There has been a lot of talk in recent years about the need for a convention center, or some other type of large-scale facility in Mercer County, to host special events and large gatherings like the Bluefield Coal Show.

Except for the aging National Guard Armory in Brushfork, Mercer County currently does not have a place for hosting conventions and other special events. The Brushfork Armory has been the site of events such as the Bluefield Coal Show in the past, but its space is limited. That’s why county officials are now actively pursing plans for a convention center with modern amenities.

A recent legal advertisement in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph seeks bids from consulting firms with the expertise to help determine sites and the financial feasibility of building a convention center. No sites have been chosen to date for the proposed convention center. The feasibility study will look at possible locations as well as funding sources for the project such as the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the West Virginia Small Cities Block Grant Program, USDA Rural Development and the Appalachian Regional Commission, according to County Commission President Gene Buckner.

Buckner said the county needs an updated facility with modern amenities.

“Well, as far as I’m concerned, we have none,” Buckner said. “The armory is so outdated, and even when we have the coal show there’s not enough room.”

Buckner is correct in that Mercer County is in need of such a facility.

Of course, until the coronavirus pandemic has ended, large gatherings of the sort that would be held at a convention center are still on hold. However, we also realize that one day the pandemic will be over and a degree of normalcy will return to our daily lives.

That’s why it is only prudent to begin preparing now for that not too distant future. In order to host large events and gatherings, we do need a convention center. And the feasibility study is the first step in the process.

With a convention center, the county will be in a better position to attract and host large-scale events and gatherings in the not too distant future.

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