Wyoming County Groundwork will move forward and may get some money from the county Commission to help pull down federal matching funds.

Ole Bye, Groundwork coordinator, explained the benefits of the program to commission members during their regular meeting Wednesday.

A feasibility study to determine if the national program will work in Wyoming County is underway, Bye told commissioners.

To move forward, the program needs $25,000 from county sources to match an $85,000 grant from the national program. Groundwork committee members are working to attract grants from local companies to come up with the $25,000. The committee hopes to get at least a portion of the needed funding from the commission.

If Wyoming County Groundwork moves forward, the non-profit will create three positions, including a director, a fundraiser, along with an AmeriCorps VISTA member.

Projects will focus on clean up, beautification, and increasing the county’s appeal to tourists, such as brownfield clean-up, removing abandoned housing, recycling programs, among others.

Additionally, committee members hope to create, and fund with grant monies, youth programs and senior volunteer opportunities.

Also, proposed projects include other tourism development opportunities, river access points and boat slips, a new shooting range, and sustainable business development, according to officials.

Commissioner Silas Mullins expressed reservations about providing the funding. He said community residents are tiring of studies and directors, which evolve into “more money” with nothing to show.

Dewey Houck, president of Rural Appalachian Improvement League, believes the program will produce substantial results and will draw in considerable grant money from private foundations.

Wyoming County Groundwork is an extension of Rural Appalachian Improvement League (RAIL), housed in the Mullens Opportunity Center.

RAIL has initiated numerous projects in the Mullens area, including turning the former grade school building into usable space. The building houses RAIL and Upper Guyandotte Watershed Association offices, provides business incubator space for local entrepreneurs, adult education classes, a public computer center with high-speed Internet, spaces for exercise and other health programs, and hosts a variety of community events.

RAIL also partners with mission groups to provide housing repairs and improvements for those in need.

The Outdoor Education Center, a landscaped garden which sits alongside a new stage and the MOC, allows visitors to identify trees, shrubs, flowers and wildlife native to the area as well as enjoy the tranquility of the space.

RAIL is now active in 13 southern West Virginia counties and those associated with the organization work “to destroy the root causes of poverty.”

Their most recent project is the 30-foot Mullens Outdoor Entertainment Center which will provide summer musical entertainment and other performing arts.

The stage will be used on the second and fourth Saturday of each month beginning at 6 p.m. for three performers — from bluegrass to rock, and between — to provide entertainment for area residents.

Each band plays for one hour and the music genres are different each Saturday, combining gospel, bluegrass, country, classic rock, among other types of music. On these Saturdays a $5 fee is charged to help offset costs for the bands.

In other business, the commission gave $5,000 to the Hanover Volunteer Fire Department to purchase a “breathing apparatus filler machine” from the Brenton department. The breathing paraphernalia is used by divers and firefighters. The Hanover department is training firemen to dive into nearby R.D. Bailey Lake for rescue operations, according to Ronnie Toler, department spokesperson.

Toler told commissioners the fire department is hoping to obtain a grant to purchase a new machine and, if that happens, will donate the one purchased from Brenton to the Alpoca fire department.

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