MY WHY by Missy Weddle
As a resident of Peterstown and a business owner in this town, I can’t help but to look around and see the town falling down around us. I see the businesses closing, the sidewalks crumbling, and old buildings being torn down. I see people with a look of hopelessness and not much pride in this town. I have said for years, something needs to be done with this town or we aren’t going to have a town. I feel we are holding on by a thread as it is. The only thriving businesses we have are the gambling (WV video lottery) places, which bring in next to nothing in revenue for the town. They bring in A LOT of money for the state and the business owners but only 2% of the net revenue for the county and less than .03% for the town of Peterstown. We currently have 3 and are getting 2-3 more within 5 miles of each other.
I would agree that something needed done with the old bank building (white building that was torn down), it was beyond repair. I wish we would have formed this group 20 years ago and took an interest in that building and saved it. However, we are here now and we want to make positive changes in this community. We want to create this community center to be a place for locals to offer lessons…painting, pottery, quilting, woodworking, music, dance and a venue for local performers to display their talents, both old and new groups. The Mountain Music Trail runs right through here and we could become part of that with the right venue. This will create tourism and generate revenue for our town. We then would be able to establish other tourism opportunities and market to those people that pass through here while traveling. Interesting fact…four years ago a study was done for the new bridge, and it showed that 11,800 vehicles crossed that bridge in one day. Let’s cut that in half because we all have to go out and back, and then take about 2,000 more off for those that cross more than once a day. You are still left with around 4,000 that cross that bridge a day. Why are they not stopping in Peterstown and spending money? Why are we a “pass through” community? Travelers don’t see anything interesting enough to stop and visit. We need to change that!! This building is the first thing you see when you cross into Peterstown, and into WV on Rt 219. We need it to welcome people, to say we are a charming, interesting and memorable town, stop and spend some time here. When you travel through downtown Lewisburg, Downtown Hinton, Pearisburg, Floyd, Galax, and many other towns that have invested money into rebuilding, what do you think? That is what we envision. That isn’t going to happen overnight, and it will cost a lot of money. We are going to seek grants, just like those other towns have done. However, in order to maintain the character and charm of this small town, we need to preserve the older buildings, fix them up, and offer something back to this community. Create pride and value to the people here. The E.I. Terry Co Buildings offer that, and are at risk of being torn down after the end of April, if we fail to raise the money to purchase them.
All of this will be an uphill battle. We don’t have the money, we are small, but we have heart! We have a town that is worth saving and we are a community that pulls together for each other. I believe this can happen and will happen when everyone sees the vision and gives what they can. It may not be money, it may be time and labor. Whatever you can give will help, and it will make a difference.
Sorry for the long post but I feel so passionate about this and I feel that I can no longer sit back and wait for someone to step up and do something. If I want to see change then I need to be the change. I hope others will join me in being the change they want to see.
Nothing gets done when everyone waits on someone else to do it!!