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Trick or treat,
NEW SOUTH’S FAVORITE HALLOWE’EN TREATS Growing up, my favorite was always the Ross family’s full-size candy bars they gave out. Yum! — Savannah The homemade popcorn balls always made me laugh. Because, how is a big ball a good way to eat sticky popcorn? — Pam My three siblings and I would rush to our next door neighbors’ house first. The sweet older couple handed out orange drinks in paper cartons and always gave us extras. We’d chug the drinks as we watched the husband don a black cloak and hide in the bushes— eager to scare teenagers. — Jess I love Pillsbury’s Halloween sugar cookies. — Josalin Living in rural West Virginia, we had our fair share of interesting treats, but the best had to be at my great-grandmother's house. She always had candy, but usually for me she'd have some of her no-bake cookies. I'll never know her secret, as mine never turn out. — Bryson I love toasted pumpkin seeds. Usually with olive oil and salt, but last year I made them with cinnamon and sugar. So good. — Hayley
PA M K ASEY,
Follow us at . . . @morgantownmagazine @morgantownmag @morgantownmag
Probably my favorite Halloween treat was a few years back when I took my kids trick or treating in Canada and everyone gave out cans of soda and chips more than candy. — Holly ON THE COVER Our cover image is the Retejos Jichancas from WVU’s 1911 Monticola yearbook, with thanks from us to a photographer who made one spooky club photo. See story on page 21.
EVAN AMOS/WIKIMEDIA; IMAGE BY FERNANDO ESPÍ FROM PIXABAY
itch is better: a town with no town center, or one with? People can differ, I suppose, but it’s hard for me to imagine preferring a place that has no heart. Town centers used to happen organically. But these days, with the shift of so much retail to malls and now the internet, places that want lively downtowns have to work at it. We’ve enjoyed the fruits of some of that work downtown this summer. Arts Walk has gone from once a year to twice a year to monthly, and each one is more wonderfully offbeat than the last. The farmers markets, the Handcrafted Cooperative markets, the renewed West Virginia Birthday Celebration, Hops on the Mon—it all celebrates our public square and expresses who we are in Morgantown. Downtown still has things to figure out—and finding the right mix of commerce, entertainment, and social services is high on that list. Morgantown offers a full range of social services downtown, from emergency shelter to free health care to meals. It’s part of that expression of who we are. But with a nationwide opioid epidemic turned to heroin turned, now, to methamphetamine, the demand for those services is high, and downtown merchants are feeling pinched. I talked with a lot of shopkeepers and social service providers over the past six months, along with people in
city leadership, and the tone of the dialog on this touchy issue is constructive and heartening. There are creative solutions on the table—see our story on page 42. So much happens in the fall. It’s our biggest sports season, of course, and with that come fans from out of town shopping in our boutiques, eating in our restaurants, and sleeping in our hotels. WVU Athletics recently commissioned an analysis of what the university’s sports programs do for our economy, and Jess Walker takes a look at that on page 32. Also, it’s Best of Morgantown season! The nomination round runs from October 10 to November 4 at morgantownmag.com/ BOM. We’ve moved it to a new platform—still easy to use, just streamlined. Get your favorite shops, restaurants, people, and services into the mix. You can nominate once per day per email address. Then follow us on social media to keep up with BOM Challenge Week and the final voting round. And soon it will be Halloween, the best holiday, and then time for holiday shopping. As you prepare your gift list, remember our downtown merchants and all of our local, independent artisans and shops. Check out our gift guide on page 51 for some ideas.
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MORGANTOWN • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2019
In This Issue
The Business of Sports
Compassion Holiday and Commerce Gift Guide
A play-by-play of how WVU sports affects Morgantown’s wallet.
It’s time for some outside-thedowntown thinking.
Make 2019 the year you don’t wait until the last minute—this will help.
In This Issue This Matters
14 Try This Sip something new from Neighborhood Kombuchery. 15 Love This Local architecture firm Mills Group makes High Street its home.
15 Eat This Sauté by René is cooking empanadas for you. 16 Grow This Let your Mountaineer flag rock on. 17 Who’s This Meet Monongalia County’s man with a plan. 18 See This Peek inside the creative minds and studios of Mo’town artists. 18 See This Raise your eyes heavenward with stunning stained glass. 19 Know This Sports broadcaster Tony Caridi on Mountaineer coaches past and present. 20 Who’s This 35 years ago, Georgeann Wells slam-dunked for both WVU and women’s history. 21 What’s This Help us solve the mystery of a secret, long-forgotten student club. 22 Support This What do you get when you mix steampunk with cancer awareness? Vandalia-Con. 23 Do This Get your favorites into the Best of Morgantown mix.
21 24 Hike This Watch the leaves change and experience a little history, too, in the Core Arboretum.
25 Try This Pull up a seat at the bar. The protein shake bar, that is. 26 This Matters To … This Green Witch is casting spells of health around town.
6 Editor’s Note 28 Dish it Out Let local restaurants take the stress out of tailgating. 40 The U WVU Medicine is growing faster than ever—for good reasons. 62 Calendar MORGANTOWN • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2019
25 Shop This Skin products that are good for you and the environment.
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State Champion Tree
This summer, the 24-foot tallest paperbark maple in the state, located on WVU’s Evansdale Campus, was added to the state Division of Forestry’s West Virginia Big Tree Database. The tree was moved with great care in February 2017 before the old Agricultural Sciences Building was demolished. “The tree appears to be in good health,” says Gregory Dahle, associate professor of Forest Resources Management. There’s been some twig dieback, which Dahle says was to be expected, but the tree is leafed out and green. “In general this tree has responded well over the past three growing seasons—a testament to the skills of the folks over at WVU Roads and Grounds, who tackled this project and saved a wonderful specimen tree.” While 24 feet is a moderate height as trees go, paperbark maples are said to rarely reach 40 feet, and this tree currently stands as the tallest known paperbark maple in the state. In 2019, WVU joined 363 campuses by earning the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Campus USA certification.
Stuck on West Virginia Decals from lovingwv.com
It’s a Brewtiful Day in the Neighborhood Morgantown’s first kombucha brewery opens downtown. ➼ BUSINESSES UP AND DOWN the streets of Morgantown offer locals and visitors alike plentiful options to sit and sip on a variety of cold craft beers or refreshing regional wines. Now, locally sourced kombucha can be added to their tap lists, thanks to business and real-life partners Carissa Herman and Andrew Rhodes. Herman’s and Rhodes’ company, the Neighborhood Kombuchery, operates as a brewing facility in downtown Morgantown that is making draft kombucha readily accessible to thirsty patrons who are in search of a low-sugar, gluten-free alternative to soda, beer, or wine. The beverage, which is chock full of probiotics and provides digestive and immune system support, is estimated to have originated in northeast China around 220 B.C. Its resurgence in recent years, though, coincides with the growing popularity of and demand for healthier food and drink options. “Kombucha has rapidly been gaining steam as a beverage product in the 14
MORGANTOWN • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2019
national market over the past decade, and I don’t think it’s going anywhere,” says Herman. “I’d like to see it become a functional food that future generations of West Virginians grow up with.” Herman and Rhodes first started exploring kombucha’s fermentation process with homebrew kits. “Kombucha can be intimidating for those who aren’t exactly sure what it is,” says Herman. “But kombucha making is really no more complex or mysterious than beer or wine making, although there are a few differences in the science, ingredients, and process.” Rhodes, who serves as the kombuchery’s chief fermenter, says that kombucha starts out as sweet tea made by boiling water, steeping tea leaves, and adding sugar. Brewers then add kombucha from a previous batch to introduce SCOBY— symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast— and start the fermentation process. The brew sits for one to four weeks as the SCOBY eats the sugar. Herbs, spices, or fruits are incorporated for added flavor.
written by kaylyn christopher
COURTESY OF NEIGHBORHOOD KOMBUCHERY
As Herman and Rhodes tinkered with this craft, brewing and consuming kombucha became a routine part of their lifestyle. Soon, the couple began to notice that other cities across the country were offering the beverage on draft in their bars and grocery stores. “That’s when we thought, ‘Morgantown should have local kombucha on tap. Why doesn’t it?’” Herman explains. The duo’s kombucha habit quickly took shape as a legitimate business venture when they decided to enter their idea into the West Virginia Collegiate Business Plan Competition, which is open to all college students across the state, for the chance to gain financial, legal, and strategic assistance. Herman and Rhodes, who both work full-time, spent their nights and weekends turning their affinity for kombucha into a complete business plan, and they won. “The competition and resources that came with the win were a major factor in getting us off the ground,” says Herman. Not only did their business get the boost it needed to get up and running, but it’s also been met with a positive response from the community since its launch. In September, the Neighborhood Kombuchery celebrated its grand opening at the Handcrafted Cooperative Fall Market in Morgantown, selling out of kombucha in a matter of hours. “My favorite part was talking to both kombucha skeptics and raving kombucha lovers,” says Herman. “More than once, we received comments like, ‘I’ve never liked kombucha before, but I like this.’” Herman hopes that more of those skeptics give the Neighborhood Kombuchery a chance to change their minds. “I will issue this warning,” says Herman. “If you try it, you might love it.” For now, the public can purchase the Neighborhood Kombuchery’s creations on tap at local food and beverage businesses. In the future, Herman and Rhodes may expand their business into a taproom where customers can relax and enjoy their tangy concoctions. “I’d like to see the Kombuchery grow for and with this community,” says Herman. “The intent in bringing the idea of this business to life was to enhance the quality of life for those around us. We want people to know they can make, grow, and live locally in a way that is good for them and good for West Virginia.” @kombuchaneighbor on Facebook
Building Up High Street Local architecture firm Mills Group revitalizes downtown office building. further beckoned it into the 21st century by dedicating an entire corner to virtual reality. unique boutiques, High Street has lots Beside the studio is the conference to love. But sometimes Morgantown’s room. A conference room is an greatest treasures can hide behind a architecture firm’s heart, and Mills lackluster facade. Group’s is beating strong. An angled The Mills Group is changing that― glass tower added to the building’s High not just by breathing life into an older Street side grants clients a view up and building, but by calling it their home. down the avenue. If the conference room This fall, the architecture firm plans is the heart, the library is the brain. That to open its new Morgantown office at is housed in the tower’s upper level, 88 High Street. Folks might remember where downtown Morgantown serves stocking up on paper and pens there as a backdrop for staff’s research. The when the mid-century modern building top floor has offices as well, including a housed City Office Equipment. Others might have visited decades ago to pay their mini one for Mills’ black lab and office morale-booster, Ellie. dues to the Hope Natural Gas Company. West Virginia will course through Where most saw an unimpressive block of the building’s veins. Mills Group’s art windows, Mills Group founder Michael collection by West Virginian artists Mills saw potential. “This project is showing how adaptive reuse is important, will adorn the inside, and the lobby will feature a section of the original terrazzo and how it can be part of the larger flooring and a restored chandelier. For context of revitalization,” Mills says. Mills Group may be relocating from the passersby, the Kirk Street exterior wall Wharf District, but their original storefront will showcase a mural illustrating the firm’s work throughout the state. office was on High Street. Now for the Mills Group received some funding team’s homecoming, they were their own through Main Street Morgantown’s Facade general contractors. “Even at the junior Program. Executive Director Barbara level, everyone has been involved not only Watkins says revitalizing buildings creates with decision making and designing their own space, but also with helping demo and a thriving downtown that can attract other businesses to the region. “We’re happy to clean up,” Mills says. The building certainly got a makeover as have Michael come back and rehab a muchneeded building,” she says. “It can show Mills Group added 20 percent more space other people what’s possible.” overall. At first, eight steps divided the “Designing on principles of the past floor at street level into two sections, much and preserving for the future” is not just like a split level house. The up-and-down Mills Group’s mantra. Now it’s built into travel wasn’t practical, so Mills Group their very foundation. raised one of the floors by four steps and transformed it into an open studio. They written by jess walker
NIKKI BOWMAN MILLS; COURTESY OF RENÉ JORGE
➼ FROM SCRUMPTIOUS EATERIES to
No Whisk, No Reward Sauté by René is bringing great food to friends and neighbors. ➼ PERSONAL CHEFS are all the rage in big cities like New York, but Sauté by René is bringing that amenity to Morgantown. After leaving New York City in 2005, where she was professionally trained in culinary arts, Chef René Jorge knew she wanted to do something with her talents. “I wanted to be flexible and do something that would work for my family. That’s when I started teaching cooking classes,” she says. In addition to teaching, Jorge provides a variety of services including home chef and catering. She has set up booths at the Handcrafted Cooperative markets and the International Street Festival. Each of her services highlights her love for local, fresh, non–genetically modified ingredients. “I don’t limit myself to one specialty,” Jorge says. “I was trained with classic French techniques, but I tend to lean toward ethnic foods. I believe in fresh ingredients and the simplicity of the best ingredients.” Jorge builds her home chef and catering services around custom menus that suit each individual’s personal tastes and food preferences. She also caters bridal and baby showers, business lunches, and dinner parties. You can find Chef René selling her beloved Abuela’s Empanadas at the WVU Medicine Farmers Market every Wednesday, or you can get fresh meals by Chef René delivered to your home. sautebyrene.com written by savannah carr MORGANTOWNMAG.COM
Save It, Don’t Shave It After the Mountaineer Week Beard Growing Competition has been judged on November 6, don’t go bare-chinned—let your Mountaineer flag rock on. Plan on two to three months for your beard to fill out. If you’ve never kept a beard, Classic Cutz owner Al Adams recommends buying two trimmers that will give you many years of service—an Andis T-Outliner and an Andis Master Clipper with attachable guards—or frequenting your favorite barber. These are his maintenance tips for going it alone. written by pam kasey
| illustrated by abby
BEARD DO’S AND DON’TS from Seth Gartin of Man’s Image
SCRUB, SCRUB, SCRUB Now that your face is wearing a fur coat, the skin underneath can’t naturally exfoliate—and that can mean dandruff. Scrub well in the shower.
THE SUPER SENIOR Edge it up and trim the ends twice a month.
THE PHILOSOPHY MAJOR Shave the sides as often as needed; trim the ends once a week.
MOISTURIZE The oils from your face have trouble working all the way down the hairs of your beard, leaving a dry, almost brittle feel. Beard oils are intended for your face; a leave-in conditioner or beard balm will keep the hair flexible and moisturized. BLOW DRY FOR POLISH Attending a job interview or looking for that special someone? Grab a hair brush and a blow dryer and you’ll soon be ready for the cover of GQ.
THE BLUE MOOSE BARISTA Taper at the sideburns, pick it out, and trim the ends freehand, not with a guard, once a month.
TRIM UP TO THE JAW LINE I get it—you want the beard, but you want a respectable look. However, as your beard grows longer, you’ll need that hair underneath for thickness. I always recommend just above the Adam’s apple for a classic and natural look. GIVE UP TOO QUICK In the early stages, you may feel hopeless—your beard remains patchy, and maybe the mustache doesn’t even connect. Just give it a few weeks. A little length will help everything appear full and even. LATE-NIGHT TRIM It’s a well-known fact that all beard mishaps happen between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. Trimming while intoxicated is a decision you will regret. Sleep it off and consult your professional. If you decide to trim yourself, do it with clear eyes. 16
MORGANTOWN • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2019
THE FORESTRY MAJOR Comb it to keep it neat and trim the ends once a month.
THE HOMEBREWER Shape your beard to a blunt tip, then trim the edges and ends every couple of weeks.
new lives for old malls and adapting the highway to multimodal use. “Retail is struggling, redefining itself,” Gast-Bray says as an example of the value of planning in a changing society. “It’s not dead, but sprawl bricks and mortar is dead.” In reaction to internet commerce, community development is moving beyond the model of the strip mall. “People want vital places,” he says. Shopping districts of the future won’t be big box stores strung along treeless corridors—they’ll be multiuse village centers where shoppers live close by or park once and stroll among shops and restaurants. By planning ahead for clustered rather than sprawling development, the county can map out future utility and transit lines and other infrastructure and stay current with the lifestyles companies will look for for their employees. WHO’STHIS The Planning Commission’s current priority is to enact the regulation of subdivisions. Unregulated development can lead to problems like flooding basements and inadequate turnarounds Monongalia County’s new director of planning aims to get for schoolbuses and emergency vehicles. everything working together for the future we want. Regulations will ensure that minimum were closing, so a lot of people came standards are met for stormwater, ➼ BEFORE THE TURN of the downriver to find opportunities. They roadway, and other infrastructure millennium, Monongalia County’s didn’t always meld well in Cincinnati development, protecting the investments population had been about 75,000 for and, in fact, there were a lot of fights at of future residents. Public meetings are decades. That changed after the 2000 my school. So I grew up thinking, What’s scheduled through mid-October. census, when the U.S. Census Bureau with this West Virginia? Are they kind of Once subdivision regulations are delineated the Morgantown Metropolitan violent people?” But later, working for an in place, Gast-Bray will soon turn Statistical Area. National developers international firm in the mid-1990s, he his attention to the next 10-year took notice and, since then, the county’s was stationed in Bridgeport and lived in comprehensive plan, due in 2023. population has grown 30 percent and Philippi and loved it. “It was a great time “Looking ahead requires a lot of shows no sign of slowing down. for my family—we had a lot of fun there. I heads,” he says, so he works closely with Wisely seeing the coming need for really fell in love with West Virginians, and officials in Morgantown, Granville, Star planning, the Monongalia County it transformed my opinion of the state.” City, and Westover and in county and Commission in 1999 formed a Planning As an engineer and then a planner, university administration. “When you Commission. The Planning Office is Gast-Bray has worked in the public, work together, that’s when the magic led by a director of planning and, since private, and nonprofit sectors and has really happens. Things start to pop.” April, that’s been Andrew Gast-Bray. also taught university classes, and he Also on the theme of “a lot of heads,” He’s an engineer with a master’s degree in brings a respect for all of those interests the Planning Commission has a few community planning from the University to planning. “You can’t give any of it vacant seats to fill. “You can do great of Cincinnati. Among other positions, he’s short shrift,” he says. things for your community without a big headed up planning offices in Lebanon, In previous planning positions, Gast- time commitment,” Gast-Bray says. New Hampshire, and Albemarle County, Bray has seen working solutions to some Among Gast-Bray’s observations that Virginia—both university communities of the issues we face in Monongalia make him excited about Monongalia with big medical centers. County. In New Hampshire, where, County’s and West Virginia’s future— “What a director of planning does is like here, rugged terrain constrains that the PRT was the first autonomous coordinate land-use planning,” Gasttransportation corridors, he was vehicle, for example, or that West Bray explains. “And that has to take involved with a bus system that has Virginians can make and fix most into account things like transportation been recognized as among the highestanything—he notes, “A nice thing planning, green infrastructure planning, performing rural transit systems about Morgantown and West Virginia and economic development. My job is to in the nation. And in Virginia, he is, we didn’t screw everything up when make sure it all works together.” participated in a large project to everyone else did—we weren’t wealthy Gast-Bray grew up in Cincinnati in revitalize the U.S. Route 29 corridor enough. Now, why not lead for once?” the 1960s and ’70s, and he laughs now between Charlottesville, Virginia, and monongaliacounty.gov/moncpc about his childhood impressions of West Washington, D.C.—finding productive Virginia. “It was an era when mines written by pam kasey
CARLA WITT FORD
Laying the Groundwork
Art from Scratch See where the magic happens October 19–20. ➼ WITH THE GROWING popularity of Arts Walk, local potters and jewelry makers Lisa Giuliani and Jen Allen wanted to give Morgantown a deeper look at local artists and introduce them to their fellow artists from the surrounding area. And so the Mo’town Studio Tour was born. This local arts tour will take you into the studios and creative processes of some of the most productive artists in Morgantown. Allen says, “I love the idea of people getting to see the artists in their own space and getting a little insight in their creative practice and their studio routine.” The tour includes four stops featuring 11 artists from Morgantown and surrounding areas and will include pottery, jewelry, sculpture, and more. Studios featured include those of Giuliani and Allen as well as sculptor Jamie Lester and print-maker Bryn Perrot. Guest artists will include ceramicist Brett Kern, working women’s clothing makers Handyma’am Goods, and more. Prices vary, so there’s something for every budget. Go to all four stops and get a card punched at each stop to be entered to win a prize. Light snacks and refreshments will be served. Learn more about the host and guest artists and find an interactive map of the tour at motownstudiotour.com. written by savannah carr 18
MORGANTOWN • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2019
designs, including the renowned Willet Stained Glass Studios of Philadelphia. Some of the glass is said to have come from West Virginia’s Blenko Glass Company. There, workers would have blown molten glass into tubular molds before reheating and flattening it into sheets. Later, intricate faces and garment folds were painted on. These pieces were fired to fuse the paint, which contained ground glass, with the glass. More important than the windows’ artistry is their meaning. “Stained glass was the primary means of transmitting the gospel of Christ when people couldn’t read or write,” says priest-in-charge Rev. SEETHIS E.F. Michael Morgan. Even today, church buildings have their own ministries, he notes, preaching without words. The most striking These windows are masterpieces of art and faith. images bookend the church. Above the altar, Jesus sits enthroned in the Trinity ➼ WHEN TRINITY EPISCOPAL Window. Opposite, a triumphant Christ Church’s building opened on Willey watches over the baptismal font. It’s Street in the early 1950s, contractor this Resurrection window that Morgan James Coombs said, “This is the most sees each Sunday as he gives the final beautiful structure my company has blessing. Jesus’ hand is lifted as if he, too, ever built and one of the most beautiful is blessing all who will soon depart. “That anywhere.” Step through Trinity’s red window is striking,” agrees vestry member doors and it’s hard to disagree. Ed Devine. “Even on a cloudy day, it shines The early English Gothic–style structure designed by Philip H. Frohman, just a little bit.” Although the building was dedicated in resident architect at the Washington 1953, Trinity celebrated its bicentennial as an National Cathedral, inspires a hushed Episcopal congregation in Morgantown this reverence. The whisper of shoes against stone evokes images of medieval churches year. “Stained glass is important, but what’s really important are the people within the towering over European streets. walls,” says senior warden Zachery Thayer. But one feature takes your breath: Morgan invites anyone to enjoy the the stained glass. Rain or shine, these church’s windows at a Sunday morning windows animate the church’s interior. service. Or, to arrange a viewing, contact Reds and yellows dance across the pews the parish office. 247 Willey Street, as the sun rises. When thunderclouds 304.292.7364, trinitymorgantown.org loom, deep blues take center stage. Several studios collaborated on the written and photographed by jess walker
Windows to the Soul
COURTESY OF LISA GIULIANI
Spiker cites research showing that people from around the globe overwhelmingly Longtime WVU sports broadcaster shares identify effective his observations. leaders as having two key traits: inward soundness and an ➼ ON ANY GIVEN GAME DAY in ability to focus on others. Morgantown, Mountaineer fans rejoice “When I look at this in terms of when their beloved sports team secures coaches—either those we have had with us a win on the football field or basketball or those who we have played against—it court. In the hours following a game, an validates what that research shows,” says analysis of plays and calls can be heard Caridi. “This concept transcends to all on the radio, watched on television, aspects of business, life, and sport. If your and seen on your next door neighbor’s leader is inwardly sound and sincerely Twitter account. cares about you, you will take your But beyond the X’s and O’s, success efficiency to the next level.” is nurtured behind the scenes—in the When Caridi reflects on Mountaineer moments spent recovering in the ice sports, he sees that a range of coaching bath, changing in the locker room, and styles has solicited player buy-in and led socializing on the travel bus, when coaches to success—largely because the coaches and players share visions and build trust. demonstrated those very traits. “West Just ask West Virginia University Virginia is an extremely interesting case sports broadcaster Tony Caridi, who has study,” he says. “It has had an amazing witnessed his share of leadership decisions quality of coaches who have come in his more than three decades with the through the door.” Mountaineer Sports Network. “Over a Take former WVU men’s basketball period of time, people begin to understand coach John Beilein, who inherited an 8–20 that, in order to get others to do what team when he took the reins in 2002. you want them to do, you must develop a “Those 20 losses were the most losses in culture,” says Caridi. “At times, that’s as school history,” says Caridi. “So he started important as schematics on a chalkboard.” at the lowest point WVU basketball The point is driven home in The Only had ever been at.” Beilein prioritized Leaders Worth Following, the most recent team culture and cohesiveness, and he book from Tim Spiker, the son of a former established expectations early by having WVU sports medicine professional.
Coaches as Leaders
each team member sign a pre-season constitution. When the team’s leading scorer, Drew Schifino, fell outside the bounds of that constitution and then later failed to report to a practice session, Beilein cut him from the roster. “He really didn’t have the ability to kick players off the team—they needed every point they could get,” says Caridi. “That kind of move showed everyone else that he meant what he said, and the interesting thing is, that team went on to have a lot of success despite the fact that they lost a guy who was scoring the ball at a tremendous rate.” That type of decision requires a coach to have unwavering conviction in the face of criticism. “Those who have an inward soundness and a true understanding of what’s needed to achieve the goal cannot be distracted by outside noise,” says Caridi. “Coaches today face it at the highest pitch that’s ever existed because of social media—everything in our world is criticized. The bottom line is, are they making their decisions with everyone’s best interest in mind? If so, then they’re alright.” A correct decision, however controversial, will prove itself soon enough. “If everyone in a boat isn’t rowing in the same direction, the boat’s going to start spinning in a circle— but once you release the guys who are paddling the other way, the boat is going to start to go straight.” WVU’s winningest football coach, Don Nehlen, who led his teams to an unprecedented two undefeated seasons, is another prime example of a coach who got the recipe just right. “Don created a culture of blue-collar toughness, and it worked,” says Caridi. “He had a special way of making those kids know he sincerely did believe in them, and he raised them to new levels.” With Mountaineer football well underway this fall under the leadership of Head Coach Neal Brown, Caridi predicts that a new kind of sound, other-focused culture will emerge in the seasons to come. “Brown represents the new age of the ultra-successful coach. His approach to coaching is so much more mental than his predecessors,” says Caridi. “He has the understanding of what it takes to get people to play at a high level, and I truly believe he’s more committed than anyone I’ve seen in making sure his players have a productive experience, even after their playing days are over.” written by kaylyn christopher MORGANTOWNMAG.COM
A Slam Dunk How one WVU basketball star reached above the rim and into history 35 years ago this December. in a regulation college game, no ESPN coverage instantly splashed across America’s television screens. No fanuploaded clips went viral on YouTube. No congratulatory comments and emojis avalanched Facebook and Instagram. One lone video documented the moment―recorded by the rival team’s head coach. So when 6-foot-7-inch WVU basketball star Georgeann Wells slam-dunked against the University of Charleston just a few days before Christmas 1984, the only eyewitnesses to history were the roughly 100 people in the Randolph County Armory. Slamming it down That brisk December night was far from a one-time fluke. As a senior at Northland High School in Columbus, Ohio, Wells had helped lead her team to the 1982 state championship. College recruiters vied for her talent and towering height, and she ultimately chose WVU. WVU coaches Kittie Blakemore and Bill Fiske encouraged Wells to dunk. She dribbled, shot, and slammed the ball after practices―often tearing her hands up from hitting the rim. Timing in a game never seemed right, though. Not until the 1983– 84 season, when the then-sophomore dunked against Massachusetts. But, as fate would have it, a foul called on another player disallowed the two-handed stuff. It was “The Dunk That Died,” a short New York Times clip proclaimed. History would have to wait. On December 21, 1984, WVU faced the University of Charleston in the Mountaineer Christmas Classic. WVU recorded games at that time on a reel-toreel video recorder. However, the heavy equipment didn’t make the trip to Elkins. Only Charleston’s head coach, Bud Francis, had a camera prepped and ready. A small crowd settled into their seats, the players warmed up, and the whistle blew. The game had begun. The Mountaineers were in the lead at halftime. According to a 1985 New York Times article, that was when teammate 20
MORGANTOWN • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2019
Lisa Ribble asked Wells if she was ready to make the shot. Wells wasn’t confident after playing poorly in the first half but, seeing Ribble’s excitement, she said, “Let’s go for it.” The clock ticked while the women searched for an opening. Then, with less than 12 minutes left in play, Charleston sank a basket. It was time. Wells broke away to midcourt. Ribble got the ball and fired it at her. A dribble or two, and Wells soared toward the basket. The clock hit the 11:18 mark as the ball swished in a gorgeous, one-handed stuff. The armory exploded. Mountaineers sprang up from the bench in a flurry of limbs and earthquaking cheers. The celebratory hoopla lasted so long that WVU received a technical foul, a small price to pay for a remarkable shot. The Mountaineers went on to win, 110 to 82.
him if his late father had a video tape from the 1984 tournament in Elkins. The younger Francis hadn’t seen it. However, Video or it didn’t happen he did have his father’s old coaching tapes Stories headlined in the New York Times sitting in a wicker basket next to his couch. and Sports Illustrated. The Naismith Could the Elkins video be one of them? Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Sure enough, he found a tape marked displayed the basketball Wells used. “WVU-84 Elkins.” The image was fuzzy She is said to have dunked with a men’s but, between the lean young woman regulation-sized basketball, despite the leaping at the far end of the court and the NCAA having adopted a slightly smaller crowd’s instantaneous uproar, the proof women’s ball earlier that year. was undeniable. Evidence of the dunk remained elusive Wells had dunked. when reporters asked for photographs or The 1985 New York Times article videos. Blakemore and other officials called Francis about the tape, but he didn’t release prophesied Wells would “be followed by a flurry of hands above the rim.” A it. Wells dunked again a few games later decade later, in December 1994, North against Xavier, this time with a camera Carolina’s Charlotte Smith became the rolling. And as the years passed, many next lady to dunk. Other outstanding wrote off the original Elkins tape as lost or women soon slammed their names into destroyed. Blakemore said in a later Wall the history books—Brittney Griner, Lisa Street Journal interview, “I guess we felt let sleeping dogs lie and, if we didn’t have it by Leslie, and Candace Parker among them. Yet nobody can quite replace the first that time, we weren’t going to get it.” Until Ford Francis’ phone rang in 2009. hand that reached above the rim 35 years ago, right here in West Virginia. Wall Street Journal reporter Reed Albergotti was on the other end, asking written by jess walker
COURTESY OF WVU ATHLETICS COMMUNICATIONS
➼ WHEN THE FIRST WOMAN dunked
THIS MATTERS WHAT'STHIS
WVU’s Mysterious Retejos Jichancas 1917
PAM KASEY, FROM THE PAGES OF THE MONTICOLA
➼ IN NOVEMBER 1908, a group of 13 female WVU students formed a secret society. They made themselves mysterious and, at the same time, hard to ignore. The main evidence of their existence is their group photos in the 1910 to 1929 Monticola yearbooks. Members were listed but always hid their faces in ways that might be meaningful or might just be playful. The Retejos Jichancas took their name from a language so obscure, a Google search turns up essentially one result in English. Translated from the language of the Zincali gypsies of Spain, the name means “merry gypsy women.” The RJs had a sense of humor. As their club emblem, they chose the cacabi, or cauldron. And in most yearbooks the term chuajani, which means sorceress, heads up sets of seemingly random characters— maybe they were encoded spells. Almost 200 students participated over the years, plus 20-some faculty. Membership peaked at 55 in 1927 and, by 1930, there’s no trace of the club. For the 1989 book WVU Women: The First Century, a researcher tracked down two elderly alumnae who’d been RJs. Initiates, he learned, had to dress in costume and mask and wear the mask to classes the next day. One of the alumnae told him the club originally had a noble purpose, but she couldn’t remember what it was. The group met occasionally and had an annual spring get-together at the Cheat-area cottage of music professor Grace Martin Snee. The researcher concluded that the original cause may have been women’s suffrage—the group’s colors, lalo, bardroy, and butacoli, or purple, green, and yellow, were associated with suffrage movements—and that activities may have relaxed over time into a social club after the 19th Amendment secured women’s right to vote in 1920. What do the chuajani mean? A free year’s subscription to anyone who persuades us they have a good interpretation. written by pam kasey MORGANTOWNMAG.COM
historic architecture had the right backdrop for a steampunk convention. “Before we got onto Route 50, we said, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if we did both?’” Dusic says. That initial question led to a follow-up: A unique steampunk convention raises money “Steam-what?” Misconceptions spanned for breast and cervical cancer. from comic book superheroes to rock ’n’ ➼ THE TALE OF VANDALIA-CON didn’t begin with a “Once upon a time.” roll. But, Dusic explains, just as football It began with a far more interesting fans follow their teams and dress in phrase: “Wouldn’t it be funny if?” their teams’ colors, lovers of science One winter’s day in 2014, Shelly fiction and fantasy cosplay in different Dusic and her husband, Bret, stayed subgenres. There are the Star Wars fans at Parkersburg’s Blennerhassett Hotel. and the Game of Thrones devotees. Dusic, who works for the West Virginia “And those who like tea parties and Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Around the World in Eighty Days? That’s Program (WVBCCSP), thought the steampunk,” she says. hotel would make a perfect venue for a In 2014 the first Vandalia-Con, a cancer awareness event. Bret thought its hybrid steampunk convention–health SUPPORTTHIS
A Fantastical Fundraiser
MORGANTOWN • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2019
fair–cancer prevention fundraiser, came to be. Folks flocked to the Blennerhassett Hotel in true steampunk fashion―a whimsical mash-up of Victorian-era top hats and corsets outfitted with “retrofuture” accessories. The convention is far more than cosplay. It’s cause-play. Every penny raised supports breast and cervical cancer intervention programs, namely Bonnie’s Bus. This mobile mammography unit provides breast cancer screening especially to under- and uninsured women. In five years, Vandalia-Con has given more than $25,000 to Bonnie’s Bus, and all of its in-kind donations and volunteer hours support WVBCCSP. Singing groups and dancing troupes lend their talents, and volunteers put on workshops. “As soon as people realize there’s an opportunity to help by doing what they love to do, the generosity is incredibly humbling and amazing to behold,” Dusic says. Vandalia-Con is also a home for those seeking medical assistance. One year, an attendee whose mother had passed away young from breast cancer wanted to be screened. Those at Vandalia-Con rallied to get special dispensation to pay for her mammogram on Bonnie’s Bus. “She caught me in the hallway, ran up, and gave me the biggest hug,” Dusic says. Even two men, due to their VandaliaCon involvement, later sought cancer screening that detected their cancers early enough to receive treatment. A new chapter is unfolding for the sixth annual Vandalia-Con. Dusic loved working with the Blennerhassett Hotel, but a move to Morgantown made sense. Most of the convention’s organizers live in the Morgantown area, and the city is one that has enacted a nondiscrimination ordinance. So October 18 through 20, a flurry of glamorous skirts and bright parasols and one giant flower-covered bus will descend upon the Hampton Inn & Suites at University Town Centre. Dusic says Vandalia-Con is for everyone, though—no costumes required. All that’s needed is a desire to have fun and do good. Even when the door closes on this year’s Vandalia-Con, it’s not the end. It’s an “until next time,” and that’s Dusic’s favorite part. “Everyone is exhausted, none of us have slept for two days,” she says, “but I still have at least an hour’s worth of hugs and goodbyes.” @vandaliacon.org on Facebook written by jess walker
COURTESY OF SHELLY DUSIC
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maples and memorializes a former head of the biology department. In all, more than 3 miles of trails explore the dense, deeply shady forest, with benches and interpretive signage along the way. The property’s 200-foot elevation span extends all the way to the floodplain. Trails parallel to the river or low on the slope make for easy walks, while trails that cut sharply are more challenging. CSX still hauled freight through the property until the early 1990s. Now, as the Caperton rail-trail, that pathway makes for easy access to the arboretum’s trails at the bottom of the slope. It’s a flat, one-mile walk from the parking lot at Edith Barill Riverfront HIKETHIS Park in Star City—or bike and lock up where the rail-trail intersects the arboretum and go on foot from there. Professor Core probably Experience what this place was like before there was a Morgantown—and could not have foreseen all have a good hike, too. of the ways his arboretum would support the university’s original agreement gave athletics first ➼ AFTER WORLD WAR II ended in land grant mission. Faculty use it to teach dibs, he says, and of course the athletic 1945, college attendance mushroomed all identification, ecology, and field techniques programs have made great use of it. across the U.S. West Virginia University’s in disciplines that include entomology, So the 90 acres the biology enrollment tripled—from 2,000 in the geology, and forestry. Undergraduate and department manages today includes fall of 1944 to 6,000 in the fall of 1946. graduate students conduct research there, a small number of labeled specimen The university needed a lot more space, as do citizen scientists. And the service trees—but more importantly, it’s a fast. “So it put together a few farms on aspect of the mission comes through in living example of what this area looked the outskirts of what was Morgantown at the many ways the community enjoys the like before it was settled. “What we’re that point—Krepps, Evans, Dilley, some property, from solitary hikes to practices left with is more of a forest preserve, others—to make the Evansdale Campus,” for Suncrest Middle School’s cross country old-growth forest in an urban setting,” explains WVU service assistant professor teams to public attendance at wildflower says Fowler, who serves as director of of biology Zach Fowler. and bird walks. Two larger annual events the arboretum. More than 80 native Biology faculty were already familiar also welcome the public in recent years: tree species and 250 native herbaceous with the steep, wooded slopes alongside a Spring Flower Festival in April that species grow there, and more than 180 the river that were part of that purchase, showcases the ephemeral wildflower display bird species have been spotted. “We also Fowler says. WVU botanist Earl Core and a Pawpaw Festival in September have an amazing display of spring and persuaded university President Irvin celebrating the native tree fruit. summer wildflowers, really unrivaled. Stewart of their value as a botanical Beyond the information kiosks It’s a spectacular place.” resource and, in 1948, the university and small amphitheater in use at the Early users of the arboretum established the Core Arboretum. arboretum, Fowler sees potential future established a trail system, and trails honor As events unfolded, the name development—facilities like a visitors former faculty. The Guthrie Loop, a flat, “arboretum” turns out to be a little center or a dock at the river. Meanwhile, 1/4-mile circuit next to the parking lot misleading. The much larger original volunteer time is welcomed Work Day on Monongahela Boulevard, is named plot extended north to include the Wednesdays just about every week of for a professor of biology and longtime current coliseum, track, and soccer the year and to organize and staff the Core Arboretum curator. The steep stadium, Fowler says—it’s easy to see on Taylor Trail winds through beech-maple festivals, and cash donations support the a map that it was all one property. That festival and also build an endowment. forest and recognizes a former professor broad, flat section had a pond and was Learn more at arboretum.wvu.edu. of zoology. The long, easy Strausbaugh intended to be used for arboretum-type Trail passes among oaks, hickories, and written and photographed by pam kasey plantings of specimen trees. But the
MORGANTOWN • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2019
Sip, Sip, Hooray This health and wellness shop is shaking up Morgantown. ➼ HEALTHY’S NUTRITION owner Dena
single-use plastic by using paper, cloth, and glass where possible and making sure the plastic he does use is recyclable. None of his products is ever tested on animals, and everything is either vegan or, if it contains honey, vegetarian. Ford keeps his products affordable so that those from any financial background can try them. He also gives back to the community by sourcing locally and by making donations to nonprofit organizations. Rora Apothic is debuting new products this fall—among them, a pumpkin face mask made from fresh pumpkin that’s been made into a powder. Look for Rora products at the November 16 Handcrafted Cooperative market downtown and year ’round on Etsy. Ford’s plans include growing his Etsy business and acquiring a Morgantown storefront. No matter how big the business eventually gets, it always springs from the original initiative proposed by Ford’s partner Miller: Help people look good, and do good for the planet. etsy.com/shop/roraapothic, @roraapothic on Facebook
Milner wants you to recharge and live a healthy life with her protein shakes. “It is science-backed nutrition,” Milner says. “We have something for everyone— whether you want to lose weight, gain weight, or just live a healthier life.” The process is simple, tasty, and happens in three steps. Grab a seat at the bar and talk with one of the friendly staff members to get started. If you’re new, the staff will make it easy for you. First, drink a natural detoxifying aloe shot that Milner says has 72 healing properties and is good for the digestive system. After that, drink a tea that will boost your metabolism and, she says, burns about 80 calories alone. And finally, the tastiest part: Choose a protein shake. Healthy’s offers familiar flavors like strawberry banana and more adventurous combinations like German chocolate cake, white chocolate Reese’s, and aloha delight—more than 100 in all. Shakes range from 17 to 24 grams of protein, never exceed 250 calories, and have 21 vitamins and minerals. Yum. Walk in at any given time, and the bar is fully packed with a scene reminiscent of Cheers. Everybody knows your name, and you can enjoy a seat at the bar at 7 a.m.—judgement free. And at a price comparable to a fast food meal, we’ll toast that. 918 Chestnut Ridge Road, “Healthy’s Nutrition” on Facebook
written by jenny corona
written by savannah carr
Self-Care as a Ware Rora Apothic makes skin care products you can feel good about.
COURTESY OF RORA APOTHIC; COURTESY OF HEALTHY’S NUTRITION
➼ STACY FORD UNDERSTANDS the need to de-stress. His partner, Kyle Miller, started Rora Apothecary in Morgantown in 2016 to handcraft herbal products for bath and body self-care—then unexpectedly passed away. Ford decided to preserve the business as a tribute to Miller. It was no small commitment. He started from scratch, watching YouTube videos and listening to ebooks to learn his craft. As he practiced, he developed his own spin on the methods, eventually learning to make all of the delicioussmelling candles, soaps, masks, bath bombs, cleansers, mists, and more that his newly named Rora Apothic sells today. Ford sees self-care as ways to calm mental and emotional turmoil in order to relax at the end of a long day. Part of that is feeling good about the products you use, so he makes Rora Apothic products with herbs from his Morgantown garden along with ingredients from other local sources. The No. 1 response he gets from buyers is overwhelmingly how good his products smell, followed by how unique his natural ingredients and combinations are. Earth-friendly packaging is serious business at Rora. Ford minimizes
THIS MATTERS THISMATTERS TO
➼ AS A YOGA INSTRUCTOR, clinical herbalist, functional nutritionist, and founder of the holistic health service Zen from Within, Melita Mollohan is on a mission: to assist the Morgantown community in creating connections not only within themselves, but with the world and people around them. Mollohan, who has more than a decade of experience in private practice, says her belief in alternative medicine is rooted in an early admiration of plants and herbs and her fascination with their medicinal uses. Known by her clients as the “Green Witch,” Mollohan uses her knowledge to equip others with the tools they need— from herbal and nutritional consultations to techniques such as meditation, massage therapy, yoga, and breathwork, to name just a few—to take their healing into their own hands. interviewed by KAYLYN CRISTOPHER
On the benefits of holistic health I teach clients how to understand their bodies and how they’re communicating with them so that they know which healing tool to reach for. I take the time to dive into their lives and the details that matter so we can see the whole picture. We get to the root causes of clients’ health issues and support them with the food, herbs, and lifestyle medicines that help them to return to a state of health and well-being.
On disconnecting from technology Technology is an amazing tool, but it also causes us to disconnect from the world that is literally right in front of us. We are always so connected—to our phones, computers, podcasts, music, Netflix—that we don’t allow ourselves the space to receive our own guidance. There's so much we can learn from the natural world around us if we take the time to slow down and connect. All it takes is hitting that sacred pause button on life for five minutes, to just breathe.
MORGANTOWN • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2019
photographed by CARLA WITT FORD
On the power of plants My biggest passion is being the bridge that connects people and plants so that they can do their own healing. When we heal ourselves, we help spread that healing into our community. Without our health, we have nothing. Plants are medicine, and the natural world is our companion and our foundation on this planet.
On taking small steps Start simple. Sometimes it’s the most basic things that make the biggest impact. Eat fresh, local vegetables. Stop to literally smell the roses. Put your hand on a tree for a couple of seconds as you walk by. Just a few minutes spread throughout the day can be a beautiful starting place.
Your turn to host the office pregame party? Friends coming over to break in your new subscription to FS1? Don’t stress. Some of your favorite local restaurants have long experience feeding hungry fans. They can help you come up with a spread for five or 500—and if your clock is running out, some even deliver. written by PAM KASEY 28
MORGANTOWN • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2019
NIKKI BOWMAN MILLS
Relax and enjoy your party with tailgating treats catered by the experts.
DISH IT OUT
Restaurant & Bar If you haven’t thought Hawaiian for your next tailgate, think again—a buffet of Kalua Pig & Cabbage and other island dishes will wow your guests. Tropics’ truly extensive catering menu offers that and every other kind of platter and buffet as well as plated meals and chef-attended stations for more formal gatherings. If you don’t find what you’re looking for on the menu, ask about their specialty dishes. Tropics will also supply heating elements, disposable chafing dishes, serviceware, and plates for a fee. Order two weeks in advance for pick-up or delivery. 2500 Cranberry Square, 304.291.5225, tropicswv.com
CARLA WITT FORD; COURTESY OF DUSTIN BARNES; COURTESY OF OLIVERIO’S RISTORANTE
You love the sunsets from their lakeside deck; now try their catering. Small groups or big—think corporate tents hosting hundreds—The Lakehouse caters it all. If you don’t see just what you want on the catering menu, check the regular menu, too. For larger or recurring orders, the restaurant can supply an insulated hot box if needed. Monday or Tuesday before the game is usually early enough to call, but orders are accepted first come, first served, so make your call earlier rather than later to be sure. The Lakehouse can deliver where you like and has experience pre-arranging meeting spots at the tailgating lots. 165 Sunset Beach Road,304.594.0088, lakehousewv.com
Ristorante on the Wharf
One of the best dining options in town for family celebrations is also quick to the tailgate rescue. Oliverio’s has a huge catering menu of Italian entrees and sides, but ask about off-menu options, too—dishes like pepperoni rolls, breakfast calzones and pizza, pulled pork, brisket, and much more are possible. They can deliver to sites including tailgate lots and can provide warmers. Are you making a late decision to have your party catered? Oliverio’s has you covered —they can take your order 24 hours in advance and can even work with a few hours’ notice in a pinch, depending on the dishes and quantity. 52 Clay Street, 304.296.2565, oliveriosristorante.com MORGANTOWNMAG.COM
DISH IT OUT
Full Bowl Catering No neighborhood bar is more beloved than Mario’s Fishbowl, for its quirky quaffs but also for its wings and lots more. Mario’s is the one independent, local restaurant that has a relationship with the Mountaineer Tailgate Club, an indication of the quality and breadth of its catering service. At least a week in advance, call or send an email—Mario’s hopes to accommodate any request so, rather than directing customers to a defined catering menu, they prefer to hear what you’re looking for. They can supply chafing dishes with sterno, serving utensils, and other accessories as needed. Orders for 10 or more may be delivered to your site, including to tailgate lots. 704 Richwood Avenue, 304.292.2511 ext. 4, email@example.com, mariosfishbowl.com
Black Bear Burritos
If you’ve only ever been to Sabraton Station for karaoke night, you may not know that they cater, too. But those same familystyle entrees and sides you love every week right before you get up and sing “Take Me Home, Country Roads”—again—can be the hit of your pre-game party. You can also order hoagies, wings, a taco bar, and other favorites from the regular menu. Co-owned by the owner of The Lakehouse, Sabraton Station offers a similar high level of service: an insulated hot box for large or recurring orders and delivery to your location if requested. Order early in the week before the game to ensure your order can be filled. 1632 Deckers Creek Road, 304.381.4225, sabratonstation.com 30
MORGANTOWN • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2019
COURTESY OF MARIO'S FULL BOWL CATERING; COURTESY OF BLACK BEAR BURRITOS; COURTESY OF DUSTIN BARNES
The go-to Black Bear stroller is the perfect tailgating food: Heartier than an appetizer, it’s neat to eat out-of-hand and accommodates everything from vegan options to all of the meats. The catering menu includes a list of Black Bear favorites like the Bear Trap and Funky Chicken Salad as well as chip & dip and hummus & vegetable trays. Black Bear takes orders for parties of up to about 100. Order at least 24 hours in advance for pickup at either location. 3119 University Avenue, 304.304.777.4867; 132 Pleasant Street, 304.296.8696; blackbearburritos.com
Bear Your Buns
Every Wednesday at our University Ave. location
Mon–Sat 11 a.m.–10 p.m.
Burger Wednesdays feature a new chef creation weekly with our exclusive specialty burger blend (1/3 chuck, 1/3 brisket, 1/3 short rib)
132 Pleasant St., Downtown, Morganto wn • 304.29-M TOWN(296.8696) 3119 University Ave., Suncrest , Morganto wn • 304.777.4867 • blackbearburritos.com
NOMINATE US FOR 2 0 2 0
Open Monday thru Saturday 9 a.m.–7 p.m. Sunday 11 a.m.–3 p.m. 304.413.0890
NOMINATE US FOR 2 0 2 0
PLACE TO CAFFEINATE
Open Mon.–Fri. 7 am–8 pm Sat. 9 am–8 pm Sun. 9 am–4 pm
MORGANTOWN â€¢ OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2019
No Business Like Sports Bu$iness
An inside look at WVU sports' score with the local economy. written and Photographed by Jess Walker MORGANTOWNMAG.COM
aturday, the sun rises over Morgantown as coach buses and minivans flood off of I-79. Athletes and families fill hotels within a 5-mile radius. Famished sports fans pack restaurants like WVU students cramming into a PRT car. But crumpled napkins toss like tumbleweeds through Milan Puskar Stadium’s seats. The Coliseum’s parking lot is a barren desert void of cars. No, these intrepid fans aren’t amped for a WVU football game or basketball showdown. They’re headed to the Mylan Park Aquatic Center to watch swimmers glide like dolphins and divers fall spectacularly. Or perhaps they’re headed next door to the Track & Field Complex, where pole vaulters fling themselves into the sky and sprinters run as if trying to break the sound barrier. Sports is big business. West Virginia’s lack of professional teams means universities feed fans’ fervor, and in Mountaineer Country we bleed blue and gold. But beyond the face paint, pepperoni rolls, and speakers blasting John Denver, a question emerges: Does WVU sports have an economic impact in Morgantown and West Virginia? That’s exactly what Morgantown’s many voices teamed up to answer.
Off the blocks Talk about new swimming and track facilities has swirled for many a season. The antiquated Natatorium has housed WVU’s swimming and diving for nearly 45 years. The old outdoor track facility was in such disrepair, it hadn’t hosted home track meets for a decade. Finally the starting horn sounded. The Hazel Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust gifted $15 million to kick-start the $48 million aquatic center and track and field complex. Mylan Park Foundation offered property and infrastructure, Paradigm Architecture designed the facility, and March-Westin Company built up that vision. “The facility elevates the status of the university athletics program,” says Jennifer Lainhart, associate director of programs and aquatics at Mylan Park. Previously there wasn’t much buzz about heading to Morgantown for an elite swim or track meet. Now that promises to change. “This will be a great chance for people in the swimming world and track world to think, ‘We’re going to go to West Virginia and host this national-level meet.’” The Track & Field Complex finished first with a fall 2018 ribbon cutting. Mylan Park’s eight-lane track encompasses a netted grass infield so the potentially 1,800 spectators in the bleachers won’t miss a single hurdle, throw, or vault. It already hosted its first high school and collegiate meets this past spring. The Aquatic Center will follow by winter. The competition pool features state-of-the-art timing systems, a diving well with platforms up to 10 meters high, and private locker rooms and lounges. Swim teams statewide will compete there for the West Virginia State Games on November 1 and 2, the center’s inaugural meet. The lane is also wide open for hosting Big 12 Swimming and Diving Championships. The community scores, too. Locals can purchase memberships and guests can enjoy day passes to swim laps or slip down water slides at a separate indoor community pool—even while competitions are underway across the hall. “The entire new swimming and track complex is going to be a bonus for us,” says Monongalia County Commissioner Tom Bloom. He says it’s an opportunity not only to host WVU meets but also high school, club, and other regional or national events. “We can’t stay where we are. We have to keep moving forward to compete with other areas.” Mylan Park’s Coordinator of Competitive Aquatics and Track Ed Denny says past club swim meets like those of Club Mountaineer have drawn as many as several hundred kids, and that was in a smaller facility. “Say you’ve got 1,000 kids and two parents each,” he says. “That adds up to a lot of hotel rooms and a lot of restaurant meals.”
Taking Care of Business In Morgantown, autumn nights are best spent under football stadium lights. When snow rolls into town, basketball fever heats up. Many people have long believed WVU had an effect on the local economy, but the exact dollars and cents were hazy. 34
MORGANTOWN • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2019
IN THE 2017-18 ACADEMIC YEAR
WVU ATHLETICS HAD A STATEWIDE ECONOMIC IMPACT
OF JUST U NDE R $303 , 000 , 000
ALMOST $79,000,000 OF THAT WAS IN MON COUNTY
WVU ATHLETICS GENERATED
709 JOBS TOPPED OUT
& FAN SPENDING
COUNTY $ 63,000,000 2,109 JOBS ACROSS WEST VIRGINIA IN THE STATE, WITH
OF THAT IN THE COUNTY
Not anymore. WVU Athletics tasked strategic consulting services Tripp Umbach with tallying the numbers during the 2017–18 academic year. The recently released findings were a slam dunk—an almost $303 million slam dunk. That’s the total statewide economic impact the findings say that, directly and indirectly, might not otherwise occur without the presence of WVU Athletics. Almost $79 million of that hits home right here in Monongalia County. The vast majority of that impact can be attributed to fans and visitors’ spending across all Mountaineer sports. It’s no secret we’re already great fans. We show our love through jerseys sold, hotel rooms snored in, burgers inhaled, and car tanks filled. Few things are better to spend hardearned cash on than, for example, wings and beer. Every home game, football fans trek across the road to Kegler’s Sports Bar & Grille. Just how many is hard to gauge. But General Manager Doug Moore says that, on any regular weekday, Kegler’s has one room of tables open. On game days, Kegler’s triples its size by opening two more rooms to accommodate the crowds. Locals and alumni also visit Mario’s Fishbowl on Richwood Avenue. They catch up over countless chicken wings and frosty fishbowls as if the iconic hangout is the big living room of a friend’s house. Co-owner Kim Zweibaum says she sees families who return year after year, no matter how well the football team is doing. The Suncrest location also attracts basketball fans from the Coliseum. “At Suncrest during basketball season, it might as well be football season,” Zweibaum says. Varsity Club is another hangout that’s just a hop, skip, and punt away from Milan Puskar Stadium. Its prime location wasn’t a happy accident. Owners Ernie and Bonnie Anderson loved WVU football—Ernie is a proud alum—and knew they wanted to run a sports tavern. “It’s all hands on deck for home football games,” says Bonnie Anderson. “We’re packed all day long.” And all weekend long. Folks grab dinner Friday night, snag lunch Saturday, or celebrate with a postgame beverage. Anderson says Varsity Club’s traffic on game weekends increases by about 44 percent, and sports-related MORGANTOWNMAG.COM
patrons don’t stop when the football players do. Summer youth clinics and sports camps at the stadium also bring customers. Beyond boosting business revenues, sports also provide seasonal opportunities for nonprofit fundraising. The Suncrest United Methodist Church on Van Voorhis Road is one of many property owners who offers up asphalt for a little extra cash. The church has around 200 parking spaces and packs them solid at $30 a spot—tens of thousands of dollars raised for the season. Fans’ own rear ends need parking spots, too. Morgantown High School Band’s biggest fundraiser comes from students and families doling out thousands of rented cushioned seats and backs—supplied by IMG College Seating in partnership with Panhandle Cleaning and Restoration—for the stadium’s bleachers.
The Short Game Look at the bumper-to-bumper cars and blinking traffic lights on football game days, and it’s easy to assume long lines mean equally long-lasting moola for Morgantown. Not so fast, according to some data. It’s more nuanced than that. WVU economist Brad Humphreys has spent the past two decades investigating the economics of sports. Whether or 36
MORGANTOWN • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2019
not game days have a long-term economic effect in a city is debatable, he says. Here’s one point. While more people means more beds, gas tanks, and stomachs to fill, the fraction that really matters is fans who come in from outside the area. “If somebody comes to Morgantown who wouldn’t have come to Morgantown if the sporting event wasn’t taking place and spends money on consumer activities, then we count that as an economic benefit,” Humphreys says. Take hotels. Some “heads on beds” are Mountaineer fans, but don’t count out our opponents—a different breed since WVU switched from the Big East to the Big 12 eight years ago. “Schools from the Big 12 travel very well, and they have taken up a lot of the hotel room spaces that normally would not have been taken up,” says County Commissioner Bloom. He says fans of faraway Big 12 rivals are more likely to come in at least a day early. For the 2018 football season, two of the six home games counted as single days, as far as tourism impact: the Thursday night game against Baylor University and the Friday-afterThanksgiving game against the University of Oklahoma. For those dates, out-of-towners would typically stay just one night.
AVERAGE VISITOR AVERAGE VISITOR SPENDING SPENDING men’s football $
Monongalia County resident
2 8 1 Out-of-state resident
West Virginia (non-Mon County) resident
Monongalia County resident
West Virginia (non-Mon County) resident
The other four home games were Saturday ones, meaning guests tended to stick around two days. For readers playing along at home, that’s a total of 10 days. In 2018, those 10 days generated an additional $2.6 million in hotel room revenue over average comparable days, says Susan Riddle, president and CEO of the Greater Morgantown Convention & Visitors Bureau. The second point is that the money coming in from sporting events is a transitory boost, not necessarily long-term growth. “That’s not the reason Morgantown is growing faster than other cities in West Virginia,” Humphreys says. A football game or swim meet isn’t going to offer as much of a long-term economic benefit as, for example, a large company employing workers with high-paying jobs.
The Home Stretch Businesses need locals to support them all year long. “Game days are unique, but we couldn’t survive on six Saturdays a year alone,” Anderson says of Varsity Club. And Morgantown has to be on top of its own tourism game year ’round. “We have a healthy sustainable economy on average. WVU just takes it up a notch,” Riddle says. Humphreys would agree. He’s a WVU alum, Mountaineer sports fan, and season ticket holder. But what’s more important
1 3 7 Out-of-state resident
for economics is the university itself. “It’s tough to parse out the effect of intercollegiate sports from the effect of the overall university,” he says. Universities help create lots of jobs, bring a younger population to town, and generate cultural amenities. “There’s tremendous economic benefits from having a university in your city.” Dollar signs aside, WVU makes Morgantown rich in entertainment. Fans rally around the Mountaineers with the same festive camaraderie other cities do for professional teams. They come early and stay late at tailgates. They cheer together as a sea of blue and yellow. Even those not in the stands plan their days around catching kickoff or tip-off on the big-screen. As the sun sets on game day, two things are clear. Morgantown runs on more than sports—the area has natural wonders and downtown treasures that exist beyond courts, fields, and finish lines. However the power of sports cannot be ignored. No matter what, football fans are going to link arms as soon as “Take Me Home, Country Roads” begins to play. Basketball buffs are going to nosh on wings as players leap for the rim. And now newcomers are going to root on sprinters and swimmers until the final lap. The Mountaineers may not always win but, whether measuring in dollars and cents or just school spirit, their presence is a victory for Morgantown and West Virginia. MORGANTOWNMAG.COM
CARLA WITT FORD
The staff at Morgantown Eye Associates model eyewear from the office’s large inventory.
New Diagnostics Can Save Your Vision
Dr. Erica Mancini has taught tap, jazz, and ballet. She’s a huge college football fan and travels as often as she can. She has a 3-year-old son and loves cooking and spending time with family.
able to communicate with the primary care physician about monitoring blood sugar or she may want to order With regular exams, modern techniques can blood work for the patient, as the patient slow age-related vision loss. prefers. Untreated, ➼ MANY IMPORTANT health conditions retinopathy can progress to blindness. show up first in the eye. The retina—the Macular degeneration inside back of the eye, where images are Deterioration of the center of the retina sent along the optic nerve to the brain— can result in blurred vision and, over time, is the only place in the body where a loss of the center of vision. Risk factors for medical professional can see live blood age-related macular degeneration (AMD) vessels without cutting. High blood include age over 55, family history of pressure, carotid artery disease, and even AMD, and smoking. There is no cure. cancers can be detected there long before Mancini can measure adaptation to a general annual physical exam would darkness and find signs of AMD three uncover them. years before it even shows up in the back Among the conditions that can be of the eye. She may recommend sun discovered early are three eye diseases protection and dietary changes. “I am also that cause most age-related blindness, says able to offer genetic testing to determine Dr. Erica Mancini: diabetic retinopathy, the exact vitamin supplements a patient macular degeneration, and glaucoma. All should take to prevent progression.” three are painless and can advance without Glaucoma being noticed. “There are a lot of things we take for granted that you can’t do if you can’t Vision loss through glaucoma comes when high pressures in the eye damage see,” Mancini says—like recognizing faces, the optic nerve. It’s painless and only reading, and driving. “It’s devastating— causes vision loss in its later stages. people lose their independence.” Eye physicians can usually treat high With early detection, these diseases can be slowed or even prevented. Mancini pressures successfully with eye drops or surgery, preserving vision. “But we really recommends a comprehensive eye exam want to monitor not just the intraocular once a year. pressures,” Mancini says, “but the optic Diabetic retinopathy nerve, both its structure and function.” Mancini can detect hemorrhages at the Advanced technology like optic nerve back of the eye that may be the first sign scans and electroretinography (ERG) of diabetes. “We’ll ask, ‘Have you had allows Morgantown Eye Associates to find your blood sugar checked recently? Are any changes in the optic nerve function you eating healthy?’” she says. She is and initiate treatment earlier if indicated. 38
MORGANTOWN • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2019
The most experienced eyecare practice in town with nearly 40 years of history, Morgantown Eye Associates provides primary care for the eye: vision correction tailored to your lifestyle as well as basic medical care with referral for serious conditions. The office’s large inventory of lenses, frames, and contact lenses and its on-site opticians mean same-day fulfillment for many prescriptions, and MEA’s three enthusiastic optometric physicians enjoy the use of state-ofthe-art equipment, several pieces unduplicated in the region, for fast, accurate imaging and assessment.
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land grant mission by improving health care for West Virginians. One way is simply by offering higher-quality services than a small hospital can. “At all of our cancer sites, for example, all of the doctors are faculty members, and we make sure they’re using the same chemotherapy and radiation oncology protocols and have the same tumor boards,” Wright says. “Whether you’re in Martinsburg, Morgantown, or New Martinsville, if you’re getting chemotherapy or getting an echocardiogram read at a WVU Medicine site, you’re going to get exactly the same service. We take that very seriously.” Another way acquisitions improve health care is that WVUHS shoulders the burden of back-office functions and everchanging regulatory compliance. “Braxton County Memorial Hospital, for example, which joined us on January 1, now has the same exact electronic medical records system we use here in Morgantown, one of the most advanced in the country.” Sharing an electronic medical records system improves safety and reduces costs. “In every hand-off from one hospital to another, a hospital to home health, a hospital to a doctor’s office, all of your prescriptions, labs, imaging, and doctors’ notes go straight to the next provider,” Wright says. “And let’s say we bring somebody from one of our smaller hospitals to Ruby. We don’t have to duplicate testing—we know what tests were ordered, we know what the MRI said. Electronic medical records is really the secret sauce.”
Doctoring Health Care If you read West Virginia news, you’ve noticed that WVU Health System has been growing faster than ever. After buying or partnering with nine hospitals in the region over the past two decades, suddenly in 2019 alone the system has acquired three hospitals and formed or intensified relationships with several others—and it’s bought an insurance company. It’s not growth for the sake of growth. It’s a considered strategy that’s improving health care access and quality and reducing costs, WVUHS President and CEO Albert L. Wright explains.
Adding and improving services As an academic medical center, WVUHS in Morgantown has long offered specialized treatments that enable patients to stay in West Virginia rather than traveling to Pittsburgh or 40
MORGANTOWN • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2019
other cities. But to add further services in fields where the need is great—heart and vascular medicine, neurosciences, cancer, critical care, and pediatrics—the system needs to serve the patient base of a larger population center. “If you’re going to recruit top doctors from New York, Chicago, Durham, or Dallas—and these are doctors that increasingly know more and more about less and less, very subspecialized, like valve surgery or deep brain stimulation— you have to have population to do that,” Wright says. “There are only so many brain tumors, for example. Growing our network lets us feed from around the entire state and from some of those border counties in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Virginia.” At the same time, acquisitions and partnerships serve the university’s
Rewriting incentives For almost any health metric—heart disease, diabetes, obesity, smoking, drug addiction—West Virginia sits somewhere between 45th and 50th among states.
COURTESY OF WVU HEALTH SYSTEM
WVU Health System just keeps growing—but for good reasons.
“Our leadership team and board of directors says, if we do everything the way we’ve been doing it, we’re going to stay there,” Wright says. WVUHS wants to shake things up by changing the financial incentives of the system. This is where its May 2019 purchase of The Health Plan comes in. “The Health Plan, Highmark, Aetna, Cigna, any health insurance company, the way they make revenue is, they collect premiums from employers or the government. The fewer health care expenses they pay out, the more money they keep,” Wright says. That’s the opposite of the way health care providers make money, which is by doing what the insurance side wants less of: seeing patients in the clinics, doing surgeries. “Our revenue is their expense.” As owner of The Health Plan, WVU Medicine can align the payor’s and the providers’ incentives. Rather than rewarding doctors for seeing more patients, the system can write employment contracts that reward doctors for meeting certain health measures—say, keeping patients’ cholesterol levels under a certain target on their annual physicals. “So, we can shift resources from pure ‘sick care,’ when you need the knee replaced or the toe amputated because you’re diabetic—now, say somebody’s pre-diabetic, the payor and the provider together are incentivized to stop that person from becoming diabetic.” The provider side makes less revenue, but the payor side keeps more of its revenue, and the two sides together under one umbrella remain financially viable. Better still, “it aligns everyone to focus on keeping the patient healthier,” Wright says. “That’s what we’re trying to do.” He points to two systems that are having success with similar models: Intermountain Healthcare in Utah and Geisinger in Pennsylvania. “They are finding savings by shifting incentives for doctors. We’ve met with folks from those two institutions, and we’re going to benchmark off of them to say, ‘This is how we want to use telemedicine, this is how we want to use other tools to improve care and lower costs.’” WVUHS plans to roll out its first Health Plan insurance products effective January 1, 2020. And on the subject of telemedicine: It’s been just around the corner for a decade, but the technology is finally good enough that it’s about to take off. “As the academic medical center of a rural state, we need to be one of the
nation’s leaders in telemedicine, and we’re embracing that,” Wright says. “As a system, we see about 2 million outpatient visits a year. We think, in the next five years, 30 percent of those visits need to be by telemedicine.” Doctors in certain specialties can see many more patients through telemedicine than in person, and, for patients, it’s far more convenient. WVUHS is investing first in more rural areas, starting in Summersville and Elkins. “But over time, even if someone lives a mile from Ruby Memorial, if it’s cheaper and easier for you, I want you to do that rather than coming into the clinic.”
Where it’s all headed This period of consolidation is sometimes brutal. In early September, an out-ofstate corporate owner abruptly closed Ohio Valley Medical Center in Wheeling, stranding patients and leaving more than 700 workers without jobs. WVUHS stepped in, quickly finding rooms and absorbing emergency room services at Reynolds Memorial and Wheeling hospitals and hiring hundreds of the displaced workers. “We are there for the long-term duration,” Wright told MetroNews. “Longterm we will rightsize healthcare in that market and improve things.” WVUHS now has more than 18,000 employees and is the largest private employer in the state. Wright expects still more acquisitions over the coming five years or so. But soon, this consolidation period will be played out— the disposition of the smaller hospitals will have been determined, and many of their doctors will have have been brought into the system rather than operating in private practice. “Then we really shift our focus to payor– provider integration, for the Triple Crown,” Wright says: “lowest costs, best outcomes, and access for everyone.” Meanwhile, here in Morgantown, construction is underway on the new $150 million, eight-story tower for WVU Medicine Children’s. “That’s going to revolutionize pediatric care in West Virginia,” Wright says. “The physicians we’re recruiting from across the country are amazing. Fundraising has passed $40 million toward a goal of $60 million, so there’s incredible community support— everybody can get behind improving the health of children.” The new facility is scheduled to open in June of 2021.
WVU Hospitals and (1) United Hospital Center form the West Virginia United Health System.
(6) Berkeley Medical Center joins. (9) Jefferson Medical Center joins.
(8) Camden Clark Medical Center joins.
(5) Potomac Valley Hospital joins.
(2) St. Joseph’s Hospital joins. West Virginia United Health System becomes the West Virginia University Health System, operating as WVU Medicine.
(4) Reynolds Memorial Hospital joins the system.
WVUHS enters into a management agreement with (12) Wetzel County Hospital. WVUHS enters into a management agreement with (14) Garrett Regional Medical Center.
January 1 (3) Braxton County Memorial Hospital joins. May 1 WVUHS and (17) Davis Health System deepen an affiliation dating to 2016; Davis Health System includes (18) Broaddus Hospital. May 7 WVUHS buys The Health Plan to form an integrated health care and financing system. June 1 WVUHS enters into a management agreement with (15) Barnesville Hospital. June 20 WVUHS enters into a management agreement with (13) Wheeling Hospital, which includes (16) Harrison Community Hospital in Cadiz, OH. July 1 (11) Summersville Regional Medical Center joins. October 1 (10) Jackson General Hospital joins.
written by pam kasey MORGANTOWNMAG.COM
downtown development series
Located on a ridge near the highways just south of town, the former Ramada Inn has been empty since 2017. Itâ€™s under consideration as a site for streamlining the delivery of social services. 42
MORGANTOWN â€˘ OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2019
Can Morgantown do both? written and photographed by Pam Kasey MORGANTOWNMAG.COM
f you’re down on your luck and hungry in Morgantown, you can find a meal downtown any day of the week. Morgantown Community Kitchen dishes up free lunches Monday through Friday at Trinity Episcopal Church, and the Salvation Army has you covered for dinner. Weekends, there’s a Sunday pancake breakfast at the First Presbyterian, Sunday lunch at St. John University Parish, and dinner both nights provided by Circle of Friends at a rotating roster of churches. If you’re not down on your luck and hungry in Morgantown, chances are you had no idea. This chuckwagon is part of a ragtag, interwoven network of downtown social services. In addition to meals day in and day out there’s emergency shelter at Bartlett House, a recovery community at Friendship House, free health care at Milan Puskar Health Right, a food pantry and free store at Christian Help, and more. It’s a safety net of compassion that has grown up gradually in response to need. It works pretty well: A couple hundred people are kept fed, sober, clothed, housed, healthy, and safe every day. Many are helped back to self-sufficiency. And it has co-existed peacefully alongside everything else that goes on downtown for decades. Until now. Over the past year, as the numbers of people carrying all of their belongings or behaving unpredictably have overshadowed shopping and dining, that safety net has started to tangle with downtown commerce. A quiet dialog among the businesses and the service organizations wasn’t improving things and, in September, the merchants’ mood shifted from tolerance to impatience. “Every day in downtown Morgantown we see people sleeping in the doorways, on benches, right on the sidewalk,” Blue Moose cafe owner Gary Tannenbaum told City Council on September 17. “Drug deals are going on before my eyes every day on Walnut Street.” Retro-tique vintage store owner Jillian Kelly recounted a series of incidents for Council members, starting with August 10. “I was walking to my car and I was approached and harassed by a man who was screaming and barking across the street from my shop all day.” Now she always arranges for a second person to work with her. Our customers don’t feel safe, business owners told Council—a rare show of
MORGANTOWN • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2019
frustration, because to say it out loud seems to minimize the successful markets and festivals and parades that go on downtown, and the merchants would much prefer to resolve this quietly. But it’s gone on long enough that some shops have already picked up and moved. Gary Loring took his Gary’s Comics from High Street to the mall in August after 17 years, citing, in part, “junkies” and “bums.” And when Lefty’s Place pizza shop flooded in April, owners Amel Morris and Tricia Kinnie decided they’d re-open in Suncrest instead. “Customers are mostly nice,” Morris says, “so when they come out and tell you they don’t feel safe, they’re speaking for more than the ones you’re hearing it from.” Some observers trace the beginnings of the downturn to April 2018, when Friendship House relocated its drop-in center from Willey Street to Walnut Street. That created a cluster of services on a block where a quirky mix of creative, independent retail was just starting to establish a solid foothold. Yet, services respond to need—they don’t cause it. Speaking at that same September 17 City Council meeting, Friendship House Program Director Caitlin Sussman pointed to an emerging methamphetamine crisis that’s slamming into her organization head-on, and the rest of the social services network from there. “This is not just our clients’ issue,” Sussman said. “This is an issue for all of us.” With that September meeting, muttered concerns became the subject of open conversation. The conflict is this: How do we square meeting the basic needs of hundreds of people in our compact little downtown with everything else we want downtown to be—that is, a place we feel good about letting our teens hang out, a county seat professionals invite their clients to proudly, an evening and weekend destination?
As it happens, a transformative proposal that’s been in the works for more than a year couldn’t be better timed.
“Ramada” means “shelter”
Bars have bouncers because they invite a certain clientele. Maybe we need that in this situation, too. GARY TANNENBAUM, PICTURED WITH HIS SON ROLLIN, BLUE MOOSE
Everyone was delighted with the February 2, 1975, grand opening of the Ramada Inn. “Those who attended were pleased with the lovely blue and green decor of the lavishly appointed suites and rooms,” The Dominion Post gushed, as well as “the spacious three-level lobby, the charm of the dining room, and the magnificent, third-floor ballroom which, on Sunday night, was a picture to treat the most sophisticated gourmet.” Massive flower arrangements brought WVU pride to the occasion with gold acacia, blue-gray eucalyptus, and blue iris. “And the breathtaking view from the front portico covers a wide panorama [from] the Old Kingwood Pike over rolling hills to the majestic Monongahela.” Newspaper language was a lot more flowery 40 years ago. The four-story hotel and conference center hosted business meetings, graduation parties, and wedding receptions for decades— any longtime Morgantown resident recalls an event. Political victory speeches rang out from its ballroom, because Alan Mollohan, U.S. congressman from this district from 1983 to 2011, co-owned the property with his sister and brother. Their father, Congressman Robert Mollohan, celebrated there before his son. But entering its fifth decade, the hotel hadn’t kept up with the times. It owed back taxes. The Mollohans closed it in June 2017 and, a year later, they auctioned it off. Morgantown developer Mark Nesselroad and Hazel Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust Trustee Stephen Farmer saw in the abandoned hotel the fulfillment of a vision they’d had for a while. Their vision was unveiled before representatives of more than a dozen social service organizations at a February 2019 community meeting in City Council chambers. The idea, the organizations learned,
231 Walnut Street Every Wednesday at 10 a.m., people meet at Friendship House for an open Voices of Hope choir sing—and during the holiday season, they go caroling downtown. It’s just one on a full schedule of activities offered up for anyone who can use a safe space or a warm feeling of community. Friendship House is a drop-in center for people struggling with mental illness, substance abuse, or homelessness and for those who want to help them, says Program Director Caitlin Sussman. It provides basic needs, like a bathroom, hot oatmeal, and a place to get out of the cold or heat for around 75 people a day. “That gets them through the doors, and then we can do so many other things for them.” That includes support for addiction and recovery but also groups that are the stuff of community and life: writing, painting, celebrating birthdays at Friday family meals. Participants maintain a plot at the Conscious Harvest Community Garden and won prizes for their vegetables at the past two Monongalia County Fairs. They offer original artworks and entertainment during Arts Walk. “If people participate in an activity for one hour, that’s one hour that they’re not doing drugs or drinking or engaging in unhealthy relationships. And then last week we had four people decide to go into treatment,” Sussman said in May. “That’s a great week.” Morgantown residents sometimes feel frustrated that they see the same people on the streets who have been homeless for years, she says. “But it’s amazing when someone gets housed, gets into recovery, gets employed—and it does happen.”
was to remake the building into a hub for any social service organizations that felt a large, airy facility 10 minutes’ drive south of downtown could help them better meet their missions. The building is 110,000 square feet in good condition on about 10 acres, with a large parking lot, they were told. It has 149 guest rooms, a big industrial kitchen, and conference space that could be divided to suit multiple operations. WVU Medicine, which received the property from Nesselroad and the McQuain Trust as interim owner, would facilitate next steps. The organizations’ initial reactions were possibly more skeptical than open. The proposal seemed to come out of nowhere. The Ramada Inn is remote, most said. How would people get out there?
Disentangling the fabric
In the seven months since the Ramada concept was first publicly proposed, the organizations have had time to think and discuss and imagine. Some are interested. All have important questions about how to disentangle a safety net that’s become woven and interwoven into the fabric of downtown over decades. Which organizations and what mix of services can sensibly be pulled away from downtown? How would transportation be accomplished? Bartlett Housing Solutions Executive Director Keri DeMasi was impressed when she toured the space. “I’ve been to the Ramada a million times, obviously in a different capacity, but I don’t know that I ever realized how grand a space it really is,” she says. DeMasi brings nuance to the idea of siting her organization’s emergency shelter there. She and her board are not interested in turning a hotel into a megashelter. “Building a bigger homeless shelter doesn’t address homelessness,” she says. What does get her excited is the potential for streamlining case management to get people housed more efficiently. She envisions a one-stop shop for the services her staff now coordinate at far-flung locations for people every day. “If there were a place to get an ID there, a DMV kiosk, if you could apply for disability and SNAP food benefits and Section 8 housing subsidies, if there were a satellite office there where one day a week the Fairmont–Morgantown Housing Authority would come in and do an orientation as opposed to people having to take a bus to Fairmont for that—that’s very appealing.” 46
MORGANTOWN • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2019
People like to lump it all under “the homeless people.” It’s not our homeless people. Leave them out of it. JILLIAN KELLY, RETRO-TIQUE
Milan Puskar Health Right Executive Director Laura Jones is keeping an open mind. “I can imagine that we would want to provide service up there,” she says of both Health Right and, separately, Friendship House, which is a Health Right program. “Of our 3,000 active patients that Health Right sees for primary care, only a small number are homeless, so it might be easier to take care to them”—that is, to offer a small clinic at the Ramada if the emergency shelter moved there. It might make more sense for Friendship House to move, she says, but again, “People from the shelter are only about a quarter of the people who come to Friendship House. If the people who are living on the street remain downtown, it’s a harder sell for us to move the whole program up there.” Further, she points out, if Bartlett House moves to the Ramada but continues to lock its doors from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., people staying there may gravitate downtown to fill their days anyway. How would people get to and from the Ramada Inn? Mountain Line buses currently leave Westover for Scott Avenue, where the Ramada Inn is, hourly 8 a.m. through 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. WVU Medicine is in communication with Mountain Line about what it would cost to run buses more often or later into the evening, according to Ron Justice, a WVU spokesman for the project. It’s also in discussions, Justice says, about van transport for people who rely on mobility aids like wheelchairs or scooters. The transportation question is not resolved, but it sits at the forefront of planning.
On the subject of transportation, DeMasi makes a point related to the larger discussions about the downtown environment and about getting people housed: If we want people of limited means to be able to make lives apart from downtown, we have to provide better public transportation, period. “We have a system that runs Monday through Friday, 9 to 5, with some exceptions,” she says. “But our folks aren’t working then— they’re working second and third shift. If they live on Goshen Road and work at Suncrest Towne Centre, for example, lack of transportation poses a challenge for sustainable employment.” And then there’s the chuckwagon. For DeMasi and her board, the shelter can’t move unless meal services move, too. “We’re not a feeding program, and our clientele depends on access to feeding programs,” she says. Feeding people is one of the main appeals of the property—that big industrial kitchen inspires the vision that, rather than having multiple organizations hauling into and out of multiple kitchens and seeking funding from the same limited sources year after year, efficiencies could be realized. But again, it circles back to transportation. “We have the kind of clientele sometimes that it would be difficult for them to show a card to ride a bus, or remember that they have a card, or hold on to it without losing it,” says Kathy Powell of Morgantown Community Kitchen. That group has provided weekday lunches downtown for 35 years, about 100 a day this past summer. “That doesn’t mean we’re totally against the project. I could see where it could really benefit the community.” Jodi Grunau with Circle of Friends, which marshals a massive network of volunteers to supply weekend dinners at downtown churches for 60 to 80 on average, isn’t sure all of the meals services should move. “I don’t think we can abandon downtown,” she says. “I know folks who are not necessarily homeless, older folks who’ve been coming to Circle of Friends for 15 or 20 years. It’s their source of camaraderie,” she says. “The Ramada Inn would give groups more room and put everybody in one place and connected, and that would be amazing. But to totally remove meals from downtown would be devastating.” One further important consideration: real estate. Christian Help, which manages
219 Walnut Street Voted Best of Morgantown Best Charity / Nonprofit for all four years Morgantown has had the category, Christian Help has generated phenomenal goodwill since it opened in 1975. It receives donations by the hour and distributes them to people in need—mostly working families who aren’t quite making ends meet. More than 100 people visit Christian Help’s free store at the former Loving Furniture building each day, four days a week. “Anything here is available to anybody in the community upon arrival,” says Executive Director Colleen Lankford. Visitors register and can then fill two bags with any of the clothes, books, or toys on display in the front room. If they need something they don’t see—the building is five stories of organized, easily accessed donations—they can request anything from tents and sleeping bags to housewares and small appliances to vouchers for financial assistance with utility bills and home and car repairs. Christian Help finds ways to manage and distribute just about anything—in just about any quantity. Always challenged by the fact that, while donations of women’s clothing are steady, men simply wear their clothes out, the charity was delighted to receive 15,000 men’s shirts. It has enough space to store a literal wall of shirts and can now meet that need. “The name ‘Loving’ is still on the front of our building, and I don’t think it will ever be taken down,” Lankford says. “I just think it’s appropriate.”
1110 University Avenue Not long ago, homeless services were provided under a Housing Readiness model. “Shelters took people in and made them get clean and sober, got them mental health services if they needed that, made them get jobs or work more if they were underemployed,” Bartlett Housing Solutions Executive Director Keri DeMasi explains. “Then they were ‘ready for housing.’” DeMasi’s organization has adopted the more current Housing First model. “The premise is, everybody’s ready for housing. You don’t just house people and walk away but, if someone is struggling with alcoholism, for example, it’s easier for them to decide to deal with it if they’re in an apartment than if they’re under a bridge.” Housing First has more lasting outcomes. And because it relieves pressure on law enforcement, emergency rooms, and other systems, it’s more cost-effective for a community. Attentive case management and a spectrum of housing options are critical to Housing First. So the re-worked Bartlett Housing Solutions includes 28 emergency beds at Bartlett House downtown, all of them in use most nights. On West Run Road, the organization has a 36-bed transitional housing program and 20 permanent apartments for 24 people. And it does active case management with about 50 housed in apartments across the community—in all, about 130 people supported at some stage of re-housing. “We’re pretty cutting edge as far as homeless services in this area,” DeMasi says. MORGANTOWNMAG.COM
a massive flow of donated items as a free store and also offers utility bill and other vouchers for families in need, owns its building on Walnut Street. “Christian Help will partner on appropriate services, perhaps be present part-time on-site,” Executive Director Colleen Lankford says of the Ramada Inn proposal. “But, as property owners, we won’t relocate our operations elsewhere.” Other organizations owning their buildings include Bartlett House, Health Right, and the Salvation Army. Friendship House rents. Leaving an equity situation to take on a lease is a major consideration for any organization. All of this is surmountable once the community arrives at a shared mission, says City Councilman Ron Dulaney, who’s taken a deep interest in the downtown environment—and it needs to be a mission that goes beyond “cleaning up the downtown” to address chronic homelessness, addiction, mental health, and law enforcement issues. “If we can agree to a mission, and the Ramada is applied in the service of that mission, I think people will recognize the potential of the Ramada site as a vital resource in solving this problem.”
It will take a village
Something does need to be done to relieve the need that’s openly visible on the streets downtown. “I’ve been a social worker for 32 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” says Health Right’s Jones. “This is probably the hardest work we’ve ever done, harm reduction and recovery services.” 123 Pleasant Street owner and Main Street Morgantown Acting Board President L.J. Giuliani told Council on September 17 that downtown business owners agree it’s time to act. “If we don’t, we’re just going to get farther and farther behind.” At the Ramada, WVU Medicine is bringing the plumbing, electricity, heating and cooling, and sprinkler systems up to date and making sure the kitchen equipment is in good working order, WVU’s Justice says. It plans to have that done by the end of 2019. Then, if there’s a set of social service organizations that are interested in moving there, WVU Medicine will transfer ownership to a nonprofit organization that would be governed by the resident organizations themselves. Build-out of the space each organization would take over is yet to be figured out; after that, the resident organizations 48
MORGANTOWN • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2019
would not pay rent but would pay a rate, likely in the range of $4 to $6 per square foot, for maintenance, utilities, and services like security and snow plowing—think homeowners association. But what’s happening downtown is not one problem and it’s not going to be resolved through one solution, even one as big as a whole Ramada Inn. “It’s not just people who are using drugs, it’s not just housing, it’s not just health care—it’s a very complex issue,” Jones says. Some other ideas are in play that could be part of the overall solution. Some could relieve pressure sooner than the big Ramada project, and all would require resources. • A bouncer at Friendship House This was mentioned at the September 17 City Council meeting. “That’s not a bad idea—we don’t have someone who waits at the door and determines who comes in and what they’re carrying,” Jones says. “But we don’t have the funding to do that right now.” So funding from somewhere for a private security position could help. • A more visible enforcement presence Many businesses downtown have asked for this. There is supposed to be an officer on foot downtown—“from the Sheetz to the Panera,” Chief Ed Preston says, “two of them from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. in overlapping shifts, 5,000 man-hours a year”—but most people feel like they never see them. So maybe it takes more than two. Preston also reminds us that the police can’t arrest people for loitering. They can’t arrest people for misdemeanors that aren’t committed in their presence, either. If there’s video evidence of, say,
It hurts me a little bit when people talk about being afraid to park in front of our building. People come here to not freeze to death, not be vulnerable to sexual assault because they’re sleeping on the street. This is just a skeleton of a first line of defense for them. CAITLIN SUSSMAN, FRIENDSHIP HOUSE
disorderly conduct, they may be able to get a warrant, and that could take hours or days. • A public intoxication shelter Police also don’t arrest people for public drunkenness—the West Virginia Supreme Court has ruled that a person who is an alcoholic is automatically not guilty of public intoxication by reason of disease. What the police could do, if they had the facility, is hold them in a medically supervised intoxication shelter. “We need one desperately,” Preston says. He estimates that the police would remove more than 20 people a day from the streets if they had a place for them, and he believes it would be a powerful deterrent. This, again, requires funding. • More treatment beds Jones recounts a recent incident in which a drug user Health Right had worked with for years finally decided to get clean. He went to detox but, when he came out, there was no recovery bed available—so he went back on the street and started using again. “When someone’s ready, you have to strike,” she says. “You can’t push them out and say, ‘Fend for yourself out there until we’re ready for you.’” • Low-income housing “Not middle-low-income housing, but low-lowincome housing,” Jones says—housing that accepts federal Section 8 housing assistance. “Scattered-site housing where people can live among other people who have resources.” Any organizations that do decide to move up to the Ramada Inn are going to need support to do it. Even those that own their buildings downtown may conduct capital campaigns for their build-outs, for example, because they’d need to keep offering services where they are until the new space is ready. They’re going to need extra volunteer time to help them move and set up their new spaces. And they’re going to need us to continue supporting them as we have—to not put them out of sight, out of mind. No matter what mix of solutions is pursued, the September 17 City Council meeting seems to have catalyzed frank and realistic communication among the businesses, the social service organizations, and city administration. The city has set a special meeting for October 11 to assess its resources and responsibilities and create a work plan toward a multifaceted, long-term solution. That move was welcomed by the Walnut Street merchants, and Lankford, at Christian Help, is optimistic. “We have the resources, skills, and expertise in the community,” she said following a productive Main Street Morgantown meeting in September. “I'm hopeful the discussion is underway.”
Milan Puskar Health Right
341 Spruce Street Health Right has offered free health care to West Virginia residents since 1984. The downtown clinic sees dozens of patients every weekday and has an active patient roster of about 3,000. Services include primary medical care, with referral to local hospitals for lab work and other care when needed and available. Specialty clinics are offered for diabetes, heart health, and other high-need concerns. Both individual and family counseling are offered. The clinic fills tens of thousands of prescriptions each year through donated medications, and it has offered a harm reduction, or needle exchange, program for the past four years. Around 10 percent of Health Right’s patients are homeless. They can get showers at the clinic, but, working from the premise that housing is health care, Health Right also helps line up the documentation people need to receive federal housing assistance and make other moves toward selfsufficiency. “We literally have people who don’t know where they were born, and we help them get birth certificates. And then we have to help them get a social security card,” Health Right Executive Director Laura Jones explains. “Applications are online, so we have computers available to help people with that, but then we have people who have no computer skills. These are the things that trip people up. The whole process can take years—our job here is to make sure they don’t get lost.” Health Right provides its extensive services through a staff of more than 20 and a volunteer corps of a couple hundred doctors.
MORGANTOWN â€¢ OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2019
2019 Shop local for some of the best and brightest gifts of the season!
W.O.W. Tee. 50% of profits goes to the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia. Coal; XS–XXXL, $28–$30. KIN SHIP GOODS , shop online at kinshipgoods.com
nds that St ylish fi ise and r will surp t. deligh
Designed by West Virginia doctors and manufactured in-state, this Serucell Face Serum is a game changer. $225. Mc CLELLAN PLASTIC SURGERY, 5000 Coombs Farm Drive, Suite 102, 304.777.4677, mtpsa.com 52
MORGANTOWN • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2019
Give beauty and relaxation this season with a gift box by Aveda, starting at $25—or a gift card in any amount. TUSCAN SUN SPA & SALON, 401 Boyers Avenue, 304.296.1325, tuscanspaandsalon.com
CARLA WITT FORD; COURTESY OF KIN SHIP GOODS; COURTESY OF TUSCAN SUN SPA & SALON; COURTESY OF SERUCELL
Wild and sparkly! .925 sterling silver, $99; .925 sterling silver with .015 ct (1.5 mm) diamond, $125. SPENCER & KUEHN FINE JEWELRY STUDIO, 320 High Street, 304.296.9669, spencerandkuehn.com
Give the aroma of Almost Heaven: candle, $22; matches $11. ABOUT YOU MONOGRAMS , 110 West Main Street, Bridgeport, 304.842.2178, @aboutyoumonograms on Facebook
Jewelry by local artist Jeanne Marie Higinbotham. Paper cuff with storybook image inside, $20; paper bead earrings, $25. THE ELEGANT ALLEY CAT, 3438 University Avenue, 304.292.4433, elegantalleycat.com
COURTESY OF ABOUT YOU MONOGRAMS; CARLA WITT FORD; COURTESY OF MCFLY OUTDOORS; COURTESY OF NUFOOT; CARLA WITT FORD
Custom-made West Virginia cap. Blue or gray; variety of patterns available, $25. HOOT & HOWL , 245 Walnut Street, 540.533.0189, shophootandhowl.com
Keep her drier with a TopsyTurvy inverse-opening umbrella. Many colors and styles, $20. CUTTING ROOM BOUTIQUE, Seneca Center, 709 Beechurst Avenue, 304.413.2800, @thecuttingroomboutique on Facebook
Patagoniaâ€™s Re-tool Snap-T Fleece Pullover offers warmth and slim-fit style for any occasion. Available in a variety of colors. $119. McFLY OUTDOORS , 1066 Suncrest Towne Centre Drive, 304.592.4022, shop online at mcflyoutdoors.com MORGANTOWNMAG.COM
Wow your friends and in-laws.
Regional magazines for national audiences: Morgantown, one year, $20; WV Living, one year, $20. NEW SOUTH MEDIA , subscribe at newsouthmedia.com
e t a c i t f i t a r tific e C t f i G t Cer S S f S S i A A L C L G COOKI NI NGG C K O O C uu aa teddyyoo hassggififte ha
From Wheeling clay sculptor and potter Erika Donaghy: Raku votive, $25; Raku fish wall hanging, $40; pieces $20–$1,000. WHIPPOORWILL WOODS AND WATERS , Seneca Center, 709 Beechurst Avenue, 304.704.6636, @whippoorwill22 on Facebook
J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works popcorn salt, harvested from ancient deposits deep beneath West Virginia soil, $5.99. MOUNTAIN PEOPLE’S CO-OP, 131 Pleasant Street, 304.291.6131, mountainpeoplescoop.com
CARLA WITT FORD (3)
The iconic Blenko glass water bottle, hand-blown in West Virginia. Mini and regular, variety of colors, $50–$75. APPALACHIAN GALLERY, 270 Walnut Street, 304.296.0163, wvcraft.com
Give the gift of cooking. More than 10,000 customers in 10 years. Gift certificates good for any class, $60. MY KITCHEN, 3391 Grafton Road, 304.241.4901, shop online at mykitchenwv.com
MORGANTOWN • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2019
for Upcycled bicycle chain wall hooks designed by and handcrafted exclusively for the seller. Take Me Home, $32; Country Roads, $34. RIVER FAIR TRADE , 316 High Street, 304.413.0098, shop online at riverfairtrade.com
Show h with im you c s othe omethi are n r tha nat g ie.
COURTESY OF RIVER FAIR TRADE; CARLA WITT FORD; COURTESY OF MCFLY OUTDOORS; COURTESY OF SUSTAINU; CARLA WITT FORD
Stylish posters from the Living Insignia print series. Hand carved and printed, 11x17, $10 each. BASE CAMP PRINTING , shop online at basecampprinting.co All in good fun: Mollyjogger Guide-Curated Fly Set, $24; lifehacking books on useful topics, ~$20; snigger-worthy socks, $9–$13. KIN SHIP GOODS , shop online at kinshipgoods.com.
Represent your passion for Appalachia this holiday season with a personalized “Take Me Home Box” from SUSTAINU. $89.99. Order at takemehomebox.com after November 1, 2019.
Everyone needs a great fleece sweater. Patagonia’s Lightweight Synchilla Snap-T Pullover is part of McFly’s large Patagonia collection. $119. McFLY OUTDOORS , 1066 Suncrest Towne Centre Drive, 304.592.4022, shop online at mcflyoutdoors.com
S D I K
rt. at hea s d i k d ns, an
From Springer Mountain, Georgia, to Mt. Katahdin, Maine: True South’s 750-piece Appalachian Trail jigsaw puzzle. Ages 10+, $20. KIN SHIP GOODS , shop online at kinshipgoods.com
Chart Metalworks’ map key ring mapping our favorite coordinates, $45. THE ELEGANT ALLEY CAT, 3438 University Avenue, 304.292.4433, elegantalleycat.com
Pura Vida bracelets, handmade by artisans around the world and supporting environmental, humanitarian, and other causes, $6–$15. THE ELEGANT ALLEY CAT, 3438 University Avenue, 304.292.4433, elegantalleycat.com 56
MORGANTOWN • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2019
Fashion that just won’t quit. Haute Baby Autumn Blooms Swing Set tunic and leggings. 12, 18, and 24 months, $100. PERSONALLY YOURS , 5 Suburban Court, 304.599.6211, shop online at personallyyourswv.com
CARLA WITT FORD; COURTESY OF PERSONALLY YOURS (3); CARLA WITT FORD (2)
High style for the little guys. Buffalo check booties, up to 6 months, $25; hat, up to 18 months, $22. PERSONALLY YOURS , 5 Suburban Court, 304.599.6211, shop online at personallyyourswv.com
Players buy and sell potion-making ingredients in Mystic Market, the new game from ThinkFun. Ages 10+, $17.99. PINOCCHIO’S BOOKS AND TOYS , 322 High Street, 304.296.2332, shop online at pinocchiosbooksandtoys.com
Exo Terra Bamboo Reptile Kit, $89.99; Fluval SPEC Freshwater Five-gallon Kit, $79.99. Other styles and sizes of each available. SHOP LOCAL. EXOTIC JUNGLE PET SUPERSTORE , 1716 Mileground Road, 304.296.8552, “Exotic Jungle Pet Superstore” on Facebook
COURTESY OF THINKFUN; CARLA WITT FORD; COURTESY OF PLAYMOBIL; COURTESY OF KIN SHIP GOODS
Printed in West Virginia! Small Towner tee, red, 2T–12Y, $24; Mountain Made onesie, navy or heather, newborn–18 months, $22. KIN SHIP GOODS , shop online at kinshipgoods.com
Del's Food Truck, featured in the forthcoming Playmobil: The Movie, from the only full-line Playmobil dealer in the region. Age 5+, $39.99. PINOCCHIO’S BOOKS AND TOYS , 322 High Street, 304.296.2332, shop online at pinocchiosbooksandtoys.com
5 West Virginia pin. Printed plastic, variety of patterns available, $7. HOOT & HOWL , 245 Walnut Street, 540.533.0189, shophootandhowl.com
New and gently used fashions are always welcome gifts. Bangle keyrings, many styles, $9.99; Anemone lace bralettes, $19.99. UPTOWN CHEAPSKATE , 5001 Mid-Atlantic Drive, 304.381.4568, @uptownmorgantown on Facebook
The state DIVISION OF NATURAL RESOURCES ’ monthly Wonderful West Virginia has been showcasing all that’s wild and wonderful since 1936. One year, $18. Subscribe at wonderfulwv.com
Jewelry that inspires makes a perfect gift to commemorate a special occasion. $18. ABOUT YOU MONOGRAMS , 110 West Main Street, Bridgeport, 304.842.2178, @aboutyoumonograms on Facebook
Holl’s chocolates, handcrafted in West Virginia. Boxed collections, bark, lollipops, many options, $2–$72. HOLL’S CHOCOLATES , shop online at holls.com 58
MORGANTOWN • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2019
CARLA WITT FORD (3); COURTESY OF ABOUT YOU MONOGRAMS; CARLA WITT FORD (2)
Inexpensive treats for office parties and stocking stuffers.
STrETCHing is a SNAP
SNAP Stretch encourages healthy eating choices and supports local farms.
Who doesn’t like to stretch their dollar?
Now, West Virginians who benefit from the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can double or triple their food dollars at participating farmers markets, roadside stands, and CSAs, thanks to the West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition, West Virginia Farmers Market Association, and WVU Extension Family Nutrition, which is funded in part by USDA SNAP. “It’s a win win win,” says West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition Food Equity Director Laura Dice Hill. “SNAP recipients, through this dollar-for-dollar match, have the ability to choose more healthy options of fresh produce while at the same time putting money back into the economy by supporting our local farms.”
How It Works
West Virginians with a SNAP card use the card to pay for everyday food items at participating farmers markets. SNAP Stretch automatically matches what is spent, doubling the amount of money that can be used on fresh fruit and vegetables. And if a SNAP household brings a child to the market, SNAP Stretch will match the money for fruits and vegetables again, tripling the value of the SNAP dollars. Hill says, “If a low-income family uses their SNAP card for $20 at a local farmers market, they receive $20 in product plus an extra $20 through SNAP Stretch to spend on fruits and vegetables—and if they have a child with them, the child gets another $20.” Each farmers market can choose to implement SNAP Stretch in a way that works best for their community. Some traditional weekly outdoor farmers markets swipe the SNAP card at a central location and SNAP Stretch tokens or “market bucks” are given in return. Another method is for a farmer or mobile market to visit a senior housing facility, school, child care center, or housing development and sell on-site. A third model is for a brick and mortar farmers market, like The Wild Ramp in Huntington, to offer a year-round option for customers.
Thanks to a grant originally written by an area doctor, Mark Cucuzzella, the Charles Town Farmers Market introduced its own version of doubling SNAP benefits as early as 2015. So now with SNAP Stretch, those receiving SNAP benefits can actually quadruple the amount of money they spend on fruits and vegetables. Fiona Harrison, the market manager of the Charles Town Farmers Market, says that since they’ve added SNAP Stretch this spring, they’ve seen incredible participation. “Within a couple of weeks, we had to print a couple of thousand more of our currency,” she says. “There are so many success stories. One woman who was recently divorced said to me, ‘You have no idea how much this helps me and my family.’ Her kids divvy up their SNAP Stretch money and put it in their own envelopes. She’s teaching them math, wise giving, healthy choices, and the value of money—and they actually eat the food, because they buy food they want to eat. There’s nothing but good things happening in the community because of SNAP Stretch.” The fruit and vegetable vendors at the Charles Town Farmers Market have been very receptive. “It has been a glowing success,” says Harrison. “The vendors love seeing the children getting involved in picking fresh produce.” And it’s been good for the local economy. “During our best week this summer, $1,500 to $2,000 went into the market from SNAP Stretch.” Sherrie Taylor of Thankful Valley Farms and Hatchery also can’t praise the program enough. But she has a different approach. She takes locally grown produce aggregated from 19 farms to low-income families in pop-up farmers markets in five counties—serving them where they live and where the need is greatest. “I see about 2,000 people a week across five counties—Kanawha, Fayette, Cabell, Mason, and Putnam,” Taylor says. “I go to low-income housing developments, senior living facilities, schools, and clinics.
SNAP Stretch Markets % Alderson Community Market % Barbour County Community Garden Market Heart and Hand % Berkeley Springs Farmers Market % Bridgeport Farmers Market Association % Charles Town Farmers Market % Courthouse Farmers Market % Doddridge County Farmers Market % Fayette County Farmers Market - Oak Hill % Fayette County Farmers Market - Court Street % Grantsville Farmers Market
% Grow Ohio Valley % Lewisburg Farmers Market Off the Beetin’ Trail % MarketFest % Martinsburg Farmers Market % Morgantown Farmers Market % Public Market % Rt. 18 Farm Market % Shepherdstown Farmers Market % Sunset Berry Farm and Produce % Thankful Valley Farms & Hatchery % The Wild Ramp
A lot of these areas are food deserts. Most of the people I see don’t have transportation. Some have health issues. Some aren’t mobile. Some are disabled. Some can’t afford a bus ride. I often just give a lot of food away. I can’t stand to see a person go hungry.” Last year Taylor put 58,000 miles on her truck, pulling a 16-foot-trailer. “Some days I cry all the way home. You can’t understand the hunger I see,” she says. “They can’t afford to eat healthy. They get lectured by doctors for not eating healthy. They want choices, but they don’t have choices. They’d choose to eat healthier if they could, but they often don’t have transportation, they don’t have a means to cook, they don’t have money, and then they get depressed. It’s a vicious cycle. No one should be without food. SNAP Stretch is helping, but there’s such a staggering need. I can’t do it all by myself.”
Just the Facts
There are 342,000 West Virginians who receive SNAP benefits—benefits amounting to $1.20 per person per meal. Of that number, 137,000 are children. SNAP is instrumental in ensuring that children get the food they need each day—and when children eat better food, they feel better, learn more, and grow up healthier. By incentivizing low-income families to make healthier food choices, SNAP Stretch aims to break the cycle of hunger and poor nutrition and at the same time be a positive influence on our local economy. According to the West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition, in 2017, $453 million SNAP dollars were pumped into the economy. Of that, only 0.01 percent went to farmers— and more than 85 percent were redeemed in big box grocery and superstores. SNAP Stretch wants to change that statistic.
How can you help?
Get the word out. Encourage those receiving SNAP benefits to take advantage of SNAP Stretch.
Encourage your local farmers markets to participate in SNAP Stretch.
Make a donation to your local market or the WV Food & Farm Coalition so that programs like SNAP Stretch continue to receive funding.
% Turnrow Appalachian Farm Collective % Turnrow at Capitol Market % Wardensville Garden Market % Warwood Farmers Market % Wayne County Farmers Co-op % Wayne County Farmers Market % Western Greenbrier Farmers Market % Wetzel County Farmers Market % White Sulphur Springs Farmers Market % Williamson Farmers Market
For more information, contact Laura Dice Hill at the West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition by email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit wvfoodandfarm.org 60
MORGANTOWN • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2019
Your local guide to life, art, culture, & more OCT/DEC 2019
October OCTOBER 10- NOVEMBER 4 Best of Morgantown 2020 Nomination Round morgantownmag.com/BOM Nominate your favorites in 101 categories— nominate in more than 30 categories and be entered to win a pair of tickets to see the Mountaineers take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys on November 23. COURTESY OF WVU ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
OCTOBER 12 Morgantown Farmers Market Market Place pavilion, Spruce Street, Sat. 8:30 a.m.–noon, “Morgantown Farmers Market” on Facebook Local produce, fresh breads, meats, cheeses, artisan crafts, live music, and the good-natured company of your neighbors, Saturday mornings into November. Mountaineers Football vs. Iowa State University Milan Puskar Stadium, Sat., wvusports.com Cheer the WVU Mountaineers on against the Iowa State University Cyclones. OCTOBER 13 11th Annual Fall Children’s Festival West Virginia Botanic Garden, 1061 Tyrone Road, Sun. 1–4 p.m., wvbg.org Fairy house building, pumpkin painting, crafts, special guests, and seasonal refreshments. All ages. Free; donations encouraged OCTOBER 15 Chief Cornstalk & the Mothman Morgantown Public Library Aull Center 351 Spruce Street, Tues. 7 p.m., mympls.org Learn the indigenous history behind the West Virginia legend. See website for more of the library’s Haunted History Month events. Free OCTOBER 17 WVU Women’s Soccer vs. Oklahoma State Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium, Monongahela Boulevard, Thurs. 7 p.m., wvusports.com The Mountaineers take on the Cowgirls. OCTOBER 18 Champions of Magic WVU Creative Arts Center, 1 Fine Arts Drive Fri. 7:30 p.m., events.wvu.edu The five world-class illusionists who make 62
MORGANTOWN • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2019
OCTOBER 10 WVU Sculpture Tour Opening Reception This showcase of eight large-scale outdoor artworks by artists from all over the country will be on view for two years on the grounds of the Creative Arts Center. Meet the artists and sculpture faculty at the opening reception. Free WVU Creative Arts Center, 1 Fine Arts Drive, Thurs. 5 p.m.
up this mind-bending theatrical production presents incredible mind reading, stunning close-up magic, and daring large-scale illusions, including a recreation of Houdini’s impossible water torture cell. $24–$69 OCTOBER 18–20 Sixth Annual Vandalia-Con Hampton Inn & Suites, University Town Centre Fri.–Sun., @vandaliacon.org on Facebook Steampunk cosplay and health fair supports breast and cervical cancer intervention. $20/day, $50/three days, October 19 health fair free OCTOBER 19 & 20 Morgantown Studio Tour Several locations, Sat. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. and Sun. noon–4 p.m., motownstudiotour.com See inside the creative processes of four prominent local artists and meet them and their artist friends. Free
OCTOBER 20 WVU Women’s Soccer vs. Oklahoma Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium, Monongahela Boulevard, Sun. 1 p.m., wvusports.com The Mountaineers take on the Sooners. OCTOBER 22 An Evening with Edgar Allan Poe Morgantown Public Library Aull Center 351 Spruce Street, Tues. 7 p.m., mympls.org A dramatic reading of Poe’s most spine-tingling tales. See website for more of the library’s Haunted History Month events. Free OCTOBER 24 Missing on the Monongahela Morgantown Public Library Aull Center 351 Spruce Street, Thurs. 7 p.m., mympls.org A discussion with local experts of lost historic sites from colonial-era Morgantown. See website for more of the library’s Haunted History Month events. Free
OCTOBER 30–NOVEMBER 1 14th Annual Dia De Los Muertos Dinner Hill & Hollow, Seneca Center, 709 Beechurst Avenue, Wed.–Fri., 304.241.4551, @hillandhollowwv on Facebook A Filipino-hillbilly shindig. OCTOBER 31 Trick or Treat Thurs. 6–8 p.m. WVU Women’s Soccer vs. TCU Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium, Monongahela Boulevard, Thurs. 7 p.m., wvusports.com The Mountaineers face the Horned Frogs.
COURTESY OF THAT1GUY
November NOVEMBER 1–3 Mountaineer Week Craft Fair WVU Mountainlair The biggest, most anticipated craft fair every year, with enough variety to find something handmade and unique for everyone on your holiday list.
OCTOBER 19 That1Guy If you missed him before, here’s your chance to see That1Guy. 18+. Magic show $50; concert $10/$15 day-of 123 Pleasant Street, Sat., magic show 7 p.m., doors 8 p.m., concert 9 p.m., 304.292.0800, 123pleasantstreet.com OCTOBER 24–27
Fairies & Scaries M.T. Pockets Theatre, 203 Parsons Street, Thurs.–Sat. 7 p.m., Sun 2 p.m. mtpocketstheatre.com Classic literature, horror stories, and fairy tales serve as the basis for character development exercises in this one-of-a-kind production written and developed by young performers. $7/$10
NEARBY Fall Craft Show and Festival 18 Q Road, Arthurdale, Sat. 9 a.m.–4 p.m. arthurdaleheritage.org Visit our local New Deal homestead and enjoy hay rides, handmade items from West Virginia artisans, regional delicacies, and live music by the West Virginia Hitchers.
The Phantom Tollbooth Metropolitan Theatre, 371 High Street, Thurs.–Sat. 7:30 p.m., Sat. & Sun. 2 p.m., ticketmaster.com Having received a magic tollbooth, Milo decides to drive through it in his toy car and is transported to the Kingdom of Wisdom. After the novel by Norton Juster. $11–$21
OCTOBER 25 Roots & Boots Tour The Robinson Grand Performing Arts Center 444 West Pike Street, Clarksburg, Fri. 7:30 p.m., 304.624.1500, therobinsongrand.com See three big names in country music history all on one stage: Sammy Kershaw, Aaron Tippin, and Collin Raye. $79–$99 NEARBY
Sofar Sounds Concert Somewhere in town, Fri. 7:30–10 p.m. sofarsounds.com/morgantown Unspecified bands in an unspecified location― a different BYOB musical adventure every month. $20
NOVEMBER 2 The Ravenwood Masquerade: A Murder Mystery Dinner Party Atria’s, 1188 Pineview Drive, Sat. 7–10 p.m. eventbrite.com Solve a mystery in the Ravenwood Castle in Bloodworth Falls. Cocktail attire and masks are encouraged! To benefit the Monongalia County Child Advocacy Center. $45+ NOVEMBER 6
Food Truck Sunday at Coopers Rock Coopers Rock State Forest, Sun. noon to 5 p.m., @coopers.rock.wv on Facebook Last Food Truck Sunday of the season! Proceeds from vendor permits go toward materials for new tent pads in Camp Rhododendron Campground.
The Allman Betts Band Metropolitan Theatre, 371 High Street Wed. 8 p.m., morgantownmet.com The sons of Gregg Allman (Devon Allman) and Dickey Betts (Duane Betts) have joined forces to form The Allman Betts Band. The show features new music, songs from their solo projects and classic Allman Brothers and Gregg Allman tunes in honor of the 50th Anniversary of The Allman Brothers Band. Brotherhood of Light, the "original San Francisco psychedelic show" is providing visuals and lighting for the evening. All ages. $30–$60
Morgantown Ghost Stories Morgantown Public Library Aull Center 351 Spruce Street, Mon. 7 p.m., mympls.org Told by professional storyteller Jason Burns. Free
Planetarium Shows WVU Planetarium, White Hall, 135 Willey Street Fri. 7 p.m. and 8 p.m., planetarium.wvu.edu From Earth to the Universe at 7 p.m., Oasis in Space at 8. The observatory’s 14-inch Celestron telescope will be open for public viewing after the shows. Seats at the planetarium’s frequent shows are first-come, first-served. Free
Menopause The Musical WVU Creative Arts Center, 1 Fine Arts Drive Mon. 7:30 p.m., events.wvu.edu Four women at a lingerie sale have nothing in common but a black lace bra AND memory loss, hot flashes, night sweats, not enough sex, too much sex and more! This hilarious musical parody will have you cheering and dancing in the aisles. $29–$69
NOVEMBER 9 Mountaineers Football vs. Texas Tech Milan Puskar Stadium, Sat., wvusports.com Cheer our Mountaineers in their True Blue, MORGANTOWNMAG.COM
Mountaineer Week game against those Red Raiders.
Handcrafted Cooperative Holiday Market
NOVEMBER 11 Festival of Ideas: Tara Westover Mountainlair Ballrooms, Mon. 7:30 p.m. festivalofideas.wvu.edu Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Hear the memoirist speak about her book Educated, which debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list, and more. Free
Morgantown's juried market of the handmade and vintage. Run into friends and neighbors, enjoy some charming downtown holiday shopping, and find something unique and locally made for everyone on your gift list.
BOM Challenge Week All over town, morgantownmag.com/BOM Check our Food + Drink finalist list, find something you’ve never tried, then visit before you vote November 19–December 10. NOVEMBER 13 Beautiful: The Carole King Musical WVU Creative Arts Center, 1 Fine Arts Drive Wed. 7:30 p.m., events.wvu.edu Tells the inspiring true story of King’s remarkable rise to stardom, from being part of a hit songwriting team with husband Gerry Goffin to her relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history. Along the way, she made more than beautiful music; she wrote the soundtrack to a generation. $29–$74
COURTESY OF THE HANDCRAFTED COOPERATIVE
the magic of Christmas with dazzling performers and breathtaking cirque artists from all corners of the world, accompanied by your favorite holiday music. $24–$154
Market Place pavilion 415 Spruce Street Sat. 10 a.m.–3 p.m. thehandcraftedcooperative. com
December DECEMBER 5
NOVEMBER 15 Clint Black’s Still ... Killin’ Time 30th Anniversary Tour WVU Creative Arts Center, 1 Fine Arts Drive Fri. 7:30 p.m., events.wvu.edu Don’t miss this country music traditionalist and his signature harmonica. $29–$89 NOVEMBER 15–17 AND 22–24 Macbeth M.T. Pockets Theatre, 203 Parsons Street, Fri. & Sat. 8 p.m, Sun. 2 p.m., mtpocketstheatre.com A war-worn Macbeth is told by three sisters he is fated to become king of Scotland, setting off a series of events leading to the destruction of kings, friends, and souls. $7/$10
NOVEMBER 21 & 22 AND DECEMBER 3–8 Twelfth Night WVU Creative Arts Center Gladys G. Davis Theatre, 1 Fine Arts Drive, Tues.–Sat. 7:30 p.m. Sun. 2 p.m., ticketmaster.com Twins Viola and Sebastian are separated in a shipwreck. Viola, disguised as Cesario, falls in love with Duke Orsino, who is in love with Countess Olivia. Upon meeting Viola, Countess Olivia falls in love with her thinking she is a man. All the mayhem we love in a Shakespeare comedy. $17/$22 NOVEMBER 22
BOM20 Final Round Voting morgantownmag.com/BOM See who made the final cut and vote for your favorites! Winners revealed in February 2020.
Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Blues Revolution Tour 123 Pleasant Street, Fri. 8 p.m., 304.292.0800, 123pleasantstreet.com Blues-roots-folk from finger-picker Reverend Peyton with Dom Flemons, formerly of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, and J.D. Wilkes of Legendary Shack Shakers. 18+. $15/$20 day-of
A Magical Cirque Christmas WVU Creative Arts Center, 1 Fine Arts Drive, Wed. 7:30 p.m., events.wvu.edu The producers of Broadway’s smash hit The Illusionists have brought together the world’s greatest entertainers for a spellbinding and incredible new holiday production. Experience
Mountaineers Football vs. Oklahoma State University Milan Puskar Stadium, Sat., wvusports.com See our Mountaineers take on the Cowboys.
NOVEMBER 19–DECEMBER 10
MORGANTOWN • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2019
Annual Juried Student Exhibition Reception Laura and Paul Mesaros Galleries, Thurs. 5 p.m., artanddesign.wvu.edu/mesaros-galleries See the most exciting new artists-in-formation. Exhibit is up through January 10, 2020. DECEMBER 9 Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker WVU Creative Arts Center, 1 Fine Arts Drive Mon. 7:30 p.m., events.wvu.edu Featuring world-class artists, dazzling costumes, stunning sets, towering puppets and soaring birds, you won’t want to miss this magical holiday extravaganza. $24–$70 DECEMBER 13–15 AND 19–21 Parallel Lives: The Kathy & Mo Show M.T. Pockets Theatre, 203 Parsons Street, Thurs.–Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 2 p.m. mtpocketstheatre.com Two Supreme Beings plan the beginnings of the world with the relish of two slightly sadistic housewives decorating a living room. Once they’ve chosen a color scheme for the races, a little concerned that white people will feel slighted for being such a boring color, they create the genders and sex. Afraid women will have too many advantages, they make childbirth painful. $7/$10
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Morgantown magazine October/November 2019 issue includes 2019 Gift Guide, BOM nomination information, and unmasks downtown and touchdowns.
Published on Oct 1, 2019
Morgantown magazine October/November 2019 issue includes 2019 Gift Guide, BOM nomination information, and unmasks downtown and touchdowns.