By C.V. Moore
MOUNT HOPE —
The City of Mount Hope may benefit from the military’s help in constructing a hiking trail through town, repairing Municipal Stadium, and renovating a historic building.
The Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) program gives service members real-time experience, such as operating heavy equipment, by putting them to work on projects that support underserved communities.
The city council approved a resolution last Tuesday that paves the way for an application to the IRT program, after the mayor said the opportunity had “come up fast and is going to require us to act fast.”
The program is currently operating out of the former Mount Hope High School and has been involved in the construction of The Summit Bechtel Reserve. The rationale is that The Summit will economically benefit residents of the surrounding area, which sees high levels of poverty.
It appears there will not be enough work this and next year at The Summit to keep the program in place in Mount Hope, according to Mayor Michael Martin.
One of the officers responsible for the program, Capt. Karen Trueblood, asked the city to propose several projects that could potentially keep the program in place through 2015, when the Boy Scouts of America will again be ready to utilize their services.
The mayor pulled together several people and came up with three projects to take place next spring and summer.
The first would be to fix the walls around Municipal Stadium, repair stone work, and possibly work on the bleachers. They even kicked around the possibility of extending the bleachers all the way around the stadium.
The bleacher enhancement would be part of the recently proposed vision of developing the stadium into a facility that could bid to host national sporting events.
The second proposed project is to bring in a road- and bridge-building crew to create a mile-long hiking and biking trail through downtown along the old KGJ&E railroad bed beside Dunloup Creek.
Everywhere a cross street goes into or toward Dunloup Creek, a bridge is proposed so that residents could enter and leave the trail from various points on Main Street.
“We need to promote the trout fishing available in Dunloup Creek,” said Martin.
Finally, the Coal Heritage Authority is proposing the military help it restore the Dearing Building in Mount Hope, where it wants to build an interpretive and visitor center for the Coal Heritage Trail and National Coal Heritage Area.
The service members could be brought in to plumb, wire, and do other upgrades to the historic structure.
With all the projects, the hosts must provide the materials, but the labor is free.
The projects are by no means approved. They must still move through an application process with the military.
Moreover, the ownership of the KGJ&E track remains in question. One way to pay for materials costs of the project, says the mayor, would be to sell the rails for scrap.
The old railroad used to transport people from outlying communities into Mount Hope, when it was a center of commerce, according to townspeople at the meeting.
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