The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

Local News

May 30, 2013

Mount Hope

Healthy choices, renewed sense of pride on display

MOUNT HOPE — Healthy choices and a renewed sense of pride — Mount Hope will celebrate both during its first ever Wheel Parade this Saturday. Families and community members are invited to roll down newly paved streets on the wheeled craft of their choice, from bikes to strollers to roller skates.

“We saw the roads being paved as a perfect opportunity to kick off the summer. They are smooth and pretty and everything looks so nice and new and clean in town,” said one of the event’s organizers, Jessica Zukowski. “We’re hoping the new streets will get people outdoors, but I also think the paving is another reason people can take more pride in their community.”

The parade is also a public kick-off for the Family Friendly Community Project, a collaborative effort between the City of Mount Hope, Mount Hope Elementary, and the Mount Hope Children’s Health Council. Together, they co-sponsored a VISTA position, filled by Zukowski, a Mount Hope native and mother.

The organization was founded as an effort to involve families in Mount Hope community affairs and ensure that the town is, in turn, responsive to the needs of families.

“We have a unique opportunity in Mount Hope right now to attract families to the town to grow our population and economy,” says Zukowski. “We can’t do that unless families think of Mount Hope as a place where they could move with their children.”

Mount Hope has seen some rough times in recent decades. Coal mines used to provide a strong employment base for families, but when the boom went bust, the town lost a lot of population and began a steady decline. In 2010, it lost its high school.

“People have had lots of different ways that they’ve had pride in their community taken away,” says Zukowski. “Having new paved streets is just another way for people to see that things are looking up and looking better and have a renewed sense of pride in their community that they may have really lost for 30-plus years.”

When the Boy Scouts of America chose a piece of property near Mount Hope for The Summit Bechtel Reserve, the organization’s new Jamboree site and high adventure base, many saw it as an opportunity to turn the ship around. The town is calling itself The Gateway to the Summit.

The new streets are among the town’s most “concrete” signs of rejuvenation so far, which some predict will grow and spread. It is the first time in over 50 years the town has received an entirely new Main Street, according to Zukowski.

Residents have mixed feelings about their new neighbors and how they might affect the community. They want to make sure the town retains its own unique identity and uses resources wisely to provide for its own residents, as well as the Scouts.

“But the one thing that nobody can deny is people are beginning to do some improvements in town,” says Zukowski. “They are cleaning up store fronts. We have a grant for sidewalks and street lamps all the way through town, and a grant to tear down dilapidated buildings. There are a lot of different things happening in town that are increasing property values.”

—————

The event kicks off 1 p.m. at DuBois on Main, located at 110 Main Street in Mount Hope. A registration period begins there at 12:30 p.m. The parade will continue to the end of town past Mountaineer Mart. Activities run until 4 p.m.

“It’s an opportunity for children and adults to be active using their own power,” says Jean Evansmore of DuBois on Main, a community organization and African-American history museum in Mount Hope.

Organizers encourage kids, adults, families, organizations, and groups of friends to decorate their wheeled crafts or dress for fun. Several categories of recognition include Oldest and Youngest Wheeler; Most Creative Theme; Largest Family Group; Most Decked-Out Wheel Mobile; and Most Safety Gear.

If you don’t have a bike, not to worry. The New River Gorge National River is offering a set of bikes on loan to anyone who wants to use them for the ride.

Parents can push strollers or pull wagons — bikes, trikes, scooters, and roller skates offer other options.

“We want it to be an event where people feel the whole community is welcome to participate,” says Zukowski.

Area churches will sell food like barbecue, hot dogs, and fish fry at booths located in the green space near Municipal Stadium, right off of Main Street on Stadium Drive.

Free water is provided to participants.

Some of the kids’ activities like a bounce room are free; others, like face painting, cost a bit.

A summer safety class will teach families about topics like sunscreen and hydration. Representatives of the school-based health center in Mount Hope will come talk about its services.

Participants can also take a bike safety class or visit the bike maintenance station to learn how to fix and maintain their rides.

Several area women’s roller derby teams will be sending members to amp up energy levels.

Church youth groups and local bicycle organizations are also predicted to participate.

— E-mail: cmoore@register-herald.com

 

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