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Building a Vibrant Community — Reflections from a ‘new’ resident

Is Elkins a Vibrant Community?

My answer is yes. My wife and I returned to Elkins to retire after being away 40 years. Why Elkins you ask? I have lived and worked in many different communities, and I can see that Elkins and Randolph County have much to offer residents and visitors alike.

We have beautiful natural surroundings and many outdoor activities to enjoy. We have Davis & Elkins College, which provides numerous events, resources, and jobs. Plus, the music scene at Augusta is an important cultural element in itself.

A key part of a Vibrant Community is an attractive and safe downtown to draw people in. Downtown Elkins has the railroad, a one-of-a kind attraction that brings tourists from all over the country. There are unique shops and restaurants for all to enjoy. Woodlands Development’s senior housing meets a critical need. Renovations on the Tygart Hotel will hopefully begin soon, restoring an architectural gem to the city. Big Timber’s new taproom along the river will give residents AND tourists more reason to explore Elkins. The paving project alone was a big step in freshening up downtown’s appearance.

The future promises even more vibrancy for Elkins. 41 years ago, I remember a local newspaper article entitled “Corridor H: Don’t Hold Your Breath.” Today, we can realistically look forward to improved access to Elkins from across the region. This has huge potential to create opportunities we have not yet imagined.

Elkins has a lot to offer, but work needs to be done to for it to meet its potential. As with every community, there are always things that could use improvement. Vacant storefronts, user-friendly thoroughfares, clean streets and sidewalks. We want community residents and visitors to leave town with a positive impression and want to return.

The good news is progress has been made already. We have friendly people with a strong sense of community. The Forest Festival, the Arts Center, local churches, community organizations, and many more are working to make Elkins vibrant.

Cleaning up can be a community effort. Businesses and individuals can work together and expand on the accomplishments of Make It Shine and others. There may be outside funding to help these efforts.

Things may feel in limbo right now because of the pandemic, but there are great things happening even now. I’m glad I’m here at this time. I ask again, “Is Elkins a Vibrant Community?” My answer is YES!

Imre Barsy is a retired marketing executive. His wife, Debra, is a glass artist. Compliments of Tygart Valley Orthopedics and additional generous donors, the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber has free copies of “Building A Vibrant Community” available to those who are interested. Call 304-636-2717 today to get a copy of the book, or, better yet, to join the Vibrant Community movement.

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