Group: Locks Vital to River
Says if Corps plan OK’d, city’s spirit will suffer
Morgantown Dominion Post
11 August 2012
By Jim Bissett
Randy and Barbara Semper, of New York, take in a
view of Morgantown from the Lazy Dolphin. - Ron Rittenhouse/ The
Fred and Linda Mangelsdorf, the husband and wife captains of
“Young America” both grew up landlocked in the Midwest — Fred in
Illinois and Linda in South Dakota.
On Friday, they tried out their sea legs — or maybe that’s river
legs — piloting their trawler on the Monongahela River.
Neither had to be sold on the idea of living on a boat basically
full time after both retired, she said.
A trawler, both said, just made sense. It’s a livable boat that
can navigate most waters. And the top cruising speed of 7 knots
(around 8 mph) is perfect for people who aren’t in a hurry. It was
Fred, in fact, who started thinking about the Mon River and the
“I said, ‘Hey, you can get to West Virginia by water,’ ” Fred
remembers, musing over an old map of waterways. “Let’s go there.”
Barry Pallay likes that “Let’s go there” directive.
He’s an avid whitewater kayaker and vice-president of the Upper
Monongahela River Association (UMRA), a nonprofit watchdog group
that champions the Mon and its tributaries here.
In past few days, UMRA has watched the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers, which has floated the idea of limiting boat access or
shuttering altogether select locks along the Mon — including the
ones at Morgantown, and the Hildebrand and Opekiska lock systems
downriver closer to Fairmont.
Should that happen, he said, there won’t be any return visits of
for the Mangelsdorfs and other trawlers who enjoyed navigating the
Monongahela River on Friday.
“This shows all the opportunity the river affords us,” he said.
“It’s important for economic development and for the spirit of
A West Virginia lawmaker on Capitol Hill agrees. Rep. David
McKinley, R.-W.Va., whose 1st Congressional District covers a lot
of areas the Mon flows through, urged federal engineers Friday to
not limit river traffic here. Doing so, he said would change the
course of investment opportunities in the region’s energy and
Joe Pica just wants a chance to pat the Mothman’s behind in Point
“Yeah,” the retired Washington, D.C., cop said with a chuckle
Friday morning in Morgantown. “They’ve got a statue of him in
town, and somebody was telling me you have to rub his butt for
good luck. Couldn’t hurt.”
He’s going to visit the statue of the mythical creature because
Point Pleasant is on the way. The town sits along the banks where
the Kanawha River meets the Ohio. If there’s a river, he says,
there’s a reason to go. And every river town, he says, has its own
fun, little oddities — be it a Mothman statue or a Jell-O Museum
or a courtyard that’s home to the World’s Ugliest Fountain.
“We love this stuff,” said Joe, who has been a full-time river
cruiser since 2007. That’s when he turned in his shield and he and
his wife, Kathy — everybody on the river calls her by her old
childhood nickname, “Punk” — put their house up for sale so they
could purchase their 30-foot trawlerstyled boat, the “Carolyn
Ann.” Now, they drop anchor wherever there’s a dock, and sometimes
where there isn’t. At this particular stop along the Monongahela
River in Morgantown, they were joined by two other kindred couples
in this waking, floating dream.
Randy Semper, who grew up in Buffalo, N.Y., has been into boats
for as long as he can remember. The 70-year-old spent his boyhood
along the Erie Canal and bought a 16-foot roundabout when he and
Barbara were newlyweds, 33 years ago.
The 37-foot “Lazy Dolphin,” with its fully equipped kitchen,
computerized wheelhouse and other amenities, trumps that first
one, the retired statistician with the U.S. Department of
Agriculture said, smiling.
“Now, we just go where the water takes us,” Randy said.