RCDA discusses how to improve trail

The Randolph County Development Authority discussed ways to improve the Allegheny Highland rail trail running along U.S. Rt. 219 from Elkins to Parsons during its Wednesday meeting at the West Virginia Wood Technology Center.

In order to work on extending the trail from its ending point along U.S. 219/North Randolph Avenue to the Elkins Railroad Depot, the RCDA appointed three members to a new Allegheny Highlands Trail committee.

RCDA members Don Meggert, Tom Williams and Charlie Friddle agreed to be on the committee with RCDA President Bonnie Serrett and RCDA Executive Director Robbie Morris.

The committee will manage an $896,000 transportation enhancement grant through the West Virginia Department of Highways, which the RCDA received in 2010.

Morris said when the RCDA originally received the grant the DOH had agreed to administer the grant, which required the DOH to bid out the project to an architectural firm and construction company. However, because the DOH has been inundated with work related to the construction of U.S. Route 48/Corridor H, it has been unable to make further progress on the rail trail project.

Morris announced that the WVDOH transferred the administration rights to the RCDA. He said the committee will begin work on the project as soon as the RCDA receives a property survey of the project area from the DOH.

Morris said he hopes to have an architect selected for the project by April, but he promised that before any aspect of the project is put up for bid a preliminary meeting with the Elkins community will be held to allow affected entities and community members to contribute to the planning.

– The RCDA also discussed the possibility of pursuing a recreational trail program grant through the DOH. Representing the Highland Trail Foundation, Karen Carper asked if the RCDA would apply for the DOH grant because only government entities are allowed to apply for the funds.

The grant would be used to complete maintenance to the 24.5 mile trail. Friddle expressed concern that receiving the grant would place all maintenance responsibility on the RCDA.

“We’re not in charge of maintenance,” he said.

The RCDA agreed to table the matter until further research could be obtained on the subject.

– In other business:

The RCDA received a $2,500 grant from the Snowshoe Foundation to upgrade the Wood Technology Center’s computer lab. The grant will combine with funds from the RCDA’s budget to purchase six new computers for the lab.

Morris estimated that the current computers in the lab are seven to eight years old. “They are starting to kick the bucket,” Morris said. “We really need to upgrade the computers.”

The computer lab is frequently used by classes in the technology center.

The RCDA also welcomed Kris Wilmoth as its new office manager.

“We really look forward to having her here. I think she will be a vital asset,” Morris said.