The Moonville Rail Trail could have economic development benefits for the village of Zaleski when it is completed. (Telegram Photo by Red Thompson, Jr.)
The Moonville Rail Trail could have economic development benefits for the village of Zaleski when it is completed. (Telegram Photo by Red Thompson, Jr.)

The recent death of Jerry Hawk takes me back to my first days in Vinton County back in the mid-1990s. Jerry and his family were some of the first people I met there. I only called him Mr. Hawk once, and he said in his soft voice, “Jerry,” and he has been that to me ever since.

Jerry and his wife Val were community-minded people. Jerry was the basketball scorebook keeper, a township trustee, and a veteran. He always cared about making Vinton County better. He always took an opportunity to pick on me a little, but it was always in good humor. He was one of the many people involved in the drive for the new high school and he was a people person.  

His daughter Misti was a cheerleader, and she loved to have her picture taken. I believe solid communities are made up of solid citizens and Jerry was one of them. The Total Media staff wishes the Hawk family our condolences and for only the second and last time, I will say “Good night, Mr. Hawk; you had a life well-lived.”

The continued tourism growth within the county is starting to move to a new level as vital projects underway are nearing completion. The Moonville Rail Trail Association has been awarded a $225,000 grant to finish two bridges and finish the trail. The trail is a popular destination for Ohio University students, travelers, naturalists, horse riders, and many others to enjoy.

Going through the Moonville Tunnel is always the highlight of the trip. The allegedly haunted tunnel has 121 websites dedicated to it. Hopefully, the completed trail will help Zaleski attract a convenience store and retailer. The Zaleski Village Council has sent out informational packets to several operators and received some advice from one as well. We understand some commercial property may be for sale at sites that developers may be interested in so the continued development of the rail trail could tip the scales for them.

In McArthur, the hotel and brickyard renovation projects both received money from the state’s Capital Budget. Both projects are efforts by the Vinton County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) to extend Hocking Hills tourism into McArthur. Now, the village has a golden opportunity to tap in on the bulging Columbus Metro Area that is booming and is only 60 miles away. I would like to see State Route 93 from McArthur to Logan expanded to a limited-access route to improve access from Logan to allow more tourism development in Vinton County. Hopefully, there can be a “tourism trail” which runs all the way from Logan to Oak Hill.

 As we have often seen in Southern Ohio, communities joining forces often leads to a better program. Jackson County offers the Welsh and Amish attractions while Jackson offers a big event center, movies, motels, unique craft shops and the historic Markay Theater. The Vinton County CVB should be given much credit for moving these vital projects forward.

The Southern Ohio Forest Rally held last weekend was an addition to the tourism base as the presentation of the cars and the race through the Zaleski State Forest brought another type of sports-related tourism to the county. We will have coverage of those events on our different platforms.  

Total Media has vastly expanded our operations and Vinton County is part of it every day. Total Media is the umbrella that covers the platforms of The Telegram, The Radio, Zip Printing, and Main Street TV. Vinton County news is always included in The Telegram and on the newscasts of The Radio. Many Vinton County guests have also appeared on The Main Street TV Morning Show. Remember to download the Total Media app on the Apple and Google phones for wireless connections, which make Total Media’s local news and information services available about anywhere in the world.