Volunteers Needed To Help West Virginia Flood Victims

Written by Volunteer WV on . Posted in Media, News

Local flood response organizers are reporting an urgent need for volunteers to help with flood cleanup efforts over the next 10 days.

According to Volunteer West Virginia Executive Director Heather Foster, more than 1,000 homeowners have reported needing cleanup and recovery assistance, primarily in Kanawha, Clay, Greenbrier and Nicholas counties.

“Immediately after the flood we had a huge number of people putting their hand up to help, which was so inspiring,” Foster said. “Now is a critical time to maintain that momentum.”

To volunteer, all individuals and groups are encouraged to simply report to the Volunteer Reception Center nearest them. Groups of 10 or more should call in advance so the center can prepare work assignments. If you registered online and haven’t received a call to volunteer, please report directly to the nearest reception center for an assignment.

A complete list of Volunteer Reception Centers is found at wvflood.com/volunteer

Foster said AmeriCorps Disaster Response Teams arrived in West Virginia this week from neighboring states, and are waiting and prepared to process the large number of volunteers needed to help flooded communities, clean out and repair damaged buildings, and provide displaced residents with adequate shelter.

She said the next 7 to 10 days is a critical window for those communities, before those AmeriCorps teams finished their deployment and returned home.

“You know, the national media has gone home, the spotlight of public attention has started to fade, but the disaster of the situation for people in these communities is as real as ever,” Foster said. “We still have people without homes, people who have lost everything, people who need food and shelter.” “The need for volunteers to help these fellow West Virginians is immediate and urgent. If you can volunteer, please do. You are needed, you will be put to work, and you will make a difference.”

Clubs, work teams, sports teams, church groups and all forms of community groups are encouraged to volunteer together.

“Get a group of friends together, come as a family team, the more people you can bring the bigger the impact you will have,” Foster said.

Volunteers that can do moderate to heavy manual labor are particularly sought after.

Special volunteer equipment needs include:
• Work boots
• Heavy duty gloves
• Tyvek (coverall) suits
• N100 particulate respirator masks
• Flathead shovels
• Rakes
• Long pants
• Bug spray

Volunteers who can bring all or any of these items are urged to do so.

For information about how to volunteer, visit wvflood.com/volunteer

Communities uniting to revitalize the UKV

Written by Bill Frye for the Montgomery Herald on . Posted in Media, News

Officials and concerned residents from three Fayette County communities turned out Thursday afternoon for a meeting to discuss revitalization efforts for the Upper Kanawha Valley.

Representatives from Smithers, Montgomery and Gauley Bridge listened to speakers and discussed how they can approach dilapidated buildings to bring new life to their communities by cleaning up the blight or repurposing it for new growth.

Facilitated by the Fayette County Resource Coordinator’s office, the meeting featured speakers from across the state who have experience in helping communities with their dilapidated buildings.

Speakers included Tighe Bullock from Charleston’s West Side Main Street program; Luke Elser, program manager for the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center; Katherine Garvey, director of the West Virginia University Land Use Law Clinic; Kate Greene, program manager for the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center; and Nicole Marrocco, coordinator for the Abandoned Property Coalition/WVHUB.

Gabriel Peña, Fayette County assistant resource coordinator, said the program for the three communities was part of a flex-e-grant through the West Virginia Development Office.

With the grant committees, Smithers, Montgomery and Gauley Bridge will be able to apply for resources to demolish or redevelop dilapidated structures in their communities.

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A Step Toward Renewal

Written by Michelle Sloane for Renewal and Development Magazine on . Posted in Media, News

West Virginia towns take the steps toward renewal by addressing vacant properties

“They stopped thinking about it as me and started thinking about it as we.”

Two years ago, community members in Fairmont, West Va. decided to address the significant number of abandoned buildings in the city by forming a Brownfields, Abandoned, and Dilapidated (BAD) Buildings Team, supported with technical assistance from the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center (NBAC).

While City Planning Department staff spearheaded the effort, volunteer citizens surveyed 326 properties across 110 miles of city streets — on foot. After dividing the city by council districts, 18 volunteers walked the streets in pairs to document the conditions of abandoned and dilapidated properties via a 2-page survey per building.

Volunteers then compiled the survey information into a database and researched property owners within a month and a half. The inventory became a live document, as the team continues to update information about properties.

While many City Council members were initially against the creation of strong legal enforcement like a vacant property ordinance, the results of the volunteer-driven inventory process demonstrated the need to implement specific tools to tackle the dilapidated building situation. The city passed a Vacant Property Registration Ordinance and created tax credits rewarding vacant property rehabilitation.

Soon after establishing the Vacant Property Registration Program, Fairmont representatives met with counterparts from the city of Wheeling, West Va. to exchange insights and discuss similarities and differences between their programs. NBAC staff facilitated the meeting through the Redevelopment Expert Exchange program.

Ground Broken for New Business Park in Chester, WV

Written by Linda Harris, Legal Reporter, The State Journal on . Posted in Media, News

Construction officially began June 23 on a 30,000 square foot industrial building to anchor the new Rock Springs Business Park in Chester, WV.

Federal, state and local leaders gathered to break ground at the 8.5 acre site, once home to the Taylor, Smith & Taylor Pottery.

“This development will transform a once abandoned pottery factory site into a job-creator for Hancock County and the Ohio River Valley,” Hancock County Commissioner Mike Swartzmiller said. “The business park will also add much needed building inventory to our region to accommodate the economic growth in energy, transportation, and value-added metals.”

The property, a brownfields site, is owned by the Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle. The organization has been able to drum up nearly $3.3 million in loans and grant funding for the acquisition, site cleanup and redevelopment.

The West Virginia Economic Development Authority and United Bank are financing construction of the building. BDC Executive Director Pat Ford said no tenant has been announced, but energy, chemical and value-added steel fabrication companies have shown interest in the site. He said a final decision is “probably still about three months off.”

Read the full article on The State Journal website.