Transportation Council members needed

PARKERSBURG – Residents to serve on the new alternative transportation council are being sought by the Wood County Commission.

The council will coordinate and plan area biking and hiking trails in the county.

Following a July public hearing, the commission approved legislation creating the council “to facilitate, coordinate and plan area trail systems.”

A draft of the proposed legislation was submitted earlier by Kim Coram of the Hiking and Biking Trails Coalition. The commissioners turned over the proposal to Prosecutor Jason Wharton for review.

Wharton advised the commissioners they have authority to create such an entity.

No one objected to the proposal during the public hearing.

“We need to announce the vacancies and consider appointments,” commission President Wayne Dunn said.

Commissioners are responsible for appointing seven to the committee, of which two represent trail users, two represent business, one represents ng private landowners, one represents parks and one represents historical preservation interests.

On Monday, the commission nominated Wood County Parks Director Jeremy Cross as parks representative and Vince Nedeff a trail-user representative. The county’s procedure is to nominate individuals and vote on confirmation a week later.

Anyone interested in serving on the council can submit a resume to the Wood County Administrator’s office, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday on the second floor of the courthouse. Questions can be directed to 304-424-1976.

Dunn said the commission was also notified by West Virginia Department of Natural Resources it approved Robert Beanblossom, state park system administrator assigned to North Bend Rail Trail, as the West Virginia State Parks liaison.

The advisory council will have 20 members. Eight members are to be appointed, two each by the mayors of Parkersburg, Vienna, Williamstown and North Hills. One member is to be appointed by the president of West Virginia University at Parkersburg, two members by the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council and one member by the state Department of Transportation. A liaison to West Virginia state parks also is selected.

Members of the volunteer advisory board will serve two-year terms. Appointees may be reappointed for no more than four consecutive terms.

The board will be permitted to seek reimbursement for expenses incurred.

Coram earlier told the commission Wood County is setting the standard and other counties are hoping to join the effort once the council is in place.

According to the legislation, the council will facilitate a countywide system of interconnected landscape linkages, conservation corridors, greenbelts, transportation and recreational corridors and trails, regional parks and preserves using land-based trails that connect urban, suburban and rural areas of the county and facilitate creation and expansion of the countywide system of water trails. Coram told commissioners trail development will probably be funded through grants.

Coram has kept the commissioners updated on the progress of development of area hiking and biking trails. She was earlier hired by the county commission to inventory area trails, which were compiled on a website.

Wood and Washington counties have 57 trails, parks and paths for public use.