Bridge Day Commission sends request for more state aid

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FAYETTEVILLE, WV (WVNS) — The Bridge Day Commission is continuing to plan their annual event.

This year with a few changes, BASE jumping is cancelled for the 2021 festival, resulting in fewer visitors to the area. The Coordinator for BASE jumping, Marcus Ellison, told 59News the cancellation is a push to have the event cancelled altogether.

“We thought that that vote was going to cancel the event, but that’s not what happened,” Ellison said.

The cancellation of BASE jumping means hundreds of people will no longer travel to Fayetteville for the big day. Sean Dougherty came to Fayetteville every year since 2015 to BASE jump on Bridge Day. He said despite his disappointment, he believes they made the right decision.

“It is disappointing, but I think it probably is the right call if the hospitals are that packed. I mean you wouldn’t want to overwhelm the hospitals anymore than they already are,” Dougherty said.

The activity was cancelled because of growing concern about possible injuries and the impact they would have on local hospitals and healthcare workers. To accommodate for the increased need, Becky Sullivan, the Chair of the Bridge Day Commission, sent a letter to West Virginia State Officials requesting additional resources.

“After working with the emergency services crew that helps with Bridge Day, we came up with some additional needs that we would need that were necessary for the event outside of what we already provide,” Sullivan said.

Some of those resources include 75,000 masks, an additional stand-up medical facility and additional staffing including COVID-19 testing staff for up to two weeks. Brian Abraham, the Governor Jim Justice’s Chief of Staff, responded in a letter obtained by 59News, stating the requests “seem to evidence a lack of planning for the event, as each of those requests would be for resources needed any year Bridge Day is held.”

Abraham urged the Commission to coordinate with locally based state resources to plan for the event.

“The West Virginia Guard was prepared to support the event, the Department of Highways was prepared to support the event, the State Police was prepared to support the event,” Abraham explained. “We did believe that if they needed the masks, the DHHR could coordinate that through the local health department as well as those additional assets they were requesting.”

Sullivan told 59News she understands their response, and plans to coordinate with these local agencies to continue planning for the annual event.

“We’ll just continue to work with our local health department, our department of highways, and emergency personnel so we can plan a safe event,” Sullivan said.

The Bridge Day Commission will meet again next week and vote on whether to cancel the event.

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