‘Turn This Town Around’ effort needs community involvement

By Hayley M. Cook

June 19, 2014

By Hayley M. Cook


MATEWAN - The town of Matewan has $50,000 in mini-grant money on the line to “turn their town around.”

Kent Spellman, executive director of the West Virginia Community Development Hub, spoke with the Daily News Thursday regarding the disappointing turnout for the most recent ‘Turn This Town Around’ meeting in Matewan.

The meeting, which took place at the UMWA Hall in Matewan, was attended by about 25 people, while the prior meeting saw more than 80. This sudden drop in attendance puzzled Spellman, who says Matewan has participated wholeheartedly in the ‘Turn This Town Around’ campaign prior to this week.

“Considering that the participation of Matewan has been outstanding up to this last meeting, we hope this was a little bump in the road and everyone will get back on track,” he said. “It’s a real opportunity for this town, and it would be a shame for them to not use all that’s available to them.”

The next meeting will be the first of three training workshops, and is scheduled for 6 p.m. July 1 at the UMWA Hall.

According to Spellman, if the turnout is poor, the $50,000 that Matewan currently is being offered may be dramatically reduced.

“This is hard stuff,” he said. “We’re going to work to drum up support via social media as well. People have to encourage their neighbors, friends, co-workers and family to step up and see how they can improve Matewan”

The mini-grant program is offering money to the town for a minimum of 20 projects. According to Spellman, this could mean $2,500 for each project, more or less, depending on how much financial assistance each project would need to move forward. He mentioned that he hopes to see more than 20 projects spawned by this campaign.

Spellman suggested that he would like to see about 60 people at the next ‘Turn This Town Around’ meeting, a number he feels would be sufficient to earn Matewan the full $50,000. An attendance like at this week’s meeting could mean losing half the money, leaving Matewan to work with much less.

Spellman said he understood that life gets in the way for people, and that he believes many dedicated members of the Matewan community may have been busy with other projects.

Members of the community are encouraged by Spellman to share information regarding ‘Turn This Town Around’ with anyone who might be interested in improving the town of Matewan.