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Self-proclaimed dragon slayer patrols the woods of the Goliad Hike and Bike Trail

By BY ERIN PRADIA - EPRADIA@VICAD.COM
Sept. 1, 2011 at 4:01 a.m.

Bill Corey hops off of his bike to sit on a bench beside the "Angel of Goliad" Hike and Bike Trail. Corey said that the benches are spaced well throughout the trail so he always has a place to stop, drink water and try to communicate with the birds when he gets tired. ANGELI WRIGHT/AWRIGHT@VICAD.COM

County population: 7,033

County Seat: Goliad

Major city: Goliad

History of the county's name: The name of the town was officially changed to Goliad in 1829. Goliad is a phonetic anagram of Hidalgo, the name of the priest who became a hero during the Mexican Revolution.

Square miles: 859

Main highways: U.S. Highway 59, Alternate U.S. Highway 77, U.S. Highway 183, state Highway 119 and state Highway 239

County's biggest employer: The Goliad School District employs 219 people.

Since his children grew up and moved away and his wife died in 2004, Bill Corey, 71, of Goliad, decided transportation wasn't worth the rising cost of gasoline.

"If you ever rode a bike, you'd give up your car too," Corey said. "I love every minute of it!"

Each day at 7 a.m., Corey mounts his bike and peddles the winding Angel of Goliad Hike and Bike Trail.

On extremely hot days, Corey takes a nap on the bench of the Boy Scout Community Center, known locally as the Boy Scout Hut, before catching up on local happenings.

"I spread gossip in town, but not bad gossip," Corey said. He talks with all the townspeople and shares what he finds. When his day of news sharing is complete, Corey takes the hour-long bike ride home again.

Corey said he loves the scenic view of the trail.

"There is a spot to fish and sometimes teenagers clown around down there," Corey said. "You can also get into the water and cool off."

Corey carries a couple books and mail he "should have opened up weeks ago" in his backpack along with food and a water bottle. A yellow flag with a red dragon flies from the back of his bike.

"I found it on one of the trees and originally I hung it from the back of my bike so cars could see me," Corey said. But since then, he has found a greater purpose. Now when children ask Corey the significance of the yellow dragon banner, he tells him he is the Goliad County Dragon Slayer.

"I'm doing a good job. Do you see any dragons?" Corey said, gesturing towards the wooded trail.

Corey sees the trail - and his role as dragon slayer - as good clean fun everyone can enjoy.

"We need to learn to laugh again," Corey said.

The trail is maintained by Goliad County, the city of Goliad and Goliad State Park.

"People can access historic downtown Goliad and Goliad's most historic sites, on a very beautiful hiking trail," said Erika Bochat, Main Street manager with the city of Goliad.

Corey said he has seen more people out on the 2.5 mile trail in response to society encouraging people to be more healthy.

"People walk as families or as individuals," Corey said. "There are mothers out with strollers. I see very few bikers, mostly people walk."

The trail starts in downtown Goliad at the end of South Market Street and end at the Fannin Monument near the Presidio LaBahia. The monument is the grave to the 342 Texian soldiers executed by the Mexican army in the Goliad Massacre during the Texas Revolution.

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