Everybody needs a helping hand from time to time and a good partner is always there to lend one. Even state parks need partners and many have had partners for several years. A State Park Foundation exists to help the entire park system and several individual parks have foundations to fundraise for improvements and provide volunteer labor for upgrade projects.
Why has it taken so long for Watoga – the largest of all West Virginia parks – to get a foundation? That’s a good question but the good news is that the Watoga State Park Foundation is organized and operational. The group held its first meeting on Saturday at the park.
Inspired by Pocahontas County Nature Club member Mary Dawson, a group of West Virginia State Parks officials, park foundation officers and local volunteers met at Watoga in January, where they laid the groundwork for the Watoga Foundation.
On Saturday, the Foundation held its first official meeting at Cabin 19. Snowshoe resident Maureen Conley did much of the preparatory work to allow the Foundation to have a successful meeting. Conley prepared draft bylaws and articles of incorporation for the group to modify and approve. After more than two hours of discussion and changes, the group approved the articles and bylaws.
Under the approved bylaws, the Foundation will be governed by a board consisting of between nine and 15 members. Ex-officio members of the board include the Park Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent. Board members will be elected for three-year terms and cannot serve more than four consecutive terms. Meetings will be held every calendar quarter. The bylaws specify that the Foundation can form a Friends of Watoga group, if it so chooses.
The Foundation elected the following officers: David Elliot is the Foundation Chairman; Ken Springer is Vice Chairman; Sharon Kearns is Treasurer and Geoff Hamill is Secretary. Other board members include Conley, Dawson, John Goodwin, Tom Meadows, Catherine Bailey, Scott Triplett, Nancy McComb Smithson and Cully McCurdy.
Park Superintendent Mark Wylie told the group that he has several projects to propose for Foundation assistance, including the re-location of the CCC Museum to the Park Headquarters building and construction of a kitchen facility in the Recreation Hall.
The Foundation’s mission is to aid, strengthen and further in every proper and useful way the services of Watoga State Park. The group will hold its next meeting at Watoga on May 16 at 10 a.m.