The Dominion Post
27 April 2008
By Amanda Deprospero
Changing peoples perceptions can be a difficult task, especially if they are long-standing ones. Just ask Tim Terman.
A Morgantown resident since 1979. Terman has promoted the Monongahela River as a recreation area. Between his kayak tours and an integral role in programs geared toward the river's preservation. Terman aims to change perceptions of the river that harken back to before the Clean Water Act of 1972.
"People here, they have a bad attitude about the Mon River." Terman said. "We're given a gift like this. It's a gift. It's not right it's indecent to have a precious gift and trash it."
Terman has always had a soft spot for rivers.
Tim Terman reaches out to pick up a piece of trash during a river cleanup.- Jason DeProspero/the Dominion Post
Born in Louisville. Ky., Terman grew up along the Ohio River. As a teenager. he began working on tow boats, where he stayed for 11 years. As a second mate, he traveled rivers from St. Louis, to New Orleans to Pittsburgh. But, when the company he worked for decided to sell the business, he lost his job.
He moved to Parkersburg. where he met his future wife. Maureen. who was in nursing school at Parkersburg Community College at the time. They came to Morgantown in 1979. when Terman went to WVU's journalism school and later received
a job with the university in public - relations for the College of Business and Economics.
It was one trip to The Book Exchange that changed everything for him. He spotted a clearance table full of books. Terman said he loves a deal, so he took a look and discovered a book on kayaking. The book. which originally cost $16. was marked down to $3.50.
"I didn't know anything about kayaks. I didn't care anything about kayaks." Tertian said. "I took that book. I bought it just because it was a good deal, and I started reading it and said. 'Man. this sounds like the coolest sport.""
So. he went to see Bruce Summers at Pathfinder. who happened to have two slightly used sea kayaks at a good price.
"I got to talking to Bruce about it and before I knew it. I owned both those boats. one for me and one for my wife."
He said Maureen wasn't too thrilled when he brought the kayaks home, but after a few trips to the ocean near Chesapeake Bay, they were both in love with the sport. Soon they got sick of driving so far.
"I got to talking to Bruce about it and before I knew it. I owned both those boats, one for me and one for my wife."
He said Maureen wasn't too thrilled when he brought the kayaks home, but after a few trips to the ocean near Chesapeake Bay, they were both in love with the sport. Soon they got sick of driving so far, so they decided to try kayaking on the Monongahela.
I said. there's no use in me driving all the way down to Chesapeake Bay when I can go 10 minutes from my house here." Terman said.
They put the kayaks in near Uffington and padded to an area known as Round Bottom. It was so beautiful. Terman said. he wanted to share it with others.
Eventually, after talking to Summers again and buying five brand new double kayaks and two singles. Terman began taking people out on kayak trips. He called the tours "Adventures on Magic River."
Mike Breiding, who knew Terman from his work with the Mon
River Water Trail. was a kayak tour participant.
"At that time. I had pretty much the same attitude as everyone else did about the river at least then. I thought of the Mon as a dirty.
garbage-strewn and polluted mess. and had no interest in going any-where near it except when riding the rail-trail." Breiding said. "When I first visited Tim's Web site and saw him refer to the Mon as a 'Magic
River,' I thought, 'You must be joking. "
He soon discovered what Ter-man was talking about, though, as he paddled with his wife. Betsy. near Uffington. He said they saw kingfishers and great blue herons. and had gorgeous views of ferns. wildflowers and silver maples.
-°Why should they just have these in other places?" Terman said. "We have beautiful, beautiful scenery here. Take pride in it. Show it to other people."
Along with a tour of the river. Terman tells stories about the history of the area surrounding the Monongahela, including the history of moonshine and the Monongah mine disaster.
Soon. Terman was advertising and working with the Convention and Visitor's Bureau. Now. BOPARC runs the tours and the kayaks are kept at the marina, but Terman still takes people on the trip and tells them the stories he has for years, some of which, he admits, might be
stretching the truth a bit. Some he has made into historical fiction.
Besides educating people on the kayak tours. Terman takes youths out on his 28-foot pontoon boat he calls the "Monongahela Monitor." He and the participants spend time cleaning up litter and talking about river pollution. His program. called Mon River Revival, will be open to adults this summer. as well as youths.
In 2005. Terman decided to paddle his kayak the entire length of the Monongahela River. He began at 5 a.m. on a Monday in Fairmont and paddled eight hour a day until he ended his journey at Point State Park in Pittsburgh on Saturday. The length of the river is 127 miles.
"I'd do it again in a minute," he said.
Terman said events such as the triathlon have helped promote recreation on the river, but he wants to let people know that it's OK to swim. In fact, his favorite spot. Red Rocks. has been a traditional swimming spot since the 1920s and '30s.
"I think it's my birthright, as an American, to be able to go down and jump in the river," Terman said.
Terman, who was the original chairman of the Mon River Recreation Committee, said it's important to enjoy the river, but to also be responsible and take care of it by keeping it clean and free of pollution.
"Some nights when I'm coming home from work, it's so beautiful with the lights of the city reflecting there. It's just lovely," he said. "We have something that's of immeasurable value to us, and how do we take advantage of, how can we appreciate this?
"It's important to our heritage. and it's important to us now. It's something we can appreciate."