Officials gathered at Breaks Park last week to unveil a new 24-hour touch screen information kiosk located outside the Park visitor center.
The $20,000 kiosk was purchased through donations from Consol Energy and Dominion Resources Services, which each made a $10,000 contribution to the project.
“It’s really hard to convey the tremendous effect this kiosk will have on our visitor experience,” said Park Superintendent Matthew O’Quinn, “It’s a very sophisticated machine that will offer accurate, up to date information 24-hours a day, seven days per week,” he said. “This is a project that we wouldn’t have been able to complete without corporate support, and when we took the kiosk idea to Dominion and Consol, they immediately recognized the benefit it would bring to park guests and jumped on board. We wouldn’t have been able to provide this important service without their generous support.” O’Quinn said.
The kiosk, situated adjacent to the entrance of the Visitor Center, offers in-depth information ranging from individual trail descriptions and videos to details about upcoming park events. A special thermal paper allows visitors to print maps and other needed information to take with them year-round.
While the concept of the kiosk seems simple, the actual process of creating it was quite lengthy with the project beginning last fall, and discussions about it coming much earlier than that, noted O’Quinn. Similar information kiosks have been installed in Virginia State Parks through the collaboration of Johnny Finch with the Virginia Association of Parks, financial support from Dominion, and Imperial Multimedia who actually design and construct the kiosks he noted. “We were fortunate to be able to work with these same organizations as well as Consol Energy to see the creation of a kiosk here at Breaks Park,” said O’Quinn, “Fred Lochner of Imperial Multimedia did some extensive GPS mapping and information gathering to complete the final product,” he added.
However, that process with the great attention to detail and convenience are what makes all the difference to visitors, he said. One of the things visitors request most are trail maps, and while those maps have always been available inside the visitor center, the maps provided by the kiosk were created with up to date GPS technology, are extremely precise, and are available at all times, O’Quinn noted. “We feel like we’ve just gotten a new volunteer [with the kiosk] who knows all the information about the park, and is always here to share it,” he said.
CONSOL Energy Inc., which contributed $10,000 to fund the kiosk project, is the leading diversified fuel producer in the Eastern United States, is a member of the Standard & Poor's 500 Equity Index and the Fortune 500. CONSOL Energy has also been named to Forbes’ 2010 list of “The 100 Most Trustworthy Companies,” and received the 2011 Pittsburgh Business Ethics Award given by the Society of Financial Services Professionals, Pittsburgh Chapter. CONSOL has 11 bituminous coal mining complexes in five states and reports proven and probable coal reserves of 4.4 billion tons. It is also the leading Appalachian gas producer, with proved reserves of over 3.7 trillion cubic feet.
Dominion, which also contributed $10,000 to complete the project, is one of the nation's largest producers and transporters of energy, with a portfolio of more than 27,600 megawatts of generation. Dominion operates the nation's largest natural gas storage system and serves retail energy customers in 14 states. Dominion is currently building the Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center, a 585-megawatt power station, at St. Paul in Wise County. The station, which will supply enough electricity for 146,000 homes, will burn run-of-mine coal, waste coal and wood chips and will be one of the cleanest burning coal stations ever built in the United States.