Although the Covid-19 pandemic has slowed upcoming projects for the City of Mullens Foundation, the volunteers are still working to bring big improvements to the small town.
As it is with most southern West Virginia municipalities, Mullens cannot afford improvements to revitalize playgrounds, maintain the pool and perform landscaping among other beautification projects that require lots of elbow grease and money.
That’s where the City of Mullens Foundation comes into play, explained Barry Smith, foundation president.
The foundation recently completed major improvements to the town’s three largest playgrounds.
The municipal pool and the tennis courts are next, Smith said.
The pool filtering system has to be replaced, along with the intake and return lines, as well as addressing other maintenance issues, with plans for the kiddy pool, Smith said.
The huge project will be very expensive (initially estimated at more than $100,000), but it has to be done, Smith noted.
“We were close to raising all the money we needed to make improvements to the pool,” Smith noted.
Covid then put everything on hold and now the prices have increased substantially – up nearly $30,000 from the original estimate.
Smith hopes the work can be completed next summer.
“With Covid, there are so many variables now – the price increases and getting people to do the work,” he noted.
The foundation is also tapping state legislators for financial assistance and hope to use some of the federal pandemic stimulus money coming into Mullens, he said.
“We are still committed to this project,” Smith emphasized.
“If you want parents to move here, there have to be things for kids to do,” Smith said.
Foundation members plan to help in whatever way they can with the restoration of the historic Wyoming Hotel, according to Shirley Weaver, foundation secretary.
The Mullens Community Development Corporation, a local nonprofit organization, is working to restore the historic hotel as well as the nearby Webster Apartments building.
In 2019, the Mullens Community Development Corporation was awarded a $5,000 grant by the FOCUS (Foundation for Overcoming Challenges and Utilizing Strengths) West Virginia Brownsfield program.
Earlier this year, the hotel was selected, by Preservation Alliance of West Virginia, for a $6,000 Saving Historical Places grant.
The grant will be used by Peacework Development Fund to save the building from imminent danger of collapse by removing a fire escape.
Peacework Development Fund is an international nonprofit organization that works to alleviate poverty and economic disparity. The group supports community-based organizations, helps to develop strategic action, and enhances opportunities through networking and alliance building.
Weaver said the foundation will help provide grant writers who can help fund the hotel restoration.
The project will have to be completed one section at a time, Smith said.
“It’s going to take a lot of money and a lot of time,” he said.
Smith believes the next planned step will be to improve the front of the building.
Anyone who wants to make a donation to the hotel can do so through the foundation, Smith said.
“All they have to do is mark it for the hotel and we’ll see that the money goes to the hotel,” he emphasized.
Also, the foundation will start pushing to get a flood wall built around Mullens, Weaver said.
In 2001, the downtown business district was destroyed by floodwaters.
Mullens was hit hard again in 2008, Weaver noted.
Smaller floods have caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage as well.
“We’re committed to getting a flood wall,” Weaver emphasized.
Smith said the recreational trail system and the new four-lane link of the Coalfields Expressway into Mullens are bringing in visitors from across the country.
“We’re still committed to making Mullens attractive to visitors,” Smith emphasized.
Donations may be mailed at any time to City of Mullens Foundation, P.O. Box 266, Mullens, WV 25882.
For more information or to volunteer, contact Smith at 304-890-3149 or Weaver at 770-722-8438.