The Mingo County 4-H ATV Safety Program received a $4,000 Governor’s Community Participation Grant Award. W.Va. Delegate Justin Marcum requested the grant and expects a similar grant for the program requested by Majority Leader Harry Keith White to be anncounced soon.
“This program is active in every Mingo County school,” said WVU Extension Service Associate Professor Mark Whitt, “There are probably 600 students involved in the program.”
Whitt went on to say there are nine American Safety Institute (ASI) certified instructors and the program also meets the requirements to issue W.Va. Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) permits.
” There have been 25 students who have earned their ASI certifications and 300 who have gotten their DMV permits through the program,” said Whitt.
Del. Marcum said, “The use of ATVs is a way of life here and it is vital to the safety and well being of our children to provide safety training early on. I commend the 4-H for the quality of training they provide the kids.”
Mingo County Sheriff James Smith has two deputies who are involved in the program.
“Two Mingo County deputies took part in the training and became ASI certified so they could help with the classes,” said Sheriff Smith, “They feel it is important for the kids to have the proper training before they get out on the trails.”
Whitt commented there are an average of 40 ATV-related deaths in West Virginia every year, yet there have been only six deaths on the Hatfield McCoy Trails over the 13 years they have been in existence. Riders on the Hatfield McCoy Trails have to have some safety training, wear proper safety equipment and the trails are monitored. Having students receive training may save lives later on.
“If the program saves one life, it was worth it,” said Whitt.
The trio also recognized another community resource who helps ATV riders in trouble. The Chattaroy Volunteer Fire Department responds to calls on the trails and does so at no charge.
The 4-H ATV Safety Program Classes are free of charge. For more information, call the Mingo County Office of the WVU Extension Service at 304-235-0370.