[Moderator Note: I am the Highpointers Club advocate for Black Mountain. I am glad to see the Hands Across the Mountain people get publicity. We have discussed them extensively in 1999 during the battle over access to the Kentucky summit. The overlook which is to be in Virginia is being blocked by Penn Virginia Coal Company which owns the summit. The issue of mining rights to the summit was settled in 2000 when Kentucky bought the rights to the summit. However this did not affect Virginia where this turnout is proposed. As a note you still must sign a waiver to cross private property to the Black Mountain summit]
This appeared in the Oct. 31 Coalfield Progress
By JENAY TATE, Coalfield Progress Editor and Publisher
An overlook and wayside park they [Hands Across the Mountain] want to build atop Black Mountain, which is the bridge between Kentucky and Virginia, would be a shining example of the Hands mission.
That is, if it ever happens. The struggle to develop an overlook on the mountain has been ongoing for several years.
Another Hands annual meeting passed Oct. 24 without the group being able to report that the path has been cleared to the scenic overlook on Kentucky's highest mountain. From there, travelers would have a spectacular view across five mountain ranges.
The latest wrinkle is a dispute between the Virginia Department of Transportation, which would own the overlook property, and Penn Virginia Resources Corp., which agreed to tender the deed to VDOT but with language the agency has rejected.
Hands secretary/treasurer Sandra Riggs told members at Thursday's meeting in Benham that Penn Virginia and VDOT are trying to work out a solution. But Riggs said she believes Hands is "going to have to do what we didn't want to" - ask political leaders to intercede and try to get the matter resolved and the scenic overlook underway.
Riggs said the project is ready to go to construction once the deed language is worked out.
After the meeting, Riggs said the sticking point in the deed has to do with VDOT wanting some guarantees about surface protection from mining at the overlook and wayside park. Penn Virginia is resisting, she said. In the past, the company has insisted it must look out for the best interests of its stockholders, she said.
Hands co-chair Stan Botts of Big Stone Gap told members a local Penn Virginia official advised him that day the company's stance has not changed.
"After that conversation today, it's probably time to give a little nudge," Botts said. "We've been waiting on parties to work a little more."
Bobbie Gothard, Hands co-chair from Lynch, said the group "didn't want to put any pressure on Penn Virginia but we may have to seek a little assistance. If we don't act quickly we will lose our grant."