CARTHAGE — Carthage city administrators are hopeful that Phase 1 of the city’s new walking trail at the ballpark will be complete in early September. Construction began several weeks ago but was delayed by rains.

The city plans a dedication service when Phase 1 is finished and has begun the paperwork for a grant for Phase 2 of the project.

In 2015, the first and second grants the Panola Alliance for Wellness wrote to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for the trail were denied, but the third grant was accepted.

The $200,000 grant included a stipulation that the group had to raise 20 percent of that money themselves; the Charles C. Matthews Foundation provided that money, putting the walking trail funds at $240,000. The city also held two 5K runs to help raise the money.

But then more delays occurred in 2017 when the state wanted an archaeological study completed. The city finally received money to begin construction in May, awarding a $249,311 bid to Southline Services of Tyler.

The trailhead begins at a small parking lot beside the Panola County Appraisal District and EMS buildings at the ballpark, and it will wind throughout the woods for about three-fourths of a mile.

Weather the last few weeks has held up progress, but that has turned out to be a good thing, Carthage City Administrative Assistant Teresa Dennard said.

“If the rains had not come, we would not have found out that a long portion of the decomposed granite trail would have been washed away,” she said.

Now a wooden bridge is being built in that section. It will be one of two on the trail.

Just after the trail begins will be benches, tables, landscaping and a water fountain. Benches also will be located throughout the trail, alongside sacks and receptacles for pet refuse.

The project’s Phase 2, if a state grant is awarded, includes taking the trail down past the softball fields, around the soccer fields and over to the Carthage Civic Center.