County Commission hears two flood-related trail updates  

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Two trail updates were presented to the Greenbrier County Commission at the Tuesday morning meeting on June 13.

Doug Hylton, project manager for the rail-trail for Greenbrier County, provided a Meadow River Rail Trail update, stating that renovations to the trail following flood damage that occurred last summer have been assessed by FEMA, and bids for work are in the offing. Hylton said repairs to the trail have been put together with funding using the West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH) Transportation Alternative grant program, with a 20 percent match from both Greenbrier and Fayette county commissions.

“We currently have around $2.5 million in our fund for the trail construction. The WVDOH is handling the funds and working with Chapman Engineering to do the design of the trail,” Hylton said.

There are additional funds from FEMA to do the trail repairs as a result of the flooding. Hylton said, “We hope to combine those funds with the WVDOH funds to have one coordinated project from point A to point Z.” The stipulation is that any and all renovations must meet FEMA standards, or those funds would not be forthcoming, Hylton said.

Hylton told the commission, referring to the rail trail’s partnering with DOH, “We will pay for all repairs as long as FEMA is happy.” Chapman has identified more areas in need of repair than those described by FEMA, and those areas will be restored as well, including a trestle repair in Fayette County, Hylton said.

FEMA’s funding deadline is December 31, 2017, if no work is begun on the project. Hylton confirmed to the commission that “as long as the work is started and underway, FEMA will not terminate the funding.” FEMA will inspect the work when completed, and will be informed if any extensions come up, he said.

The second report came from Jody Spencer, superintendent of the Greenbrier River Trail, stating the Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Planning and Engineering Department is acting as the lead on the repair project on the trail, starting with the biggest slide at mile post 13, where mud and debris beginning 100 feet above the trail slid down into the river during last summer’s flood. Spencer said it was a first for him to hear both the FEMA people and the DNR people say they were stumped at how to resolve the debris problem. After consulting with several engineers, the decision was made to leave the debris on the trail and create a gradual grade elevation at the slide area rather than try to remove the dirt, rocks and mud.

Spencer said the remainder of the flood affected river trail, or the southern half, from mile post three at Caldwell up to mile post 11 at Keister, is under a separate contract and is expected to begin in a matter of days, with no projected completion date. Spencer said, it’s like a Chinese puzzle, “You fix this piece in order to fix that piece, which means another piece must be fixed first.” He said he guessed the work could be completed by the end of the summer. The river trail will be formally closed from the parking lot at Anthony south to Caldwell until the project is completed, Spencer said.

Spencer said, the upper section of the trail, which begins about a half mile below Cass, also has seasonal issues and park crews annually clear culverts of debris. The frequent rains have delayed some of those efforts, he said.

In other business:

  • Gloria Martin read a proclamation from the Greenbrier County Elder Abuse Awareness Committee (GCEAAC) announcing June 15 as Elder Abuse Awareness Day in tandem with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. She said nine years ago, an elderly Greenbrier County woman, who lived in fear of her family, died as a result of neglect. A group of citizens became aware of her story and formed GCEAAC and asked then-Senator WilliamLaird to push through legislature to make elder abuse a felony offense in West Virginia. The proclamation asserts all citizens are collectively responsible for the protection of elders and encourages them to make an effort to insure that elders in the community maintain a life of vibrancy and productivity.
  • The Day Report Center, for the second time in six years, was the recipient of the Honorable Martin J. Gaughan Award for excellence in community corrections from the West Virginia Division of Justice and Community Services. Congratulations were given to executive Director Laura Legg, who will travel to Charleston on August 30 to receive the award.

The commission also approved $4,030 to replace an awning at a leased building in Ronceverte where the Day Report Center is housed.

  • Another update was presented on the Sam Black Water Project by Thrasher Engineering personnel Lance Morgan and Jonathan Carpenter. Morgan said at the last meeting with the commission, they reported that there were 179 western-end households that had signed on for water delivery from the project. That number has moved up to 200. With 458 potential customers accounted for in the area, and an 80 percent participation as the “magical” number needed to get the project up and moving, another 167 sign-ups must be met. Morgan said although the public is “very aware of what we’re trying to do,” many visits are required to each household to complete a single sign-up.

According to Kevin Williams with the PSD, “Sometimes we have to go back three, four, five times to an individual residence to get one sign-up. We’re doing whatever it takes to get this project moving.”  Morgan said they have also had to go back and get a written declaration from each refusal for water, which, in some cases has resulted in a sign-up.

Carpenter said user sign-ups and easements are critical to get “boots on the ground” in order to push this much-needed water extension line along. The water project, if completed, in addition to providing residents with water along the line from Charmco to Sam Black, will generate a water supply at the Sam Black I-64 intersection for industrial development.