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A Leap of More Than Faith

By: Todd Baucher, Danielle Staub Email
By: Todd Baucher, Danielle Staub Email
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Update: 6/13/2013 6:15 P.M.

Marietta's mayor spent weeks working out details of Robbie Knievel's planned September jump. And, except for a few remaining legal issues, he believes, from a local standpoint, it's a go.

"I really believe it's going to happen," Mayor Joe Matthews said Thursday. "It's looking positive, based on the phone calls I've been getting. Like the newspaper, they had a guy working here and he said, 'I can't wait to come back for it'. I think there's going to be a lot of that."

The mayor believes the event, now set for mid-to late September, will fill motels within a 100 mile radius of Marietta. That means both southeastern Ohio and West Virginia. But what it's also intended to do is promote a planned recreation complex a Williamstown native plans to build just north of Marietta.

"We want to create a project for family values, " says Wei Sheng, Promoter, Outdoor Heaven, Inc., "to bring the tradition of self-reliance, and create jobs and inspire people to think outside the box."

Matthews mentions Lebron James as being among the sports stars interested in promoting the complex.

"Some of these people know other people in pro football, basketball and baseball, so, when you get people like that involved, other big names are also going to want to be involved. I hope and pray it happens, because it's going to be such a boon for this area."

A leap of faith, a leap of publicity-and, possibly, a leap to improve the area's economic future.

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UPDATE: 8:41PM

More preparations today, lining up all the barge's across the river.

Robbie Knievel was outside the Lafayette Hotel this morning measuring with his crew, firefighters and the barge's.
Knievel says this is one of the first steps in preparing for the jump.
10 to 15 barge's line up across the river, Knievel will ride a bike
from second street down a 20-30 foot drop onto a barge. Then
jump the distance of 25-30 cars in the middle and land on the other side.

"People think, well if he misses he is going to go into the water, no. If the bike with all the momentum going 80-85 miles per hour at the take off ramp, if it cuts out right before that take off ramp, all that
momentum, I won't be able to go anywhere but into the front of the landing ramp, so it's really high, it is going to be a spectacular jump," said Robbie Knievel.

Knievel says his knee is still hurting from his last jump nine years ago but he loves it, even though he knows its not easy.
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He may not be going to the moon, but a legendary stuntman is about to take a giant leap.

If all goes according to plan ... the unprecedented jump will take place in our area late this summer.

Like his legendary father, Robbie Knievel likes to think big.

But while Evel Knievel once tried, unsuccessfully, to jump a canyon, Robbie is thinking of a river. the Ohio River...from the Ohio to the West Virginia side.

Robbie Knievel, Stuntman: " We're going to pull up barges so far, that the distance will be about 30 cars. But it will be the first time I'll jump from state to state. From Ohio to Williamstown, West Virginia."

Perhaps lost a bit in this promotion, is who the event is intended to benefit. Wei Sheng is also thinking big. his company, Outdoor Heaven, plans a multimillion dollar recreation and tourism site, just off route 821 and interstate 77.

Wei Sheng, Promoter, Outdoor Heaven, Inc.: " We're going to combine entertainment, which is a 7,000 seat ampitheater, with a zipline, outdoor recreation, archery, shooting range, hotel, convention and exhibition center."

If it's built on schedule, which right now is 2015, it's estimated the complex would bring 500 jobs to the area.

Sheng is a Williamstown native, who lived there until 1984.
But while Sheng is thinking of the future, Knievel is thinking of calling it quits. If the Ohio River jump comes off, it might be his last in this country.

Robbie Knievel: " I'm going to London, where my dad once sold out Wembley Stadium, and use the same Harley motorcycle he did, and jump over 16 buses where my dad crashed on 13."

Depending on a tv contract, and other considerations, the jump could happen in mid to late September.

Todd Baucher, WTAP News, Marietta.


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