Chamber, CVB setting sights on tourism
By Liz Beavers
Tribune Managing Editor
KEYSER - The Mineral County Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau would like to see the county make use of its natural beauty and become a destination spot for hikers, bikers, kayakers and others who love spending time outdoors.
They say drawing in people looking for their next fun down-river trip or a quiet hike through the woods will result in those folks shopping at local stores, eating at local restaurants, and even staying overnight in a local hotel or motel.
Chamber president Randy Crane and tourism director Ashley Centofonti took their ideas for developing Mineral County’s outdoor recreational appeal to state-level representatives last month during Mineral County Days, and more recently spoke with the Mineral County Commission.
Among the ideas the boards of both entities would like to pursue are the development of hiking and biking trails at Larenim Park and other locations in the county, as well as the development of kayak access areas in several locations along the North Branch of the Potomac River and Patterson Creek.
According to Centofonti, a walking/hiking trail through the existing arboretum at Larenim Park would be ideal, and improvement of the area could include benches and picnic tables for those looking for a quiet place to relax or have a picnic lunch.
The trail would increase usage of the park, which also includes two flood control dams stocked with fish, an amphitheater that holds up to 600 people, and approximately five miles of existing hiking trails.
Restrooms are badly needed in the park, however.
Centofonti would also like to develop some trails through the Allegany Wildlife Mnaagement Area, which includes two tracts of land - one with over 4,500 acres and one with 1,100 acres. She and Crane have been working with the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources on that possibility.
As for the water access points for kayaking and fishing, they would like to see ramps placed along Patterson Creek near the Route 50 bridge, as well as on the North Branch in the Ridgeley area.
One important step to the process, Centofonti pointed out during Mineral County Day, is to let the world know these opportunities exist.
“The locals know Patterson Creek is awesome to jump in your kayak,” she said, but folks from outside the area would not know that.
During her meeting with the commissioners, Centofonti asked for consideration as the county officials prepare their budget for 2021-2022, in hopes that tourism can be included.
“Due to the pandemic, our budget took about a $20,000 loss,” she said. “My first ask is to supplement what we lost in our budget. The second part is some advertising money … to help bring some people in.”
The commissioners will be working on their budget this month, and will meet next on March 9.