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Add Kump Center to first annual report

Thanks to Lisa Wood, director of the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce, we have been building a more “Vibrant Community.” Even the coronavirus has not stopped thirty-some businesses from making improvements during the last year.

The Inter-Mountain’s “Lifestyles” section listed these vibrant businesses last week in an article about the first annual 2020 Vibrant Elkins–Randolph County community report compiled by Randolph County officials, under a delightful photo of the dancing couple at Myles Center, but the report forgot to add Kump Education Center improvements.

KEC is a nonprofit member of the chamber, but we have made many improvements in our facility providing jobs for local contractors during this pandemic. Last spring Brian Shourd of Cardamone Historical worked with AmeriCorps member Frankie Evans to rehabilitate the crumbling plaster on the second floor for new rental space.

In the summer Edward Devine of Middle Fork Builders worked with Kevin Taylor of Graham-Simons Plumbing to renovate the 95-year-old plumbing and add waterproof shower walls. We also added a new stove and floor covering in the kitchen and a new water heater connected to the gas boiler system. This month Triangle Heating added a heat pump with an “air scrubbing” device that makes our main classroom safer from the virus, and Devine and Shourd renovated a basement area for a new classroom and emergency exit.

According to Quint Studer, author of “Building a Vibrant Community,” education is the second most important factor that contribute to economic growth after new jobs. At KEC we believe that a well-trained work force is the best way to attract businesses that can offer better paying jobs to support young families. In our new Altice Learning Lab, we have the basic technology for 21st Century students, and we support teacher professional development in this time of online learning.

When we started planning our Tech-Link Tutoring in June for our 2021 Neighborhood Investment Program project, KEC board member Pris Gay suggested we ask Lisa Wood to help us find college interns who might work with us. Although the chamber/college internship program had been postponed, Lisa suggested that we call the Career Center at Davis & Elkins College. Chris Jones, Career Center director, was a great help in finding bright college students who want to tutor kids.

Vibrant Communities always recognize that education is essential for building a strong economy. Elkins is a town where public-spirited businesses strongly support public education. All three local banks contributed funding for National Board Certification of Teachers. Thank you to Richard Harvey at Mountain Valley Bank, Nathaniel Bonnell at Citizens Bank of WV, and Hugh Hitchcock at Davis Trust Company. Allegheny Insurance gave generously to support NBCT teachers thanks to Jay Wallace and Kenny George. Although Steve and Jean Jory are retired, they also donated to this KEC program to enhance teacher excellence.

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