CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Mayors from across West Virginia are in Charleston for a three-day mid-winter conference hosted by the West Virginia Municipal League.
The event is taking place from Monday to Wednesday at the Embassy Suites.
League members heard from gubernatorial candidates Sunday and went over to the state Capitol Monday to speak with state lawmakers.
WVML Executive Director Travis Blosser said a lot of their work includes advocating for cities and towns as they continue to welcome new residents.
“West Virginia cities have certain powers and authorities vested to them that the Legislature has granted them, but there are some things that we have to work with the Legislature on and have them help, facilitate and be partners with us on,” he said.
Blosser joined several mayors Monday morning on “580 Live” with Dave Allen heard on MetroNews flagship station 580-WCHS in Charleston.
Summersville Mayor Robert Shafer said his city has a lot to offer including a new state park. The Summersville Lake State Park was dedicated last year.
“I always say Summersville is a small city with big city opportunity and attitude,” Shafer said. “Last year was the big announcement for West Virginia’s newest state park, so we’re already seeing an uptick on tourism.”
Economic development is booming in West Virginia and cities like Weirton — the site of Form Energy, a new cutting-edge battery facility — are seeing the result of that.
Martinsburg Mayor Kevin Knowles said his city is also seeing population growth given their proximity to neighboring states. He said some out-of-state residents are moving across the border into West Virginia.
“We sit on the border line of Virginia and communities near the D.C. and Baltimore area. It’s drawn a lot of people in for a lot of different reasons one including the quality of life we have here,” Knowles said.
Winfield Mayor Randy Barrett knows his city is safe and said it’s a great place to raise a family.
“The big selling point, I always say, is our schools. We have three of the best schools in in the state. We’re very, very safe,” he said.
Moundsville Mayor Sara Wood-Shaw said with their 1 percent sales tax, they’ve been able to revamp their entire parks system. They’ve also been able to establish an arts and culture commission to host community concerts and free movie night.
But each municipality also has its own challenges. Wood-Shaw said welcoming economic development projects to her town is more difficult compared to other cities.
“One of our struggles specifically in Moundsville is lack of available land in city limits,” she said. “When we look at particularly larger manufacturing industrial complexes that would be looking to come to a community, we do not have much available land inside city limits.”
One quality that many West Virginia municipalities have in common is friendliness. Lewisburg Mayor Beverly White said her city is known for making everyone feel safe.
“When you walk down the street, they smile and say hello. It’s just the friendliness and the warmth that they feel when they come to Lewisburg. We were voted Most Inclusive 2021 by West Virginia Living. I think that speaks volumes that people feel safe when they come to Lewisburg,” she said.