Committee Pushes To Save Jug Bridge
At its recent meeting, the Tyler County Planning Commission received an update on The Jug Wildlife Management Area. This property was recently a topic of discussion during a meeting among Senator Mark R. Maynard (Chairman of the West Virginia Senate Natural Resources Committee) Emily J. Fleming (West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Deputy Director), and representatives of the Tyler County Development Authority (TCDA). The meeting was organized and attended by District Two Senator Charles Clements, who joined in on the discussions, along with House District Six Delegate Roger Romine.
TCDA member James McMullen and TCDA Executive Director Eric Peters voiced concerns about the condition of the low-water bridge accessing The Jug Wildlife Management Area, stream erosion related to the deterioration of the bridge, and the continuing degradation of the original course of Middle Island Creek at The Jug.
Suggestions on establishing The Jug area as a recognized recreational trail, in the form of The Jug Water Trail, were presented by the TCDA representatives. These include improvements to the access road, the construction of canoe/kayak launch facilities and a more elevated, reconstructed bridge, which would redirect stream flow and help revitalize the original streambed.
“We also hope to work with the DNR and the Department of Highways (DOH) to establish a work plan to make The Jug WMA more accessible – not only for hunting and fishing, but for multiple uses as well – such as hiking and horseback riding and overnight camping,” stated Peters. He continued, “There is a real lack of public use places like this in our part of the state. The Jug is right in the middle of an underserved region of the state. “
The Jug derives its name from a unique geographic/topographic feature in the natural course of West Virginia’s longest creek, Middle Island Creek, and is a rare loop of the stream which takes a sharp southerly bend, travels approximately 5.5 miles, and returns to within less than 100 feet from where the loop began.
A man-made alteration of the stream’s course took place around the year 1900 to accommodate the construction of a spillway for a gristmill, which is no longer present, and has over decades created massive erosion.
“We are grateful that our concerns and ideas were well received. With the growing popularity of kayaking and the unique geographic feature that is The Jug, we feel we have a great initial project in the form of a water trail that can lead to even more smart development at The Jug,” Peters stated. “Plus, providing services and accommodating folks coming to enjoy the area can create new business opportunities as well,” added Peters.
Peters also commented that the news was received well, and committee members are cautiously optimistic. Peters provided preliminary plans for the wing walls, canoe launch, as well as provided pictures showing how bad of shape the bridge is in. He also provided a preliminary budget to the DNR, which he feels is a low cost compared to many of the projects that have been previously undertaken. Mrs. Fleming informed Peters that she would be back in touch with him to discuss what plans they had for the area.
In other news, committee members were updated on the Route 18 South Water Project. The county has received the block grant in the amount of $1,066,000. Previously, secured funds include $600,000 from the USDA and a loan valued at $294,800. This project will provide water to Boreman Elementary School and the Tyler County Fairgrounds, as well as 43 households. The Planning Commission is hoping to bid the project in June. This is a project that has been in the works for several years now and the committee was very pleased to hear that things are moving forward. Executive Director Eric Peters commented, “Thank goodness for Sam George.” George was a big part of getting the project moving forward, and so the committee recognized his diligence towards the progress.
The Building Code Enforcement Regional Initiative is moving along. This is where municipalities are joining together to apply for an ARC Grant which would help setup a regional BAD Building program and code inspection enforcement program. The first year, and possibly more, would be funded through grant monies. There would be several municipalities involved, but this is an opportunity to move forward toward the removal of dilapidated buildings throughout several communities. There is a meeting scheduled for Feb. 21 beginning at 6 p.m. at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council. There will be notices sent to municipalities reminding them of the upcoming meeting.
The next scheduled Tyler County Planning Committee meeting is scheduled for March 15 beginning at 7 p.m., located at the Tyler County Courthouse in Middlebourne.