Family has always been important to the people of West Virginia. It is very fitting to remember, St. Andrews Methodist Church in Grafton was the site of the first Mother’s Day celebration in 1908. Now you have no reason to forget. This coming Sunday is Mother’s Day.
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To help emphasize the possibilities of building on a recreation economy, the following is an introduction developed by Downstream Strategies and will be used to explain what is at stake by including the recreation economy planning for future development: “Located on the banks of the Greenbrier River, Marlinton, West Virgin-ia, has been a popular stop on the Greenbrier River Trail for decades. Today, local leaders and regional partners see mountain biking as key to the future of this scenic river community.
“Marlinton is located within the Snowshoe Highlands Ride Center, the first and only International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) Ride Center in West Virginia. Regional partners within the Snowshoe Highlands Area Recreation Collaborative (SHARC) have chosen Marlinton as the future location for two new bike-optimized trail networks: the Monday Lick Contemporary Trail System and the Halfway Run Trail System.”
Once completed, Marlinton is poised to become a key trail hub within the Ride Center and will see significant increases in non-local visitors (specifically, mountain bikers) coming to use those trails. Recent estimates from economists at West Virginia University (WVU) Extension project that Mar- linton could see over 18,000 mountain bikers annually once the Monday Lick trails are built and the Ride Center achieves gold-level status. That could result in $2.5 million in annual visitor spending and support 34 new jobs in Marlinton. This represents the biggest economic opportunity Marlinton has seen in more than a century. The greater Ride Center could see up to 72,500 riders annually, resulting in $24.2 million in total economic activity and 304 new jobs totaling $7.8 million in wages in Pocahontas County (Eades, 2022).
IMBA’s Ride Center designation recognizes the pinnacle of mountain biking communities, those considered to be the best places in the world for mountain biking. IMBA ranks Ride Centers according to bronze, silver, and gold-level designations. Currently, the Snowshoe Highlands Area Ride Center is ranked as silver.
As a result, the Town of Marlinton, the volunteer community development group Marlinton Listens, and other community partners have banded behind the region’s goals of growing mountain bike tourism and achieving gold-level status for the Snowshoe Highlands Ride Center by 2025.
And as always, while pursuing a tenant for the vacant building at the Edray Industrial Park site.