Letart Homecoming benefits nature park

LETART — The Letart Nature Park Development Organization is hosting the First Letart Homecoming event this Saturday beginning at 2 p.m. at the Letart Community Center.

The event will feature an antique tractor show, tractor games, kiddie tractor pull, kid’s train, games for kids, live music from local artists, and a barbecue with homemade desserts, as well as fun and fellowship.

The event is open to everyone. The Nature Park group wants to bring additional awareness to Mason County and surrounding area residents so even more people can enjoy what the group calls a “wonderful resource in Mason County” — i.e., the Letart Nature Park. The event is also meant to encourage more people to join in the preservation and development of the park. All proceeds and donations will be used for the park’s future development.

As for the history of the nature park, for generations the Sayre brothers in Letart, were respected within the Letart community for farming and working their land all while preserving the land and nature. As a continuation of their legacy and commitment to their community, in 1978 they sold 272 acres at a below market price to the Mason County Commissioners for the development of a nature preserve and recreation area. A few years later, the commissioners were able to develop nine acres of the land which currently houses the Letart Community Center and includes an outdoor picnic area, playground, tennis courts, basketball courts and a walking track. The real estate purchase and subsequent park development was possible due to revenue sharing money being awarded to Mason County. The current facility is highly utilized for group and family events.

The remaining 263 acres was never developed for its full potential as planned. During the early months of 2013, a group of citizens who work and live in and near the community joined forces and asked Mason County Commissioners for their approval and an opportunity to further develop the park. As a result of the commissioners’ approval to move forward, the group formally organized the Letart Nature Park Development Organization; established by-laws; filed for tax exemption status (501c3) and developed the following mission:

Provide an exceptional and diverse system of trails, open spaces, forest, recreational facilities, and other natural areas that are safe, accessible, and affordable to foster the needs of our community. Maintain and promote a natural and historic environment while providing educational opportunities throughout a leisure atmosphere which will enrich the health and quality of life for all ages and future generations in a safe and secure environment.

The park organization has developed a working relationship with the West Virginia National Guard. During July 2014 a W.Va. National Guard Site Engineer and two surveyors spent several days on the acreage where they mapped coordinates and gathered information to develop an excavation plan to enhance the work in progress. Currently the Guard’s 821st Engineering Company – Detachment 1 from Millwood is “on site” developing a main trail which will be accessible for emergency vehicles; add erosion diversion ditches; and install culverts. Their design time, expertise and all work has been donated to the project.

The Nature Park Development Organization purchased most of the materials for the project as a result of donations received from local churches, organizations, businesses, individuals and received assistance from local contractors to obtain lower cost on materials purchased. Additionally local area residents have provided extensive volunteer hours, farm equipment and fuel toward the park’s development. The development group hosts community work days each month and welcomes any volunteers from individuals, service, youth or church groups within the county.

The Nature Park Development Organization meets the third Sunday of each month at the Country Corner Restaurant in Letart at 1 p.m. Members encourage anyone with an interest in the park development to attend.

(Information for this article provided by the Letart Nature Park Development Organization.)