The Spine of the Virginias. Journeys along the border between Virginia and West Virginia, by Michael Abraham. Book published by Pocahontas Press. Mr. Abraham chips away at the West Virginia formation myth. He follows with a collection of contemporary vignettes of people and places on both sides of the border of Virginia and West Virginnia, in revealing looks at the interaction between a landscape and its people. (540) 392-1119 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
SCHEDULE FOR TOWN MEETINGS
Monday September 20th 9:00 am in Lee County Location to be announced Tim Long (Host) (276)346-7766 Focus will be on Keokee, St. Charles, Pennington Gap areas
1:00 pm at the Norton Community Center 201 East Park Avenue, Norton VA Shelly Knox (Host) Focus will be on the City of Norton and Wise County areas (276)926-6074
6:00 pm (Location to be announced) - Stan Botts (Host) (276)523-2319 Wise County in particularly Appalachia, Big Stone Gap, Exeter, Imboden and the City of Norton
Tuesday September 21st 5:30 pm at Richlands Chamber of Commerce Ginger Branton(Host) (276-963-3385 For those in the Richlands, Cedar Bluff, Claypool Hill, Pounding Mill & Tazewell area
Wednesday September 22nd 9:00 in Scott County Kathie Noe (Host) (276)386-6521
1:00 in Scott County Kathie Noe (Host)
6:00 pm in Dante for the Russell County Area Linda Tate & Bobbie Gullett (Hosts) (276)889-8041
Thursday September 23rd 9:00 am in the meeting room at St. Paul Town Hall Sarah Love McReynolds (276)762-9383,
Mayor Kyle Fletcher & Loretta Mays (Hosts) Focus will be on the Coeburn, Tacoma, Virginia City, St. Paul areas
6:00 pm at the Haysi Town Hall in Dickinson County Rita Surratt (276)926-6074
Mayor Larry Yates (Host) Focus will be on Dickenson County in particularly those in the communities of Haysi, Clinchco, Fremont, McClure, Nora, Trammel
Friday September 24th 9:00 in Scott County Kathie Noe (Host)
1:00 in Scott County Kathie Noe (Host)
Still waiting to hear back from Pocahontas on date and time for next week.
Jewell Ridge and Buchanan County will both be meeting in October
AUGUST UPDATE TO THE ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON THE VIRGINIA COAL HERITAGE TRAIL
August 24th, 2010 by Debby Spencer
WMTH Corporation has now completed the preliminary inventory of the entire 300+ mile route of the Virginia Coal Heritage Trail State Byway. Attached is an excel file noting what one will find while driving the route. It is divided into three parts. The first is the 157-mile section from Pocahontas to St. Paul. The second is an 86-mile loop through the counties of Russell, Scott, Lee and Wise which starts and ends in St. Paul. The third section is a 68-mile loop that starts at the City of Norton and travels through the counties of Wise and Lee, ending back at the City of Norton.
INVENTORY: An inventory of all coal-related sites is noted in “red” on the attached spread sheets. Highlighted in blue are suggested side trips. There are over 50 coal-related sites to see along the 157-mile byway from Pocahontas to St. Paul and another 30 coal-related sites along the 68-mile stretch of road following the “City of Norton Loop”. Noted in “blue” font is a description of the road one is traveling. And noted in “purple” are recommendations and suggestions. “Green” denotes the location of byway confirmation signs. And sections highlighted in yellow notes a turn in the route.
Over the next two to three weeks, we will be adding this information to the http://trailsrus.com/vacoaltrail/ website along with the coordinating photos. We are also in the process of writing the sections of the CMP pertaining to the description and significance of the area, inventory of the route and existing conditions. It is time to hold a follow-up town meeting in which this information may be shared with those along the route for their input to help us note areas of significance we might have overlooked or those areas that need signage for interpretation, and other issues and concerns. This meeting will also begin incorporating their ideas and suggestions towards the goals, objectives and strategies of the initiative which will be incorporated into the plan.
NEXT PUBLIC MEETING: It was our original intent to hold a total of four public meetings of which the first was held at Southwest Community College. This was an excellent initial meeting and I thank all who helped make it a success. But, having now driven the route and after meeting with a number of people, WMTH would like to make the following suggestion:
WMTH would like to hold a series of 8 to 12 town meetings over a four to five day period in September in which we would meet with individuals from specific sections along the route. We feel this one-on-one is crucial to obtaining public support for adoption of the Corridor Management Plan once it is completed. Pocahontas has already requested a town meeting in their community and I see this as a very positive move on their part. We would like to hold a second town meeting possibly in the Richlands area drawing people from the Bluefield/Tazewell area to Jewel Ridge.
We would like to hold another meeting in Buchanan County and also one in Dickenson County (most likely in Haysi). We would like to hold one in St. Paul and Scott County for those along the St. Paul Loop section as well as one in either Norton, Appalachia, Big Stone Gap or Pennington Gap representing the Norton Loop. If there is interest, we would like to also hold a town meeting in Dante, Jewell Ridge, Keokee inviting the communities of Exeter, Imboden and St. Charles to attend as well as others along the route.
WMTH Corporation would be happy to set up the meetings in each of the communities if the Advisory Council might provide a primary contact if they know one for each of the areas. It means a lot more time commitment on the part of WMTH Corporation but we feel this is crucial to the success of the initiative and to gain public buy-in from each of the communities. Everyone must feel they had a part in the final plan or at least had the opportunity to participate.
ACTION: Does this sound okay to everyone? If so, we need to begin immediately to set up meetings with each of the communities. If all are in agreement, to stay on the time schedule laid forth, we would like to hold the next set of town meetings during the third or fourth week in September.
VISIT TO RICHMOND: Last week I drove to Richmond and met with Erica Jeters who currently oversees the Byway Program for the State of Virginia as well as a major portion of the Transportation Enhancement Program. She and I had a wonderful discussion and I appreciate Randy Rose for keeping her and others in transportation well informed. It made the visit go quite well. She is very supportive of the initiative and will work with us throughout the entire process as best she can so that when the corridor management plan is complete and we begin writing the proposal for scenic byway designation, we will have the support of the Virginia Byway Program.
July 29, 2010
Virginia Coal Heritage Trail Meeting Minutes
First Public Meeting - 5:30 PM - 7 PM
The proposed route meanders through the heart of Virginia's coalfield region encompassing the counties of Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, Wise and the City of Norton.
Refreshments were provided by the Tazewell County Tourism Committee.
LOCATION: Southwest Virginia Community College, King Hall, Cedar Bluff, VA (Tazewell Co)
On Thursday July, 29th 2010, the first of four public meetings for establishing the Virginia Coal Heritage Trail as a national byway was held at the Southwest Virginia Community College. Representatives from three of the seven counties plus the City of Norton were in attendance. A list of attendees is available upon request. Randall Rose with the Virginia Tourism Corporation opened the meeting and provided a brief history of the Virginia Coal Heritage Trail initiative and how far it has come in three short years and where they hope it to progress to through these current efforts.
Linda Tate, Chairman of the Virginia Coal Heritage Trail Advisory Committee spoke about the process the committee took to hire a firm to conduct a corridor management plan for the trail as well as recent activities by the organization, plans for fund raising and goals for the future.
Debby Spencer, President of WMTH Corporation, the company chosen to help develop the corridor management plan for the Virginia Coal Heritage Trail, described the value of becoming a national byway and what is entailed to achieve this status. Her firm will also provide the potential economic impact such a trail might have if developed into a National Byway, and to assist the communities in applying for national byway status.
Major points made:
National Byways can become major marketing draws to entice visitors to “travel the roads less traveled” and stop in areas they may not visit otherwise. This can become a great marketing tool to draw more tourists to your communities.
National Byways can also help to educate people on the history of an area which the Virginia Coal Heritage Trail has a huge opportunity to do.
National Byways can also protect sections of roads and the intrinsic* qualities along the route from being destroyed or covered up by other development.
The advantages of becoming a National Scenic Byway includes:
Greater marketing opportunities
Potential for federal funding
Ms Spencer went on to say that for a state byway to obtain national status, a corridor management plan must be developed and adopted by all communities involved. This means a plan must be developed in which all seven counties and the City of Norton must agree upon as well as the small towns in which the trail travels. No small feat but she has all the confidence, through the participation of all along the route, this can indeed be accomplished.
*Intrinsic qualities are unique and irreplaceable features or resources that define the character, or essence of the byway. The features may be archaeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational or scenic.
To be designated a National Scenic Byway, a road must possess characteristics of regional significance within at least one of the intrinsic qualities. Note: The Virginia Coal Heritage Trail possesses all six intrinsic qualities along different sections of the proposed route.
WHAT IS A CORRIDOR MANAGEMENT PLAN?
A corridor management plan (CMP) is a written plan developed and adopted by the communities along a designated route that outlines how to protect and enhance the byways intrinsic qualities and characteristics that define the byway corridor.
In other words, one does not want to establish a national byway only to destroy the very components which make the route so unique or inviting that others might want to see. And a plan for the byway cannot be developed that does not have public buy-in and support. Otherwise, there is no chance of it ever being adopted by all the entities.
The first step towards developing a corridor management plan is to inventory everything along the route. Prior to the meeting, Ms. Spencer and her partner drove the entire route and inventoried what they saw on each side of the road every mile of the route. The trip took four days. Many of the photos taken along the route were shared with those in attendance at the meeting. They saw some wonderful sites but they also saw where work needs to be done to protect or even improve one’s experience when traveling the byway.
WMTH would like to share first hand some of their thoughts and insights of what they saw along the route and how a corridor management plan might be developed that addresses all of these issues and the concerns of the communities and those involved so that, in the end, the CMP basically establishes a “road plan” towards establishing, maintaining, and improving the route so that national status may be achieved. Therefore, all of this information and photos is now being added to the Virginia Coal Heritage Trail website WMTH has created to help keep everyone informed of the progress as the corridor management plan is developed.
Some of the discussions and comments during the 1st Public Meeting of what those in attendance felt needed to be addressed in the corridor management plan (CMP) included the following:
Try to encourage the byway to go through communities so financial benefit can be gained by some of the businesses along the route.
Make the route driver friendly, with safe pull-offs for folks to see
There needs to be loops & side loops to see special cultural, historical, educational, & geographic sites
There also needs to be “tips” on where to look and what one might see (IE: look up to see “Stone Face”)
Oral Histories added to sites (McGee’s Oral histories). Perhaps Cell-phone Oral histories at way-side exhibits
Historical photos could be exhibited at sites depicting what once stood at this site or how this area once appeared.
Bring the route to light from a personal nature. Provide personal stories of days gone by.
Provide information on the modern changes in technology of how coal is extricated from the earth and how it is used.
Multiple organizations are working to promote byways & other trails
Technology in regards to navigating the trail… GPS Coordinates… especially as technology improves and more people have access to tracking devices.
Educational aspects for coal as an energy source.
Potential for restoration input of some of the buildings and structures? Partnerships?
Economic Impactmore visitors = more $ to region & what could occur as more visitors come to area
Measure of economic impact and how it will be done.
What parts relate to history verses currently operating mines?
Coke oven locations with interpretive information to explain their purpose.
Potential for developing a Geo-Caching challenge to find unique features along the route.
Kudzu needs to be addressed.
Any directions or $ available to “clean up” some of the areas? Potential Sponsors, Chamber of Commerce to support & encourage.
Education is a big component including Watershed & Bio-Diversity, clean-up & reclamation of lands related to coal.
Identifying with “who we are” related to the coal industry18.
Does National Scenic Byway designation bring limitations on land use in the corridor? Response: No, the Corridor Management Plan developed for the scenic byway and adopted by each of the communities along the route is what establishes any limitations. Although one issue that will need to be addressed are billboards which are quite prolific in some areas and actually take away from the scenic beauty of the trail in those areas.
Will other coal communities addressed that are located off the trail? Response: No, the focus should be on what lies along the trail itself. But these other sites should be included on the coal web page and possibly noted on a map. Don’t limit.
Mines will be protective of their operations with regard to sensationalizing what they do. Response: UP to this point all feedback from mine and coal operations has been positive. Let’s sell this plan!
CMP (Corridor Management Plan) adoption is not the end… it needs to be continually updated.
Potential for creating a Three-State byway which includes Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky is the reason some of the byway signs currently direct people into Kentucky.
Engage the communities the trail passes through. Do they want the traffic? What are the benefits? Need to work through this.
DOWNLOADS POSTERS/FLYERS available for downloading (pdf format). Just click on the image you want.
by WMTH Corporation
Virginia Coal Heritage Introductory Brochure by WMTH Corporation
Virginia Coal Heritage
Trail Fact Sheet
July 29, 2010 Meeting Flyer
July 29, 2010 Meeting Poster
Postcard & email sent to mailing list before July 29th meeting by WMTH Corporation.
WMTH CORPORATIONP.O. BOX 51153 BOWLING GREEN, KY 42102 PHONE (270) 792-5300 WMTH Corporation is a certified DBE.