The Friends of Yamhelas Westsider Trail (FYWT) is a non-profit membership organization that advocates for the development and operation of multi-use trails that support the health, safety, and connectivity of our community.
The centerpiece of our efforts, the Yamhelas Westsider Trail, is envisioned as a roughly 17-mile rail-to-trail running north-south through Yamhill County and connecting the communities of Carlton, Yamhill, Cove Orchard and Gaston, with potential extensions to Forest Grove in the North and McMinnville in the south.
The FYWT grew out of a local grassroots effort to create a safe transportation and recreation alternative for pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians. Meetings of community leaders and concerned citizens began in the 1990s, and eventually led to the creation of the Friends of the Yamhelas Westsider Trail in 2012. That year the Yamhelas Westsider Trail was also added to Yamhill County’s Transportation System Plan by an unanimous County Commission vote.
FYWT is managed by a volunteer board of directors representing local user groups and stakeholders. The Yamhelas Westsider Trail project is supported by partners including local city governments, business groups, educators, tourism groups, recreation groups and non-profit community service providers.
Help us build the Yamhelas Westider Trail and a stronger community!
The Board Members
Wayne Wiebke, President
Wayne is a long-time Carlton resident who recently moved to McMinnville.. He has been active with converting the abandoned railroad into a trail off and on since 1991. He has been a member of the present FYWT organization since its founding in 2012 and is currently serving as board President.
Carol Foley, Vice President
Carol has lived in Yamhill since 2016. She enjoys walking and hiking, and all things that promote good health. She brings a background in market research and currently chairs the Grants subcommittee. She first became a FYWT member in 2016 and joined the FYWT trail board in ____.
Veronica Hinkes, Secretary
Veronica Hinkes is a native Oregonian who grew up in the Willamette Valley, and spent her teenage years working on local farms near Salem and Eugene. She has lived in Yamhill County since 2013. Veronica is an avid cyclist and has a background in tourism, including bicycle tourism development, and economic development. She first joined the FYWT trail board in 2017. She is currently the board Secretary.
Patty Williams, Treasurer
Patty Williams serves as executive director of the Willamette Valley Cancer Foundation, part of the HR Hoover Cancer Center in McMinnville. She has a master's degree in Agribusiness Economics and over 25 years of experience in nonprofit management, most recently working within the professional tree care industry. She was nominated to fill a vacancy on the board of directors for the Friends of the Yamhelas Westsider Trail in the fall of 2020. She lives in Carlton with her wife Kris and their many animals.
Steve and wife Jane raised their two kids on rural property just outside of Yamhill, and both kids attended Yamhill-Carlton schools. Steve taught in Oregon schools for 40 years, and now loves active involvement in various nonprofits. Young Harloff family members speak passionately about how the Trail would have helped them to safely get to YC school activities in either Carlton or Yamhill. When Steve is not working with the Friends, he is a musician, a disc golfer, and an avid soccer fan.
Steve, and his wife Carol, have been residents of Yamhill County since 1992. They have been involved with the Yamhelas Trail since 2015. Steve is a native Oregonian, and Carol's Grandfather homesteaded in Bend, Oregon. They have farmed hazelnuts, wheat, hay, ornamentals, and Christmas trees on their Yamhill County farm, and also raised Christmas trees when they previously lived and farmed in Washington county. Steve, and his brothers, managed the family tree farm in Clackamas County. They enjoy Oregon's outdoors/trails either on their horses, bikes, or walking with their Golden Retriever.
Stan is a Vietnam veteran with a career in business management and ownership, as well as insurance. He has served the community in many roles, including serving on the McMinnville School Board and as a Yamhill County Commissioner. As Chair of the Board of Commissioners, Stan negotiated and finalized the purchase of the trail right-of-way from Union Pacific Railroad.
Community service has been a core value for Ken and Karen Wright throughout their lives. Examples include:
1992 Founding of Salud which was a partnership between physicians, dentists and wine industry to provide needed medical care for field workers.
1995 The establishment of the six sub appellation American Viticultural Areas in the Northern Willamette Valley. Ken was the author of the federal argument to create the Yamhill Carlton AVA. He was a founder of the Yamhill Carlton Winegrowers Association and served as it’s first President.
2002 They began hosting Flors of Carlton which benefited Yamhill Carlton Together Cares. Over 1.5 million raised to benefit local children programs including pre-school, after-school, summer work experience, a dozen sport programs, robotics club and much more.
2002 Participated in the Sightseers Committee to create a 20 year development plan for the City of Carlton.
2003 The creation of their Walk in the Park Foundation which has raised over 1 million dollars for the communities of Carlton and Yamhill. The Yamhill Carlton Foodbank operates under the Walk in the Park Foundations non-profit umbrella.
2012 Hosting of the annual Father-Daughter dance attended by 1200 each year.
Over many years Ken and Karen played a pivotal role in the Yamhelas Westsider Trail group from establishment of the trail value to having the trail included in the Yamhill County Master Transportation Plan. They were founding board members of the Friends of the Yamhelas Westsider Trail.