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The Catharine Valley Trail poses emergency concerns

MONTOUR FALLS—Of the Catharine Valley Trail’s 12 miles, the Montour Falls Fire Department is responsible for eight miles.
Montour Falls fire Chief Tom Carson said this can be a problem because he does not always have access to the equipment needed to respond to an emergency on the trail.  He explained it is possible in most cases to get a normal sized vehicle down it, but there is still a problem.  
“We could get a suburban or an ambulance down (the trail), but it could not turn around,” said Carson.
Another concern Carson has for responding to emergencies on the trail is the lack of markings.  He explained that on the trail, going from South Street towards Millport, the markings go up from zero.  He added that going in the opposite direction from South Street into Montour Falls, the markings do the same thing.  A third concern is people blocking the trail entrances with vehicles.  He said he wants to get “no parking” signs put in.
Montour Falls Mayor Donna Kelley said she was told better markings would be put in after the trail was finished.  She added that since the length of the trail is already known, markers should be put in.
This past summer there has already been an incident on the trail.  Carson said a diabetic had low blood sugar and needed to be rescued.
“Luckily it was an area that cuts through the hunting land I’m president of,” he said.  Carson explained he was able to get a truck to the spot where the hiker was and turn around because he had access to the property.  Other than that, there has not anything more serious.
However, the fire chief said he is more concerned because the trail is getting more use.  Carson added the Catharine Valley Trail is good for tourism.  He said it is wonderful, but what if something happens?  A half-marathon was held on the Catharine Valley Trail Sunday, Aug. 23 with 123 runners.  Carson added the Schuyler County Office for the Aging is planning on using the trail for walks.  He also said that the trail is used year round.
Because of the increase in traffic, he explained he is trying to find the funds for a four-wheeler to be equipped for a medical emergency.  However, those funds are very elusive.
Currently, if Carson needs to make use of such a vehicle he has to call the Watkins Glen or Millport Fire Departments because each has one.  However, he said that during busy weekends, like for NASCAR, that four-wheeler is being used.  He added that both Watkins and Millport have been a great help thus far.
“My department just does not have the money to buy this,” said Carson.
He has already approached Sen. George Winner’s office with Kelley, and the Montour and Dix town supervisors.  However, they were told there were no funds available there.
“It’s a concern,” said Kelley.  “Tom and I are working aggressively trying to find funding.”
She said the state should help because it brought the trail in and “put the burden  on us.”  Kelley explained that she agrees with Carson’s safety concerns.
Carson added that when people go on the trail they should remember to bring a cell phone with them.  He explained that it would help with locating them if something were to happen.  Carson also said the Montour Falls Fire Department is continuing to look for ways to fund the needed gator or four-wheeler. 

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