Shepherd University held a public meeting to discuss potential plans to blast rock on Shepherd Grade Road as part of the 480 underpass construction efforts.
Tuesday evening, Stephen LaRue, president of C. William Hetzer Inc., a general contracting company charged with the job, presented his plan to blast lime rock located on the Bavarian Inn property in order to level the ground for construction of a temporary traffic detour.
Though not discussed as part of the original 480 underpass construction plan, LaRue explained that blasting the rock has become a necessity for the project.
"Time is a big element," LaRue said.
According to LaRue, other methods of drilling would be a longer term effort, with greater disturbance to the community.
"It takes less time and it's less disruptive," he said.
Reactions from residents were mixed at Tuesday's meeting.
Dale Walter, president of the Friends of the Shepherdstown Riverfront, said she experienced similar blasting in the past and supports the plan.
"I think its a very well thought out process. I think it's time to have it go ahead," she said.
Other residents who experienced blasting associated with the university's construction in the past expressed trepidation. Shepherdstown resident Zenia Kuzma said the blasting associated with university construction in 2006 caused distrust among town residents.
"It damaged relationship between the university and the town," she said.
Richard Staisloff, acting vice president for administration and finance said the university understands the concerns of local residents and hopes to minimize the negative impact blasting could have to surrounding properties.
"We understand these are your homes," he said.
David Asam, an owner of the Bavarian Inn, said he's in support of the project which would provide a new entrance for the hotel.
"It's going to greatly improve the look of Shepherd Grade Road.... The finished product is going to be worth it," he said.
Patrinka Kelch asked if preliminary research has been done regarding the karst rock formations which lie under the construction site.
"As a stakeholder, I need assurance that proper studies have been done, such Geophysics and Geo technology," she said.
High Street resident Howard Wachtel, questioned the necessity of the project itself.
"This seems to be overkill... to go to all this effort and cost for a short term detour as opposed to alternatives like a one lane road," he said.
Shepherd University President Suzanne Shipley said that the decision to blast results from the university's desire to move forward with the underpass construction as quickly as possible.
Shipley cited two incidents in which students were struck while crossing 480 as her motivation to move forward with what may be an unpopular plan.
"I hate to make people unhappy, but it's a very dangerous situation." she said.
LaRue said that the blasting for the detour would be a "totally different story," from the blasting done in the past.
"At no one time is a lot of dynamite going off, " he said.
The university will continue to take concerns from the public as it considers plans for the detour. A demonstration blasting took place Wednesday, April 18 at 6:30 p.m. in front of Popdicon, the president's mansion.
"I hope they let us have a chance to prove ourselves," LaRue said.
Saturday, April 21 marks the 11th year that participants will gather for the Race for the Birds in Shepherdstown. Held at the National Conservation Training Center, the event is sponsored by the Potomac Valley Audubon Society to raise funds for their children's camps and activities.
NCTC, a 533-acre facility overlooking the Potomac River outside of Shepherdstown, is not open to the public on a daily basis. The Race for the Birds provides an opportunity to assist the Audubon Society as well as open the Center up for the enjoyment of all.
The event incorporates a variety of activities to allow the entire family to participate. A 4.9 mile race will be held as well as a 7.7 trail mile race for those seeking more of a challenge. Those less inclined to be so competitive may choose the two-mile Eagle Next Jog/Walk while children are not forgotten but are designated their own one mile fun run.
Registration for the race is still being accepted on line at www.raceforbirds.org or may be done the morning of the race beginning at 7:30 a.m. Costs increase just a bit for waiting until the last minute to register so those interested are encouraged to visit the website prior to Saturday's race starts.
Prizes are given for a variety of categories including one to each child who participates in the Fun Run. In addition, there is no registration fee for those youths who join in that event.
Hundreds of joggers and walkers are expected to take part in the event which has become a highly anticipated activity.
Hoxton Financial is this year's "Platinum Level" sponsor, meaning they have contributed more than $1,000.
The other race sponsors are as follows:
- Gold Level ($500 or more): The Journal, National Conservation Training Center, Shepherdstown Chronicle, The Observer, The Spirit of Jefferson, Two Rivers Treads..
- Silver Level ($250 or more): Chick-fil-A Martinsburg, Friends of Mark Benedict, Hypno Coffee, Coffee Roaster-Coffee Bar; Jay Boyd, DDS and C. Greg Shephen Hussard, DDS, Jefferson Security Bank, Progressive Printing, Tom Maiden Insurance Outfitters.
- Bronze Level ($100 or more): AC&T Co. Inc., Associated Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons, Bistro 112, Brown's Tire, Towing and Auto Care Center, Budget Blinds of Martinsburg, Caribbean Islands Travel Service, Clissy Funkhouser-FunkyCPA.com, D'Accord Boutique, David Miljour, DC, Davitt McAteer & Associates, Depot Florist, Dickinson and Wait Craft Gallery, Dr. Cathy Funk, Edward Jones Investments-Shepherdstown, Grapes and Grains Gourmet, Healthway of Martinsburg, Jean Neely, Jefferson Chiropractic Center, John A. Draper, MD, Joseph W. Brookreson, Lynne.Wiseman@ERA.Com, Realtor, Mellow Moods Caf, Millers Electric Company, Mountain View Solar, Nestle-Juicy Juice, Patthoff General Dentistry, Pedal and Paddle , Professional SportsCare and Rehab, Ray P. Vanderhook, DDS, MS, Roach Energy/ROCS, Ryan McCarthy, MD, Shepherdstown Pharmacy, Shepherdstown Sweet Shop, Ted Leslie, DDS, William F. Queen, DDS and Whitney Queen Spry, DDS.
For more information on the race, visit www.raceforbirds.org or call Jimmy or Suzi Munnis at 304-876-6784.