By Sarah Plummer
The Upper Big Branch Mining Memorial Group is set to embark on its second large project, one that will reference the area’s rich coal heritage while improving the quality of life for area residents.
The project, a new riverfront park, will be located at the former site of a public pool in Whitesville near the Upper Big Branch Miners Memorial.
The Coal Heritage RiverWalk will be a nod to the state’s rich coal heritage, according to Mike Gwinn, vice president of the memorial group. It will include two picnic pavilions, a stage and a riverfront walking trail. Green space at the park is designed to be used for community movie nights, concerts and annual events. Future expansion could include a structure that will serve as a museum. All structures will have details that are reminiscent of the bygone era of the coal company store, he said.
To get the community excited about the new project, the Upper Big Branch Mining Memorial Group has partnered with Catholic Charities of West Virginia to host the first ever Health and Wellness Expo in the area from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 25 at the Raleigh-Boone Technical Center, formerly Pettus Grade School.
“Although there are many opportunities in the urban areas for this kind of event, it is the rural areas that seem to be missed opportunities where there is a much greater need, said Sue Pauley, Whitesville-Pettus outreach coordinator.
“Our Health and Wellness Expo will be free to the public and allow our families in this community to have access to free screenings and educational materials,” she added.
Gwinn said renderings of the new park will be on display at the expo and anyone who walks a mile the day of the event will receive a free T-shirt and pedometer.
Participants will also be entered for a chance to win a gift certificate for a pair of athletic shoes.
The Expo will offer seniors, children and families information and practical tools in becoming more engaged in their own health and well-being, said Gwinn.
The event is free to attend.
Rob Dinsmore, designer of the UBB Miners Memorial, will be the head architect on the Coal Heritage RiverWalk.
More renderings of the new park will be released in the coming weeks.
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