The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest News

July 26, 2013

Blueprint Communities learn how to better selves

BECKLEY — Business owners, municipal officers and other representatives of several local towns gathered at Tamarack Thursday to envision their cities’ futures and to set goals and gain knowledge on how to create those futures.

Sophia, Hinton, Richwood, Marlinton, Princeton and Bluefield were represented at the Blueprint Communities workshop, part of a 10-month program facilitated by The Hub, a statewide, nonprofit organization that focuses on helping communities improve in areas of finance, quality of life, civic engagement and social engagement.

Kent Spellman, executive director for The Hub, said The Hub and representatives of its funders, Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, selected the towns from among other communities that can potentially be impacted by the presence of the Summit.

“We’re working with these six communities to develop plans for strengthening their communities,” said Spellman. “Part of that plan is to assess what they have to work with in their communities.

“Part is to work with broader community, to engage them in determining broader aspirations for the community, and we work on putting together plans to go there.”

Spellman said the “team” from each town has been assigned a Blueprint Communities “coach” who will work with each team in helping to meet individual goals for each town.

He explained that many towns are interested in tourism-related economic development since tourism brings in “outside dollars.”

“They’re always looking for funding resources, that’s a given,” said Spellman. “But, for example, there may be somebody who has extensive experience at tourism marketing.

“If they have a tourism focus to their plan, they’re going to need to know how to market their community for tourism.

“Maybe their community has no brand, no logo to represent the community,” he said. “So we can connect them to someone who helps them develop a logo.”

The team from Sophia was focused on developing stronger tourism-based industry in order to bring people into the town and to get them to purchase from local businesses.

A “tire train” — a tourism locomotive — has been proposed for the city.

Sophia team member John Fanary, owner of the Stage Coach Salon, said his group — selected by Mayor Danny Barr — wants to build their community.

“When you build a community, you build your churches, your businesses, you build it up, you bring more people in,” he said. “It builds everything up so you can have a prosperous community with tourism and a lot of vitality.

“We are looking into the excursion/tire train, along with several other projects.”

Sophia members have planned a “weed-wacking drive” to bring Weed-eaters into Sophia to trim certain areas, Fanary said.

Blueprint Community seminar speaker Jean Ambrose of West Virginia Center for Civic Life urged teams to identify certain demographics who are not involved and to get them involved.

Fanary said he expects everyone in Sophia to be involved in the Blueprint Communities initiative to improve the town.

“We have a good group of people that like to jump in and help,” he said. “We don’t have glory takers.

“Everybody likes to pull together.”

The Hinton team is also focused on increasing the tourism trade, said Eric Pories, who is coaching the Hinton, Bluefield and Princeton teams.

“The program they’re involved in is more looking at how they may implement some things the community is really passionate about,” he said. “We have a community that struggles (to create) an economy that provides employment opportunities.

“Tourism clearly, for the southern Gateway to the New River Gorge, is a great opportunity.”

The presence of the Summit is likely to increase the town’s opportunities in meeting leaders’ tourism-related goals, said Pories.

“It’s something this community can leverage.”

Spellman said he reminds teams that their aspirations must be bigger than a single project and that they should focus on setting an overall vision for their towns.

“You must also have a lot of local businesses, niche retail and turn your community into a cultural center people will want to visit,” said Spellman.

“We want to make sure the communities are always asking, ‘Why do we want this?’

“It’s about creating a culture in your community that people want to be part of.”

The Hub, through Blueprint Communities, recently assisted a Wayne County team in securing a lodge and conference center for Beech Fork State Park. The team recently was able to get legislation passed to approve a $35.5 million bond issue.

The workshop Thursday, which focused on civic engagement, is the third of five. The last Blueprint Communities workshops will be held in September and November, Spellman said.

Coaches will continue working with their teams in the upcoming months.

—  E-mail: jfarrish@register-herald.com

1
Text Only
Latest News
  • W.Va., 11 other states, ask Supreme Court to declare new EPA rules illegal

    Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said Friday that West Virginia led a bipartisan group of 12 states that are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., to declare illegal a settlement agreement in which the EPA promised to issue its now-pending rule concerning existing coal-fired power plants.

    August 1, 2014

  • Ebola outbreak moving faster than control efforts

    An Ebola outbreak that has killed more than 700 people in West Africa is moving faster than efforts to control the disease, the head of the World Health Organization warned as presidents from the affected countries met Friday in Guinea's capital.

    August 1, 2014

  • Oak Hill man arrested for selling drugs to police officers

    A Fayette County man is in jail after his arrest Thursday evening for several drug offenses, according to a press release from the Fayette County Sheriff's Office.

    August 1, 2014

  • Suspect arrested, faces felony charges following shooting incident

    A Mercer County man was arrested and arraigned on felony charges Thursday after a domestic altercation led to a shooting incident in the Montcalm area of Mercer County.

    August 1, 2014

  • pittsburgh rally 5,000 rally in Pittsburgh against EPA Clean Power Plan

    The echo of people chanting, “Hey, hey, EPA, don’t take our jobs away” could be heard in downtown Pittsburgh Thursday. The voices came from about 5,000 United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) members and their families, along with other unions such as the Boilermakers and the Brotherhood of Electrical Workers International (IBEW), marching through the streets.

     

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo 3 Stories

  • Alpha plans to idle coal workers

    Approximately 1,100 employees at 11 Alpha Resources-affiliated surface mines, preparation plants and other support operations in southern West Virginia got notice late Thursday afternoon that their jobs could be in jeopardy.

     

    August 1, 2014

  • New rules to fight black lung disease kick in today

    Joe Massie has spent the last 22 years of his life fighting a disease that takes his breath away, a disease he contracted deep underground in the coal mines over a period of 30 years.  Black lung may take away his breath; it has not stilled his voice.

    August 1, 2014

  • target red Zero tolerance Target Red campaign hopes to lessen intersection crashes

    It happens every day. A driver hurries on his or her way to work, school or maybe nowhere in particular. Just ahead, a green light turns yellow. With a little more gas, the vehicle just might be able to clear the intersection before that light turns red. Or maybe not. 

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Alpha announces intention to lay off 1,100 surface miners

    The announcement dealt another blow to Appalachia's iconic, but dwindling, fossil fuel industry. The company said 2015 industry forecasts show Central Appalachian coal production will be less than half of its 2009 output. It's due to a combination of familiar factors, Alpha said: competition from cheaper natural gas, weak domestic and international markets and low coal prices.

     

    July 31, 2014

  • Justice mines have violations in 5 states

    A West Virginia coal billionaire has more than 250 pending violations at mining operations in Kentucky and four other states.

    July 31, 2014