WELLSBURG - The Brooke County Commission learned Tuesday that a plan developed to promote points of interest along the Historic Wellsburg and Bethany Scenic Byway has received a state award.
Byways are stretches of roadway promoted for tourism by state and national agencies for their natural beauty, historic significance or recreational opportunities, according to officials.
Designated by the West Virginia Department of Transportation, the Historic Wellsburg and Bethany Scenic Byway is a 22-mile loop that extends from state Route 67 in Bethany to state Route 2 and Pleasant Avenue in Wellsburg, state Route 27 and Brooke Hills Park and back to Bethany via state Route 88.
The Charleston consulting firm of Michael Baker Jr. Inc. was hired to develop a corridor management plan outlining conditions and resources along the byway and has received a merit award, given for "superior professional accomplishment," from the West Virginia Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects.
Lou Stein, a member of a committee overseeing the byway's promotion development, said the plan was one of about 12 submitted for the organization's Construction and Design Exposition.
He said it's customary for the entries to be judged by members of other state chapters, and West Virginia's were judged by the Alaska chapter, who said the plan inspired them to pursue such a project in their own state.
On hand to announce the award to the commission were the following committee members: Stein, who also is executive director of Valley Ventures, an organization that promotes small business development; Gary Kappel, Bethany College associate vice president for academic affairs; Ruby Greathouse, curator of the Brooke County Museum; and Norm Schwertfeger, a West Virginia University Extension agent.
Schwertfeger said the committee includes several others whose experience and interests have helped the group to plan improvements and promotional strategies for the byway.
Projects related to the byway include the restoration of the former toll house near Brooke Hills Park and renovations to the Grimes Golden Apple Roadside Park along state Route 67.
Schwertfeger said the Brooke Hills Park Board is expected to seek bids soon for exterior work on the toll house.
Funded by a $160,000 grant from the state Department of Transportation, the work is expected to include removal of the house's front porch and a rear addition.
Schwertfeger said the committee's marketing subcommittee is designing a pamphlet to promote the byway.
Kazienko thanked the committee for its efforts and added the commission needs to address a number of dilapidated buildings along state Route 67.
He said the commission has considered raising fees for its building permits, currently fixed at $3, to employ a building enforcement officer to pursue the condemnation and removal of such structures.
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