RCDA hires firm for project

The Randolph County Development Authority approved a Parkersburg firm as the contractor for the Elkins Rail-Trail Connector project at this week’s meeting.

The firm of Burgess and Niple will oversee the project, which has been in the planning stages for more than 10 years. It is designed to link the Allegheny Highlands Trail from Highland Park to the Elkins Depot

A good portion of the funds to build the project will come from grants. The trail will connect the Elkins Depot to the Parsons Depot when finished. One of the key benefits of the project will be to increase tourism in the area and provide a safe, accessible and scenic trail for the public.

“We hope for the design work to begin immediately and we aim for construction to start as soon as spring 2014,” said Robbie Morris, the executive director of the Randolph County Development Authority.

Morris added that he is excited to see the project continuing to move forward. After the design work is completed an environmental review, a historical review and the Division of Highways review must be accomplished before construction can actually begin.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting:

– The RCDA approved its $350,300 operating budget for the 2014 fiscal year. Also approved was the $71,000 capital budget, including the purchase of a $28,000 Epilog laser to be used for educational purposes, such as teaching wood carving at the West Virginia Wood Technology Center. The laser will be a valuable asset for the center and is cost effective to maintain, officials said.

– The meeting began with a tribute and a moment of silence for Loy McAtee, a former RCDA board member who died June 25 at the age of 93.

For more information about the Randolph County Development Authority, go to the official website at