Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas Trail's volunteer rangers help riders, walkers

Volunteer rangers Joe Mirman, left, of Palm Harbor and Rudy Kriebel of Tampa patrol the Pinellas Trail last week

JIM DAMASKE | Times

Volunteer rangers Joe Mirman, left, of Palm Harbor and Rudy Kriebel of Tampa patrol the Pinellas Trail last week

There's work going on along the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail — all 38.2 miles of it built on an old railroad line running from St. Petersburg through Tarpon Springs.

Volunteer trail rangers, about 64 at last count, bike the trail wearing neon yellow shirts and work on whatever needs come up on their ride — from greeting fellow riders to calling 911 for a downed biker. Volunteers recently returned a wandering turtle to the water, helped a young boy untangle his shoelaces from his bicycle spokes, and replaced a slipped chain.

Rudy Kriebel, 70, of Tampa signed on as a volunteer ranger not long ago. "I was riding the trail regularly and thought if I can help, why not?" he said.

On patrol on a recent morning, Kriebel picked up one of many large, dead palm fronds lying beside the trail — a handy, makeshift broom to sweep a smattering of broken glass off the trail.

"Mostly I've been picking up debris and saying hello to people," he said. "Seeing someone in uniform on the trail gives people a sense of security."

Volunteer rangers Bill Romanski, 71, and his wife Phyllis, 64, Largo winter residents, pick up trash on the trail twice a week and repair bollards, the shiny white posts that block cars from entering the trail.

On occasion the Michigan natives have dealt with more serious issues.

"We had to call 911 for a bike accident we witnessed," Bill Romanski said, "and also for a four-bike accident where one woman suffered broken ribs."

Fortunately, incidents such as these are infrequent.

Nancy Brown, volunteer program coordinator for Pinellas County Parks and Conservation Resources, came on board in 2011 with a grant that stemmed from the Affordable Care Act.

County budget cuts in the last six years eliminated the dozen paid rangers that used to be assigned specifically to the Pinellas Trail, she said. The four who remain patrol in territories — two south of Ulmerton Road and two north of Ulmerton.

Nevertheless, more volunteer rangers are needed, said Brown, as some on the roster of 64 are seasonal or ride only occasionally.

Just the presence of rangers on the trail, she said, has a positive influence on the bikers, walkers, joggers and skaters who frequent not only the length of the official trail, but also the spurs, including the Dunedin Causeway leading to Honeymoon Island. With those spurs, the trail covers 47 miles.

Joe Mirman, 82, of Palm Harbor has been a volunteer ranger since 2001, riding the north trail.

"I enjoy the ride itself," he said, "but I also like the fact that I'm contributing something to the county."

Mirman carries a bike pump and is knowledgeable about repairs. He has pumped up tires and replaced chains for other riders, and offers trail maps and gives directions.

"I've also met a lot of nice people riding and I enjoy talking with them," he said. "Some of those also went on to become auxiliary rangers."

Brown provides training classes for potential volunteers. A four-hour introductory course focuses on biking safety, including helmet use. Several times a year, a full-day session is held on first aid and CPR.

"Being present and visible can deter a lot of vandalism and crime," Brown said of the rangers. "They are our eyes and ears on the trail."

Correspondent Elaine Markowitz can be reached at [email protected]

Fast facts

Would you like

to adopt a mile?

Those wanting to keep the trail user-friendly can help even without becoming a ranger. A new Pinellas Trail Adopt-a-Mile program kicks off with the Pinellas Trail Trash Bash on Monday in conjunction with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. Civic and religious groups are encouraged to sign up to clean up 1 mile of the trail from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Monday. Registration is required by calling (727) 210-2759 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Friday. Groups will need to provide the number of people who will be cleaning, T-shirt sizes, and the name, number and email address of a contact person for the group.

• For more on volunteering along the trail, call Nancy Brown at (727) 582-2460 or [email protected]

Pinellas Trail's volunteer rangers help riders, walkers 01/15/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 3:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. McCain issues veiled criticism of Trump's Vietnam deferment, 'bone spurs'

    National

    WASHINGTON — Republican Sen. John McCain, a former Navy pilot and prisoner of war during Vietnam, issued a veiled criticism of President Donald Trump's medical deferments that kept him from serving in the U.S. military during the conflict.

    Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., left, and Defense Secretary James Mattis, speak to members of the media after their meeting Friday, Oct. 20, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington. [Associated Press]
  2. Deandre Gilmore gets 20 years in death of toddler

    Criminal

    TAMPA — Deandre Gilmore was sentenced to 20 years in state prison Monday in the death of his ex-girlfriend's 19-month-old daughter.

    Deandre Gilmore is led from a courtroom in handcuffs prior to a lunch break on Oct. 17 during his Tampa trial. Gilmore was sentenced to 20 years in state prison in the death of his ex-girlfriend's 19-month-old daughter while he was giving her a bath. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  3. David Letterman's friends — and shrink — make his Twain ceremony as funny as his late-night legacy

    The Feed

    For years, David Letterman, consumed by insecurities and the relentless pace of a nightly television program, would respond to the loud cheers of his audience with a strained smile and a half-scolding, half-embarrassed wave to "cut that out."

    David Letterman is honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, in Washington, D.C. [Owen Sweeney | Invision | AP]
  4. Target says customers want it to pause the Christmas creep

    Retail

    NEW YORK — Target says customers want it to pause the "Christmas creep." It says it wants to be more in tune with customers' mindset, so it plans to ease in holiday promotions this year while better recognizing Thanksgiving.

     Target says customers want it to pause the "Christmas creep." It says it wants to be more in tune with customers' mindset, so it plans to ease in holiday promotions this year while better recognizing Thanksgiving. This is Target's new store in Manhattan's Herald Square that opened last week. 
[Kavita Kumar/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS]
  5. Foo Fighters coming to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa

    Blogs

    It's times like these we learn to love Mondays again.

    Foo Fighters