Over and over again, members of the Polly Ann Trail Management Council (PATMC) praised the quality of the three candidates for the trail manager position and lamented about how difficult it was to pick just one.
They weren’t exaggerating.
Council voted not once, not twice, but four times on the issue during last week’s meeting.
Two ties and one failed vote later, Linda Moran, a 25-year resident of Oxford, was offered the job following a 6-2 vote in her favor.
She was interviewed at the PATMC meeting along with Lake Orion resident Cheryl Creevey and Pam Musial, of Leonard.
Moran was offered a one-year contract with a starting pay of $18 per hour for 60 hours a month.
She will replace Pat Ball, whose last day as manager was Sept. 21. He had held the position since October 2013, but decided to step down because he and his wife bought a recreational vehicle and plan to fulfill their wanderlust by traveling the country in it.
“My vision for getting a trail manager would be to get another Pat and I think Linda (is) the closest thing,” said PATMC member and Addison Township Trustee Ed Brakefield, who noted he liked her constant presence on the trail as a user coupled with her outgoing personality.
“I think she would have no problem communicating with anyone on that trail.”
Moran, a 1981 Lake Orion High School graduate, is a very active trail user who enjoys cycling, running and cross country skiing. She travels the 16.9-mile trail, which runs through Addison, Oxford and Orion townships, multiple times each week.
“And I’m not talking a section of it. I do the entire trail,” she said. “We ride the trail every Sunday with our cycling club . . . and we do the entire trail. I run it probably three times a week.”
Moran’s been an active member of the Clarkston-based Flying Rhino Cycling Club for 20 years. She once captained the club’s mountain bike team.
“I’ve organized many, many cycling events (and) running events,” Moran said. “I’ve organized banquets, ordered t-shirts. I’ve done it all. I can schlep like you can’t believe. And I love chainsaws.”
“I know a lot of people that use the trail,” she added. “I have absolutely no problem talking to anybody about anything. I’m pretty tenacious.”
Since 1991, she’s worked at various medical offices in Oxford, Auburn Hills and Pontiac, handling billing and office management. Moran currently works for Oxford dentist Dr. Greg Gossick and has been with his practice since 2008.
But just because Moran works in an office environment doesn’t mean she’s afraid to get her hands dirty.
“I have cleared a lot of trails,” she said. “I have used backhoes. I’ve done just about everything you can imagine.”
Over in Addison Oaks County Park, she worked with Paul Bailey to create the mountain bike trail system.
As the Polly Ann Trail manager, Moran said she would make sure garbage is removed, dog poop gets scooped, tree branches are trimmed and the trail itself is kept in good shape.
“I would just make sure that things were kept in order,” she said.
Moran assured the PATMC she’s not prejudiced against any group of trail enthusiasts and firmly believes everyone should be free to use it as they please.
“It’s just as important for horses to be out there as runners, as cyclists and handicapped folks,” said Moran, who noted she used to show quarter horses in her “younger days.”
“I’m an avid horse person, too.”
She’s particularly interested in promoting the trail and raising awareness about it.
“There’s a lot of people that use the trail (but) there’s (also) a lot of people who aren’t aware of the trail,” she said.
Moran wishes to see more people use the trail for cross country skiing because it’s “fabulous” for that recreational activity. She also wants to encourage more disabled people to use and enjoy it.
In order to help promote the trail and generate money for it, Moran would like to organize a wine tasting event.
“That’s something that you can do in the winter to raise funds (and) to keep (the trail) in people’s minds,” she said.
She would also like to organize some events that involve all trail users – walkers, runners, cyclists and horse people – in order to break down the barriers between them.
“Everybody feels segregated, but when you bring them all together and you get to know people, it works out a lot better,” she said.
As far as grant writing experience, Moran doesn’t have much, but her husband does.
“He has a lot of helpful insights as far as writing grant proposals,” she said. “I can tap him for a resource.”
A total of nine candidates applied for the trail manager position including Oxford residents Nicole Stirrett, Rudy Reyes, Amy Desotell and Cynthia Spencer. Applicants from outside the area were Detroit resident Rory Lincoln and Angela Hammock, of Dearborn.
“It was very, very hard for us to narrow it down to three,” explained PATMC member Bruce Pearson, supervisor of Addison Township and a member of the ad hoc trail manager search committee.
“To be honest with you, all of them were excellent. Six of them were extraordinary.”
Pearson noted “this was the most successful” round of interviews “we’ve ever had” for the trail manager position.