Wright to the Point

Maybe 2014 will be the year we see some serious growth in the number of people who call Greenbrier County home.

After decades of negligible, sluggish growth compared to many other areas of the United States, perhaps this coming year will see some good upward movement in Greenbrier County’s flat-lined population.

Since 1970 our numbers have varied only slightly, from a low of around 32,000 in 1970 to a high of almost 38,000 in 1980.

Those totals are certainly nothing to get excited about. Of course, plenty of other West Virginia counties aren’t seeing much substantial growth in their populations either, some of which have helplessly watched them decrease drastically over the past several decades.

I suppose one bright spot in it all here in our own county is the fact that at least our population isn’t shrinking, specifically between 1990, when it stood at 34,683, and 2010, when it had risen a little higher to 35,529. Apparently we’re holding our own.

By Jonathan Wright

A teaching colleague of mine in Covington recently told me that last week she had the occasion of visiting for the first time in several years the area of Lewisburg north of the interstate, both on U.S. 219 and on out to Brush and Stonehouse Roads as well. She was struck by the multitude of new homes and other buildings that have sprung up in the past several years.

Feeling a small swell of pride, I replied, “Business is booming in Lewisburg.”

“Apparently so; it certainly hasn’t reached Covington yet,” she lamented.

Indeed, the Greenbrier Valley seems to have had a lot of building activity going on the past couple of decades, much more so than in less fortunate areas like Covington. On the surface you would think the area is growing by leaps and bounds.

The population figures, however, say differently, which is both frustrating and puzzling.

I often equate population trends with school operations. It’s comforting to know that consolidation of our schools, with all the accompanying community trauma, seems to have come to a halt, at least a temporary one. A continued drop in school-age population would likely have some school officials seriously looking at more consolidation possibilities—that’s always a possibility we know all too well here.

It’s reassuring, however, to know that’s not happening, at least not currently.

Wouldn’t it be great to see things going the opposite direction—that is, to witness our Greenbrier County population, particularly the school-age population, growing to such an extent that we would have to start considering creating some new schools?

That’s a dream that’s almost beyond belief around here.

But it could indeed happen. With the right mix of new industries, added job opportunities, and affordable housing, we could get there one of these days.

Maybe 2014 is the year it will all start happening.

I can think of no more deserving place for such fortune to happen than our own incredible Greenbrier County. Let’s work together to help it along.

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