We continue our coverage of the Turn this Town Around Project. 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.
The application deadline has passed, but teams now have a two-week window to edit their proposals before funding decisions are finalized.
Grafton teams met Monday night. Amanda Yager, Director for Community Strategies for the West Virginia Community Development Hub, says there was a strong turnout of more than one hundred people. She says the teams spent a good chunk of their time helping each other through a peer exchange.
“So we asked the folks to take their application, go to another table and hand it to that other team," says Yager. "And it was really great to see them reading over each other’s applications and you could see people writing notes and making recommendations and really just working as a whole community.
Yager says 37 teams have applied for funding in Grafton. Each team hopes to receive up to $2,500 for their community-improvement project. There is enough to fully fund 20 projects, although some teams have requested less than the maximum amount.
Yager says a lot of the applications were still very vague, so they’ve asked them to use these two weeks to provide more detail. She encourages them to talk things through with one another and reach out to her if they have questions.
The Grafton teams who will receive funding will find out at their next meeting on September 8, 2014.
Yager is working with teams in Matewan as well as Grafton and says she can sense the excitement in both communities.
“It’s definitely been building," she says. "The momentum’s been building. I am really hopeful that that will continue, and I think that it will. And I like see that a lot of the projects have already kind of started even though they don’t necessarily have that money yet. You can see them meeting and coming up with the plans and they’re – you can really see the communities coming together.”