NITRO, W.Va. -- If Nitro's boat ramp launches tourism as efficiently as it launches bass boats, city officials will be happy indeed.
The spanking-new $400,000 facility, built last year and completed this past spring, hosts its first official event -- a bass fishing tournament -- Friday and Saturday. Kelly Pruett, executive director of the Nitro Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the two-day event kicks off some ambitious plans for the former landfill.
"We plan to hold twice-yearly tournaments, one in the spring and one in the fall," Pruett said. "The Nitro Development Authority is planning to install 11 to 15 boat slips where people can dock their boats during the summer, and we're developing a small riverside park and picnicking area just downstream from the ramp."
Pruett said the ramp would also become a regular stop for the sternwheeler Spirit of West Virginia.
"We'll have business cruises, weddings and things like that launching from our dock," she added. "We ultimately plan to run shuttles so passengers can get from the dock to our downtown shopping and antique area."
First on the agenda, though, is the bass tournament. Bill Javins, secretary for the CVB, said the event would kick off Friday with a 5 to 7 p.m. cookout for the participants.
"The cookout will be held at the ramp, and we'll have drawings for $400 worth of door prizes at the cookout," he said. "Then we'll hold a meeting at 7:30 at the former Nitro Community Center gymnasium so all the fishermen can register for the tournament and pay their fees."