Sheriff’s Office receives grant to increase visibility on area trails from state Canal Corporation

Funds totaling $39,500 will be used to increase patrol visibility on the Erie Canalway Trail and marine patrol on Oneida Lake

The Madison County Sheriff’s Office has received notification that continuation funding in the amount of $39,500 was awarded to them based on an approved application seeking to sustain bicycle patrols on the Erie Canalway Trail, as well as marine patrol on Oneida Lake.

The Canalway Trail is part of the Old Erie Canal State Park trail section in the Central Region. Just more than 14 miles of the trail passes through northern Madison County and the city of
Oneida. As the trail runs adjacent to Oneida Lake in close proximity to Sylvan Beach recreational areas, the trail draws thousands of users year around – cyclists, walkers, joggers in the summer and cross-country skiers, snowshoers and snowmobilers in the winter.

The trail will also play host to the upcoming “Tour the Towpath” Sept. 23 and 24, 2017. It will traverse the entire length of the canal trail in Madison County, east to west, including an overnight stay in Canastota for the bikers.

The grant allows for the Sheriff’s Office to conduct 64 hours of patrol time on the trail, by bicycle, May through October, each month. In addition, funds to conduct 60 hours of patrol time each month on Oneida Lake during the same time period are included, as well as a small grant to cover some fuel expense.

Madison County Acting Sheriff John Ball and City of Oneida Police Chief Paul Thompson noted that the county is fortunate to have many natural resources and trails for residents and visitors to utilize for recreation purposes year-round. While trails have remained safe for these purposes, past incidents on the trail remind those using the trails that safety must be a priority, regardless of the time of day they are being used.

Ball and Thompson offer the following precautionary measures in an effort to promote a safe and enjoyable recreational experience:

  • Try to utilize the recreation trails during daylight hours if possible
  • Always try to go in pairs, not alone
  • Vary the times of use to avoid developing a pattern
  • Carry a cell phone
  • Wear reflective outer clothing
  • Be familiar with the trails and avoid areas you don’t know
  • If you enjoy listening to music while walking or jogging, make sure you leave one ear open so you can hear noises or sounds in your vicinity; be cognizant of wildlife along the trails
  • Tell someone your route before you leave and when you will be returning

If you see something or someone acting suspicious, contact law enforcement immediately by dialing 911
Both law enforcement leaders do not want anyone to become a target for criminal activity. Trails have the tendency to become an area of opportunity for those that commit crimes, such as sex offenses, assaults, or other violent incidents.

“The provisions of this grant allow us expanded coverage on these two vital areas,” Ball said. “The trail and Oneida Lake are resources that we must preserve and protect. Their impacts on our County, not only for tourism dollars influx, but for promoting a healthy and vibrant community, require this level of dedicated service. We will do everything we can to make these havens safe for our residents and its users.”

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