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June 7, 2019

 

 
 

The Great American Rail-Trail will connect 12 states from coast to coast when it’s finished. A road trip may be the classic way to traverse the United States, but cyclists will eventually be able to make the cross-country bike trip a reality on a newly created trail system. Once it is completed, the Great American Rail-Trail will connect more than 3,700 miles of repurposed train routes and multi-use trails—all separate from vehicle traffic—across 12 states from Washington, D.C., to Washington State. Here’s everything we know about it so far. In May, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) revealed the route that will connect 125 existing trails with another 90 “trail gaps,” or sections that will need to be developed to turn the new Great American Rail-Trail into one contiguous path. The RTC says it will take at least another few decades to complete the full route, because it needs to work across state lines and jurisdictions to make sure the existing trail network is well-aligned across the country. But segments will open to the public each year, making it easier to travel throughout the country on bikes in the meantime.

 

 
 

The Army Corps of Engineers will ask Congress for $778 million for its latest plan to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. "The strategy calls for installing devices such as noisemakers, air bubbles and an electric barrier to deter the fish," The Associated Press reports. Scientists say if Asian carp become established in the Great Lakes, they could out-compete native fish. The devices would be installed at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam on the Des Plaines River near Joliet, Illinois. AP reports: "It's considered a chokepoint where Asian carp and other invasive species could be prevented from migrating into Lake Michigan." The Corps already has an electric barrier farther upstream, past the northernmost set of locks on the canals connecting to Lake Michigan.

 

 
 

The South and West continue to have the fastest-growing cities in the United States, according to new population estimates for cities and towns released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Among the 15 cities or towns with the largest numeric gains between 2017 and 2018, eight were in the South, six were in the West, and one was in the Midwest. Phoenix, Ariz., was at the top of the list with an increase of 25,288 people. Rounding out the top five with the largest population increases were San Antonio, Texas (20,824); Fort Worth, Texas (19,552); Seattle, Wash. (15,354); and Charlotte, N.C. (13,151). Cities in the South that experienced a surge in population growth were Austin, Texas (12,504); Jacksonville, Fla. (12,153); Frisco, Texas (10,884); McKinney, Texas (9,888); and Miami, Fla. (8,884). Cities in the West were San Diego, Calif. (11,549); Denver, Colo. (11,053); Henderson, Nev. (10,759); and Las Vegas, Nev. (9,016). Columbus, Ohio (10,770), was the only city from the Midwest on the top 15 list. Ten incorporated places exceeded the 50,000 population mark in 2018 — seven in the South, two in the West, and one in the Midwest. These cities and towns were Madison, Ala. (50,440); Maricopa, Ariz. (50,024); Bentonville, Ark. (51,111); Newark, Ohio (50,029); Stillwater, Okla. (50,391); Smyrna, Tenn. (50,775); Leander, Texas (56,111); Little Elm, Texas (50,314); Wylie, Texas (51,585); and Lacey, Wash. (50,718). Three cities crossed the 100,000 population mark in 2018. They were Vacaville, Calif. (100,154); San Angelo, Texas (100,215); and Kenosha, Wis. (100,164).

 
 

Since 1983, the Governor’s Hometown Award​s (GHTA) program has given formal recognition to those who contributed to projects that improved their community’s quality of life. These projects are sponsored by local units of government with strong volunteer support, which met a need, and made a definitive impact, thereby generating a positive outcome in the community and by extension, the state. Serve Illinois, the Governor’s Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service, is excited to be able to tie GHTA to its mission to improve Illinois communities by enhancing volunteerism and instilling an ethic of service throughout the State. Nominate your community – the deadline is July 25, 2019.

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

June 12 (Workshop) - Climate Economy in Southern Illinois – Creating Resilient Businesses, Jobs, and Communities

June 20, 2019 (Chicago) - Small Business Expo

July 14-17 (Columbia, MO) - Community Development Society Annual Conference

July 25 (Deadline) - Governor's Hometown Awards

August 12-15 (Moline) - Midwest Community Development Institute