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C&O Canal Celebrates Announcements, $600,000 Projects

(Attached Photo: Ribbon Cutting at repaired Berm Road and re-watered C&O Canal section in Hancock, Left to Right: Washington County Board of County Commissioners Vice President Terry Baker, C&O Canal NHP Superintendent Kevin Brandt, US Senator Mikulski's Western Maryland representative Julianna Albowitz, Washington County Board of County Commissioners President John Barr, Town Hancock Mayor Daniel Murphy, CVB President Tom Riford, Hancock Chamber of Commerce Penny Pittman, C&O Canal NHP Chief of Maintenance Bradley Hofe. Photo by Dr. Donna Newcomer.)

C&O Canal Celebrates Announcements, $600,000 Projects
Town of Hancock Benefits from Increased Tourism

(Hancock, MD)- C&O Canal National Historical Park officials, representatives of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park Advisory Commission, the Washington County Commissioners, representatives from the C&O Canal Trust, officials from the Town of Hancock, and business and community leaders, hosted a media conference and ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday July 6th.
Approximately $600,000 worth of projects in the Town of Hancock has recently been completed, or were announced as moving forward.
The "rewatering" of part of the C&O Canal near Hancock was announced, along with the recently completed repairs to Berm Road (just west of Hancock at the Little Tonoloway picnic grounds). The C&O Canal and Washington County partnered in the repair project.
The significant repairs to the Berm Road project took place because of storm damage. That project cost more than half a million dollars.
Also, the announcement was made concerning new towpath gates and their split design, which more easily permit bicyclists and mobility impaired users to access the popular park's towpath. Superintendent Kevin Brandt also announced that the park will be installing new permanent restrooms in the Little Tonoloway Picnic Area. This user-friendly project will make the park more welcoming for visitors, and will cost over $50,000.
Kevin Brandt praised the partnership of several entities that worked together to keep the Visitor Center open in Hancock. The C&O Canal National Historical Park has had the financial assistance from the Town of Hancock, Washington County, and the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau in providing funds to help staff the visitor center at Hancock this year. This visitor's center helps introduce tens of thousands of visitors to the C&O Canal, the Western Maryland Rail Trail, and to the Town of Hancock.
More than 600,000 visitors experience the C&O Canal NHP in Washington County, and Convention and Visitors Bureau President Tom Riford spoke at the importance of tourism, and the critical importance the park has for Hancock and for Washington County.
Superintendent Brandt announced that the Town of Hancock, Washington County, the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the C&O Canal National Historical Park have been awarded a Challenge Cost Share matching grant, to conduct a study for a location of a new shared visitor center in downtown Hancock. This important project will help tourism in Hancock and throughout Western Maryland.
At the ceremonies, Hancock Mayor Dan Murphy spoke about the importance of the park for the Town, and also spoke about the upcoming Barge Bash, set for July 14th. Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Penny Pittman complimented the hard work of the partnership to keep the C&O Canal National Historical Park's Visitor Center open in Hancock, noting the positive impact of visitors for the Town. Senator Mikulski's representative Julianna Albowitz brought greetings from the Senator, and passed along the Senator's continued good wishes for the park and Hancock's successful completion of the announced projects.
This Berm Road repair project is located at the midpoint of a one-half mile rewatered section of the historic C&O Canal, just one block from Main Street, Hancock, Maryland. This portion of the canal was rewatered and serves as a vital historical interpretation tool as well as a destination for tourists traveling the I-68 / I-70 corridor. The berm of the canal serves as a local secondary roadway and carries school bus and other local traffic. The berm had failed due to saturation causing the berm to actually collapse.
The collapsed berm forced the National Park Service and the Washington County Highway Department to close the road to all traffic. During the fall of 2004, the site was further damaged by the multiple tropical storms that passed through the region. County Commissioners President John Barr praised the repair project, and noted the increase use of the national park, "More than 40-percent of this park is in Washington County. We are committed to continuing to help move projects forward in this wonderful national park." Barr noted the local economic impact of the park was annually more than $9-million.
Following the presentations, officials joined in cutting a ribbon, officially opening the repaired Berm Road and the rewatered section of the canal.

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