When OHS sophomore Brandon Groedl was drafting a sign for a project in his engineering class last year, he had no idea that his design concept would eventually be selected for signage along the Polly Ann Trail.
“It was just a school project and they said they were going to pick the best one and use it for the Polly Ann Trail, but I wasn’t expecting to get picked… I was really surprised,” said Groedl, who put over 15 hours of work into the project.
Groedl was honored for his hand in the project at a ceremony Wednesday afternoon.
As surprised as Groedl was to have been picked, OHS Technology Teacher David Okasinski said he was deserving of the honor.
“It’s exciting to get to see something that he put his time into every day when I drive home or to work! I had Brandon in my classes for a couple years and he’s a great student. He’s super ambitious,” said Okasinski.
The ceremony at the Clarkston Road sign was attended by Polly Ann Trail Manager Linda Moran, Orion Township Supervisor Chris Barnett, Oxford Township Supervisor William Dunn and other officials.
According to Groedl, he designed the signs to resemble a railroad track, to honor the Polly Ann Trail’s history of serving as a rail line around 1869.
The signs, erected late in 2016, are located off Clarkston Road in Orion Township, and W. Burdick Street in Oxford Village. The signs direct users of the trail to other areas, such as the Paint Creek Trail connection.
The Department of Natural Resources awarded $15,000 to the Polly Ann Trail to put up the signs to help trail users navigate the greater Iron Belle Trail system, which is currently being constructed, and find local information.
The Iron Belle Trail will stretch from Belle Isle in Detroit to Ironwood in the western Upper Peninsula and will include over 1,200 miles for hiking and over 700 miles for bicycling. The trail will be built by connecting Michigan’s already existing trail networks.
The Polly Ann Trail and Paint Creek Trail will soon be connected to the Iron Belle Trail system by a safety path running down Clarkston Road. Construction has already begun on the path, which will also allow for easier pedestrian traffic down the road.
According to Polly Ann Trail Manager Linda Moran, the project is ongoing.
“It’s pretty exciting that the little old Polly Ann Trail gets to be connected to something so much bigger,” she said. “I’m really hoping that this will help get more people out here enjoying the trail and seeing what we have to offer. It really helps connect our communities together.”