As the Boone County roads twist and turn with the ups and downs of the West Virginia mountains, they uncover many small, often overlooked towns. Nestled in the heart of these hills lies Whitesville, a town known for its deep roots in the coal mining industry.
In recent years, the West Virginia coal mining industry has taken a hit that has left its miners and mining towns damaged. As feelings of discouragement spread throughout, towns such as Whitesville are left to redirect themselves and discover their new purpose within the Mountain State.
Amazingly enough, despite having every reason to give up, back down, and let their town continue on its current path, Whitesville residents rise to the challenge placed before them—they fight each and every day for their town and its revival.
Turn this Town Around has paired with Whitesville in an attempt to rehabilitate the town. In the past year, thousands of dollars have been raised in the name of this effort and the people of Whitesville show no signs of lost momentum or drive. In the face of adverse challenges, this initiative perseveres backed by enough hope, love, faith and dedication to fill the entire state.
After getting to know Whitesville through the eyes of the people who call the quaint, off-the-grid town, ‘home,’ I have developed a great sense of respect, affection and admiration for the town and those within the city limits. I have come to realize that Whitesville is a special place; it is where everyone knows everyone, it is a breath of fresh air and it is everything that we love, so dearly, about our great state.
In joint efforts with the people of Whitesville and the Turn this Town Around initiative, my team and I have developed a campaign to better the town, both economically and socially via the formation of mutually beneficial community relationships throughout Boone County.
Route 3 is a winding, mountainous road that passes through numerous rural, aspiring towns, much like Whitesville. These towns tend to be interdependent on one another; therefore, the survival and prosperity of one leads to the eventual prosperity of many. Our overarching thought was that in order to benefit the town of Whitesville, the entire Route 3 region needs to be strengthened, conditioned and provided basic tools to withstand the desired increase in popularity and visitation.
In developing this continuous campaign, a constant reminder of the town’s values, self-proclaimed purposes and goals were kept at the forefront of our planning process. We frequently raised questions about how Whitesville residents currently see their town, where they want to see their town in the future and how we can reach the desired goal helped to keep our ideas fresh and innovative without straying far from the town’s roots and aspirations.
Eventually, the following plan was put together:
Connect Charleston, West Virginia to Beckley, West Virginia via the utilization of Route 3.
Charleston and Beckley are two thriving cities in West Virginia. Located between the two, lies none other than the town of Whitesville. Gaining the support of both the Charleston and Beckley Community Visitor’s Bureaus (CVB’s) in an attempt to rehabilitate the Route 3 region, would bring attention to the campaign, while also attracting a substantial amount of possible economic and social development contributors. Publicizing these partnerships through local newspapers and press releases would give our campaign the momentum it needs in order to be successful in the long run.
Establish mutually beneficial community relationships with a common goal of economic and social development throughout the Route 3 region.
Two things that the people of West Virginia seem to have in common, regardless of geographic districts and regions, is a sense of state-wide pride and a love for their mountainous home. Working with towns along Route 3, such as Sylvester and Comfort, with an agreed understanding of the shared goals will benefit the region in a way that uplifts it as a whole rather than as individual pieces. Each town along the Route 3 trail needs to be informed, updated and made constantly aware of the potential for growth throughout their small-town communities in hopes that these West Virginia towns will get onboard with the plan for a better, stronger eastern Boone County region.
Have a monthly poker run schedule established that starts in Charleston, proceeding along Route 3 to Beckley.
After much thought and consideration, my group determined that the best way for Whitesville to be enriched was to enrich its surrounding towns as well. In order to do this, we decided to plan a monthly car drive or motorcycle ride that begins in Charleston and ends in Beckley—subsequently leading through the Route 3 region’s townships. As these car enthusiasts and motorcyclists drive over the rivers, through the mountains and across the state, they will be presented with all that each town along their path has to offer. Partnering with local bars or restaurants in these towns at both the starting point and ending point, provides an incentive to take part in the poker run, while also benefitting the establishments agreeing to partake in the effort.
Schedule an event or source of attraction to Whitesville on the given day of the poker run.
When was the last time you put down your cell phone to enjoy a breathtaking view? When was the last time you let yourself truly disconnect from the outside world? When was the last time you rode through the mountains, enjoying the scenery and some good music with your family? When was the last time you had an outdoor picnic? Welcome to Whitesville, a rural, rustic town that will allow you to do all of these things and so much more. As people ride across the Route 3 region, they need to be given an incentive to stop in Whitesville and see, firsthand, what the town’s residents see each day—a town starving for commerce and increased interaction; a town with more to offer than has even yet been realized. Capitalizing on the rural and naturally separated state of Whitesville by providing the poker runners with a picnic lunch experience would utilize the town’s serene atmosphere to draw in a customer base without disrupting its beloved old-fashioned ambiance. This offering, unique to Whitesville, would be advertised and promoted in the newspapers of surrounding, bustling towns such as Charleston and Beckley, therefore appealing to a larger audience base.
Upon the execution of this plan, our hope is to revive the entire Route 3 region while also restoring the unique, quite special town of Whitesville. Whitesville was a town built on foundation of hard work in the West Virginia coal mines and its residents have carried its roots close to their hearts for many, many years—Whitesville is a town filled with dedicated, loyal and faithful people—Whitesville is deserving of visitor attention and community pride—Whitesville is a town to be proud of.
My name is Tori Brown, and I’m a strategic communications major with an emphasis in advertising in the Reed College of Media at West Virginia University. My position is Public Relations Director, and we are working with Whitesville, W.Va. this semester. My goal is to establish seamless and frequent relations with local media that will work to benefit the town of Whitesville and its beloved residents.