About us

The Western Maryland Rail Trail Supporters (WMRTS)

The Western Maryland Rail Trail Supporters (WMRTS) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization of volunteers. Our current goal is to build a broad coalition of support for the effort to extend the Western Maryland Rail Trail westward through the 14 miles, 6 bridges, 3 tunnels and 2 States of the Paw Paw bends of Maryland and West Virginia.

The Steering Committee of WMRTS

The Steering Committee of WMRTS acts as a coordinator between the coalition, City, County and State agencies of West Virginia and Maryland, the C & O Canal National Historical Park, and varied funding sources, whose mutual cooperation is necessary to accomplish this large project.

There are six members of the Steering Committee of the Western Maryland Rail Trail Supporters (WMRTS). Each of our members brings to the table his or her own field of expertise and interests. It is a diverse group.  All of our members also belong to the C&O Canal Association, a group dedicated to preserving the history of the C&O Canal and protecting the natural resources and history of the Potomac River.

Committee Members

Penny Pittman, the Maryland Co-Chair of the WMRTS was born and raised in Little Orleans, MD and has been owner and manager of the very popular Weaver’s Restaurant in Hancock, MD for 15 years.  She has been President of the Hancock Chamber of Commerce for 6 years and sits on the Board of Directors of the C&O Canal Trust.  She is very active in civic affairs in both Washington and Allegheny Counties Maryland.

Bert Lustig, the West Virginia Co-Chair of the WMRTS grew up in Plainfield, NJ. He studied and received his PhD degree in Chemistry from the U. of MD in 1973 and moved to Morgan County, WV that same year.  Lustig has spent over 25 years as a full time designer/craftsman in wood and his creations have received numerous awards and have been featured in several national woodworking publications.
Lustig currently does woodworking on a commission basis, sells books from his new shop “Berkeley Springs Books” in Berkeley Springs and is a community activist on environmental issues.

Julie Kidwell was born and raised in Morgan County, WV and graduated from Paw Paw High School in 1981.  She attended Hagerstown Business College and received an Associate Degree in Accounting.  Julie is married and has two children. She is an accomplished photographer and loves recording the diverse landscape of the Eastern Panhandle.
During her tenure as Mayor of Paw Paw, she actively promoted the development of the Western Maryland Rail Trail, other local trails, tourism and preservation of the wild and scenic beauty of her homeland. Julie currently serves as Secretary for the West Virginia Rail Trail Council.

Donald Bowman is a native of Hagerstown and currently resides in Williamsport, MD.  In 1959 he founded a very successful trucking company, and currently serves as Chairman of the Board of the Bowman Group.  His company has grown to include sales, equipment, leasing, land development, hotel, food and hospitality businesses. He has held many offices in State and National Trucking Associations and he currently serves on the Boards of numerous civic and financial organizations.   His wife and he are avid bicyclists and have five grandchildren.

Matthew Donegan lives in Williamsport, MD. He has worked for the Bowman Group in Maryland in Public Relations, Human Resources and Land Purchasing.  He is a native of Hagerstown, has four children, and has participated in several countywide philanthropies. He, like the rest of us, hopes that future generations of tourists, hikers and bikers will get the opportunity to experience the beauty of the trail through the Paw Paw Bends.   

Mary (Emmie) Woodward is an octogenarian, native of West Virginia.   She has worked at the CIA, lived abroad, was a housewife and is mother of four children.  In midlife she started a nearly 30-year career with fund raising and subscription sales for the National Symphony Orchestra.  She loves opera, ballet, and especially hiking in the mountains and along the Potomac River on the C&O Canal towpath.  A member of the C&O Canal Association since the early 1960’s, she now serves on the Federal Advisory Commission for the C&O Canal National Historical Park.  Emmie was responsible for promoting the idea of developing the rail trail through the Paw Paw bends during the dark years of CO Canal NHP inaction until the project started to take root in 2004.