Philippi Council considering welcome center

The Philippi City Council heard a proposal Tuesday that aims to revitalize the downtown historic district.

If the new vision becomes reality, anyone who crosses the Philippi Covered Bridge could eventually see a new Civil War-themed mural, a visitors center equipped with a cafe and a planned photo location for visitors that could have the signature bridge in its backdrop.

“I certainly think it’s an exciting project,” Mayor Jerry Mouser said.

To move forward with the project, property owners in the proposed locations along North Main Street near the Barbour County Historical Museum will have to be involved. Property owners include Carol A. Trust Turner, Hattie E. Cosner, Fulvia R. Franyutti, the Presbyterian Church and the City of Philippi.

The City Council would need to obtain the right-of-entry for the properties if it decides to move forward with the proposed project.

The old Marathon gas station would be renovated to accommodate the proposed cafe and visitor center. The mural would be next to the proposed cafe, as it would appear on the wall of the building next door. The proposed photography location would overlook the Philippi Covered Bridge from the Vietnam Veterans Park. The details were envisioned with a graphical model brought to the City Council meeting on Tuesday.

The vision for the proposed project comes from the Northern West Virginia Ground Field Assistance Service, which was created in 2005 by the West Virginia Legislature to help redevelop unused or abandoned sites. The model and details of the proposal were presented to the City Council, along with how a $2,000 mini grant would aid with the project planning costs.

Representatives of the organization, Patrick Kirby and Carrie Staton, said they wanted to hear what the community would like to see happen. Staton said part of the mini grant could go toward organizing a “vision aid event,” which she said should include the public, property owners and surrounding businesses, giving them an opportunity to learn about the proposal and also provide feedback.

“Our mission is to promote the economic development and environmental cleanup of ground fields,” Kirby said.

The proposed project is not the only one that aims to make Philippi more welcoming. Youth from the local community involved in New Vision Renewable Energy already are creating welcome signs out of plywood that will be visible from business store fronts. The youth involved have reviewed several possible logos for the signs.

The City Council rescheduled its August meetings because of the Municipal League conference to take place in Charleston. The new meeting dates will be 7 p.m., Aug. 13 and 22 at the Philippi City Hall.

The City Council voted to provide funds not to exceed $1,500 to the Philippi Little League to pay its utility bills, freeing the organization to use its existing funds for equipment and other needs. Annette Fetty-Santilli was reappointed to the Philippi Library Board for a term expiring June 30, 2018. Fran McCoy was appointed to the Philippi Library Board to fill the remainder of Barbara Kelley’s term. The term expires June 30, 2016.

In a work session prior to Tuesday’s meeting, the council members said that a draft of a proposed bath salts ordinance has been sent to the city attorney for review.