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Ferry Boat Board Holds Meeting

By Randy Rutherford - Staff Writer | Feb 24, 2021

In an ongoing effort to secure a successful 2021 spring launch of the Sistersville Ferry Boat, the ferry board met via Zoom Thursday, February 11, 2021, in a special meeting. Those attending were members Gary Bowden, Janet Conn, Greg Goodfellow and Mary Ann Rutherford. Also attending was Ferry Boat Captain Bo Hause. The minutes of the January 24, 2021 meeting were reviewed and approved.

Captain Bo Hause gave updates to the board concerning maintenance of the ferry and employment of deckhands. Repairs are needed on a rusted area of the forward floor section of the boat. After the rust removal is complete and before paint is applied, Captain Hause suggested adding cinders to the paint which would give the floor surface better foot traction. Gary Bowden suggested a painting contractor could be secured for the job, instead of Bo doing the work. There are some rust areas on the bow that need mitigated as well. It was agreed by the board Gary will investigate finding a contractor to complete the job.

Captain Bo gave an update on seasonal employees for the ferry to the board. Returning Deckhand Bryan Day is ready to begin working; seasoned Deckhand Spencer Corley’s status is still in question. Spencer is in the process of joining the Coast Guard, but if available he would like to return to work for as long as possible during the summer season. Both young men will need to complete successful drug screenings. Once completed the deckhands will be ready to join Captain Bo for the start of the season.

New requirements for mask wearing for both deckhands and passengers were shared with the board members by Captain Bo. He explained the requirements come from the US Coast Guard in an effort to help control Covid-19. Concerns and questions about the expectation of patrons in cars wearing masks were expressed by several members. Mary Ann Rutherford proposed a possible resolution. She suggested adding a policy where deckhands and any passengers getting out of their vehicles must wear a facemask when walking on deck.

Deckhands will alert passengers of the face mask policy when boarding. Gary proposed the creation of a sign stating the new Coast Guard requirements as well.

The board briefly discussed the need to establish an accounting mechanism to project and aggregate expenses for wages, insurance and fuel. Using funds awarded recently by the Barth Charitable Trust to pay those expenses will enable us to submit the payments for 50% reimbursement from a Federal Highways Administration grant administered by the WV Department of Highways. The board can thereby double the monetary impact of the Barth grant.

The opening of Cruise Season for the ferry will begin Monday, April 12th weather permitting.

The price for cruises remains the same as last year: 3 Hours, $350 and 2 Hours, $250. Please call Captain Bo at 304-482-4954 to reserve your cruise date today. Thursday, May 6th has been set to begin transit service for the public.

On Saturday, May 8th at 2:00 p.m. new owner of the Joshua Russell House, Terry Wiley, has graciously offered to host a reception at this historical building as a kickoff to the 2021 ferry season. Plans are currently underway for live music, an art display and light refreshments will be provided. The public is cordially invited to attend. Sistersville City Council members, along with county, regional and state dignitaries, including Governor Justice, will be invited. The ferry board encourages everyone to save the date and plan on stopping by the reception for a tour of the Joshua Russell House and a ride on the ferry. Any questions about the event can be answered by calling the Sistersville Emporium at 304-652-1707.

Also new this year, the board approved offering holiday weekend Monday service, including May 31st Memorial Day, the 4th of July, and September 6th Labor Day. Traditionally the ferry is closed on Monday, but in an effort to better serve our communities the ferry will be open.

The next ferry board meeting will be via Zoom on Thursday, March 4th at 6:00 p.m