GRANTSVILLE, W.Va., April 13, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — In one of Central West Virginia’s economically distressed counties, a Phoenix is rising. On April 15, 2023, Calhoun County and The 1982 Foundation will celebrate the groundbreaking of an $8.4 million mixed-use community center and pool, which are expected to serve seven counties directly, and likely more.
West Virginia Governor Jim Justice celebrated the project, noting nostalgically, “When I was growing up, the local community center was the centerpiece of our neighborhood. Without it, I can’t imagine what life would have been like. Community centers are places where people can meet friends, have fun, and better themselves. This facility will do all of those things.”
The Calhoun County Community Center, built from renovating century-old Calhoun High School, will focus on childcare and development (INSPIRE program), entrepreneurial support and business development (ASPIRE program), and addiction recovery.
“None of these essential services exist in Calhoun County,” explained Crystal Mersh, President of The 1982 Foundation, which is leading the community rejuvenation effort. “Childcare is necessary for parents who want to grow long, successful careers. Entrepreneurial support is key to growing our county’s business base. Addiction recovery services are imperative for the health of our neighbors and friends who need additional support. All of these are essential.”
In addition, the Community Center will have a farm-to-fork cooperative, recreational guide/outfitter cooperative, goat farming cooperative, art/antique collective, farmers’ market, recovery zone, and animal shelter.
“The new Calhoun County Community Center is great news for our entire state,” said West Virginia U.S. Senator Joe Manchin. “The center will serve at least seven counties across Central West Virginia with vital services. This groundbreaking renovation will continue to ensure West Virginia is the best place to live, work and raise a family.”
The children of the county, as well as surrounding counties, are most excited about the new pool being built on the grounds of the high school’s old football field. The Junior Olympic pool will be part of a larger gym and recreation facility on the grounds around the Community Center. The Calhoun County children who peacefully protested last spring for the County Commissioners to donate the land for the pool will be the ones with the groundbreaking shovels on April 15.
The project’s unique funding strategy of private donations, tax credits, and grant monies is unusual. The 1982 Foundation provided $2 million in seed money to get the renovations and building started. By May, an additional bridge loan will be provided to fully fund the project and secure tax credits. The 1982 Foundation is in the process of applying to get the building on the National Historic Registry, as well as Historic Tax Credits at both the state and federal levels. Money from grants and future fundraising efforts will round out the $8.4 million cost for the facility and pool.
“It is a collective effort, with so many different organizations and people helping to make it a success,” said Mersh.
West Virginia Senator Shelley Capito noted, “At a time when we are seeing so much positive growth and economic development in West Virginia, it is great that the people of Calhoun County are working together to develop this new community center.”
Justice added, “I am incredibly proud of the hard work and dedication that has gone into making this possible. I know that both children and adults will enjoy this new facility, and it will be an incredible asset to the seven counties.”