Follansbee Chamber Awards Beautification Grants | News, Sports, Jobs
FOLLANSBEE — The Follansbee Chamber of Commerce has awarded more than $3,500 for beautification of the Brooke County Senior Center, a local business and numerous fire hydrants in the city.
House Speaker Eric Fithyan on Wednesday presented a $1,500 grant to the Brooke County Committee on Aging to spruce up the south exterior wall of the Brooke County Senior Center and the empty lot next to it.
Sandy Kemp, executive director of the committee, said when a dilapidated building in the lot was razed, she and others discovered the wall would need a facelift.
Plans call for the grant, and an equal match from the committee, to be used to install new gutters and put up a fence at the end of the open land.
Aided by chamber members Jeanne and Ed Wohnhas, Fithyan then presented another $1,500 grant to Lori and Aaron French, the mother and son who own and operate the Three Bridges restaurant on Main Street.
Lori French said the grant will be used along with their own match to replace the restaurant’s main entrance and until funds become available, the front windows.
Fithyan added that the chamber had also approved up to $600 for Brooke High School juniors Grace Huntzinger and Alaina Bilby to paint fire hydrants around the city.
He said the two were among the students participating in the My Hometown is Cool contest organized by the West Virginia University Extension Service, Business Development Corp. Northern Panhandle and Brooke County schools.
While Huntzinger and Bilby were not among the winners, Fithyan said he and other chamber members felt their project was worth supporting.
He said the chamber had given embellishment grants in the past, including one for a new canopy for The Studio dance school on Main Street, but the effort was revived following the suggestion of the 3rd Ward Councilman Nick Cekinovich.
Fithyan said this year’s grants were available for members and non-members, but the chamber membership fee was deducted from the grant for non-members to encourage their participation in the group.
He said the grants are part of an ongoing effort to help chamber members and improve the city.
Fithyan announced that the chamber’s Monthly Monday Music Madness concert series will continue with free appearances from Twice As Nice on July 25 and Pocket Change on August 29.
Shows run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Follansbee Park.
He added that the chamber’s next Sidewalk Saturday event will be on August 20. Main Street businesses are encouraged to sell their wares on the sidewalks, where artisans and other vendors can also sell their wares.
There is no cost for sellers who are chamber members, while non-members pay a $15 fee.
The chamber also heard from Sean Blumette, athletic director of Brooke County Schools, who said the school district receives little state funding for extracurricular activities, so sponsors of athletic programs, special events and further expenses in this area are greatly appreciated.
He said there are many opportunities to support the school district’s athletic, music and other after-school programs and donations don’t have to be thousands of dollars and can be less than $100.
Blumette said that for the first time since it opened in 2003, the high school pool has been emptied so teams can refurbish its floor, deck and plumbing.
He added that the school’s auditorium stage was also undergoing a makeover and that school officials hoped to replace its seating and sound system in the future.
House members also heard from Phil Gilcrest, director of Weirton Transit Corp., who said the transit agency started serving Follansbee two weeks ago but found it necessary to change its schedule.
Gilcrest said service to the city was temporarily halted this week but would resume on Monday with new schedules aimed at better serving riders.
He added that runners from Follansbee would also not pay to transfer to an established route from Weirton.
Gilcrest said he expected to release the new schedule soon.
Mayor David Velegol Jr. also addressed chamber members, expressing his thanks to the many businesses that sponsored Follansbee Community Days.
He said of the $75,000 budgeted for the annual three-day festival, $25,000 is covered by municipal funds approved by Follansbee Council. The rest comes from sponsors and fundraisers organized by the festival’s volunteer committee, he said.
Fithyan thanked Velegol and other city officials for using the city’s community house for his monthly meetings, which take place at noon on the third Wednesday of every month.