This week, staff writer Laura Rysz talks with Bill Kern about a fundraiser supporting the Trolley Trail.
Residence: Glenburn Twp.
Educational, professional background: Graduate of Tunkhannock Area High School; earned a bachelor’s degree from Ithaca College and a master’s degree from Brown University; has helmed the Conservancy since 2010
Title: Executive director
Q: What is the Countryside Conservancy’s mission?
A: Countryside Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit land trust committed to protecting and connecting greenspace in and near the Tunkhannock Creek watershed for the public benefit, now and for future generations.
Q: Tell us more about the Trolley Trail.
A: The Trolley Trail is a non-motorized recreational trail for biking, walking, running, cross-country skiing, etc. It follows the original alignment of the Northern Electric Trolley, which operated from 1908 to 1932 and ran from Scranton to Lake Winola with a branch extending to Montrose. Our focus has been Clarks Summit to Dalton (opened in 2014) and La Plume to Factoryville (opened in 2017). We have another piece currently under construction, which connects Dalton to La Plume, and we have multiple projects underway to fill in gaps and extend to Lake Winola. With the new construction, we are up to 5.1 miles of trail.
Q: How will proceeds be used?
A: Proceeds will help us maintain the Trolley Trail and to construct additional sections. While the conservancy aggressively pursues county, state and private funding for construction, there is little funding available for maintenance, and we strive to keep the Trolley Trail in tip-top shape for both safety and aesthetic purposes.
Q: What has been the impact of the Trolley Trail while people are asked to socially distance?
A: Ever since we opened the first section of Trolley Trail in 2014, we’ve seen it quickly become a popular recreational outlet for local residents — primarily before and after school/work and on Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons. With the recent shutdown of most schools, businesses and gyms, we have seen a 50% increase in trail use almost immediately. We’re so proud to provide folks with a safe means of getting some exercise, fresh air and the chance to interact with others but at a safe distance in an outdoor setting.
Q: Why is community support so important to this fundraiser?
A: We don’t sell a product per se here at the conservancy, but we do provide preserved land and trails for the community to enjoy. Membership and donations have always been the lifeblood of the organization, and your support now will help to ensure that we weather this economic storm and continue to provide these valuable community features.
Support Countryside Conservancy by visiting countrysideconservancy.org/donate; by mailing a check to Countryside Conservancy, P.O. Box 55, La Plume, PA 18440; or by calling 570-945-6995.
Laura Rysz is the features copy editor and calendar editor at The Times-Tribune and runs the Talk of the Times column, which focuses on local fundraisers and other events. Additionally, Laura curates events online and copy edits print editions of the Life&Times and Weekend Times sections of the newspaper. She is a graduate of Haddonfield Memorial High School, New Jersey, and earned an English professional writing degree with a minor in mass communications from King’s College, Wilkes-Barre. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9100 x5228; @laurarysz