WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — Over 400 leaders from across the state have filed into Oglebay’s Wilson Lodge to build bridges for the future of their towns.
This year is the biggest turnout the municipal league has ever received.Glenn Elliott, Mayor of Wheeling
Here’s an opportunity for every city, town, and village to share all their successes.Kevin Knowles, President of WV Municipal League and Mayor of Martinsburg
And… their failures.
We’re still on the search for big industry.Carolyn Rader, Mayor of Ripley
“We’re seeing a lot of competition because we’re a border state as far as salaries and how people get paid,” said Mayor Knowles.
Adequate housing. We’re really lacking. And, that housing needs to be affordable. So, we’re looking at housing concerns and infrastructure. A hug one. You can’t see it. I joke infrastructure is the new sexy. You need clean water and functioning sanitary sewers.Betsy Orndoff-Sayers, Mayor of Wardensville
“We all live in cities that are struggling to reinvent themselves,” added Mayor Elliott. “We’ve all lost population in recent years. I think only one or two cities in our state haven’t lost population. So, most of us have.”
All starkly different concerns, but sharing is caring.
Take Wardensville, for example; a town of 271 people is looking to fix its sewer and develop a well. More south, after holding a mayoral role in Ripley for 15 years, there’s always room to grow.
“If you would have asked me this same question probably eight to ten months ago, I would have said businesses. Recently, though, we have blue ribbon cuttings.”Carolyn Rader, Mayor of Ripley
Talking problems is the start to solutions and that’s what stakeholders of municipalities will be doing.
“We hear people are leaving but have we had the conversation; What are we doing to keep people here,” asked Mayor Orndoff-Sayers.
“We have to convince people that there are futures here in this community. And you really can make a big difference here,” said Mayor Elliott.
The conference will continue to meet at Oglebay through Friday.