20 New Projects are Underway in Montgomery & Smithers

Congratulations to the communities of Montgomery and Smithers on their awards of 20 mini-grants in The Hub’s Cultivate WV program! These projects will serve diverse needs of residents of Montgomery and Smithers–providing signage, beautification projects, murals, food pantries, benches, community spaces, events, a community garden, and much more.

The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation is funding $40,000 in mini-grants to invest in the projects implemented by groups of at least three volunteers on the Cultivate WV Montgomery-Smithers team to make visible, measurable improvements to the communities. While completing the projects, participants will attend workshops with The Hub to help make the most of their new community assets. Support for Cultivate WV is also provided by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.

The two communities are working together to make positive change to the Upper Kanawha Valley within a unique model–the Strategic Initiatives Council, led by Mayor Anne Cavalier of Smithers and Mayor Greg Ingram of Montgomery. You can learn more about the Strategic Initiatives Council here. These projects will help strengthen the bond between the two communities, improve the quality of life of residents, and attract more visitors to the area. We can’t wait to see the projects in action!

The following projects will be implemented within a six month timeline:

Courtyard Beautification

The Courtyard Beautification project will provide the residents of the Montgomery General Elderly Care Center access to a beautiful outdoor space to visit with family members and to enjoy the beauty of nature. The project team will remove and replace the overgrown shrubs, provide the necessary maintenance for the trees in the outdoor space, repair and/or replace garden planters, plant perennial and annuals, clean the already existing pond, and purchase fish for the pond area. 

Montgomery Free Supply Pantry

The Montgomery Free Supply Pantry project will provide six pantries containing food and personal items throughout the area. Members of the community will be invited to donate canned food items and personal hygiene items to be placed in the pantries to be accessed by those who may be in need. 

BridgeValley Youth Outreach Program

The Youth Outreach Program is a project to support youth programs in the area. The programs include an art camp, STEAM camp, after school program, robotics camp, and robotics teams for fourth to eighth grade students in the Upper Kanawha Valley. The project team will utilize the makerspace at BridgeValley called the GRID and will have access to two large rooms to accommodate the youth activities as well as several other rooms in the space that could include activities such as pottery, sewing, and woodworking. 

Montgomery General Extended Care – Developing an Outdoor Space 

An outdoor space will provide 35 to 44 patients and their families a positive, serene, outdoor environment for visitation and socialization. The outdoor space will also be used for outdoor activities with the residents such as planting and taking care of small box planters that will be filled with flowers and vegetables. 

Public Art Mural 

The Montgomery Art Group and local youth will create a large mural that depicts interesting aspects of the town of Montgomery. It will be a landmark and welcome sign to the town that will be impactful, colorful, and visible to residents and visitors. 

First Friday Farmers Market 

The project team is starting a farmers market in Smithers to provide local, organic, and/or home-produced products to the residents of the Smithers/Montgomery area. As part of the monthly market, free educational and well-being activities will be offered. 

The Queen of Barks

Queen of Barks is a locally owned and operated small business working to bring pet care closer to home for the Smithers/Montgomery area. The project team is working to renovate the building where the services will be offered. The team plans to host a puppy-friendly meet and greet in the area as well as a regular puppy playgroup in one of the area’s parks. 

Smithers Welcome Sign 

The Smither Welcome Sign team will refurbish five older existing “Welcome to Smithers” signs by painting them and adding the metal city logo. The metal logo will be produced locally and volunteers will paint the signs. The team will also use this project as an opportunity to maintain and add new plants around the base of the signposts. 

Park at 5th and Lee Improvements 

The project team will paint the gazebo, install two lights to match the new street lights and set new plaques at the park. The team’s goal is to make the park more attractive and functional for small events such as the Gold Star Mothers event. 

River Cities Urban Trail 

The River Cities Urban Trail will be a designated safe sidewalk trail of approximately 1 to 2 miles within the City of Smithers. Sign posts and sidewalk stenciling will show distance markers so walkers know how far they have walked. A trail logo will also be designed. The project team will host a community-wide kick off event where residents and visitors will be invited to explore the walkway for the first time. The creation of formal or informal walking groups will be encouraged to get people to use the trail. 

Plein Air Art Fair Streetscape 

Local volunteers will work together to beautify and promote the City’s “Plein Air Art” Fair by preparing an artwalk and streetscape. The new decor will also act as an alert for drivers passing by to slow down and exercise extra caution around the pedestrians attending. The project will include three aspects: 1) a banner hanging over the street access to the off street fair; 2) two parking spots on the street marked off on fair nights as ‘art spots’ with small wooden benches, potted plants, and promotional banners; and 3) a colorful mural on the street surface. 

Envision Summit: Opening the Gateway

The project team will host a community workshop with Ed McMahon as their guest. Mr. McMahon will work with local community leaders, business owners and other residents to complete an area economic development feasibility study. He will share his ideas and lead a discussion for invited local leaders from public, private and potential sectors representing interest in the joint River Cities of Smithers and Montgomery. The goal of this project is to educate and motivate area residents and businesses to create and maintain a Gateway Community. 

Smithers Gateway Center Chair Yoga 

The team will establish a chair yoga class for the community and surrounding areas. A certified chair yoga instructor has volunteered to teach the class in collaboration. The instructor in collaboration with Active Southern West Virginia will become a certified community captain. The goal is to improve the health and mobility of the people participating in the classes.

City of Smithers Beautification 

The team will install benches and planters at the Magic Carpet location. There is currently no seating in this area and is a need in the community. The benches will provide a place for community members to sit and enjoy the area. 

Rt 60 Signage (Midtown, Westbound, & Eastbound)

Signage reflecting historic Midland Trail will be designed and installed along Rt 60 to direct vehicles to participating businesses and institutions in both Smithers and Montgomery. 

Park Improvement 

The project is to improve and update the small ark owned by the city of Montgomery located on Morris Drive. The team will work together to make repairs to the basketball court and existing swing set as well as add some picnic tables and waste containers for park visitors to utilize. 

Main Street Planters

This project is focused on beautifying the main street of town by providing color and definition. The team will purchase, install and plant flowers in new planters on 3rd Street in Montgomery. 

Smithers Community Garden 

The project team will establish a community garden located at the Gateway Community Center. Along with the garden, the WVU Health Educator for the county will offer nutrition and gardening classes to people of all ages. The team will be seeking additional funding as a part of this project to build a high tunnel. 

Beautify Montgomery with Flowers

The project team will plant flowers around town to beautify the city of Montgomery. The various areas around town include: the gazebo at the entrance of the city, the library, city hall, the bank, and several other prominent buildings. The project team is committed to tending to the flowers during the growing season. 

Appalachian Music Festival 

The Appalachian Music Festival is a planned four-day event (scheduled for August 25-29) that will provide music lessons, workshops and exhibitors during the day. On Friday and Saturday evening, local and regional musicians will provide concerts that will be open to the public. The festival will end with a gospel singing session on Sunday morning. The team is focused on 1) offering opportunities for lifelong learning and meaningful engagement with the arts; 2) perpetuating an appreciation for the history of Appalachian music; 3) showcasing and promoting regional talent; and 4) promoting young Appalachian performers. 

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Parsons

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future.

Message from our Executive Leadership Team

It has been a year of abundant opportunities and partnerships across the state, and a year that has pushed all of us to work harder, faster, and smarter – together.At The Hub, we say that “the work works when you put in the work.” This means that our approach to community-based development, and individual leadership development, really does transform local communities, especially when we all work together for the same goal, and stay committed to working together for the long haul.A growing number of towns across the state are putting themselves on the “growth map.” Princeton, Richwood, Elkins, New Martinsville, Parsons, Petersburg, White Sulphur Springs, and so many more communities we have worked with are all putting in thousands of hours of volunteer work. This commitment has helped local leaders improve their communities. These improvements can be seen increasingly through the growth of local economic and business development in each of these towns.We extend our deepest gratitude to everyone for being part of the larger Hub community as we reflect on this year’s deep impact in West Virginia communities through our work. We are thrilled to have champions who believe in our mission that every community in West Virginia can achieve economic growth when they are supported with the tools and training they need to lead and spark positive change.We believe strongly in the fact that putting in the work yourself to improve your neighborhood, your town, and our state is where true transformational change happens. With strategic partners and thought leaders like you in the work with us, we continue to be able to walk alongside community teams as they do the work to uplift their communities.Thank you to all of the community teams and leaders who are brave enough to keep showing up every day. Your determination in the face of difficult work and far-off successes is something to applaud yourself for, and celebrate together.Whether you’re volunteering on the ground in your community, sharing our stories of hope with your friends and neighbors, or attending a virtual event with The Hub, your participation in our work is what keeps it going. Thank you for all your work and support this past year, and we are excited to continue in the work with you in 2023!In Continued Accompaniment,

– WV Community Development Hub
Executive Leadership Team

Stephanie Tyree

Executive Director

Amanda Workman Scott

Director of Community Engagement

Katie Loudin

Director of Strategic Development

Montgomery

Residents participated in the Cultivate WV program to kickstart community and economy building. Read their community case study.

Smithers

Residents participated in the Cultivate WV program to kickstart community and economy building. Read their community case study.

Kingwood

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future.

Lewis County

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future.

Meadow River Valley Region

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future. Read their community case study.

Monticello Neighborhood of Clarksburg

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future. Watch their community documentary.

New Martinsville

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future. Read their community case study.

Partner Feature:

Our work is made possible thanks to incredible partnerships with other community development organizations across the state. From local economic development authorities (EDAs) to state level nonprofits working to uplift communities, all of our partners are crucial in making West Virginia the best it can possibly be by working together.One partner that made our work truly profound this year is Coalfield Development. For years, Coalfield Development has worked to rebuild Appalachian communities by inspiring the courage to grow, activating the creativity to innovate, and cultivating communities of opportunity in central Appalachia.We are proud to be part of Coalfield Development’s ACT Now Coalition, a broad network of organizations working hand-in-hand to uplift communities throughout Southern West Virginia. The ACT Now Coalition is infusing more than $63 million into programs to help communities using business development, building revitalization, and so much more.The Hub is leading the Community and Business Resilience Initiative as part of the larger ACT Now Coalition to bring other partners with us to build up community and business resilience in the Coalition’s footprint.“For decades, we’ve known the economy of southern West Virginia needs diversification. Some progress has been made on this goal, but not nearly enough,” Brandon Dennison, CEO of Coalfield Development, said about the ACT Now Coalition. “ACT Now constitutes a tangible opportunity to take a major leap forward in this generational challenge to become a vibrant, growing, diversified economy. In the wake of continued coal-job losses, nothing could be more important for our region.”Our partnership with Coalfield Development is giving us a chance to take our work to new communities and to build upon our years of experience. Working alongside Coalfield Development in this large undertaking to bring $63.8 million to communities in Southern West Virginia is validation that the work happening to uplift West Virginia communities continues to grow.

Community Feature:

The Hub works alongside communities across West Virginia coaching community teams as they come together to make transformative changes in their towns. In 2022, one town stands out for its continued work and unwavering commitment to making its community a place where people want to live, work, play, and visit.Petersburg, located in Grant County at the northernmost point of the Mon Forest, is filled with community members who want to make their town a destination. Not only have businesses opened, and stayed open, the town has transformed the way they present to the world through rebranding and outdoor recreational development.As part of the HubCAP IV program, Petersburg utilized its technical assistance to push forward with projects to bring transformative change to its community. Part of the work Petersburg worked towards was creating plans to pave a hike and bike trail that runs along the Petersburg dike. The proposed trail will run approximately three miles along the Petersburg dike and will include multiple entrances for walkers and bikers. The group secured a $25,000 grant from Senator Hamilton, which was matched locally by the City of Petersburg, the County Commission, and the Board of Education, each adding an equal share to bring the total to $50,000.This year, Petersburg witnessed a major upgrade to one of the town’s most iconic and historic structures: The Hermitage Inn. The hotel, which dates back to 1841, has been renovated and once again welcomes guests to stay the night and have a nice dinner in the restaurant.The Hermitage Inn is the first project initiated and completed as part of the Downtown Appalachia: Revitalizing Recreational Economies (DARRE) program. Seeing the old hotel returned to its majesty has been an incredible development for Petersburg adding another jewel to the downtown area.Seeing Hub communities come together to create transformative change thrills us. Community members are the subject matter experts on what their towns need. Our commitment to accompaniment and walking alongside communities as they do the hard work guides us in our work. Celebrating their victories with them gives us a moment to uplift those making the work happen.

Elkins

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies. 

A core team led by Woodlands Development Group also participated in Opportunity Appalachia, receiving technical assistance to support a community development project located in an Opportunity Zone.

Franklin

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies.

Marlinton

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies.

Petersburg

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies.

White Sulphur Springs

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies.

Charleston

A core team led by Crawford Holdings, LLC participated in Opportunity Appalachia, receiving technical assistance to support a community development project located in an Opportunity Zone.

Huntington

Core teams led by Thundercloud, Inc. and the City of Huntington participated in Opportunity Appalachia, receiving technical assistance to support community development projects located in Opportunity Zones.

Grafton

A core team led by Unleash Tygart, Inc participated in Opportunity Appalachia, receiving technical assistance to support a community development project located in an Opportunity Zone.

DEI Journey:

Since 2018, The Hub has been working diligently to bring Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion into our work. For years, the organization has been working internally to expand on one of our core values: “We believe diversity creates strength.”We believe that now is a time when we must work from the ground up to commit to long-term efforts to build power through leadership development, programmatic strategies, and partnerships that commit to building power and advancing racial equity.Looking back at our organizational history, we acknowledge that our work in rural communities with populations of less than 15,000 has not reached a diverse cross-section of people in West Virginia. Because of this, we began to ask, “Who isn’t here?” when examining our involvement in communities. The social unrest in 2020 led us to examine our role in white supremacy, ableism, classism, and gender discrimination, and the ways we have perpetuated unjust systems in our communities and across West Virginia.Since 2020, our equity journey has included a staff racial equity learning series, making internal commitments to increasing our hiring and retainment of diverse staff including creating full-time Racial Equity Fellowship and VISTA positions, committing to increased coaching for rural communities of color across the state, and tackling the inherent challenges of advancing equity across the community development field within a highly rural, majority white state where Black and brown leadership has been historically marginalized and under-invested.Our belief in the power of local people to see the value and the potential of their place, and of each other, is at the core of our belief in the potential we have to build power in West Virginia to advance racial equity, inclusion, and accessibility while disrupting systems that have historically excluded some communities.We are committed to engaging in conversations to uplift communities and leaders of color to move from talk to action on why race matters in West Virginia as we work to disrupt these systems. We will support investment in Black-led organizations and rural Black leadership. And we are committed to driving public and private investments into these spaces, both organizational and geographic.

Cowen

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies. Read their community case study.