Allegheny River Development Corporation            Upper Monongahela River Association
PO Box 364                                                        PO Box 519
Kittanning, PA 16201-0364                                Granville, WV 26534-0519

TO:    Chairs Boxer and Shuster and Ranking Members Vitter and Rahall
Honorable Members of the House-Senate Conference Committee

WRDA Bill 2013


By way of introduction, we are the Presidents of the above named Non-Profit Organizations and are seeking to place a simple, but dynamic, Proposal for a Demonstration Project before you.

While our Boards of Directors are all volunteer, it is our desire to let you know of our deep commitment to our Proposed Demonstration Project.
We applaud Congress on the decisive votes that passed this important legislation.  We commend the bi-partisan efforts that have brought us to today.  We have studied this legislation well and are most heartened by several small, but vital paragraphs, which offer hope to our individual organizations for renewed socio-economic opportunities for our region and our beloved rivers.  We believe that the timing is perfect for this Joint Conference Committee to designate two “shovel-ready” organizations, the ability to simply accomplish vital goals. Without thought to party affiliations or political gain, this Joint Conference Committee can provide, through us, a meaningful template for many other organizations and their communities across the United States, a way to regain grass roots economic strength and growth through Contributed Funds projects.

Simply stated, through reductions in commercial lockages on the Upper Allegheny and Upper Monongahela Rivers, we have experienced the closure of 6 locks - 4 on the Upper Allegheny and 2 on the Upper Mon over the past 2 years.  The economic impact of these closures are evident in lost revenues and unemployment, to name just two.  Our groups propose to provide, through the Demonstration Project, the part-time, seasonal operation of these locks with the purpose of improving the socio-economic climate of our respective areas.  Both groups have been working with the US Army Corps of Engineers - Pittsburgh District (USACE) for well over a year, attempting to find a workable solution for our situation.  We believe the most viable alternative lies in your hands. 

Allegheny River Development Corporation (ARDC) and Upper Monongahela River Association (UMRA) believe that were Congress to designate both organizations to a Demonstration Project and direct that USACE work with us, as they have been, we can be ready for lock operations in the spring of 2014.
We respectfully request that you accept our proposal and permit this project to move forward. It will be the single most important step for our communities and the region in regaining what was lost and allowing us to build for the future.

Sincerely,                                Sincerely,

Linda B. Hemmes                            Barry Pallay
President, ARDC                            President, UMRA

Submitted to House and Senate Joint Conference Committee
WDRA Legislation
December 1, 2013
Allegheny River Development Corporation – a Non-Profit Entity
PO Box 364, Kittanning, PA 16201-0364
Upper Monongahela River Association – A Non-Profit Entity
PO Box 519, Granville WV 26534-0519

Demonstration Project Proposal
Contributed Funds Operation of
IMTS Level 6 Locks on the
Upper Allegheny River, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania
Upper Monongahela River, Monongalia County, West Virginia

Allegheny River Development Corporation was begun in 1956 by area businessmen as a method to develop the water front in Kittanning, Pennsylvania.  In 1985, the organization’s purpose was expanded to encompass the areas along the Allegheny River and her tributaries, and was responsible for the creation of Kittanning Riverfront Park and John Murtha Amphitheater.  As the river usage gradually moved from coal, limestone and commercial transport; in its place we saw the growth of recreational boating and a strong development in tourism in the Armstrong County, ultimately making tourism the largest employer in the County.  
The Upper Mon River Association (UMRA) organized in February 2000 following news in 1999 that operations for locks on the upper Mon in West Virginia would be curtailed beyond the cuts made in 1985.  Those cuts adversely affected the prolific recreational boating between Morgantown and Fairmont through upper Monongahela River locks at Morgantown, Hildebrand, and, Opekiska.
UMRA contacted those on the upper Allegheny in Pennsylvania who were facing the same issues.  
Beginning in 2002, both UMRA and the precursor to ARDC, organized community support and began contacting our congressional delegations.  Background information of these efforts can be located by visiting “Lock Hours” in the Menu at
The efforts of this coalition led the Pittsburgh District of the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to form Corps of Engineers and River Recreational Users Summit (CERRUS). CERRUS, which meets in the spring and fall worked to establish reasonable recreational boating access on the upper reaches of both rivers, until the past two years, when due to commerce decline and funding problems, the Pittsburgh District began closing locks.
While the Pittsburgh District, in 2013, did grant some minimum lock access on both rivers, for bass fishing tournaments and regional events, the demand for recreational boating on the upper reaches of both rivers goes far beyond this minimal access.  

As lock operations on the Upper Allegheny and Upper Monongahela River are determined by the level of commercial tonnage as calculated on a three year rolling average, closures were inevitable on the upper reaches of each river.  Unfortunately, the closures created quite a difficult “trickle down” effect for recreational boaters, land owners, stakeholders and businesses that had significant dependence on recreational traffic.  The impact has been felt on different fronts on the two rivers - for the Upper Monongahela, it has been the Bass tournaments and the economic influence on numerous businesses and tourism.  The Upper Allegheny has experienced a more far reaching effect - builders and developers saw a reduction in land values adjacent to the river, and businesses reliant on recreational boaters saw upwards of a 25 to 30% drop in business as the recreational traffic dwindled to those boaters contained in each individual “pond” - created by lock closures.  

While each organization - ARDC & UMRA have divergent purposes – the common goal is the need to see the locks on our respective rivers reopened.  For the Upper Allegheny, Locks 8 & 9 have been closed since 2011 and Locks 6 & 7 closed in 2012.  The Hildebrand and Opekiska locks on the Upper Monongahela River closed in 2012.  Each non-profit organization or their predecessor groups, in evolving forms, have been working for more conducive lock hours for at least a decade.  Now our purpose has been redirected to reopening these locks to previous levels of operation.  We are fully committed to this task and are seeking Congressional SUPPORT - NOT Congressional FUNDING - to move our goals along in a timely manner so that we can establish the first program of its kind in the country for operation IMTS LoS 6 locks.  While we understand that the locks have not had appropriate maintenance, we are also concerned that lack of regular operation will result in the silting in of the lock chambers.

Last year, both ARDC and UMRA submitted a proposal to USACE - Pittsburgh District for each of our organizations to operate the respective locks with personnel hired by each non-profit and trained by USACE to operate the closed locks for recreational boat lockage.  Ultimately, it was determined that insuring such a project was cost prohibitive.  USACE - Pittsburgh District suggested that both ARDC and UMRA consider Contributed Funds as the preferred method for achieve lock operations for recreational boating.  As the recreational boating industry in our area continues to grow, Contributed Funds is our preferred method by which to achieve lock operations for recreational boating.  Certainly, Contributed Funds makes sense for both groups.  The concern is that such a project has never been done before and that time is of the essence.  ARDC is poised and ready to begin fundraising within two weeks.  UMRA, which does not have the same financial base, must be able to determine the viability of the support of various BASS groups to coordinate the basis for their funding and will seek additional funding from the communities, businesses and boaters most affected by the lock closures.
Even as we move through the early stages of the first Contributed Funds project for lock operation in the country, we are finding that attempting to negotiate contracts that are, for all intents and purposes, our contracts, while still complying with USACE guidelines that firmly places County Governments between us and our goal is a difficult, cumbersome and time consuming process.  The current laws essentially requires both non-profits to be the “white elephant in the room” in the initial processes for simply seeking permission for County Government to negotiate with USACE. The idea of then having County Government negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with USACE on issues that truly lie by and between the non-profits and USACE is completely nonsensical.  It inserts an entirely disinterested third party into contract negotiations and ultimately does nothing more than add time, money, confusion and frustration.  The wording contained in the current 2013 WRDA/WRDDA legislation addresses all the ills and issues of the current laws.  The 2013 WRDA legislation would permit intelligent, timely, and streamlined procedures and permits negotiations by and between the proper parties to the proposed Contributed Funds Projects.    

It is the intent of both non-profit organizations to be prepared to commence pre-planned fundraising projects as soon as the Demonstration Project is approved.  We are keenly aware of the necessity for fundraising and have had our plans developed and are ready to begin immediately.  In essence “our race cars are built, are sitting at the starting gate”.  Both groups are quite comfortable with the fundraising goals we have set and believe that our individual numbers are reasonable and attainable.  
The specifics of the Demonstration Project is as follows:  Allegheny River Development Corporation’s request is based on initial funding offering amount of $150,000 for 58 predominately weekend days of operation at four (4) locks, over a period of approximately 6 months.  Included in the 58 days are Memorial Day, the 4th of July and Labor Day.  We are also seeking a Friday operation date in August for the immensely popular Armstrong County Chamber of Commerce Boaters’ Poker Run, as well as 4 additional hours on each of 4 Saturday nights for Arts On The Allegheny Concerts at John Murtha Amphitheatre.  We anticipate having 75% of the funding available by May 1, 2014.  We are requesting that we be billed via detailed monthly statements for each lock and that said statements be broken down into 15 minute intervals, as per normal USACE billing procedures.  The specifics of the Memorandum of Understanding will be negotiated by and between USACE – Pittsburgh District and Allegheny River Development Corporation and at that time the contract will be as binding as the availability of funds permits.  We anticipate that this project will continue seasonally for the foreseeable future.
The Upper Monongahela River Association has developed an initial proposal for funding $40,000 for 28 days of operation at Opekiska and Hildebrand locks on the Upper Monongahela River.  We are currently working with various BASS fishing associations to determine specific dates and times.  We are completely committed to the Contributed Funds concept and anticipate continuing seasonal operation for the foreseeable future.
We believe that both projects are fully and equally viable and note that the major hurdles in the current Contributed Funds structure require very difficult, burdensome time lines and requirements for both organizations. We see the Demonstration Project as a simple, clear cut method to validate the ease by which Contributed Fund Projects can be implemented in a sensible, unencumbered way.  Certainly, we have appreciated the move by Congress to expedite these types of programs and both ARDC and UMRA are “shovel-ready” projects that are already poised at the starting gate.  Rather than asking that government take on this burden, our groups stand ready to move forward to heal the economic hardships encountered by our respective communities as a result of the lock closures.

Allegheny River Development Corporation and the Upper Monongahela River Association sincerely hope that the WRDA Conference Committee sees fit to authorize the Demonstration Project that we have outlined for the Upper Allegheny and Upper Monongahela Rivers.
We believe, in the current political and economic climate, that carefully crafted and well-funded Contributed Funds projects, with reasonable goals that are designed for the socio-economic good of the communities from which the Projects emanate, should be able to move forward in an efficient, streamlined manner.  
Certainly, non-profit organizations, ARDC and UMRA have demonstrated through their 57 and 12 year histories, respectively, that they are in a position to move this concept forward and demonstrate this is a viable solution for the many other communities across the country that find themselves in like circumstances.
We recognize that when the Lock and Dam Systems in the Unites States were established, and the operational guidelines created, recreational boating, as we now know it, was essentially, non-existent.  
Today, the Pittsburgh region has 9,532 recreational boats, 107 boating-related businesses that generate 3,946 jobs.  According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, annual boat related spending in Pittsburgh is $211.1 million with a total annual economic impact of recreational boating in Pittsburgh of $498.7 million.  We want the opportunity to improve and enhance those numbers.  We want the ability to grow the recreational boating industries in our respective areas and to provide additional tourism and economic development throughout the region, while enjoying the natural beauty that surrounds us.  
We look forward to the opportunity and the challenge.  With your endorsement, we are absolutely confident of our ability to succeed in this endeavor.

Allegheny River Development Corporation Board of Directors
PO Box 364
Kittanning, PA 16201-0364

Linda Hemmes - President
724-543-5760 or

Mike Ferris - Vice-President
412-855-6012 -

Joshua Starr - Treasurer
724-664-6848 -

Marty Hemmes - Secretary
724-954-2930 -

Mark Devinney - Immediate Past President
724-355-6578 -

Christine McNutt
724-991-9658 -

Henry McNutt
724-355-6934 -

Scott Miller
724-525-0340 -

Chuck Nicely
724-543-5817 -

Kristi Quinn
724-525-2486 -

Ken Ritchey
724-664-7437 -

Joshua Sasfai
724-747-1589 -

Upper Monongahela River Association Board of Directors
PO Box 519
Granville WV 26534-0519

Barry Pallay - President
  304-599-2077 or 304-276-3792 -

Donald C. Strimbeck - Secretary & Treasurer
304-599-7585 (fax: 4131) -

Board Members

Wallace S. Venable - Chief Technical Officer
304-328-5128 or 304-599-9382.  WVU office is 304-293-3111 ext 2341

Betty L. Wiley - Dunkard Creek Watershed Association Liaison
304-292-3946 -

G. Thomas Bartlett - US Coast Guard Liaison
304-265-0531 or 304-288-5421 -

David L. Weaver - Chief Engineer
304-377-6132 or 304-292-8145 (fax 8146)

Paul F. Ziemkiewicz, Ph.D. - Water Resources Officer
304-293-6958, (fax - 304-293-7822) -

William D. Wyant - Educational Coordinator
304-296-7463 -

Martin A. Niverth - Conservation Officer & Pennsylvania Liaison Officer
724-883-3785 -

Katharine Lee Avary - Geologic Resource Information Officer
304-288-0325 -
Dave Cassell - Water Trails Facilitator
304-366-7248 or 304-282-8099 -