We are grateful to Bill and Anne Cole, two of our four individual sponsors who gave significantly to Ales for Trails this year.
Bill and Anne Cole have sponsored Ales for Trails every year since 2005, and have been members of Billings TrailNet since it was incorporated as “BikeNet” in 2004.
When asked why they have been such strong, loyal supporters, they agreed that while trails appeal to everyone, regardless of age, athletic ability or economic income bracket, the private sector must
continue to advocate for trails. At times, we may even need to provide money to build trails when there is a need. Billings TrailNet has had the ability to help finance trail development through funds it raises with Ales for Trails sponsorships and admissions.
Anne explains that “the great thing about Ales for Trails is that not only does it raise money for trails, it is an opportunity for the public to rally behind the trails.”
The Coles believe that Billings TrailNet is a very popular, well-run organization, but it needs help raising money for trail development. This is just part of the solution for building an interconnected, community-wide trail system, and Bill says that “the public sector and all of us have to play our part toward its progress.”
They would love to see the Marathon Loop completed, with important trail spurs to connect from within the city to the Marathon Loop. One of the first segments they would like to see built is the Skyline Trail, which is the connection for which Billings TrailNet is currently campaigning.
When asked about their vision for Billings within the next five years, Bill replied that he would like to see our community identify and approve a sustainable, long-range funding mechanism for trail development. “We don’t have to complete our trail system in five years, but if we don’t figure out how we are going to pay for them it might be 50 years before we make substantial progress,” Bill adds.
The Coles are proud of the collective vision Billings has for our trails. “Getting the vision for the Marathon Loop and everybody behind it shows that we have really moved the bar,” says Anne. “It’s really exciting.”
Thank you Bill and Anne Cole, for your support and your leadership in helping develop our beautiful trail system, and using these pathways to connect our community to our important historic features.