Elkins Depot Welcome Center President Ed Greisel spoke to the Elkins Rotary Club about the valuable role the center plays in Elkins during the club's meeting Monday.
Greisel said he was part of the group of people who helped found the Welcome Center in 2006. Since then, he said a lot more than 100,000 people have come through its doors.
"We don't have records for 2006 or 2007, but since 2008 we have had almost 140,000 people come through," Greisel said. "In 2011 alone we had 34,000 people."
The Inter-Mountain photo by Joe Hoover
Elkins Depot Welcome Center President Ed Greisel speaks Monday to the Elkins Rotary Club during its meeting at the Elkins YMCA.
All of these people have access to the Welcome Center's impressive collection of more than 300 free brochures, which feature local attractions from restaurants and bars to state parks and stores, he said.
Unfortunately, while the Welcome Center has continued to grow in popularity, it still faces significant financial obstacles. Greisel said he and his staff, which is comprised primarily of volunteers, do everything as cheaply as possible.
He said the center has relied on donated materials and equipment. For example, its first brochure racks and its first computer were donated. Nonetheless, he said the Welcome Center is running out of money.
"We get a lot of great help from volunteers, we have an AmeriCorps (volunteer) who does a lot of wonderful work for us," Greisel said. "But, we're losing money and we don't have enough income.
"We've done everything we can. ... I love my volunteers and I swell with pride when I see what they do, but there is nothing we can do. We are heading straight for catastrophe," he said.
Also during Monday's meeting, Lois Nelson, Rotary International district governor, presented Dotty Wamsley and Chuck Preusch with Paul Harris Fellow awards.
The awards, named after Paul Harris, the founder of Rotary International, are given to members who have donated at least $1,000 to Rotary.