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Berkeley County to open museums in coordinated heritage tourism promotion plan

June 13, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Berkeley County officials are moving forward with a plan to have all of the county’s museums open on the third weekend of each month as part of a coordinated heritage tourism promotion plan.

Laura Gassler, director of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Convention & Visitors Bureau, told board members Wednesday that the plan would allow tourists the opportunity to visit all of the county’s museums as part of a day-long visit, if not stay overnight.

Gassler said she and Berkeley County Historical Society President Todd Funkhouser have been working on the plan, which comes as county museums are “desperate for volunteers” to staff them.

The Berkeley County Roundhouse Authority agreed last week to take part in the initiative and work to get retired railroad employees involved.

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In other business, Gassler reported on the development of a geocaching “trail” that will take visitors to more than a dozen sites around Berkeley county.

Geocaching is a worldwide, treasure hunting game that requires a GPS or GPS-enabled device, such as a smart phone.

Players use precise locating technology in a smart phone, for example, to try to find hidden containers through the use of coordinates that are typically given in latitude and longitude. GPS devices receive signals broadcast from satellites. After the prize or "cache" is located, players log online to share their experiences.

Geocachers on Berkeley County’s trail, which Gassler dubbed The Villages of Berkeley County, will have to come back with secret words from various geocache sites in order to earn a medallion that is specially minted for the hunt, Gassler said.

The goal is to bring visitors to the county and make the geocache trail long enough to encourage those hunting the cache to stay overnight, Gassler said.

Recognized as one of the world’s fastest growing social media recreational activities, Gassler said geocachers travel and tend to have disposable income. More than 4 million people geocache around the world geocache, according to geocaching.com, the official geocaching website run by Seattle-based Groundspeak, Inc.

“These people are fanatics about this,” Gassler said.

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