Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

October 5, 2013

70 vendors fill first McDowell County Expo

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

WELCH — Health services, opportunities for recreation, a job fair, local crafts, local businesses, and many other things McDowell County has to offer are being showcased today at the 2013 McDowell County Expo.

Almost 70 vendors are at the Welch National Guard Armory for what organizers hope will be the first edition of an annual event. Doors open today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The expo also features a job fair with 10 employers, said Peni Adams of the McDowell County Economic Development Authority.

“It’s been very steady,” Adams said as visitors entered the armory. “It’s been a good, steady crowd.”

Arts and crafts, local human service agencies, banks, health service and more make up the variety of vendors attending this year’s show. The event is modeled after the Better Living Show in neighboring Mercer County.

“We have a good mix,” Adams said. “It’s just a really good mix of things. We hope to make this an annual event.”

The goal is to help McDowell County’s residents realize there are many services and businesses available in their communities. Coming to the new expo is a way to see all of these possibilities in one place, she said.

Candy, photography and crafts are among the fair’s vendors. Ken Valko of Welch was showing the public his soapstone carvings; he makes them using regular hand tools. Shark teeth, both as fossils and jewelry, were among the other items.

“This is great,” Valko said of the new exposition. “It’s really a good opportunity for people. I hope they do it again as a yearly thing. It takes people with a vision. When you’ve got a vision, nothing can stop you.”

Visitors can also learn about local services. One being offered by McDowell County 911 and the Office of Emergency Services alerts people about emergencies.

“We’re here to spread the word about what 911 does,” said Teresa VanDyke, director of 911 and the county OES. “We have many facets of our service for the community.”

One new service, Citizen Opt-In, allows residents who sign up to receive telephone, email and text alerts during emergencies. Personnel with 911 were also accepting physical addresses from visitors. This helps first responders locate callers sooner, VanDyke said.

In another aisle, two boys were demonstrating one of the new “smart tables” being used in the county’s kindergarten classes. Four children can use the table at a time, said Aaron Lester, technology integration coordinator for McDowell County Schools. Just by touching the table’s screen, students can “paint” pictures, use multiple-choice activities, and access media. New tables being installed in first-grade classes will allow teachers to build lesson plans, Lester said.

Visitors can also meet potential employers during the expo’s job fair. Representatives from Welch Community Hospital, FCI McDowell, Stevens Correctional Center, McDowell County Board of Education, McDowell County Commission on Aging, Shentel, Jan-Care Ambulance Service, the West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation, and Dollar General will be seeking applicants.

Expo activities today include 5K race, awards and presentations at 11 a.m.; ZUMBA with Deanna Rose at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.; performances by Mount View Middle School dance and flag teams at noon and 2 p.m. The Mount View Cheerleaders will also perform today.