, Logan Willis, Bolton Fortune, Alex Sanchez, Garrett Vinson, and Daniel Brock. Freshmen are Marissa Fincher, Robin Moore, Monica Salazr, Chase Waterhouse, Zane Nutter, Trace Stewart, Antonio Valenzuela, and Connor Vinson.

Next on the trail was Marietta's Arthur Rickets. Rickets ran his first marathon (26.2 mile race) at age 65, has since completed three more marathons, and, at age 76, is still one of the top runners in the area. Rickets also serves as chair of the Love County Health Center Foundation.

Also singled out to join in the honorary first lap was speed walker Rob Robertson of Falconhead. With only three years of experience in the sport of "pedestrianism," the 52-year-old Robertson has achieved the rank of Centurion. That is the designation for speed walking a distance of 100 miles within 24 hours. He is one of only 78 Centurions in the United States. Robertson will take on his first international Centurion competition, in Australia, in April.

Dozens of spectators formed up behind the lap leaders to join the fun with a 1/2-mile walk of their own.

Adult exercise classes and walking groups visited the trail later in the morning.

Then came the school children. All four Love County schools brought busloads of students to set age group records in the 1/2-mile distance on the recreational trail.

Top runners from Marietta grades pre-k through 8 were Yahir Alvarado, Peyton Harmon, Axel Serrano, Liliana Fernandez, Kasen Lott, Katelyn Tucker, Luis Garcia, Abigail Garcia, Tucker Kirk, Yulisa Gonzalez, Damoron Green, Marlene Ochoa, Wyatt Vinson, Courtlyn McMahon, Kyler Williams, Lexie Waterhouse, Garrett Morgan, Sophie Love, Jacob Cox, and Mandy Sykora.

Fastest from Thackerville fifth grade were Landon Voyles and Makenzie Kretzschmar.

Turner pre-K through fifth grade speedsters were Dalton May, Aiden Hudson, Graham Eakins, Brayden DeMonia, Micah Wolfe, Braylee Foster, and Judson Eakins.

Fastest from Greenville grades 1-5 were Gracie Lewis, Anthony Hamilton, Angel Rojas, Kenadea Banks, Ashton Glazner, Lucy Douglass, Case Robinson, Dakota Schmidt, Heaven Hamilton, and Anna Stahlbusch. Abby Alvaez, grade 7, came in first in the grades 5-8 girls track team competition.

The Love County Senior Volunteer Program served water and fruit to all participants inside the growers market. The first 500 visitors to Legacy Park also received commemorative souvenir frisbees.