The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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April 27, 2013

Sophia looks for ways to bring in business

SOPHIA — The Town of Sophia discussed ways to bring tourism and economic development to the area Thursday night at a public forum at the City Fire Department.  

John Fanary, a member of Sophia’s Blueprint Community Team, said approximately 15 locals came to the meeting and one man drove all the way from Roanoke, Va., to share his idea.

“He seemed to be really interested in a museum for the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts.”

Rep. Ricky Moye (D-Raleigh County), Sophia Council members, and the city recorder also attended at the meeting.

Other ideas included a farmer’s market, tours of the Boy Scouts cabin, and an excursion train.

“We’re thinking about a farmer’s market in the downtown area where you could come and buy fresh produce,” Fanary said.

He said greenhouses could be established in the local communities and it’s something that they could start working on immediately.

Another idea is to offer tours to the Boy Scout cabin.

“From what I understand, it is the only one left standing east of the Mississippi. That is something to brag about.”

He said the cabin was taken down and reconstructed at another piece of the city’s property a while back.

“It’s beautiful. We’re thinking of showcasing some tours of that, so the Boy Scouts can show off their cabin to the other Boy Scouts visiting the Reserve.”

He said the cabin has an active troop with close to 100 members.

Also, as a long-term goal, the community hopes to have an excursion train ride that starts in Sophia and continues through Mullens, also a Blueprint Community, and Bramwell to highlight the area’s coal history.

“That is something we’re not going to give up on. That is something we really want to make happen.”

He added, “With Blueprint Communities, you have to identify your assets and your natural resources, then you have to figure out how to make those work for you.”

Those who were unable to attend the meeting are asked to share their ideas by writing the Town of Sophia, P.O. Box 700, Sophia, WV 25971.

The next meeting for the Blueprint Committee will be Monday, May 20, at 1 p.m.

The next training workshop will be held Thursday, May 30, at Tamarack.

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