BY OLIVIA MCCONNELL, HUBCAP COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT COORDINATOR VISTA, THE HUB
The Hub’s fourth iteration of the Communities of Achievement Program (HubCAP) includes six communities from the Mon Forest Towns region. Each of these communities has created a HubCAP team of stakeholders and changemakers focused on expanding their outdoor recreational economy. The Southernmost town participating in this round of HubCAP is White Sulphur Springs, located in Greenbrier County. We spoke to two members of the White Sulphur Springs HubCAP team: Heather Hanna, Business Advisor with the Woodlands Development Group, and Katherine Shelton, owner of Barnwood Living, to learn more about their community’s goals for the future.
WV Hub: Why is the Mon Forest and outdoor recreation so important to your community?
Heather: White Sulphur Springs is lucky to be surrounded by a wealth of natural assets and recreation opportunities that bring visitors to and through town on a year-round basis. This includes folks going mountain biking, hiking, camping, fishing, and floating the nearby Greenbrier River. The White Sulphur Springs exit from Interstate 64 is a popular route for folks traveling to Snowshoe Mountain, bringing traffic through WSS even in the winter. All of these visitors and passers-through add to the economic opportunities for small businesses in the community. The availability of outdoor recreation assets contributes to the well-being of local residents who take advantage of them as well.
Katherine: The Mon Forest and outdoor recreation are some of the most important assets to our local community. As a nearly lifelong resident of my current community I really took the nature that surrounds me daily for granted. As I have grown and traveled I realized how very special these public outdoor recreation areas truly are for the communities that they are a part of. The recreation areas provide a place for everyone to get out, get active and enjoy the peaceful tranquility.
WV Hub: How do you see resiliency in your community?
Heather: In 2016, a thousand year flood event hit White Sulphur Springs, taking with it homes, businesses, and most tragically, many lives. Since the flood, local stakeholders have come together to begin an amazing transformation. The diverse offerings of the WSS community will contribute to its newly emerging economy and vitality. White Sulphur Springs offers everything from the world renowned Greenbrier Resort to a growing number of mountain biking assets, coffee shops, restaurants, and specialty retailers. The town’s ability to appeal to so many different groups of people will contribute to its long term success. The work happening to revitalize the downtown is creating excitement and pride in the community again. It is infectious and is causing an increase in the number of people who want to get involved and lend their energy to the rebirth of White Sulphur Springs.
WV Hub: What assets are you most excited to focus on or expand?
Heather: I would like to see water access and water trails better developed. Between the nearby Greenbrier River, and several creeks running directly through town, there are significant possibilities.
Katherine: We look forward to welcoming more people to our beautiful community so that they can enjoy the recreation opportunities, the pristine vistas, and the hospitality that we are so famous for.
Thank you to Heather and Katherine for their insight! Stay tuned for more stories about White Sulphur Springs as their projects progress.
Olivia McConnell is The Hub’s HubCAP Community Engagement Coordinator VISTA. You can reach her at email@example.com.