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Ohio River Relay looking for folks to carry baton along river route

Sep. 22, 2013 @ 02:48 PM

HUNTINGTON — The Great Ohio River Relay baton has been carried by kayakers and bicyclists, skateboarders, rollerbladers and runners.

 And on Monday, Sept. 23, the human-powered Relay is scheduled to make roll through Huntington where there will be a short rally and march across the Sixth Street Bridge to Chesapeake, where a canoeist, Dennis Lambert will take the baton from a bicyclist, Dan Taylor, and take it just a little further down the river.

 About 10:30 a.m. Monday, a relay cyclist will arrive in Huntington and at 11 a.m. speakers will begin. Speakers include Robin Mahonen with the Wheeling Water Warriors, as well as representatives of Huntington-based OVEC, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition.

The rally will take place in the grassy area near the Sixth Street Bridge, off of Veterans Memorial Blvd., near Bob Evans’ overflow parking lot, just before the sidewalk crosses over the bridge.

Participants will march with the baton carrier across the 5th street bridge into Chesapeake, where they will cheer on the baton carrier, bicyclist Dan Taylor as he takes it to a waiting canoeist, Dennis Lambert, at the Symmes Creek boat launch.

OVEC is still looking for volunteers to take the baton from Lambert, who hopes to canoe at least to Ironton on Monday. Robin Blakeman, of OVEC, said they hoped to find some folks, perhaps some road cyclists or more canoeists or kayakers who would like to help take the baton from Greenup to Portsmouth and then beyond Portsmouth toward Cincinnati.

OVEC volunteers are passing the baton along the river from Pt. Pleasant, W.Va. to Portsmouth and perhaps beyond. On Sunday afternoon, OVEC organizer Robin Blakeman said three local cyclistspedaled three hours on WV 2 from Point Pleasant to Guyandotte.

 If you are interested in helping transport the baton contact Robin Blakeman at robin@ohvec.org. For updates on the relay as well as the rally on the Huntington riverfront, watch the relay's Facebook page, OVEC’s Facebook page and Twitter account or contact organizers at 304-522-0246.

The Wheeling Water Warriors organized The Great Ohio River Relay to raise awareness about the environmental and human health impacts of deep shale gas fracking and, in particular, the proposed barging of toxic, radioactive fracking wastewater on the Ohio River. More than five million people rely on the Ohio River for their daily drinking water.

The relay began Sept. 14 in Pittsburgh, where the Allegheny River joins with the Monongahela River to form the Ohio River. A baton that symbolizes water, mountains and life itself, is being passed along the entire 981-mile length of the Ohio River.

Participants are moving the baton along the river by canoe or kayak, or along the river’s banks by foot, bicycle, rollerblade or skateboard — by any human-powered means. The baton will be carried through six states to arrive in Cairo, Ill., where the Ohio joins the Mississippi River, sometime in early October.

 Organizations involved in the relay include the Wheeling Water Warriors, OVEC, WV Rivers Coalition, Earth Warriors of Butler County, FaCT-OV (Faith Communities Together for Fracking Awareness), Ohio Valley PEACE, SAFE (Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment), MOB (Marcellus Outreach Butler), Tour de Frack, Appalachia Resist, Freshwater Accountability Project Ohio, Southeast Ohio Alliance to Save Our Water, Stop the Frack Attack on Illinois, Marcellus Protest, Southwest Ohio No Frack Forum, Food and Water Watch, The Louisville 50, Ohio Valley Unitarian Universalist Church and Footprints for Peace.

"This all started with the Wheeling Water Warriors and is related to their concerns, which we share, about the developing of gas fracking water treatment facilities moving into the Wheeling area," Blakeman said. "It is about water quality up and down the Ohio River."