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Downtown Merchants Reflect on 2007, Look Ahead to 2008

January 12, 2008
Wayne Sheets, staff business writer
The first Downtown Merchant’s meeting took place on Tuesday with President Ed Griesel at the helm. He came out of the gate at full gallop. First, he, and those in attendance, looked back at 2007 with a short review of what was, and was not, accomplished. From observation, it appeared that everyone was fairly satisfied with their accomplishments, but readily admitted more might have been done. They are not a group to sit still for long, though; that segment lasted only a few minutes and then it was “on to the future.”

This first meeting of the new year brought two new faces to join those of the regular crowd — Tammy Dolly, owner of Tammy’s Floral and Bridal Gallery, and Nancy Barlow, executive secretary for the Wood Technology Center. Since I began writing this column, I’ve advocated that more business owners, and not just those of the downtown area, get involved with this group. They need the input of everyone. Attending these meetings is like voting; it gives one the right to criticize legitimately.

Ellen Spears, executive director of the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce, commented on everyone’s positive attitude during the past year and how well the group worked together and with the chamber of commerce as well.

“This time last year we were sitting here in this very room talking about the completion of the American Mountain Theater and the railroad coming back into the Elkins Depot. We talked at length about what these two entities would bring to Elkins. These things are now a reality. They have brought thousands of visitors to our city along with the thousands of dollars they left behind as part of our growing tourist industry. We have proven that we are an effective group that can get things done,” she said. “I realize that there is a lot more to do, and I believe, based on what we’ve done this past year, we will accomplish those things that need to be done to keep our community and county prosperous and growing. Our future is now, not some distant time in the future.”

Elkins Mayor Judy Guye suggested that a means of getting our visitors to patronize more of the downtown stores must be achieved. She said that some of the merchants have experienced a noticeable increase in business since the train became operational and the American Mountain Theater opened. However, there needs to be some kind of map in a readily accessible location that shows what our town has to offer. There must also be some form of schedule accessible to them that will inform them of the train and show times. With this schedule, they will know just how much time they have to spend downtown between events without fear of missing their main attractions.

The merchants agreed, and I’m sure they will find a way to do what needs to be done to remedy the problem.

I have heard comments over the past six or eight months that some merchants are reaping the benefits of the increased traffic while others aren’t. I feel certain that this is true, but the fix to this problem is not to sit idly by and complain. The fix is to join the meetings every other Tuesday and help find a solution. If you can’t attend the meetings, I’m sure Griesel, or any other of the members, would be available and happy to talk to you at any time. Contrary to what I’ve heard said many times, the downtown merchants that meet twice monthly are not a group of self-serving people. They are a group that has the interests of everyone at heart. An example of this is Tammy Dolly’s attendance, for the first time, on Tuesday seeking a way of getting our visitors to her place of business.

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As I said in the first paragraph above, the folks at the meeting didn’t dwell on what might have been for long. They’ve already begun to make plans for the July 4 celebration. That may seem a long way off, but as always, it will be here before we know it. If you would like to be a member of the planning group, get in touch with the Chamber of Commerce office at 636-2717.

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This is the centennial year for the Elkins Depot and a celebration is already in the early stages of planning. What great things have happened in and to this facility over the past year. Over 18,000 visitors passed through its portals in 2007 – an indication that the railroad is once again becoming a major player in the area’s economy. Not only is it now the major source for local tourist information, the building once again houses the central operations of the New West Virginia Central Railroad. Who would have ever imagined when on Oct. 16, 1992, the rail bridge crossing the Tygart Valley River was unceremoniously destroyed that railroading would ever see such a revival in Elkins?

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Cardinal Gifts and Gardens along with the other family business, Jo Jo’s Floral, are moving to their new location at 124 Third St., the old Montgomery Ward building, located across the street from Citizens National Bank. The move is taking place this weekend.

Jo Jo said, “We are consolidating the family businesses at one location that gives us better access for the public and to a facility that is better suited to our businesses.”

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Rotary is back in full swing after a month’s break for the holidays. Donna Seibert has a full slate of activities planned for the second half of her tenure as president. The next big fund raising event will be the “Annual Fun Night” on April 4. John McDonald has been booked to provide entertainment. The theme will be “An Evening in the Islands” featuring Jimmy Buffet music played on steel drums. All parrotheads (whatever they are) are welcome. As in years past, the event promises to be an evening of fun-filled relaxation. Put this date on your calendar and plan to attend. What better reason is there for giving a donation of $100 than to enjoy a pleasant evening of entertainment, spending time with friends, enjoying great food and helping the many worthy programs funded by Rotary.

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Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce members enjoyed another evening of socializing and networking with fellow members and friends at the “Business After Hours” held at the Randolph County Courthouse on Thursday evening. The event was conducted to showcase the renovations that were made to the courtroom, judge’s chambers and secretary’s offices. Nearly 50 chamber members and guests enjoyed tours by Judge John Henning as he explained the renovations and made comparisons of today to yesterday.



 
 

 

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