Monday, September 22, 2014

Fisher's ATV World returns this week.....

Hey folks!
 Big Jim coming at you from the wild and wonderful world of Hatfield-McCoy in Almost Heaven West Virginia. It is turning out to be as big of a fall as it was a summer here in the mountains. We have had a host of events recently, the annual Heritage Festival just went down this past weekend, but things are not slowing down in the least...instead, things are picking up!!!
In addition to Trailfest coming up on Oct. 9, we have some other big news.
 Fisher's ATV World is coming BACK to HMT!!! Brian Fisher and his team are packing up the Raptor Toy Hauler and recording equipment and heading to West Virginia this week to ride the Little Coal River Trails along the Hatfield & McCoy Trail where they have some of the best trail riding on the east coast and you're gonna be able to tune in soon to see why.
 The award-winning Fisher's ATV World television program has been in production and airing nationally since 2002. You can catch Fisher's ATV World on Destination America every Sunday at 9:00am (EST)... The filming taking place this week will probably be shown sooner than you would think! When checking the network web site I found this schedule...

Sunday Sept. 28 9 a.m
This week, Brian will be riding with a few special guests for the 1st Annual West Virginia Purple Heart Trail Ride at Hatfield & McCoy Trails’ Little Coal River Trail System. It’s such a great honor for Brian to ride with such dedicated people that had t
Sunday Oct. 5 9 a.m.
HMT Ivy Branch- This week Brian takes on Hatfield & McCoy’s newest trail, the Ivy Branch in southern West Virginia. Most noted for being open to everything off-road, including full sized ORVs, this trail is known for having some of the most difficult rated trails.
For ATV fun and adventure on television it doesn't get much better than teaming up Brian Fisher and HMT!
 Fisher's ATV World is one of THE big names in outdoors entertainment television and has been for years. They have also forged a strong relationship over the years with the Hatfield-McCoy Trails. Brian and his crew are often at HMT events and let's face it, when they are in the area it becomes an event in and of itself!
For additional information on Brian Fisher, and Fisher's ATV World, visit the web site
And don't forget we still have the world famous Trailfest coming back on Oct. 9 turning Gilbert WV into the ATV, UTE and Dirtbike Capital of the Galaxy with returning favorites such as the manufacturers demo row and the mud pits and parades along with trail rides, music, food and fun, with new things like arts and crafts this year.
 And the fun won't end there. We have the 3rd Annual Mud Buddies Thunder in the Mountains Ride for a Reason Poker Run on Oct. 19.
Folks,  I cannot emphasize enough what a great thing these specialty events and rides are. For one thing they often raise funds to help area charities help those less fortunate than ourselves. For the other, they are a great, low cost way to get a taste of what the Hatfield-McCoy Trails are all about. You don't have to dedicate a whole week to riding with a special event like Thunder in the Mountains. For $15 per single rider - which includes a shirt and lunch. The Mud Buddies Foundation is set up to arrange and make possible trail rides for kids who have certain infirmities so they can enjoy the great outdoors like you do. It's a great organization and it has made a LOT of people happy. By showing up and participating you can find out what HMT is like, help others and have a good time!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Plenty to do in September in HMT Country....

Big doin's comin' around....

Hey folks,
Big Jim here coming to you from the Bustling Center of Activity that is Hatfield-McCoy Country....
Last year around this time I was eating lunch at a local fast food place attached to a gas station in one of
our towns. Two visiting ATV riders were remarking about some strange comments they heard from local teenagers
that had them flummoxed.
It seems that there were a couple of big events going on in town that week...and of course, there were
posters on the wall for other events that same month.
"And yet, these teenagers were saying there is never anything to do around here!" one rider said.
"That's crazy," said the other rider. "Even if you wanted to do it all, you can't because some of these
things are the same weekend!"
 As I was sitting at the next table, I chimed in and noted, "even without the events every week you can go
trail riding, visit the museum, catch the latest movie, go to the shooting range or sometimes catch a concert
or play down at the Coalfield Jamboree."
Then I assured them things were not like that around here when I was a teenager....
These days there is plenty to do or see in HMT Country....
Summers and other parts of the year are often like that in HMT Country in general and Logan County where I
live in particular.
Take this month....
 This Saturday the Lions Club of Logan has its annual "Rubber Ducky Race" which is a fundraiser. For a $5
ticket you get the chance of winning $1,000. And when they say anybody can win, they do mean anybody. Two
years in a row elementary school children won that grand prize! The plastic ducks will go in the river around 10:30 and there should be a winner announced before noon. If you are lucky you might be able to catch a Lion who has a ticket or two available. Even if you don't win you will be helping a great local charity....
Speaking of outdoors fun....The Hatfield McCoy Mountain Heritage Festival is coming to Chief Logan State Park's Conference Center on Sept. 19 and Sept. 20. This is a big, big event for outdoorsmen and sportsmen and will feature many local and regional vendors who have outdoors equipment. In addtion to the Hunting and Fishing vendors there will be a sanctioned turkey call contest sponsored by the National Wild Turkey Federation, upland bird hunting tips, zip lines and a youth challenge, food vendors, a chilli cook off, an artisans quilt show and music as well as reenactors dressed like your favorite superheroes from the Heroes 4 Higher group. All this and more camo and paracord than you can shake a duck call at!
 Over in nearby Chapmanville, the town is going to be jumping on  Sept. 25, 26 and 27 and 28  when the Apple
Butter Festival returns to town. You see, it's not just a home made food event, its Chapmanville's version of
a Fall Festival. Arts and crafts, food, the works.
As they say on the late night television info-mercials, BUT WAIT THEIR IS MORE!!!
Of course, if that is not your thing, you might want to head on over to Chief Logan State Park on Sept. 27
and 28 for the Rebellion in the Hills.
Rebellion in the Hills is the annual Civil War reenactment held at Chief Logan State Park. History truly
comes to life with this event thanks to Civil War reenactors as well as history buffs who portray famed Civil
War era figures such as Abraham Lincoln, who give lectures and speeches and such. In addition to the
Rebellions Skirmishes, where the Blue and the Gray go at it again, there is also a Suttlers Row where you can
purchase cool 19th century era swag, from skinned hides and leather cords to pendants or even blacksmithed
items. I saw a guy buy a kilt there one year. The reenactors are also very fun people and are happy to
explain and demonstrate things to you. You can visit them in the encampments and see what life was like in
the field for a Civil War era soldier...They might even show you how to load a black powder Colt or Remington  revolver or how to attach a bayonet  to a Springfield musket!
All this cool stuff going on in September- then of course in October TRAILFEST returns with demos from manufacturers, mud pits, music, games, rides, new things like arts&crafts and more!
Nothing to do in the mountains?
Not hardly.....

Friday, August 8, 2014

Take your fishin' rod and take a chance at winning some money....

 A lot of people ask, "what can you do in Southern WV besides ride trails?" Well, depending upon what time of the year it is the answer is PLENTY.
For those of you who like to fish you might want to bring a valid fishing permit and a pole, tackle box and bait with you to the town of Logan tomorrow and take a chance on winning some money in a FREE fishing tourney...
The annual Tony Gill Memorial Fishing Tourny will return to Logan County on Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014 at the Guyandotte river. As always there is no entry free required to take home the grand prize and enjoy bragging rights for bringing in the biggest fish of the day.
The annual tournament is held on the Guyandotte River from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is held in memory of Tony “Bluegill” Gill, a local fisherman known for his love of the sport of fishing and his good nature.
This year's grand prizes for fish and doorprizes should amount to several thousand dollars. During the 8th annual event $3,000 worth of cash and other prizes were hauled away by lucky winners and organizers of the event note that the purse grows exponentially every year. Organizers noted that some 250 area anglers and sport fishermen competed last year.
 Leonard Codispoti told The Logan Banner that the rules of the event are simple in order to encourage as many people as possible to show up and participate.
$200 will be awarded for the longest bass, $200 for the longest catfish, $150 for the longest carp.
Second place prizes will also be awarded in those categories and there will be other chances to win.    You must be registered before hand to win. Registration will be that day at McDonalds in Logan.
"There is no entry fee- all that is required is a valid WV fishing permit," Codispoti noted.
•All fish must be caught on the Guyandotte river between Three Mile Curve at the Rum Creek Bridge and the Peach Creek Bridge on the day of the tournament.
•The fish will be measured at the McDonalds parking lot. 
•Fish must still be alive.
•No fish will be measured after 3:00 PM.
"Tony truly loved to fish and this is just something we have done through the years to keep his memory alive. He was known for his love of fishing and that is what this is all about. We encourage folks to show up on Saturday, Aug. 9 and take part in the fun and prizes," he said.
Registration will be Saturday morning at McDonalds parking lot in Logan between 7:00-8:30 AM.  You must be registered to win.
For more information contact:
*Leonard Codispoti 304-752-1897
*Bernadette Rorrer 304-752-1771
But wait, there will be more chances to win money thanks to things 'swimming' in that same river! You see, every year the Lions Club of Logan hosts their annual Rubber Duck Race. For a small donation you can sponsor your own poly-resin duck and take a chance on winning the grand prize of $1K. You see the ducks will be dumped into the Guyandotte River and the first duck across the finish line wins his winner the thousand dollar grand prize.
The Lions Club of Logan Rubber Duck  Race will be held at the Guyandotte River (over from the Logan McDonalds near the Logan Emergency Ambulance Service Authority) on the morning of Saturday, Sept. 13. Tickets are available now from members of the club. Just ask around and somebody will point you to a Lion!
This is also the time of the year for outdoor drama under the stars at Chief Logan State Park thanks to the Aracoma Story Inc. and their teams of actors and singers. For more about TAS shows check out for features.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Freedom Fest is HERE!!!

Hey folks,

 Big Jim here, comin' at you from the heart of the World Famous Hatfield-McCoy Trails....
This morning as I drove downtown to mail out some bills I saw that city employees had set up bleacher seating and were getting ready for this week's West Virginia Freedom Festival.

Freedom Fest has become a tradition in the City of Logan over the years. It is a time when there are bands, entertainers, showmen, food vendors and more set up all over the towntown area to surprise, delight and feed you. There will be wild animals. There will be great bands. There will be funnel cakes, Polish sausages, pulled pork bar-b-que sandwiches and a whole lot more, including fireworks shows!
As  I work downtown 6 days a week, needels to say I am excited about the food vendors the most, LOL....
For a few brief but glorious days,  I can walk down the steps, walk a block or two and get my pick of different food. You have no idea what this means to me. You see, a month or so ago the Logan Taco Bell closed for remodeling. As a bachelor who does not cook, I am pretty sick to death of burgers and chicken sandwiches. Given how courthouse and downtown employees ALWAYS pile up at the food vendors I am probably not the only one with that feeling....
 Last month at the Logan City Council, Mayor Serafino Nolletti and City Clerk Amber Miller Viars and others discussed the attractions at this year's Freedom Fest...

Freedom Festival will run through the July 4th weekend.

Musical entertainment includes everything from rock to country: FireHouse will headline on Thurs., July 3 at 8:30 p.m.with opening act Mile To Nowhere; and Kiss cover band Dressed to Kill will headline on Fri., July 4 at 8:30 p.m.; the annual Block Party with DJ Bill France will also be on July 4 at 6:30p.m. at Courthouse Square; and country band Confederate Railroad  will headline before the Fireworks Show on July 5 at 8:30 p.m. Special treat - Confederate Railroad’s opening act will be the local band Coal Fired.

 The Firecracker 5k run will be Sat. July 5 and there will be Super Hero themed presentation in memory of little Gabe Lyall a local boy with a love of comic book heroes who captured hearts across the country during his heroic struggle with fatal illness. The Hell Riders Wall of Death will be located on Aracoma Hotel Lot across from the State Office Building. They will perform all three nights during the festival. If you have not seen there act you may remember an Australian Indy movie back in the day about a young man obsessed with an old Elvis movie where a  motorcycle daredevil rode around and around in a big barrel going parallel to the ground....
 Also, new this year, the Mobile Zip Line Adventure will be set up.

Other attractions are:
  • Logan High School’s Tennis Team will host a tennis camp for children kindergarten-8th grade on July 5.
  • Diamond Jim Old Time Photos will be located on the old Parking Building Lot near DMV.
  • Puppeteer Sylvia Fletcher will be on stage between the Courthouse and McCormick’s all three days at various times with shows that have been said to be great for children.
  • The tigers, a crowd favorite, will be returning all three nights in shows located on the parking building lot across from the DMV
  • The Magic of Speed magic show will have multiple shows all three days
  • Ditsy the Clown will be returning to paint faces
  • The Living Treasure Wildlife Exhibit will be set up during the festival
  • The annual window decorating contest for downtown businesses will continue. The only requirement for entering the contest is decorating the business’ windows.

The festival will be held from July 3-5 in downtown Logan. Remember- the amusements and the shows are all FREE. But bring pocket money for food and gifts and souvinirs!
 All concerts are open and free to the public.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Summer fun in HMT Country

It's that time of the year again, when there is a lot of summer fun to be had by everyone both on and off the trails.
Big Jim here, coming at you from the heart of HMT Country again, good people.
Last night I moseyed on down to Logan City Hall to find out what was up .... And got the heads up on the upcoming Logan Freedom Festival which takes place around the Fourth of July.
Logan's Mayor my old buddy Serafino Nolletti and City Clerk Amber Miller Viars, whom I used to work with at the local newspaper were talking about the upcoming Fourth of July Freedom Festival which will bring daredevils, jungle beasts and a lot of live bands to downtown Logan during the Independence Day weekend.
If you have never been to Freedom Fest, well it is sort of like a cross between a giant carnival and a Fourth of July parade. There is fireworks, live bands, food vendors, entertainers and a whole lot more.
People who work in town love Freedom Fest, especially those of us who work around the courthouse. Because instead of having to go to the parking lot, drive to a restaurant and rush for the drive-thrus at local restaurants we can just walk out on the street and take our choice of anything and everything from the Fried Baloney Sandwiches and hot dogs made by my buddies down at the Logan Shrine Club, to the finest barbqued pulled pork, to polish sausages to everything in between. No drives. No rushing.
Best of all, you can walk around and enjoy your food and see live tigers, exotic animals, trained dogs, talent shows, and daredevils on dirtbikes. One year I got some tips on axe-throwing by some lumberjacks.

 This year’s festival will take place at even more places with even more stages downtown due to the sheer number of musical acts which will include: Confederate Railroad, Brother Satch, the Stillwater Band, the Daddy Rabbit Band, Firehouse and more.
Freedom Festival will also feature vendors with food, A zip-line and bungee jump set up across from the Logan Post Office. Tigers and pet shows will be featured along with the Hellriders Motorcycle Daredevil show, car shows, motorcycle shows, pro-wrestling, and more.
Mayor Nolletti admitted noted that the event annually brings thousands of visitors to downtown Logan.
“If you are a local business this will be the week to run a lot of specials and take advantage of that foot traffic,” he said.
One down side, however. For the past couple of years the good ole boys on the Logan Fire Department have had a request that once again did not come to pass. Every time the planning phase begins for Freedom Fest, the Logan Fire Department has the same request for a certain wild-game wranglin' reality tee vee show star. Nothing breaks up the monotany of a town council meeting like the fire department fellows asking about the man in the cowboy hat with bowie knife and that ululating Tarzan-type cry and his trademarked comment, "Live Action!"
The Mayor said that once again the town had tried to book the famed reality show star “Turtle Man” from the Animal Planet Channel show “Call of the Wildman” with no avail. The mayor said Turtle Man, who hails from neighboring Kentucky was offered $12,000 to make a personal appearance but he turned it down.
“He does not travel on Fourth of July weekend,” the Mayor said.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Devil Anse Connector...starts soon...

Devil Anse Connector to start work today

Hey folks,
 Big Jim here comin' to you from the heart of HMT Country.
And boy do I have some big news for you. In about two hours work should start going full tilt on the new Devil Anse Connector that will hook up our famous and super-popular Rockhouse Trails to the Matewan area.
 As you know, Rockhouse is very popular -especially among our extreme riders- and it is housed in two counties - Mingo County- via Gilbert and Logan County via the town of Man. Some time back it was announced that the next phase of work for HMT would be to connect trails together starting with connecting the trails in Mingo County together then connecting the trails in Logan County together. Well, construction on that phase starts in earnest today.
Awhile back I ran into somebody I know who is in the know who told me "something big is coming real soon," but would not confirm anything. So Monday evening I ran up to the town of Man where Deputy Director Johnny Fekete lives and met with him after the town council meeting where Johnny shared the good news with the town council.

Fekete said work will soon be completed over the next two months on the Rockhouse trail connector that should make a lot of different people happy for several different reasons- not the least of which would be lessening ATV traffic in one residential area.
I hung around a little to talk with Johnny about this.

“We will start pushing on Wednesday on the Devil Anse Connector, “ Fekete said. “This is a long time proposal and when it is completed it will connect the Rochouse Trail to the town of Matewan.”
Fekete said he hoped the project would be completed in a few months, barring any unforeseen delays.
“This is our big project for the year.” Fekete said the idea for the Devil Anse Connector goes back a decade or so to the early days of the Hatfield-McCoy Trails. Now that most of the trails are completed the Hatfield-McCoy Regional Recreation Authority is looking at connecting them together.
Currently the trails offer over 600 miles of managed trails in and around several towns in Southern West Virginia. The trails have proven to be a great success in regards to bringing in tourism dollars to the area and the HMRRA wants to continue that success in making the coalfields a popular tourism destination.
“This will be a very big thing for our riders, “ Fekete said of the Devil Anse Connector.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Delays and Rumours....

Hey folks,
 Your ole pal Big Jim here again, comin' to you from the heart of the Coalfields....
 It's Easter Sunday and I am hoping you had a chance to enjoy the beautiful sunny, cool 80 degree weather today. It was a BEAUTY....
 I was pokin' around on our super popular resource the Trailriders Community Forum a little while ago. Its great to see how expereinced riders and vendors- the folks in the know- can come out any time of the day and night and help newcomers plan out a trip, or give them advice on making their own fantasy a reality vis a vis the Adventure of the Lifetime for many an outdoorsman- riding the world-famous Hatfield-McCoy Trails....
 One of the topics that came up- and it comes up a lot- is about delays to proposed projects. We learned a long time ago that it is best to not even anounce a completion date for a project because you never know what might happen to delay it. Case in point, one springtime we were supposed to have an opening on a new system. All year long, things were going gangbusters- like clockwork.
Then SHAZAM! In the twinkling of an eye, we got hit by one of the worst winter's in history.... Snow, ice, muck and mire everywhere you looked. Crews had to be pulled off the new system and put on double duty making repairs. This set us back months. .... then SHAZAM AGAIN!!! Spring came and before April's showers could bring May's flowers the whole region faced massive rain storms and floods!!!!
 I gotta give the folks on our field crews Kudos for bein' top hands and moving heaven and earth- lots of earth - to give you- our visitors the best trails on earth to ride...
 But they are only human...and there are only so many hours in the day...and not every challenge is one that our personell can fix with their hands or mighty earth moving machines...
Case in point, an intelligent rider and forum regular noted that he had spoken with some locals who explained to him that one thing that can sometimes delay a trail section or project is getting a land use agreement signed. This is true.
For example, once upon a time HMT dealt with a team of attorneys representing a coal mine about land use agreements....Month in, month out.... Finally- when headway was made after about a year or more of dealin' with these folks, before the project could move forward- SHAZAM!!! The coal mine property got sold to an entirely new set of land owners!  Which meant HMT had to ...start....all....over....from ....scratch. ...
The whole thing has been compared to 'threading a needle."
Uh....It's like threading a needle...when you are blindfolded and got hit over the head with a mason jar full of White Lightning. I am not saying getting land use agreements signed are impossible. If that was the case, well, there would be no trails. I am just saying that sometimes it can be a lot more difficult than it has to be. Remember. You are talking about asking people to sign an agreement to let others- total strangers at that- use their property to ride UTES, Quads, and dirbtikes across it. For nothing. No financial reward. In fact, the only thing you as a landowner get is INSURED. 
Many landowners think this is a good idea- based on the preponderance of locals who often got lost on their property without permission anyway. In this day and age, liability insurance is a good thing.
 Some get told otherwise by 'well meaning' neighbors or relatives who think they should hold out for this, that or the other big payday on the land doing something else with it. Even though in fact, you can put a trail in and not affect their extraction of coal, oil, gas or whatever.
If it was fast and easy to do this other places besides HMT would have over 600 miles of maintained trails too. But its not fast and easy. It takes time.  
Its  a challenge in itself- identifying a suitable peice of land that would make for a good, maintainable trail - then you have to identify who owns the land. Then you have to get them to sign a land use agreement. Then you have to mark it off, measure it, grade it, put signs in, etc...
 But wait, thats not the only hard or long difficult part. Sometimes The hard difficult part is you often have to deal with lawyers.  Sometimes, everybody gets lucky and you deal with an honest lawyer who wants what is best for his client-- free insurance-- and is helpful and easy to deal with. Other times, you deal with lawyers who try to make their clients think they are working hard for them by being a difficult pain in the keyster.  This slows things to a crawl, by the way. 
And this is not uncommon in the Legal Profession, by the way. When I worked at the Williamson Daily News, they paid a lawyer $60,000 a year in a retainer to represent them IF they got sued. Then IF they got sued, he would bill them so many hundreds an hour......
 In reality he seldom had to do anything....
So he would read the paper periodically and call up the editor or the publisher - a man addicted to cheap green polyester suits- and tell them, "I just read a story that is actionable- better reign those reporters in."
Unfortunately for him, I had a 500 level law of the press class taught by an attorney who used to work at the biggest daily paper in Kentucky and  I knew he was fulla crap. And told him so. 
In over 20 years in and out of the field I NEVER GOT SUED. Not once. Thats a good tally in this day and age.   I never got sued because I knew the law and followed it tightly. Oh, I got threatened with lawsuits once a week for a ten year period but most of the attorneys the folks who  made threats to would inform them, "There is nothing actionable here." 
Then there is the type of attorney who does the oldest trick in the book- the type of attorney who drags anything out to pad out his billable hours. I once knew a criminal defense attorney in Kentucky who would bill the same hour he spent drinking in a bar to four different clients. 
So remember- if there are 15 landowners on a proposed stretch of property there may be 15 different lawyers to deal with. If ten of those lawyers are good and honest men who care for their clients well being, Maybe none, maybe one, and maybe as many as  five of them  could be (what is called in the parlance of our times)  shysters, trying to pad out the bill with more hours, to rip the client off. Or who just put him off for months on end to pretend like they are "fighting for him" ...And the longer they can delay a signing the more billable hours they can take advantage of if they are of the shady variety.
 And remember- sometimes even if the attorney you are dealing with is an honest and above board man or woman, they may be so overloaded with work that they have to prioritize some other case over a landowners. 
 Don't get me wrong- There are probably more honest lawyers in WV than anyplace in the world I have seen and I was stuck in the courts daily for over a decade.  The shyster types are a definite minority here. But they are here. And nothing is ever easy with these guys. I have seen them delay a case going to trial for over a year. Now you imagine how such a character can delay the signing of a land use agreement if he decides he wants to slow things down?
HMT does a great job with dealing with challenges that are in our hands....But not every challenge is in our hands.
This is why sometimes there are delays we must face that we cannot do much about. ...This is also why we no longer give completion dates for long term or large scale projects until they are about 80 percent or more completed and we know we can get it done when we say we can.
While this leads to a lot of rumours, we do the best we can but we always have to play the cards that fate, mother nature and sometimes - human beings - deal us.