Dr. Victor Thacker, provost and dean of faculty at Davis & Elkins College, joined the Downtown Merchants at its bimonthly meeting on March 23 with news of preparations that are under way for the celebration of the Civil War sesquicentennial celebration. Activities are to begin in early summer of next year.
"That's only 15 months away," Thacker said, "and, as we all know, the time will be here before we know it. We are holding meetings with various organizations through the area to see who's interested in helping and to share ideas for the event."
The idea, as I perceived his remarks, is to bring the history of the Civil War to life by way of interpretative photography, era art, window displays of era artifacts, roundtable discussions of the war and its effects on our area politically, economically and culturally.
To be considered, too, in these efforts is the preparation for West Virginia's sesquicentennial celebration in 2013 - the only state to have been born out of the Civil War.
There are opportunities aplenty here for commercial exploitation - all we have to do is take advantage of them.
Thacker didn't have a local contact for those that are interested in joining the effort, but I suspect if those interested would call the Rich Mountain Battlefield Foundation at 304-637-7424 you would be furnished as much information as they might have the time. There was a meeting at the Randolph County Community Arts Center on March 24, but I don't have any information on anything that may have been decided. That might also be a good contact for information - 304-637-2355. I may get crucified for suggesting these numbers, but they are in the public domain and should be a good source for information.
There's no doubt that the celebrations will be exciting times as well as a great opportunity for our school children to learn about one of the great seminal events in the history of our country, state and local area.
Officials at Davis & Elkins College announced Wednesday that a man has been contacting local businesses asking them to advertise in a soccer calendar on behalf of the college. According to those officials, the D&E Athletics Department is not endorsing this project and has no connection with this person.
Patricia Schumann, vice president of college advancement, is advising to call her at 304-637-1340 if they are approached with a request for support from someone claiming an association with Davis & Elkins College.
Wanda Arbogast has opened her new business Mountain Dreams - Country Treasures, a gift and craft consignment store, in Town Center Mall located behind Tammy Anderson's Good News Christian Bookstore. Arbogast said at the Downtown Merchant's meeting on March 23 that if she didn't open the store by the first of April, it would be open very soon there after. For information, call 304-614-8316.
The Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce will host its annual banquet and awards presentation on Thursday. There is still time to make reservations. Social hour, sponsored by Allegheny Insurance Services, will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Railyard Restaurant followed by the awards ceremony beginning at 7 p.m. at the American Mountain Theater. Keynote speaker will be U.S. Rep. Shelly Moore Capito, R-2nd District. A special presentation by the cast of the AMT will conclude the evening of entertainment and recognition of our businesses and business leaders for outstanding local achievement.
For more information and reservations, call the chamber office at 304-636-2717 or visit www.elkinsrandolphcountywv.com.
College students looking for summer work may apply to the Governor's Internship Program. The program offers high achieving students an opportunity to get real work experience. For information and requirements or to apply, visit www.wv.gov/gip.
The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had increased in January, declined sharply in February and now stands at 46.0 (1985=100), down from 56.5 in January.
"Consumer Confidence, which had been improving over the past few months, declined sharply in February," says Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. "Concerns about current business conditions and the job market pushed the Present Situation Index down to its lowest level in 27 years (February 1983, 17.5). Consumers' short-term outlook also took a turn for the worse, with fewer consumers anticipating an improvement in business conditions and the job market over the next six months. Consumers also remain extremely pessimistic about their income prospects. This combination of earnings and job anxieties is likely to continue to curb spending." (Source: February 2010, Consumer Confidence Index, The Conference Board)
Here are the Smith Travel Research hotel/motel statistics for January 2010 for West Virginia:
Occupancy Rate, 43.7 percent, down 1.9 percent; Average Daily Rate (ADR), $72.92, down 2.2 percent; Revenue per Available Room, $31.89, down 4.1 percent; Room Demand (number of rooms sold), 361,272, up 0.1 percent.
While these studies paint a relative negative picture, a study by the West Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association indicates that things aren't as bad as they might be. According to a study for the travel association by Frostline Consulting and reported by Mike Ruben in the spring 2010 issue of "Country Roads Journal," West Virginia has experienced a significant increase in tourism spending and tourism during the past decade. In 2000, tourism spending was $2.4 billion and the tourist industry employed 35,000. By 2008, spending had increased to $4.4 billion with 44,000 jobs associated with the industry.
The breakdown of the $4.4 billion in tourist spending in 2008 showed 29.2 percent on fuel, 21 percent on gaming, 19.1 percent on food services, 11 percent on retail sales, 9.9 percent on accommodations, 6.4 percent on arts, entertainment and recreation and 4.4 percent on food stores.
Elkins isn't the only Mountain State city being proactive in revitalizing efforts for their downtown shopping area. According to Christine Miller Ford reporting in the March 5 issue of The State Journal, Martinsburg has come up with a catchy phrase in its efforts to revitalization its downtown area - INVIO, pronounced "en-vee-o." Ford reported that the program is already changing the minds of about the district. The acronym stands for "It's Not Vacant, It's Opportunity." Put your thinking caps on folks and help our ON TRAC volunteers come up with a phrase.