By Doug Hylton
Ronceverte is working on over $500,000 in projects within the River City from grants received to continue improvements to the town. “We are excited about beginning these projects and getting them completed,” said City Administrator Reba Mohler. “We are grateful for the funds granted to the city and hope to have most completed by the end of summer.” Grant Coordinator Doug Hylton has been working with the city, Main Street Ronceverte, and other groups to obtain these funds over the past several years.
The primary project for this year will be the construction of three sections of sidewalks in downtown along Frankford Road, from Greenbrier Avenue to Main Street; Main Street, from Frankford Road to Cherry Street; and Edgar Avenue, from Cedar Street to Chestnut Street, along with replacement of lampposts. This is part of a $418,000 Transportation Alternative Grant program. The design plans are in for review at the West Virginia Division of Highways at this time, and once they complete review, permission will be given for the city to place the project out for bid. “We hope to have this project under construction by late summer and early fall”, said Mayor David Smith. “This will coincide with the events we have planned by the fall to include our celebration of the 100th anniversary of the historic C&O Depot in downtown.”
The entrances into town will be reworked with new landscaping and signage. Using a $6,000 grant from the Marie Leist Foundation and using city work crews and equipment, the primary updates will be to the US 219 north entrance into town on Frankford Road. Working with the Department of Highways, the city has obtained permits to allow for the filling in of an area of DOH right of way that will allow for elevating the area alongside US 219 with shale and fill dirt that will allow for landscaping and new signs welcoming visitors to the town.
“It has been the desire of the community to see the improvements to the entrances to the town since the WVU Design Team visit in 2002 when the team determined that the city needs to create a better impression for visitors and travelers in the town,” said Christina Crookshanks, program manager of Main Street Ronceverte. “We are excited to see this next phase of our improvements taking place.”
This project has also received support from the Ronceverte Womans Club, with donations toward the signage and landscaping. The other two entrances on US 219 south from Union and Route 63 from Alderson will also be updated with landscaping and signage. Signs have been designed using Branding Programs hosted by Main Street Ronceverte and will be reviewed by the Greenbrier County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Signs are being completed by Sign Central in Fairlea.
Improvements at Island Park will be part of the projects with the resurfacing of the basketball courts with restriping and installation of new benches. This is a $26,500 project that has been contracted out to Greenbrier Excavating, and construction is expected during the summer. Additionally, the amphitheater will see extensive work with the construction of a second ADA compliant restroom at the eastern end of the amphitheater entrance. The amphitheater roof will be reworked with the replacement of fascia and a new roof and signage on the main theater structure. The stone work will be repaired along with the placement of stone to the two restrooms to create a complete project. The city has received funding from the Hamilton Foundation, the Greenbrier County Commission and the Hollowell Foundation to complete this $42,000 project. Building on the city’s momentum, the Ronceverte Development Corporation’s Main Street program has received $8,000 for the construction of two ADA compliant restrooms at the Community Garden at Island Park.
Ronceverte’s Cemetery Conservation Campaign begins its work on Sunset and Riverview Cemeteries this summer with the resetting and leveling of headstones at these historic spaces. Using funds from the Marie Leist Foundation of $5,000, along with funds received from the Conservation Campaign, the city will spend over $10,000 in the work on the cemeteries. The city is still taking donations towards this project.
The Ronceverte Historic Landmarks Commission is working on their bronze marker project to designate the historic of Ronceverte businesses in downtown. Using $8,000 in funds from the Hamilton Foundation, the commission is researching the history of the buildings in downtown and creating markers that provide information on the businesses that helped form Ronceverte. One marker has been placed at the location of Rudy’s Corner Grill with the marking of the Marie Leist Style Shop on the Maple Street site.
Main Street Ronceverte also continues to promote projects for the downtown. Receiving a $10,000 grant from the West Virginia Development Office, the organization is working to bring wireless internet to the commercial district of downtown.
“We had hoped to have this project completed by this time, but the cost exceeded what we had been granted, said Crookshanks. “We are working with the Community Connect Program to partner in expanding the project to allow the additional funding required to complete this work.” Additionally, Main Street Ronceverte has received a $3,000 grant to continue planning for renovations of the former Bendix building and other improvement to midtown Ronceverte.
The city is placing out a grant project from the State Historic Preservation Office for the study of historic Brick Hill that will include preparation of plans for the repairs and upgrades to the street from Locust Street to Pine Street on Pocahontas Avenue, and the brick street from Pocahontas Avenue to Main Street on Spruce Street. Once this plan is completed, the city will seek funds to allow for the renovations of this section of town.
“This is a community effort that takes time and much work,” said Smith. “We hope that if anyone wants to become involved in helping to oversee, plan and work these projects, they will come forward and volunteer their time and talents to help the community.”