PARKERSBURG - In the wake of the Boston bombings, Parkersburg officials want to let residents know they will continue to offer a safe environment for runners and observers of The Parkersburg News and Sentinel Half Marathon.
The half marathon will be held on Saturday, Aug. 17.
Parkersburg police Chief Joe Martin said in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, city officials have set a course of action in place to ensure there are no issues in Parkersburg during the race.
"There are no known threats at this time," Martin said about a week before the race. "We have been working on a plan for the last two months."
Martin said the most visible difference this year, as opposed to years past, will be the presence of uniformed officers. He said a handful of police agencies will help city police during the competition.
The Wood County Sheriff's Office, West Virginia State Police as well as federal agencies will bring a larger police presence to the downtown area, he said.
"Our biggest problem we're confronted with is the parade that runs after the half marathon," Martin said. "We have to coordinate the manpower."
The chief said he and other officers have met with the homecoming and race committees to play a more active role in the security of each event. Another noticeable difference, he said, will be the absence of newspaper coin boxes and trash receptacles, mostly in the downtown area. Those will be removed as a safety precaution, he said.
Martin said the public is asked to cooperate by limiting their use of backpacks and bags in the downtown area during the race.
"We are confident we'll be able to handle anything that does arise," he added, "but are hope is nothing will."
The fire department said it is fortunate to have six stations strategically located through the city for a quick response to any emergency.
"We have also met with the police department to discuss issued that may need attention during events like homecoming," said Capt. Tim Flinn with the Parkersburg Fire Department.
Flinn said firefighters will be assisting on the river along with the police department and may assist with traffic flow during the marathon.
Officials in surrounding communities have also been notified of an emergency plan should something go wrong, Martin said.