A full page ad makes a very poor web page. The information below appeared in the Morgantown Dominion Post on Sunday, August 24, 2003, and in the (West Virginis) State Journal on September 5, 2003.
In addition, 1/4 page ads based on our poster have appeared in The Dailey Atheneum (West Virginia University student paper) on Friday, September 26, 2003 and in the Fairmont Times West Virginian on Sunday, 28 September, 2003.
Crew on the Granville Fire Department Fire/ Water Rescue boat assist dignitaries onboard the sternwheeler CINDY's passenger barge in stringing the yellow ribbon from the McQuain Park amphitheatre across the Mon River to Westover. Numerous kayaks and canoes also assisted in the job, made difficult by the fast current in the rain-swollen river. The ribbon was cut by Morgantown Mayor Ron Justice, Morgantown Area Chamber of Commerce President Scott Rotruck, Tim Terman, Chair of the chamber VISION 2020 Mon River Recreation Committee, and, Greater Morgantown Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director Stacey Brodak. The sternwheeler CINDY is the pride and joy of Brooks and Bunny Javins and their JAVINS CORPORATION. CINDY is moored at the Javins' summer home at Old Lock Nine across from the Fort Martin powerplant. The Javins are on board of directors of the Upper Monongahela River Association Incorporated, and, Brooks is President of UMRA. Photo Courtesy of Larry R. Martin
Recreational and long-range tourist boaters in the region served by the Pittsburgh District of the US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) suffer limited access to the upper reaches of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers. Lack of money and federal law are the problems.
The problem will soon get very bad for the upper reaches of both rivers, with the start of the federal Fiscal Year 2004 on October 1, 2003.
First, a bit of history for the locks on the Upper Monongahela in West Virginia.
The Upper Mon locks at Morgantown, Hildebrand, and, Opekiska, were built following WWII and replaced locks 10 through 15 which were completed in 1904. The Morgantown lock has operated 24/7 since operations began in 1950. The midnight shift at the Morgantown lock was dropped on July 7, 2003. Further, the Morgantown lock will go to day shift only starting October 1, 2003.
Hildebrand, completed 1959, and, Opekiska, completed 1967, operated 24/7 until the Corps cut these locks to day shift only in 1985 due to a decline in barge traffic through these locks. This killed river commerce on the Upper Mon south of the Morgantown lock. Further, recreational boating trips between Morgantown and Fairmont virtually ceased, as boaters worried about being stranded when these two locks closed at 3:30PM.
It gets worse! The Hildebrand and Opekiska locks, with one exception, will be totally closed to all traffic come October 1, 2003. The Corps will operate these two locks for the benefit of recreational boaters on weekends and holidays during the recreational boating season (roughly May 1 through the end of October). These two locks will be open from 12:30AM to 8:20PM on these days.
The bad news for the Upper Allegheny is much the same.
These drastic cuts in lock hours fly in the face of our efforts to develop the Upper Mon as a recreational resource for local and long-range tourist boaters. Our Morgantown Area Chamber of Commerce VISION 2020 Mon River Recreation Committee has just published a neat Upper Mon Water Trail brochure. The committees efforts with assistance from the West Virginia Public Port Authority also is leading to a $100K federal Boating Infrastructure Grant to provide docks and support facilities on the Upper Mon at Star City and Morgantown. It also appears that Congress will reauthorize the very successful Boating Infrastructure Grant program. This will allow Upper Mon communities from Fairmont to Millsboro PA to seek BIG funds for installing docks and other facilities that will encourage visits by long-range recreational boaters.
The Pittsburgh District is not the problem. They do the best they can within legal and budget restraints to provide recreational boating access to the upper reaches of the Allegheny and the Mon.
By law the Corps is expected to set lock hours based on the tonnage level of river commerce transiting the locks. Remarkably, federal law provides no consideration for recreational boaters, cargo value, or the economic development of the region served by the navigable river.
Recreational access is further hurt by thirty years of continued squeezing of Corps funds for operation and maintenance of navigable waterways and their locks and dams. This forces the Corps to cut lock hours on the upper reaches of the Mon and Allegheny where river commerce has declined, so that operations on the heavily-used portions of the Ohio, Mon, and, Allegheny, can be maintained.
There is a major element of unfairness here! The public paid for the locks and dams on the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers, from general revenue funds appropriated by Congress. Yet the public has no legal right to use the locks, ergo, cuts in lock hours which severely curtail recreational and long-range boating and the economic health of river communities.
Our Upper Monongahela River Association belongs to the Pittsburgh-based River Navigation Coalition, and we are working to solve these problems. The most obvious approach is to get Congress and the President to adequately fund navigable waterways. Legislation is needed to give recreational boating and river community economic development equal status with river commerce.
The needed legislation is described in the NAVIGATION RESOLUTION stated below, followed by a list of those who support the Navigation Resolution.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
Upper Monongahela River Association, http://www.uppermon.org. Our website is new, so bear with us as we work to fully implement our website. The website has information on how to join UMRA, our Board of Directors and officers, and organizational objectives and purpose. You may also contact Don Strimbeck for this information. Our UPPER MONONGAHELA RIVER ASSOCIATION INCORPORATED began operations on July 1, 2002, replacing our informal UPPER MONONGAHELA COMMITTEE FOR BETTER BOATING, organized in February 2000.
River Navigation Coalition, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RNCoalition/ .
ANCHORS AWEIGH MAGAZINE, http://www.anchorsaweighmagazine.com. Check out publisher Jim Schmitts March/April, May, June, and, July 2003 issues for editorials, articles, and ads concerning the lock hours issue. Also, use Jims connections to Pirates of the Allegheny and to Boaters are Voters.
Upper Mon Water Trails, http://www.be.wvu.edu/umwt/ .
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Don Strimbeck, Secretary, Upper Monongahela River Association Incorporated, 109 Broad Street, P. O. Box 519, Granville WV 26534-0519, phone 304-599-7585, fax 304-599-4131, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Captain Mike Ferris, President, River Navigation Coalition, Godfrey Landing, RD #1, Box 1981, Leechburg PA 15656-9723, mobile phone 412-855-6012, email CaptMike41@aol.com.
Resolution Requesting United States Congress To Enact & Fully Fund Navigation Needs On Our Nations Rivers
Whereas, the upper reaches (headwaters) of many of our nations navigable rivers have suffered a decline in river commerce, resulting in severe cutbacks in federal funding for maintenance and operation of locks and dams on these rivers by the US Army Corps of Engineers (COE), including the hours the locks are open for transit by river traffic;
Whereas, this problem is especially severe within the Pittsburgh District of COE, for the Monongahela River in West Virginia, and, for the upper reaches of the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania, thus causing great harm to commercial and recreational users of these two rivers and to the communities and businesses that rely on unhindered navigation of these rivers;
Therefore, Be It Resolved, that the Common Council of the City of Morgantown:
(1) Requests that the Congress of the United States enact and fully fund legislation requiring that COE base river navigation budgets not solely on the tonnage of commerce, but also on the value of such commerce, and, on the needs of recreational users of the rivers, and, on the importance of all such river uses to the economic well-being and development of communities and regions bounding the river;
(2) Requests that the Pennsylvania and West Virginia congressional delegations, especially those members of the US House of Representatives whose districts include the Pittsburgh District of COE:
(A) Seek appropriations for the federal Fiscal Year 2003 (which began 1 October 2002), and, for successive fiscal years, that will enable the Pittsburgh District of COE to fully meet the navigation needs of all river users and communities for the Upper Allegheny and Upper Monongahela rivers;
(B) Support Congressman Mollohan in his request for $5M to research and demonstrate the feasibility of automating lock operation, directly permitting the remote operation of lock chambers for Upper Mon locks and developing a national technology base for a future combination of cost reductions with service improvements;
(C) Seek congressional authorization and funding for studies of how the federal government might partnership with states and local communities on innovative ways to fund and operate river navigation needs.
(3) Supports the Pittsburgh-based RIVER NAVIGATION COALITION in their extensive and effective efforts to: (a) Keep the locks and dams operational on the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers; (b) Maximize the hours of operation of the locks for all users; (c) Promote river recreational boating; (d) Promote commercial navigation by maintaining the river channels and continued operation of the locks; and, (e) Promote economic growth pertaining to recreational and commercial navigation for the entire region.
(4) Supports the UPPER MONONGAHELA RIVER ASSOCIATION INCORPORATED, a West Virginia not-for-profit 501(c)(4) corporation (successor to the informal Upper Monongahela Committee for Better Boating formed in February 2000), and a founding member of the RIVER NAVIGATION COALITION, in UMRAs efforts to achieve all of the above goals.
Your letters and resolutions of support have been sent to our members of the US House of Representatives whose districts fall within the area encompassed by the Pittsburgh District of the US Army Corps of Engineers. These members of Congress are Representative Mollohan whose district includes the Upper Mon in WV, and, for Pennsylvania, Representatives Doyle, Murtha, Hart, and, Murphy.
Copies were also sent to Senator Byrd, Senator Rockefeller, Senator Santorum, Senator Specter, and, Representatives Rahall and Capito.
Support from West Virginia:
Friends of Deckers Creek
Board of Parks & Recreation Commissioners, Morgantown
City of Fairmont
Glenmark Holding LLC
Greater Morgantown Community Trust
Hart Field Coalition
I-79 Strategic Planning Group
Marion County Commission
Marion County Parks & Recreation Commission
MEPCO (Jim Laurita)
Monongalia County Commission
Monongalia County Development Authority
Morgantown Area Economic Partnership
Monongahela River Trails Conservancy
Mon Valley Green Space Coalition
Morgantown Area Chamber of Commerce
City of Morgantown
Morgantown Industrial Park Association
Patriot River Terminal
Town of Rivesville
West Virginia Development Office
West Virginia Legislature
Region VI, West Virginia Regional Planning & Development Council
Riverside Marine Company
Six & Plum Marina & Campground
Town of Star City
Vance River Terminal
City of Westover
West Virginia BASS Federation
West Virginia Highlands Conservancy
West Virginia High Technology Consortium Foundation
West Virginia University
Kevin Moore, Morgantown
Watershed Museum & Activity Center, L. Zane Shuck
Greater Morgantown Convention & Visitors Bureau
Granville Volunteer Fire Department
First Things First Committee
Upper Mon Water Trail, Vision 2020 Mon River Recreation Committee, Morgantown Area Chamber of Commerce
Support from Pennsylvania:
Boaters are Voters
Captains Watch Inn, Greensboro
Elizabeth Boat Club
Greensboro Borough Council
Robert A. Martin, Irwin PA
Monongahela River Buffs Association
Pittsburgh Safe Boating Council
Point Marion Borough Council
Rices Landing Borough Council
Two Rivers Marina and Campground
Elwood E. Smith, McMurray PA
David & Lynn Shallenberger, Whitaker PA
Professional Marine Operators Association
Masontown Borough Council
Robert G. Hackett, Bethel Park PA
Kittanning Borough Council
Applewold Borough Council
Ford Cliff Borough Council
Verona Borough Council
Freeport Borough Council
Upper Burrell Township
Hyde Park Borough Council
Plum Borough Council
Leechburg Borough Council
Arnold Borough Council
South Buffalo Township
Ford City Borough
Support from national organizations:
American Sternwheel Association
United States Power Squadrons