Letter to the Editor – Steven Thomas
Although I have officially entered the race as a pre-candidate for West Virginia House of Delegates District Six, I want to start on a positive note by giving credit where credit is due. Representative Dave Kelly, current holder of that seat, did a fantastic job of helping to secure $30,000 in funding for the Sistersville Ferry. That state-granted funding will be used to offset costs of daily operations for the boat-and-barge service.
His relative interest in the ferryboat is commendable, as I feel that many delegates of the past have ignored this vital and unique transportation resource in WV House District Six. The Sistersville Ferry is literally one of the last passenger ferries still afloat in this general region, and its operations date back to 1818. The fact that the service continues to operate is nothing less than astounding. It remains thanks to the support of the community and the efforts of an excellent ferry board and staff.
After losing Tyler County’s historic county home from years of poor oversight, I’m thankful to see that those in local government are finally paying more attention to the Sistersville Ferry. I do understand that some people are frustrated that the state has not provided us a bridge to Ohio. Tyler remains, after all, the only WV county to border the Ohio River and not have a bridge.
However, the failure of the ferryboat would not guarantee a bridge. It would simply assure the permanent end of a historic and economic service that still benefits this community. The Sistersville Ferry is more than a tourist attraction or simple convenience when you need to get to Monroe County, Ohio quickly. It is part of our identity – something we should seek to preserve.
Not saying that I will not push for a bridge. If that’s what the people want, then I will fight for one. But I would never degrade or undermine the persistence of our unique ferryboat service to accomplish that.
To sum up my sentiment, I believe that there is room for both history and progress in this area. In fact, the two should be seen as inseparable. Only by defining the worthwhile aspects of our history can we have the fortitude of community identity to move forward. If we lose too much of our shared culture, we are the at the mercy of the outside world to define how we should behave.
Seeing what we’re seeing across this country, I don’t think we want that to happen. That is why we need to embrace our local identity – which so obviously includes the Sistersville Ferry.
Once again, thank you Representative Kelly.
Steven Thomas, for WV House of Delegates District 6