The Mingo County Commission has voted to pursue the possibility of building a state-of-the-art miniature golf course along the King Coal Highway near Mingo Central High School.

Commissioner Greg "Hootie" Smith brought up the idea at Wednesday's regular meeting.

"I'm very excited about it, because we actually have the money in hand to do it and don't have to apply for a grant and pray for funding like most projects. We have been banking these monies (Coal Severance reallocation funds) for several years looking for the right economic development project," Smith said.

Smith said the county has an acre of land just past the Harless Stadium on the MCHS campus.

"I think this would be great for tourism and for our local families to have some new recreational activity," Smith added. "The land is ready to build on and I think this could be a win-win for everyone."

Smith and Commission President Diann Hannah said going forward with the project would require the approval of the Mingo County Board of Education. Originally the property was to be set aside for a possible satellite outpost location for an ambulance service. Smith believes there is still enough room at the site that if one of the county's private EMS companies would want to place a small building there for an ambulance and office, it could be done.

"I think we should explore this project," Hannah said. "Nothing ventured - nothing gained. I think it is a great idea and has all kinds of potential."

Smith said the miniature course could be "theme based" for the coal industry. He said there could possibly be a batting cage at the site, too, which could be utilized by local baseball and softball teams, and a paved parking lot. He said there is no competition with the private sector, since there is no other recreational facility like this in the area.

Commissioner Thomas Taylor also voted for the proposal to make it a 3-0 vote.

The commission will attempt to get estimates in the near future.

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