PARKERSBURG Jeremy Cross became Wood County's first parks director a year ago and has accomplished much in that time.
New trails and more fundraising activities have been developed, maintenance plans were established and Mountwood Park is back on the positive side of the financial ledger.
Cross said it's been a busy year.
Photo by Pamela Brust
Jeremy Cross, Wood County’s parks director, looks back
"The lake at Mountwood was dredged out. With the board's help, the lake is one of the main attractions with the trout fishing in the spring, so it was great to be able to open it back up, and allow boating access. We also just finished up the Pressley Ridge roof project," Cross said. Pressley Ridge, the former White Oak Village is park property leased to Pressley Ridge and that lease agreement is a major revenue source for the park." Cross noted the roof on the facility had not been replaced for more than 20 years. The project cost was about $189,000 and was paid for with funding from the governor's office, legislature and county commission.
Work on the All-Terrain Vehicle park continues.
"That will be one of our main projects for the upcoming year," Cross said. It's hoped the trails will open sometime this spring and will be another revenue source for the park. A new event this year at Mountwood was the military challenge mud run. Cross said it went well and he anticipates it becoming a regular annual event. Cross said he and the board continue addressing infrastructure issues at the park including electrical upgrades. The park also offers mountain biking and horseback riding trails as well as frisbee golf.
Veterans Park, a day-use park featuring picnic shelters and playground equipment, is near the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport.
"There was a veterans picnic out there this year and it was a great success. We are working on replacement of the water fountains out there and refurbished some metal benches for the park," Cross said.
Cross said design and construction of a new trail at Fort Boreman Hill Historic Park is expected soon, with completion by next year.
"A boardwalk will be constructed for the trail. Originally it was to be right along the cliff over Route 50 and DOT and the county did not think that was safe. I redesigned the entire trail, and moved it. The CCC will be doing the design and construction. They are professional trail builders, they did the wetlands boardwalk at Williamstown," Cross said. "By doing a boardwalk design, it will also be the least invasive on historical ground."
The new director said he also developed a maintenance plan for the newest park, this year waterproofing and staining the wood at Fort Boreman Park.
Cross said there is discussion underway about possibly charging a minimal fee for shelters. "All those funds would go back into the parks for maintenance. We already have a fee at Mountwood Park, and most parks charge a shelter fee," Cross noted.
"I've worked at parks all over the country. We have a lot of user group and board support here. It's tremendous. Everyone helps everyone else out to do what's best for all three parks and that cooperation is really nice to have. The groups have thousands of hours of volunteer time committed to the parks. The county has three unique parks that all offer different things," Cross said.
Cross has a degree in wildlife management and ranger services from Hocking College in Nelsonville, Ohio, and a degree in resource management from the University of Idaho. His past park experience includes work at Burr Oak State Park; Lake Roosevelt National Recreation area where he was a law enforcement ranger; Put-In-Bay in Ohio at South Bass Island, Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial as a law enforcement ranger, and interpretative ranger; Greenbrier State Forest, and most recently at Hawks Nest State Park.
The new job was a chance for Cross, who is originally from this area, to bring his family home.
The director's position was created by the county commission to oversee and coordinate Veterans Memorial Park near the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport, Mountwood Park off U.S. 50, and Fort Boreman Hill Historical Park, off the U.S. 50 bypass. The new park director is paid through existing funds that had been used for a Mountwood Park director's position, which was eliminated, along with some funding from all three parks' budgets. At the time, the commissioners said by combining the parks they hoped to trim maintenance and other costs as well as better coordinate marketing and other fundraising activities. The three parks retain their own advisory boards. A marketing committee at Mountwood has representatives from the other parks to work on marketing strategies and coordinating efforts to raise awareness of the parks through social media.
"It's been a blessing having a director for all three parks. I think the county is much better for it. Jeremy inherited a lot of different issues that he's attacked head on, from the need for a new roof at Pressley Ridge (in Mountwood Park) to the waste treatment facility to inheriting an accounts payable of over $150,000, which is now zero; it's really turned the corner. The professional management he's provided has been great. He has a lot of great ideas and really has benefited from a very supportive board," said Wood County Commission President Blair Couch.