Governor announces new multipurpose shelter to be named after descendent of park namesake
LOST CREEK, WV – Gov. Jim Justice announced today more than $1 million in improvement projects at Watters Smith Memorial State Park, including the addition of a brand-new multipurpose event shelter, along with several other enhancements either underway or upcoming at the park.
“There’s so much going on with our parks, and really the state as a whole, it’s unbelievable,” Gov. Justice said. “Watters Smith is our only state park in Harrison County and it’s been ignored for too long. Today is such an exciting day because we have so many exciting new things coming to the park that will help make it the jewel the people of north central West Virginia deserve.”
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The new shelter, which will come complete with a kitchen and restrooms, will attract reunions, weddings, and family gatherings to the park for many years to come.
In his remarks, the Governor announced that the shelter is being dedicated to and named after Rachel Smith Hershey, a descendent of Watters Smith. When she passed away, she generously left her farm of 254 acres to the State, more than doubling the size of the park. She also gifted the park with numerous antiques, which are on display in the Smith Home and in the park’s museum.
“I’m honored to be able to dedicate this new shelter to a West Virginian who really gave back to her state in many ways,” Gov. Justice said. “It’s an exciting amenity to the park, and we just want to keep growing and building.”
Additional projects currently underway include updates to the Smith Home, repairs to the 1835 Log Barn, addition of the Barn Burner, NICA Mountain Bike Trail, and water line replacement. These projects come to a total of $150,000 in improvements.
Future projects include museum renovations and expansion, as well as additional water line replacements.
“I also am going to pledge to you today that I’m going to try with all in me to come up with the dollars to build an RV park,” Gov. Justice said. “And the reason we need to build an RV park is to be able to give this place another income stream.”
Gov. Justice was joined by West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Director Steve McDaniel for the announcement.
“Before Governor Justice started on, this place had gone for decades without any real attention,” Director McDaniel said. “Now, over the last three years, we’ve been spending money, bringing the park up to where it needs to be.
“We have made it one of our priorities to make sure we increase the opportunities for outdoor recreation for the people of north central West Virginia,” McDaniel continued. “Governor, thank you again for supporting our projects and going the whole nine yards when it comes to our state parks.”
The improvements at Watters Smith Memorial State Park are among a wave of enhancements at state parks and forests across West Virginia, designed to improve customer experience and grow visitation.
Major improvements have now been completed or started at every state park and forest, with more than $100 million invested to date. Over the past month, Gov. Justice has announced over $1 million in improvement projects at Kanawha State Forest, nearly $12 million in improvements at Pipestem Resort State Park, over $25 million in improvements at Cacapon Resort State Park, $2.4 million in improvements at Tygart Lake State Park, and a combined $12 million in improvements at Blackwater Falls and Canaan Valley Resort state parks.
The Governor was also joined for the event by West Virginia Delegate Ben Queen, as well as West Virginia Senators Mike Romano and Douglas E. Facemire.
“Republican, democrat, it doesn’t make any difference, we’re trying to make a difference for West Virginia and, Governor, we appreciate the attention you’ve given Harrison County,” Sen. Romano said.
“We’re a growing area and the Governor’s had a lot to do with that,” Sen. Romano continued.
“Governor, we do appreciate you caring enough to come up here and help us with this. It’s really something good for our area,” Sen. Facemire said.
“It’s important that our citizens have such nice places to come to, and it’s impressive when you come to our state parks,” Sen. Facemire continued.
“Thanks for coming back to Harrison County. Thank you for always being a cheerleader for north central West Virginia,” Del. Queen said.
“Governor, our state parks have never been in better shape than they are today. So kudos to you and your team, and kudos to everybody here that’s making all of us proud of these state parks,” Del. Queen continued.
West Virginia’s state parks and forests welcome more than 7 million visitors each year. To learn more about improvements at parks and forests across the state, or to book your stay, visit WVstateparks.com.