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WAS Nature Trail will be dedicated in ceremony

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A ceremony dedicating the WAS Nature Trail in South Hills and honoring those who made it possible will be held Friday at George Washington High School.

The trail was named for Willy A. Shuman, a 2009 George Washington graduate who was killed in a car crash only four days before he was set to leave for the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado.

Shuman, who was set to play Division-I tennis at the Air Force Academy, was an avid runner who competed in cross country and long distance running in high school.

"The Nature Trail was conceived and built as a way to provide the entire community with a much-needed recreational amenity that also called some attention to Willy Shuman's love of running and the great outdoors," Monty Warner, GW's Army JROTC teacher, said in a press release.

"A walk or jog in the forest along the WAS Nature Trail behind GWHS is both invigorating and blissful."

Those to be honored at Friday evening's event are: the Shuman family and the Willy Foundation, George Washington High School, GW Army JROTC, the West Virginia House of Delegates, the Boy Scouts of America, Coal River Energy, Greer Industries and Pritchard Mining Co.

Those wishing to attend should gather behind the baseball field at 5:45 p.m. Friday as the event will start promptly at 6 p.m. Organizers are trying to keep the event prompt so those attending can leave, if they choose, before the football game.

The trail stretches 1.2 kilometers on the hill behind the high school. Work began on the trail two years ago. Boy Scouts and members of the school's JROTC did refinement work on the trail.

Those improvements were closely monitored by Aaron Florence, who began the project as a George Washington senior while he worked toward an Eagle Scout badge. Florence, now a ROTC cadet at West Virginia State University and a member of the National Guard, still keeps an eye on the trail.

Funds from the Willy Foundation helped with enhancements on the trail for its first two years. Members from the House of Delegates 30th district secured a $10,000 grant for the trail earlier this year and more work was completed over the summer.

Coal River Energy and Greer Industries donated equipment, labor and raw resources for the project.

Future planned improvements include an outdoor classroom to seat 45 students and exercise stations at points along the trail.

The trail is open and used frequently.

"This is an absolute dream of an neighborhood amenity," Warner said. "Hundreds of people are already using the trail and enjoying the great outdoors due to the contributions and efforts of some very fine, civically-minded neighbors and friends."

Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at or 304-348-4850.



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