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A great asset — Bluefield must preserve overlook

Bluefield Mayor Linda Whalen is calling upon area citizens to help come up with a plan to promote and enhance the East River Mountain Overlook.

We are hopeful that city residents will answer her call, and assist the Bluefield Board of Directors in coming up with a few good ideas on how to promote, enhance and protect the city’s most scenic vista.

The overlook has been plagued in recent years with graffiti and vandalism, according to Whalen. A water pump on the mountain also was recently struck by lightening.

Whalen said city officials have tried several enforcement efforts in recent years in hopes of stopping the vandalism and graffiti problems, including installing security cameras on the mountain and even placing a security guard on the mountain.

Unfortunately, problems continue to persist.

It is shameful that vandals continue to target this beautiful asset. The overlook is not only an attraction for Bluefield, but for all of Mercer County.

It must be protected from future of acts of vandalism and graffiti. According to Whalen, the overlook continues to report high volumes of traffic and visitors.

“It is an asset,” Whalen said last week. “It would be a beautiful venue for weddings. There is constant traffic up there. It really is amazing how many people come up and look at the overlook. This is a valuable asset to Bluefield, and we just need to figure out how to capitalize on it.”

We agree. We ask the city Board of Directors and City Manager Andy Merriman to prioritize a plan for the East River Mountain Overlook, and we call upon city residents to answer Whalen’s call for a few good ideas on how to promote, protect and enhance this natural scenic wonder.

The overlook sits 3,500 feet above sea level at the top of East River Mountain. It was once West Virginia’s first visitor information center in 1960, according to the Mercer County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Area residents are clearly passionate about protecting East River Mountain, as we saw last year during the prolonged wind turbine fight in neighboring Tazewell County. In fact, most lifelong residents in the region are willing to claim an ownership of sorts with this beautiful mountain.

After all, East River Mountain is iconic. A landmark. It’s the true Natural Wonder of our part of the world. And the overlook itself is a small but very important part of our beautiful mountain.

We believe the overlook also is worthy of protection and preservation. It’s now up to the city to come up with a plan to do so with help from its citizens.