As part of the HubCAP V cohort work, community teams are developing blogs to share what they are learning and hoping to accomplish during their time in the program. This blog is authored by members of the Weston HubCAP team, located in Lewis County, WV.
At the end of April, members of the community of Weston had the opportunity to attend the first of our HubCAP V group sessions with our cohort communities. This meeting came on the heels of a kickoff meeting that saw a large turnout from the public, building off of the momentum of the recent Lewis County Blueprint Communities® program*. In this initiative, members of Weston and the Blueprint Communities® Committee have worked together on trail planning, dilapidated buildings, and activities programming.
Weston will join Smithers, Montgomery, Oak Hill, and New Martinsville as we learn the steps and processes to make our community a better place. Each community had the opportunity to share their experiences and challenges and what they hoped to glean from the agenda during the group session.
Through this program, Weston will attempt to develop a vision for a community-led economic development and community revitalization practice. As part of the first cohort meeting, the Weston team heard from various presenters on resources available and past experiences with these types of efforts.
“We saw, at the kickoff, a variety of different people presenting projects and goals,” says Ray Smith, the Executive Director of the Lewis County Economic Development Authority. “No matter which project, the real transformation of our county will be the desire to bring everyone together–listening, talking, inviting others, and collaborating to benefit all.”
One of the most exciting presentations was the discussion with Buckhannon community members that detailed their 20- to 30-year effort of the grassroots-led revitalization of their downtown. Being a neighboring community to Buckhannon, Weston residents are often left wondering what we could do more to see the kind of progress Buckhannon has experienced. CJ Rylands discussed the start of his popular C.J. Maggies restaurant and the weekly meetings they have for Create Buckhannon in addition to strategies used to keep momentum and progress moving forward. Participants from Weston left with a desire to see a similar effort furthered in our community.
The group session concluded with a walking tour of Buckhannon and inspection of downtown improvements made. One of the key parts of the tour was the revitalization of the former swamp now known as Jawbone Park, and the artistic alley and growing arts district that leads to the Lascaux Micro Theater and future Colonial Arts Center. Pictures from that tour are shown in this article.
The Weston team will look to continue having coaching sessions and brainstorming project ideas until their next group session meeting in July of 2023. Please feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved.