P. O. Box 519
Granville WV 26534-0519

Senator Robert C. Byrd
311 Senate Hart Office Building

Washington DC 20510

10 June 2000

Dear Senator Byrd:

Thank you for your letter of 5 June, concerning the package of information I sent to you on 2 June.

Those of us who formed the Upper Monongahela Committee for Better Boating on 6 February realized that our problem with inadequate lock hours is also a national problem. And, we asked Congressman Mollohan if he might put together a coalition of Representatives of congressional districts having navigable rivers and who are experiencing the problem of lock hours inadequate to foster recreational boating and river community development. We have not heard from Congressman Mollohan. So, we now turn to you for help.

The information I mailed to you on 2 June contains the 16 and 17 March letters that Wally Venable and I sent to Congressman Mollohan. Wally's letter lays out the history of the lock hours problem, its national scope, and, the need for legislation to address the problem. My letter provides detailed information to reinforce Wally's letter, and why this is an important issue for the economic development of the Upper Mon region. We need to add river recreation (ie, boating) needs and river community development to the current charges laid on the US Army Corps of Engineers for flood control, maintenance of river flows, and, the setting of lock hours to facilitate river commerce.

My package to you of 2 June also included further information on the national scope of the lock hours problem. That part of the 2 June package consists of responses to my website postings and letters to many boating magazines.

I have three enclosures to this letter. One is from Jay Martin in Chattanooga, re the Chickamauga Lock, which Jay says is very important to boating recreation.

My second enclosure is the "fallout" from the "lock hours" meeting we held at the Westwood Middle School, Tuesday evening 6 June. My summary of the meeting contains some points that I hope you will consider. I hope to have more detailed minutes of this meeting in a couple of weeks.

The third enclosure is Quimby's Cruising Guide. Two points here. First, I can't hop in my boat, run up to Fairmont to Wood's Boathouse, waddle across Rt. 250 and up the steps to Muriale's Restaurant, have a nice meal, and, return home, in one day, because the Hildebrand and Opekiska Locks are open only from 8am to 4pm. In fact, I can't make that trip, sans Muriale's!! So, if I make a boat trip to Fairmont, I end up leaving my boat at Six & Plum Marina on the way back, and, finishing the trip the next day. And, this of course involves the inconvenience of driving to Six and Plum, with someone following me, so I can leave my car at Six and Plum before I start the boat trip. And, the hassle of getting someone to drive me to Six and Plum the next day. (My home in Granville is on the riverbank at Mile 99, directly across from the WVU Coliseum.) And, the folks in Fairmont can't make a similar trip to enjoy the La Casa Restaurant here in Morgantown (and more riverside restaurants and docks are planned for the Morgantown waterfront).

So, when I want to make a long trip, through several locks, I head north, through the Point Marion lock, and, I spend my money in Pennsylvania!! I have two restaurants and marinas that I can go to right after the Point Marion locks, ie, Two Rivers, and, Shady Cove. And, the further I go north, the more marinas and restaurants I can patronize!!

Pity we can't do the same by going south from Morgantown towards Fairmont.

Now, for the Upper Mon, the Morgantown lock must be kept open all day all year. As we learned at our 6 June meeting, however, the COE plan is to cut the Morgantown lock to day shift only starting in FY 2002. And, FY 2002 would also see the Hildebrand and Opekiska locks cut from day shift seven days a week, to day shift five days a week.

And, for the Hildebrand and Opekiska locks, what we need as a bare minimum is for these locks to be open from 8am to midnight during the boating season (1March through 31 October). This would cost about $250,000. And, for another $100,000 these two locks could be open all day during the boating season, which would really foster recreational boating, fishing and bass fishing tournaments, and, all night dinner party cruises.

Senator, we ask that you help cure the lock hours problem, which is not only a problem for the Upper Mon, but is also a national problem.



Donald Strimbeck, Secretary



PS: While having breakfast this morning, I read the "New Democrats in the Spotlight" story on page 14 of THE WASHINGTON POST NATIONAL WEEKLY EDITION, 5 June 2000. One sentence caught my attention: "Formally launched in 1997, the New Democrat Coalition now has 65 members and ranks as the largest caucus in the House (outstripping more obscure groups dedicated to beef, boating, bicycling and ball bearings, among other causes)." SO!! There is a boating caucus in the House of Representatives!! Would you please put me in contact with the chairman of the boating caucus?!