Marion County Commission Signs Resolution In Support Of Locks Remaining Open

1 August 2012
By Kelsey Pape, Marion and Taylor County Reporter

FAIRMONT - The Marion County Commission signed a resolution Wednesday to show their support to keep the Hildebrand and Opekiska locks open.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has determined that the funding of the nation's locks and dams has caused problems in maintaining the system on the Monongahela River.  

This will require low-use locks to be shut down by November first, to free up funds for high-use locks. 

Marion County resident Lana Smith has been an avid supporter of keeping the locks open. She believes closing them will hurt Fairmont's economy.

"Fairmont is booming," she said. "Our river front is getting ready to open up and to stop those locks reserves a lot of traffic from coming back and forth. We just really need to keep them open."

Marion County Commission agrees. 

The commissioners signed a 14 point resolution showing their willingness to work with the Army Corps of Engineers to keep the locks open.

The points ranged from having part time employees to keeping the locks open only 45 days instead of 90.

"Right now they are only guaranteeing us 90 days a year of recreational vehicles," said Marion County Commissioner Guy Ward. "They are telling us they are going to take that 90 days a year away from us and only open it four days a year for bass tournaments. That's not acceptable. We are hoping we can get them to do 45 days a year they will maintain them and keep them working."

While Marion County Commission was the first to sign the resolution, Commissioner Guy Ward said he thinks that Monongalia County, the City of Fairmont, the City of Morgantown, and Westover will be on board within the next two weeks.

"We may be the first," Commissioner Ward said. "But I'd say after a week or two we will on be on board. We are all after the same thing. This is very important to our area."

Fairmont residents have started a petition to voice their concern.

Lana Smith said the next step is getting the community together to show how important it is to Marion County to keep the locks open.