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HUNTINGTON – Board members with the Huntington Municipal Development Authority were buzzing about plans for a butterfly sanctuary at Kinetic Park during their meeting Monday.

Tom Bell, executive director of the HMDA and a master gardener, said the plan is to morph 25 acres of land located on the lower part of Kinetic Park along Fourpole Creek, which would otherwise go unused, into a place where people and pollinators can enjoy life’s natural beauty.

In addition to the sanctuary, Bell said the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health will also be interwoven throughout the property.

The development of the sanctuary will occur in three phases. The first phase will include the transformation of five acres of land by planting milkweed, a popular food source for monarch butterflies, and other native flowers and plants that provide pollen and nectar for all types of pollinators. While the sanctuary will serve as a home to all types of pollinators like bees, flies and wasps, Bell said the emphasis will be on butterflies, especially the monarch, which has experienced a great decrease in population due to a loss of habitat.

With the help of several local and state partners, Bell said he has already secured plants to use on one acre of the property which volunteers will help plant Saturday, Oct. 29. Volunteers are also working to remove some of the invasive and noxious weeds that have swarmed the area.

The second phase of development will be for another five acres and an outdoor classroom to encourage more students to visit the area and learn more about urban ecology.

The final phase will involve the development of the remaining 15 acres and will include more invasive plant removal and the planting of additional pollinator-friendly plants.

HMDA board member Dr. Cal Kent said as someone who likes to travel and run, he was pleased to see PATH expanding.

Bell said the PATH trail will not only weave through Kinetic Park but the idea is to have it expand west toward the Huntington Museum of Art as well as east toward Huntington High School.

The development of PATH will occur simultaneously with the development of the 25 acres, Bell said.

He added that securing funding for the development will come from Huntington in Bloom and grants.

In addition to these exciting new plans, Bell said they will soon be celebrating the 10 year anniversary of Kinetic Park. Donors, board members and other contributors will be invited to an event at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 25, at the Fairfield Inn & Suites in Kinetic Park.

“We don’t talk about our successes enough,” Bell said.

In other business, Bell said HMDA would again be helping with this year’s “12 Days of Christmas” holiday campaign by Downtown Huntington Partners.

Amy Ward, a board member with Downtown Huntington Partners, said the event is designed to promote businesses in the downtown Huntington and encourage residents to shop local.

“A lot of people think of the mall to go shopping but we have a lot of local businesses selling unique items and we want to promote that,” Ward said. “We try to get the downtown to come together as a group because if you don’t have a healthy downtown you don’t have a healthy city.”

The event will begin, Thursday, Dec. 1 and run through Monday, Dec. 12.

Living a healthier lifestyle is ultimately a personal decision.

But community efforts to encourage well-being – from investing in walking trails to promoting healthy foods – do make a difference, researchers with the Healthway organization concluded after studying 48 American communities this year.

Boston and San Francisco were the highest rated for their overall investment in active living “infrastructure,” such as sidewalks, parks and trails. But there were a number of smaller communities seeing measurable results with their projects.

The city of Albert Lea, Minnesota, established more than 10 miles of bike lanes and new sidewalks, and enhanced streets to support walking and biking. The city also started programs to reduce tobacco use and encourage groceries, restaurants and schools to offer healthier food options. The community of 18,000 saw its overall well-being score rising sharply.

Eugene, Oregon, has reduced its obesity rate since 2008, due in part to the area’s development of one the most well-planned and well-used cycling networks in the country. Eugene now has almost 9 percent of workers commuting by bicycle.

Chattanooga, Tennessee, also has cut its obesity rate with its Grow Healthy Together Chattanooga partnership, which has promoted healthy food options, expanded exercise opportunities, and increased infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists.

“Policies that nudge people into healthy activities – where it is easy to walk to the store, bike to a friend’s house, get access to fresh produce and be surrounded by healthy-minded, supportive friends — are ones that make the healthy choice the easy choice,” said Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Fellow who worked on the project.

That is good news for the Tri-State, because many of our communities have been making those investments and promoting similar programs. The growth of the Paul Ambrose Trail in Huntington, the innovative healthy school breakfast and lunch program in Cabell County Schools and the growing number of encouraging community events are just a few examples.

The 5K walks and runs that were once a rarity in our area are now a weekly occurrence. Last weekend, 1,200 people took part in the Color for a Cause event sponsored by Cabell Huntington Hospital and St. Mary’s Medical Center. Meanwhile, our health systems and other community organizations are promoting dozens of other programs, from cooking lessons to workouts.

West Virginia and Kentucky continue have among the highest obesity rates in the nation at more than 35 percent, but on some studies the increases have flattened out. With the continued efforts in our communities, that is hopefully the first sign that better health is just up the road.

HUNTINGTON – For Sheri Nelson and the 15 other women that made up the Pirates of the Cure-I-Bbean team, the Colors for a Cure race was personal.

“Almost everyone in our group is either a cancer survivor, has someone in their family that is a cancer survivor or knows someone that has passed away due to cancer,” Nelson said.

The same could be said for the more than 1,200 walkers and runners that showed up for the first Colors for a Cure race Sunday at Pullman Square.

For the past several years, there have been two separate events devoted to raising money to cancer research.

St. Mary’s Medical Center sponsored PATH to the Cure, which focused specifically on breast cancer awareness. Cabell Huntington Hospital also offered a celebration called Colors of Cancer. That walk/run focused on all survivors of cancer. This year, in an effort to create an event to include the entire community, Cabell Huntington and St. Mary’s combined Colors of Cancer and PATH to the Cure to come up with the name Colors for a Cure.

“Our events have always been a week apart, and we felt like we were all in it to help people, so why not work together instead of competing,” David Sheils, president of the St. Mary’s Medical Center Foundation, said. “This shows a lot of people in the community and our employees that we can work together.”

Sheils’ counterpart Bradley Burck, vice president of the Cabell Huntington Hospital Foundation said he could not agree more.

Burck said by teaming up they were able to cut costs, meaning more money could be donated to cancer research.

“We’re here to help people,” Burck said. “That’s what brings us together in the end.”

Kathy Cumptan said she could not be happier about the merge.

“It’s all about awareness and reaching as many people as possible,” she said.

When talking about why she chose to take part in the event, Cumptan pointed to a small heart-shaped pendant that held a picture of a smiling woman.

“That right there is my mother,” she said pointing to the picture.

Cumptan said her mother had passed away due to breast cancer and the event was a great way to honor her memory.

“If she could see us now, she would be so happy and proud,” she said.

While some like Cumptan honored loved ones they had lost, others celebrated the lives of cancer survivors.

Sherry Scarberry said her son was diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was 8 years old.

Ten years later, her son Blake had the opportunity to pull the starting gun at the race.

“I would say that definitely calls for a celebration,” she said.

Scarberry was joined by about 30 other family and friends showing their support for Blake by calling themselves Blake’s Battalion.

Sheils said the event would not be possible without the support of the community and the event sponsors.

He estimated that they likely raised $50,000 to $60,000 from registration fees and donations.

He added that 20 percent of the funds raised will be given to the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health, or PATH.

HUNTINGTON – As first responders, veterans, city officials and community members bowed their heads in a moment of silence, the World Trade Center Steel Artifact Memorial was unveiled to the public for the first time Sunday at Spring Hill Cemetery as part of the Patriot Day ceremonies.

The monument consists of two steel rails, roughly 20 feet long, that were pulled from the World Trade Center rubble. Kevin Brady, executive director of the Greater Huntington Park & Recreation District, said the sculpture will be the first part of a memorial at the cemetery honoring those who lost their lives 15 years ago Sunday.

The two pieces of steel used in the sculpture were transported to Huntington via a Patriotic Guard convoy in May.

Many local people and organizations contributed to the artifacts’ arrival in Huntington, but none more instrumental than Tom Bowen, Brady said.

Bowen, of Huntington, volunteered with FEMA’s Urban Search and Rescue and the NYC Office of Emergency Management at Ground Zero in the months following the attack.

“So many people worked hard so that we would have a permanent memorial right here in Huntington, West Virginia, so that we would never forget, and we have the stories to share with our children and their children,” Bowen said.

Bowen shared one such story that took place in the weeks following Sept. 11 as crews searched through the rubble in New York City.

Bowen said he was working with one rescue team at the north tower when they came across a man with a wallet, identifying him as Matthew Picerno and including a picture of his wife and three kids.

“Our team was shaken by this,” he said. “In that moment, we realized that this man was just like one of us – on his way to work to provide for his family, and he just so happened to be caught in the crosshairs of a terrible terrorist attack and killed.”

About nine months later, Bowen and his family met the wife and children of Matthew Picerno, forming a unshakable bond. In the years that followed, the Picerno family would find a way to show their gratitude to Bowen by providing a vacation to Disney World after finding out that one of Bowen’s sons was facing terminal brain cancer.

“What I learned from that is that even in tragedy, there is always an opportunity for greatness,” Bowen said.

New Jersey resident Anthony Picerno, son of Matthew Picerno, attended Sunday’s Patriot Day ceremony.

“When I attend events like these, it’s a really great reminder that it is not just my tragedy,” Anthony Picerno said. “I am reminded that it didn’t just happen to me – I am part of something that happened to all of us.”

Picerno said the bond he now shares with the man that brought his father home is one that words alone can’t do justice.

“With me and Tom, it’s like our minds know where the other one is going to be,” Picerno said. “In the simplest of terms, we get each other.”

Sharing in the day of remembrance after losing their son 15 years ago were Ken and Sharon Ambrose. Dr. Paul Ambrose died at age 32 aboard Flight 77 when it struck the Pentagon during the attacks.

 

Ken Ambrose said his son would have been 47 years old.

“It’s hard to imagine him as a middle-aged man with all of his energy and all of his spunk that he had,” Ken Ambrose said.

He said his son also had a great love for Huntington, Marshall and everyone in the community. To honor the legacy of Paul Ambrose and his dedication to family health and preventative medicine to fight obesity, the city created the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health, or PATH, which now runs through Spring Hill Cemetery, past the Healing Field and now past the 9/11 monument.

“What Huntington and the park commission are doing, having a living memorial as far as the PATH and Healing Field, you will not realize how much that means to us to see that you have not forgotten and will continue to honor all those who fell that day and afterwards,” Ambrose said.

The ceremony also honored the hundreds of emergency workers who sacrificed their lives while attempting to save others.

“The collateral damage is immeasurable, yet we do and will continue to stand strong and proud against any and all enemies that we are met with,” said Jan Rader, deputy Huntington fire chief. “At all costs, we protect life and property, we serve our communities and country proudly, we help those who are suffering and in need we are first responders.”

For the paramedics, firefighters, police officers and other first responders sprinkled throughout the crowd at Spring Hill Cemetery, many could relate to the act of running into a disaster instead of away.

“How many of you would go into a burning building or run toward shots being fired instead of the other way?” asked Fred Buchanan, post adjutant at American Legion Huntington Post 16 and a former officer with the Cabell County Sheriff’s Department. “I dare say the vast majority would seek cover, but not our first responders. They go into danger eyes wide open knowing what the risks and dangers are, and they are more than willing to lay down their life for you.”

The ceremony also served as a day to remember the 75 victims of the 1970 Marshall plane crash. Students from Marshall University, who were in elementary school when the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks happened, carried 75 flags and placed them in the Healing Field, adding to the thousands of flags already in place.

HUNTINGTON – As the 15th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, approaches, several opportunities to memorialize the deadliest terrorist attack against the United States will take place in the Huntington area throughout the weekend.

The Healing Field at Spring Hill Cemetery, returning with an estimated 3,000 American flags, jointly honoring victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, the 1970 Marshall University plane crash and deceased veterans, will host the three days of services Saturday through Monday.

The fourth annual Memorial Bell Tower 5K Run/Walk will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday near the Memorial Bell Tower by the cemetery’s main entrance off Norway Avenue. The course will incorporate portions of the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health, named for Huntington native Dr. Paul Ambrose, who died at age 32 aboard Flight 77 when it struck the Pentagon during the attacks.

Registration is $30 and $10 for students. Online registration can be made at www.aptiming.com.

On Sept. 11, Marshall students will begin the afternoon’s ceremonies with the Marshall March of Remembrance at 1:30 p.m. beginning at the Marshall Recreation Center. Students will carry 75 flags in honor of the victims of the 1970 plane crash from campus, down 20th Street and to the cemetery.

Patriot Day ceremonies at the Healing Field will begin following the march at 2 p.m., including representation from local veterans and first responders, Mayor Steve Williams and keynote speaker Tom Bowen. The World Trade Center Artifact Memorial, built with steel salvaged from the World Trade Center and secured by Bowen, will be unveiled during the ceremony.

First Presbyterian Church at 1015 5th Ave., Huntington, will host a service as a special 9/11 tribute at 10:45 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 11. The service will feature the orchestra of First Presbyterian Church performing patriotic and religious songs conducted by Dale Capehart.

Charlie’s Harley-Davidson in Huntington will sponsor its 9/11 Freedom Ride beginning at noon Sunday from its showroom at 408 4th Ave. Riders are asked to arrive between 10 and 11 a.m. to register, and to be prepared for “120 miles of freedom.”

The Healing Fields’ 3,000 flags will remain up Monday as a “day of reflection” open to visitors before being taken down on Tuesday.

Happy September! The summer of 2016 is winding down. Fall will officially debut soon. Closet changeovers – among a number of home chores – are on the “to-do” list, students are back and busy, fall festivals and events are waiting in the wings, and college and high school football games have cranked up. So while we look forward to changing colors while we resist the thought of the shorter length of daylight, two activities that can keep us out and about are looking for your participation.

Join us this Thursday, Sept. 8, as we get back to our weekly Chat ‘n’ Chew meet-ups. Breanna Shell, planner for the City of Huntington, will take the lead on a community conversation surrounding bike and pedestrian improvements.

Yes, we have the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health (PATH) and designated bike lanes, but that is not the end of the story. There is always room for additional suggestions for improvements.

When visitors come to town, one consistent comment is their enjoyment of Huntington because it is very walkable and easy to get around. For those who like to use their “pins” (Google it or ask a grandparent) to get around, there will be plenty to talk about.

Discussions will include a “Walk Huntington” campaign, kickstarted by a pilot project between Marshall University and Downtown Huntington, led by a Cabell Huntington Heath Department partnership working on increasing physical activity. The partnership includes Marshall University Recreation Center, the Greater Huntington Parks and Recreation, and the YMCA Kids in Motion program. Walking is one component of a strong community and helps to further define a sense of place. What are your ideas to increase walking?

In addition, your input will be sought to help sharpen the reapplication in 2017 for a League of American Bicyclists Bike Friendly Community Designation, building off the Honorable Mention received in 2015. Community involvement is also needed to structure and create a bike/pedestrian advocacy-advisory group. Having enough time is always a challenge, so the what, who, how and level of possibly creating the organization will benefit from your presence. In addition, you will hear updates on the recently completed PATH Master plan, larger installations of artist inspired bike racks, identifying sources for community bike education and recommendations for adopting a street policy/procedure that incorporates access for bicyclists and pedestrians. You also are invited to share and discuss ideas to expand activities and events for Bike to Work month in May 2017.

Come out and help create more momentum for Huntington. Join us and be part of the conversation. As always, everyone is invited. Bring a friend. Bring your neighbor. Join in a lively discussion at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 8, in the lobby of the Frederick Building, 940 4th Ave., Huntington. See you there.

Jacqueline Proctor is a member of the Board of Connectors of Create Huntington and a Huntington resident.

Spring is in its full glory, and it is prime time for dusting off the bicycle, pumping up the tires and getting out to ride like the wind.

Here’s a look at some upcoming rides in the region.

Loops For Hoops

If you’re looking to up your road-riding game, Loops for Hoops Bike Tour, set for Saturday, May 7, is a great way to do so and help out the Hoops Family Children’s Hospital at Cabell Huntington Hospital.

Although online registration is now over, you can register on site at Pullman Square from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, May 5, for one of the rides which are 39-, 63- and 106-mile tours of the region leaving from downtown Huntington.

Friday’s registration is $60 and $25 for kids (8 to 15). There will be a complimentary pasta dinner Friday and yoga as well.

There will also be packet pickup and registration (if not sold out) from 7 to 7:30 a.m. Saturday at Huntington’s Kitchen, 911 3rd Ave, Huntington.

Saturday morning there will be a blessing of the bikes and a route review before the tours begin at 8 a.m. with a police escort from Pullman to the 6th Street Bridge, where the bicyclists will travel over to access some of the rolling hilly roads of rural Lawrence County.

Riders under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal adult guardian during the event, and said parent or legal guardian must be a participant in the event. Those under the age of 16 may only participate as a tandem rider with an adult.

All routes can be found on RideWithGPS.com. Last year, the event, which was started by Tammie Silva, raised more than $15,000 for the Hoops Family Children’s Hospital at Cabell Huntington Hospital.

For her efforts, Silva was named the 2015 Lowell Cade Sportsperson of the Year.

Critical Mass

Huntington is in full spring bloom, and you can catch the beautiful sight of dozens of dogwoods, daffodils and green yards during the free monthly bicycle parade known as Critical Mass. The public ride leaves Ritter Park at 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 20.

Come out and join bicyclists of all stripes – and even longboard skateboarders who slow roll the city – on this family friendly, six-mile ride to the west end of Ritter Park, through Old Central City and then through downtown back to the park on 10th Street.

And mark your calendars for Friday, May 27, for the Kenova Critical Mass ride. Meet at 6:30 p.m. at the Kenova Town Square gazebo by Save-A-Lot grocery store and take an easy-paced, six-mile ride around the city. Everybody is welcome no matter what age, and skateboards and roller skates are also welcome.

Tour de PATH

If you’ve ever been curious as to where all the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health goes throughout the city, you can find out with the guided family friendly bicycle tours called Tour de PATH.

This year’s Tour de PATH will be a part of the second annual Huntington Sustainability Fair set for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 21, at Huntington’s historic business district, Old Central City. This year’s fair will be held at The Wild Ramp, located at 555 14th St. West and across the street at the Charles Holley Gazebo.

Free and open to the public, the event will feature many participating organizations and groups offering workshops, hands-on demonstrations and exhibits on sustainable issues. There will also be live music, artisans and family friendly activities, said organizer Denise Poole.

Tour de PATH will again offer its annual bike ride along the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health. This year, riders should meet at 10 a.m. at the Sustainability Fair in Central City. The Marshall University Cycling Club will lead three route options: 4 miles, 10 miles and 26 miles. There is no fee, and community cyclists of all ages are invited to participate. Children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

To participate as a vendor to to volunteer visit online at www.HuntingtonSustainabilityFair.com.

Huntington Commuter Bike project

Huntington bicycle commuter Bre Shell has posted that a revision of the Huntington Commuter Bike Map 2.0 – a collaboration with Marshall University VAC Design students – will be available for viewing at this year’s Tour de PATH.

There’s good news and bad news about the new design, according to Shell. The new and improved version of the bike map (whose first version was ski map sized), is now 11 x 25.5 so the street routes are easier to read. The downside of this print size is that it costs a bit more to print.

Shell said they are trying to figure out ways to help pay for the better maps and will be collecting donations at Tour de PATH to help pay for those. They also may be selling some freshly designed Bike Huntington stickers as well.

You can find out more about the Huntington Commuter Bicycle Map Project at https://www.facebook.com/groups/463785893697768/.

Kentucky Trail Town meeting and ride

Over in Olive Hill, Kentucky, there will be a Beans and Burgoo Northeast Kentucky Trail Users Summit set for 6 p.m. Monday, May 16, for the Depot Trailhead on Railroad Street.

Hosted by the Olive Hill Trail Town Task Force, the dinner meeting will be moderated by Task Force member and State Senator Robin Webb.

The dinner meeting is for trail users and interested persons whether you go on a horse, bicycle, canoe/kayak, wagon or on foot.

The hospitality supper menu is soup beans and Kentucky burgoo, both simmered over an open fire all day long plus cornbread, dessert and soft drinks.

Go online at https://www.facebook.com/OliveHillTrailTown/ or call 859-583-1495.

HUNTINGTON – Cyclists, runners and walkers had a chance to share their ideas on the future of the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health, or PATH, during a public workshop Thursday night at the Marshall University Memorial Student Center.

Many in attendance said the development of PATH thus far has been outstanding, but they would like to see all of PATH’s trails connected.

PATH consists of more than 15 miles of trails, bike lanes and bike sharrows. It provides safe alternative transportation routes throughout Huntington and surrounding areas and serves as an avenue for people to get and stay active.

Zeke Smith, president of Huntington Road Runners, said his group consists of avid PATH users who run through the trail at Spring Hill Cemetery, Washington Boulevard and Ritter Park. The trails are fairly close together but not connected. He said once the PATH trail ends they are forced to make their own routes.

“It seems as if the growth of PATH has been kind of stagnant for the past few years so we would love to see more done with it,” Smith said.

“The really frustrating part is that while these trails, for instance Guyandotte, are so beautiful there is no real maintenance being done, which stinks because I know a lot of money was invested in them.”

These desires and concerns are nothing new to Amanda Payne, trails program area manager for the Rahall Transportation Institute. She said addressing maintenance responsibilities is a top priority that will be laid out in an updated master plan for PATH.

To complete this master plan, RTI has partnered with the city of Huntington to help determine in what direction PATH will go next. Payne expects to have PATH’s master plan complete by the end of June.

They have also partnered with the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, West Virginia Division of Highways and other entities the trail would run through to form an advisory board focused on creating a clear and concise vision for the future of the trail system.

During the public workshop, 10 large maps were set up on tables throughout the room displaying the 10 neighborhoods of Huntington. Community members where then asked to mark the routes on which they bike, run or walk on a regular basis.

Payne said the feedback will help them determine which additions to PATH would be most beneficial to its users. Some of the expansion and maintenance costs will be funded by a recently awarded Transportation Alternative Programs grant of $500,000.

PATH was named after Dr. Paul Ambrose, a young physician who was killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The Huntington native worked on family health and preventative medicine to fight obesity, and PATH is a way for his efforts to continue to impact the health of Huntington.

His parents, Ken and Sharon Ambrose, have supported PATH since it inception and were in attendance Thursday night at the workshop.

“We are excited to see where things go from here,” Sharon Ambrose said. “It’s so nice to have this active memorial for our son that has been so well received and used by the community.”

HUNTINGTON – When the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health, or PATH, was first envisioned in 2006, the idea was to connect Huntington’s parks and provide a recreational trail for the community to safely enjoy.

Now, 10 years later, much of that vision has been accomplished, and local officials are looking to establish the next direction for PATH.

PATH consists of more than 15 miles of trails, bike lanes and bike sharrows that provide safe alternative transportation routes throughout Huntington and surrounding areas.

It was named after Dr. Paul Ambrose, a young physician who was killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The Huntington native worked on family health and preventative medicine to fight obesity.

PATH is a way for his efforts to continue to impact the health of Huntington by providing people with safe avenues to get and stay active. And many have taken advantage of using the trails.

Local people also have got behind the project by participating in a variety of projects that help finance maintenance and improvements to the trail.

Three major events that help raise money for PATH are Fit Fest, PATH to the Cure and Tour de PATH. Each event promotes healthy lifestyles through multiple run/walk races as well as bike rides.

The 7th annual Fit Fest took place Sept. 13 and raised more than $50,000.

The first leg of PATH was built in 2009 at St. Cloud Commons Park, and from there, the project blossomed.

“Since then, (PATH) has exploded, and we wanted to do more than just connect parks,” said Amanda Payne, trails program area manager for the Rahall Transportation Institute. “We want to connect the entire community. We want to have an area all throughout Huntington where people can safely get from point A to point B.”

With this in mind, developers of PATH – RTI, the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District and the city of Huntington – are asking the question, “What is next for PATH?” They hope to answer that by gathering public opinion and updating a master plan for the trail system.

Improving safety
In the past year, PATH expanded to add more bike sharrows, or shared lane bicycle markings, including one on 10th Street that connects the Ritter Park trail with the Harris Riverfront Park trail.

Along this section of roadways, multiple signs were placed in order to inform motorists that the state requires them to give bicyclists at least three feet of room.

The new law also eliminates a former provision that required cyclists to use an adjacent path instead of the road if available.

“PATH has really done a great job at making bike lane and trails more visible and giving an opportunity to have people safely bike, run or walk through town,” Payne said. “I grew up in Huntington, and I don’t think people really had that type of security and safety before now.”

As far as other expansions, Payne said a focus has been placed more on fundraising and collecting various ideas on where the people of Huntington would like to see PATH go next.

In order to give community residents a chance to have their voice heard, RTI will host a public workshop from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 10, in the Marshall University Memorial Student Center.

“This is Huntington’s trail, so the citizens of Huntington should have a say in what we do next,” Payne said.

According to Payne, one of the main reasons for the meeting is to help RTI and the city determine how a recently awarded Transportation Alternative Programs grant for $500,000 should be spent.

A new master plan
To develop even more ideas, RTI also has entered into an agreement with the City of Huntington to create a new master plan for PATH.

Payne said the initial master plan and feasibility study was done more than five years ago and has now become extremely outdated.

The new plan will not only help determine what’s next for the direction of PATH, but it will also lay out responsibilities and feasibility for future trails.

As it stands now, Breanna Shell, a planner for the city’s Department of Development and Planning, said because PATH runs through numerous entities, operations and maintenance for the trail has been taken on by several organizations.

“In the beginning, there really isn’t much maintenance to be done, but now that PATH is expanding, we really need to articulate whose responsibility it is to carry out and fund repairs,” Shell said.

“We are also trying to determine feasibility as far as how would our next priority or step be feasible financially and construction-wise. We just want to lay all that out so we can make an informed decision moving forward.”

In order to create a clear and concise vision for the future of PATH, the developers created an advisory board, which includes representatives from the city of Huntington, GHPRD, RTI, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, West Virginia Division of Highways and other entities the trail would run through.

One question the advisory board is attempting to answer is “What is the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health?”

“That was something that wasn’t really discussed in the beginning, but we’re actually really trying to dig down and figure out what is PATH,” Payne said.

As the advisory board plots the next course for PATH, Payne said it has decided to eliminate the original projected completion date of 2024.

“There has been a lot more momentum than what anybody could have envisioned or realized,” Payne said. “When you look at bike path systems across the country, even very sophisticated bike path systems, they are still working on expanding, so I don’t think it’s something you can ever put an end date on.”

Although what’s next for PATH has yet to be decided, Payne said the organizers will do what they have always done and follow the will of the people.

“It is not the most innovative process, but doing so has led to the majority of our success,” she said.

On the web
To find out more about PATH and ways to get involved, Amanda Payne, trails program area manager for Rahall Transportation Institute, said she encourages people to check out the newly revamped website at paulambrosetrail.org.

The new site offers interactive maps so viewers can easily find sections of PATH that have already been built throughout Huntington.

It allows people to better plan a walk, run or bike ride and connects them with ways to volunteer or donate to PATH.

HUNTINGTON – We may be just into March but already local activists and environmentalists are springing ahead in planning for the second annual Huntington Sustainability Fair.

The second annual fair is set for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 21 at Huntington’s historic business district, Old Central City.

This year’s fair will be held at The Wild Ramp, located at 555 14th St. West and across the street at the Charles Holley Gazebo.

Free and open to the public, the event will feature many participating organizations and groups offering workshops, hands-on demonstrations, and exhibits on sustainable issues. There will also be live music, artisans, and family friendly activities said organizer, Denise Poole.

Tour DePATH will again offer their annual bike ride along the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health. This year, they are meeting at 10 a.m. at the Sustainability Fair in Central City. The Marshall University Cycling Club will lead three route options: 4 miles, 10 miles, and 26 miles. There is no fee, and community cyclists of all ages are invited to participate. Children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

“We are very excited to have partnered with Tour DePATH again this year,” said one of the organizers, Eve Marcum-Atkinson, who works with the Marshall University Sustainability Department. “The Wild Ramp and the Old Central City Association have welcomed our event into the west end. We look to have the fair at new locations each year, to help showcase all the many sustainable efforts occurring in our region.”

The Huntington Sustainability Fair project is a cooperative effort by Sustainable Living for WV, the Marshall University Sustainability Department, the Wild Ramp, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, the Old Central City Association, Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District, Tour DePATH and many more.

The organizers are still looking for area crafts persons, artisans, farmers/growers, organizations, businesses and more who would like to participate in the event. A nominal fee of $20 is charged to set-up a booth. These funds will help fund this and next year’s event.

The event is also looking for volunteers who can help leading up to the fair and on the day of the event.

To participate as a vendor to to volunteer visit online at www.HuntingtonSustainabilityFair.com.

To make a tax deductible donation, please mail your check or money order to Sustainable Living for West Virginia, P.O. Box 2206, Huntington WV 25722. You can also contribute online at www.HuntingtonSustainabilityFair.com and check out their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/HuntingtonSustainabilityFair.

HUNTINGTON – The Rahall Transportation Institute is hosting a public workshop for the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health, or PATH, from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, March 10, at Marshall University in Room BE5 of the Memorial Student Center.

PATH is a bicycle and pedestrian trail system providing free, healthy recreational and alternative transportation opportunities for the city of Huntington and surrounding areas. The purpose of the free workshop is to present PATH’s bike and pedestrian master plan for the greater Huntington area as well as for residents to share ideas with PATH’s organizers.

The workshop will begin with a brief presentation of PATH and opening remarks by Huntington Mayor Steve Williams and West Virginia Sen. Bob Plymale, D-Wayne. Several interactive stations will be set up where attendees will learn about existing bike and pedestrian facilities, assist in planning future routes as well as identify where new or improved walking and cycling facilities are needed in order to enhance walking and cycling in the Huntington area.

“We are seeking the community’s input to help shape the future direction of PATH,” said Bethany Williams, trails research associate at the Rahall Transportation Institute. “It is important to know what the community wants and will use, and what areas could be improved with a viable trail system. We hope to get a lot of community input and support.”

Anyone interested in learning about PATH, getting involved with PATH and sharing ideas for development is encouraged to attend.

For questions about the workshop, email Williams at williamsb@njrati.org or call 304-528-7239. For more information about PATH, visit paulambrosetrail.org or PATH’s Facebook page.

HUNTINGTON – The Paul Ambrose Trail for Health (PATH) Monday unveiled its new interactive website, making it easier for users to get the most out of the trails.

One of the standout features of the website is an interactive map developed by the Rahall Transportation Institute. Users are able to explore the various PATH sections and refine their search by trail length, difficulty, trail type and available amenities such as playgrounds, exercise equipment, park shelters and restrooms. The map highlights all current PATH sections including trails located in Altizer Park, Guyandotte, Harris Riverfront, Harveytown, Ritter Park, Spring Hill Cemetery, St. Cloud Commons, Washington Blvd and more.

The website features the history behind PATH’s development in the form of a timeline that shows the progression of PATH. Users can learn about PATH events, ways to volunteer/donate, read news articles, view photo galleries and find links to PATH’s social media accounts.

PATH is a growing bicycle and pedestrian trail system providing free, healthy recreational and alternative transportation opportunities for Huntington and surrounding areas.

The new website was developed by the marketing team at the Rahall Transportation Institute. The PATH is one of RTI’s local transportation and economic development projects.

The new website can be viewed at paulambrosetrail.org and can be accessed on desktop and mobile platforms.

HUNTINGTON – Hundreds of Tri-State residents turned out to run, bike, walk and race Sunday afternoon as part of the sixth annual FitFest at Ritter Park.

The community wellness event and fundraiser raises money for the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health, a growing bicycle and pedestrian and jogging trail system in different sections of Huntington.

The path provides free, healthy recreation opportunities for the city of Huntington.

FitFest “seems to be growing,” said Kenneth Ambrose, father of Paul Ambrose who was among the victims of 9/11. “The path is being used by so many people. It’s great to see the utilization of it. Exercise and fitness is just what Paul was about.”

His wife, Sharon Ambrose, said she was pleased with the crowd and the children’s activities included in FitFest. “Every year there are more children,” she said.

They included a 25-, 50- and 100-yard dash along with a mile and a mile and a half fun run races, according to Emily Hagan, marketing specialist for the Rahall Transportation Institute which is overseeing the trail system. For adults, there was a 5K, a 10K and a

20-mile bicycle race.

“We have something for everyone in the family,” Hagan said. “We want to keep the kids active.”

So does Jamie LaFear of Huntington. She brought her three children, Reagan, 6, Nathan, 8 and Quentin, 10. “We came out to support the event,” LaFear said. “I think it’s a good event for Huntington.”

“I support the health initiative,” said Sarita Gumm of Myra, West Virginia. “I love running. I do a lot of trail running. This is a great event, and I support what they’re doing.”

Ray Frye of Huntington was among those planning to run in the 5K along with a stroller and his twin 4-year-old daughters, Sara and Anna.

“My daughters love it,” Frye said of the stroller. “They say, ‘Go faster, Daddy!’ ”

Before his race, he had his daughters participated in the 25-yard dash. Sarah finished first, and Anna came in third, according to their proud dad.

“We have them in soccer,” Frye said. “We try to get them to be active. They’re big swimmers. We can’t always control the calories they take in, but we can help them burn them off.”

Greg Sergent of Culloden was planning to walk in the 5K fun run with his daughter, Michelle.

“Mom is the runner; we’re the walkers,” Michelle Sergent said.

While Michelle has participated in other fun runs, it was the first for her dad. “We’re doing this for our health,” he said.

Becky Waugh of Huntington was among the more serious runners in the race. “I’ve been in about two dozen since April,” she said. Her husband, Eric, pushed their son, Ezra, 2, in a stroller in the race.

“(Ezra) knows weekends are race days,” she said. “We do this to stay healthy and fit.”

Valerie Sellards of Huntington was participating in her first 10K Sunday. “It’s been something I’ve always wanted to do,” she said. “I’ve been training.” She’s been pushing 4-year-old daughter, Lillian, and her 2-year-old son, Robert, in a double stroller. “I was on the treadmill the other day doing sprints, and they were running beside me. They both do yoga with me.

“I just want them to be active,” she said.

Haley Smith, 12, and her friend, Carmen Carroll, 12, both participate in cross country at Barboursville Middle School and were planning to run in the 5K.

“I liked running, and I wanted to try cross country,” Smith said. Her parents, David and Cindy Smith of Salt Rock, can’t keep up with their daughter, so they ride their bicycles for exercise.

Haley Smith didn’t have a time in mind she was shooting for in the race. “I’m just going to try my best,” she said.

HUNTINGTON – Head coach Dan D’Antoni is putting Marshall Thundering Herd men’s basketball players on the starting line Saturday in The Herald-Dispatch West Virginia 5K Championship.

The distance run begins at 8 a.m. Saturday in downtown Huntington.

D’Antoni entered the team last year and said he was disappointed with how players approached it because none of them tried to win. He didn’t expect anyone to actually win a race against some top-notch distance runners, but he did want them to go for it.

He said the effort should be better this time.

Another reason D’Antoni puts his players in the race is to draw them closer to their fans and the community. He set out to do that immediately after being hired as head coach at his alma mater in April 2014.

“That was the biggest thing and I thought they did that extremely well,” he said.

Every member of the basketball team completed last year’s 5K and gathered at the finish line high-fiving other runners as they came in.

The West Virginia 5K Championship attracts runners and walkers to promote fitness in the community while supporting a cause. Proceeds go to development and maintenance of the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health (PATH), a bicycle and pedestrian trail system providing free, healthy recreational opportunities for Huntington and the surrounding area.

“We hope that runners and walkers from all over the region come out and take part in the 2015 The Herald-Dispatch West Virginia 5K Championship knowing that their entry fees will go toward making the fitness community stronger,” said race director Pat Riley in a news release.

The race begins and ends behind Pullman Square between Eighth Street and 10th Street behind Pullman Square. The course goes west to First Street, east on Fifth Avenue to Hal Greer Boulevard and west on Third Avenue to the finish.

Runners and walkers can register at www.wv5k.com. Entry fees are $25 now and $30 on Saturday. Race packet pickup for participants is from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at Pullman Square.

Event sponsors include Snap Fitness and Generations Physical Therapy.

BUCKHANNON — The city of Huntington has a bad reputation when it comes to the health of its citizens. In a state rife with poor health rankings nationally, Huntington’s obesity and depression rates still manage to come out on top.

West Virginia’s second-largest city may have its share of problems, but for Huntington Mayor Steve Williams, the conversations are too often geared toward those problems rather than their solutions. When Williams was elected mayor in 2013, he hoped to help change that.

“We seek to reach standards that others will hope to emulate,” he said Friday.

The problem became clear in 2008, when The Associated Press declared Huntington “America’s Fattest City.” The obesity rate at the time represented nearly half of the Huntington-Ashland metropolitan area’s adult population, and the region still tops the chart and tips the scales, but the needle is dropping. Since 2006, Huntington’s obesity rate has dropped from 45.5 percent to 39.5 percent in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Gallup Healthways — still high enough to earn Huntington the distinction of “fattest city,” but an important improvement that Williams hopes will continue.

“In a market of 100,000 people, that’s 7,000 people who are no longer categorized as obese,” he said. “We live in a market of nearly 400,000 people — that’s the market area they’re measuring, which means that 28,000 people aren’t considered obese anymore. We’re moving in the right direction.”

The city has been transforming itself in a number of ways, and Williams shared some of its biggest successes at the second-annual Try This! Conference in Buckhannon on Friday. The conference, which continues today, features workshops, speakers and activities geared toward teaching community leaders and partners how to create their own programs that promote healthy eating and living.

The event has sparked interest from community leaders and partners across the state — last year, more than 350 people made the trip to Buckhannon for the grassroots networking and learning event. This year has seen an even greater response, and 500 people from around the state have signed up to attend the two-day event, which features 40 break-out sessions and dozens of speakers.

In Huntington, change has come rapidly since 2010, when British chef and television personality Jamie Oliver visited the city to teach healthy eating habits. The kitchen constructed for use on his show, “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution,” is now “Huntington’s Kitchen,” a community kitchen with cooking and nutrition classes. The city has also moved toward promoting locally sourced food. Williams said that in 2013, the city encouraged The Wild Ramp, which began in Heritage Station in Huntington, to move to a larger marketplace on the city’s West End and create a space similar to Charleston’s Capitol Market.

The city has also focused efforts on exercise initiatives. In 2010, there were 19 annual 5K races in the Huntington market, Williams said. Today, the number of 5Ks in the area has risen to 41, largely a result of Huntington’s efforts to make the city accommodating to race events, Williams said.

“People are saying, ‘Let’s go to Runington,’” Williams said. “I love every second of it.”

The city has also become more bike friendly, and has established the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health (PATH), a 24-mile-long biking and walking trail system. The mayor has also gotten in on the action, and citizens can participate in a “Walk with the Mayor” every Tuesday evening.

“Everything that we’re doing, and for every group I speak to, I tell them, ‘Let’s set a standard that folks across the country will try to emulate. That’s exactly what we’re doing here,” Williams said. “You just need to ask the question: ‘What do you want?’ We’re going from hopelessness to hope, and from hope to expectation.”

People across the state are creating their own expectations. Weston’s mayor, Julia Spelsberg, talked about how a cash-strapped town was able to partner with its local hospital to create city parks and a natural playground.

“You can really make things happen with some really energized volunteers and a little bit of money, in collaboration with all the groups in your town,” Spelsberg said.

Kelly Webb, co-founder of Bike Friendly Matewan, said she attended last year’s Try This! Conference with nothing in mind for a community project, but soon knew that she had to do something.

“My friend and I attended many of the breakout sessions, and during one, a question was raised — what are you ready to do for your community? It was almost as if a fire was ignited in my soul,” she said. “I asked myself, ‘What am I ready to do?’”

A stop at a small gas station provided her the inspiration for Bike Friendly Matewan.

“I got out of my car and walked up onto the deck, and there sat this little girl,” she said. “Being a mother, I looked at her and said, ‘That is a pretty bike that you have.’ She responded by saying, ‘Yeah, but I have nowhere to ride it.’ A light bulb went off in my head, and I literally sprinted back to my car and said ‘Eva, I’ve got it. A bicycle-friendly community.’”

Eva Musick, the co-founder of Bike Friendly Matewan, died two months ago, but not before she was able to see the program get its start. The initiative received a 2014 Try This! mini-grant worth $3,000, followed by a Change the Future West Virginia mini-grant. In the last year, Bike Friendly Matewan has also managed to raise $17,000 in in-kind donations, Webb said.

“I stand here with you today without my best friend, Eva,” Webb said. “I do know that if she were here today, she would want to talk to you — and I do mean that she would really want to talk to every single one of you — and she would simply ask you a question: What are you ready to do for your community?”

Try This! also has a website, www.trythiswv.com, where users can find more than 100 how-to’s on healthy cooking, starting exercise programs and generating funding for community projects. For more information on this year’s conference, including descriptions of sessions and speakers, visit www.trythiswv.com/conference.

Reach Lydia Nuzum at lydia.nuzum@wvgazette.com, 304-348-5189 or follow @lydianuzum on Twitter.

– See more at: http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150605/GZ01/150609496#sthash.TSlZ2EMU.dpuf

If you haven’t noticed, our neighbors on the west end of the Metro Valley are continuing to push for more infrastructure for bikes and while it’s no Portland or Boulder, it’s probably safe to say Huntington is already one of the leading cities for bikes in West Virginia.

In the last few weeks, the city added “sharrows” on a portion of 10th Street between 11th Avenue and Harris Park. While a small and simple step, the sharrows create a designated north-south bike route through the center of the city past the Amtrak station and Pullman Square to connect Ritter Park and Harris Park.

Huntington also has the well-known and growing Paul Ambrose Trail for Health (PATH) and a separated bike lane on 4th Avenue downtown (a sparse sight in the state). It’s also erected signs informing drivers of West Virginia’s “three-foot law” for passing bikes.

The River City has non-infrastructure bike resources, too, including a regular “critical mass” ride and other groups (see this page on the “Try This WV” website).

There’s been investment by private business as well. Huntington Cycle & Sport recently installed one of, if not the first, public “Cycle Aid Station” in the region in front of the business’ 10th Street shop.

A privately-operated bike share program has also been trying to get off the ground, though with little success so far.

Despite all the two-wheeled momentum in Huntington, the city wasn’t listed in the League of American Bicyclist’s “bicycle friendly communities” list for 2014, though the city may not have applied for an award (Morgantown was West Virginia’s only ranked city last year).

I’ve put in a message to Huntington’s spokesman to see if the city plans to apply for a “bicycle-friendly community” award this year.

Meanwhile, Charleston is working toward developing a master bike plan and an early draft of recommendations was presented last week.

The Capital City is also planning to construct the Kanawha Boulevard bike lanes this year, though the city had initially said the lanes would be finished in 2014.

HUNTINGTON — The West Virginia city once described as “America’s unhealthiest” hopes someday to bicycle away from that reputation.

“We’re beginning to see a lot more people riding bikes, and that’s on purpose,” said Steve Williams, mayor of Huntington. “For several years now, we’ve been trying to make the city more cycling-friendly, and I think we’re seeing those efforts pay off.”

Dedicated cycling lanes give students at Marshall University easy access to Huntington’s downtown businesses. The PATH — the 15-mile Paul Ambrose Trail for Health — passes through several neighborhoods, and developers someday hope to expand it into a 60-mile web of cycling and walking trails linking all of the city’s neighborhoods. Mountain-bike trails have been blazed through the woods of the city’s Rotary Park.

“Huntington has come a long way in a very short time,” said Amanda Payne, trails program manager for the Rahall Transportation Institute. “Since 2007 we’ve seen quite an increase in the number of people riding bikes recreationally. We’re also seeing a lot more people commuting to work on bikes. It’s been fun to watch that evolution take place.”

Planners have taken steps not only to develop dedicated recreational trails, but also to make the city’s streets safer for cyclists.

The most obvious manifestations — at least for the time being — are the dedicated bike lanes that extend along Fourth Avenue between the Marshall campus and the downtown area.

“The bike lanes change motorists’ perceptions about cyclists,” Payne said. “They give motorists the perception that they have more ownership of the road, and they show motorists that bikes don’t take up very much space.”

Work crews recently put up signs reminding motorists that state law requires them to respect cyclists’ right to the road. “Bicycles are considered vehicles, and motorists who pass cyclists are required to give them at least 3 feet of space,” Payne explained.

Seven weeks ago, members of the Huntington City Council passed an ordinance officially adopting the “3-foot rule.” Other new bike-related ordinances require cyclists to ride as close to the curb as safely possible, for riders age 15 and under to wear helmets, and for cyclists who ride at night to have headlights on their bikes.

“The ordinance also recommends a red light on the rear of bikes ridden after dark,” said Bryan Chambers, the city’s director of communications and an avid rider.

In the 1960s, Huntington required cyclists to pay an annual bike-licensing fee. Chambers said that mandate has been lifted and replaced by a voluntary licensing program designed to help protect cyclists who have bikes stolen.

“If you come in and pay a one-time, $1 fee, we register your bike and put its make, model, color and serial number into our database,” he explained. “If the bike ever gets stolen, information is available to help authorities recover it. Riders also get a neat little license plate, but they aren’t required to put them on their bikes.”

The city’s next bike-friendly project, scheduled for completion within the next few weeks, is to apply special pavement markings to 10th Street between Harris Riverfront Park and Ritter Park.

“The markings are called ‘sharrows,’ short for ‘share-the-road arrows,’” said Charles Holley, Huntington’s director of development and planning. “They’re chevron-shaped arrows with a cyclist symbol, and they’re designed to make motorists aware that bicycles use that road too.”

The idea, he added, is to create a way for riders to safely navigate from one park to the other.

“We had two beautiful parks with trails, but there was this disconnect between them. We decided to use 10th Street as the connector because it goes through one of the [five] underpasses that connect the city’s north side to the south side.”

The 10th Street underpass is the narrowest of the five, but cyclists prefer it over the others because the street zig-zags on both ends of the viaduct, forcing motorists to drive more slowly.

Holley said the city is also looking at creating a similar connector at 14th Street West, which would connect the 3.5-mile floodwall and the 2.75-mile Memorial Park segments of the PATH.

“We’ve identified sections of road where we think bikes and cars can safely coexist,” Holley added. “We plan to take a look at the bike lanes and the sharrows and see which one works better.”

The two-year-old bike lanes along Fourth Avenue are also scheduled for an upgrade. Mayor Williams said the opening of Marshall’s downtown Visual Arts Center prompted the expansion.

“More students will be traveling downtown from campus,” he explained. “So we’re going to make the bike lanes a little more pronounced — wider and a little bolder. The Rahall Institute has assisted us with grants to pay for the project.”

Two major annual events have helped to elevate cycling’s profile within the city. The Tour de PATH, held in mid-May, features casual 4-, 10- and 20-mile rides for cyclists of all skill levels. The McDonald’s Tri-State Criterium, in late May, features a series of races for amateur and professional cyclists around a 0.8-mile downtown loop.

Williams believes the city’s cycling initiatives are helping to dispel perceptions of Huntington as a city populated by obese, unhealthy people.

“Having Huntington become a healthier community was the vision of Dr. Paul Ambrose, the man for whom the PATH is named,” Williams added. “He had that vision long before we developed a reputation for being ‘America’s most unhealthy city.’

“We’ve challenged the students at Huntington High School to work with us to develop a wellness program throughout the city. The thinking is that maybe we adults will learn something if we let the students lead us. They’re helping us identify events that get people outside, cycling and walking.

“By leading us, the students might shame us to get out from in front of our TVs for a while. If the kids are out there, families will get out there into the neighborhoods, and the neighborhoods will become neighborhoods again.”

– See more at: http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150410/ARTICLE/150419999#sthash.ObppW9n0.dpuf

Here in Huntington you often hear the word PATH — What is it, where does it go, what are future plans for this trail that connects the city?

Those are all questions answered easily by Bethany Williams, who is the program coordinator at RTI, the Rahall Transportation Institute in Huntington, which has planned and manages the ever-growing Paul Ambrose Trail for Health.

Here’s a closer look at The PATH through a quick Q&A with Williams.

Lavender: “For folks who just moved into Huntington or new students, tell us a brief history of PATH and how it came together.”

Williams: “PATH is a growing bicycle and pedestrian trail system providing free, healthy recreational opportunities as well as an alternative transportation trail. Through grants, fundraising, sponsorships and individual contributions the first fifteen miles were able to be built. Currently, RTI is working with the City of Huntington to secure opportunities that connect current sections and fund the next sections of PATH.”

Lavender: “Tell us a little bit about Paul Ambrose and how you think the PATH really honors his legacy of fighting against obesity in the U.S.”

Williams: “PATH is named after Dr. Paul Ambrose, who was a promising young physician from Huntington and who graduated from Marshall’s School of Medicine. The Ambrose family are active members of the Huntington community. Dr. Paul Ambrose, the namesake of PATH, had his life ended on September 11, 2001, when terrorists crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon. Dr. Ambrose focused his medical career on family health and using preventative medicine to fight obesity. PATH is a way to continue his medical legacy and impact the health of Huntington. PATH has been a tool for the community, it gives the opportunity to take a walk right outside their back yard. PATH has been a part of the culture change for Huntington, where people now are more likely to get outside and exercise thus embracing a healthier lifestyle. PATH has given many people a means to change their quality of life. ”

Lavender: “What were some of the highlights in 2014 for PATH construction? And for you, someone who has worked closely with PATH, what were some of your highlights in the past year of getting to enjoy, and/or getting to see fellow citizens utilizing PATH?”

Williams: “In 2014, we were able to fund the Washington Boulevard section of PATH using only the money that was raised at Fit Fest 2014. That means every person who came out and ran, donated, participated and volunteered was essential in building the Washington Boulevard trail. Every dollar mattered. It is exciting to know that each person made that difference. Some highlights for me personally this past year was seeing the local running group (Huntington Road Runners) grow and utilize every section of the PATH. It is inspiring to have 20+ people running on a section of PATH in 20-degree weather wearing head lights. It really shows the need to make more PATH connections to provide longer and safer trails. Another highlight this year was the many groups and individual people reaching out to PATH in order to help. There is so much that needs to be done to keep the PATH our PATH (weeds, flower beds, trash pick-up). We need these community members who care and contribute to continuing reach out to us and give their ideas and lend a hand.”

Lavender: “PATH really does a great job of connecting both neighborhoods, like Altizer and Guyandotte, and providing good Share The Road sections like Fourth Avenue that runs past the new soccer stadium. What are some of the benefits of making these connections?”

Williams: “There are so many benefits. From a transportation point of view: Less traffic on the road, to enhancing safety and encouraging use of alternative transportation. From an economic point of view: Business and tourism opportunities by creating access and connectivity from residential areas to downtown. From a health point of view: PATH encourages walking, running, biking, skating and being active. Connecting our community helps provide a sustainable network and community and creates a better quality of life for those seeking more options in the area.”

Lavender: “Are there any projects planned for PATH in 2015? And when will the popular Tour de PATH event be held in 2015?”

Williams: “We have a handful of spring projects planned. Bike sharrows (shared lane bicycle marking) to be laid, and community beautification efforts to be had. Tour De PATH is going to be May 16 and will be a part of the Sustainability Fair. This year’s focus will be on bike safety and traffic safety campaigns.”

Lavender: “What’s the best way for citizens to find out about PATH and to help PATH realize its full potential?”

Williams: “You can always check out PATH online at www.paulambrosetrail.org. Or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Information at PATH can be found at CVB or any of your local running/biking stores. Get out there and walk on a trail, bike one day a week to do a chore, use the system, then you will start to get a feel for how important a cohesive trail system can be. Get involved, help make a difference. Join us in making our community beautiful and a proud place to live.”

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, at 7:52 a.m., Dr. Paul Ambrose, senior clinical adviser for the Office of the Surgeon General in Washington, D.C., boarded American Airlines Flight 77 bound for Los Angeles. Thirty-five minutes into his flight, the plane passed over Huntington, W.Va., Paul’s beloved hometown, when hijackers overtook the cockpit and turned the plane east toward the nation’s capital. At 9:37 a.m. the plane crashed into the western side of the Pentagon, killing all 64 people on board as well as 125 workers at the United States Department of Defense.

At the same time, thick black smoke was billowing across the clear blue skies of New York City after two commercial airplanes slammed into the towers of the World Trade Center. America would soon learn it was under attack, and the nation would never be the same again.
Life would never be the same again for Ken and Sharon Ambrose, Paul’s parents, Bianca Angelino, his fiancée, or the hundreds of people who came to know and love the charismatic doctor who was just 32 years old when he perished. While his death was a tragic loss to those who knew him, it was also a devastating loss for the entire nation. A renowned leader, Paul Ambrose was a healer and a visionary whose life – which had already shown so much greatness – was destined for even more.
The first thing people noticed when they met Paul Ambrose were his striking good looks.

“My first impression of Paul was that he was ridiculously handsome,” noted Erin Fuller, who worked with Paul at the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) in Washington, D.C. “But once you got to know him you saw what a great, interesting and fascinating guy he really was.”

Chris Durso, editor of the AMSA magazine, recalled a similar first encounter with Paul over lunch.

“I looked at this guy across the table from me, with his deep blue eyes and chiseled cheekbones and cool clothes, and I prepared to write him off,” Durso said. “By the end of the meal, after Paul had intelligently touched on his experiences hiking through South America, on the need for a more cogent public health infrastructure and on the writings of Hunter S. Thompson, I felt chagrined. As anyone who knew him can tell you, Paul was the real deal.”

Indeed there was much more to Paul Ambrose than meets the eye. Incandescently brilliant, engaging, caring and driven, he was determined to make a difference in America and was well on his way to doing so. He had already garnered the attention of former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop who took him under his wing and began mentoring him. Dr. Koop and many of his peers saw greatness in the young doctor from Huntington and predicted that Paul was destined to become, among other things, the youngest surgeon general in our nation’s history.

He was born Paul Wesley Ambrose on Dec. 26, 1968. The second child of Ken and Sharon Ambrose, he was described by his parents and teachers as inquisitive and extremely outgoing.

“He never knew a stranger,” said Sharon, who was the vice president and chief operating officer at St. Mary’s Medical Center when Paul died. “He was a very happy child, always smiling with those blue eyes.”

His father Ken, a respected professor of sociology at Marshall University, described his son as adventurous and always willing to try new things.

“At the age of 5, Paul climbed the ladder at a local pool on his own and leapt off the high dive,” Ken said. “That, in essence, was Paul.”

He played numerous sports growing up, including Little League baseball with his older brother Scott. While Paul continued to love sports throughout his high school years, Scott was drawn to music and eventually formed his own band.

“Paul was always so supportive of Scott,” Sharon said. “He’d invite his friends over to listen to Scott’s band play.”

But in 1998, the Ambrose family was rocked when, without warning, they lost Scott to a pulmonary embolism. Scott, who was just 31 at the time, left behind a wife and daughter as well as his parents and brother.

“Paul was there for us through that whole experience,” Sharon recalled. “He was so concerned about us and about Scott’s family. From that point on, Paul made a point to always let us know where he was and how he was doing.”

After graduating from Barboursville High School, where he was class president, Paul enrolled at Marshall University. He graduated magna cum laude in 1991 with a dual major in biological sciences and Spanish. Following his junior year, Paul applied for early admission to Marshall University’s School of Medicine and was accepted. He quickly formed a strong bond with one of his professors, Dr. Robert Walker, who was a pioneer in providing health care to underserved areas throughout rural Appalachia.

“I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything like Paul’s combination of personality, concern for positive events and dedication to being a physician,” said Dr. Walker, chairman of the Department of Family and Community Health at the time. “It’s every teacher’s greatest dream to have a student who gets it – and sometimes they get it even better than you give it. That was Paul. He was so excited about what he was doing, so in love with what he was doing, that he made you feel good just to be around him.”

During medical school, Paul asked for and was given permission to spend a year at the University of Salamanca in Spain, where he studied the country’s health care system. He remains the only student to ever study abroad while attending medical school at Marshall. The experience was invaluable to Paul as he absorbed the new culture and learned to speak the language fluently; it left him with a love for Spanish culture and a passion for its people. As many of his teachers would later say, Paul was not a typical student. He possessed a think-outside-the-box approach to both his life and his schooling.

“From the beginning, Paul was interested in the larger picture,” recalled his father Ken. “He was interested in public health and health care policy. He wanted to improve the conditions for the larger population as well as for the individual patient.”

Upon graduating from medical school in 1995, Paul forged his own path once again when he elected to forego his residency and instead work for a year as the national director of legislative affairs for the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) in Washington, D.C. As part of his job, he worked on bills that fostered reform in the health care industry.

After his year working in Washington, Paul began his residency at Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, N.H. It was there that he caught the attention of Dr. C. Everett Koop, former U.S. surgeon general and Dartmouth faculty member.

Dr. Koop was impressed with the young man’s intelligence, energy and passion to ameliorate health care in America.

“His career, like my own, was in public health, which led to my becoming his mentor,” Dr. Koop explained. “Paul had the ability to put as much effort into four or five projects simultaneously with as much zeal as you and I would put into one. He was sensitive, self-giving, the very model of what a physician should be to his patients.”

While at Dartmouth, Paul was appointed by the secretary of Health and Human Services to serve as the only resident on the congressional advisory committee of the Council on Graduate Medical Education (COGME).

“I recall a shining, articulate and intelligent young man whose insight and remarks competed brilliantly with other members of the committee more senior in years,” noted Dr. Vincent C. Rogers, who served on the committee with Paul. “I confess I looked upon him with admiration, envy even, as I contemplated his potential.”

Yet, no matter how busy Paul was, he always made time for fitness in his life. He enjoyed running, weight training and tae kwon do while at Marshall. At Dartmouth, he took up skiing and snowboarding. He began rock climbing during his time in Washington, D.C. Both his mind and body were always in tune and operating at full capacity.

After completing his residency and at the urging of Dr. Koop, Paul applied for and was awarded a fellowship at Harvard University in the School of Public Health. While there, he studied the cancer treatment of women in rural West Virginia as one of his projects. He graduated from Harvard in 2000 with a master’s degree in public health.

Following the completion of his studies at Harvard, Paul returned to Washington when he was awarded the Luther Terry Fellowship, a two-year appointment that saw him serve as the senior clinical adviser to U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher. The two worked closely on various projects, including the growing problem of obesity in America. Paul was the senior editor of The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity, released in early 2001. Among its objectives were ensuring daily, quality physical education for all public school students, building physical activity into regular routines and playtime for children and their families and creating more opportunities for physical activity at work sites. The Call to Action recommended the adoption of policies specifying that all foods and beverages available at school contribute toward eating patterns consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and provide more food options that are low in fat, calories and sugar. In many regards Paul was a visionary, recognizing America’s growing obesity problem nine years before Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution aired on ABC. For all his efforts, the Call to Action was dedicated to Paul posthumously.

On the weekends Paul worked as a family doctor at a private practice in Arlington, Va., that served a large number of Spanish-speaking patients. He spent so much time with each patient that it often put him behind schedule. People waiting long periods of time to see the young doctor inevitably grew irritated. But, as his former medical assistant recalled, once they met the handsome, brown-haired, blue-eyed doctor who spoke fluent Spanish, their anger vanished.

“His female patients would actually get dressed up to come see him,” his assistant recalled. “It was really a sight.”

During a medical conference in Washington, D.C., in 2000, Paul met a striking young woman who would change his life. Her name was Bianca Angelino, and she was a student at Western Michigan University studying biomedical sciences. However, it wasn’t the self-assured young doctor who made the first move; instead it was Bianca.

“He was standing in an exhibit hall talking to my best friend,” Bianca recalled, “and I said to myself, ‘Who’s this cute guy?’ So I ran up and introduced myself.”

The two stayed in touch after the conference, and eventually Bianca invited Paul to speak at a seminar she was hosting at Western Michigan. He agreed to the trip, saying he had already planned to be in Chicago that weekend and would simply rent a car and drive to Kalamazoo. Later, Bianca heard a surprising confession that remains one of her fondest memories.

“Three months after the seminar, I flew to Boston to see him,” she said. “The morning I was supposed to fly back to Michigan, he told me, ‘I never had any business in Chicago.’ I knew then we had a special connection.”

Bianca eventually moved to Washington, D.C., to be with Paul. During a party on July 4, 2001, he announced the two were getting married.

“We had talked about getting married before that, but nothing definitive,” Bianca explained. “So I said, ‘Oh, we are? Does this mean we’re engaged?’ And he said, ‘Yeah!’ It was totally Paul, though – the fact that he was so excited about something that he had to share it, the fact that it was all so spontaneous. Two weeks later he purchased a ring, got down on one knee and formally proposed.”

Bianca said there were numerous things she loved about Paul, including his ability to dazzle.

“He could be an hour late for a meeting, and everyone in the room would be irritated,” she said. “But then he would walk in with this bountiful energy and smile and be 100 percent on top of his presentation, and people would forget in an instant that he was late. He had this ability to just knock your socks off.”

“Even so,” she continued, “his intention wasn’t to charm. He always engaged people in a very sincere and authentic way. Unless you met him, it’s hard to convey how charming, how striking, how intoxicating his personality was. He was so amazing.”
Bianca described her time with Paul as a nonstop adventure.

“He would wake up in the morning and blast rock-and-roll music and start dancing around the living room. That basically sums it up,” she laughed. “He was kind, thoughtful and generous, and he always made time for me, as well as his family and friends.”
While Paul may have appeared perfect, Bianca said he was indeed human.

“He couldn’t stand the fact that he wasn’t quite 6 feet tall, and he worried about losing his hair one day. And believe it or not, he was insecure about the impact he was making. He never thought he was doing enough. He was always trying to reach more people and develop new ideas. He was always pushing himself to do more.”

On September 10, the night before Paul was scheduled to fly to Los Angeles to attend a conference on youth obesity prevention, he made arrangements to take Bianca to dinner at Taberna Del Alabardero, the finest Spanish restaurant in Washington.
“It was special because Paul loved Spain and we were planning to get married in Madrid,” Bianca said. “We had this magical dinner, never knowing it would be our last.”

The next morning Paul awoke early to pack for his flight to Los Angeles. The last thing he said to his fiancée before boarding the plane was, “I don’t want to leave. I miss you already.”

On Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, America awoke to the news that a plane had accidentally crashed into the World Trade Center’s north tower at 8:46 a.m. At first it was reported that it was a small plane, but when a second plane, this time a commercial airliner, slammed into the south tower just 17 minutes later, the nation knew it was under attack by terrorists.

Ken and Sharon Ambrose were in the midst of what they thought was a typical morning when they first heard the news of the attacks.

“We received a phone call from Bianca, who told us that Paul had flown out of Dulles International Airport earlier in the morning, but she thought he was fine because his flight had left so early,” Sharon recalled.

Moments later, American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. When it was reported that the plane had originated from Dulles, Bianca grew nervous. She began calling Paul’s cell phone, but it kept going to voicemail.

Shortly before noon, Sharon received a call at work that confirmed any parent’s worst fear – her son had been aboard the plane that crashed into the Pentagon, and there were no survivors.

“It was just hard to believe,” Sharon said. “Paul spent his entire life helping and befriending people. But there are people in the world just trying to destroy each other. Just seeing that was so unreal. You try to get through it day by day, but it’s not easy. When Scott passed away, people would say, ‘It’s not right when a child dies before the parents.’ And you think the worst has happened, and you try to recoup and pick up from there…”

“…and then you have the loss of another child,” continued Ken. “It’s hard to believe that it’s happening to you again. The way the news coverage was, you couldn’t get away from it. It was everywhere.”

On Sept. 23, 2001, a memorial service was held for Paul Wesley Ambrose at the Marshall University Fine and Performing Arts Center. Among the hundreds in attendance were Gov. Bob Wise, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, MU President Dan Angel and numerous colleagues from across the country. One by one, friends walked to the podium and shared their fondest memories of a fallen American son.

“His was a promising life cut short by this tragedy,” said Dr. Kenneth Moritsugu, assistant U.S. surgeon general at the time. “He wanted to help our nation improve our health. He has made a difference for America.”

“There simply is nobody who has done the things that Paul did by the age of 32,” said Dr. Adam Wooten, Paul’s best friend. “He was a great friend. He worked over 100 hours a week, but anytime you needed him, he was there for you. Just recently I called him on his cell phone seeking advice. When I called he was in the middle of a conference call in his office with other physicians. I expected him to say, ‘Can I call you back?’ But that’s not what he did. Paul put the others on hold and said, ‘What do you need?’”

“He was a champion for social change and a champion for the needs of the poor and underserved,” said Dr. Donald Kollisch, Paul’s colleague at Dartmouth Medical School. “Just short of frenetic, Paul had more energy and creativity than any five of us. He defied limitation. He was physical, he was cerebral, he was compassionate and he was nonstop.”

C. Everett Koop sent a letter, read aloud during the service, which said in part: “Though I’ve only known Paul for five years, he soon became as close as a son. He was most blessed with skills and competencies that would take him to great heights in public service. I have no doubt that Paul would have gone on to roles such as surgeon general of the United States, then a cabinet position of Health and Human Services, then a senior delegate to the World Health Organization and eventually the dean of a major School of Public Health. Paul and some of his colleagues saw the need for a resident physician leadership conference in the Koop Institute at Dartmouth and helped launch it. Without discussing it with me, they called this endeavor the C. Everett Koop Resident Physician Leadership Symposium. I want to share with you my desire and plan that this is to be renamed the Paul Ambrose Resident Physician Leadership Symposium.”

“I’m proud that Paul was from here,” said Dr. Robert Walker. “Paul was ours. He was Huntington’s, and he was Barboursville’s, and he was Marshall’s and he was West Virginia’s. And because he was ours, a lot of the tragedy and some of the joys are ours. Paul’s projects made the world better. It’s hard to know what to do with all this grief, but I have to do something. So I’m going to propose a project – one of Paul’s projects. Anyone can do it, and this is how it works: Whatever I do that’s good, I’m going to do it better. However much I care, I’m going to care more. Goodbye, Paul.”

At the conclusion of the guests’ remarks, Ken, Sharon and Bianca walked to the podium together. Ken spoke softly for the three when he said, “When he came into our home, he brought a joy and a happiness that rounded out our small family. His beautiful eyes reflected the beautiful person he was inside. During our last vacation, we went fishing off the coast of North Carolina. We chartered a small boat, and the captain asked, ‘Do you want to stay in the safe area next to shore and catch some smaller fish, or do you want to go out 30 miles to get the big ones?’ And Paul said, ‘Let’s go for it!’ Well, he caught the big fish he was after, and then, standing in the back of the boat, he said, ‘What a beautiful day, what a beautiful time. Life doesn’t get any better than this.’ He enjoyed life. He enjoyed every moment of his life. His challenge to his peers and to his friends and to his family was this: ‘Whatever we’re doing, let’s do it better.’”

At the end of the service, Huntington native and Broadway star Mark McVey sang Bring Him Home from the musical Les Miserables.

While the death of Paul Ambrose left a void in the lives of those he touched, his legacy lives on. In the last 10 years numerous awards, scholarships and symposiums have been established to inspire others in the medical field to carry on the important work he started. The following is a list of distinctions that bear his name:

•Paul Ambrose Political Leadership Institute at the American Medical Student Association
•The American Medical Student Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Service
•The Paul Ambrose Scholars Program at the Association for Prevention Teaching & Research
•The American Medical Association’s Paul Ambrose Award For Leadership Among Resident Physicians
•The Dr. Paul W. Ambrose Memorial Award at the Marshall University School of Medicine
•The Dr. Paul W. Ambrose Memorial Fund scholarship at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine
•The Surgeon General’s Medal of Honor
•The Paul Wesley Ambrose Health Policy Program, a fellowship program at the Marshall University School of Medicine
•The Paul Ambrose Fellowship at Dartmouth Medical School
•The Paul Ambrose Physician Resident Leadership Symposium at Dartmouth Medical School

Perhaps the one thing that would have pleased Paul the most is a project currently underway in his hometown. The Paul Ambrose Trail for Health, or PATH, is a 26-mile bicycle and pedestrian trail system for the people of Huntington. The Rahall Transportation Institute Foundation, in association with the City of Huntington and various community members, designed the trail system as an alternate means of transportation. But more importantly, the PATH is vital in Huntington’s ongoing efforts to provide healthy recreational opportunities for its citizens.

“Paul certainly would have loved all the healthy lifestyle initiatives named in his honor, especially the PATH,” noted Bianca. “He was such an active, fit and healthy person. He didn’t watch TV; he read. When he wasn’t reading, he was writing. When he wasn’t writing, he was working. And when he wasn’t working, he was exercising.”

“I think it’s a positive living memorial to Paul,” said Sharon about the PATH. “It will keep going and benefit everyone.”

The 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks is a time for us to reflect on a dark day in our nation’s history that claimed the lives of 3,000 people. Sadly, one of those lost was Dr. Paul Ambrose – one of Huntington’s, and indeed the nation’s, most promising sons. While the legacy he left behind is inspiring and imbues us with a sense of hope for the future, one can’t help but pause and wonder what might have been had he not boarded that plane.

“Once, when we were chatting about his career’s next steps, I asked Paul, ‘Where do you see yourself in 10 years?’” recalled Dr. Koop. “He replied straightforwardly, ‘Serving as secretary of health in my home state of West Virginia.’ I then wrote to Senator Jay Rockefeller and told him of my affection and admiration for Paul and said, ‘You should have Paul Ambrose in your sights.’”

In his short life, Paul changed the way many of our nation’s leaders look at health care, and he convinced all of us that we can do more. Programs bearing his name focus on such vital issues as early childhood education, exercise and healthy eating guidelines. There are initiatives on preventative medicine and the importance of taking part in the political process to effectuate positive change in our health care system. Medical students and physicians are asked to do more than simply practice medicine; they are encouraged to take on projects that improve health in their communities, travel to Third World countries to heal the sick and dedicate a portion of their time to treating the underserved.

“His goal was to build more social consciousness into medicine and help physicians become leaders,” said Ken.

Today, Ken and Sharon Ambrose continue to struggle with their grief.

“I think the future is what we miss the most,” said Sharon. “We miss his future, our future with him, all the things he was going to do, the family he would have had…”

“…grandchildren, and all those things you anticipate,” continued Ken. “The future is not there now. We’re happy for the time we had with him and proud of his accomplishments, but we just wish we could have had more time with him.”

To help cope with their loss, the Ambroses have taken up their son’s fight by getting involved in projects that focus on public health issues. While the pain never goes away, it is tempered by a wealth of warm memories.

“Being around him was always just plain fun,” said Sharon. “With Paul, you never knew what was coming next. He always included us in everything. Even when we’d go up and visit him, he’d take us to parties with him. He was so caring.”

“The thing I miss most is his personality, his spirit,” said Ken. “You were always included. Whatever the adventure was, it was always good.”

There were so many qualities that made Paul special, not the least of which were the hundreds of friendships he forged with people from all walks of life. From physicians to senators to janitors, he was a man who kept his friends and maintained his relationships. He never outgrew people.

The life of Paul Ambrose is one we can all look to with great pride. He lived more in his 32 years than most people live in an entire lifetime. He was a caring son, devoted fiancé and loyal friend. He was a dedicated physician, impassioned leader and true visionary. And, as Dr. Robert Walker expressed so eloquently, he was ours.

With morning temperatures diving down into the 30s finally the reluctant soldiers from the mighty oaks to the little dogwoods are showing off their leaf coats of many colors.

While this past week’s wind and rain have dropped some leaves, there are still many maples and other trees hanging onto a good amount of color.

Here’s a look at the best roadtrips, color and ways to get more leaf peeping information.

West Virginia

BEST COLOR: Foliage in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle counties is past peak but state foresters report it is still colorful and plentiful. Leaves in Berkeley, Jefferson, Mineral and Morgan counties are hanging tough and remain on the trees despite being past peak. Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area, Keyser and Berkeley Springs are recommended places to visit.

Likewise, here at home in the Ohio River Valley, there’s plenty of color to be found in the hills and hollows around Huntington and beyond.

A GOOD ROAD TRIP: It’s Halloween weekend so you can add on some adventure with a trip down to the New River Gorge, where the inaugural Haunted Moon Trek is set up at Adventures On The Gorge (www.visitonthegorge.com) this Halloween. The guides-turned-goblins have special aerial adventure treats at special prices in store for guests who brave the night! The terror in the trees at TimberTrek Aerial Adventure Park is set for Oct. 29, 30 and 31 at 7 p.m., 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. each night. For a special $39 per guest, you can discover what the hemlocks hide. Call 877-237-4939. Read about more spooky, and cool Halloween happenings in Thursday’s Weekend section.

Since Huntington is prime for colors, why not take a hike in the beautiful hills of Ritter Park and see some amazing color from the hundreds of rose varieties still blooming at the Ritter Park Rose Garden.

You can also stop by the Rose Garden from 8 a.m. to noon Monday, Nov. 3 as the Greater Huntington Park & Recreation District will host its annual Ritter Park Rose Garden rose clipping give-away. For more information, call 304-696-5954.

A great way to see a lot of the city’s color is by a bicycle ride along the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health or the PATH.

Grab a Huntington Bike Map and head out to take in some of the PATH, like the floodwall portion west of Harris Riverfront Park, the Ritter Park PATH that connects to Harveytown Park, the Guyandotte to Alitzer route along Riverside Drive, or try and cycle the entire PATH, which can be done in a long afternoon.

Get a map at the Cabell Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau, Jeff’s Bikes and Huntington Cycle and Sport. Go online at www.paulambrosetrail.org/ for more info.

A great short drive would be out to Heritage Farm Museum and Village, 3300 Harvey Road, Huntington, where they are hosting the Way Back Weekend from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Farm. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for ages 2-12.

Admission will include museum tours, wagon rides, petting zoo and food. This will be the final this year that the petting zoo and wagon rides will be available.

Specialty events will include hand-blown glass, wood fired pottery and blacksmithing. Kari Newman of “Bead Unique” and other artisans will also be displaying their work.

There will be food from Let’s Eat and open hearth cooking at the Kress/Conway Cabin. Open museums will include Heritage Museum, Museum of Industry, Country Store and the children’s Hands-On Museum.

For more information about Wayback Weekend or Heritage Farm, call 304-522-1244 or go online at heritagefarmmuseum.com.

Also, don’t forget the 25th anniversary of Guyandotte Civil War Days that takes place Saturday and Sunday in this historic Huntington neighborhood. There’s also historic-filled ghost walks starting at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, leaving from the library.

COLOR FORECAST: Go online at www.wvforestry.com or call 800-225-5982. West Virginia Division of Forestry officials thank everyone who posted images to the DOF’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/wvforestry, or tweeted them using #wvfallcolor.

Ohio

BEST COLOR: This fall, Ohioans were treated to one of the best fall color seasons in recent memory as the weather cooperated just long enough to allow for vibrant hues of reds, oranges and yellows to overtake most of the state, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

“This has been one of the best fall color seasons that I can remember,” said ODNR Fall Color Forester Casey Burdick. “Northern and central Ohio peaked in the middle of October while southern Ohio waited until the end of the month, but the weather was ideal for everyone to have an opportunity to go out and enjoy the season.”

Even though the leaves are falling, don’t forget there are still plenty of ways to spend time enjoying the outdoors. Our state parks, forests and nature preserves are open year round, and Ohio is one of seven states in the nation where admission is free.

A GOOD ROAD TRIP: Head down U.S. 52 west over to Scioto County, where you can get a great splash of color in the hills and some early shopping. The Ohio Furnace Enterprise Baptist Church, located on 3132 Haverhill Ohio Furnace Rd, Ironton, Ohio. The church is hosting its 6th annual Christmas Craft Bazaar from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday in the church fellowship hall. Shop for Christmas decorations, trees, wreaths, primitive items, concessions and more will be available. Vendors will also be on hand offering several different types of services. All proceeds help support the Ohio Furnace Baptist Church Youth Department .

For more information, contact Kyle Stormes, assistant youth director, at 740-479-1501 or email at ofygroup@yahoo.com. (A very limited number of vendor spaces are available) .

If you want to head a little further west along U.S. 52, head over to Portsmouth, Ohio, and just west where Shawnee State Forest, Ohio’s largest state forest, and Shawnee State Park, will be in full fall glory.

COLOR FORECAST: Go online at www.ohiodnr.com and click onto Fall Foliage Report or call 800-BUCKEYE. ODNR and TourismOhio ncourage people to take fall color photos and upload them to social media using the hashtag, #ohiofall14.

Kentucky

BEST COLOR: Fall foliage is in peak season in the Commonwealth and folks like Jayd Raines at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park exclaim its wonder, “Wow is the color popping here at Jenny Wiley,” Raines writes. “Finally a break from the clouds and our friend the Sun, we are able to see the color for what it truly is. Everything is in color right now, from the yellows of the Tulip Poplar to the Reds and Oranges of Oak and Maple. Color is very near peak and expected to be so within the next few days. Wind and rain have served to dislodge many of the leaves, but many others are still hanging on to put on a show for us.”

That’s ditto for other area Kentucky State Parks such as Greenbo, Carter Caves, Yatesville Lake and Paintsville Lake.

A GOOD ROAD TRIP: Anywhere in the state will be a great drive. But for folks who love to hit the highway full blast head west (it’s a four-hour drive) over to Bowling Green’s National Corvette Museum where you can still see the great sinkhole that will begin to be filled starting Nov. 10. Now is a great time for a getaway to Bowling Green from weekly pumpkin festivals and Skeleton’s Lair Scream Park to the Chester Cornett folk art exhibit, we’re “Geared for Fall Fun!”

Also, for fans of the Pumpkin House in Kenova, you might enjoy a trip to the Jack O’ Lantern Spectacular, which is more than 5,000 carved jack o’ lanterns that light a one-third mile trail set to music at Louisville’s scenic Iroquois Park.

Closer to home, I would recommend for hikers a day hike at the Jesse Stuart State Nature Preserve in Greenup or a hike around the lake at Greenbo State Park would be a great call as well.

COLOR FORECAST: Go online at www.kytourism.com and click onto the ColorFall icon or call 800-225-8747.

Would you, could you on a tram? Would you, could you by a dam?

Would you, could you in a boat, on a PATH, a train, ski lift or float?

Yes, you can, and yes you will see fall foliage now. Do not stand still.

OK, enough Seussical syllables; here are a few creative ways to go leaf peeping in the Tri-State and beyond.

By train

Although the world-famous New River Train is sold out on all trips, you can still get a train trip into the foliage as Cass Railroad runs daily through November 3 with Whittaker and Bald Knob trips.

There’s also a special Halloween Train that leaves at 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25. A highlight of October West Virginia State Parks events, ride the haunted train to Whittaker Station with ghostly surprises for all. Includes a rare night-descent back to Cass. Wear costumes. Call 304-456-4300 or go online at www.cassrailroad.com for more info.

Over in Elkins, the New Tygart Flier runs scenic trips to the High Falls of Cheat. Those train trips run daily Tuesday through Sunday. Go online at www.mountainrailwv.com for more info.

And if you want to roll through the Gorge, Amtrak’s Cardinal (which has a Huntington station) has some great round-trip deals to such cool cities such as Charlottesville, Virginia, as well as Chicago and Washington, D.C. (the bookends of the Cardinal).

By Critical Mass

Get a festive peek at peak color by enjoying a bicycle ride through historic downtown Kenova during the monthly Kenova Critical Mass ride. Meet at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 31, at the Kenova Town Square gazebo by Save-A-Lot grocery store and take an easy paced six-mile ride around the city. Everybody is welcome no matter what age, and skateboards and rollerskaters are also welcome.

Kenova Critical Mass takes place the last Friday of every month. For more information about Critical Mass Kenova, call Mandy Jordan at 304-939-2083, email mandyjordan59@yahoo.com and check out their Facebook page.

By hoofing it up the Carriage Trail

FestivALL Fall in Charleston has a ton of cool events including some unique leaf peeping along Charleston’s historic Sunrise Carriage Trail, located across the South Side Bridge. From 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 26, enjoy a scenic walk up a .65 mile route that will include costumed actors performing vignettes of various plays and music. Participating theater groups include the LimeLight Theatre Company, The Theatre Project from the Children’s Theatre of Charleston, The Alban Arts Center. Major support for this free event is provided by The Charles and Mary Fayne Glotfelty Foundation.

By The Mound

Camden Park’s fam-friendly 16th annual Spooktacular runs 6 to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays in October, including: Oct 24-26.

Get there at 6 p.m. and get to see some autumn splendor bathed in the evening light at the park, before the dark descends bringing out the haunts and horrors of the evil clown maze, the haunted train ride, the historic restored Haunted House, the Big Dipper in the dark and the park’s two dozen rides and attractions. Admission is $14.99 for Fridays and $19.99 for Saturdays.

Go online at www.camdenpark.com for more info.

By downtown walking

Get on the good foot, here in these beautiful fall days by taking one of the many Herald-Dispatch downtown walking tours.

Stop by the Cabell-Huntington CVB (at Heritage Station) and pick up walking tour brochures for downtown and for the West End (Old Central City).

Also go online at www.herald-dispatch.com where there’s also downtown walking tours available of historic Guyandotte and Ironton.

If you’d like your foliage tour with a main dish of history, The Guyandotte Ghosts Haunted and Historic Walking Tours host a guided and costumed walking tour of historic Guyandotte from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 24-25 at the Guyandotte Library, at 203 Richmond St., in the Guyandotte neighborhood of Huntington.

The costumed Guyandotte tours take a more Civil War turn from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. This tour takes place during the Guyandotte Civil War Days. The tour is free but donations are accepted.

By tower

Get a nice panoramic view of the East End of Huntington (look kids, Special Metals and Jolly Pirate Donuts!) by climbing to the top of the observation tower at Rotary Park.

One of the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District’s largest properties, Rotary Park is a great place to take a stroll, and to try out disc golf, as world champion Johnny Sias and friends have built two 18-hole courses, Rotary Park Course and Indian Rock at the park.

Go online at www.ghprd.org for more info.

By sternwheeler

The closest sternwheeler running river trips is the Valley Gem out of Marietta, Ohio. There’s an Oct. 20-21 trip up the Muskingum River through the old hand-operated locks that date back to 1841. That two-day cruise that includes three meals each day is $322 per person.

There’s also a scenic Willow Island Lock and Lunch cruise from 3 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25

Enjoy the Captain’s Buffet while cruising up the Ohio River to the Willow Island Lock and Dam. Tickets are $45, $43 Seniors, $36 Children ages 3-12.

Call 740–373-7862 or go online at www.valleygemsternwheeler.com for more info.

Also on Saturday, Oct. 25, there’s a Fall Dinner Cruise to Blennerhassett State Park on the Island Belle. Enjoy a country-style dinner, and boat ride on the Ohio and Little Kanawha rivers. Ticket price includes river cruise and dinner. Advance reservations are required. Call 304-420-4800.

By bowling

Roll down to Chief Logan State Park in Logan, West Virginia, at the height of the fall foliage season to try your hand at the ancient and awesome sport of Irish Road Bowling.

There’s a tournament at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25 at the park, put on by the West Virginia Irish Road Bowling, which puts on about 20 events all over the Mountain State each year from spring through fall.

Lodging available at Chief Logan Lodge, 304-855-6100. For more information, contact Terry Mullins at 304-855-8591 or tmullins@chiefloganreccenter.org, or Chief Logan State Park at 304-792-7125.

Go online at www.wvirishroadbowling.com .

By caching it in

Geocaching, the high-tech treasure hunt where you are the search engine is a great way to see some fall foliage.

There’s some great geocaches in the region that will take you to the iron furnaces of Lawrence County, Ohio, abandoned tunnels (like the Moonville Tunnel) near Athens, Ohio, the Wine Cellar Park in Dunbar, and around Huntington, some great neighborhood parks like McClelland Park (27th Street Park), Altizer Park, Memorial Park, Camp Mad Anthony Wayne and more.

Go online at www.geocaching.com to get started.

By tram

There’s a couple cool tram rides in the WV.

The aerial tramway from Hawks Nest Lodge to the marina at the bottom of the New River Gorge is a main attraction at the park. The scenic tram ride takes you to the river below where there is a network of trails.

The tram runs 11 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. weekdays (closed Wednesdays) as well as on the weekends through October. It is closed November through April.

Down at Pipestem State Resort Park, you can take the tram down into the Bluestone River gorge, home to the cozy Mountain Creek Lodge, which is open through Oct. 26.

The Pipestem tram runs daily 8 a.m. to midnight (last tickets are sold at 10 p.m.). The tram is closed from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays for maintenance.

From Friday to Sunday, Oct. 24-26, there’s also a Waterfall and Fall Foliage Photography Excursion at Pipestem. Weekend package activities include a Friday Meet & Greet and camera session; field trips to Brush Creek, Historic Hinton, and Sandstone Falls; instruction and discussion. Call 304-466-1800 x 346.

Go online at www.hawksnestsp.com and www. pipestem.com for more info about these trams.

By the rose garden

Take a hike in beautiful Ritter Park and see some amazing color from the hundreds of rose varieties still blooming at the Ritter Park Rose Garden.

You can also stop by the Rose Garden from 8 a.m. to noon Monday, Nov. 3 as the Greater Huntington Park & Recreation District will host its annual Ritter Park Rose Garden rose clipping give-away.

For more information, call 304-696-5954.

By PATH

The Paul Ambrose Trail for Health or PATH has both Share the Road signage and trails that connect Huntington with safe bicycling and running routes.

Grab a Huntington Bike Map and head out to take in some of the PATH, like the floodwall portion west of Harris Riverfront Park, the Ritter Park PATH that connects to Harveytown Park, the Guyandotte to Alitzer route along Riverside Drive, or try and cycle the entire PATH, which can be done in a long afternoon.

Get a map at the Cabell Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau, Jeff’s Bikes and Huntington Cycle and Sport.

Go online at www.paulambrosetrail.org/ for more info.

By the Pumpkin House

Ric Griffith’s world famous Pumpkin House, 748 Beech St., will be gearing up for Halloween with the carving and display of more than 3,000 pumpkins.

Come out and see some fall foliage and revel in the festivities of the Pumpkin House and the C-K AutumnFest. Get a fast blur of foliage at 5:50 p.m. Oct. 21 as AutumnFest hosts a One Mile Sprint Race that starts at Tudor’s in Ceredo, followed by a parade.

Thursday, Oct. 23, there will be a pumpkin carving contest, and food vendors nightly at the Pumpkin House starting at 5 p.m.

Go online at www.ckautumnfest.com for more info.

By bands

Get some great fall “color” by heading down to Charleston on Saturday, Oct. 25, where the University of Charleston Stadium at Laidley Field will host 34 high school marching bands from across the state for the 3rd annual West Virginia Marching Band Invitational.

The West Virginia Marching Band Invitational is sponsored by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History (WVDCH) in participation with the VH1 Save The Music Foundation, the Higher Education Policy Commission and the West Virginia Department of Education and The Arts. The Marching Band Invitational helps to promote, encourage and celebrate arts education throughout West Virginia.

In between the marching bands, step out of the stadium for a nice leaf peeping stroll in downtown Charleston, and along the Kanawha River.

Tickets are $7 for adults and children 12 years of age and older; $5 for children under 12 years of age.

By bash

There still should be some foliage on when Rotary Park hosts the 2nd Annual Bike Bash at Rotary Park on Saturday, Nov. 8.

The Greater Huntington Park & Recreation District hosts the Bike Bash, which kicks off at 9:30 a.m. with a beginners’ pace road ride of about 14 miles. Expert riders from the area will lead novice bikers on this guided ride, all the while sharing helpful tips and ideas for road biking.

The Bike Bash commences at 11 a.m., with live music, food vendors, and lots of information booths including friends from ACE (Ashland Cycling Enthusiast), the city with bicycle registration information and commuter maps, the Marshall Eco Cycle, Bike Surf, as well Jeff’s Bike Shop and Huntington Cycle and Sport.

Little tikes on bikes will get a chance to test their cycling skills on the Kids Bike Rodeo Course, starting at 11 a.m. At noon, mountain biker Bryan Beckett will lead a biking clinic. Professional Cyclocross Racer Mark Brown lends his expertise again at Rotary Park to design a Cyclocross Course at the top of the park, where he will conduct a Cyclocross clinic at 1:30 p.m.

By zips

There’s a slew of good ziplines in the region including a couple (Hocking Hills, Ohio, and TreeTops at Adventures on the Gorge in Lansing, West Virginia) that have been named in the Top 10 canopy tours in the country.

Go and get an adrenaline rush and an up-close fall foliage brush with a trip to TreeTops, located in the heart of the New River Gorge, just north of the bridge.

Call 855-379-8738 for more information about TreeTops, Gravity Ziplines, and the TimberTrek Aerial Adventures at AOTG.

Closer to home, Milton’s Cooper Family Farms, the seasonal corn maze that runs through Sunday, Nov. 2, has 1,300 feet of new ziplines. Rides are $12 each or two for $20. The maze is open Monday through Thursday by reservations, and then 5 to 10 p.m. Fridays, noon to 10 p.m. Saturdays and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays.

Admission is $8 for those 4 and older; free for those ages 3 and younger. The Zombie paintball shoot is $15. Birthday tent rentals are $25 for two hours and $8 per person.

Go online at www.cooperfamilyfarms.net/contact.html for more info.

In Ohio, The Wilds has a Zipline Safari that has 10 ziplines that let guests soar above one of the world’s largest wildlife conservation areas (located north of Marietta, Ohio).

The tour is open daily through October. Go online at www.zipthewilds.com for more info or call 740-638-5030, ext. 2947.

By paddle, pontoon or fishing boat

Fall time is the right time for cruising on a local lake and while they may be small in size, we are surrounded by them. Head out for a good paddle at Grayson Lake, Greenbo, Yatesville, Paintsville and Dewey Lake in Kentucky, Lake Vesuvius and Timbre Ridge over in Lawrence County, Ohio, and just south of Huntington, Beech Fork Lake.

PATH to the Cure (P2C) is not just a 5K walk/run…it’s a communityfest! We’re ‘more than a 5K’ because we strive to be. We’re about bringing the community together in a celebration of women for meaningful, healthy, family fun.

P2C was inspired on a foundation of service and compassion for our community. Our collaborative intention is to raise money – AND KEEP IT LOCAL – to support causes in our community that our neighbors rely upon for good health.

In just four short years, P2C has become a signature event in the Huntington area with over 8,000 participants and hundreds of donors from around the community contributing in excess of $260,000.

The majority of the proceeds from the event will go to the St. Mary’s Breast Center Pink Ribbon Fund, which provides free mammograms to local, uninsured and underinsured women in the Tri-State. A portion of the proceeds will also be donated to the development of the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health (PATH), a bicycle and pedestrian trail system for the city of Huntington. We hope you will sponsor our efforts to support good health and a strong sense of community.

“PATH to the Cure, to me, means no one is alone. It so desperately helps others with covering the costs of mammograms, which means an earlier chance of catching the cancer that can be treated and someday completely cured.” – Gina R., breast cancer survivor

HUNTINGTON — Fit Fest comes at a difficult time of year for Kenneth and Sharon Ambrose.

The event, now in its sixth year, always takes place around Sept. 11, the day in 2001 that their son, Paul, a promising 32-year-old physician who was already renowned in his field for initiatives to fight childhood obesity, was aboard a plane flown by terrorists into the Pentagon building in Washington.

The Paul Ambrose Trail for Health (PATH), an expanding network for walking, running and bicycling throughout the Huntington area, was born to honor the doctor’s work.

Fit Fest is one of the biggest fundraisers for the PATH, and Kenneth and Sharon Ambrose are there every year.

“I think it’s always a little bittersweet, particularly at this time of year,” Sharon Ambrose said Sunday in Ritter Park. “But it’s such a good thing, and it’s always been our choice to be here in Huntington at this time of year rather than going to D.C. … to be here in Huntington where positive things are happening.

“It’s a beautiful day today, and with all these kids out here running, doing healthy things outdoors, I just think it would thrill Paul to death. It’s what he was all about, and to me this is the best way to remember him.”

More than 300 registered for Sunday’s events, which included a climbing wall, painting and sprint races for children, followed by a 5K and 10K later in the afternoon.

Cassey Bowden, marketing director for the Nick J. Rahall Transportation Institute, the lead agency for the PATH, said Sunday’s event raised an estimated $60,000 to $65,000.

“Things are actually better than expected,” she said. “We’ve spread out the events, and we’ve been posting on social media today to try and get more people to come out, and they’ve been coming out.”

The event is a big draw because it gives kids and families a chance to be outdoors together, but also because of the cause, Bowden said.

“People from around the Tri-State come here to utilize the PATH,” she said. “When they find another activity where they can get outside, get active, be healthy, have fun and support the PATH … they see the benefits of growing the PATH in their direction.”

Doug and Kelly Marcum of Chesapeake, Ohio, brought their two children to Fit Fest for the first time Sunday.

Seven-year-old Alex Marcum scaled to the top of the 30-foot climbing wall with little difficulty.

“I got up there pretty high,” he said with a grin. “It’s a little hard to grab (the hand-holds); they’re kind of slippery.”

“We absolutely want our kids to grow up fit and healthy,” said Kelly Marcum. “This is very nice because there’s so much for the kids.”

Shannon Cooper drove from Teays Valley to bring her 3-year-old daughter, Hannah, to Fit Fest.

At last year’s event, Hannah competed in the dash races, and it was the first time Shannon had seen her daughter just flat-out run, she said.

So she brought her back this year.

“She was a bit apprehensive at first, but now that she sees some of the kids running she’s starting to warm up,” Cooper said. “We need more things like this.”

Kenneth Ambrose said as more of the PATH is built, he hears more and more from people who have used it.

“Throughout the years, it’s become more visible, and people are utilizing it much more. (Paul) would be thrilled,” he said.

“People will come up to us once in a while, like in the grocery store or somewhere and say ‘I walked on a piece of the PATH, and I wanted to let you know,’ and that makes you feel real good,” Sharon Ambrose added. “It’s a continuing thing, like a living thing.”

Follow reporter Ben Fields on Twitter @BenFieldsHD

The first phases of construction for the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health started five years ago and this week, nearly another half mile section was finished along Washington Boulevard in Huntington.

“People were already on the road using this section, so we just created a safer area and it’s pretty wide and it’s asphalt,” said Bethany Williams, Rahall Transportation Institute

This piece of PATH is expected eventually to connect Spring Hill Cemetery to Ritter Park. This part was paid for with FitFest funds from last year’s festival.

“Everyone who has given to PATH, built this section, so it’s great and it’s very encouraging to know that people want it and are using it.”

The festival is gearing up for its fifth year. The fun starts Sunday at 1:00 p.m. at Ritter Park. It’s a way to get people out moving and also to honor the namesake of the trail, Dr. Paul Ambrose, who was killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “It’s so encouraging to see how many people now visualize the difference that PATH makes for their community,” said Williams.

So far, there are about 15 miles of off-road pieces of PATH, including parts of the floodwall, St. Clouds Commons, Guyandotte, That’s where Kyle Johnson uses PATH. “I generally use it every day and I love it,” he said.

He said he can’t wait to see more and more pieces connected to areas like Ritter Park. “It I could walk from Guyandotte to here, that would be really great!”

Williams each new connector brings them closer of connecting all part of the tri-state to easier access for wellness. “Just being able to complete another section really helps aid to our vision and everyone’s vision to just get out there and be active, whether it’s walking running, cycling, biking,” she said.

To find out how to get involved in this year’s Fitfest, just check out http://www.fitfest.org/ or log on to http://www.paulambrosetrail.org/ to find the closest part of PATH to you.

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — It was the dream of Dr. Paul Ambrose to help make Huntington and surrounding communities a healthier place to live and work. That dream goes on 13 years after he was killed on 9/11.

Ambrose was a passenger on American Airlines Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon. After the Huntington native’s death, his parents and the community worked together to create PATH or the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health.

“The trail system is basically a way to continue his legacy and make an impact on health of people. I like to think of those as goals and focuses of his career. I hope we’re serving those well,” said Cassey Bowden, the marketing manager for the Nick Joe Rahall Transportation Institute.

PATH now consists of four sections of trail: the Flood Wall, Memorial Park, Guyandotte and St. Cloud. Back on Monday, construction started on the newest phase of the project, .5 miles along Washington Blvd. The goal, according to Bowden, is to eventually connect all those trails.

“PATH is something that started with some ideas and some direction,” explained Bowden. “As the community gets more vested and sees more progress and wants more progress, it keeps growing!”

Bowden believes Ambrose would be very pleased to see how PATH is used on a daily basis.

“To see folks come out and use it to ride their bike, to walk, to run, maybe just time to spend with their family is very exciting. And that excitement is continuing to grow and it’s contagious,” stressed Bowden.

Where will PATH head next? Bowden said that question will be answered on Saturday at the 2014 Fit Fest at Ritter Park. There will be an announcement about the next phase of the project.

Robert H. Plymale represents District 5 in the West Virginia Senate and is Director of the Nick J. Rahall, II Appalachian transportation Institute (RTI), a University Transportation Center, in Huntington, West Virginia. As an advocate for trails throughout southern West Virginia, Plymale has been a key player in the development of public trails for recreation and alternative means of transportation, including the Huntington Museum of Art Multi-Sensory Trail and the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health. Recognizing the economic development and community revitalization potential of the Hatfield McCoy Trails to coal-dependent counties in southern West Virginia, he has been active in mapping, planning and promoting hundreds of miles motorized, private trail system.

Since he became director of the RTI in 2001, Plymale and the researchers and educational professionals affiliated with RTI have realized the potential trails have to boost the region’s tourism industry and reviving its economy. Some of RTI’s first research initiatives addressed creating “rails to trails” projects along the Greenbrier River Trail, planning for development of greenways between the state’s major cities and developing and evaluation a geographical information mapping system for the Hatfield McCoy network of trails (www.trailsheaven.org). Plymale and RTI’s largest regional impact on trails in West Virginia may be the work with the Hatfield McCoy Regional Recreation Authority. In fact, since 2005, off-highway vehicle recreation has become southern West Virginia’s most frequently utilized outdoor recreation attraction, surpassed only by white water rafting; the popularity of the Hatfield McCoy Trails systems can be attributed to the majority of off-highway vehicle trail users.

The Huntington Museum of Art’s property includes more than 40 acres of hillside that has retained its natural woodland state. The museum’s nature trail is a well-marked and maintained trail approximately one mile in length. Senator Plymale and RTI have supported this trail from the early stages of its development through completion of the project (www.hmoa.org/pages/aa-naturetrails.html).

As a result of RTI research, Plymale was instrumental in the development of the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health (PATH) (www.paulambrosetrailforhealth.org) in Cabell and Wayne Counties of West Virginia. Once complete, the PATH will be a proposed 26-mile, public trail that was named for Dr. Paul Ambrose, a young physician who was killed at the Pentagon in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Ambrose was en route to attend an adolescent obesity conference in Los Angeles, when his plane was crashed into the Pentagon. The PATH, which will consist of segments of crushed limestone non-motorized trail as well as motorized “Share the Road” segments, will link residential communities to business and educational areas, and provide a safe, alternative means of transportation and recreation. RTI has lead planning and fundraising efforts through grant-writing and public events, which total approximately $340,000. In addition, more than 1,000 individuals in the tri-state area have participated in PATH-related health and fitness or education activities, which continue the legacy of Dr. Ambrose to fight obesity through physical activity.

Under his direction, RTI has provided trail inventory and mapping, layout and design services and trail construction oversight for public and private trails.

With the assistance of Dr. Raymond Busbee, RTI has developed four online courses offered by Marshall University that relate to creating and maintaining OHV trail systems: Introduction to Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation; Planning, Design and Construction of Off-Highway Vehicle Trail Systems; Construction of OHV Trail Systems; and Operation and Management of OHV Trail Systems. These courses, which are available for graduate or undergraduate credit, may lead to a minor in Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Management. Individuals who complete these courses have entered the workforce as trail specialists, directors of field operations, director of trail planning and development and trail maintenance crew.

Plymale also helped RTI create a partnership with St. Mary’s Medical Center to create the Transportation Injury Prevention and Safety (TIPS) program. Through TIPS, registered nurses and safety professionals travel to schools and public events in West Virginia and southern Ohio to teach bicycle, vehicle, skateboard, off-highway vehicle and motorcycle safety. TIPS professionals often perform bicycle and car seat safety checks and provide free helmets to students.

HUNTINGTON — The Paul Ambrose Trail for Health grew this week with a nice line of smooth pavement running adjacent to Washington Boulevard for four-tenths of a mile.

The latest section of the trail, called PATH for short, was laid from Glenwood Terrace to Holswade Drive over the past two days and has generated more buzz around the project at a good time, with major fundraiser Fit Fest coming up this weekend.

“One of our goals is to get these connectors up so people can see the PATH getting closer and closer to them,” said Cassey Bowden, of the Rahall Transportation Institute. “People are excited about how nice it looks, how quickly it was built and the impact it has on their community.”

The new construction initially got a much different reaction from Huntington Mayor Steve Williams.

“I drove by that (Monday) morning, and I was about to blow a gasket because I thought someone had torn up all the grass,” he said with a laugh. “By the afternoon there was a nice paved area there.”

The new section was funded from proceeds of last year’s Fit Fest and other fundraisers.

It will eventually connect to Ritter Park and the Spring Hill Cemetery PATH section.

“The PATH is continually being evaluated for enhancement and expansion opportunities,” Bob Plymale, RTI Foundation secretary/treasurer, said in a written release. “We hope community members will utilize this connector when planning their outdoor activities.”

The PATH is a growing, multi-purpose trail for walkers, runners and cyclists that offers free access for those types of fitness activities. Ambrose, its namesake, was a young Huntington physician who had gained national recognition for his focus on fighting youth obesity. He was killed during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, as a passenger aboard American Airlines Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon.

Fit Fest, the annual fundraising event for PATH, is Sunday, Sept. 14, in Ritter Park.

The event opens at 1 p.m. Fit Fest includes a 5K run/walk, 10K run, children’s dashes and fun runs and free children’s activities. Register now or learn more by visiting FitFest.org.

Follow reporter Ben Fields on Twitter @BenFieldsHD.

HUNTINGTON — It was five years ago when Ken and Sharon Ambrose, the Rahall Transportation Institute and a group of forward-thinking community members organized the first Fit Fest at Ritter Park in Huntington.

The event, which takes place yearly around the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks is a community celebration both honors the Ambroses’ son, the late Dr. Paul Ambrose, a promising young public health physician who was a victim of the attacks, as well as helping the Rahall Transportation Institute press on with a project that is directly in line with one of Paul Ambrose’s life missions: to help people live well.

Fit Fest features a carnival-like atmosphere with an array of wellness activities for people of all ages, with proceeds from the event going toward the PATH (Paul Ambrose Trail for Health). PATH is a growing bicycle and pedestrian trail system through Huntington and surrounding areas.

This year, the fun takes place on Sunday, Sept. 14, at Ritter Park.

The event opens at 1 p.m. with races for kids of all ages and abilities. There are 25-, 50-, and 100-yard dashes, as well as a half mile and one-mile fun run. For the grown-up set and more adventurous kids, there’s a 5K walk/run and 10K run at 4:15 p.m.

This year Fit Fest has partnered with the Kids in Motion program at the Huntington YMCA. Kids in Motion will provide fun, free activities for children and youth and has even been offering Fit2Run preparation running classes.

“Kids in Motion being associated with Fit Fest is extremely important for our program,” Jamie Berry, the YMCA’s Health and Wellness director, said in a release. “Kids in Motion and PATH initiatives are closely aligned and working together in then community towards health goals is an important effort. We are excited to be a part of Fit Fest 2014.”

Children will also have the opportunity to climb the rock wall, master hula hooping, complete the obstacle course. All activities are free, runs are by donation only.

An opening ceremony will begin at 3:30 p.m. At that time, fallen heroes from the Sept. 11th attacks will be honored and those gathered can also hear the latest on the PATH.

The PATH’s construction is a work in progress, with sections already completed in West Huntington, Harveytown, Guyandotte, Altizer and elsewhere. Ritter Park, Harris Riverfront Park and Spring Hill Cemetery also connect with the PATH.

According to the team working on the PATH at the Rahall Transportation Institute, potential new sections of the PATH are being evaluated for future construction. The RTI reports that currently, stakeholders are evaluating a future project that would build a section of PATH along Washington Boulevard and connect the Spring Hill Cemetery to the sidewalks that lead to Ritter Park.

Another future project being evaluated is a pedestrian bridge along the floodwall at 3rd Street West and ending at Devon Road in Westmoreland, which would eliminate a currently interrupted section.

Also under consideration is a blended project with Marshall University’s strategic plan to incorporate 5th and 3rd avenues with the campus, giving students and the community access to the PATH through campus and into downtown.

Others include extending the newly opened HarveytownPATH and adding signage and designations for bicycle Share-the-Road sections.

So far, more than $4.5 million in grants has been received and put toward the completed sections of the PATH. Also, thanks to Fit Fest and grassroots fundraising efforts, the community has raised some $350,000 for the PATH.

Registration is open for the Fit Fest 5K run/walk and 10K run, as well as the children’s 1 mile and races. Registration is available by visiting www.tristateracer.com.

For more information about PATH or Fit Fest, visit www.paulambrosetrail.org or www.fitfest.org.

HUNTINGTON — On these late summer mornings, the promise of fall whispers that it is on its way.

A few leaves wear their turncoat colors under a thick morning veil of fog and some mornings come as crisp and delicious as an orchard apple.

Here on these late summer weekends, festivals start rolling in and setting up like round bales of field hay.

Here’s a look at the full harvest of late summer festivals headed our way.

Portsmouth River Days Festival

Running Thursday, Aug. 28 through Monday, Sept. 1 at Front Street and the Court Street Landing in Portsmouth, Ohio, Portsmouth River Days Festival has nightly entertainment, one of the largest queen’s pageants in Ohio, and a grand parade. The parade is at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 30, and the pageant is at 9 p.m. Other highlights include the 10 p.m. Sunday fireworks.

In addition to the arts and crafts, children’s activities, petting zoo, and a fireworks extravaganza rounds out the festivities.

Entertainment includes Shenandoah on Thursday; Meet the Return (Beatles tribute act) and City Heat on Friday, Eddie Money and Larry Pancake on Saturday and Doc Roc and The Remedies, Campbell Sisters and Josh Stewart on Sunday.

Go online at www.portsmouthriverdays.org for more info.

Aunt Jennie Wilson Music Festival

The Museum in the Park at Chief Logan State Park in Logan will present the 10th annual “Aunt Jennie Wilson Music Festival” on Saturday, Aug. 30 and Sunday, Aug. 31. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday. It is located four miles north of Logan on W.Va. Route 10 in Chief Logan State Park.

The free Labor Day weekend concerts will feature the grandson of West Virginia folk legend “Aunt Jennie” Wilson, Roger Bryant, and other notable old-time musicians.

Go online at www.wvculture.org for more info.

Tribute To The River

Old Man River gets a nod over Labor Day Weekend, Aug. 29-30, during the Point Pleasant River Museum’s Tribute to the River, at the confluence of the Kanawha and Ohio rivers in Point Pleasant, West Virginia.

Friday night kicks off with concessions at 7 p.m. and J.C. Hall and Out for a Buck at 8 p.m., then on Saturday, there’s a full plate of activities including tours of a working towboat starting at 9 a.m. The River Museum opens at 10 a.m. At 11 a.m. there’s corn hole and line throwing competition with cash prizes. There are also children’s games, food, entertainment, and a sternwheel boat parade in the Ohio River.

Call 304-674-0144 and go online at http://www.pprivermuseum.com for more info.

Get Down in the Gorge

ACE Adventure Resort in Minden, West Virginia, perfects a cap on the summer with Get Down in the Gorge on Saturday, Aug. 30 with an all-day Beach Party featuring ziplines, waterslides and an inflatable floating bouncy heaven, followed by a concert with bands The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, The Wild Rumpus, Lawless Brown, Black King Coal and Groundhog Gravy.

Call 304-469-2651 or 304-574-7883 and go online at http://www.aceraft.com for more info.

Fraley Mountain Music Gathering

Celebrate the 45th anniversary of one of the region’s oldest traditional music fests, the laid back annual Fraley Mountain Music Gatherin’ from Wednesday through Sunday, Sept. 3-6.

The festival that began as a family reunion honors old-time music and eastern Kentucky traditions as well as the late master fiddler J.P. Fraley. Musicians will be jamming in parking lots and sharing music around the campfires of Carter Caves State Resort Park. Musical instruments such as dulcimer, fiddle and guitar are used to tell stories about life long ago in the eastern Kentucky foothills.

Paid admission is required for concerts and jam sessions Friday afternoon through Saturday night. Fees range from $4 to $10. A festival pass for all programs costs $25 per person. The Friends of Carter Caves will provide refreshments.

For more information, including a list of invited musicians, contact Coy Ainsley at 606-286-4411 x2543 or festival organizer Barb Kuhns at bkuhnsfiddle@yahoo.com. Visit the festival website at www.fraleyfestival.com.

LaborFest

LaborFest is set for 2 p.m. Monday, Sept. 1 on the Central Park bandstand at Central Park in Ashland.

The one-day fest features live music from “American Idol” contestant Jesse Cline as well as The Strings of White Creek, Danny McGraw, Eddie Riffe and others.

Family fun includes a free ice cream social, corn hole, face painting, cotton candy and balloon art.

The 2014 Paper City Music Festival

Held at Camp Cattail in Chillicothe, Ohio, Paper City Music Festival take place Aug. 29-31 with an abundance of eclectic music by bands from around North America. The festival will host more than 25 artists over the course of three days, ranging from bluegrass, Americana, funk and soul to singer/songwriter, southern rock, salsa, alternative and rock and roll. Just some of the acts include: David Mayfield Parade, The Wheeler Brothers, Tim Easton, Silent Lions, The Ragbirds, El Caribefunk, Big Little Lions, Crystal Bright and the Silver Hands and many more.

To listen and find out more about each artist, visit www.papercitymusicfestival.com and click 2014 Festival Lineup. The 2014 Paper City Music Festival will be at Camp Cattail (322 Cattail Road, Chillicothe, OH 45601), weekend passes are 40 for all three days, including free camping and parking. Single day tickets will also be available starting at $20 a day. Prices will will be $60 for the weekend or $30 a day at the gate.

ChiliFest — The WV State Chili Championship

Taking place on 3rd Avenue and Pullman Square in downtown, Huntington’s 31st annual ChiliFest is moved up a couple weeks to Saturday, Sept. 6.

Sanctioned by the International Chili Society and presented by Chili Willi’s and WSAZ, ChiliFest features chili booths in ICS competition (red, verde and salsa) as well as large community booths (like G Lover’s, Cabell-Huntington Hospital, and Hillbilly Chili) for people’s choice.

Join about 20,000 of your closest friends in enjoying a full day of festivities and fun including children’s activities, fun races and contests (like the hot pepper eating, beer drinking and shot ‘n’ holler contests) as well as live music. This year’s music acts include two Charleston-area acts. The award-winning blues rockers, Chaz Humley and The Effects and the regionally-traveling indie rockers, Qiet.

All the money goes to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Tri-State. ChiliFest has raised more than $550,000 for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Tri-State.

Go online at http://www.chilifestwv.com/ for more info.

Country Roads Cook-Off

Some of the region’s best chefs bring out the cast iron and many cook over open fires as Heritage Farm Museum & Village hosts its 3rd annual Country Roads Cook-off from 10 am. To 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6.

The competition will feature local foods and recipes that highlight Appalachian cooking and will feature two categories: stove, hotplate or crockpot cooking and wood-fire cooking. Contestants may choose to cook an appetizer, salad, dessert entrée or side, and the main ingredient should be regionally available.

The winner in each of these two categories, as chosen by a panel of judges, will receive $150 and there will also be a People’s Choice Award of $75.

For more information on this year’s cook-off, or to register, visit www.heritagefarmmuseum.com or contact Heritage Farm at 304- 522-1244.

First Cupcake Festival

The first Cupcake Festival is Saturday, Sept. 6 at the Valley Park Wave Pool in Hurricane with vendors and craft booths, a Cupcake Chase 5K, car and motorcycle show, an amateur cupcake competition, cupcake pageant and more.

Go online at www.facebook.com/HurricaneCupcakeFestival.

All of the proceeds from the fees for all of the events will benefit the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

Culturefest

Taking place Sept. 4-7 at Pipestem, W.Va., the 11th annual Culturefest celebration of the creative arts is set to roll with more than 25 acts including music, performance art including a lociraptor. Yes, a dinosaur. Workshops in drumming, yoga, reiki, superfoods, upcycled art, crafts, belly dance, hoops dance, live action role playing, and “Conversations at Culturefest” featuring We Are All Farmers Permaculture Institute and others will stir your creative juices.

Performances run an eclectic range of musical groups from around the States including Big Something and Songs of Water.

The vendor line-up features a French creperie, homestyle Mexican, Thai food and more. There’s also a children’s village with special art workshops, yoga classes, the popular kids’ open mic stage and the most epic costume parade yet.

Go online at www.culturefestwv.com for more info.

Louisa Septemberfest

Called the best little fest in Kentucky, Septemberfest in Louisa, Ky., runs Sept. 5-7 in downtown Louisa. A multi-faceted fest with daily carnival and games, fair food, live music, and a slew of activities including a 5 and 10K run, a trail ride and a bass tournament at nearby Yatesville Lake.

Main Stage entertainment includes Nashville star Josh Gracin and opener Shane Thomas on Saturday, Sept. 6.

There’s also an 11 a.m. parade on Saturday as well.

Go online at http://septemberfestlouisa.com/Septemberfest/Welcome.html for a full schedule of events.

Ohio River Festival of Books

Running Monday, Sept. 15 through Saturday, Sept. 20, the biennial Ohio River Festival of Books builds toward a main event on Saturday, Sept. 20, at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena, but authors will also appear in schools, branch libraries and Woodlands Retirement Center during the preceding week. A reception will be Friday evening, Sept. 19, following a program by notable children’s author Marc Brown, creator of “Arthur.”

Featured authors will include Craig Johnson, S.G. Redling, Marc Harshman, Anna Smucker, and many others. Regional publishers and local signing authors will be on hand. The Cabell County Friends of the Library will have a book sale, and the program will conclude Saturday evening with author Christel Schmidt discussing Mary Pickford’s film contributions, followed by ragtime pianist Ethan Uslan accompanying the silent Pickford film, “Sparrows.” There will also be performers during the week at the branch libraries including Madcap Puppets doing an “Aladdin and Friends” show at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 17 in the Memorial Student Center: Don Morris Room, Marshall University. Also performing will be Tim Bing doing a program called “Ireland: Words and Music” at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 16 at the West Huntington Public Library.

Go online at http://www.ohioriverbooks.org/ for more info.

Poage Landing Days

Ashland’s super-sized late summer fest, the 19th annual Poage Landing Days takes place in downtown Sept. 19-21 with everything from daily music to the Cone Fest, slalom skateboarding races, the Ed Haley Fiddle Fest, a bike show, arts and crafts vendors, and much more.

Headliner this year is country hitmaker Rodney Atkins at the fest which has been voted one of the “Top 25” downtown festivals in Kentucky by the Kentucky Main Street Program. There will also be an antique car show, beauty pageant, along with various other events to challenge you both athletically and artistically.

Go online at http://poagelandingdays.com/ for more info.

FitFest

Fit Fest 2014, the 6th annual event takes place on Sunday, Sept. 14 at Ritter Park beginning at 1 p.m.

Fit Fest aims to create a healthier community, encourage healthy lifestyles and benefit the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health (PATH). Fit Fest is comprised of a 5K walk/run, 10K run, children’s 25, 50 and 100 yard dashes, half mile and mile run and healthy vendors and exhibitors.

Registration is open. Volunteers and exhibitors are also needed. Sponsorship opportunities beginning at $150 are available. Go online at http://www.fitfest.org/ for more info.

Furnace Fall Fest

The Ohio Furnace Youth Group will have its 5th Annual Fall Festival and Gospel sing from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 13, at the Ohio Furnace Baptist Church, 3132 Haverhill-Ohio Furnace Road, just west of Ironton.

Festivities will include vendors, games for the kids, concessions, face painting, inflatables, a silent auction, entertainment and more. Entertainment to include – Andy McGinnis Ministries, Terri Webb, Lori Royster, Kenny Kelley Ministries and many more.

All proceeds support the Ohio Furnace Baptist Church Youth Department. For more information or for vendor booth space please, call Kyle Stormes, assistant youth director at 740-479-1501 or email at ofygroup@yahoo.com.

Timberline Frontier Weekend

Runs Friday and Saturday, Sept. 12-13 at Timberline Four Seasons Resort in Davis, W.Va., the Frontier Weekend features fun in the old-time cowboy way with an authentic cow camp circa 1835, a mountain trail horse ride, a live shoot-out on the mountain, and live music from Joe, Wyatt and The Saddletramps and much more.

Call 1-800-766-9464 or go online at www.timberlineresort.com for more info.

Mothman Festival

Halloween comes early as the 13th annual Mothman Festival takes over downtown Point Pleasant from Sept. 20-21 with a tours of the TNT area, nightly hayrides, guided bus tours by the Mothman Museum personnel, live music, and one of the main attractions, a full slate of regionally and nationally known experts on ghosts, UFOs, the paranormal, Bigfoot and other mysteries. The speakers will be at the State Museum, where the “White Zombie” film will be shown on Sept. 21.

There’s also a Mothman 5K, a grand re-opening of the Mothman Museum, DJ Scott and a bunch of live bands including 40 Lb. Snapper, Bunkhammer, Sondergeist and many others.

Go online at http://mothmanfestival.com/ for more info.

Poppy Mountain

The super-sized 22nd annual Poppy Mountain Bluegrass Festival runs Sept. 16-Sept. 20 at Poppy Mountain, just east of Morehead, Kentucky high on a hilltop overlooking U.S. 60.

A daily feast of the best of traditional bluegrassers and some country including: LRB, Melvin Goins and Windy Mountain, The SteelDrivers, The Time Jumpers featuring Dawn Sears, Vince Gill, Kenny Sears and Doug Green, John Anderson, Russell Moore and III Tyme Out, The Grascals, The Roys, Marty Raybon, The Hillbilly Gypsies and Rambling Rooks.

Pre-sale weekly is $120 before Sept. 1. Daily tickets are $20 Tuesday and Wednesday, $30 Thursday, $40 Friday and then $50 Saturday.

Call 1-606-784-2277, email poppymtn@yahoo.com and go online at http://poppymountainbluegrass.com for more info.

Huntington Greek Festival

On Sept. 26-28, come out to the Southside of Huntington, for Huntington’s most popular neighborhood-based fest, the 32nd Annual Greek Festival, at the St. George Greek Orthodox Church.

Come out for a fun-filled weekend of homemade Greek dinners, gyros and pastries as well as live Greek music and dancing. Inside check out tours of the church and its icon paintings. The fest runs 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 26-27 and then 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 28.

Go online at http://www.stgeorgehwv.org/festival/ for more info.

Huntington Arts and Music Fest

Come out to Ritter Park Amphitheater on Saturday, Sept. 27 for an all-day-and-night buffet of cool regional indie music and art. More than two dozen regional acts provide continuous music topped off with such national headliners as Red Wanting Blue and David Mayfield Parade.

Also enjoy unique arts and crafts vendors, interactive children’s arts and crafts area, and local food and drink vendors.

Go online at www.hmafestival.com for more info.

FreeFall Festival

Snowshoe Mountain hosts its 2nd annual FreeFall Festival on Sept. 26-28 with national act headliners Michael Franti with Spearhead (Friday) and Slightly Stoopid (Saturday) performing both days at the Mountaintop Village. Also slated to perform is G. Love and Special Sauce. Additional opening acts will also play.

Along with the concerts, the FreeFall weekend event will bring downhill and cross-country mountain bike races, a mountaintop brew fest celebration with a vast assortment of the nation’s finest craft beers and local barbecue, a Dock Dogs competition, a mountain bike movie premiere and a Saturday night fireworks. Guests can also participate in the Lifestyle Camp, which includes outdoor adventure activities and sporting events. A Sunday scavenger hunt called FreeforAll will offer season passes and ski trips as prizes.

Tickets are $25 prior to Sept. 15, and $35 if purchased after Sept. 15. Two-day Tickets are $40 before Sept. 15.

For concert ticket information, a complete schedule of FreeFall weekend events, or to make a Snowshoe lodging reservation, call 877-441-4386 or visit online at http://www.snowshoemtn.com/freefall.

HUNTINGTON — Back in 2000 when world-traveling West Virginia native blues singer Diamond Teeth Mary Smith McClain was getting ready to make the crossing, the 97-year-old St. Petersburg, Florida resident made one final wish of her blues-loving friends — drive her ashes up to Huntington, West Virginia and sprinkle them on the railroad tracks where she first left home at age 12.

Thus it has been back along these Heritage Station tracks (the old B&O station) where Huntington has now, for the past four years, and the regional blues community, given up a whole lot of love to McClain. They helped get her in the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame and put up a plaque in honor of McClain, who played everywhere from the White House to blues festivals around the world.

But when last year’s fest got elbow-to-elbow, Kevin Brady and DTM fest founder Chris Sutton started eyeballing the spacious banks of the Ohio River.

This year, in its fifth year as the Diamond Teeth Mary Blues and Arts Festival, will run Friday and Saturday, Aug. 22-23 with free music flowing first at Heritage Station and then down onto the riverbanks for a full-blown festival.

The DTM Fest kicks off with a blues-themed Party on the Patio from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 22 at Heritage Station with the award-winning blues act C&S Railroad and front man Chris Sutton, who’ll be touring in India and Nepal in November.

Then the festival rolls on at Harris Riverfront Park from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 23 with a slew of kids activities, arts and crafts and food booths, and an overflowing plate of the blues that features such headliners as Lexington, Ky.-based Tee Dee Young, and Ohio-based slide-guitarist Ray Fuller and The Blues Rockers, who cut their last record at Buddy’s Guy’s Legends in Chicago and who travel the globe playing the blues.

Also on the bill is internationally-traveling duo and Boogie Woogie Piano Hall of Fame members, Liz Pennock and Dr. Blues, who backed Diamond Teeth Mary on her one recording (cut in Huntington with Denny Chandler) and who toured with McClain to Europe and the Chicago Blues Fest.

Festing from the Rail to the River

A former park director in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he helped run a super-sized blues fest, Brady said it was a natural call to have the Diamond Teeth Mary fest encompass the best of both worlds.

“I think if Diamond Teeth Mary were here she would enjoy the intimacy of Friday night warm up party at the Station then would want to cross the street and go to the river and blow the walls out on Saturday,” Brady said. “You are confined at Heritage Station to an intimate crowd, and we don’t want this to be intimate. We want everyone to come out and enjoy it and get their blues on. You can’t dial your radio to a blues station, you’ve got to go out and get into it when you can. This is the way in Huntington, this is Huntington’s blues festival. There is not another one.”

Sutton, who has competed three times in the world’s largest blues competition, the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, hand-picked the artists that includes the one-man-band inventor Gary Applegate (from John Mellencamp’s hometown of Seymour, Indiana,) and more local artists like bar burners Diablo Blues Band out of Charleston, Mojo Bones with veteran touring professional Allan Hatten on harp, as well as Young and Fuller.

“I think it goes back to putting Diamond Teeth Mary’s name on the thing and that led the charge to look at our area, and we can give exposure to people from the region who are great musicians,” Sutton said. “Fame, money and notoriety doesn’t make you a better musician, and we are really bringing in top notch bands this year to entertain the community and to let people see that we’ve got people around here who can do it just as well as the big boys.”

Some Central Kentucky fried blues

Case in point is Lexington’s Tee Dee Young, who is known for his flashy suits and even flashier guitar playing.

Young, who started in the church with his father, the late gospel singer Leonard Young, has long been boiling up the blues and R&B. His five-piece band has performed all over the U.S. with such acts as Cameo, Al Green, James Brown, Ike and Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin and toured the country on the 2000 Mustang Sally Tour with Sir Mack Rice (Mustang Sally), Average White band and The Dazz Band.

“Tee Dee has a great band and he is a great musician but an entertainer too who knows how to work the stage,” Sutton said. “Some people just let the music talk but he is one of those guys who takes it further. If you haven’t made it out to the fest, make year five the year to come out because we’ve totally stacked the deck with entertainment.”

Brady said that while Sutton would be the last to say so, that deck stacking starts on Friday night when Sutton himself, who cut one of his last records at Memphis’ famed Sun Studios, will get the festival off to a broiling start with his band that will throwdown and be joined by various guests from around the local music community.

“Everybody enjoys Party on the Patio and this kicks off that festival feeling that everybody has, it is a lot of fun and it is a good Friday night time out with good food, kind of get you warmed up for it and give you a taste of what to expect,” Brady said. “Chris and the guys always do a great job. Chris has some amazing talent, he is really, really talented. He is very humble and modest but when it comes right down to it, and he gets in a groove he can rock it with the best of them and is amazing.”

A field full of kids games and art

While Friday goes into the heart of the night, Saturday switches gears with an early gate opening (10 a.m.) after which there will be four hours of free, fun family games including Euro Jump., Strike Zone’s outdoor bowling (six lanes), Backyard Habitat, kick ball, volley ball, corn hole, Ski-Ball, hula hoops, jump ropes, water ball and others.

“It is growing and the first year we had a stage on the street and in the gazebo, and last year we tried to just do it on the gazebo and it was too big and too crowded. Having it at the river gives us a lot more room and much more ability to do more kids activities and make it a kids event,” Brady said.

One of the early events also includes the DTM Youth Art contest with lots of cool prizes for kids art works, including a grand prize of a new bicycle.

“The youth art competition judging will be done early and the art work will be on display at the promenade which is by the flags so people can come by and check that out,” Brady said. “We’ve had three different art classes who’s teachers contacted us and they made it a class project so we’ll have 50 or 60 entries.”

Some BBQ slathered Blues and Brews

In addition to the kids activities, the DTM fest will also have a wealth of arts and crafts and food venders.

“Renee (Watterson) has 14 craft vendors so far and there will probably be about 20 total as well as six or seven food vendors,” Brady said. “There will be a lot of good stuff over there. We’ve got a barbecue guy because you’ve got to have some good barbecue with the blues. We’ll have blues, barbecue and beer all falling in together in one spot.”

Vendors include The Pigs Blanket BBQ, Popperville (popcorn), Shaved Ice, Sister Sweets (including deep-fried Twinkies), Laykens Dogs (cotton candy and hot dogs and hamburgers), Legacy Foods and others.

A river of music runs through it

The Harmonica Club of Huntington is not doing its state competition but they are doing a jam, and they will teach people how to play harp in the early afternoon.

“The bar opens at 2 and the bands will kick off and they will basically go throughout the evening, and we will go on until they quit jamming,” Brady said.

Veteran acoustic club rockers, Sean Johnson and Aaron Marshall Miller, known together as Inbred Cornbread, will help fill all the set-change space in between.

“There’s always a delay between bands so we’ve got Inbred Cornbread coming and they will be on stage every time a band quits playing until the next band starts. They’ll do a 20 minute set about seven or eight times that day. They are musical, comical and entertaining.

Brady said he hopes folks who haven’t been to Harris Riverfront Park in a while come down during the free festival to enjoy the park and to see the brand new playground, and all the improvements including the new exercise equipment as well that is part of the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health or PATH, and the area that will soon become a brand new skatepark.

“It is such a perfect venue,” Brady said. “I think one of the things I have realized since I got here is that giant concrete wall, although we can’t see the river, once you get past it you are in another world — you are in the park. It is rapidly developing into a better place to be. We have a new playground in there which has brought a lot of new people into the park. We have free public Wi-Fi access there, so you can go over at lunch and sit and watch the river go by and do your work and enjoy.”

Blues blowing in
WHAT: The fifth annual Diamond Teeth Mary Blues and Arts Festival

WHERE: Harris Riverfront Park in downtown Huntington

WHEN: Gates open at 10 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 23. Live music 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. In between all of the blues band sets, the duo Inbred Cornbread will be playing acoustic.

HOW MUCH: Free

FOR THE FAM: Free kids and family activities run from noon to 2 p.m. with Euro Jump, Strike Zone’s outdoor bowling (six lanes), Backyard Habitat, kick ball, volley ball, corn hole, Ski-Ball, hula hoops, jump ropes, water ball and others.

THE SCHEDULE: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. kids/ family fun

2 to 4 p.m.– WV Blues Harmonica Jam (Open to harp players of all levels. Hosted by the Harmonica Club of Huntington.

4 to 4:45 p.m. — (One-Man band) Gary Applegate

4:45 to 5:30 p.m. — Mojo Bones featuring harmonica player Allan Hatten

6 to 6:45 p.m. — Liz Pennock and Dr. Blues (Florida, the duo who backed Diamond Teeth Mary for years)

7:15 to 8 p.m. — The Diablo Blues Band (big blues R&B act out of Charleston)

8:30 to 9:15 p.m. — Ray Fuller and the Blues Rockers (Internationally traveling blues out of Ohio)

10:15 to 11 p.m. — Tee Dee Young (Lexington, Ky., winner of the 2014 Ohio River Blues Competition)

FOOD VENDORS: The Pigs Blanket BBQ, Popperville, Shaved Ice, Sister Sweets, Laykens Dogs and others.

CRAFT VENDORS: 14 arts and crafts vendors

FRIDAY NIGHT KICKOFF: The DTM Fest kicks off with a free blues-themed Party on the Patio from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 22, at Heritage Station with the award-winning blues act Chris Sutton and C&S Railroad. There will be full concessions including food vending by Chickpeas Middle Eastern Grill.

HUNTINGTON — Registration is now open for the Fit Fest 5K run/walk and 10K run, planned for Sunday, Sept. 14.

Registration is open for the children’s 1-mile and half races and available online at www.tristateracer.com.

“Fit Fest is a wonderful community event that offers something for the whole family,” Brie Salmons, operations manager of the Rahall Transportation Institute said in a news release. “If you are 2 or 82 you can come out and participate in a variety of activities that promote healthy lifestyles.”

Early registration pricing is available until Aug. 11. Registration fees are $20 for the 5K and $25 for the 10K.

Registration for the kids’ 1-mile and half races is open and only $5. Fit Fest also includes free children’s activities such as a rock wall, games, kids’ dashes and Kids in Motion activities.

All proceeds benefit the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health (PATH), a growing bicycle and pedestrian trail system providing recreational opportunities throughout Huntington and surrounding areas. PATH is named for Barboursville native Dr. Paul Ambrose, who was a promising young physician whose life ended Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon.

Ambrose focused his medical career on family health and using preventative medicine to fight obesity, and the trail system is a way to continue his medical legacy and improve the health of Huntington residents.

The event opens at 1 p.m. with children’s dashes beginning at 2:15 p.m., children’s 1-mile and half races beginning at 3 p.m., and the 5K and 10K events beginning at 4:15 p.m.

For more information about PATH or Fit Fest, contact Cassey Bowden at bowdenc@njrati.org or visit www.paulambrosetrail.org or www.fitfest.org.

HUNTINGTON — Party on the Patio was a bit more pink than usual Friday night as concertgoers raised money for the PATH to the Cure coming up in September.

Party on the Patio in Pink took place from 7 to 11 p.m. at Heritage Station and featured a free concert by the Oakwood Road Band.

PATH to the Cure is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 28, in downtown Huntington. The 5K aims to raise money for St. Mary’s Pink Ribbon Fund, which provides mammograms to uninsured and under-insured women, and the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health (PATH), a growing bicycle and pedestrian trail system through the Huntington area.

Last year’s event attracted more than 2,300 participants.

Friday’s concertgoers were encouraged to wear pink and register for this year’s race. The party also featured beverages for all ages and food prepared by Chick Peas food truck.

Party on the Patio is sponsored by First Sentry Bank, Cabell/Huntington Convention & Visitors Bureau, Coca-Cola and the Greater Huntington Park & Recreation District.

For more information, call 304-696-5954 or visit www.ghprd.org and www.pathtothecure.org.

The term “grassroots” gets thrown around a lot across the United States.

The word is meant to symbolize a movement that starts at the local level, and eventually grows to affect policy at a higher level.

It is most often used in politics, usually by an office-holder or candidate trying to promote the idea that his or herw agenda is in line with that of the constituents.

It can be argued that, in this sense, the word is almost meaningless.

However, in the greater Huntington community, the term fits perfectly for what has taken shape over the course of just a few short years.

Local organizations, fueled almost entirely by volunteers and typically funded through contributions or grants, have come together to actually change the face of the community.

Ideas have been translated from thesis papers or even ideas thrown into the ether by voice into hard realities that are having a positive impact on quality of life and overall perception of a city that had been relegated to “down-and-out” status for years.

Phoebe Patton Randolph and Create Huntington

One group that has been credited with planting the seed of change, and helping others to orchestrate a similar effect on everything from food to the arts, is Create Huntington.

The nonprofit was founded by a collection of young professionals who found themselves discontent to live in a city they loved, while watching it decay both in terms of a sense of community and public perception.

Over the years the group has helped build up local efforts that in turn build up the community, through its “Chat ‘n Chew” idea sessions, the CAFÉ program that awards cash for innovative ideas, and volunteering through networking.

Phoebe Patton Randolph, an architect with the Edward Tucker firm, was one of those young professionals who helped co-found Create Huntington.

Randolph grew up in Huntington, but was more or less away for her college career at the University of Tennessee, and spent two years after she graduated working in South Carolina, before returning home in 2003.

She was serving on the West Virginia chapter of the Livable Communities Committee when she met other professionals — like Jessica Pressman and Thomas and Stacy McChesney — who would become the base for Create Huntington.

“The way I understand it, it sort of all came together from the frustration with the very, very negative public view of the city,” Randolph said. “There was a general malaise about the situation, and public agencies weren’t working together.

“When I first came back, there was a real sense of oppressive negativity.”

Randolph said she and others came together over the idea that what was happening with city or state government shouldn’t necessarily dictate how people lived their lives in Huntington.

“I remember the rule for the first meeting was you can’t just come up and complain,” she said. “You had to address it from the angle of ‘What can I do to help solve the problem?’”

For Randolph, Create Huntington started out as a way for her to meet people in her hometown after moving back, but transformed into a hub to spin ideas outward into the community.

“It really has evolved,” she said. “What we were working on in those early days is entirely different from where things are now. Create Huntington has really become one of those groups that is a real organization that makes things happen.”

Randolph is quick to point out that Create Huntington is only the starting point for those who go on to see their ideas realized.

“We were always careful not to claim our prospects,” Randolph said. “It’s the people in the community who made those things happen. There’s no way it could have happened without people who had a vision and the determination to see it through.”

Create Huntington now has a solid footprint in the community and a rotating board of directors to ensure ideas continue to come from new voices.

Randolph stepped off the board a few years ago, and has been more personally involved with the arts and education communities in Huntington.

She is a board member of the Huntington Museum of Art, and has helped secure and put together entire exhibits for the facility.

As for education, she admits it is a bit of a selfish pursuit as her two young children get closer to school age.

“I’m always working on little grassroots projects here and there,” she said. “There’s a lot of cross-pollination in Huntington. A lot of people who are working on one project are also working on something else.”

From her experience, Randolph said she’s learned that amazing things can be accomplished with the right perspective.

“It can seem really daunting when you first get involved in a community project,” she said. “Really it’s just a matter of taking small bites at a time and not getting overwhelmed. It doesn’t have to be a big, huge thing.”

Eventually, Randolph said, anyone can make a big splash by taking small steps toward the end goal.

Tim Adkins and the Burrito Riders

For young volunteers, it’s a landmark of what is happening and can happen in the city.

“You see all the revitalization going on with the Wild Ramp and through Create Huntington, you’re seeing a new group of people who are new to the area or taking a renewed interest in the area and making Huntington a place worth doing something for,” said Tim Adkins, who recently returned to the Jewel City after 20 years of living away from his hometown.

Adkins heads up the Burrito Riders, a group of cyclists who hand out burritos across the city to the homeless and hungry. He also started the Burrito Riders Rebicycle Shop, a small workshop that repairs and refits used bicycles and loans them out to people who need a means of transportation. It’s located in homeless nonprofit Harmony House’s Vanity Fair building on 4th Avenue.

“You do one thing, and it snowballs into four other things,” Adkins said. “It’s a great time to be in Huntington, and I never thought I’d say that. Now, I’ve got so much going on, and I really feel blessed to be able to do this.”

Adkins described the local volunteer efforts in Huntington at present as “underground,” meaning there are a lot of things going on that many people haven’t even heard of yet.

“What we’re doing is pretty niche,” Adkins said. “But if it attracts people to serving, that’s great. And if this doesn’t turn you on, there’s a ton of stuff out there and I’d be happy to point you in the right direction.

“More and more people are learning about homelessness and social injustice, and, in Huntington, we’re seeing more and more people involved than we have in a long time.”

In the case of his cause, Adkins said it’s not just about handing out free food or a free way to get from point A to point B.

The Burrito Riders programs are more about actually forming relationships with the people they serve, he said.

“We go into areas that don’t have a lot,” he said. “We spend time with them. Sometimes we’ll grill up some hot dogs and hand out drinks and do some stuff for the kids with bikes. We’ll fix them or provide them.

“I’ve been doing this for a year now in Huntington, and when we go out, we know these people. We want to hang out with them and try to address their needs.”

But, Adkins said, there is still a lot of need out there.

“I’m really excited about what we do, but it’s never enough,” he said. “There’s way more out there than my one group can address.”

Adkins would like to see his cycle workshop expand, and eventually turn into a place where people can bring their bicycles and actually learn how to repair and maintain them. He would like to have an area where he could offer work space and all the tools anyone needs at a nominal fee.

He’d also like to be able to offer more services to children. Most of what he and the rest of the Burrito Riders do right now is geared more toward adults.

“We’re so new, the sky really is the limit, and hopefully we can do whatever we’re called to do,” he said. “Right now, I just want to keep doing this as long as I can.”

Jesse Riggs and the Orpheum Project

While many groups in Huntington are working on projects to better the community through cleaning up neighborhoods or creating access to a more active lifestyle, there are also more than a few organizations contributing to expanding the city’s cultural attributes.

The Orpheum Project, for example, is aimed at reflecting on and restoring Huntington’s cinematic heritage.

A non-profit started by Cabell County Library employees Jesse Riggs and Max Nolte, who now works at Mountwest Community and Technical College, the group started after Huntington’s Cinema Theater — the last of several downtown movie palaces — closed in 2011.

“When the Cinema Theater closed, it was just starting to do some really cool things, like the flashback events where they would screen older films,” Riggs said. “It’s something there’s a dearth of in Huntington, and it needs to be filled.”

The project’s initial goal was to be able to screen older films on new 35 millimeter prints in the Cinema Theater, which was called the Orpheum Theater when it was opened in 1915.

The former theater is now operating as a church, which is in the process of purchasing the building.

The Orpheum Project is still looking for a space of its own, and has been screening movies in 16 mm fashion at branches of the library and in a garage under the tongue-in-cheek moniker of “Cinema Under the Cars.”

“Right now, with the library program and the films being provided by the (West Virginia) Library Commission in Charleston, we’re able to focus on the hard part, which is building interest,” Riggs said. “We need to build a strong base before we move forward.”

Riggs readily admits he is not a film historian or even necessarily a movie buff, but has an interest in repertory film given Huntington’s history as a town that had multiple movie theaters and play houses. It’s also a big part of his personal life.

“Growing up, my family pretty much spoke almost exclusively in movie metaphors,” Riggs said. “My dad would only watch films in black and white, and so I kind of got that spark from him.”

One of the stated goals of the project is to revitalize interest in classic film in an age when digital technology is king.

He said local volunteer efforts provided some inspiration to get the project going.

“It’s been a definite presence in the past five years,” Riggs said. “There’s been a lot more activity with things like Create Huntington and Chat ‘n Chew.

“There’s a passion to go out and do things. Really, that’s all it takes — some gumption and the initiative to do it.”

Breanna Shell and The Wild Ramp

That’s a strategy shared by Huntington City Planner Breanna Shell, who is also involved in community projects ranging from a city bike map to working with the numerous agencies that are building the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health (PATH).

“You can’t change everything at once,” Shell said. “You try incrementally to make initiatives successful. The ideas that stick move more incrementally.”

Shell, who is the author of a blueprint for city development moving through 2025, said her job works hand-in-glove with strong efforts from community volunteers.

“It’s part of the beauty of Huntington, that there are so many grassroots groups,” she said. “As a city government, we can only do so much. We lead in some ways, but we follow in some ways too.

“Sometimes, it’s the people who have better ideas. And they are helping us implement some of our initiatives with their time and resources.”

Part of the 2025 initiative is fostering neighborhoods that actually serve the needs of the residents. Some Huntington neighborhoods are already built that way, and others aren’t, Shell said.

One example she and several community volunteers cite as the gold standard for community success is the Wild Ramp.

Originally, the concept was the capstone project for three Marshall University students who wanted to explore the concept of a locally-produced food hub in Huntington.

The idea came off of paper and was discussed as an actual plan of action in community groups by 2011. By the next year, the Wild Ramp had opened its doors in Heritage Station, offering year-round locally produced food through a network of producers, three paid employees, and an army of volunteers.

In late 2013, it had become so successful, that the Huntington City Council voted to accept a proposal from the Wild Ramp to take over the Central City Market in the West End to try and revitalize the area.

In May, the Wild Ramp at Central City Market opened its doors.

“You look at what people want and what people value and how that can be provided,” Shell said. “People said we need a local market. Well, we just did it.”

Kari Newman and the Artisan Market

One local artist who has capitalized on her own initiative is Kari Newman.

A glass bead artist, Newman received funds through CAFÉ to start the Artisan Market, an event where everyone from traditional artists to crafters to bakers can gather, show and sell their wares at Heritage Station.

“An artisan is really anyone who makes something with their hands,” Newman said. “I wanted to start something for a wide range of artisans.

“It’s for other artists as well. We’ve had some bands there, and we’re looking into maybe getting some local theater involved.”

The Artisan Market takes place on the second Friday of every month, and is booked up through August. If the event is a continued success, Newman said she’d like to continue it through the fall, and then bring it back the following spring.

“Everyone sold something at the last event, which is huge if it’s your first time doing something like this,” she said.

Selling is nice, but Newman said the event, like so many other community-developed activities in Huntington, is about giving the area residents something they can go to and enjoy.

“Everyone has their different purposes for being there,” she said. “It’s a family event that’s fun for everybody and it’s something interactive.

“It also brings money in, and local artisans are people who are going to reinvest in the community.”

Newman said she would like to incorporate more activities for children, and have different atmospheres for each event, drawing a different crowd each time.

There are many more projects going on in Huntington, and Randolph said anyone can bring their skill set to the table and help make a difference.

“In Huntington there is an incredible network of people, and, once you start getting out there, everybody wants you to be involved,” she said. “There is always a need for more people to support our nonprofits.”

HUNTINGTON — Local cyclists seem to generally approve of new traffic laws in West Virginia to protect them, though many say the increasing number of riders on city streets already has created something of a truce with motorists.

The new law that passed the 2014 state Legislature session went into effect Tuesday and requires vehicles to give cyclists a three-foot cushion when passing a bike on a roadway. The law also does away with a former provision that required cyclists to use an adjacent path instead of the road if it was available.

“Riding in a neighborhood with sidewalks, that’s what you want for your 6- or 8- or 10-year-old kid, maybe,” said Ed Tucker of Edward Tucker Architects in Huntington. “But there’s also common sense. You don’t want someone barreling down a sidewalk at 20 miles per hour.

“To have clarity in the law for motorists and cyclists is helpful.”

Tucker lives about two miles from his office and frequently bikes to work. He’s been riding on roads since the mid-1980s when he lived in Nashville.

“Certainly you’ve seen motorists become more tolerant over the past 20 to 30 years,” he said.

The cycling scene in Huntington has been on the cusp of exploding in recent years, with projects like the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health (PATH) and Critical Mass bringing cyclists together and encouraging others to take up the activity.

Josh Dygert, a project architect with Edward Tucker, took up cycling after helping design the first phase of the PATH project, which coincided with the loss of his truck.

“My truck was totaled out, so I thought I’d just buy a bike and drink the Kool-Aid we were pushing on everyone else,” he said with a laugh.

Now Dygert completes a round-trip commute of 10 miles on his bike just about every day.

He said he thinks the new law gives some good guidelines without becoming overly complex.

“I feel pretty comfortable with where we are right now,” he said. “The basic understanding of a cyclist maintaining a position as far to the right as they can safely do makes sense. Keeping that minimum passing bubble is a good rule of thumb to go by.

“You don’t want to make it such a complicated mess that no one wants to deal with it.”

The law also puts some onus on the cyclist, requiring that a bike operated at night be outfitted with a front lamp that projects a white light visible from at least 500 feet, and a rear, red reflector that is visible to the headlights of a car from 50 feet to 300 feet.

The new regulations also prohibit groups of cyclists from riding more than two abreast except on paths or roadways that are for bicycle use only.

Local cyclist Richard Mullins said he thinks the new law brings West Virginia up to date with general standards that exist in most other states.

“It’s a good, modern step,” he said. “Cyclists are here, get used to it.”

Mullins is the father of Dave Mullins, who manages Jeff’s Bike Shop on 8th Avenue, and Joel Mullins, who organizes Huntington’s Critical Mass program.

“There was a time when I wouldn’t have thought about riding on a road in Huntington,” Richard Mullins said. “Now, I ride three days a week in Huntington proper.

“I think bikes were about 10 to 15 years behind here, but now it’s caught up. As more people live and work downtown, you can tell a difference.”

Follow reporter Ben Fields on Twitter @BenFieldsHD.

The West Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles recommends drivers remain extra alert when sharing the road with bicycles.

When passing a bicyclist, slow down, make sure he or she is aware of you, and leave plenty of room between him or her and your vehicle. If there is no room to pass and traffic is approaching, wait until traffic has gone by before passing.

When meeting an oncoming bicyclist at night, always dim your lights. Extra care is needed during the morning and afternoon when bicyclists are traveling between home, work, school or play.

Bicyclists are expected to know and obey all traffic laws and regulations. However, whether the bicyclist is operating lawfully or not, drivers should always give bicyclists the benefit of the doubt. Bicyclists are small and lightweight, and almost any type of collision will result in injury or death of the rider.

Bicyclists must:

Signal turns and stops unless both hands are required on the handlebars for balance.

If riding side-by-side, keep within a single lane and not hold up traffic.

Never hang on to any other vehicles in any manner.

Yield the right-of-way to pedestrians.

Obey the same rules of the road as drivers of other vehicles.

Never carry a passenger unless an attached seat is available.

Never carry articles that interfere with the control of the bicycle or prevent the operator from keeping at least one hand upon the handlebars.

Ride in the same direction as other vehicles.

The following equipment is required on all bicycles:

Red reflector on the rear.

Brakes strong enough to stop one wheel on dry, level, clean pavement.

Bell or other device capable of giving a signal audible for a distance of at least 100 feet. No siren or whistle is permitted.

For riding after dark, a white headlight that is visible for at least 500 feet to the front.

— Information from the West Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles’ Driver Licensing Handbook

HUNTINGTON — Two projects recently have been completed at Huntington Parks, and there’s more progress in the works.

The park district completed an $80,000 paving project at Rotary Park, involving 1.2 miles of shared pedestrian walkway and bicycle access paths. It was funded through a recreation trails grant, administered by the city.

Plans for this project were in development before the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health got underway, but there are plans for it to be integrated into the PATH, said Kevin Brady, executive director of the Greater Huntington Parks and Recreation District.

“It’s a beautiful walk through the woods,” Brady said. “It’s about 10 feet wide of brand new asphalt. It’s really nice. I’m hoping it will attract new people. We’d like to make Rotary Park more of a bicycling destination. I have on my desk right now mapping and designs for mountain bike trails.”

Some are existing trails and some will be new, but GPS flagging has yet to be completed to mark different points that cyclists can look at to know where they’re going and study the layout.

“I hope to have signs there in the not-too-distant future,” Brady said. “They’ll be color coded for level of difficulty.”

Also in the works are mapping and development of growing cyclocross course at Rotary Park. Cyclocross has been growing in popularity in the United States and involves cyclists using street bikes on mountain trails with obstacles. Adverse weather conditions are desirable in this sport, so its competition season is usually fall and winter, Brady said.

Rotary Park set up a temporary course and hosted a cyclocross event last fall, and Brady would like to expand that, along with setting up a more permanent course.

“There’s an Ohio Valley circuit, and we’re hoping to put Huntington on their map to be in their circuit,” Brady said. The park district has applied to the city for Community Development Block Grant Funding to develop cyclocross at Rotary and is looking for additional financial resources.

“Rotary Park has had a bad reputation for a long time, and we’re doing everything we can to bring new sports and things there, in hopes that the more good things going on there will mean less bad things going on there,” Brady said.

Meanwhile, there’s a new attraction for kids downtown. Completed on Saturday was a new $50,000 playground project at Harris Riverfront Park. Located near the 12th Street entrance, the playground has a river theme. One piece is modeled after a boat going down the river, Brady said.

“The bow is a climbing apparatus, and there are couple of masts and a crows nest,” he said. “Behind the boat is an adventure climber that looks like a fish. It looks pretty neat, so it should be a lot of fun for kids coming to Harris Riverfront Park. There are swings and climbers and a variety of fun things to do.”

The kids in Milton have something to look forward to as well, Brady said. After the removal of the dragon play structure at April Dawn Park, the park district is planning to install a new playground in a few weeks.

“That should ship out in 10 days,” Brady said on Monday. “(The dragon structure) was a safety concern. It was deteriorating to the point where there were major cracks in it. … We were losing hunks of dragon.”

A new play structure with a lot of ropes and climbing activities is expected to be installed the first week of June, shortly after the park’s sprayground is turned on during Memorial Day weekend, Brady said.

The new playground will have all rubber surfacing, so that children can go back and forth between the sprayground and the playground with no problems, he said.

“It’s designed to withstand chlorinated water. It will be a perfect play structure up there,” he said, adding that the tire swing will be removed and there will be an area specifically for swings toward the back of the park near the skate park.

April Dawn’s new playground will be the fifth brand new playground installed in the park district in the past two years, following Harris Riverfront this spring, and last year’s opening of new playgrounds at Rotary Park and Veterans Memorial Park (off 5th Avenue near the new soccer stadium).

Memorial Park, along Memorial Boulevard, was renovated two years ago, he said.

Up next is a much bigger project, Brady said.

He has his sights set on a new all-inclusive playground for children of all abilities and disabilities, which would be at St. Cloud Commons in Huntington’s West End.

It’s still in the planning stages, but it would include play areas for children in wheelchairs, sensory areas — with sound and water mist — for visually impaired children, cozy nooks for children who don’t like the boisterousness of a traditional playground, and other features that will be inclusive for all types of children, Brady said. He’s been working with Congressman Nick Rahall’s office, as well as organizations such as the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the National Association for the Blind, and even West Virginia American Water, which has a grant program.

The program could cost $400,000, and the key to making it a reality is to make sure it’s eligible for Community Development Block Grant funding, Brady said.

“It’s going to be well received,” he said.

In a metro region with 350,000 people, there are a lot of kids with special needs, and there’s “a huge difference between an all-inclusive playground and a handicapped accessible playground,” Brady said.

At handicapped-accessible playgrounds, “We have transfer stations on playgrounds, allowing a child to pull himself from his wheelchair and drag himself around to different activities,” Brady said. “That doesn’t sound like fun, does it?”

On this playground, the abilities and disabilities taken under consideration will include physical, sensory, cognitive, communications, social and emotional, chronic health impairment and multiple disabilities.

“There are truly activities and things for all of these kids to be able to do. … Some examples of these playgrounds I have on my desk are phenomenal,” Brady said. “Our ultimate plans include additional parking so there’s more room for people to come enjoy this structure, and a comfortable restroom facility that would be handicapped accessible.

“It’s just incredible when you think about how many children this could actually serve. It’s something we’ll all be proud of.”

Appreciation goes out to all festival helpers
Sharon and I thank all who worked on The Healthy Huntington Festival Saturday, May 3. Especially we would like to thank Bethany Williams, RTI, and those who worked on the TOUR DE PATH. A big thanks to all those who participated in the 4-, 12-, and 25-mile bike ride over completed sections of the PATH (Paul Ambrose Trail for Health). It was good to see so many bikers using the PATH.

This event is a very fitting memory of Paul and all the victims of 9/11. The PATH provides a safe place for people to exercise. We are pleased to see the construction being made to complete the trail. Paul was a staunch supporter of exercise as a way to improve the health of our country.

Thank you again to all who worked and rode Saturday, and we encourage all to use the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health.

Sharon and Ken Ambrose

Parents of Paul Wesley Ambrose, M.D.

Thanks to volunteers for completing items
The Board of Directors of Lily’s Place, Huntington’s newborn rehab center, wish to thank a very special group of volunteers, The Optimist Club of Huntington. Emerson Davis, Rick Able and their friends have worked with volunteers and organizers to complete a very long list of “honey-do” items with no expectation of remuneration other than a word of thanks.

The generosity of spirit and kindheartedness of these men are a testament to our community. We tip our hats to you, sirs. Chivalry and the spirit of volunteerism survive because of you. Thank you!

Mary Calhoun Brown

Lily’s Place

French professor a big impact on his students
I want to give a big thanks to Dr. Eric Migernier, professor of French. It was an amazing five semesters.

Thanks for being a great instructor and caring about the students. You took the time to see that I understood and learned. There are many professors there at Marshall University that could learn from you. I pay for an instructor to teach; not all of them do.

I truly appreciate when I find one who truly loves teaching and is concerned about the students learning. Thanks again.

Angela Cremeans

Huntington

Daycare grounds look better, are safer for kids
Many of us at the Kiwanis Daycare Center would like to say thank you to Comcast for helping to clean and landscape the grounds of our facility. The work performed by Comcast volunteers goes much further than they may realize. Not only did they help to beautify the center, but they helped to keep it safe for the children — a priority for us at Kiwanis Daycare Center.

On Saturday, April 26, more than 25 volunteers from Huntington joined forces with Comcast and NBCUniversal employees and their family and friends to “make change happen.” Volunteers spread mulch under the playgrounds and made repairs to the playground equipment that children use and enjoy every day.

The event was part of the 13th Comcast Cares Day, the nation’s largest single-day corporate volunteer effort. Comcast has provided 3 million volunteer hours and half a million volunteers since Comcast Cares Day began in 2001.

Kiwanis Daycare Center and Comcast share a common goal – an ongoing commitment to the Huntington community. Our relationship is an excellent example of how public-private partnerships can make a difference. Thanks to Comcast’s support over the last seven years.

Brenda Sutphin

Director

Kiwanis Daycare Center

Staff at senior center full of compassion
The family of Robert B. Florian, who died April 8, wishes to thank all of the staff of Wyngate Senior Living Center in Barboursville for their compassion and care. When Dad arrived five years ago, he quickly felt it was his new home. As his health declined he moved from being independent to being dependent on the staff. As a retired college professor and United Methodist minister, he enjoyed teaching Bible studies to the other residents. Following his catastrophic stroke in 2011, Dad’s level of care was increased but he could still stay in his own studio apartment. Dementia also worsened, but he didn’t know how ill he was. He used to love to tell stories about his family and travels.

The Wyngate staff treated him like family. They provided excellent care. Dad knew that Wyngate would be his final home. Hospice of Huntington should also receive recognition for all of its help. We appreciated the kindness of Wyngate staff. It’s hard to imagine becoming attached to someone you help, only to see them decline.

Dad, or “Bob” to the Wyngate staff, enjoyed reading The Herald-Dispatch. I am sure he will be fondly remembered by his caregivers.

Thanks so much.

Daughter Laura Moul

Milton

Son Joey Florian

Huntington

Daughter Linda Neyhart

Mifflinburg, Pa.

Carriers doing a fantastic job
This is a big thank you to Candi Reece, our newspaper carrier. She has been doing a terrific job delivering the newspaper. She has taken over for April Craft, and I would like to let you know April Craft did a good job when she was our carrier.

We really appreciate the good job Candi is doing, and we appreciated the good job April did when she had the job. At our age, we need the help and it’s nice to know when someone takes on a job, that they do it well.

We know it’s not an easy job getting out that early in the morning, especially when the weather is bad and they have to get out in the rain, snow and ice. Keep up the good work, and thank you again, ladies.

Loretta and Harry LeVine

Barboursville

Support of sheriff’s deputies is well noted
This is a letter concerning the attendance of the Cabell County Sheriff’s Deputies at the recent funeral of Carl Otis Craft. The sight of you guys standing there in the rain with a sharp salute while the funeral procession drove by was truly an impressive sight. It showed your respect for the departed and, more than that, for a former fellow officer.

I didn’t get your names, but you know who you are. Thank you from our whole family, and may God bless you!

Jerry G. Morrison

South Point, Ohio

VAMC providers very caring and thoughtful
A very nice thing happened in the VA Medical Center Surgical Clinic waiting room on Thursday, April 17, when nurse Timothy Queen made a thoughtful announcement to the burgeoning group of us veterans there. Speaking to us, he explained the delay and then assured us that each and all of us would be seen soon.

That was a thoughtful and highly professional gesture. Too many of us have waited too long in doctor’s offices with no explanation or concern about an interminable delay. Not at the Huntington VAMC!

His thoughtful message exemplifies high level of expertise and caring I have come to appreciate enormously of the VA, particularly as manifested in the Huntington facility here.

Congratulations and best wishes to all of you wonderful providers. Thank you ever and ever.

Louis A. Capaldini

Huntington

To say thanks
“Thanks to you” is a column of letters designed to enable you to thank those you believe should be singled out for praise.

Items for “Thanks to You” must be in writing and con tain the writer’s name and address. A phone number is also needed for verification purposes.

Mail your letters to:

“Thanks to you”

The Herald-Dispatch

P.O. Box. 2017

Huntington, WV 25720

HUNTINGTON — Shannon Slash expected to come to the Huntington Health Festival and have a good time with his family, but he said there was one thing he didn’t expect to happen when his 5-year-old son, Mikah, ran his first 5K race at the event.

Mikah Slash as well as his brother, Donte Slash, 17, finished the race in less than 23 minutes, and Shannon Slash’s daughter, Gabriella Slash, 7, managed to complete her first race in just more than 30 minutes.

“I’m shocked,” Shannon Slash said. “I’m proud of Donte for achieving his goal of finishing under 23 minutes, and I’m proud of Mikah, who absolutely shocked me in his first 5k race. I’m proud of Gabriella for sticking with it, and I’m proud of (my girlfriend) Rebecca (Jude) for finishing, too.”

The goal for the Slashes was the same as it was for the more than 200 people at the race: Getting out, getting active and having a good time.

That was the focus of the festival, which also included fitness demonstrations, kids’ activities and health-related vendors. The festival also encompassed the 2014 Tour de PATH race for cyclists, who could travel a 4-mile, 10-mile or 25-mile route along the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health, said Yvonne Jones, executive director of Ebenezer Medical Outreach, which hosted the event in conjunction with the Healthy Huntington Revolution program.

Jones said she hoped the festival provided the opportunity for participants to learn new ways to take care of themselves.

“Ebenezer is about helping people be healthy,” Jones said. “I hope they take away the fact that being healthy and living a healthy lifestyle is fun. It doesn’t have to be a drudge. You can fit it into your daily activities. You can come away feeling good from it in every way. It helps in the physical activity part and the feeling-good aspect also.”

The festival additionally marked the end of the revolution program’s 90-Day Challenge, which offers suggestions for small, weekly goals focused on improving diet and exercise.

“It doesn’t have to be something really hard to do,” Jones said. “It can be small steps. When you think about a lifestyle and all the changes you might have to make, it can seem like a lot, but you just need to take little steps. Choose one thing to work on, and get it right. Then chose something else to work on and get that right. You just build on those things to change your lifestyle.”

Slash said the key thing his family does is to get out and run and participate in activities together, and the key for him is to focus on a personal challenge.

“There are a lot of racers,” he said. “You just have to come out and run your race. I don’t worry aobu the people around me. Run your race for you. Enjoy it.”

Follow Reporter Lacie Pierson on Twitter, @LaciePiersonHD.

HUNTINGTON — The Healthy Huntington Festival — a daylong event including a 5K walk/run, the “Tour de PATH” community bicycle ride, fitness demonstrations, kids’ events and healthy vendors — is coming up on Saturday, May 3.

The event kicks off at 8 a.m. with a 5K that begins near Pullman Square and continues through the downtown. Cost is $20. A free kids Fun Run begins at the conclusion of the race.

Wellness will be celebrated throughout the day, including activities and demonstrations by the following organizations: Kids’ in Motion, Studio 8 yoga studio, Change the Future WV, St. Mary’s Transportation Injury Prevention and Safety (TIPS) program, Huntington Cycle and Sport and more. The city of Huntington also will sell bike license plates for $1, so participants may register their bikes.

A tour of the PATH (Paul Ambrose Trail for Health) will be part of the festivities as well. Tour de PATH is a casual community bike ride free to participants of all ages. Participants may choose one of the following ride options:

A 4-mile loop around Ritter Park and the 4th Avenue bike lanes.

12-mile trail and road ride including Westmoreland and West Huntington.

A 25-mile road ride of all PATH sections.

Riders will meet at 10:30 a.m. at the Pullman Square shelter with rides departing at 11:00 a.m.

Tour de PATH T-shirts will be available for purchase for $12. Pre-registration is encouraged.

Visit paulambrosetrail.org for more details and to register.

The Healthy Huntington Festival is sponsored by Ebeneezer Medical Outreach in conjunction with the Healthy Huntington Revolution program. The Healthy Huntington Festival will celebrate the end of the 90-Day Challenge. The three-month program offers small, weekly goals that focus on improving diet and exercise.

For more information about the Healthy Huntington Festival and Tour de PATH, contact Bethany Williams at williamsb@njrati.org. For more information on the Health Huntington Revolution 90 day challenge visit www.huntingtonhealthrevolution.org.

The saying “if you build it, they will come” might have been written for a movie, but it just as easily could have been written for Huntington’s Paul Ambrose Trail for Health.

The 26-mile network of recreational trails, popularly known as the PATH, has been in development since 2007. Bethany Williams, program coordinator for the Huntington-based Rahall Transportation Institute, said the trail’s growing presence has sparked a surge in recreational cycling, walking and jogging within the city.

“There has been a change,” she said. “People seem to be thinking healthier. We’re especially seeing it downtown, where bike lanes have been installed. People are riding bikes to work and school, as well as riding them for fun and fitness.”

Such use dovetails precisely with developers’ vision for the PATH. Williams said its namesake, Dr. Paul Ambrose, championed health and wellness as a form of preventative medicine. After Ambrose was killed in the 9-11 terror attacks, his family set up a foundation to help promote Ambrose’s obesity-fighting ideals.

In 2007, Huntington-area officials began drawing up plans for a multi-use trail in and around the city. A public contest gave the trail its name in 2008, and in 2009 volunteers built the first new segment of trail in the city’s St. Cloud Commons Park. Successful fund-raising efforts led to plans for segments in the Harveytown area and along the two sections of the city’s floodwall.

So far, eight sections have been completed and are in use: a 4.8-mile stretch along the floodwall between Ritter Park and West Huntington; a 2.75-mile stretch along Memorial Boulevard between Ritter Park and Harveytown Road; a 1.7-mile stretch along the floodwall in Guyandotte; a 1.5-mile stretch through Spring Hill Cemetery; a 1.1-mile stretch that encircles Ritter Park; another 1.1-mile stretch that encircles St. Cloud Common Park; an 0.59-mile stretch along Harveytown Road; and an 0.25-mile stretch near the Ohio River in East Huntington.

Organizations began holding events on the trail in 2009.

The first was FitFest, a multi-distance run/walk and community event. Next was the Tour de PATH, a multi-distance bike ride in and along the trail network.

On April 3, the Tour de PATH will join forces with the Healthy Huntington Festival, the culmination of the Healthy Huntington 90-Day Challenge.

“The challenge gives Huntington residents a set of things to do every week that promote healthy living,” Williams explained. “The gist is to add a few things every week, and by the end of 90 days it should result in some lifestyle changes. Holding the Healthy Huntington Festival at the end of that gives people a chance to celebrate the improvements they’ve made in their health.”

The festival, headquartered at the city’s Pullman Square shopping and dining area, will kick off at 8 a.m. with a 5K run/walk. Williams said event’s vendors will focus on healthy eating and healthy habits that include exercise.

The Tour de PATH is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m., also at Pullman Square. Williams said the event, which is free and open to all participants, is

“not just for adults, either. Kids are welcome, especially on the shorter ride, which is slower-paced for their little bikes.

“The rides include a 4-mile loop around downtown and Marshall [University]; a 7-mile loop that goes around Marshall and out to Ritter Park and back; and a Grand Tour of 26 miles that follows the PATH where it has been built. There will be two groups going out on the long ride, a slower-paced group and a fast-paced group.”

Williams said the Huntington Police Department’s bike patrol officers would accompany riders on the 4-mile circuit. “It’s going to be a really safe ride,” she said. “The only thing we ask is that riders wear helmets. Those who participate will be given a chance to purchase commemorative t-shirts.”

City and county officials hope eventually to link the scattered segments into a single cohesive unit. It’s possible to ride the entire trail now, but hopping from segment to segment involves riding on city streets or walking on sidewalks.

Williams believes the day will come when people throughout the city will be able to access the trail without traveling more than a few blocks.

“The plans are in place,” she said. “Now it’s a matter of securing the funding and doing the work to link the segments together.”

Reach John McCoy

at john.mccoy@wvgazette.com

or 304-348-1231.

HUNTINGTON — It’s spring and it seems like the whole world is in motion.

With the trees in bloom and the warm weather all around, it’s a perfect time to dust off the bicycle and get back out for a ride or two.

That’s easy to do as there are some great bicycle rides planned around the Tri-State. Here’s a look at a few upcoming rides.

Critical Mass Huntington

Rain or shine, you can enjoy the fellowship of other cyclists every third Friday of the month as part of the monthly Critical Mass ride in Huntington. This month, riders will meet at 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 18 at the Ritter Park fountain for a casual, flat ride through the city.

Cyclists will travel about six miles during the free monthly event that is open to any area cyclists and skateboarders. The Critical Mass monthly bicycle events began in San Francisco in 1992. Locally, the ride has been going on in Huntington since July 2009.

Huntington’s Critical Mass is organized by Huntington bicycle commuter Joel Mullins, who rides year round in Huntington.

Keep up with the Huntington cycling scene online at www.facebook.com/huntingtoncritical mass and check that page and The Herald-Dispatch calendar for other upcoming rides.

The Great Easter Egg Hunt– Bicycle Edition

Do you love to bicycle and enjoy a family-friendly Easter Egg hunt? Have we got the bicycle ride for you. Meet at 5 p.m. Saturday, April 19 at the fountain at Ritter Park for a Kidical Mass called — The Great Easter Egg Hunt Bicycle Edition.

Children of all ages are welcome. Bring 12 filled plastic eggs for every child participating.

“Some eggs will be placed along the ride, with the majority found at the end of the ride. If anyone wants to help, but not ride, we could use people to spread the eggs around the lawn at Ritter after the kids take off,” said Cara Bailey, one of the organizers.

Feel free to decorate bikes, baskets and helmets for the ride. Invite your friends, the more, the merrier. For more info, contact Bailey on her FB page at https://www.facebook.com/carabaileywv.

Tour De PATH

Originally held in the fall, the annual Tour de PATH (Paul Ambrose Trail for Health) has a couple of changes. One is that it is now a free ride, and secondly, the ride has been moved to Saturday, May 3.

This year’s Tour de PATH will be in conjunction with the Healthy Huntington Festival, a healthy day of celebration. The Healthy Huntington Festival includes a 5K walk/run, Cross Fit games, fitness demonstrations, healthy vendors and Tour de PATH.

This year, Tour de PATH will move from Heritage Station to Pullman Square. Riders will leave the square at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 3. They can choose three routes: a 4-mile ride in downtown, a 10-mile ride beginning downtown and traveling to Ritter Park, and a 25-mile complete tour of PATH.

Pre-registration is encouraged. Tour de PATH 2014 t-shirts will be available to purchase with all proceeds benefiting the PATH.

ACE Meeting On Southside

Ever want to get into road bicycling, and also check out the new location for the freshly-moved Huntington Cycle and Sport? You can knock out two birds with one stone with a visit to the new Huntington Cycle and Sport, 1010 10th St. (across from the Synagogue), at 3 p.m. Saturday, April 19 when the Ashland Cycling Enthusiasts are meeting.

Come out and meet some of the area’s most dedicated road cyclists during this special open house at HCS.

Rally for Autism

West Virginia Autism Training Center (WVATC), located at Marshall University, will have the 13th annual Rally for Autism on Saturday, April 26, at Ritter Park in Huntington.

The event will feature the Seaton and Moira Taylor 5K Walk, sponsored by Campbell Woods PLLC; a Rally for Autism 5K run; and a Rally for Autism 25-mile bike ride. There are two types of participation, individual or team, and members of the public are invited to either create a team or join an existing one.

The event benefits the West Virginia Autism Training Center; the Autism Society River Cities Chapter, formerly known as the Huntington Area Society; and the Autism Services Center. The three agencies are all based in the Huntington area and all funds raised will stay local.

Registration fees for all the events will be $20 for early registration and $25 on the day of the event. Registration may be done online at www.rallyforautism.org until 6 a.m. Friday, April 15, or on site the day of the race, beginning at 7:30 a.m. All events will kick off at 8:50 a.m.

HUNTINGTON — The Cabell-Huntington Health Department is hosting a public health fair from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, April 10, at 703 7th Ave.

All are invited to the fair to check out information about local health-related offerings, including nutrition and exercise classes.

It’s all in recognition of West Virginia-National Public Health Week, for which the theme is “Public Health: Start here.”

This free event includes food and drinks, a YMCA Kids In Motion interactive exhibit, blood pressure checks, bone density screenings, breast and cervical information, childhood, adolescent and adult immunizations (some cost a fee, which may vary), tobacco cessation information, a hand washing station, and information about Huntington’s Kitchen, the PATH (Paul Ambrose Trail for Health), and local health care providers.

“This week is a great opportunity for community members to come out and see what public health is all about and the services available in our community to assist in living healthier lives,” Elizabeth A. Ayers, director of health and wellness, said in a news release.

Dave Lavender is the author of “Dave Trippin: A Daytripper’s Guide to the Appalachian Galaxy of Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia.” He covers regional travel and entertainment for The Herald-Dispatch in Huntington, W.Va., and is heard twice weekly on Clear Channel Radio in Huntington. He is on WTCR-FM each Thursday morning with Warner Brothers country comedian, Cledus, T. Judd.

Follow Lavender on Facebook and Twitter @DaveLavenderHD. Contact him at lavender@herald-dispatch.com

Here’s some ideas for Spring and Summer Travel getaways that Dave mentioned in his presentation at the annual Women’s Conference at Ohio University Proctorville on Friday, April 4.

One of my favorite close by places in Spring is Carter Caves. Because they have hosted Crawlathon and now Winter Adventure Weekend for so long, they’ve established great relationships with some amazing adventurers.
Carter Caves State Resort Park will host adventurer Andy Niekamp in April for three presentations about trails, hiking and the outdoors.
Niekamp, a park volunteer from Dayton, Ohio, is the lead adventurer for Outdoor Adventure Connection. He has backpacked more than 13,000 miles, has hiked the Appalachian Trail three times, and is leader of the Dayton Hikers group
Title: Denver To Durango. A 500 Mile Hike On The Colorado Trail April 8 at 7 p.m.
Title: Thru Hiking The Buckeye Trail – A 1,400 Mile Journey Around Ohio April 15 at 7 p.m.
Title: 7,800 Miles On A 2,200 Mile Trail. Lessons Learned From An Appalachian Trail Long Distance Hiker April 22 at 7 p.m.

Carter Caves will host its Wildflower Pilgrimage Weekend April 11-13.
Admission to field trips and workshops is $15 for adults and $10 for children (ages 6-12). Guests will sign up for programs at the park Friday night or Saturday morning. Evening programs will also be scheduled. Registration is required since space is limited.
There will be trips focusing on wildflowers, birds, ferns and tree identification, a canoe trip on Smoky Lake and more. Whether you are an experienced wildflower enthusiast, a beginner bloomer or just someone who enjoys being in the woods, this is the perfect weekend to get outside and experience the natural beauty of spring.
An overnight package including two nights’ lodging and registration for two is $169.95 (plus tax). The campground also will be open. Call the park at 1-800-325-0059 to register.

Carter Caves has great ways to explore the backcountry.
Tygart Creek Paddle Excursions are set for April 19, April 27, May 11 This is a 6-mile canoe or kayak trip that takes you down Tygart Creek, cutting through Kentucky’s most scenic limestone gorge. You will be on the creek for about 3.5 hours We will also take a side trip into one of Kentucky’s largest natural limestone tunnels. Required equipment includes; the correct attire for cool weather paddling, a complete change of clothes, treaded footwear, flashlight (for natural tunnel visit), sack lunch, bottled water and a dry bag for your supplies. The cost is $25 per person. Limited space available and registration is required. Call the Recreation Department at 1-800-325-0059 to register. Participants meet at the Welcome Center at 9:30 a.m. This trip can be canceled due to high or low water levels or extreme weather conditions.
Grayson Lake Paddle Trip – May 10 and June 14

Heritage Farm
It’s been called “the Williamsburg of Appalachia.” Heritage Farm has 17 restored buildings of a pioneer community including a general store, blacksmith shop, one-room school, church, barn, and log homes (where you can spend the night in five various B&B’s).
You can also watch clips of two TV shows that were taped there, hosted “American Pickers,” as well as the History Channel documentary about “Hatfields and McCoys.”
The farm is open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday for guided tours which includes the Farm Zoo, and a craft and gift shop.
But my pick times to go to the Farm is during the first Saturday of the month for the themed Way Back Weekends when the village comes alive with reenactors. The Way Back Schedule is May 3, for the Spring Fest; June 7, Hatfield and McCoys Reunion; July 5, ice cream social/antique cars; Aug. 2, Music Fest; Sept. 6, Country Roads Cook-off; Oct. 11, Timber in the Mountains; Nov. 1, Industry Alive and Dec. 6, Holiday Market.
Call 304-522-1244 or go online at heritagefarmmuseum.com for more info.

WALKING TOURS
I love to walk in cities, and in the woods. I’ve put together four historic walking tours. Two of those are in brochure form as well, The downtown Huntington and the West End or Old Central City. The Third, Guyandotte is laid out and ready to go to press, and we are still waiting for a sponsor for the historic Ironton Walking Tour which is also already laid out.
You can go on our website and download any of those maps to do the tours as well. Go online at www.herald-dispatch.com and search “walking tours”
They’re a lot of fun — I mix in history, with architecture and pop culture such as hot spots in the area like Huntington’s Kitchen which was part of the Food Revolution or Marshall Hall of Fame Cafe and its museum dedicated to the Warner Brothers film “We Are Marshall.”

FESTIVALS
One amazing way to see the area is through our wealth of Festivals. Take advantage of those… Summer Motion in Ashland, Ironton’s Rally on the River, We have a huge festival guide that we produce with the Cabell Huntington CVB that has huge lists of all the festivals in the region, and whether it is to Bob Evans Farm, or Blenko Glass, or the Appalachian Uprising, or the West Virginia state Capitol, it is an amazing way to really dig into the culture.
One thing I would say festival wise too is that we are aces in first-class living history festivals, there are tons of cool pioneer fest like Fort Randolph in Point Pleasant, and Civil War weekends as well including Guyandotte, which is unique in that it is in a downtown, the historic Huntington neighborhood of Guyandotte.

Exploring By Bicycle
I ride my bicycle to work and have for about 14 years. I love exploring by bike it makes you feel like a kid again.
Critical Mass was started in San Francisco in 1992, and in Huntington has been going on monthly since July 2009.

Rain or shine, you can enjoy the fellowship of your fellow cyclists every third Friday of the month as part of the monthly Critical Mass ride in Huntington that meets up at 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 18, Friday, May 16, Friday, June 20. Huntington’s Critical Mass is organized by Huntington bicycle commuter Joel Mullins, who rides year round in Huntington.

Kenova Critical Mass started in May 2013. The Kenova Critical Mass is held at 6:30 p.m. on the last Friday of every month.
That’s a flat six-mile loop around Kenova on the city’s bike path that rolls through such neighborhood streets as Chestnut and Beech Street (where it rolls by Kenova mayor Ric Griffith’s historic home) and along the River.
For more information about Critical Mass Kenova call Mandy Jordan at 304-939-2083 or email mandyjordan59@yahoo.com

The PATH – The Paul Ambrose Trail for Health. (PATH) is a growing bicycle and pedestrian trail system providing free, healthy recreational opportunities for the City of Huntington and surrounding areas. About 30 miles of connected PATHS and Share The Road signs.
A fun way to explore the PATH is the Tour De Path, that free event takes place at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 3, at Pullman Square, and riders can choose one of three routes. 4 mile ride in downtown Huntington, 10 mile ride beginning downtown and traveling to Ritter Park and a 25-mile complete tour of PATH. Pre-registration is encouraged. Tour de PATH 2014 T-shirts will be available to purchase with all proceeds benefiting the PATH.
This year’s Tour de PATH is in conjunction with the Healthy Huntington Festival, a healthy day of celebration. The Healthy Huntington Festival includes a 5K walk/run, Cross Fit games, fitness demonstrations, healthy vendors and Tour de PATH. The event will take place at Pullman Square in downtown Huntington, WV on Saturday, May 3 beginning at 8:00 a.m.

BEYOND THE TRI-STATE
There’s lot of easy day-trips and weekend trips from the Tri-State.

PELEE ISLAND and LAKE ERIE
Some ideas for summer, as far as a beach most of us are used to going to what I call the Southern Panhandle of West Virginia – Myrtle Beach. And the Carolina beaches, both Myrtle, North Myrtle and those just over the line in North Carolina south of Wilmington, Oak Island, Holden, all of those are cool.
But probably not as many of us think about Lake Erie. We grew up thinking of Cleveland as the mistake on the lake, and the place where the Cuyahoga River caught on fire. That’s all been cleaned up and it’s a great weekend getaway.
Out of Sandusky, Ohio, home to Cedar Point, you can take the ferry boats to Put-in-Bay or South Bass Island, Kellys’ Island, Middle Bass, and if you have your passport or passport card, Pelee Island, which is in Ontario in the middle of Lake Erie.
We’ve been there twice and it’s a wonderful, low-cost getaway, not much on the island, but a winery (started by three Kentuckians), there’s a campground and just a few other stores.

FLORIDA
We’ve got direct flights from Tri-State airport and Yeager airport to Fort Lauderdale in Orlando, that really makes Disney a lot more doable, and if you fly into Fort Lauderdale, it’s just minutes west to go check out The Everglades and only a couple hours drive to get down into the top of the Florida Keys.
We’ve done both, in the past couple years as a spring break getaway.

ZIPLINES/WHITE WATER RAFTING
Adventure tourism has exploded and our region has become a Mecca for ziplines. We’ve got great zipline tours in Hocking Hills, that same company has built three zipline attractions in the New River Gorge — at Adventures on the Gorge, TreeTops Canopy Tour, Gravity Ziplines and TimberTreks, which is a great aerial playground and obstacle course that can be done by kids as young as 7 can do that attraction which was built in 2012.
There’s also more ziplines in the New River Gorge, ACE Adventure Resort (located next door to the Boy Scout’s Summit Reserve, the National Camp for the Boy Scouts) has ziplines and about 5,000 acres to play with lakes, trails, paintball and much more.
The newest zipline in the region is also the largest, Timberline Four Seasons Resort in Davis, W.Va. has put in a four-person zipline, it’s more than 1,000 feet long. It opened this winter and will be open during year-round at the family-owned resort that also has horseback riding, and lots of cool concerts and such throughout the year.

RED RIVER GORGE
Located only two hours from Huntington, the Red River Gorge is a remarkable place in our region. It’s the most natural arches, or bridges east of the Rocky Mountains. More than 100 natural bridges can be found.
A great drive is to take Huntington to Morehead and then slice down through Rowan County and through the Daniel Boone National Forest.
This is a great time of year to head that way with tons of spring wildflowers, and of course lots of waterfalls because of the extensive cliffs.
It’s one of the top rock climbing destinations in the world, but you can base out of Natural Bridge State Resort Park and explore the Gorge through hiking, there’s a sky lift, and really good canoeing as well.
Natural Bridge State Park has a lodge, cottages, the Sandstone Arches Restaurant, gift shop and hiking trails. Nearby you can explore the Red River Geological Area, as well as take canoe trips on the Red River. For more information or for room reservations, phone 1-800-325-1710. The resort near Slade is 52 miles southeast of Lexington off the Mountain Parkway on KY 11, Exit 33. To register for the hike call 1-800-325-1710 or go online at www.kyparks.gov and click onto Natural Bridge.

A Royal Roadtrip
The Ohio River city of Cincinnati is always a fun getaway with the Newport Aquarium, Great Wolf Lodge and million other attractions.
For those “Royals” in your crew, you’ll want to Roadtrip over to the Cincinnati Museum Center where they are hosting the award-winning exhibition, “Diana, A Celebration,” which chronicles the life of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, will be on display at Cincinnati Museum Center through Aug. 17.
This is the final showing for the renowned exhibition, which has been touring the world since 2003, before the items return to her sons in England to be preserved for future generations.
The exhibition presents the life and humanitarian work of Princess Diana through nine galleries containing 150 objects-ranging from her royal wedding gown and 28 of her designer dresses to family heirlooms, personal mementos, paintings and rare home movies and photos. The exhibition is on loan from the Althorp Estate, the Spencer family’s 500-year-old ancestral home.
Visit cincymuseum.org/Diana for dates and times or call (513) 287-7001 for information about availability prior to arrival.

Head Underground for a Whole Lotta Fun
Just ask the Corvette Museum, there’s more to Kentucky than just what you see above ground.
Yep, Kentucky’s thick bands of limestone create one of the world’s largest karst topographies and a great Spring break trip is to head over (four hours from Huntington) west to Mammoth Cave National Park. Enjoy the campground to yourself, and hope on cave tours that are sold-out in summer at Mammoth Cave, the world’s largest cave system at 400 miles and counting.
Nearby, in Bowling Green, Ky., check out the now-even-more-famous Corvette Museum where a sinkhole swallowed six Corvettes, as well as Hidden River Cave, and American Cave Museum, Kentucky Down Under, and nearby the Maker’s Mark Distillery and Abraham Lincoln Birthplace.
Go online at www.visitbgky.com for more info.

Camden Park, 5000 Waverly Rd., Huntington
Located on U.S. 60 just five miles west of Huntington, the family-run, family-fun park has been first in fun since 1903. West Virginia’s only amusement park has more than 30 rides and attractions including wooden rollercoasters The Big Dipper (1955-built) and The Little Dipper, as well as the Haunted House, Log Flume, Carousel, Swan Boat Rides, and a historic kiddie ride section with hand-powered rail cars, ponies and boats.
The park’s 67th annual May School Days runs midweeks in May and in July and August, the Park, which has hosted such artists as Garth Brooks and Vince Gill, brings in hot, Americana acts such as Hackensaw Boys, Hot Club of Cowtown and other national acts. The Wayne County Fair will be Aug. 5-8 at the park with national musical acts and 4-H shows. In late September and October, the park gets tricked out for Halloween during its annual Spooktacular.
Go online at www.camdenpark.com or call 1-866-8CAMDEN for more info.

Blenko Glass Company, located at 9 Bill Blenko Drive, Milton, WV
Once home to more than 500 glass factories, West Virginia only has a handful of factories left, Blenko is arguably the most famous.
Located in Milton (right off of I-64 west of Huntington) Blenko has been in business since 1893 and in Milton since 1921. The team of artists have hand-blown famous glassware such as the CMA Awards, and their hand-blown architectural glass can be seen in cathedrals around the world. Take the self-guided factory tour to watch the glassblowing teams make the colorful Blenko Glass, tour the museum, and the Garden of Glass and the gift shop as well.
There’s also a summer Blenko Glass Festival as well where folks can take classes to blow glass, make stained glass windows and other unique glass products and projects. Summer hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Go online at www.blenko.com for more info or call toll free 877-425-3656

Huntington Museum of Art, 2033 McCoy Road, Huntington
Located on 55 acres, the national award-winning Huntington Museum of Art is home to a permanent collection of more than 15,000 objects. Come out and see permanent collections chronicling the history of firearms and weapons, American and European Glass, as well as the state’s only tropical plant conservatory which features a Dale Chihuly glass tower.
Outside explore the Museum’s extensive trail system including a sensory trail for the handicapped, as well as a sculpture garden and loop trail that features the stone carvings of Earl Gray. Go online at www.hmoa.org or call 304-529-2701 for more info.

Heritage Station, 210 11th St., Huntington
Stop by the historic former B&O Railway station that is now home to the Cabell-Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau, as well as River and Rail Bakery. Pop into more than two dozen trendy shops at the Station including SIP Wine Bar, The Tap House, Finds and Designs, Brand Yourself, Brown Dog Yoga, Common Ground Shoppes and Bottle and Wedge. Enjoy Friday night concerts and such summer festivals as the Rails and Ales craft beer festival, the Diamond Teeth Mary Blues and Arts Festival and much more.
At the CVB, pick up one of the Herald-Dispatch historic walking tour brochures of downtown and stop by such famous spots as Marshall Hall of Fame Cafe, Huntington’s Kitchen (built by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver), Hillbilly Hotdogs (as seen on “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”), the Keith-Albee Theater (built in 1928) and many more destinations.
Call 304-525-7333, or 800-635-6329 or go online at www.wvvisit.org

Old Central City, 555 14th St., West, Huntington
Located along 14th Street west in Huntington, the antiques capital of West Virginia features a dozen antique shops, as well as The Wild Ramp food market, and Central City Cafe (as seen on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”). Stop in Hattie and Nan’s and pick up the historic walking tour brochure to see the nightclub where Billy Ray Cyrus was discovered, as well as a stop by the famous Heiner’s Bakery, The Huntington Railway Museum, the J. Taylor Auto Collection, and the trail of 10 painted Quilt blocks painted on historic buildings.

Museum of Radio and Technology, 1640 Florence Ave., Huntington
The largest private collection of radios in the United States, the museum has tributes to native country stars, Molly O’Day, who is considered one of the greatest female country singers in history and who got Hank Williams, Sr., his start. Also featured is Hawkshaw Hawkins, a Grand Ol’ Opry star, who died on the plane crash with Patsy Cline in 1963. Hawkins attended the old Harveytown Elementary School, which now houses the eclectic collection. The museum also features a history of computers as well as a history of TV and is home to the WV Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
The non-profit museum is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. Don’t miss the nearby Harveytown Park, which is located on the PATH, the Paul Ambrose Trail to Health, a 30-plus mile collection of multi-use recreational (walking and bicycling) trails and share-the-road connectors. Call 304-525-8890.

Ritter Park Rose Garden, 1570 McCoy Road
Ritter Park was named one of America’s top 10 public spaces in 2012 by the American Planning Association, Ritter Park features a nationally-renowned Rose Garden with more than 2,000 bushes, as well as unique play spaces including the new Island Playground with a zipline, bouldering and bongos. Beyond the Rose Garden, check out the Amphiteater where Huntington Area Regional Theatre (H.A.R.T. in the Park) fills its 2014 season with “Nunsense” in June and “Willy Wonka” in July. There’s also extensive trail systems in the park including the PATH, a multi-use trail along Fourpole Creek that runs the length of Huntington.
Go online at www.ghprd.org for more info about Ritter Park and the other parks and events in the district.

HUNTINGTON — The chilly start to spring is set to subside with temps climbing and, as if on cue, a couple of guided bicycle rides are scheduled for this weekend.

On Friday, when temperatures are forecasted for a high of 65 and a low of 47 degrees, Kenova Critical Mass will be conducting its monthly ride through downtown Kenova.

People are asked to dress for the weather and meet up at the Kenova Town Square at 6:30 p.m. Friday for the ride,.

The route will be a flat, six-mile loop around Kenova on the city’s bike path that rolls through such neighborhood streets as Chestnut and Beech streets and along the river.

For more information about Critical Mass Kenova, call Mandy Jordan at 304-939-2083 or email mandyjordan59@yahoo.com.

The Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District has a guided bicycle ride set for 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday. Meet at the Ritter Park fountain and join in on a casually paced ride along the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health through Ritter Park to its western end, and onto the new PATH portion.

That part of the PATH rolls along the scenic Fourpole Creek and across two bridges into the Harveytown neighborhood park.

The ride is free and open to all abilities and ages. For more info, call Bryan Danford, the new activities coordinator at the Park District, or email bdanford@ghprd.org.

The Huntington-Ashland and Charleston metropolitan statistical areas were the bottom-ranking regions for well-being in a newly released 2013 Gallup-Healthway report.

The survey captures residents’ perceptions of their physical and emotional health, work environment and other issues. This year’s “well-being index” for the Huntington-Ashland MSA was 59.5, actually up a little from its score of 58.1 in 2010, which remains the lowest on record for Gallup’s five reporting periods spanning six years of data collection.

For this 2013 study, Charleston had the second-lowest well being index of 60.0, and West Virginia had the lowest ranking of any state.

The highest index was for the Provo-Orem metro area in Utah, which scored 71.4, and the highest ranked state was North Dakota.

Huntington-Ashland is often near the bottom on many national surveys on health, including a 2008 report that lead to celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s visit for his Emmy-winning “Food Revolution” television series.

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams pointed out the city’s focus on wellness that includes 41 5Ks being offered in the city last year, Huntington’s Kitchen offering nutrition and cooking classes, the development of the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health (PATH), The Wild Ramp local food market, the YMCA’s Kids in Motion program — and many others, not the least of which are its active medical centers and medical school at Marshall University. Perhaps not enough people know about all the offerings and improvements, he said, adding that he plans to work on changing that.

“My first reaction was, ‘Again?’ and frustration,” he said. “But once you get past that, why sit and argue with them? I think it’s incumbent upon leaders in positions such as I have to set out a strategy of identifiable goals to achieve and start working to accomplish those things. If a measurement comes back later, then you have facts in place to say, ‘These are the measuring points. This is where it used to be, and we’ve set measurable outcomes of what we want to accomplish.’ If we don’t have that, then all we’re left to do is complain about the measuring stick and that has no redeeming value.

“Let’s turn this negative into a positive and go from worst to first, and the first way to do that is to identify measurable ways to get to that point.”

The well-being index used in the survey included these topics: Life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors and basic access. Huntington ranked lowest in life evaluation, emotional health and physical health. Charleston ranked lowest in healthy behaviors.

Underlying issues

In terms of physical health, a lot of factors are coming into play. One that dietitian Heather Lenoy sees in her work is affordability.

Lenoy is cardiovascular and diabetes nutrition educator at the Joslin Diabetes Center at St. Mary’s Medical Center and finds that many patients can’t afford nutrition counseling unless they’ve already developed a health problem significant enough to be covered by health insurance.

“The majority of patients I see are the diabetes population or people recovering (from heart procedures),” she said. “I see the patients after they have problems — that’s the biggest problem. People wait until they have a problem until they get help. I blame that on insurance. Insurance won’t pay for nutrition counseling until it’s too late. … If someone is overweight, they will not pay for weight loss counseling. If you wait until they have diabetes, they cover it. It’s frustrating that even those who want to help themselves can’t afford it.”

While some people are fine handling lifestyle and nutrition changes without counseling, some need extra help, she said.

“If you were told to go out and change the spark plugs in your car, you could try and get a book and look on the Internet, but if you went to a mechanic who showed you how, you’d be more equipped to do it on your own next time,” she said. “The resources that are reputable, people can’t pay for. … Our whole goal is to make people as healthy as they can be, and we don’t want to turn people away.”

Gallup implicated cities in its report.

“With about 80 percent of Americans living in urban or suburban areas, the role of cities in spearheading the well-being of the U.S. is significant,” the Gallup report said. “City leadership — be it government, business, faith-based, community-based, or education — plays a critical role in the success or failure of a city to embrace and sustain a culture of well-being.”

Finding solutions

Dan Buettner, National Geographic Fellow and founder of Blue Zones LLC, said in the Gallup report that cities can adopt tangible policies to “actively cultivate and improve residents’ well-being.

“Policies that nudge people into healthy activities — where it is easy to walk to the store, bike to a friend’s house, get access to fresh produce, and be surrounded by healthy-minded, supportive friends — are ones that make the healthy choice the easy choice. Sustained transformation depends on building an environment and establishing social policies that support and reinforce these programs,” he said in the report.

The report said that communities such as Boulder, Colo., which has had the highest average rank across all reporting periods since 2008, and Provo-Orem, the most religious city, which helps its overall well-being, can serve as best-practice examples for leaders of other cities.

“Key elements of community well-being, such as learning new and interesting things, providing safe places to exercise, routine trips to the dentist, and smoking cessation, are all key vanguards of high well-being locations. Leaders can leverage these learnings and advocate their execution in their own communities,” the Gallup report said.

Williams said he’s encouraged by several recent developments in the city. They include its success with the America in Bloom city beautification program, the city being selected as one of just eight to participate in a community progress initiative program at Harvard University, and others. Even Huntington’s police chief being recruited to Columbia, S.C., is a compliment indicating there are good things going on here, he said.

“There’s no better compliment than when someone wants to recruit your best away,” Williams said. “What would be tragic is not that Skip Holbrook left, but if somebody comes in who is a shadow of what we know we deserve.”

With this study seemingly being measured by residents’ perceptions, spreading good news about what’s going on in Huntington seems to be one of the next challenges, he said.

“We need to tell the world things are happening that are good. It doesn’t mean you ignore those things that need fixed — you say, ‘Things are turning around.’ … Honestly, I think this study in all actuality is ancient news. We have long since turned a corner and are moving up rapidly. I’ll be eager to see studies of 2014, ’15, ’16.”

It’s time for people of the region to show what they’re made of, he said.

“It’s not in our nature to just roll over and play dead,” Williams said. “We are a stubborn culture here. Nobody comes in and criticizes our family. It gets the hair up on the back of our necks, so let’s use that as a motivation to strike back.”

Making better choices

Dr. Norman “Chip” Hetzler, a cardiac surgeon at St. Mary’s, encourages people to really think about their choices when it comes to the basics.

“People need to, No. 1, quit smoking and quit chewing. That’s the only risk factor that you can make zero,” he said. Other risk factors might be related to genetics and family history.”

Also, make healthy food choices, Hetzler said.

“The closer you can get to the farm the better. If you have to eat fast food, limit it to one meal a week,” he said. “And get up and move. God gave you two legs for a reason. You don’t have to run a marathon, but get up and walk.”

He said he realizes it’s a family thing. One person’s ability to quit smoking can be hampered by a spouse who won’t quit. Mom and Dad need to eat well along with their kids, and vice versa.

“You have to make a conscious choice. … You have to take it upon yourself to make the right choices so you’ll be around for your kids and grandkids,” he said. “A lot of people say, ‘Doc fixed me, so I’m fine.’ Your first heart attack is a wake-up call from God. Now you definitely need to make a change.”

There are many online resources that provide both encouragement, ideas and charts of your progress, he said, and he encouraged getting together with a group from the neighborhood, work or church, just for accountability and to meet new people.

“A lot of people say, ‘I can’t make healthy food choices because (things like a box of macaroni and cheese) are cheaper,’ ” Hetzler said. “You can find healthy food choices for not that expensive. It takes a little planning, but in the end, you save money because you live a full, normal life with both legs — that always helps. You can enjoy doing things with your grandkids, work longer. … Plus, it feels good to be healthy.”

Well-Being Index
Methodology: The results of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index were based on telephone interviews conducted between Jan. 2-Dec. 29, 2012, and Jan. 2-Dec. 30, 2013, with a random sample of 531,630 adults, aged 18 and older, living in metropolitan areas in the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling. Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones.

Purpose: The index is a barometer of Americans’ perceptions of their well-being.

Topics: Six topic areas comprise the national Well-Being Index, and those include life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors and basic access.

Scores: The index provides scores in each topic area and also a composite score.

HUNTINGTON — This cold shouldered start to Spring is set to subside with temps climbing and as if on cue a couple of guided bicycle rides are scheduled for this weekend.

On Friday, when temperatures are forecasted for a high of 65 and a low of 47 degrees, Kenova Critical Mass will be holding its monthly ride through downtown, historic Kenova.

People are asked to dress for the weather and meet up at the Kenova Town Square at 6:30 p.m. Friday, March 28, for the Kenova Critical Mass, conducted on the last Friday of each month.

All area cyclists and skateboarders are invited to come join the free, monthly ride that will be a flat six-mile loop around Kenova on the city’s bike path that rolls through such neighborhood streets as Chestnut and Beech streets and along the river.

The Critical Mass monthly bicycle events began in San Francisco in 1992 and have since spread around the world.

Regional rides include such cities as Athens, Ohio, Huntington and Parkersburg, W.Va. For more information about Critical Mass Kenova call Mandy Jordan at 304-939-2083 or email mandyjordan59@yahoo.com.

The Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District has a guided bicycle ride set for 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 29. Meet at the Ritter Park fountain and join in on a casually-paced ride along the PATH or Paul Ambrose Trail for Health through Ritter Park to its western end, and onto the new PATH portion.

That part of the PATH rolls along the scenic Fourpole Creek and across two bridges into the Harveytown neighborhood park.

The ride is free and open to all abilities and ages. For more info, call Bryan Danford, the new activities coordinator at the Park District, or email at bdanford@ghprd.org.

Read the Herald-Dispatch Weekend section on Thursday for more great outdoor activities to do with your friends and family.

The Huntington-Ashland and Charleston metropolitan statistical areas were the bottom ranking regions in a newly released Gallup poll focused on well-being in 2013.

Looking at residents’ perceptions of their physical and emotional health, work environment and other issues, the study indicates that Huntington-Ashland also trailed all other metros in 2008, 2010 and 2011.

This year’s “well-being index” for the Huntington-Ashland MSA was 59.5. Its score of 58.1 in 2010 remains the lowest on record for Gallup’s five reporting periods spanning six years of data collection.

For this 2013 study, Charleston had the second-lowest well being index of 60.0. The highest index was for the Provo-Orem metro area in Utah, which scored 71.4.

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams pointed out the city’s focus on wellness that includes everything from 41 5Ks being offered in the city last year to Huntington’s Kitchen offering nutrition and cooking classes to the development of the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health (PATH) — and many others.

Perhaps not enough people know about all these offerings and improvements, he said, adding that he plans to work on changing that.

“My first reaction was, ‘Again?’ and frustration,” he said. “But once you get past that, why sit and argue with them? I think it’s incumbent upon leaders in positions such as I have to set out a strategy of identifiable goals to achieve and start working to accomplish those things. If a measurement comes back later, then you have facts in place to say, ‘These are the measuring points.

This is where it used to be, and we’ve set measurable outcomes of what we want to accomplish.’ If we don’t have that, then all we’re left to do is complain about the measuring stick and that has no redeeming value.

“Let’s turn this negative into a positive and go from worst to first, and the first way to do that is to identify measurable ways to get to that point.”

HUNTINGTON — Bob Withers is a big fan of the “Andy Griffith Show.”

But the Baptist minister and retired The Herald-Dispatch reporter and copy editor doesn’t have to pine for some televised Mayberry.

He feels like he is living there now, and has always lived there on quiet tree-lined streets beside historic churches and homes and between the rivers, the roads and the rails in Guyandotte.

Withers, whose family tree roots go back to the 19th century in Guyandotte, has memorialized the historic neighborhood of Huntington in the new Images of America series book, “Guyandotte,” ($21.99, Arcadia Publishing), a 127-page book chock full of historical photos that together tell many of its stories.

A nationally-known railroad writer who has authored or co-authored 15 books and numerous articles in internationally circulated magazines, Withers said he felt like it was time to shine a light on his home.

“What I like about it is that there are so many things within a walking distance of my home that I can use,” Withers said. “I am a big Andy Griffth fan and I always call Guyandotte my Mayberry. Within walking distance is my credit union, several churches, a hardware store, a barbershop, a restaurant, a post office and the bargain store. I can go all summer without buying a drop of gasoline.”

Withers did not have to stray far from his home or his heart’s loves to put together the book that is broken into nine chapters with such titles as “The Family Scrapbook,” “Home is Where the Heart Is,” The Stores are Open,” “Churches, Congregations and Choirs,” “Schools and Scholars,” “When the Creek Does Rise,” “Getting Around” and “Happy Days of Celebration.”

Setting in stone his tie to the historic river town that pre-dates Huntington by 70 years, Withers opens the book with a daguerreotype of his then 24-year-old great grandfather James Albert Poindexter who served in the 8th Virginia Calvary’s Company E in the CSA.

While the photo alone is stunning enough, Withers’ detail in reporting the rest of the story is equally fascinating as he points out the family still has a ring that James carved from a button while he was spending time in a Union prison in Columbus, Ohio, during the Civil War.

Although he also obtained historic photos from the archives of The Herald-Dispatch, the Special Collections Department of Marshall University, river historian Jerry Sutphin, railroader Charles Lemley, and others, Withers also dusted off many a cool black and white photo from the attics and scrapbooks of long-time local families (as well as his own).

Withers chose family photos with some flair and a story to tell like the one on page 108 of his uncle Buddy or John Carlton Hennen Sr., posing on a carriage hitched to a couple billygoats in 1914.

On page 16, his grandfather John C. Hennen is posed in his Masonic uniform with a Knights Templar sword and a chapeau on his head.

“Who would have ever thought that ostrich feathers would be in a book about Guyandotte?” Withers said laughing about his grandfather’s plumed hat.

There are several pictures of Withers’ house, at 313 Main St., throughout the years including ones from 1907, 1917, and, of course, during the 1937 Flood.

And, of course, lots of black and white photos of many of Guyandotte’s historic homes, all that come with a story, like page 53’s photo of the Keenan House, at 232 Main St., which was built by William Stone, and used as a jail during the Civil War, and that still has a bullet hole in the front door from the 1861 Battle of Guyandotte, and that was in 1873 used as a hospital during a cholera epidemic.

There are many photos of the people who have shaped Guyandotte’s history and who have kept it alive. Folks like timber man Lewis Burks, James Murphy, the patriarch of Murphy’s Drug store, Elza Moore, of Moore Hardware, plenty of folks sticking together whether at quilting bees, church bazaars and weddings or helping each other through the floods and the tough times.

Withers included photos of many of Guyandotte’s prettiest ladies, including one of Sue Ann Saunders (his wife of 44 years) sharing a laugh with her brothers, and its most famous resident, Virginia Ruth “Ruthie” Egnor, who was known to millions in the 1950s as the TV star Dagmar.

“She (Dagmar) had a marvelous sense of humor … when she got inducted into the Huntington Wall of Fame, she got up on stage and she said would cry but it would smear her makeup,” Withers said laughing. BIll Anderson and I took her on a tour of Guyandotte one day and we were driving back to Ceredo and she said ‘I want you to know you two have been perfect gentlemen — darn it.'”

Withers, who has written such famous train books as “The President Travels By Train,” and the just-released, “Cass Scenic Railroad” book, also included lots of neat rail and river photos in the eighth chapter called, “Getting Around.”

Those pictures include shots of the Arion, a ferry boat that was in operation from 1891 to 1929, one of the new St. Louis Street Cars from 1913, Ohio Valley Electric Railway Co. buses from the 1930s and plenty of railroad bridges, and a stunning double-truck photo by Charles Lemley of the B&O Train No. 72 departing Guyandotte for Pittsburgh on Sunday, Sept. 27, 1953.

Withers said that he hopes the book raises people’s awareness and interest in Guyandotte, a historic neighborhood that he feels is on the move with festivals such as the Civil War Days and Swinefest, such historic places as the Madie Carroll House, historic walking tours like the Haunted and Historic Guyandotte Tours (performed by costumed guides) and new investments such as the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health or PATH, and the new historic-looking Fifth Avenue bridge.

“I think after the Civl War battle, the Federal troops came in the next day and burned all the businesses and many of the homes and Guyandotte just gave up after that and never did really get over that,” Withers said. “Then in 1911 they decided to, they took a vote of the people, and they decided to become part of Huntington, but now, I think people up there are waking up to the potential and other people are coming in and can see it too.”

WHAT: A new Images of America series book, “Guyandotte,” by Bob Withers, a retired reporter and copy editor from The Herald-Dispatch and life-long Guyandotte resident

BOOKSIGNING: Withers will be signing books at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 18, at the Huntington Museum of Art, 2033 McCoy Road.

HOW MUCH: $21.99, Arcadia Publishing

GET THE BOOK: You can get the book from Withers by calling 304-522-2046 and it is also now available at area bookstores, independent retailers, and online retailers, or through Arcadia Publishing at 888-313-2665 or online at www.arcadiapublishing.com.

HUNTINGTON — Believe it or not, temperatures are hitting the 60s and, as if on cue, there are two bicycle rides this weekend.

The monthly Critical Mass ride in Huntington meets up at 6:30 p.m. Friday and is a six-mile flat ride through the city.

The free monthly event is open to all area cyclists and skateboarders.

Huntington’s Critical Mass is organized by Huntington bicycle commuter Joel Mullins, who rides year round in Huntington.

People can keep up with the Huntington cycling scene online at www.facebook.com/huntington critical mass.

The Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District is hosting a bicycle ride at 1 p.m. Saturday. Those who want to participate should meet at the Guyandotte Boat Ramp for a trip along the new PATH (Paul Ambrose Trail for Health) portion to Altizer and back along Riverside Drive.

That will be about a two- to three-hour guided bicycle ride. The Park District is planning to host regular guided bicycle rides around the city and through the parks.

Also planned is a 1 p.m. Saturday, March 29, ride called Bike the PATH, which will be a ride from Ritter Park to Harveytown and back. That ride will meet at the Ritter Park fountain.

Go online at www.ghprd.org for more info on the PATH ride as well as other upcoming hikes and bicycle rides. Or call 304-696-5954 or email Bryan Danford at bdanford@ghprd.org.

Several high-profile school construction projects — from the new Huntington East Middle School welcoming students just days from now to the completion of Marshall’s new downtown Visual Arts Center — are slated for completion this calendar year.

The MU Visual Arts Center, located in the former Stone & Thomas Building in downtown Huntington, has been a highly visible renovation since construction began on the facility in early 2013. At that time, the construction stage was estimated at 16 months.

Marshall officials have said the new center will be ready in time for the 2014 fall semester. The 111-year-old building has received an extensive makeover, including the addition of 65 tons of steel to reinforce the structure and bring it up to wind-load codes, as well as new floor insulation and drywall and new elevators and a stairwell.

The building is expected to house a student art gallery and retail space on its first floor, while classrooms, studios and offices will be on the second through sixth floors.

Those spaces will include dye labs, weaving, print making, screen printing workrooms, photography, papermaking digital labs, lighting studio, drafting and typography, drawing studio, and painting and printing studio space.

About 800 students will set foot for the first time in Huntington East Middle School in just a few days.

The $23 million school was completed in December, after a little more than a year of construction. The school is certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, and it includes several green technologies, such as large windows to maximize natural light, a composter to reuse food waste and computer monitoring stations to show energy usage.

Teachers at the school will report to work Thursday, Jan. 2. 2014, for a non-instructional day of work.

The Huntington East students will have staggered start dates the following week.

Eighth-grade students will attend the school Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. Seventh-grade students will report Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, and sixth-grade students will report Friday, Jan. 10, 2014.

All students will report to the new campus on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014.

A grand opening ceremony involving school officials and county leaders also is being planned for January, said Jedd Flowers, communications director for Cabell County Schools.

Other projects include:

INDOOR PRACTICE FACILITY: The facility, which will house a 120-yard football field, six-lane track and other practice facilities for Marshall’s track, baseball, softball and other teams, is slated to be completed in 2014. The 105,000-square-foot building also will seat about 1,000 people and can be used for track meets, indoor soccer and other events.

The second portion of the facility, a 35,000-square-foot, two-story building that will house the Marshall Athletics Hall of Fame, as well as an academic center with 120 computers for Marshall’s 375 student-athletes, and a Sports Medicine Translational Research Center, will take longer to complete.

BUS GARAGE: A $7 million project for Cabell County Schools won’t house any students, but it will serve as a critical facility for the buses that transport them. A bus garage that will house 85 of the school system’s 120 buses is set to be completed in March 2014. The garage, which is located on Cox Landing Lane in Lesage, is a combination of new construction and renovation of the former Cox Landing Junior High School.

ARTHUR WEISBERG FAMILY APPLIED ENGINEERING COMPLEX: Construction will continue on Marshall’s new engineering facility through 2014. The project, a four-story facility with 145,000 square feet of what will become state-of-the-art educational space for six different academic components and programs at the university, including the College of Information Technology and Engineering, is slated for spring 2015 completion.

FUTURE UNCERTAIN: The future of housing Kenova Elementary School students remains uncertain going into 2014.

The students have attended classes in modular units in Ward Craycraft Stadium since the West Virginia Department of Education closed the old facility in May 2011 after a sinkhole was discovered on the school’s property.

The lease for the modular units is set to expire in June 2014.

In October, Wayne County Schools Superintendent Lynn Hurt proposed a plan that would involve the modular units in Kenova and dispersing students from Kenova and Ceredo elementary schools and Ceredo-Kenova Middle School to schools throughout the northern portion of the county for the 2014-2015 school year.

That plan was met with displeasure and little support from community members, who with Hurt’s help, organized a committee of parents, teachers and community leaders, who proposed that school officials find the funding to keep the modular units open until a Ceredo-Kenova elementary school is built, pending the passage of a proposed bond measure.

Here’s a look at other events likely to make headlines in the coming year:

Politics

In 2013, West Virginians saw a lot of political shuffling that will make the mid-term elections in 2014 very weighty.

State Sen. Evan Jenkins changed his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican in July, so that he could run against longtime Democrat U.S. Rep Nick J. Rahall for West Virginia’s Third District seat in the 2014 general election. Jenkins was stripped of all of his state Senate leadership positions because of the party change.

West Virginians received another surprise when Democrat U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who had served nearly three decades in the U.S. Senate, announced he would not seek re-election next year.

That vacancy has Republican Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito and current West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, a Democrat, the most likely candidates to square off for the seat in November 2014, provided there are no surprises in their respective primaries.

At the local level, Cabell County Delegate Kevin Craig announced he will not run for re-election in the West Virginia Legislature next year. The 45-year-old Democrat had briefly considered a run for state Senate next year.

Looking to take Jenkins’ spot at the state level are Democrat Mike Woelfel, a Huntington attorney, and Republican Vickie Dunn-Marshall, a Barboursville business owner.

Huntington

BIG PLANS FOR CITY: Dr. Joe Touma unveiled some ambitious remodeling plans for Huntington City Hall in October. The ear, nose and throat doctor who has renovated several buildings in downtown Huntington during the past decade is spearheading a campaign to raise $150,000 in private donations to redecorate the main hallway of the city government building at the northeast corner of 5th Avenue and 8th Street. He hopes to form a fundraising committee and have the project completed sometime in 2014 as part of the building’s 100th birthday celebration.

Meanwhile, the city unveiled its plan for future development late in 2013.

“PLAN 2025: The Future of Huntington,” is a collective vision that is intended to guide future planning and development on a wide range of topics, including housing, land use, economic development, public services, infrastructure and transportation.

Army Corps renovation proceeds: With more than half of the internal renovations completed and the old facade stripped away, an overhaul of the Huntington Federal Building on the corner of 8th Street and 5th Avenue has gone relatively smoothly and is on schedule for completion sometime during the summer of 2015. The $47.6 million project has altered traffic lanes on adjoining streets and displaced some of the more than 500 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employees who work in the building.

STILL ON RIGHT PATH: The Paul Ambrose Trail for Health now owns a critical piece of infrastructure that officials say will link the biking and walking pathway to more neighborhoods in Huntington. CSX Transportation officials announced in April the donation of an old rail bridge that spans the Guyandotte River in Guyandotte to PATH along with $25,000 to help pay for the bridge’s renovation so it can accommodate pedestrians and cyclists.

Two sections of the PATH in Guyandotte and Harveytown are complete, while a third trail section that will stretch from 3rd Street West to Vinson Road in Westmoreland is nearly complete.

Organizers are trying to make the final push to connect the circuit, though the project has experienced some difficulties as of late with costs for projects rising and funding sources shrinking.

Crime and courts

SHERIFF KILLING: Attorneys are preparing for a March 4 trial date in the killing of a Mingo County Eugene Crum. It happened April 3, 2013, in downtown Williamson as the sheriff ate lunch in his parked vehicle. Circuit Judge Paul T. Farrell, sitting in special assignment by the state Supreme Court, announced in November that Cabell County will serve as an alternative murder trial site should officials be unable to select a jury.

CARTER: Tyerus Brandon Hayes and Terry Nicholas Morton await a Jan. 21 trial date in the Jan. 2, 2013, killing of Christopher Carter, 25. It occurred about 8:45 p.m. at Forest Bluff Apartments, Unit No. 7036, off East Pea Ridge near Huntington. Investigators believe Morton and Hayes went to the apartment looking to collect on $30,000 in stolen heroin. Both men were arrested in separate states months later.

ZAPPIN: A circuit judge will consider in late January whether to grant an outright dismissal of a nine-count indictment, which charges Leigh Anne Zappin with embezzling $23,700 from the Huntington Area Food Bank. It occurred between Jan. 22, 2012, and Sept. 21, 2012, when she served as the agency’s executive director. The case was handed to a special prosecutor in late November, after Cabell County’s Chris Chiles begrudgingly withdrew his office amid defense accusations he strongly denied.

SMITH: Harry Lee Smith could learn his punishment in early February for the July 30, 2011, shooting death of his wife, Constance “Kay Kay” Smith. A jury convicted Smith in November of second-degree murder. He contended it was accidental, while prosecutors argued Harry Smith intentionally pointed the gun at his wife’s head and pulled the trigger, striking her in the face.

SOCIAL SECURITY: Legal wrangling continues in Pikeville, Ky., where two whistle blowers seek to recover as much as $22.7 million on behalf of taxpayers and the federal government, in response to allegations of mismanagement and fraud within the Social Security Administration’s regional office along 9th Street in Huntington.

The allegations are expected to be the topic of additional testimony before members of the Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, which released a two-year investigation in October alleging longtime Judge David B. Daugherty and eastern Kentucky attorney Eric C. Conn engaged in a scheme that “enabled the judge to approve, in assembly-line fashion, hundreds of clients for disability benefits using manufactured medical evidence.”

The whistle blowers, Sarah Carver and Jennifer Griffith, testified before the Senate committee in October, along with two women formerly employed by Conn’s law firm, physicians mentioned in the Senate investigation and Daugherty’s chief judge, Charles Paul Andrus.

Social Security administrators are still expected to testify at a later date. Their testimony was first delayed by a partial government shutdown in October, and then by recurrence of prostate cancer suffered by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., ranking member of the committee and pioneer of the two-year investigation.

Conn and Daugherty have denied any wrongdoing.

GLC: It will be May 6 before local businessman Gregory L. Crabtree and former Marshall University football coach Jim Donnan stand trial on charges they profited from an alleged Ponzi scheme while investors lost millions. An 85-count indictment, filed in April 2013, alleged Donnan experienced a personal gain of nearly $8.5 million and Crabtree a profit of nearly $1.7 million, while investors lost $23 million.

It is estimated the trial, set for Athens, Ga., may last for three weeks. Attorneys cited the case’s large amount of evidence in October 2013 as reason for needing more time to prepare and potentially negotiate an alternative disposition.

PITTS: David Pitts awaits indictment and trial in the July 5 shooting death of Deangelo D. Erquhart at Gary’s Lounge, a nightclub in the 2000 block of 10th Avenue. He eluded arrest until Nov. 6, when court documents charge he fired five gunshots into a Ford Explorer parked at an intersection in the 900 block of 21st Street.

BAKER: Teresa Baker awaits trial in April, the most recent date in nearly six years of delays. She stands charged with murder in the Feb. 4, 2008, shooting death of Jeffrey Saddler at 156 Cedar St. in Huntington.

Baker admits she pulled the trigger to defend her daughter, who she contends was abused by Saddler, 25. Her side insists she was left with little choice but to kill, especially after their client called police and waited for an hour with no response from officers.

The state Supreme Court, in June 2013, blocked dismissal of Baker’s case on speeding ground issues. The case was then postponed again in December because of lacking transcripts.

PANCAKE: Cabell County awaits word from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin as to who will succeed retiring Cabell Circuit Judge David M. Pancake. Five applied to succeed him, three of which received a recommendation from a state commission.

Pancake announced his intention in July to retire in early 2014. It will end 16 years on the bench presiding over predominately civil litigation. He wanted to spend more time with family.

DOUBLE HOMICIDE: Thomas Maurice White awaits trial Jan. 21 on two counts of murder. The charges stem from the Nov. 6, 2012, killing of Darrell Fugua, 22, and DeVante Penn, 17, both of Detroit. Investigators have described the deaths as the result of a heroin-related robbery. Two co-defendants are set to testify against White at trial, each after agreeing to plea bargains in October 2013.

FARROW: Quazza Stephan Farrow awaits trial April 23 on charges related to the July 5, 2012, killing of Mikeal Branch, 26. It happened at victim’s house in the 1200 block of 18th Street in Huntington. The prosecution believes a dispute over a dog led to the shooting. He was twice arrested on home confinement violations in 2013.

NORTHCOTT: Antonio Michael Smith awaits arraignment and trial in the shooting of six people Sept. 24 in a courtyard at Northcott Court, a public housing complex near Hal Greer Boulevard in Huntington. The suspect was arrested on unrelated, federal drug and firearm charges as authorities used cell phone records to track him to Brooklyn, N.Y. A state arrest warrant had not been executed as of late December. The injuries were not life threatening.

MARRIAGE LAWSUIT: Three gay couples, two from Huntington and one from St. Albans, W.Va., await U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers’ decision on a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. It targeted county clerks in Cabell and Kanawha counties as defendants, although West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey later intervened to defend state law.

MISSING MAN: Erica Dawn Streets and Wayne Daniel Kilpatrick await indictment in relation to the disappearance and killing of Julius Davis, who authorities described as Street’s 51-year-old boyfriend and father to their two sons. Both were arrested in October. Davis had disappeared midsummer. Authorities alleged Streets shot Davis in their East Lynn residence and enlisted Kilpatrick’s help to dispose of the body.

GARNER: Jerel Addison Garner awaits trial March 25 in connection with the July 2008 shooting death of former Marshall University football standout Donte Newsome. It will be Garner’s second trial, as the state Supreme Court, in October, overturned his voluntary manslaughter conviction.

GUNTHER: Ronnie Lee Gunther awaits indictment in a case that investigators believed involved a neighborhood dispute over a dog. The Nov. 6, 2013, shooting killed William Jennings Ward, 55, at a residence near U.S. 52 in Glen Hayes.

JOHNSON: James Lee Johnson awaits possible indictment in the Dec. 17 shooting death of Robert Samuel Crutcher IV, 44. It happened at the victim’s 36 27th St. residence.

HUNTINGTON — Registra­tion is now open for the annual Tour de PATH that takes place at noon Saturday, Oct. 12, at Heri­tage Station.

All guided bicycle rides leave the Station at 1 p.m.

Folks can register for a variety of guided family-friendly bicycle rides on the PATH.

Those rides include a four-mile downtown riverfront route.

There’s a seven-mile tour that takes folks to the West Hunting­ton portion of the PATH as well as the new Harveytown connector that connects Harveytown Park with the west end of Ritter Park.

A 10-mile loop ride takes folks east to the PATH portions in Highlawn neighborhood as well as Guyandotte.

And a full Tour de Path 20­mile ride takes folks on a circular ride of all the new portions of the PATH, both designated trails (such as the Guyandotte to Altizer trail and the Harveytown con­nector) in addition to new Share The Road PATH routes such as the 4th Avenue strip that takes folks behind the new neighbor­hood playground and Marshall University soccer stadium.

Advance registration for all of those rides is $10 for individuals and $25 for families. (Includes two adults, two children. Please contact organizers about add­ing $5 for up to four additional children or about group rates for Scouts, Civic or church youth groups or seniors. Group rate not available for online registration. Contact path@njrati.org.) That Saturday, registration will be $15 and $30. All proceeds go toward public awareness of the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health (PATH), through map creation, development and distribution.

Bicycle maintenance workshop begins after the ride. Folks who register will also receive a gift bag that includes the October issue of Bicycle Times magazine, a down­town shopping coupon booklet and info on local bike efforts including the Marshall University Eco-Cycle Program, the Rotary Park Bike Bash, Critical Mass and other bicycling groups.

Before the event, the Hunting­ton Police Department bicycle police will offer a “Rules of the Road” presentation, teaching safe cycling practices to participants.

St. Mary’s Transportation Inju­ry Prevention and Safety (TIPS) program will offer free children’s bicycle helmets and safety informa­tion. The Ice Cream Trike will sell ice cream and other frozen treats, and the city of Huntington will be selling bike license plates, so par­ticipants can register their bikes.

Folks wanting to register online can do so at https://www.bikereg. com/Net/21329 or you can also register in person at Jeff’s Bike Shop, 740 6th Ave. Jeff’s is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

You can also print and mail a form from www.paulambrose­trail.org.

The Paul Ambrose Trail for Health is a growing bicycle and pedestrian trail system provid­ing free, healthy recreational opportunities. Through grants, fundraising, sponsorships and individual contributions, more than $2.5 million has been raised to support the construction and maintenance of the PATH.

PATH is named after Dr. Paul Ambrose, who was a promising young physician whose life end­ed Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon. Dr. Ambrose focused his medical career on family health and using preven­tative medicine to fight obesity, and the trail system is a way to continue his medical legacy and impact the health of Huntington.

Find out more info at www. paulambrosetrail.org.

HUNTINGTON — Want to check out some new sections of the Paul Ambrose Trail to Health?

You can at 3 p.m. Meet up at the Ritter Park fountain for a Kidical Mass ride.

The ride will follow Ritter Park down to the west end of Huntington, across Fourpole Creek bridge and through the woods over to the Harveytown Park on the newly completed PATH trail.

The ride will stop for a bit at the Harveytown Park to allow some play time for the kids before heading back to the fountain.

Find out more about these free, family-friendly rides at the Huntington Critical Mass Facebook page.

Kidical Mass is a legal, safe and fun bike ride for kids, kids at heart and their families. The first ride was held in April 2008 in Eugene, Ore., and has now spread to more than two dozen communities throughout North America and beyond.
The rides are meant to be family-friendly bike rides through a community, which generally meet at a park and end near another fun spot (park, ice cream shop, pool, or special event). Each community figures out the type of ride, routes, locations and events that work best for their area families.

There are currently 27 cities in the United States and Canada hosting Kidical Mass including Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle, Portland, San Diego and Denver.

Past Huntington Kidical Mass rides have included: a geocache-themed ride, a Harris Riverfront Park, where riders toured the Nina and Pinta replica ships docked at the riverfront, a Christmas lights bicycle ride, as well as rides through Highlawn, the Southside and Ritter Park.

For more information about Kidical Mass, go online at http://www.kidicalmass.org.

Communities across the country are working to improve their bike and walking pathways, providing residents with a convenient way to get the exercise they need.

That is not always easy, because for most of the past century, cities have been shaped and reshaped to accommodate automobiles. Projects such as the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health in the Huntington area require identifying existing pathways and building sections that connect them.

That gives bikers and walkers the opportunity to go for miles without crossing busy streets.

The PATH effort is completing its first phase of construction with a 3.5-mile pathway along the floodwall at 3rd Street West to Vinson Road in Westmoreland, a half-mile wooded trail that connects Harveytown Park to Ritter Park and a 1.25-mile trail that stretches from the Guyandotte boat launch and along Riverside Drive to the Washington Boulevard Bridge in front of Special Metals.

This week, the project received another boost with the donation of an old railroad bridge that spans the Guyandotte River. CSX Transportation also kicked in $25,000 to help pay for the renovation.

The bridge will help connect planned trails in Huntington’s Highlawn neighborhood and Guyandotte, and it will give the trail system a popular new feature. Pedestrian bridges, particularly over waterways, have become key attractions for numerous trail systems and parks.

State Sen. Bob Plymale, who is leading the trail development through the Rahall Transportation Institute, notes there may be property available near the bridge to add a park and trail for children from Guyandotte Elementary School.

The PATH project will take time — the long-range plan envisions a 64-mile trail system. But great progress is being made this year, and the bridge donation is an exciting extra step.

Editor’s Note: The Downtown Huntington Neighborhood Association President, Aaron Michael Fox, has prepared a 16 page historical and current perspective for the downtown that contains some rare photographs from the Vintage Huntington Facebook site. An adapted excerpt from the report continues below. The full 16 page PDF is available for download too.

(Portions Have Been Adapted ; Published by Permission)
The confluence of the Guyandotte and Ohio River resulted in the founding of a settlement known as Holderby’s Landing back in 1775. By 1871 the City of Huntington had been incorporated by Collis P. Huntington and Delos W. Emmons as the western terminus of the C & O Railroad.

The City had electric street cars known as trolleys before gasoline powered buses replaced them. Camden Park was built in 1903 to encourage trolley ridership. The Tri-State Transit Authority operates several “trolley” styled buses which are used on special celebrations and occasions.OLD MAIN CORRIDOR AND THE KEITH ALBEE

Simultaneously, leaders began polishing the city’s ornate two million dollar Thomas Lamb designed movie palace (the Keith Albee Performing Arts Center) and upgrading the section of Fourth Avenue that connects Downtown to Marshall University which is known as the Old Main Corridor. Block by block the goal has been new lighting, artistic and pedestrian –friendly design concepts and bicycle lanes.

Tyson Compton, President of the Cabell-Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the redesigns between Eighth and Tenth Streets on Fourth Avenue has helped the Keith Albee reclaim “her status as the grand dame of Downtown Huntington.”Without exception, the Keith Albee Performing Arts Center is downtown’s most famous attraction. Originally built in 1928 as the Keith-Albee Theater, and under the supervision of vaudeville tycoons B. F. Keith and Edward Albee as part of their Keith-Albee vaudeville circuit, the Keith-Albee was the second-largest theater in the United States at that time–behind the Roxy in New York City. The theater was designed by Thomas W. Lamb who designed approximately 153 theaters around the world. Unfortunately, only forty-three of these grand theaters are still open, and seventy-one have been demolished. Thankfully, “the Keith” has been undergoing a full restoration since 2009, including the receipt of a check for $300,000 from WV Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, the House of Delegates and the State Senate which will go for roof repairs.The signature achievement in the restoration of the Keith for this year, was the restoration of the famous front sign. After standing watch over Fourth Avenue for decades and being featured in hundreds of pictures and postcards, two Hollywood movie premieres, and being struck by lightning numerous times; the sign had to be taken down in 2011. A massive “Save Our Sign” effort was organized that funded the full restoration of the sign, which was reinstalled in May of 2012.

HUNTINGTON’S HISTORIC BOONS

Huntington experienced two early boon periods — from 1871 until the 1937 Flood (which claimed five lives, left tens of thousands homeless, and caused millions in damages) and a short lived boon during World War II. After the conflict, the city’s population started dropping after 1950 due to urban sprawl and declines in the steel and manufacturing industries.

After years of population decline , an exodus of much retail to the Huntington Mall, and the leadership vacuum that followed the Marshall University plane crash in 1971, the city started rebounding with the opening of Pullman Square in 2005, the filming of Warner Bros. “We Are Marshall” in 2006, and the shooting of ABC’s “Food Revolution” in 2010.Capping 2010, the U.S. Census reported a growth in the city’s population for the first time in six decades.

Progress has come neither easily or rapidly. A series of small steps have led to the renaissance of the downtown where many of the Art Deco and gothic buildings have been restored. Those efforts have been guided since 2006 by an organization known as “Create Huntington,” which evolved from five focus groups geared toward steering the community’s future by concentrating on Family Life, Technology, Culture & the Arts, Community Development and Tourism.

The organization empowers residents and facilitate ideas through the weekly “Chat ‘n Chew” meetings at the Frederick, the Facebook group, and its website. Create Huntington has played a positive role in the success of such projects as the “Adopt Your Block” Litter Getter program, a monthly “Cash Mob” for local business, the revitalization of Shops at Heritage Station, the Diamond Teeth Mary Blues Festival, local art at “Gallery 842”, the Petsafe Dog Park, bike lanes on Fourth Avenue, the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health , as well as farm startups, recycling projects and neighborhood associations.

Bridging a full circle positive dynamic, Huntington Mayor Steve Williams promised to “work together” with all stakeholders to crown Huntington an “exceptional city.”

“Excellence must be created by design and not by happenstance,” the former member of the Young Thundering Herd said. Downtown revitalization, residential, municipal and business efforts have come through community involvement particularly such efforts as the “30 Mile Meal” project which places an emphasis on local fresh, ripe foods from vegetables and fruit to poultry, eggs, beef, bison, pork and lamb.New business has triggered new interest in downtown residency, as the “creative” class enjoys living where the arts and culture are close by. As a result, the upper floors of historically commercial building have been renovated to accommodate residential units. The tallest structure downtown, the WV Building will be an up-scale residential high-rise. Others have been or are being renovated too, such as the aforementioned Renaissance Book Store, the Keen Jewelry next to the library, and the upper floors of the St. James (First State Bank) Building, for example.

MUNICIPAL

For the last 3 years, the City of Huntington has invested considerable time and financial resources into the Old Main Corridor Project listed in the introduction. The City also unveiled a comprehensive cleanup campaign in 2013 that includes a ban on all furniture from being stored outside–except that which is designed specifically for exterior use, and a crackdown on code enforcement beginning this summer.

The looming zero-tolerance policy is part of Mayor Steve Williams’ multi-pronged approach to improving the quality of life in the city through code enforcement. The city also will hire additional code enforcement officers, reinstate the Fire Department’s Fire Prevention Bureau and seek the ability to issue on-the-spot citations from the West Virginia State Legislature.

The Huntington Police Department was recently recognized by the FBI for being the #1 police force in our region for the second straight year, and the city now has the lowest crime rates in 27 years. The City of Huntington also hired a graffiti abatement specialist in January of 2013, to work with the City on designing and implementing a new Graffiti Abatement System, to make sure all new graffiti is removed from the city within 24 hours of its application.

BUSINESS

Pullman Square provided a much needed spark to Downtown Huntington, which has seen an explosion of new development since the Square opened in 2006.Unlike Downtown development of the past, we are not tearing down our historic buildings, but rather finding new ways to keep them in use.

Huntington Prime was Huntington’s first restaurant to specialize in a locally-inspired menu in 2007. The very modern and contemporary-styled restaurant makes use of both the ground and penthouse floors of the West Virginia Building, which is the tallest building on the Huntington skyline and was built in 1924.

Happily, today Heritage Station is a busy artisan retail complex, full of locally-owned shops, and home to regular public events like the annual Diamond Teeth Mary Blues Festival.

New locally-owned artisan shops at Heritage Station include: the Wild Ramp: a local Market, All About You: Hair & Nail Salon, Bottle & Wedge: Beer, Wine, and Cheese Shop, CommonGround Shoppes: uncommon, handcrafted, home and garden goods, Finds & Designs: vintage furniture and up-cycled clothing, Jameson Cigar Co., the Red Caboose: artisan gifts, River & Rail Bakery, Let’s Eat: localvore restaurant, and Sip: Huntington’s first and only wine bar.

It’s safe to say that every shop in Heritage Station has a loyal following, but it seems that the most popular of all the shops is the Wild Ramp Market. The market is a revolutionary concept in our region, that strives to create a farmer’s market in a retail environment.

The store is staffed by volunteers, which keeps prices low and maximizes profits for suppliers, who keep 90% of all sales. The market is beneficial to both consumers, who get healthy and affordable, locally-grown products; as well as suppliers who do not have to waste time standing by their products as with a traditional farmer’s market.

The market is a heated and cooled interior space and open year round with hours that are convenient for both producers and the consumers (Tuesday-Saturday 11am-7pm).

Finally, the Huntington area wrestled with health problems that were made famous by Chef Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution on ABC-TV. Before and since, concerned residents have worked to improve health and quality of life. One of the projects is the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health (PATH), a growing bicycle and pedestrian trail system which recently received a donation of an old CSX Transportation railroad bridge which connects Highlawn to Guyandotte. Sen. Bob Plymale who is executive director of the Rahall Transportation Institute indicated that a small park might be built on the west side of the bridge.

Huntington city council may be close to making a healthy path a reality.

Tonight they discussed the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health, or PATH.

Path is a growing, bicycle and pedestrian trail designed to promote a healthy lifestyle in Huntington.

Its named for Dr. Paul Ambrose, a Marshall graduate who was killed at the Pentagon in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11th.

Council approved the first reading of the ordinance which the Mayor hopes to secure over $2 million dollars in grant funding for the project.

The ordinance now goes to a second reading in the next city council meeting.

Client
Edward Tucker Architects, Inc.
916 Fifth Avenue, Suite 208
Huntington, West Virginia

Contact
Phoebe Randolph, AIA
304-697-4990

The Paul Ambrose Trail for Health (PATH) is a growing bicycle and pedestrian system that provided free, healthy recreational opportunities for the City of Huntington and surrounding areas.

Initially contracted to provide design services for a new pedestrian bridge spanning Hisey Fork Creek, our scope of work was expanded to include overall design QA/QC as well as the development project quantities and project specifications for Phase 1 of this ambitious 26 mile project.

Our responsibilities for Phase 1 of the project consisted of the design of a new 66’ long pre-fabricated pedestrian bridge, including a hydraulic analysis of Hisey Fork Creek. Additional responsibilities included slope design for the levee section and a modular block retaining wall as well as a comprehensive QA/QC review of the project plans and the development of project quantities and detailed specifications for this 6.5 mile long initial section of the project.

Construction Cost: $2,300,000.00Key Personnel: Project Manager – Aaron C. Randolph, P.E.
Design Engineer – Jacob C. White, P.E.

PATH – Paul Ambrose Trail for Health was created in honor of Dr. Ambrose who was a physician in the area dedicated to educating the community about obesity and health. After Dr. Ambrose passed away, PATH was developed to carry on his vision of health. A biking and pedestrian path has been created for a safe place to bike in Huntington. For more information on PATH, follow the attached link.

http://www.paulambrosetrailforhealth.org/

Huntington, West Virginia. Made famous, recently, by a visit from British chef Jamie Oliver and it’s #1 Ranking as America’s most obese city is working to change it’s image. Heck, even I bought a juicer (Have you ever juiced Kale? Kinda gross). One way that people in the area seem to be changing is their love for biking and running. Over the past few years, running seems to have taken over Huntington. That’s where the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health comes in.

Named for Dr. Paul Ambrose, a Huntington native/Marshall Alum the PATH is a proposed 26 mile long running/biking trail system throughout the city of Huntington. It incorporates most of Huntington’s Riverfront area, Ritter Park, the beautiful South Side neighborhoods and even the campus here at Marshall University. – See more at: http://www.mergeministries.org/8-the-paul-ambrose-trail-for-health/#sthash.aPYqlYqM.dpuf

A group of exercise enthusiasts spent Thursday evening sweating it out to raise money for the Paul Ambrose Trail for health.

For 4 long hours, dozens of bicyclists raised more than $3,000 during the Pedal for a Path Spin-A-Thon at Marshall University’s Rec Center. The group was not only trying to raise funds for the trail, but they were also trying to bring awareness towards being healthy.

The Paul Ambrose Trail for health is a 26-mile system to encourage active lifestyles.

Ambrose was a graduate of the Marshall University School of Medicine and was working with the Surgeon General to raise awareness about obesity when he was killed in one of the attacks of September 11, 2001.

“It’s a small step. Fundraisers will come and go, but we are here for the health of the citizens and the over all community,” said Sammy Hodroge who organized the event.

The next fundraiser for the project will be the Tour De Path on July 7.

HUNTINGTON — Huntington City Council members approved a late addition to the agenda Monday night, but it was needed to reach a deal with the Environmental Protection Agency over the city’s combined stormwater and sanitation system.

The city was required to have a plan in place within the past few years, but when the EPA met with city officials in October 2010, the city was behind in its plans. That resulted in a $156,000 fine.

A resolution was reached with the EPA and the Department of Environmental Protection to lower the fine to $15,000, provided the city move forward with several initiatives to decrease stormwater runoff.

Charles Holley, the city’s director of development and planning, said the plans for the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health helped decrease the fine. He said the EPA and DEP officials were impressed with the idea for rain gardens and pervious trail surfaces that would allow rainwater to drain through and into the ground.

The St. Mary’s Medical Center Path to the Cure team is donating $7,000 to the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health project.

Representatives from St. Mary’s will present a check to the PATH project at 11:30 a.m. Friday, according to a news release from St. Marys.

The money will go toward construction of additional sections of the PATH, the news release states. They will be similar to the Spring Hill Cemetery and St. Cloud Commons sections, which were built in 2011.

The St. Mary’s donation is 20 percent of the funds raised at the Oct. 1, 2011 Path to the Cure 5K run/Walk, the news release states. The other 80 percent raised during the event will go toward the Pink Ribbon Fund, which pays for mammograms for those who cannot afford them.

HUNTINGTON — Southside Elementary is a neighborhood school with just under 500 students and only requires two school buses. Many walk or ride their bike, and school officials want to make sure they can do that safely.

The school applied for and has received one of several 2011 Safe Routes to School grants. The school, which will partner with the city of Huntington, has $130,000 to use toward the repair of sidewalks and curb cuts in the neighborhood surrounding the school. Southside Elementary is located between 2nd and 3rd streets along 9th Avenue, and opened in 2010.

Heather Parker, co-president of the Southside PTO, also said the funds will be used to purchase a bike shelter that can hold more bike racks. She said there also will be an educational component that includes bike and walking safety.

The educational component is highlighted by the fact that a fifth-grade student was hit by a car in late August while walking to school. According to Huntington Police, the 10-year-old boy darted into traffic in the middle of 9th Avenue.

Charles Holley, Huntington’s executive director of Development and Planning, said $100,000 of the grant will be used for infrastructure upgrades. That will likely include, in addition to sidewalk upgrades, painted crosswalks between 1st and 5th streets and possibly a pedestrian light on 5th Street.

“There’s a few challenges like 5th and 1st streets,” Holley said. “We want to develop good crossing points and want to emphasize safety.”

Jennifer Williams got involved early on because she and her husband have children at Southside and want to see it truly be a neighborhood school. She said the neighborhood association will educate the community about the changes and also encourage folks to get involved.

“We want to get adults involved to come out and help man the route in the morning, more than just the block around the school,” Williams said.

Williams and others said they believe these changes will encourage more students to walk to school. Currently, said Joe Meadows, the assistant director of Transportation for Cabell County Schools, buses pick up Southside students who live on the east side of 5th Street. He said with the traffic lights and direct access to W.Va. 152, it is a busy route.

“Some kids don’t walk because of safety issues at 1st Street and 5th Street,” Williams added. “There’s a lot of potential for more walkers.”

School and city officials will meet with the coordinator for the grant to develop a plan of action that Holley said they hope to get started on in the spring.

In addition to Southside’s award, the city of Huntington also received two grants. One is a $300,000 Transportation Enhancement grant to continue work on the Old Main Corridor. The other is a $64,000 Recreation Trails grant for the Rotary Park section of the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health. Both required a 20 percent match, which Holley said the city was able to do.

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) — The city of Huntington has been awarded nearly $500,000 in grant money to be used in ways that will directly affect residents.

City leaders were presented the grants Wednesday afternoon in Charleston.

A transportation grant of $300,000 was given to complete “phase 3” of the Old Main Corridor Project on Huntington’s 4th Avenue. This phase consists of the area between 11th and 14th streets. The project includes new lighting, wider sidewalks and helps connect downtown Huntington to Marshall University.

A $130,000 grant was awarded to Southside Elementary School for safety programs.

Jennifer Williams, who helped secure the grant, told WSAZ.com the money will go toward bike racks and shelters for the school grounds, as well as safety education programs. Williams said eventually the school hopes to generate a “human school bus” — a group of students, with an adult leader, who walk or ride bikes to school together. That idea is two fold: clean air and healthy students.

Finally, $64,000 in grant money was secured for the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health. The money will go to pave a bike and walking path at Rotary Park.

The money was awarded from grants by the state of West Virginia.

HUNTINGTON — The third annual Fit Fest 2011 kicked off in Huntington on Sunday. Hundreds of community members came to learn more about living a healthy lifestyle.

Almost 700 participants took part in the 5K and 10K races through Ritter Park, which is considered the largest race in West Virginia.

Organizers of the event wanted to encourage a healthy lifestyle but also wanted to honor a Huntington native who died in the Pentagon during the Sept. 11 attacks. Dr. Paul Ambrose had a vision to create a healthy community and his parents, Ken and Sharon Ambrose, and many others have been helping to bring his dream into reality.

During this year’s Fit Fest, it was announced that over $110,000 were raised for work on the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health, or PATH. The goal this year was to raise $100,000, which was exceeded with a final check from the Huntington Health Revolution for $5,000.

Organizers said they want to make this event bigger every year. “We can keep growing this event. We need to keep working together as a community and support other health Huntington initiatives,” said Fit Fest race director Patrick Donovan.

Ken Ambrose, Paul Ambrose’s father, said he was pleased that the memory of his son will live on. “It’s rewarding to know that Paul’s legacy is continuing. He was concerned about the wellness of people and of Huntington and his home state,” he said. “It’s quite nice.”

WOWK-TV Chief Meteorologist Spencer Adkins participated in the race.

Officials with the PATH project say they’re one step closer to their goal in Huntington.

HUNTINGTON — Dr. Ken and Sharon Ambrose and representatives from Cabell Huntington Hospital Foundation added “Foot Prints” to the Fit Fest Fundraising Thermometer Tuesday afternoon.

With the help of the Paul Ambrose Charitable Foundation and Cabell Huntington Hospital’s contributions, the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health is one step closer to its $100,000 goal.

Ken Ambrose said he is eager to see residents make an effort in his son’s name.

“The trail will provide a legacy for Paul. The people are using the existing construction and trail and it continues the legacy of good health for the community,” Ambrose said. Officials encourage the community to come to Fit Fest 2011 on the 10th anniversary 9/11 this Sunday, and participate in the 5K Run-Walk, 10K Run or Kids Events, to honor the legacy of Dr. Paul Ambrose by using the trail system that continues his name.

View the gallery of photos for the 10th Street Underpass Mural Project.

HUNTINGTON — Wyatt Williams is a few days — and just a few miles — away from completing his first marathon.

The 8-year-old will participate in Sunday’s Fit Fest 2011 activities at Ritter Park, earning the last mile of his 26-mile goal set at the start of his Fit Fest training course at the HIT Center in Huntington.

The Huntington obesity debate of the past few years, the underlying purpose of Fit Fest, even the motivation behind the sponsoring organization — the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health, named for Dr. Paul Ambrose who was killed in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — are lost on the third-grader at St. Joseph Catholic Grade School.

“Running is just really fun,” said Wyatt, a self-proclaimed athlete who loves soccer, basketball, baseball and golf. “It’s been really good to get my miles in so I can be in the race at Fit Fest.”

Williams has been logging miles over the course of the kids’ Speed-Up Program, which began in mid-June and is led by HIT Center assistant director Dan Pickens.

“The goal was for the kids to have built up 25 miles either training with us or on their own so that on the day of Fit Fest, they’ll walk or run one mile and when they cross the finish line, they’ll have completed the 26th mile of the marathon,” Pickens said.

“When we set out, the initial goal was to get the kids up and moving over the summer, to get them away from computers and televisions and cell phones, and give them a realistic goal and something to shoot toward to give them that feeling of accomplishment,” he said.

Nearly 50 kids — primarily third- to fifth-graders — have registered and participated in the program throughout the summer. Pickens said the field was pretty evenly split between kids who have previously participated in organized sports and exercise newbies. The program has grown wildly, he said, from the handful of kids who participated the first year.

“We’ve seen over the past two to three years that the community is taking more of an interest in fitness,” Pickens said. “There’s more awareness, more of an outpouring of people willing to do healthier things not only for themselves, but also their kids.”

Wyatt’s mom, Nancy, who exercises regularly, is one of those people.

“I think it’s just important, whether you’re an athlete or not, to keep your body in decent shape through good eating habits and exercise,” she said. “This program for Wyatt has not only been effective, but fun. It challenges him, and they find ways to teach him new exercises and conditioning that are appropriate for an 8-year-old.”

Pickens said instructors use a variety of tools including sandboxes, ladders, cone drills and obstacles courses to get the heart rate — and the fun level — up. He said he hopes to keep a kids’ class going following Fit Fest activities.

“The program is designed to help kids realize that exercise can be fun, it can be interesting,” he said. “We’ve got them moving, and we’ve got to keep them moving.”

The final mile for the Speed-Up kids isn’t the only activity taking place Sunday at Fit Fest. Other events for walkers and runners of all ages include a 10K run and 5K walk/run and a variety of dash events. Fit Fest takes place from 2 to 6:15 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11, at Ritter Park. Proceeds benefit P.A.T.H., the proposed 26-mile pedestrian and bicycle trail system for Huntington. A complete schedule of events is available at paulambrosetrail.org.

PATH mural nearly complete

PATH Mural

HUNTINGTON — Driving, walking or riding your bike through the 10th Street underpass will no longer be a dreary experience. The walls on both sides are being transformed into an array of flowers, squirrels, blue skies and trees in full bloom as part of a major mural project for the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health (PATH).

PATH Mural in progress The mural, being done in coordination with the Rahall Transportation Institute and Bulldog Creative Services, also includes silhouettes of people running and walking and Huntington’s skyline.

“I look forward to running in it,” said Ann Knotts, who took a half day off work to help paint.

RTI Project Coordinator Brie Salmons said 10th Street will serve as a connector for PATH between Ritter Park and Harris Riverfront Park. She said the outpouring of volunteer groups could make it possible to finish the mural by Wednesday.

PATH Mural in progess Once complete, a clear coat of anti-graffiti spray will be applied for easy removal of graffiti. But she and others said they are hopeful that people will respect the time and effort put into the mural and not try to mar it.

“(The effort) shows the people of the city we care,” Knotts said. “We care about our health and we care about our children.”

Salmons and Huntington Shrine President Paul Davis said the colorful mural also signifies there is a change afoot in the city.

PATH Mural in progess “The past 20 years, Huntington has been on a slow downgrade with all the major businesses pulling out,” Davis said. “When you start losing that many jobs, people live on a lot less and the city lives on a lot less.

“Any time you can get a project going, it absolutely helps the attitude,” he said.

In addition to Bulldog, which designed the mural, volunteer groups from throughout Huntington have given time to help paint. Many local artists also spent time sketching various caricatures that volunteers could paint.

Sherwin Williams donated all the paint for the project.

“This is a great community thing, that so many have come out to support this cause,” Knotts said. “This community gives a lot.”

The underpass is scheduled to be closed to traffic through Thursday.

The next big event tied to PATH is the third annual Fit Fest, which takes place Sunday, Sept. 11. That is the 10-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks that killed thousands of people in New York City, Washington, D.C., and in Somerset, Pa.

Among those killed was Dr. Paul Ambrose, a Marshall University graduate. He was on American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon.

Fit Fest includes a 10K, 5K, kids running events and various health and fitness activities and demonstrations.

Registration for the 10K or 5K is available through www.tristateracer.com.

HUNTINGTON — Fundraising for the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health continues with the Fit Fest ’10, at Ritter Park on Saturday, Sept. 11.

The event, in its second year, includes health screenings, a kids’ fun run, a 5K run and walk at a Sept. 11 remembrance ceremony.

Registration for the 5K run and walk is $18 and must be received by 11 p.m. Friday, Sept. 3, at http://www.active.com or by mailing a printed form postmarked by Friday to PATH Run/Walk c/o RTI Foundation, Inc., PO Box 5425, Huntington, WV 25703. Forms are available for download at http://www.active.com, http://www.njrati.org or http://www.paulambrosetrailforhealth.org.

Late registration, costing $25, will be accepted up to the start of the event.

T-shirts will be reserved for the first 400 registered runners and walkers, and overall prizes will be awarded in several age categories for the run, which starts at 6 p.m.

The kids’ one-mile fun run is the culmination of a HIT Center summer marathon 25-mile training program for kids ages 5 to 12. Registered participants will receive a running calendar, log sheet and suggested one-mile routes to help each person complete 25 miles at his or her own pace.

The entry fee is $20 and includes a running schedule developed by the HIT Center, entry into the Kids’ Fun Run at Fit Fest ’10, T-shirt and open gym at the HIT Center on Wednesdays from 5 to 7 p.m. through Sept. 8. Registration can be done at the HIT Center, 2240 5th Ave., Huntington.

The complete schedule includes:

3-8 p.m.: Health screenings, activities, demonstrations

3:30: 25-yard dash

3:45: 50-yard dash

4 p.m.: 100-yard dash

4:15 p.m.: Kids’ Fun Run 1/2 mile

4:30 p.m.: Kids’ Fun Run Timed Marathon final mile race

5 p.m.: Kids’ Fun Run race ceremony

5:15 p.m.: Kids’ Fun Run 1 mile run

6 p.m.: 5K Run

6:15 p.m.: 5K Walk

7:15 p.m.: 5K awards ceremony

7:45 p.m.: 9/11 remembrance ceremony

All proceeds from fundraisers are set aside into a maintenance and upkeep account that will used for trail management once it is constructed.

HUNTINGTON — At 6-years-old, Reagan Hutchison stands a little over 3 feet tall, but neither her age or her height kept her from going the distance Tuesday evening during a 5K training class for young runners.

“The Final Mile … 5K for Kids” had participants in their second training session Tuesday evening at the Rec Center on Marshall University’s Campus.

Reagan’s father, Jason Hutchison, said the class focuses more on moving around and having fun rather than strict training routines. He said it was a no-brainer for him and his wife, Rhonda Hutchison, to sign Reagan up for the class.

“It was our decision, and, at first, she was a willing, but indifferent, participant,” Jason Hutchison said. “After the first class, she was excited for the second one to come around, and we saw a little competitive flair in her that we hadn’t seen before.”

Erin Hickok is an instructor of the youth 5K course as well as the adult 5K course. She said the two classes are only similar in their titles.

“We had such a great class with the adults, that many of them were asking if we had something similar for their kids to get involved in,” Hickok said. “We’re not here to have them train for a marathon, but instead we’re helping them get familiar with getting active and being out and about.”

The young participants take turns doing jumping jacks, running sprints and a variety of other exercises during the course while instructors and parents cheer them on.

The running for participants was so exciting that Reagan Hutchison’s 2-year-old sister, Alyssa, got in on the act, running up and down the field alongside her sister.

“It’s a good thing because this generation of kids play a lot differently than other ones,” Jason Hutchison said. “There are so many different things to do, they might not get exposure to this kind of playing otherwise. What’s important is they’re getting out there and giving their best. It’s not a contest, it’s just playing and moving around.”

The six-week class will prepare children for the Fit Fest 5K or one-mile run Sunday, Sept. 11 at Ritter Park. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health.

In addition to that event, Hickock said the course will help the participants learn about setting healthy goals throughout their lives.

“Overall, we want to offer this to help them expand their knowledge about exercising and health,” Hickok said. “Instead of waiting to see if they become unhealthy or not, why not take the opportunity to prevent the problem before it even starts? This way we’re creating a healthy lifestyle instead of having to solve a problem later on in their lives.”

“The Final Mile…5K for Kids” is still accepting participants.

The cost is $15 for children of rec center members and $25 for nonmembers. Registration includes a discounted Fit Fest ’11 race entry and T-shirt.

For more information, call Heather Smith, senior assistant director, at 304-696-3653. More information about the Recreation Center is available at www.marshallcampusrec.com.

HUNTINGTON, W.VA. – Representatives from the Huntington Sports Committee will add a “Foot Print” to the Fit Fest Fundraising Thermometer outside of City National Bank on the corner of 3rd Ave. and 20th Street, Huntington, WV, Friday July 29, 2011 at 11:15 a.m.

The footprint represents the Huntington Sports Committee’s Gold Level Donation, valued at $5,000, to support Fit Fest ’11 and the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health (PATH).

The Huntington Sports Committee was created in the early 1990s to promote MU football and to bring the National Championship game to MU football.

“Supporting the PATH gives us an opportunity to give back to our community,” David Robinson founding Huntington Sports Committee board member, said “We believe the PATH is an excellent project that will improve the quality of life for Huntington. The PATH will be an excellent health and fitness venue that will attract and retain quality people to this area.

“This charity receives a significant amount of its funds and donations from local merchants, so an effort is made to promote projects and to support events that will bring revenue back into that same community.”

RTI Director Robert H. Plymale said, “For more than 20 years, the Huntington Sports Committee has steadfastly promoted local athletic events. Marshall football and tennis, the West Virginia High School Wrestling Championship, and more recently, the National Soccer Tournament that brings in thousands of visitors and millions of dollars of revenue to Cabell County businesses, were made possible through the efforts of this group.”

For more information, contact Errin Jewell at ejewell@njrati.org or (304) 696-7165

HUNTINGTON, W.VA. –The Marshall Recreation Center has created “The Final Mile…5K for Kids” training class for young runners that finishes with a 5K or 1 Mile race on Sept. 11, 2011 at Ritter Park.

“Crossing the finish line of a 5K or 1 Mile race is all about taking the first step,” Heather Smith, Sr. Assistant Director, Fitness, said. “We want to make that step easy with a 6-week outdoor/indoor class for kids training for the Fit Fest ‘11.”

Expert instructors Erin Hickok and Morgan Hollinger will work with each runner, at his or her own pace, thus making the class suitable for beginning to experienced runners. Throughout the class, trainers incorporate running drills, games and nutrition education. Smith said children and youth of all ages are welcome, but older and younger participants may be divided into separate groups.

“The MU Rec Center’s running course emphasizes the strength of Huntington’s running community,” Errin Jewell, RTI Marketing and Communications Manager and PATH Volunteer, said. “This course not only teaches kids proper technique to prevent injury, stay hydrated and make better food choices, but it also gives them confidence to ‘push through’ to the next level of fitness, all while having fun. Skills learned in this course may prepare children for a lifetime of running and the health benefits that are associated with an active lifestyle.

“By finishing with a running event at Fit Fest, participants are given a tangible goal of completing a 5K or 1 Mile Run. They’ll see how their hard work has paid off when they cross that finish line. Nearly 200 children, from age 2 through middle school, have participated in dashes or runs at previous Fit Fest events. We hope this course will encourage even more children to celebrate healthy lifestyles and continue Dr. Paul Ambrose’s legacy of promoting preventative medicine in our community.”

The training class takes place from August 2 to Sept. 5, 2011, on Tuesdays from 5:30-6:30 p.m., at the Marshall Rec Center. The cost is $15 for members and $25 for non-members. Registration includes a discounted Fit Fest ’11 race entry and t-shirt. Parents who are not members may workout for a discounted guest rate of $6 while enrolled children are in class. Babysitting is available for younger siblings who are not taking the class (regular rates apply).

To register, contact Smith at (304) 696-3653 or wyatt6@marshall.edu, or www.marshallcampusrec.com.

HUNTINGTON, W.VA. – Representatives from St. Mary’s Medical Center Foundation will add two “Foot Prints” to the Fit Fest Fundraising Thermometer outside of City National Bank on the corner of 3rd Ave. and 20th Street, Huntington, WV, July 12 at 9 a.m.

The two footprints represent St. Mary’s Medical Center Foundation’s third consecutive Platinum Level donation to support Fit Fest and the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health (PATH).

“St. Mary’s Medical Center Foundation has been a key supporter of the PATH and Fit Fest since the event’s inception in 2011,” Errin Jewell, RTI Marketing and Communications Manager, said. “In addition to their financial support, St. Mary’s Transportation Injury Prevention and Safety Program is scheduled to host a bike rodeo and their wellness center will lead a fitness demonstration at Fit Fest. They’re also offering a ‘Couch to 5k’ style training program to prepare new runners for the Fit Fest 5K on 9/11 and their PATH to the Cure 5K on 10/1. A portion of proceeds from the PATH to the Cure run/walk will also benefit the Paul Ambrose Trail.

“The numerous health, wellness and safety events made possible through the St. Mary’s Foundation demonstrate its long-term commitment to providing preventative health measures to our region. We greatly appreciate this generosity, and we encourage tri-state area residents to take advantage of the many health and wellness resources St. Mary’s makes readily available to them.”

For more information, please contact Errin Jewell at ejewell@njrati.org or (304) 687-3353.

Our entire team, along with the creative folks down at Bulldog Creative Services are proud to announce that our website http://www.paulambrosetrail.org was nationally recognized in the Graphic Design USA, 2011 American Web Design Awards, a national competition.

HUNTINGTON – The Paul Ambrose Trail for Health will see a significant amount of work in 2011, as plans for the first phase of construction were revealed Thursday evening at the Rahall Transportation Institute.

The latest timeline includes new signage and wayfinders ready to be installed by the end of May. One sign in Highlawn already has been erected and more are ready to go up on the neighborhood, said Charles Holley, director of development and planning for the city of Huntington.

There are still issues to work out, such as street striping for a designated bike path, Holley said. That idea may not come to fruition. While the streets of Huntington will still serve as share-the-road portions of PATH, the feedback Holley received is that cyclists don’t want to be confined to a lane.

He also reported that the city has applied for more than $4.6 million in grant money, with $1.5 million already awarded. Two potential grants are worth nearly $3 million alone.

The money already available will go a long way this year, said Holley and state Sen. Bob Plymale, who is executive director of RTI.

“We’ll have six to eight miles under construction this year,” Plymale said.

Major portions in the first phase include on top of the floodwall from 3rd Street West to Vinson Road, a connector from Harveytown to the Memorial Park trail and a portion in Guyandotte. Holley said all are off-road and restricted to pedestrians and bikes.

“We’re tackling some of the more premiere stuff so we can get more buy-in for PATH,” Holley said.

Construction bids are set to go out in October, about one month after a major fundraiser, Fit Fest.

This year’s Fit Fest marks the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. PATH’s namesake, Dr. Paul Ambrose, was on the hijacked plane that crashed into the Pentagon. PATH is one of the major efforts being used to carry on his mission to fight obesity.

That’s why his parents, Ken and Sharon Ambrose, said PATH belongs to the community.

“Oh, yes, it’s the people’s path,” Sharon Ambrose said. “It’s for Huntington.”

Ken Ambrose said so many people have contributed their time and resources thus far, including the city, the Cabell County Commission, Chad Pennington’s 1st and 10 Foundation and countless volunteers.

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Construction updates, Fit Fest ’11 plans and volunteer opportunities for the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health (PATH) will be revealed Thursday, April 28, 2011, at “Presenting the PATH,” a reception hosted by City National Bank and the Rahall Transportation Institute. The reception is open to the public and takes place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at 1900 3rd Ave., Huntington, W.Va.

Robert H. “Bob” Plymale, RTI Director and CEO, said, “After nearly 10 years of economic development studies, planning, applying for grants and community fundraising, we are very happy to show the Huntington area definite plans for the city’s most comprehensive multi-use trail system. Since our first public events in 2009, more than 1,000 volunteers, runners, cyclists, teachers, parents, children and outdoor enthusiasts have contributed to making the PATH a reality. Whether their contributions were from financial or ‘sweat equity,’ their collective involvement has been crucial in creating the PATH.”

Phoebe Patton Randolph, project architect with Edward Tucker Architects, Inc. in Huntington, said, “Our firm (Edward Tucker Architects, Inc.) is delighted to have the opportunity to work on the design of the PATH. We’ve assembled an expert team of consultants consisting of Alta Planning + Design, an internationally known pedestrian and bike trail design firm, as well as Eastham & Associates, Inc., a local civil engineering and surveying firm.

“The PATH system will provide an incredible amenity for the people of Huntington. The fact that it is happening here really highlights our city’s progressive attitude towards wellness and quality of life. The PATH will give people a new perspective on the city, the chance to experience beautiful, natural areas that you can’t get to by car.”

At 6 p.m., Plymale will welcome guests and recognize volunteer groups and sponsors. Street plans for the PATH will then be unveiled by Edward Tucker Architects, Inc. and Ken and Sharon Ambrose, parents of Dr Paul Ambrose, whose name honors the trail. Charles Holley of the City of Huntington will then provide a brief presentation of the funding and construction process for the PATH, after which Kevin Brady of the Greater Huntington Parks and Recreation District will speak about the Sept. 2011 “Healing Fields” display to commemorate the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001.

After the presentation, guests may sign up for Fit Fest ’11 volunteer opportunities, interact with PATH planners and commit to participate in several community events.

The PATH is a bicycle and pedestrian trail system that will initially span Cabell and Wayne counties. The namesake, Dr. Paul Ambrose, was a promising young physician whose life was cut short during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Dr. Ambrose was dedicated to family health and preventative medicine to fight obesity, and the trail system is a way for his efforts to continue to have an impact in Huntington.

The trail system is designed to incorporate many of Huntington’s amenities and workplaces to allow the citizens of Huntington an alternate means of transportation. The PATH is vital in Huntington’s continued efforts towards the redevelopment and growth of the city, because it will help cut congestion, connect business and communities, and provide healthy recreational opportunities for residents.

For more information, contact Errin Jewell at path@njrati.org or (304) 696-7165.

Former Marshall University quarterback Chad Pennington visited the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health (PATH) at St. Cloud’s Common Friday, March 25, 2011, as part of his visit to Huntington. Pennington’s First and Ten Grant Foundation chose the PATH as a grant recipient.

HUNTINGTON — Jesse Stevens, owner of Velocity Bicycles in Huntington, was one of more than 80 Marshall University students, employees and community members to participate in Tuesday’s Pedal for PATH spin-a-thon.

The few thousand dollars that was raised will go into a maintenance fund to be used to care for the 26-mile bike and walking trail, named the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health.

Ambrose, a doctor who attended Marshall University and the School of Medicine, was killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks when the plane he was on crashed into the Pentagon.

Ambrose had big plans for helping people get healthy, which is what the PATH is all about. It’s a daunting task to complete such a big project, which is why Stevens chose to ride all seven hours of the spin-a-thon.

“I’m doing the whole thing as a statement of what’s possible,” he said. “If you work at anything hard enough, it’s possible. If you want to ride a bike for seven hours, you can do it. If you want to build a 26-mile path, you can do it.”

The network of fitness trails will extend from Westmoreland to Guyandotte on the north and south sides of the city with connectors running east and west to connect the two sides to each other and the downtown area.

A small portion of the trail was constructed in the fall near St. Cloud Commons in West Huntington. Federal grant money of more than $1 million given to the city will be used to start major work on the trail this summer, said Brie Salmons, project management specialist for the Rahall Transportation Institute, which is overseeing the project.

“By the end of next summer, we hope to have a significant portion (completed),” Salmons said.

She said that should include about eight miles of actual trail and 15 to 20 miles of the street portion, which will include signs laid out through the city.

Salmons described the project as a tribute to Ambrose, made possible by thousands of people planning and participating in fundraisers such as the Pedal for PATH.

“We couldn’t do it without the involvement of the community,” she said. “There has been a significant amount of support. It’s amazing how many people want to reach out.”

Among those are Juliet Wolford and Elise Henning, medical school students who helped plan the Tuesday spin-a-thon. Wolford, a former architect who worked on the 9/11 memorial at the Pentagon, has grown close to the Ambrose family since coming to Marshall to pursue a career in medicine. She said she is doing what she can to see the Trail for Health through.

And by holding it at the new Marshall Recreation Center, Wolford said students could more easily get involved.

She also said the idea of a spin-a-thon captured the essence of the trail.

“It’s riding a bike in the honor and spirit of the running and biking trail,” Wolford said.

Step by step, things are falling into place for a long-envisioned pedestrian and biking trail in Huntington.

After years of hopes, talk and planning, major progress toward filling the gaps between existing walkways and trails may finally occur in 2011. Officials are now estimating it could all be finished by 2013.

That’s encouraging not only for backers of the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health, or PATH, but also for the greater community for several reasons.

PATH is a planned 26-mile walking and shared-road trail that would course through nearly every part of Huntington. While part of it consists of existing trails and roadways, some sections need to be constructed, streets and roads need to be marked appropriately for sharing between motor and bicycle traffic, and signs must be placed before it is all integrated into a lengthy, continuous trail.

First talk of a citywide trail began around 2000 but then languished. But as it again got on the city’s radar, it also gained some champions who wanted to name it after Dr. Paul Ambrose, a Marshall University medical school graduate who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The 32-year-old was senior clinical adviser to the U.S. Surgeon General and was involved in federal research on the escalation of obesity in the United States.

After Sept. 11, Ambrose’s family, friends and colleagues worked to see that his passion for people choosing a healthier lifestyle led to the naming of the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health in 2008.

Recent developments are finally suggesting some major progress.

The biggest at this point is word that $1.4 million in grants from various organizations have been awarded to the project, which is overseen by the Rahall Transportation Institute. That will allow significant construction to begin, most likely on a floodwall trail extending six to eight miles in West Huntington and Guyandotte.

Another major step was the West Virginia Division of Highways’ approval last week to proceed with the trail’s design. The transportation institute hopes the design is completed by the end of this year, clearing the way for construction to begin as soon as possible in 2011.

PATH would provide major benefits for the Huntington area and its people. First, it would serve as an outlet for people to get more exercise, obviously a key part for becoming more fit. According to institute officials, 76 percent of the population of Huntington will live within one mile of the PATH system. Currently, lack of suitable places for people to walk or cycle is seen as a significant obstacle to promoting exercise.

Promoting fitness is especially important for the Huntington area, which has been labeled as one of the more obese populations in the nation. But this isn’t so much about fighting labels, but encouraging people in the area to become more fit for their own sakes.

The trail also would add to the quality of life in Huntington, serving as a selling point for people and perhaps businesses considering locating in the city. It could become a point of pride, as it should be.

The work is far from over, of course, and once completed the trail will require plenty of support. Groups have been organizing fundraisers for PATH, with the proceeds going into an account for the trail’s upkeep. Their work is much appreciated, but the community will need to continue such efforts on behalf of PATH if it is to become as big a community asset as it could be.

HUNTINGTON — For most of the past two years, the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health has been nothing more than highlighted lines on a map of Huntington.

But officials with the city and trail designers from the Rahall Transportation Institute said residents can expect construction on a significant portion of the trail to start in early 2011, thanks to more than $1.4 million in grants recently awarded to the city.

PATH is a planned 26-mile walking and shared-road trail that encompasses nearly every part of the city. According to institute officials, 76 percent of the population of Huntington will live within one mile of the PATH system.

It is named for Dr. Paul Ambrose, a Marshall University medical school graduate who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He was on the plane that was hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon. Ambrose had just completed the final edit on the Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity and was en route to attend an adolescent obesity conference in Los Angeles.

His parents, Dr. Kenneth and Sharon Ambrose, have said their son would be honored to have his name attached to the trail because of its purpose to promote fitness and good health.

To date, though, the only fitness associated with PATH has been fundraisers. There was the first FitFest at Ritter Park last Sept. 11, a spin-a-thon at the Marshall Recreation Center, a golf outing and the most recent, a Tour de PATH. The events have helped raise nearly $60,000, but that money is not earmarked for trail construction as some residents might have thought.

Errin Jewell, public affairs specialist with RTI, said those funds are directed into an account for trail maintenance and upkeep. She also said it costs about $190,000 per mile for construction for the 12 miles of new trail needed to complete the project.

“It’s just a very lengthy process and a significant amount of money,” Jewell said. “If we had to build this with just fundraisers, it would take 50 years. It’s a $4 million project.”

Charles Holley, executive director of Development and Planning for the city, said construction for PATH is almost all tied to grants, which is why there has been little movement thus far. About a mile was completed last year at St. Clouds Common in west Huntington. But Jewell said a lot came through volunteer efforts.

Most grants are 80-20 match grants, with the largest to date being the Congestion Mitigation Air Quality grant. Holley and Jewell said this was a large source of the recent funding, which requires share-the-road portions of the trail. There also were two grants through the Transportation Enhancement Program.

The history of a citywide trail goes back about 11 years. Jewell said that’s when original studies took place on a possible trail from Huntington to Charleston or a rails-to-trails project. After Sept. 11, Ambrose’s family, friends and colleagues worked to see that his passion for people choosing a healthier lifestyle led to the naming of the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health in 2008.

In the two years since, Holley said RTI has written and applied for several grants.

“We’re way ahead of anywhere I thought we’d be,” Holley said. “Two year ago now, and we’re sitting on almost $1.5 million. That’s speed of light in government terms.”

Now that funds are available, Holley said an architectural and engineering firm will be selected within a couple of months to help with the final design. He hopes plans will be complete and bidding can go out by the end of the year, so construction can get under way in January.

How the project progresses will be up to the contractors, but Holley said they’ll most likely be working on the floodwall trail, which takes up between six and eight miles in West Huntington and Guyandotte.

In West Huntington, the trail will be built on top of the earthen floodwall from 3rd Street West to Westmoreland, without any vehicular intersections. Holley said the trail will be similar to that at Ritter Park — crushed gravel with a border.

They hope to have the floodwall trail complete by Sept. 11, 2011, the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

One of the main highlights of PATH is that it connects to and has trailheads at five different parks, St. Clouds Common, Ritter, Kiwanis, Harris Riverfront and Rotary. Maps and kiosks are planned at those points to inform the community about the trail.

The Greater Huntington Parks and Recreation District also is working on a master plan for Harris Riverfront Park that includes its own walking and exercise trail that will connect with PATH.

It also will intersect with the St. Mary’s Healthy Highlawn Walking Trail, which will officially be unveiled Sept. 11, before FitFest ’10. Highlawn resident Thomas McChesney, who is a planner with Create Huntington, said the idea to form an official neighborhood trail came about a year ago within the neighborhood association.

“We identified that our neighborhood would benefit from a designated walking path,” McChesney said. “By connecting more of the community to it, that means (PATH) is part of (our) community. You can hike or bike anywhere in the city.”

He also said it would increase the amount of good activity in the neighborhood and, hopefully, decrease crime. The Healthy Highlawn Walking Trail will include a one-mile and a two-mile loop that can be combined for a three-mile loop, he said. Most of it is designated sidewalk with a small amount of shared road. But it generally flows with PATH.

“We really hope this will serve as a model and hope other neighborhoods will do the same thing,” McChesney said.

About half of the 26-mile trail for health is “share the road.” That means bikes and vehicles sharing the roadway, with pedestrians on a sidewalk.

That includes portions of 3rd, 4th and 5th avenues and 29, 10th, 1st and West 14th streets. Holley said the first share-the-road portion of the trail will be in the Highlawn area to coincide with the neighborhood trail. He considers it a trial run.

A dedicated bike lane is planned along 4th Avenue between Hal Greer Boulevard and 8th Street, he added.

While connecting the city to PATH was always an essential part of the plan — not only for grants but to highlight downtown — it also requires a lot of signage to make motorists aware of cyclists and pedestrians and to make those on PATH aware of where they are to go.

“Every miles takes about 100 signs,” Holley said, adding that it will cost $5,000 per mile. “But it’s far cheaper than constructing trails.”

Signs will include bike and pedestrian warning signs for motorists and wayfinder signs that indicate you are on PATH.

Where there isn’t a sidewalk, Holley said, a gravel walkway will be constructed, including from Guyandotte to Altizer park, Holley said. They also plan to tie the new 5th Avenue bridge connecting Guyandotte and Huntington into the master plan.

The city plans to have everything completed by 2013.

Fundraising for the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health continues with the Fit Fest ’10, at Ritter Park on Saturday, Sept. 11.

The event, in its second year, includes health screenings, a kids’ fun run, a 5K run and walk at a 9/11 remembrance ceremony.

Registration for the 5K run and walk is $18 and must be received by 11 p.m. Friday, Sept. 3, at http://www.active.com or by mailing a printed form postmarked by Sept. 3 to PATH Run/Walk c/o RTI Foundation, Inc., PO Box 5425, Huntington, WV 25703. Forms are available for download at http://www.active.com, http://www.njrati.org or http://www.paulambrosetrailforhealth.org.

Late registration, costing $25, will be accepted up to the start of the event.

T-shirts will be reserved for the first 400 registered runners and walkers, and overall prizes will be awarded in several age categories for the run, which starts at 6 p.m.

The kids’ one-mile fun run is the culmination of a HIT Center summer marathon 25-mile training program for kids ages 5 to 12. Registered participants will receive a running calendar, log sheet and suggested one-mile routes to help each person complete 25 miles at his or her own pace.

Kids also will be representing their school, and the school with the highest percentage of participants by Sunday, Aug. 1, will get a pizza party in September.

The entry fee is $20 and includes a running schedule developed by the HIT Center, entry into the Kids’ Fun Run at Fit Fest ’10, T-shirt and open gym at the HIT Center on Wednesdays from 5 to 7 p.m. through Sept. 8. Registration can be done at the HIT Center, 2240 5th Ave., Huntington.

The complete schedule includes:

3-8 p.m.: Health screenings, activities, demonstrations

3:30: 25-yard dash

3:45: 50-yard dash

4 p.m.: 100-yard dash

4:15 p.m.: Kids’ Fun Run 1/2 mile

4:30 p.m.: Kids’ Fun Run Timed Marathon final mile race

5 p.m.: Kids’ Fun Run race ceremony

5:15 p.m.: Kids’ Fun Run 1 mile run

6 p.m.: 5K Run

6:15 p.m.: 5K Walk

7:15 p.m.: 5K awards ceremony

7:45 p.m.: 9/11 remembrance ceremony

All proceeds from fundraisers are set aside into a maintenance and upkeep account that will used for trail management once it is constructed.

HUNTINGTON — When Jon Bergquist was training for a 100-mile bicycle ride from Columbus to Athens, Ohio last summer, he traveled to places like the Greenbrier River Trail to find long, safe mileage stretches to pedal.

The 48-year-old bicyclist who lives in Lavalette hopes someday soon he and other cycling enthusiasts will have more and safer options here for bicycling.

That passion for pedaling was what prompted the psychologist at Mildred Mitchell-Bateman Hospital in Huntington to volunteer to help organize the upcoming Tour de PATH, six and eight-mile rides on stretches of the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health.

Starting and ending at Harris Riverfront Park, the Tour de PATH is the first official group ride on sections of the PATH, a 26-mile bicycle and pedestrian trail system being constructed through the city of Huntington.

All Tour de PATH proceeds benefit the ongoing construction and maintenance of the trail.

Registration begins at 8 a.m. Saturday, July 10. There is a mandatory bike safety briefing at 8:50 a.m. The eight-mile Adventure Option and TIPS bicycle rodeo and helmet giveaway starts at 9 a.m., while the street ride begins at 9:15 a.m.

Cost is $20 or a $40 family rate that includes two adults (ages 12 and up) and two children under 12 years of age, add $5 each for up to four additional children. Group rate is $10 for groups of five or more.

Bergquist, who has dropped 40 pounds since he started cycling last spring, said when he found out about the Rahall Transportation Institute and its initiative to put together the PATH, a patchwork of trails that include city streets (with Share the Road signs), coupled with trails through city parks and along the floodwall, he had to help.

“It is a great cause and we need something like this so much,” Bergquist said. “It is not just a fitness and health issue but also a safety issue, so we are trying to raise awareness about what we are trying to do. Most of the people who go to the Ritter Park trail live within a mile or two of the trail. How nice would it be if the trail intersected all of these neighborhoods from Virginia Point to Guyandotte? You could walk to the end of the block and get on the trail. That is what this trail is all about. Jamie Oliver came here and worked hard on the food issues, the other half of that and a real important piece of the puzzle is exercise and that is what this is all about.”

Not unlike the ease and the route of the monthly Critical Mass rides, the easiest of the Tour de Path rides is a 6-mile ride that is perfect for casual cyclists, families, groups, children and individuals who are seeking a fun way to preview the PATH.

“We’ll make a right down Veterans Memorial Boulevard to 14th Street West then from 14th a left to Memorial Park to the train (the Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society’s train museum), then go all the way back to Ritter Park, over to 10th Street, and left on 10th back to Harris Riverfront Park,” Bergquist explained.

That ride is sponsored by Jeff’s Bike Shop.

Sponsored by Velocity Bicycles, the about eight-mile Adventure Option (for ages 12 and up), will start at the Riverfront Park, run on the Ohio River side of the floodwall and then will get up on the grass levee where they will ride for three miles to the pump station in the west end.

From there, the bicyclists will dip down onto Madison Avenue fill where they will ride until they pop up at St. Clouds Commons, where part of the PATH was built last year behind the ball fields.

From St. Clouds, the cyclists will hit 18th Street West to Madison Avenue then to 14th Street West where they will head back over to Harris Riverfront Park to hit that three-mile stretch of trail already built along Fourpole Creek.

Bergquist said that ride, which he’s done more than a dozen times, is a great ride, but one where you usually get a little — or a lot — of mud on the tires depending on the rain down in the creek bottoms.

“It can flood there in the spring and can get pretty mucky,” Bergquist said. “I’ve been down there when I had to push my bike more than ride it. I just want everyone to know that more than not there is some mud there and that appeals to a lot of riders. The chance to encounter mud is good.”

While many expert bicyclists crank out 40, 60, 80 and 100-mile rides, Bergquist said he hopes that they’ll come out in strong numbers, and even just start their ride at the Saturday event, just to show support for the PATH, which is named after Huntington native doctor Paul Ambrose.

Ambrose, who received his undergraduate degree in zoology and Spanish from Marshall University and his medical degree from the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine at Marshall University, was serving as the senior scientist in federal research identifying the dramatic escalation of obesity in the United States, when he was killed on the plane that was crashed into the Pentagon in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Ambrose had just completed the final edit on the Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity and was in route to attend an adolescent obesity conference in Los Angeles, when terrorists crashed his plane into the Pentagon. The Surgeon General’s Call to Action was published in December 2001, and Ambrose received the Surgeon General’s Medal of Honor for his work on this project, which brought obesity to the forefront of the U.S. health care agenda and initiated vast continuing projects across the country to improve diet and increase exercise.

This is only one of many PATH fundraisers in the past year.

FitFest last Sept. 11 was the first, and has been followed by a Pedal for PATH, spin-a-thon at the MU Recreation Center in March, and a PATH Scramble golf tournament in May.

Errin Jewell, one of several folks at the Rahall Transportation Institute working on PATH, said these type of continued fundraisers have raised close to $70,000. Add in significant support from the Paul Ambrose Memorial Foundation and a few private donations and the total is closer to $100,000 — not counting Tour de Path, or the upcoming FitFest ’10.

That said, Jewell said PATH needs about $200,000 that will be used to cover the local match for federal grants as well as maintenance costs.

“The local fundraising efforts are for construction and the maintenance fund, because the large federal grants (which fund 95 percent of construction) do not cover maintenance,” Jewell said. “Some of the other grants require a local match (usually around 20 percent) to be raised by the recipient, which is one of the reasons we’re hosting the public fundraising and awareness events. These events increase awareness of the how the PATH may be used to improve health and fitness of uses, decrease road congestion and travel time by using an alternative source of transportation, and create a sense of ownership among local users. We’ve also incorporated educational outreach activities with several elementary schools with safety lessons, essay and poster contests, to inform them of the health benefits to using recreational trails for exercise and entertainment. The more local residents are aware of the PATH and its purposes, the more likely they are to use it, keep it clean and safe, and encourage others to join them.”

So far, they’ve been able to build two miles of new crushed limestone trail around St. Cloud’s Commons baseball fields, and several more miles of existing trail that will be included in PATH are under construction now, Jewell said.

Jewell said there’s some great news to report on grants as RTI has received notice of approval for two very significant federal grants, and is just waiting for Gov. Joe Manchin to sign the final approval to release the funds to the City of Huntington.

And those grants will help build the largest sections of PATH that have to be constructed.

“It’s a long process, but we’ve been working it for three or four years now,” Jewell said. “Within the past year, several community groups have helped host fundraising and health awareness events, including the FitFest 5k, the Pedal for the PATH Spin-a-thon with the MU Medical School AMA Chapter and the Rec Center, the Scramble for the PATH Golf Tournament with the Chamber of Commerce YPCs, and the Tour de PATH. The next events are the Summer Marathon Program for Kids with the HIT Center and FitFest ’10.”

Bergquist, who first got involved with PATH when he participated in FitFest at Ritter Park, said completing the PATH is a fitting tribute to Ambrose and his quest for healthy lifestyles for himself and his fellow Americans.

“He tragically lost his life on Sept. 11, and this was his life’s work fitness and being concerned not only about the health of the Tri-State but the health of all Americans,” Bergquist said.

Not unlike the PATH, which is still a work in progress, Bergquist said his fight to get healthier — like many folks in the Tri-State and across America — is also still under construction.

“I’ve lost about 40 pounds but I have about that much more to go. I am a work in progress,” Bergquist said. “You know, it is hard sometimes when you are on the bike, but when I am done I always feel great. It’s like anything else, sometimes it takes a little bit of an effort to get started but once I am on it, it is something I enjoy. I love being outside, and I love riding my bike, and I love helping people and the helping the community and those things are coming together and that really makes me feel good.”

Pedal Power
WHAT: The first Tour de PATH (Paul Ambrose Trail for Health), the first official group ride on sections of the PATH, a 26-mile bicycle and pedestrian trail system being developed for the City of Huntington.

WHERE: Harris Riverfront Park is the start and end for the two rides.

WHEN: Registration begins at 8 a.m. Saturday, July 10. There is a mandatory bike safety briefing at 8:50 a.m., Adventure option and TIPS bicycle rodeo and helmet giveaway starts at 9 a.m., while the street ride begins at 9:15 a.m.

STREET OPTION: Sponsored by Jeff’s Bike Shop, this is an approximately 6-mile, flat, paved course suitable for casual cyclists, families, groups, children and individuals who are seeking a fun way to preview the PATH.

ADVENTURE OPTION: Sponsored by Velocity Bicycles, this is an approximately 8-mile, sloping and partially muddy course that incorporates dirt and limestone gravel trails, sections of earthen flood wall and ends on paved roads. The “Adventure Option” is suitable for advance riders age 12 and up.

HOW MUCH: $20 or $40 for a family rate includes two adults (ages 12 and up) and two children under 12 years of age, add $5 each for up to four additional children. Group rate is $10 for group of five or more.

WHAT YOU NEED: Helmets are required for riders 18 and under, and minors must be accompanied by an adult or guardian. St. Mary’s Transportation Injury Prevention and Safety (TIPS) Program will provide free helmets, while supplies last, to participants.

WHAT YOU GET: Guided tour, as well as T-shirts for the first 200 adult (age 12 and up) cyclists, and PATH water bottles for the first 100 children (under 12) to register. Also, participants are eligible for door prizes including a bicycle, bike accessories, gift certificates to local businesses and restaurants and other items.

WHAT ELSE: St. Mary’s Transportation Injury Prevention and Safety Bike Rodeo, Car Seat Checks and Free Helmet Giveaway (while supplies last). Sign up for FitFest ’10 5K Run/Walk, Kids/ Fun Run or the HIT Center’s Children’s Marathon Summer Running Program.

PRE-REGISTER: Register at Jeff’s Bike Shop, Velocity Bicycles, Robert’s Running and Walking Shop and the Rahall Transportation Institute, or by mailing a registration form and payment to “Tour de PATH,” c/o RTI Foundation, P.O. Box 5425, Huntington, WV, 25705.

FOR MORE INFO: Contact Jon Bergquist, event organizer, at Jon.E.Bergquist@wv.gov or 304-617-1899 for ride information or sponsorship opportunities. Contact Errin Jewell at path@njrati.org or 304-696-7165 for media inquiries or sponsorship opportunities.

ON THE WEB: http://www.paulambrosetrailforhealth.org.

MORE TRAIL ON THE WAY: The Rahall Transportation Institute and the city of Huntington will be working this year on another four new stretches of the PATH that will total seven miles, said Brie Salmons of RTI. The first section is along the floodwall and runs from 3rd Street West to East Drive in Westmoreland, the second section is from the Four Pole pumping station to St. Cloud Commons Park, the third section connects the Memorial Path to Harveytown Park and the fourth section is along Guyan River Road. There are three different grants that cover the four sections. Two of the grants are the Transportation Enhancement Program and the other is the Congestion, Mitigation, and Air Quality (CMAQ) Grant; the total of all three grants is $1,132,200 with a local match of $281,300, Salmons said.

DID YOU KNOW? The PATH’s namesake, Dr. Paul Ambrose, was a promising young physician whose life was cut short at the Pentagon in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Dr. Ambrose was dedicated to family health and preventative medicine to fight obesity. The trail system is a way for his efforts to continue to have an impact in Huntington.

HUNTINGTON, W.VA. – Polish those helmets, pump up those tires and join supporters of the Paul
Ambrose Trail for Health (PATH), Saturday, July 10, 2010 at Harris Riverfront Park, Huntington, W.Va., for
the “Tour de PATH,” the first official group bicycle ride on sections of the bicycle and pedestrian trail.

To encourage cyclists of all skills to participate, the “Tour de PATH” consists of a “Street Option” or
“Adventure Option.” The “Street Option,” which is supported by Jeff’s Bike Shop, is an approximately 6-
mile, flat, paved course suitable for casual cyclists, families, groups, children and individuals who are
seeking a fun way to preview the PATH.

The “Adventure Option,” which is supported by Velocity Bicycles, is an approximately 8-mile,
sloping and partially muddy course that incorporates dirt and limestone gravel trails, sections of earthen
flood wall and ends on paved roads. The “Adventure Option” is suitable for advance riders age 12 and up.
Cyclists must be prepared to encounter water and mud and carry bicycles up or down short slopes. Helmets
and safety gear are required for all “Adventure Option” participants.

All “Tour de PATH” proceeds benefit construction and maintenance of the Paul Ambrose Trail for
Health (PATH), a 26-mile bicycle and pedestrian trail system for the City of Huntington. The PATH’s
namesake, Dr. Paul Ambrose, was a promising young physician whose life was cut short at the Pentagon in
the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Dr. Ambrose was dedicated to family health and preventative
medicine to fight obesity and the trail system is a way for his efforts to continue to have an impact in
Huntington.

For both options, minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian, and helmets are required for
riders age 18 and under. St. Mary’s Transportation Injury Prevention and Safety (TIPS) Program will
provide free helmets, while supplies last, to participants. The “Tour de PATH” is made possible through
cooperation with the Paul Ambrose Foundation, RTI Foundation, Jeff’s Bike Shop, Velocity Bicycles,
Robert’s Running and Walking Shop and St. Mary’s Transportation Injury Prevention and Safety (TIPS)
Program.

Schedule:
8 a.m. Registration/Check-in Begin
8:50 a.m. Mandatory Bike Safety Briefing
9 a.m. “Adventure” Option Begins, TIPS Bike Rodeo & Helmet Giveaway
9:15 a.m. “Street” Ride Begins
10:30 a.m. Rides End at Harris Riverfront Park

Free Activities:
• St. Mary’s Transportation Injury Prevention and Safety Bike Rodeo, Car Seat Checks and Free Helmet
Giveaway (while supplies last).
• Sign up for FitFest ’10 5K Run/Walk, Kids/ Fun Run or the HIT Center’s Children’s Marathon Summer
Running Program.
• Participants are eligible for door prizes, including bicycle, bike accessories, gift certificates to local
businesses and restaurants and other items.

Cost:
• Individual Rider $15 (must be received by 6/25/10); $20 after 6/25/10 and at registration
• Family Rate $30 (must be received by 6/25/10); $40 after 6/25/10 and at registration. Family rate
includes two adults (ages 12 & up) and two children under 12 years of age, add $5 each for up to four
additional children)
• Group Rate $10 per individual rider, must have 5+ riders to qualify for group rate
• Contact us for special rates for larger groups of scout, civic, senior, church or other groups.

Short sleeve t-shirts are reserved for the first 200 adult (age 12 & up) cyclists and PATH water bottles
are reserved for the first 100 children (under 12) to register).

Each participant must complete a registration form and sign the waiver before participating. Register at
Jeff’s Bike Shop, Velocity Bicycles, Robert’s Running and Walking Shop and the Rahall Transportation
Institute, or by mailing a registration form and payment to “Tour de PATH,” c/o RTI Foundation, P.O. Box
5425, Huntington, WV, 25705. To be eligible for early registration, payment must be received in person or
postmarked by June 25, 2010.

Contact Jon Bergquist, event organizer, at Jon.E.Bergquist@wv.gov or 304-617-1899 for ride
information or sponsorship opportunities. Contact Errin Jewell at path@njrati.org or 304-696-7165 for
media inquiries or sponsorship opportunities.

HUNTINGTON — Planning and fundraising continue for a 26-mile bicycle and pedestrian trail system that advocates hope to see get started in the spring.

Word could come within the next few weeks whether the project will receive some or all of the more than $1.6 million in funds that have been requested to create the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health (or PATH), said Bob Plymale, director and chief executive officer of the Rahall Transportation Institute.

Local matches of more than $340,000 have been pledged, according to information from the institute.

The network of fitness trails will extend from Westmoreland to Guyandotte on the north and south sides of the city with connectors running east and west to connect the two sides to each and other and the downtown area.

The trail’s namesake is the late son of local retirees Kenneth and Sharon Ambrose. Paul Ambrose was a young doctor who was killed at the Pentagon in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. He died on American Airlines Flight 77 at age 32.

Plymale said the PATH project continues to be important, especially considering an Associated Press article last month calling the Huntington area the nation’s “unhealthiest.”

“That report heightened what we need to be doing in our region,” said Plymale, a state senator.

Sharon Ambrose said she and her husband continue to be excited about the project. They agreed it may be more important now than ever, considering the state’s poor health statistics. She said her son would be pleased by the local efforts.

Paul Ambrose was a senior clinical adviser for the surgeon general and was working on a project for rural health and obesity at the time of his death.

“He was such an advocate for exercise and improved diet and he practiced what he preached. He rode his bike, he swam, he worked out, and he encouraged everyone to do the same. I just know he would be thrilled to know about this commitment to the PATH,” she said.

The Rahall Transportation Institute Foundation, in association with the City of Huntington and various community members, designed the trail system to incorporate many of Huntington’s amenities and workplaces to allow citizens an alternate means of transportation.

The system will provide a great opportunity to exercise and enjoy the Ohio River, as a portion of the trail will run along the floodwall, said Brie Salmons, project management specialist at the Rahall Transportation Institute.

“It’s really nice to look at the river that way,” she said.

Both that section and the proposed trail along Four Pole Creek will give people the opportunity to exercise safely without worrying about traffic, Salmons said.

Safe places to run, walk and bike are a must for the Huntington area, said Dr. Tom Dannals, a member of the task force supporting the system. He said every successful town in the country has a nice park and trail system.

Dannals said Ritter Park is great, but statistics show that people use trails more often when they live within a mile of them.

He also said the incorporation of the floodwall and river will be beneficial.

“There’s going to be people who’ve lived in Huntington for years who will be up there saying, ‘Look at this. I’ve never seen Huntington like this before,’” he said.

Salmons said organizers continue to apply for grants and raise funds for the project that may total around $2 million. She said a “yard sale” is ongoing and invites people to purchase a yard of the PATH for $150. Individuals or businesses may also purchase other items or annual memberships to become Friends of the PATH.

Plymale said the city, county, and even state officials continue to be behind the project.

“I think that everybody really realizes the significance of moving forward and how we have to move forward,” he said. “This is exciting when we have all these groups working together to accomplish what we all know we need to.”

Dannals said the trails are not just a nice idea, but they are necessary to move the area in the right direction.

“It’s going to mean everything to Huntington,” he said. “We need everybody really involved.”

More information is available at http://www.paulambrosetrailforhealth.org/.

HUNTINGTON — The Rahall Transportation Institute unveiled Thursday the name and logo for a new network of fitness trails that will stretch from the Altizer community to Ceredo-Kenova.

Designed by the institute with the help of a task force of community members, the trails network will be called PATH, the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health.

The namesake is the late son of local retirees Kenneth and Sharon Ambrose. Paul Ambrose was a promising young doctor who was killed at the Pentagon in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. He died on American Airlines Flight 77 at age 32.

“It’s perfect,” Sharon Ambrose said. “He was always into running and exercising and promoting it for everyone else.”

A Barboursville High School graduate, Ambrose studied at Marshall’s School of Medicine, did his residency at Dartmouth College and earned a master’s in public health from Harvard.

Focused on family health and preventative medicine, he had spent a year studying health care in Spain. He also served as national legislative director to the American Medical Student Association, and on the congressional advisory committee for the Council on Graduate Medical Education. He was senior clinical advisor to former U.S. Surgeon General David Hatcher and served as the senior scientist in federal research on the escalation of obesity in the United States.

Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop was a mentor for Ambrose and has been quoted as saying, “I have no doubt Paul would have gone on to roles of surgeon general of the United States, and much more.”

Having the fitness trails named for their son is an honor, said Paul’s parents. Ken is a retired sociology professor at Marshall, and Sharon is retired chief operating officer of St. Mary’s Medical Center.

Paul would have loved to see a new trail system established in his hometown, Sharon Ambrose said.

The trail is a way for his efforts to live on, she said.

“It’s a living thing, an active thing,” Sharon Ambrose said. “It will keep going and benefit everyone.”

The name for the trail was submitted with about 60 suggestions from community members, said Dr. Tom Dannals, a member of the task force working on the trail system.

The logo was designed by a student in Mary Grassell’s graphic design class in the Art Department at Marshall University. Graduate student Julia Urban’s logo was selected, and runners-up were Marshall seniors Cole Hale and Deanna Tourville.

The entire project has been a great team effort that will transform Huntington, said state Sen. Bob Plymale, director of the Rahall Transportation Institute. All progressive cities have fitness trails, he has said. Trails provide a safe transportation alternative for community members without the use of motor vehicles, which decreases carbon-based emissions while encouraging folks to exercise, he said.

The 23-mile trail system will include existing pathways that will connect with newly constructed pathways and some special bicycle lanes on Huntington streets. Those lanes will be painted specially as bike lanes and marked as part of the “Share the Road” program. Plymale said he’d eventually like it to be all independent trails that don’t share the roads, and he’d like it to eventually connect with trails of other cities.

He credited Ken Busbee for getting the project started. Also helpful were Dannals of HealthyHuntington.org, and organizations such as the city of Huntington, the Cabell County Commission, the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District, Marshall, St. Mary’s, the Young Professionals Committee, Jeff’s Bike Shop, the KYOVA Interstate Planning Committee and various neighborhood associations.

Funding for the project has yet to be secured, but Plymale said he’s confident it will come through. Rahall has sent a letter of support to Gov. Joe Manchin’s office for separate grants that have been written to assist in the project.

About 8.25 miles of newly constructed trails are planned, at an estimated cost of $190,000 per mile. Those include trails near Fourpole Creek, the floodwall, Harveytown and Guyandotte.

When finished, the final project could eventually cost $2 million or so, Plymale said.

He would like construction on the new trails to get started as early as this summer, and said volunteers will be welcome. Anyone who’d like to volunteer in the construction of the new trails can call Brie Salmons at the Transportation Institute at 304-696-7072.

HUNTINGTON – Failure is not an option, says Dr. Tom Dannals.

A proposed fitness trail that’s safe and easily accessible in neighborhoods stretching from Ceredo to Altizer simply has to be created for the health of the Huntington community, he said.

“This is a medical necessity,” said Dannals, who along with Sen. Bob Plymale and others at the Rahall Appalachian Transportation Institute are working with a group of concerned residents to establish a network of trails in Huntington,

“We can’t say, ‘This isn’t going to work,’ and the (government money) is put elsewhere,” Dannals said. “This has to work. Are you going to move to Huntington when there are other places that don’t have the obesity statistics we have and do have places to (get out and exercise)?”

According to a 2007 report from the Trust for America’s health, about 30 percent of West Virginia’s adults and 20 percent of its children are obese, the second-highest rate in the country for both statistics. It’s second to Mississippi and Washington.

Statistics show that if you live within a quarter mile of a fitness trail, you’re likely to use it, Dannals said, so that’s what the task force is working toward.

It’s getting close. It’s working on proposals and gearing up to get funds for the trail network, which would connect to Ritter Park, Harris Riverfront Park, Harveytown Park, the floodwall and eventually Virginia Point Park. It would require construction of some new crushed-limestone trails, particularly above the floodwall, and involve the Share the Road program, which provides special lanes and signs on Huntington’s streets to facilitate safe lanes for bicycles.

One concern right now is that the trail network doesn’t have a name, so the task force is sponsoring a contest and inviting community members to send in entries. The winner gets $100.

Every progressive city in the country has a good trail system, said Plymale, director of the transportation institute.

“There have been economic studies that say if you’re located within a quarter of a mile of a bike pathway, the value of you homes and businesses goes up.”

This could totally transform Huntington, Dannals said, both economically and medically.

“It’s going to be fascinating to see how it changes people’s habits,” he said. “People from out of town will be able to get on this loop, go out and smell Heiner’s bakery and see beautiful Central City and Ritter Park.”

He’d like to see historic signs along the way explaining the background of Huntington, particularly at Harris Riverfront Park, And as a runner/cyclist himself, Dannals looks forward to getting the floodwall portion of the project finished so there is a longer stretch with a view of the Ohio River than the short trail at the riverfront park.

In fact, of all the praise he got about the Marshall University Marathon this year, there’s one negative comment that sticks out in his mind. It was from a runner who wanted to see more of the river.

“He was expecting to be running along the Ohio River for five miles, and (the marathon route) only goes along the river for 100 yards or so,” he said.

Eventually, he hopes there are safe routes along the floodwall and elsewhere so that someone could run or cycle from Altizer all the way to Virginia Point Park in Ceredo-Kenova.

“People need these things,” he said. “It’s too dangerous. If you’re experienced, it’s not that dangerous, but we can’t expect that from everyone.

Plymale stressed that the pathways should encourage alternate modes of transportation for people who live, work and go to school in the area, for their health and to help with traffic flow.

The task force is working with the Cabell County Board of Education on the Safe Routes to Schools program for students at Guyandotte and Central City elementary schools, through that initiative, the city could make it safer and easier for students of those schools to walk and ride their bikes to school.

Seven of the 12 local neighborhood associations have endorsed the trail network so far, Plymale said. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has given approval for putting a pathway similar to Ritter Park’s atop the floodwall in West Huntington; Huntington City Council will need to give approval for the Share the Road lanes and signage.

The task force also has to submit its grant proposal by January. It wants to start with the downtown loop, between 3rd Street and 13th Street West. The estimated cost of the project, which includes construction of a limestone pathway on the floodwall—similar to that at Ritter Park – is $208,000.

The City of Huntington is submitting two Transportation Enhancement Grant applications, said Brie Salmons, a project management specialist for the transportation institute. One grant is for the Westmoreland Floodwall section, which is expected to cost $317,200. The Harveytown section is expected to cost $182,000.

In all, there are proposals for five different segments of the network, and Plymale hopes it will be a public-private partnership.

It’s easy to look at Ritter Park, Harris Riverfront Park or any of the many public parks and think the Huntington area has enough open space for walking and other leisure activities. Easy, but wrong.

“Every community that is successful has bike pathways,” said state Sen. Robert Plymale, D-Wayne, one of the people behind an effort to create fitness pathways in Cabell and Wayne counties.

At a planning meeting earlier this week, Plymale, who also is director of the Nick J. Rahall II Appalachian Transportation Institute at Marshall University, said one of the problems in the Tri-State community – with topography and general street layout – is a lack of places to walk, jog and ride a bicycle without the hassle of traffic.

Other people at the planning meeting agreed that fitness pathways are a must for economic development and the health of the community.

The Rahall Transportation Institute has been working with Dr. Tom Dannals of HealthyHuntington.org, city and neighborhood representatives, members of the Young Professionals Committee, the Greater Huntington Parks and Recreation District and other groups to design a plan for trails and biking pathways that eventually would connect into a network.

As planned, the trail would stretch from Virginia Point Park in Kenova to Rotary Park in Huntington. Along the way, it would include a trail along the levee in Westmoreland, a trail connecting Harveytown Park with Memorial Park and a walking and biking trail along 4th Avenue in Huntington.

More than $230,000 has been secured for this project, but more is needed. Planners have applied for grants from the West Virginia Department of Transportation.

The only problem with the idea behind this trail is that it does not go far enough, but that’s something that can be cured as money is obtained and the trail is built. As people begin using this trail, there will be a public demand to extend it to Barboursville, Milton, Salt Rock or Greenbottom.

Surely the Department of Transportation will agree and provide the money.