By: Ralph B. DavisHeartland News Service
August 22, 2012
MATEWAN — The Matewan Town Council discussed, with representatives, becoming part of a long-distance hiking trail before ultimately signing on at Tuesday’s meeting.
The meeting began with a presentation from Joanna Swanson, a representative of the Great Eastern Trail, a roughly 2000-mile trail extending from Alabama to New York that is still under development.
Swanson told the council that the Trail had been “trying to make anchor points and then connect the dots,” when it comes to incorporating new areas into the trail, like towns in Southern West Virginia.
She also said that Pineville, Mullins and Hinton had already signed on. Matewan was the first municipality in Mingo County that the Great Eastern Trail had approached.
An agreement was brought in, which would allow the creation of a route through the town to be a part of the Trail. Trailmarkers would also be placed to denote the trail’s location. Swanson said that the trail would run through Mingo County to R.D. Bailey Lake to Pineville to Mullins to the Pipestem/Hinton area if all goes to plan. However, the county is still very much in the planning stages of the Trail.
The Great Eastern Trail, Swanson said, had yet to be traveled completely, but that it would be open to hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking based on local rules, such as some parks not allowing horses, for example. Seventy percent of the trail has been completed, she said.
“Down the road, this will rival the Appalachian Trail,” Swanson said.
Also presenting with Swanson was president of the TuGuNu Hiking Club, Tim McGraw. TuGuNu is a mix of state three rivers: Tug, Guyandotte and New Rivers. McGraw said that he was fully aware of the misspelling when Councilman David Smith brought it up.
After a very brief deliberation, the Matwan Town Council passed a motion to accept the land use agreement, thus bringing the Great Eastern Trail to the town. Matewan was the first town in Mingo County to sign on.
The agreement had four conditions:
• The Grantor (Town of Matewan) hereby gives and grants to Grantee (The TuGuNu Hiking Club) permission to use a mutually agreed upon route through Matewan as part of the Great Eastern Trail;
• Grants permission to put trail markings along the trail route in a manner mutually agreed upon;
• The agreement will remain in effect until three months after the time that either party notifies the other in writing that either the Grantor or Grantee wishes to move the trail;
• The grant of easement is in perpetuity.
Swanson said that Matewan “had it all” when it comes to what hikers and tourists were coming from and look for, and that the trail would be a large boon to the town.
Matewan Mayor Sheila Kessler told the Daily News that she and the council were excited that Matewan was chosen to be a site on the trail and that she was pleased to be the first town in Mingo County to sign on.