Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

January 2, 2013

Local leaders hold high hopes for 2013

PRINCETON — An economy that is getting better, a new section of highway, and a major coal show are among the upcoming events and trends local leaders hope to see during 2013.

One newly elected official, Mercer County Commissioner Gene Buckner, said there were several projects he would like to complete as 2013 progresses.

“I’d like to work on the jail bill,” he said. This would involve paying down the county’s bill to the Southern Regional Jail in Beaver, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and finding more affordable ways to use the regional jail.

Buckner said he would also like to see the commission work more with the Mercer County Animal Shelter, which recently adopted out about 100 dogs and cats with its recent Home, Sweet, Home Fair.

One goal Buckner has is to get more people involved with the county commission’s work. He could recall times when he was among the few people attending the commission’s monthly meetings at the Mercer County Courthouse.

In Princeton, Mayor Patricia Wilson was hoping to see the city complete several projects for the new year.

“I’ve got lots of things. I want to see us get moved into our new building on Mercer Street and see our new welcome signs into Princeton erected. They’re beautiful,” she said.

Princeton will be greeting the new year with a new person, Elke Doom, in the city manager’s office. Doom is now in the process of moving from Michigan to Mercer County.

“I really think she will do a good job,” Wilson said. “She was excited about the new building process and all that. I would also love to see our flooding issue on Stafford Drive resolved. We’re being told that maybe the state highways department is going to take a look at it and help us with it.”

In Bluefield, a big goal for the city is to finalize the city’s economic development plan and move forward with it, said Mayor Linda Whalen.

“We want to work on ways to make the city as well as the citizens prosper,” she said.

One project calls for seeking more funding that will pay for demolishing dilapidated structures in the city.

“We will be looking at a granting opportunity to do demolitions on a much bigger scale,” Whalen said. “I would also like to say that under the leadership of Jim Ferguson, our city manager, I see a bright future for the city of Bluefield.”

The Greater Bluefield Chamber of Commerce has a major event on its 2013 calendar, said Marc Meachum, the chamber’s president.

“For us, this is the year of our biannual Bluefield Coal Show,” Meachum said. “So we’re excited about that, and there are some indications there’s at least a stabilization, if not an up tick, in the coal industry. We think that’s very much a positive for the area and we look forward to that.”

“I think there will continue to be a push, at least from the chamber standpoint, to at least get a usable section of the King Coal Highway. And we will continue to monitor legislation both in West Virginia and Virginia as it relates to business interests, which is what our membership is made up of,” Meachum said.

In Princeton, the Princeton-Mercer County Chamber of Commerce will look at providing more education opportunities to the public, said Robert Farley, chamber president.

“We have talked about  trying to plan some programs this year to provide some better education to the public on different subjects such as bullying and drugs,” Farley said.

The chamber also hopes to see the national and local economy improve.

“The economy’s not going to come back this year, but hopefully it will start out in a better mode,” Farley said. “We’re still going to have our challenges that we’re going to have to meet this year.”

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