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The Town of Gilbert started the 2019 year with many blessings and thankfulness that the budget was met and town finances sustained to keep all employees working.

The town remained clean for the year as town employees continually cleaned the trash from ditches and debris from the sides of the roads. Grass and weeds were kept trimmed, and it was noticed by many visitors.

The town had thousands of tourists come during the year to ride the Hatfield-McCoy Trails, and Gilbert welcomed them with open arms. Those numbers are growing, and we thank our local entrepreneurs that keep investing in the area with lodges, places to eat and things to do. Tourism is helping Gilbert, and we are extremely proud of our efforts and continued work toward our goal of making our town a wonderful place to visit. We created a Lodge Owners Group allowing all area lodges to stay up-to-date with needed information and sharing of ideas and interesting events.

Gilbert was designated an Opportunity Zone by state and federal government. Many meetings and seminars were attended for teaching of avenues for potential growth and business investments. Several meetings were in place for a cell tower in the Gilbert area. We hold on to hope this will be fulfilled in the near future.

The Gilbert Convention and Visitors Bureau created a Facebook page, in conjunction with the town news. The CVB is strong with good members that work toward promotion of the Gilbert area. A new leader was placed at the helm of the group, and director Victoria Surber did a great job in taking the role of coordinator and events promotion. A $15,000 professional video was released about National TrailFest and the Town of Gilbert. This video has been promoted nationwide and was aired by Shentel.

David Sibray, with WV Explorer Magazine, visited the town and formed a partnership for advertising Gilbert and all it has to offer. This has been a great asset to the town. A seminar was held for locals interested in opening an Airbnb.

The Gilbert Museum grew for the year with more donations of interesting artifacts about the area. It, too, developed a Facebook page.

Gilbert Water Works, the town’s utility company for water and sewage, also developed a Facebook page where customers can get updates and news concerning their water and sewage. This has been received very well by the public.

A Broadband Initiative Grant of $75,000 was awarded to the town, and a study was completed to bring broadband into the area. This will potentially see a growth in business and how it is conducted as well as help health clinics with telemedicine and students more apt to complete their homework and studies in a rapid timeframe. An application is in place for funding this project, and we continue to look forward to this coming to fruition.

A Gilbert satellite health clinic held a ribbon cutting ceremony in town for Williamson Health and Wellness. Gilbert is blessed with many options of seeing health professionals in town, and the Larry Joe Harless Community Health Center brings in specialty doctors for treating locals.

Gilbert suffered a massive mudslide down the mountainside of U.S. 52 in town. The road was closed for several days with the West Virginia Department of Transportation working nonstop to get the roadway cleared and open.

The town completed and hired contractors for the Riverbend Water Addition, which will serve a potential 33 customers in that area for potable water. Gilbert will also connect to Logan County PSD for future usage should anything happen to either system. The town is proud to help our area have clean and safe drinking water.

The first Guyandotte River Fishing Tournament was held in town with more than 50 participants. This will continue to be an annual event for promotion of the beautiful river we have in our front door. The second yearly Guyandotte River Regatta was also held in town with the numbers doubling of those joining the fun. Kayaks and floats drifted along the river to end up at the new Veterans Park in town. The regatta will be held each July and another way to promote our beautiful river. Veterans Park was developed by the town and CVB by cleaning the riverbank and surrounding area. It is on the Coal Heritage River Map for an access for kayaks and canoes. The park was cleaned by town employees and volunteers.

An animal treatment site was developed where a vet comes to town hall to immunize and treat animals at a reduced cost. It is a desire to develop a full shelter if funding can be obtained. The second Appalachian ATVenture event was held and will continue for the following year.

The LJH Community Center and Southern WV Community and Technical College formed a partnership for opioid response in our area. The members are currently holding regular meetings and establishing goals for a solution of prevention.

National Day of Prayer was held at town hall as in many years past. Local pastors and area citizens come together to pray for our town and government, as well as the entire nation.

The Larry Joe Harless Community Center celebrated its 20th year of serving the community. Dignitaries were on hand for the celebration and reception. A fireworks display was held on July 4th after a couple years of no display. The $5,000 show came from donations of local lodges and business owners.

The Honeysuckle Garden Club updated the landscaping at town hall with arbors, new plants and bushes, as well as a beautiful rock marker on the lawn. The project is ongoing.

National TrailFest is the BIG event in Gilbert each October. This year saw even more growth in the event with numbers of participation and registration. Our small town is incredibly blessed to hold such a huge event and see it keep growing each year. A Nashville artist was brought in as well as many new activities.

Trunk or Treat was held in the LJHCC for more than 1,000 children. This event seems to be growing each year where families feel safe to allow their children to enjoy this tradition.

The Gilbert area suffered a wildfire and gave locals a good scare. Several fires were extinguished, and a Pennsylvania ATV club in town helped with eliminating one town fire. This shows what kind people we have in the world.

Our annual Christmas parade was held in town with Dennis and Alice Straley serving as grand marshals. Breakfast with Santa was also held by the Gilbert Kiwanis Club with area children treated to a pancake breakfast and time with Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus. Operation HO HO HO was in full swing this year with over $2,000 in donations. Some area citizens donated and a couple of trail riders, Wade and Lisa, collected a huge amount from their North Carolina church to see area needy children get a new warm coat and a toy.

We cannot express how lucky we are to have those that care and give to our children. A group from Maryland came in to do summer Bible School and hand out supplies. This group has been coming for several years and really spreads the meaning of kindness and love.

The year 2020 is going to be bigger and better for Gilbert! We look forward to all the developments in place. A huge Phase II Sidewalk Project will begin with grants from the Department of Transportation totaling over $740,000. This will continue the current sidewalk onward to Speedway. We are very excited to see this completed and the town connected for walking purposes.

An All Years Reunion is planned for Sept. 4-6 for the Gilbert classes 1926-2011. This brings huge crowds of graduates into town and is a fun time for reuniting friends.

National TrailFest will host the 20th year of TrailFest in Gilbert! Big plans are underway to make this year’s event more exciting.

Gilbert is meeting with Wyoming County officials to study and plan the offering of Gilbert public water to the Hanover area. Many discussions have been held and continue.

With a busy schedule ahead, we can still say we feel totally blessed with all we have accomplished and plan for the future of our town. God is good, and Gilbert is, too.

Vivian Livingood is the mayor of Gilbert.