Coal River Group may take over boat rentals

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Members of the nonprofit Coal River Group want to take over kayak and canoe rentals at Meadowood Park near Tornado.Coal River Group Chairman Bill Currey told members of the Kanawha County Parks and Recreation Commission at a regular parks commission meeting Wednesday that Bill Simmons, who has run a canoe and kayak rental business along the Coal River near the park, wants to retire.Currey said the Coal River Group wants to buy Simmons' boats and take over the rental business. The group needs permission from the parks commission because the put-in and take-out points on the river at Meadowood are park property."If we acquire this business, we can operate it, and for once, we'd have a source of steady income," Curry said. "We hope to be in business by the first of the year. Believe it or not, people paddle in winter."The Coal River Group currently leases property at Meadowood where they operate a public education center.
County Parks Director Jeff Hutchinson said Simmons has rented boats on the Coal River for several years, and letting the Coal River Group take over would have little effect on the park itself. "We're really just talking about a change of venue from Bill Simmons to the Coal River Group," he said.Hutchinson said parks officials would not be liable for any accidents connected with the rentals. Although the parks board owns the land where the boats would go into and out of the water, the land is leased to the state Department of Natural Resources. Currey said insurance liability for the boats would fall on the Coal River Group or the DNR.Also Wednesday, parks officials swore in two new members of the parks commission. Janet Drumheller and former state Adj. Gen. Allen Tackett are now on the parks board.Other members of the parks commission include Anna Dailey, Buck Chestnut, Patrick Donahoe, John Huddleston, Lucie Mellert, Dave Pope, Stuart Smith, Norm Steenstra and Doug Tench.Reach Rusty Marks at or 304-348-1215. 
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