Pennsylvania Kinzua Pathways (PKP) and the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry (WCCBI) are expanding their partnership with the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford (UPB) and partnering with a new group, BOOMAdvancing and Preserving Warren County.
"We are excited to be working with BOOM. This partnership makes sense on so many levels", said PKP member Joe Colosimo.
BOOM is focusing its attention and efforts on creating "geotourism," by using a GPS/QR code system that will allow residents and tourists to access a community calendar and a series of self-guided video tours related to history, architecture, geology, natural resources, the arts, the outdoors, and commerce either on their computers at home or their mobile devices while touring the region. The project will feature a website and links to related projects in the region as well as YouTube videos and points on Google Earth.
Times Observer photo by Rob Andersen
Ice is beginning to melt on the trails that wind through the rock city at Jakes Rocks.
Brysten Jones of BOOM said, "A lot of people really don't realize how much history there is in Warren County. It is overwhelming and very exciting at the same time. Our project is looking to capture all this history and data and deliver it, electronically, to create an experience to give a sense of place. We also want to make the project open-ended, so our community may continue adding points of interest indefinitely."
BOOM is conducting meetings to gather partners and collect ideas for inclusion that will be further researched and tested. While the project is creating its first walking tour in the city of Warren, BOOM emphasizes that this will be a county project.
"We want to provide a product that can be leveraged by all communities in the county and that provides a complete picture of what a visitor would want to know about every corner of the county and eventually throughout the Historic Route 6 corridor," said BOOM member Jennie Minich.
There is the potential for the project to expand regionally. The UPB students have already worked with Smethport and Bradford on smaller -scale versions of the project. "We really embrace the PA Wilds mission of marketing the whole region and having everyone working together instead of promoting each county individually," said PKP member Chris Hobbs. "This project offers the opportunity to expand on that vision."
PKP and the WCCBI are currently working with UPB on several aspects of the Trails at Jakes Rocks project. A history portion includes GPS-triggered "pop ups" to provide information on key locations as well as key historical information.
BOOM member Chuck Gray said, "PKP was able to accelerate our group's progress in numerous ways, chief among them was our introduction to the talented Pitt Bradford team. This partnership will give us access to awesome partners and proven technology that will allow us to be more efficient and effective and deliver the best product possible."
"Warren County is blessed with natural, cultural and historic resources which are unique and marketable. This initiative offers a very efficient platform for us to effectively put these resources in front of individuals across the globe in hope and expectation that we will entice increased and continual visitation to our community and our region" said Jim Decker, president and CEO of the WCCBI.
"For our (UPB) part here, I am running a class in the fall entitled 'Participatory Community Development' that will be a part of the 'Appalachian Teaching Project' which is a program of the Appalachian Regional Commission," said Dr. Stephen Robar, UPB professor. "This class involves establishing partners in the community to engage in capacity building/economic development/sustainability projects. We're 'all in' with the partners in this project."
PKP is focusing its attention and efforts on aspects of the project upriver from Kinzua Dam and the reservoir while BOOM is working down river.
"By working together, we will avoid duplication of efforts. The more oars in the water and rowing in the same direction will get us to where we want to be quicker and with less effort," said Colosimo.
"We hope to bring a sense of hometown pride to folks who live here and provide a reason to visit to folks who live elsewhere," Gray said. "On top of the geotourism benefits, team BOOM is passionately dedicated to chronicling the stories of our past and present in a way that is accessible, engaging and relevant for generations to come."