By Rocky Osborne, Bickmore, WV
February 5, 2024
To Roger Hanshaw, Delegate, Clay County and Governor Jim Justice
Re: Be a Hero or Be a Zero !
Regarding my Letter of the Editor last week, thank both of you for forwarding my letter to Jacob Bumgarner at the Department of Transportation concerning sharing the road from Hartland to Elkhurst with the Trail Authority. I am very thankful for the Free Press’s willingness to air this issue for the local residents. We need to keep our local news papers alive. (Oh, by the way there’s a bill being considered about that too.)
Mr. Bumgarner’s response dated Feb 2, 2024 said in part,
“In 2003, the Division of Highways (DOH) entered into a temporary construction easement with Elk River Railroad, which still owns the old C&O rail bed. While that easement was in place, the DOH was able to work on and maintain the portion of the trail, including paving it and placing a guardrail, as you state in your letter. At some point between 2003 and a couple of years ago, the decision was made that replacing the bridge was not feasible, thus ending a potential project and the need for temporary construction easements associated with it. At that time DOH legal counsel advised that our agreement with the Elk River Railroad was no longer valid in the past form, and thus we had no rights to maintain that section of rail bed any longer.”
He went on to say that recently there had been conversations and meetings with Elk River Railroad. And, “Those discussions have centered around the idea that the Elk River Railroad will give the DOH the right of way of the rail bed from where Clay County Route 16/25 ends within the rail bed to where Clay County Route 22 crosses the rail bed. This would then allow us to extend Clay County Route 16/25 approximately two miles, allowing for shared use of the right of way for public travel by vehicle and use by those utilizing the rest of the trail system on the old rail bed. While we are actively working through the process, I don’t want to INSINUATE THIS IS A DONE DEAL, and I HAVE NO FEEL FOR HOW LONG THIS PROCESS WILL TAKE.”
In my response, I thanked him for his response and included reasons why this route is a necessity for the local residents and encouraged him to consider those points in future discussions.
As to the title of this letter, I wanted to point out one thing missing from the email from Jacob Bumgarner. Nowhere does it mention where Governor Justice or Delegate Hanshaw stand on this issue. So, I want to start a letter writing campaign to encourage both of them to be a Hero and state publicly for their constituents their support for the continued use and maintenance of the road from the mouth of Beechy Creek to Elkhurst fulfilling a commitment made in 2003 and continued 20 years by the Department of Highways. The safety of the residents of this area and the continued value of their property is worth more than a trail along the river. Support from our elected representatives could make the common sense solution mentioned in Jacob Bumgarner’s letter a reality quickly.
Stand up for your constituents and be a Hero. Or say nothing and be a Zero.
Our voices as citizens matter, but the voice of our elected representatives caries the weight of their office. So, citizens, along with me, ask Roger Hanshaw and Governor Justice to be a Hero and Not a Zero and speak for us.
Their contact information is: governor.wv.gov and email@example.com.
And so he doesn’t feel left out include Senator Mark Hunt firstname.lastname@example.org.
If there are other officials that might be sympathetic, please include them.
“Be a Hero or Be a Zero”, applies to all of us!