- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—PRINCETON — Mercer County officials are hoping to select an engineering firm — and possibly a location — Thursday for a long-planned Hatfield-McCoy Trail visitors center.

“We are interviewing engineers Thursday,” Hatfield-McCoy Trail Executive Director Jeff Lusk said of the planned trailhead/visitor center project. “We have a three-member selection committee up there in Mercer County that will be making the final selection of the site. It is chaired by Gene Buckner. They will select the site, choose the engineer and the final site plan and building layout.”

Buckner, also a member of the Mercer County Comm-ission, confirmed Monday that the committee will attempt to select an engineering firm — and possibly a location — for the trailhead project Thursday.

The trailhead also is referred to as a visitor or welcome center.

Buckner said the committee has narrowed down the location for the trailhead to two sites — Coaldale Mountain near Bramwell and River Road near Montcalm and the new Buffalo Trail resort.

“I would like to see it (the decision) made Thursday,” Buckner said. “I think it is going to be great for the county.”

Lusk said the trailhead also will serve as an official welcome center for ATV riders coming into the region from Interstate 77.

“It’s a trailhead and visitors center,” Lusk said. “It’s going to be our southern gateway office. It will be our first facility for folks coming up from the south or from the east. It’s going to be a very nice structure.”

Buckner said visitors to the Hatfield-McCoy system will be able to park their trucks, trailers and other equipment at the trailhead before entering the trail system.

Once an engineering firm and site is selected, the project can then be advertised for construction, Lusk said. He estimated the cost of the visitors center to be approximately a half of a million dollars.

“We want the site selected, the building designed, the utility layout done and everything ready to go to bid by late fall with the idea of breaking ground and starting construction in the spring,” Lusk said. “My hope and expectation is that the whole project would be done by this time next year.”

— Contact Charles Owens at [email protected]

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(c)2015 the Bluefield Daily Telegraph (Bluefield, W.Va.)

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