Last updated: July 24. 2013 1:42PM -

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PDT Staff Writer

The city of Portsmouth is in the process of making improvements of more than $80,000 to the River Front Amphitheater, expected to be finished in time for the River Days Festival beginning Aug. 30.

According to Tracy Shearer, Director of Community Development for the city of Portsmouth, this is only the first phase of a five year improvement plan that’s being developed for the river front. She said Howerton Engineering of Portsmouth is the engineer involved in the project, and Distel Construction is making first phase improvements, valued at $83,120.40. The work includes improving the access road to the amphitheater, and other projects.

“This will make the road more passable for band trailers and vendors during River Days,” Shearer said.

“We hope these improvements will open up the possibility for more events and festivals to take place on the river front. We need to build on our river front, it’s such a beautiful place down there, anything we can do to enhance it and draw in tourism.”

Trent Williams, chairman of the River Days Festival, said the improvements are much-needed. He said the improvements will likely attract more people and groups to use the river front.

“These improvements are not just for River Days, but for anyone who uses the stage. There are several groups in the area that want to use that area, that have some difficulty in using it. River Days itself is encouraging other groups to take advantage of that stage and have concerts and events throughout the year,” Williams said.

Shearer said there was $150,000 allocated in the city Capital Improvement Project (CIP) Budget to complete the work. She said later this year work will be done on the electrical system.

Williams said the electrical system along the riverfront is unusable, and he remembers when the electric went out during the middle of a Kentucky Headhunters concert about four years ago.

“If it weren’t for a backup generator that we had at the time, we would not have been able to finish the show,” Williams said.

He said the festival has relied on a generator as is primary electric feed for about four years.

“If there is sufficient electric down there like there should be, then we won’t have to rely on a generator as our primary electric feed. Not just for River Days but for anybody that needs to use that facility the electric is essential and is nonexistent right now,” Williams said.

The annual River Days Festival will return to the Ohio riverfront Aug. 30 through Sept. 2.

Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 208, or wallen@heartlandpublications.com.

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