Rotary learns about Create Buckhannon

Rotarian Rich Clemens talked about Create Buckhannon in a program he presented last week to the Buckhannon Rotary. Club.

Create Buckhannon is an organization that meets every Thursday at noon on the second floor dining area of the Buckhannon CJ Maggies. Everyone is invited to attend the meetings and provide ideas, reactions, feedback and support to the group. The club has no membership dues or member hierarchy.

“It’s a conversation about Buckhannon. It’s a conversation about the kinds of things that could be done,” Clemens said, adding that those who come are asked to donate $7 to help pay for the buffet luncheon. “It’s truly a grassroots organization.”

Clemens said Create Buckhannon began about five or six years ago, but was not generally well known to the community at first. The organization was a team of about 40 individuals who worked behind the scenes to discuss all the good and bad issues about Buckhannon.

“We’re not trying to do this just for a particular set of activities within the city. This is for the community. This is for the region,” Clemens said, adding that the organization would also like to help the extended region of Weston and Elkins. “We’re all in this together. When people come to visit this part of the state, they’re in the region. We need to support that, and we need to encourage that as best we can.”

He said the idea of Create Buckhannon is to work together to enhance the entire community.

“It kind of grew to become, with the realization that some of the major initiatives that happened in this community, particularly in economic development, were not brought by the city or the county or any government agency,” Clemens said, “but was brought by a team of about 40 individuals who were responsible for just having conversations about the direction of the community.”

Clemens said that in the last two or three weeks, 43 people have attended the meetings to discuss ideas that are not necessarily the responsibility of the governing agencies of Buckhannon.

Create Buckhannon has been involved with a number of projects over the years, including Festival Fridays at Jawbone Park and the planned design for the town square.

The organization also worked with the local farmer’s market on the design of Jawbone Park and helped coordinate the United States Department of Agriculture grant for the park by bringing the groups together who would work on the project.

“Maybe we’re bringing groups together that don’t normally talk, or we include groups that are interested in seeing something done, but they don’t know the other group is trying to do that,” Clemens said.

Create Buckhannon has assisted in acquiring the ownership of the Latham House, an historical Civil War-era home within the city limits. Clemens said it would take a while to restore the home again to usability, but the foundation has been put in place and the home is now stable. He said the organization is looking into grant funding as a financial aid in restoring the property.

Clemens said the organization worked with the state highway department on lighting and the four-way stops. He said the idea was to encourage traffic to move through town, but slow traffic down to make the downtown area safer for pedestrians.

Create Buckhannon also has helped with the 2015 plan for Buckhannon, various city organizations in public planning meetings, street signs, historical signs downtown, the LED lighting that highlights the buildings along Main Street and much more.

“Create Buckhannon is trying to do all we can to help support their growth,” Clemens said, adding that the organization is working with the local Chamber of Commerce to create a map of the city.

The map will save revenue by preventing the city from having to pay for a non-local mapping agency.