If you’re sitting in Bloomery or Intermont or Levels, I apologize in advance, but I have Romney on my mind this week.
Our county seat might have its issues that all (in my mind) trace back to the continuing lack of jobs, but have you looked around Romney lately?
It’s a pretty nifty little town. It wears well the mantel of West Virginia’s oldest city.
About the time we came to Romney, we also had a crack at a job in New Martinsville over on the Ohio River in Wetzel County. New Martinsville was bigger, and even had a Wal-Mart (which was on my short list of musts for wherever I was going to end up, but hey, what did I know?).
But New Martinsville just felt worn out and run down in much the way that Keyser feels.
Romney’s not like that. Sure, there are empty buildings on both Main and High, the 2 main streets through town.
But there’s a vibrancy here and the underpinnings that can support growth and prosperity.
I’m talking about things that aren’t exactly glamorous, but they’re important.
Start with paving. With the advent of a sales tax 3 years ago and a couple of other fees, Romney has been paving the streets that need it most, and I can feel it every time I drive home or around town.
The town has sewer and water facilities that are doing the job and ready for more. The water tanks around town were all refurbished or replaced a couple of years ago. A sewer project in the Rannells Acres neighborhood is underway.
Work will begin in a month to replace sidewalks on the north side of Main Street. A half dozen parking places near the stoplight are a side benefit of that grant. A couple more projects (with state money) will extend that work east and along the south side of Main Street in the next year or so.
The parking meters have been gone for a year and I don’t know a single person who misses them.
On the other hand, who couldn’t love those nice-looking victorian lampposts that line Main Street, courtesy of the Romney High School Class of 1954.
It’s a touch of class that’s easy to overlook.
Another touch of class: the refurbished cupola atop the Courthouse. Now if only the clock told the right time.
Trinity Healthcare opened up — and then moved into a bigger facility. Rite-Aid gussied up. A new credit union is getting ready to open near the elementary school.
The state is giving the big, historic barn that was once an essential for the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind to the town. Who knows what that might turn into?
Dot Calvert has headed a crew that has brought new stability and attention to the Davis Log House by the library.
A group that calls itself the Romney Project has started some large scale paintings (I hesitate to call them murals) on a couple of facilities around town.
Another group, Refresh Restart Romney, has sponsored summer clean-ups this year and last, pulling weeds, painting and scrubbing the town east to west.
The Co-op seems to be hitting its stride as a hub for art and music. It will be center stage this weekend for the 2nd Hampshire Highlands Arts and Music Festival.
Romney is set to prosper. The fun to come will be in watching what happens.
In the meantime, it’s a pretty nice place to be if you stop to look around. o