Josh Nease came to Marlinton March 20 as one of his first visits to Gateway Communities as the new Mon-Forest Towns Partnership Executive Director. Josh will be visiting all Gateway Communities as his other duties allow. An executive director with the full-time ability to keep his eye on the ball and bring focus to the many moving parts of the 12 communities will move the program forward and bring added benefit to the entire eight-county region.
Nease is coming on-board at exactly the right time and just as MFTP contractors are producing other funding opportunities. The Conservation Fund application was approved just as a program was opening to Activate the Natural Resource Economy. The goal was to target three regional initiatives (Georgia, West Virginia and New Hampshire) with regional impact.
Support from the Conservation Fund in FY 2022-23 was approved because the project was a priority piece of the Monday Lick Project. This initial $50,000 will allow the Mon Forest Towns Partnership to develop a trailhead master plan. This work will be completed by a professional firm, such as Destination By Design), specializing in outdoor recreation planning and will set the design standards which the Partnership will seek to implement across recreation areas in the Mon Forest Towns going forward. With this plan in hand, the second year of the Conservation Fund’s support in FY 2023-24 (roughly $90,000) would be used to develop a pilot trailhead in downtown Marlinton to serve the new Monday Lick Trail System, which is slated to open in 2025.