“We were absolutely delighted with the way everything turned out at the June meeting,” Region VII Executive Director Rosemary Wagner said. “The American Mountain Theatre proved to be the perfect venue for our meeting. The Holiday Inn Express Motel is so conveniently located to everything in town and the entertainment was wonderful. At that meeting, we had a delightful excursion on the New Tygart Flyer and were entertained at the AMT.
Among the many items of business undertaken by council was a review and approval of the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy and Rural Development Program for the upcoming year. The program, according to Wagner, is the centerpiece and plan of action for the region’s overall economic development program. It outlines the planning and implementation process designed to provide a mechanism for quality, to create jobs, foster more stable and diversified economies, improve living conditions and coordinate the efforts of people and organizations concerned with economic development.
Michael Masterman, originator and owner of Extreme Endeavors and Consulting Inc. (E2C) of Philippi, talked briefly regarding progress in their development of a tracking device he and his company are developing for underground miners.
The device, no larger than a deck of cards, will be worn by the miners and will transmit their whereabouts continuously while underground.
“The hope is to create a system that not only will enable rescuers to find miners who become trapped in a mine accident, but will provide a system of systems that utilizes advanced technology underground to prevent the accidents in the first place,” Masterman said.
Secretary of Military Affairs and Public Safety Jim Spears thanked Wagner and council members for their work in bringing Region VII into the planning of the five-state Urban to Rural Evacuation Conference at Snowshoe in June.
“This year has been and extremely busy and productive one,” Wagner said. “We created a white paper that identifies the needs of each of our counties. We began 2007 nearing the conclusion of our administrative responsibilities with two new programs. Region VII served as point of contact for Homeland Security issues as contracted by the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety. We also contracted as planning coordinators for the West Virginia Division of Transportation to develop a transportation plan for this region. We continue to work on numerous projects in various stages of development all across the region.
“The current project list contains 102 projects,” Wagner said. “During 2007, nearly 72 projects, proposals or environmental assessments were reviewed and discussed as requested. Currently, our staff is managing 16 projects with costs totaling $45 million.”
According to Wagner, Region VII is one of 11 RPDCs covering West Virginia that were authorized by enabling legislation of the West Virginia Legislature in 1972. Region VII serves the seven-county area of central West Virginia including Barbour, Braxton, Gilmer, Lewis, Randolph, Tucker and Upshur counties.
The RPDCs are a statewide network of cooperating organizations that provide a strategic array of services to support economic development, planning and inter-governmental cooperation. They perform as local, multi-jurisdictional agencies focused specifically on regional planning, community and economic development. Each council is directed by elected officials from the counties and communities within each jurisdiction, as well as non-elected appointees from a cross section of the region’s social and economic institutions.
The mission of the RPDCs involves the conversion of community and economic development needs into proactive strategies and solutions, often taking the form of regional projects or programs. Much of the RPDCs community and economic development efforts have been directed toward water, sewer and highway projects. Their roles range from regional planning for identification and prioritization of local goals and objectives to maneuvering the local, state and federal bureaucracies to pursue grants or project endorsements.
The RPDCs are authorized to receive and administer state, federal and private/non-profit grants. Each council employs a professional staff adept at public administration, regional/community planning and economic development.
The full council meets quarterly on the fourth Monday of March, June and September.
“We try to do something different for the December quarterly meeting,” Wagner said. “It’s a special time of year and we always try to do something a little more festive for this meeting. This evening is special too because we have four new members here that are attending their first meeting. We also have Rick Rice with us who was recently appointed as the state director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Region VII is located at 1 Edmiston Way, Suite 225, in Buckhannon. For information, call 472-6564 or visit www.regionvii.com.
DOWN TO BUSINESS — Executive Director of the Region VII Planning and Development Council Rosemary Wagner, left, discusses the agenda for the quarterly meeting in the 1863 Tavern at the Elkins Motor Lodge on Dec. 8. Region VII conducted its annual meeting in Elkins in June and leaders were so pleased with the city’s amenities that the members voted to come back to Elkins for their final meeting of the year. Joining Wagner in the discussion is Council Treasurer Debbie Snyder and her, husband Joe. Debbie Snyder is mayor of Thomas.