Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Letters to the Editor

December 6, 2012

Time for city leaders to take action

— — What does quality of life mean to you? I’ll tell you what it means to me. To me it means having a sense of community where individuals act unselfishly to help their neighbors and the less fortunate. It means that citizens, local government, public institutions, commercial businesses, non-profits, and the arts co-exist in an environment where what is good for one benefits many.

It means that there are places to go and things to do. It means that when you have out-of-town visitors you say, “Before you leave you have to see …” It means that you take pride in your community and speak up even when you think a single voice won’t make much of a difference.

So I am speaking up and asking you, is there any place in Bluefield, WV that is open all year, does not cost anything to visit, serves as an inspiration to children and adults, and showcases much of what is good in our community?

I only know of one such place. It is on the third floor of the old municipal building on Bland Street called Gary Bowling’s House of Art. It’s home to a community of artists who give of themselves, attract visitors to our fair city, and ask very little in return. Yet, as I write this, we are in danger of having this jewel in our city relocate to Princeton or Wytheville because decent people who profess pride in our community can’t seem to find common ground, or the funds, necessary to co-exist and support each other.

I’m sure there are details surrounding the old municipal building and its current occupants that I am not familiar with. I’m equally certain that egos and personality conflicts create obstacles that are hard to overcome. But is that reason enough not to do all in your power to find a solution? I understand that next Saturday the artists and volunteers affiliated with Gary Bowling’s House of Art will be participating in Bluefield’s Christmas Parade. Will this be the last time we see them? I hope not.

It is time for city officials to step up and step in. Do whatever it takes to avoid having our quality of life diminished.

John A. Velke III


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