Volunteers, Exiting Board Members Recognized at 2024 Annual Meeting

Two volunteers and three retiring board members were recognized at the Top of Michigan Trails Council’s annual membership meeting on June 20.

A crowd of about 100 Trails Council members gathered at the Packy Offield Trail Center to eat, drink, and conduct a short business meeting. The Petoskey nonprofit organization oversees a 325-mile recreational trail network in northern Michigan.

Among those recognized were volunteers Earl and Sherry Bash of Petoskey. The couple received the annual Max Putters Trail Champion Award, named in honor of the longtime Emmet County planner who for decades drove trail projects forward. Putters still serves on the Trails Council board of directors.

When presenting the annual award (won last year by Patrick Affholter), Trails Council Executive Director Brent Bolin noted the couple’s steadfast commitment to trail volunteerism, helping at the Trail Center and beyond.

“We were very surprised and honored to receive this year’s Trail Champion Award,” Sherry Bash said. “During our volunteer experiences we have met so many other individuals who have also contributed to make the Trails Council and our system of trails the wonderful resource that it is. Thank you again for this much appreciated honor.”

Three departing Trails Council board members were also recognized for their years of service.

Though he was unable to attend the meeting, retiring board member Andy Hayes, who was was an early and avid Trails Council proponent, served three years on the board.

Hayes, along with Steve Biggs and Karen Langs each received a hearty round applause and the appreciation of everyone attending.

Biggs served on the Board of Directors for 18 years, while Langs served for nine. According to Bolin, both were instrumental in critical trail developments, and Biggs was a key player in relocating the organization from its rather humble digs in downtown Petoskey to its current home at the beautiful Packy Offield Trail Center.

Langs served as the volunteer coordinator for the Top of Michigan Festival of Races for several years.

“We are really going to miss Andy, Karen, and Steve but we are so thankful for their many contributions,” Bolin said. “Their service has had real impact on our organization and our community.

And we appreciate Earl and Sherry Bash so much for their cheerful help around the Trail Center and out on the trails,” he added. “As a small organization, we rely on volunteers and board members to increase our reach and we really can’t thank the Bashes enough.”