PARKERSBURG - The new superintendent for Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park spent his first official day in the office Friday at the Blennerhassett Museum of Regional History, but it is a familiar place to him.
For several years, Matthew Baker served as assistant superintendent for Blennerhassett Island and left in 2010 to become superintendent of Coopers Rock State Forest at Bruceton Mills, near Morgantown.
He was chosen as Blennerhassett Island's superintendent in May, following the retirement of Donna Smith after 15 years as the park's superintendent.
Photo by Wayne Towner
Matthew Baker has been named the new superintendent for Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park in Parkersburg.
Baker was born and raised in Delaware. After graduating from high school, he wasn't sure what he wanted to do and took a summer job at one of Delaware's state parks. He said he became hooked after that experience and went to Davis and Elkins College in Elkins, W.Va., in 1997 where he received a bachelor's degree in recreation management and tourism in 2001.
Baker returned to work in Delaware's state parks system for about three years as an hourly worker, doing everything from maintenance work to acting as naturalist, as biological aide and as resource management worker.
From August 2005 to March 2010, he worked as assistant superintendent for Blennerhassett Island before going to Coopers Rock.
When he left two years ago, Baker said he didn't have any plans to return to Blennerhassett Island at a later point.
"I'm always looking for new career opportunities and I just felt like this was a good career opportunity, more than anything else. I enjoyed my time here and I enjoyed my time in Parkersburg," he said.
"I'm always looking for ways to better my career, further my career and so I felt like this was a good place to do that," Baker said of his decision to return to Parkersburg.
During his first stint with Blennerhassett Island, Baker said he spent a lot of time on the island working on the operations side of the job. His time at Coopers Rock involved more administrative work and he wants to bring his experiences from both sides together in his new position.
Much about the park and the museum in Parkersburg remains the same, but there have also been a lot of changes and improvements over the two years he has been gone. Baker is especially pleased to see Point Park open, back in operation and much improved.
"Point Park was in disarray (due to construction) when I left, so that's a great change. I think it's a huge opportunity for us and the city (of Parkersburg) to work together and make that place its own attraction," he said. Baker doesn't have specific plans for Blennerhassett Island at this time but is looking toward the future.
"There's just huge potential here ... there are lots of opportunities on the island," he said.
"I'm very excited," he said about being back at Blennerhassett Island. "I have lots of ideas of good things we can do here to, not only bring people to the state park at Blennerhassett but also bring people to Parkersburg."