ST. CLOUD -- Stearns County's new Parks Director is busy in his new role getting ready for the spring and summer seasons. Ben Anderson says now is the time they start hiring their seasonal workers.

We're a pretty small full-time staff with only seven of us on board.  We hire on about three maintenance aids, five seasonal caretakers for Quarry Park, and three gatekeepers for Quarry Park as well.

Anderson says Stearns County has 16 parks and three recreational trails that need to be maintained.

He says some of the other things he'd like to work on as the new Parks Director include new signage in the parks, improving technology such as using QR codes with their maps and extending the Beaver Island Trail from Opportunity Drive in St. Cloud down to Clearwater.

Meanwhile, after over 10 years of working on it, the last three miles of the Lake Wobegon Trail is nearly done. Anderson says you'll be able to start using the new stretch of the trail in a few months.

From St. Joe into Waite Park near the splash pad area is where that will end.  On February 16th we set a 200-foot expansion bridge over the Sauk River.  We've got a mile of paving left to do, but we're on schedule to complete the project late spring or early summer.

Anderson says, when it's done, the Lake Wobegon Trail will stretch the entire length of Stearns County, 65 miles, past Sauk Centre and into Osakis. There will still be a city of St. Cloud stretch that will need to be completed to bring it to the Mississippi River. Anderson says 315,000 people use the Lake Wobegon Trail every year.

Another popular amenity in the county's park system is Quarry Park and Nature Preserve in Waite Park. Anderson says a recent survey found that 33 percent of the users of the park are coming from the Twin Cities area.

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