By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Local leaders have been told that if they want Mercer County to get the maximum benefit from ATV riders coming to experience the Hatfield-McCoy Trail, the county will need more hotels and motels as well as campgrounds.
Business people in the Bluewell and Bramwell area have been seeking funding for a feasibility study that would determine whether establishing a campground at Pinnacle Rock State Park would be possible. Mercer County’s representatives in the Legislature have been asked to help, said Bluewell businessperson Skip Crane.
State Senator H. Truman Chafin, D-Mingo, has been speaking about finding money to do a feasibility study, “and he is encouraging,” Crane said, adding that more than a campground is needed.
“What he is finding through state research is that Mercer County needs more hotel, motel facilities. That what he is seeing from all the studies,” Crane said. “People want a more high-end experience than camping. A lot of people were wanting a nice hotel room, and to have a nice shower and have a nice meal after getting dirty all day. He says we still need a campground, but the county needs more hotel space. Even a nice hotel in downtown Bluefield would help a lot.”
Chafin said the Senate Finance Committee had the studies stating the need for more accommodations.
“Basically, what comes out is that they need is more motel rooms,” Chafin said. “ATV riders are a more high-end group.”
People unfamiliar with ATV riders might consider them a group of people who also want to camp as well as experience new trails, but this is not always the case, he added.
“The study says just the opposite. They want a nice hotel, a nice pool, and nice amenities after a hard day on the trails,” Chafin said.
Chafin stated he still supported the idea of funding a feasibility study to see if Pinnacle Rock was suitable for a campground. The state park has a good geographic location, and it is situated between the trailhead facility at Bramwell and the community of Bluewell.
State Senator Bill Cole, R-Mercer, said he remained hopeful that funding could be found. A campground could be one of the assets that could spur economic growth and encourage visitors to spend their money in West Virginia, he stated.
“The more economic activity we get and the more people we get in here, the greater the chances for a campground,” Crane said. “That’s just my feeling. We need a lot more infrastructure development out this way. We need things like outfitters, ATV supply stores, fast food, camping supplies and we definitely need more service stations and gas stations.”