This is part of our continuing series on how the towns of Grafton and Matewan are turning themselves around through a special collaborative project between West Virginia Public Broadcasting, West Virginia Focus magazine and the West Virginia Community Development Hub.
Members of the Matewan community took part yesterday in the latest meeting about ideas to turn things around in the southern West Virginia City.
Citizens of the small town in Mingo County are following the steps carefully outlined by the West Virginia Development Hub to take their ideas from paper to a reality in the community. People like Kathy McCoy say the community means too much not to.
“Well I think most of the people that are hear love our community and live here and we all have a goal to see that things do better and I just feel that’s the type of people we need to jump on board,” McCoy said.
McCoy is the owner of Hatfield McCoy Inn and Wingos Grill in Matewan. She’s had to file bankruptcy twice in her 20 years as a business owner. McCoy said the community has never done a great job at highlighting what’s already there.
“You know I think it’s great that we have ideas to move forward with and bigger things, but I think if we would take it one step at a time and advertise what we do have and clean and open up some of our historical sites that we have in town. I think there is a whole lot that we can do,” McCoy said.
Besides also taking part in the latest Turn This Town Around Workshops yesterday, it was announced that a grant of $3,000 was presented to groups focused on making Matewan a Bike Friendly Community and improving exercise environments in the town. It was one of 46 proposals in the state for the Try This mini-grant program to help different communities improve their area. Kelly Webb is part of the group trying to make the town a Bike Friendly Community.
“One thing I’m trying to implement is the bike friendly Matewan and there is actually a huge market for bicyclists and what people don’t understand here is that the trails are a natural form and are something that they can truly use and we already have the resources and it’s just an extra effort,” Webb said.
The My Mobile Market also presented local families with $30 vouchers for kids to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s the progression of the ideas that will wake up the area says Russell Smith.
“I’ve seen it do some great things and I’ve seen it start to fall asleep as if the whole city was just falling in on itself and I want to take wake it back up and the Turn This Town Around program seems to be offering the best chance to get people involved and excited about their community again,” Smith said.
Smith said it chance to keep Matewan from drifting away like other small towns.
“We’re at the crux of historic opportunities throughout the early 20th century, mine wars, the forming of the UMWA has its heart in this area this town needs to be preserved even for that alone,” Smith said.
Smith said they can’t waste their chance.