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by Troy Graham
The governor's office announced this week that more than $350,000 in grant money will go toward converting old railroad lines into trails and building a park in Shinnston.
One project will turn a 14-mile stretch of abandoned track running from Clarksburg to McWhorter into a trail. The Harrison County Commission recently bought the 14 miles of track from CSX. The trail begins near Mount Clare, where U.S. Route 19 intersects with Chestnut Street, and will run near the Lewis County line.
The second project will allow the City of Shinnston Park Board to convert an empty lot into a park, complete with pavilions, lighting, restrooms, walking trails and parking. The lot was donated to the park board last year by Lota Ferguson Bice, said board President Jay Harmer. A rails trail already runs through the property, which is located off North Street.
The commission has pledged matching funds for the trail project, but the park board will have to privately raise money to match its grant, Harmer said.
The new Shinnston park will be the future site for a new municipal pool, Harmer said.
County officials will receive $256,000 for the Clarksburg trail. The total cost is $320,000. Shinnston officials will receive $110,520 for their $138,150 project.
The money comes from a federal grant program that distributed $4.3 million to 24 projects around the state.
CSX is currently taking up the railroad ties on what will become the Clarksburg trail, said Harrison County Planning Commission Director Terry Schulte. "Hopefully we'll have just enough money, or hopefully we'll have some money left over," she said.
Schulte expects the work will be completed in six to seven months.