Officials, alumni meet at the Elkins Railyard

ELKINS – Leadership West Virginia participants, alumni and community leaders gathered Wednesday evening at the Railyard Restaurant in Elkins for a welcome reception, looking to network and learn about concerns and successes in the local area.

Pam Farris, executive director of the program, said several folks from the area came together to host current class members of Leadership West Virginia, who will be in the area through Friday learning about economic development.

“We are excited that several folks came together to welcome us to the area,” Farris said. “(Today) we will begin focusing on what’s happening in the area while learning about the railroad and the wood industry.”

Today, participants will travel to Armstrong World Industries and Allegheny Wood Products.

“We will tour the facilities and then go on a train ride,” Farris said. “We will have speakers while we are on the train, including Charlie Friddle of First Energy, Robbie Morris of the Randolph County Development Authority, and (the) commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, Randall Reid Smith.”

Farris said participants will learn West Virginia trivia on the train ride back.

“On Friday, Leadership West Virginia members will do an economic simulator game and will learn about bringing businesses into their communities,” Farris said.

She said folks interested in joining the program should go to the website at

“It details what we are looking for in candidates for the program and the application,” Farris said. “We are looking for those involved in their communities and those with movement and experience within their career.”

Karen Jacobsen, executive director for the Randolph County Housing Authority, said she is a graduate of the Leadership West Virginia program.

“I was in the class of 2006,” Jacobsen said. “It is a great way to celebrate West Virginia. You spend about nine months traveling in two-day increments around the state. As you go to the different areas, you learn about small business, education, higher education, government, history and tourism.”

Jacobsen said participants get to know a lot about the different areas of the state.

“Participants are taking the train to the High Falls (of Cheat today),” Jacobsen said. “They will play a game about the history of the Civil War and there is networking with others. Others from other sectors do interesting things and it’s great to talk with them. Coming from the non-profit sector, I have met some great attorneys, folks who work in the government and private business people, all of whom I keep in contact with.”

“It’s about building your network with other people and growing and learning professionally,” Jacobsen said. “You learn more about your state and celebrate it. It is a sense of pride.”

Anne Jones, executive director for the Tucker County Development Authority, said she is considering entering the Leadership West Virginia program.

“It is a great way to meet bankers, businessmen and attorneys,” Jones said. “You also learn about things that are helpful for your home county.”

Jones said the program is appealing to her because she feels she doesn’t know enough about West Virginia.

“To get out and meet the people I know on the phone in person and build relationships is crucial,” Jones said.

Additional information about the Leadership West Virginia program is available by calling 304-342-1497 or by emailing Farris at