The Aegis
Harford County

HCC board approves name for west campus trail

Eric Cook, left, and Ronnie Walls proudly accepted a county proclamation last May for their hard work and dedication in constructing a new trail between Harford Community College and Prospect Mill Park east of Bel Air. The HCC trustees voted Tuesday to name the Walls-Cook Trail in their honor.

The Harford Community College Board of Trustees voted unanimously Tuesday to name a biking and walking trail, developed to connect Prospect Mill Park with the west end of the campus, for the two local men who spearheaded its creation.

Ronnie Walls and Eric Cook led the community effort to clear a 1.1.-mile path through the woods from Prospect Mill to the college's Observatory off of Thomas Run Road. Walls lives in the neighborhood around Prospect Mill Road and is a former Harford Community College student.


The trail will be named the Walls-Cook Trail in their honor.

"These two gentlemen conceived of it," Rick Johnson, vice president of finance and operations, told board members. "They organized the labor; they did a lot of the labor themselves."


Local Boy Scouts assisted Cook and Walls with the construction of three wooden bridges over creeks that run through the woods; Eagle Scout candidate Ian Ziemski led his fellow Scouts in installing signs and cleaning out piles of trash and debris from the woods during his Eagle service project in late October.

Johnson said the college provided access to the land, lumber for the bridges and signage on both ends of the trail.

He said the final 200 yards of the trail cut across a county-owned easement, and college officials are working with the county to obtain clearance to build a fourth bridge.

"It's just a great addition to Harford County," Johnson said of the trail. "It's a great addition to the college; it's just a neat walk in the woods."

A ceremony to unveil the then-unnamed trail was held in late May.

Walls, who suggested the name Harford Community Trail, told The Aegis at the time that he had been working for about seven years to establish the trail along a path blazed by students seeking a safe walking and biking route to campus and nature lovers enjoying the woods.

"I have just seen so many kids try to walk or ride a bike on Prospect Mill," Walls said. "It's ridiculous."

Johnson said college President Dennis Golladay recommended naming the trail for Cook and Walls, "that these two gentlemen should be recognized for their hard work and their imagination."


Administrators appointed

The board members unanimously approved the appointments of two college administrators Tuesday.

They voted in favor of administrative contracts between the college and new Registrar Patricia Merchant-Winborn and Alexandra Victor, the new associate vice president for enrollment services.

Merchant-Winborn and Victor were in the audience Tuesday and they stood and introduced themselves.

Merchant-Winborn is a 13-year employee of the college; she said she started as a part-time worker and previously worked in advertising.

Victor, who moved from Memphis, Tenn., spoke of her prior experience working with at-risk students and at a private college in the Midwest.


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Telephone contract approved

The trustees also unanimously approved a contract with Windstream Corporation to provide telephone service at the main Bel Air campus and the University Center in Aberdeen.

Windstream is headquartered in Little Rock, Ark. The company will be contracted to provide service for local and long-distance calls and support services.

The contract is a three-year contract, with a cost of $42,863 a year.

Johnson said Windstream was the lowest of four bidders who responded to a request for proposals issued by the college.

Windstream offered a bid of $42,863; Broadview Networks of Rye Brook, N.Y., the college's current contracted telecommunications provider, bid $47,590. The next-highest bidders were Comcast ($51,090) and Verizon ($60,127).


"This is one of the reasons why you put these things out for bid, and we are recommending the lowest bidder in this case," Johnson told board members.