Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Waynesboro Trail Hikers Tap Solar Power

A shelter for Appalachian trail hikers in Waynesboro, near 14th Street and Arch Avenue, has a new solar-power charging station. The station will let hikers replenish their cell phones, tablets and other electronic devices. / Michael Neary/The News Leader
WAYNESBORO — The Appalachian Trail hiking season might be winding down, but Waynesboro’s shelter for trail hikers near 14th Street and Arch Avenue is poised to open next season with added power.

Solar power.

Last week, Waynesboro Parks and Recreation teamed up with Sigora Solar, in Waynesboro, to install a solar power charging station in the shelter.

“This makes us prepared at the beginning of next season to have (solar energy) available for the very first hiker,” said Spencer Eavers, the Waynesboro Parks and Recreation special event and programs coordinator.

Eavers said the move continues the city’s effort to reach out to hikers. Last year, she noted, Waynesboro received the designation of an “Appalachian Trail Community” from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

“As a community, we recognize the importance of the hikers,” she said. “We take pretty seriously being designated one of the friendliest cities on Appalachian Trail.”

Eavers said the trail serves as a kind of portal to Waynesboro, and so the chance to charge up a cell phone or tablet with sustainable energy can create a good first impression. The second impression lies with a new app that allows hikers, on their freshly charged cell phones, to gain a glimpse of area locations they might visit while they’re passing through town.

“They’re already coming here,” Eavers said of the hikers. She added that after they arrive, “We want to make ourselves stand out that much more.”

The city of Waynesboro partnered with Abingdon and Front Royal to develop the app, called VA Trail Towns, which is available at iTunes and the Google Play store.

Eavers said the city, in partnership with Waynesboro Downtown Development, Inc., raised about $4,500 to pay for the solar station’s parts, along with costs involved in moving the shelter from a previous spot to its current location. Eavers said Sigora Solar donated the labor. No tax dollars, she said, were used to fund the project.

The station has eight outlets, along with two batteries to store the solar power absorbed by the panel perched on the roof. The batteries will enable hikers to use the system at night and on cloudy days. Shawn Cooke, chief of operations for Sigora Solar, said the station should harness plenty of power for hikers to charge up just about any kind of electronic device.

“They’ve got 1,000 watts to play with,” he said. “That’s a lot of cell phones.”

Source: http://www.newsleader.com/article/20131112/NEWS01/311120018/Waynesboro-trail-hikers-tap-solar-power?gcheck=1

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