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Community Resource Mapping

Gary and Barb Anderson

Gary and Barb Anderson live in Sycamore Hollow, on the Clear Fork side of Coal River Mountain. They both grew up in Clear Fork and moved together to Connecticut where Barb worked in shipping and Gary organized for the AFL-CIO.  Seeking a peaceful retirement, they returned to Clear Fork a decade ago.

Like many of the area's retirees, the Andersons experienced Whitesville in its heyday and would like to see a return to how it was. The Anderson's think that the wind industry can and should be a driver of the Coal River Valley's economic revival. Living at the foot of Coal River Mountain, they are leaders of the Coal River Wind Project's campaign to put an industrial scale wind farm on the mountain. In addition to a wind farm, the Andersons want to bring turbine blade and component manufacturing centers to the the valley. Their vision of prosperity on Coal River puts green jobs side by side with traditional room and pillar underground mining, natural gas, and timbering.

Gary says 90 percent of the people who work in the mines and on the mountaintop removal sites don't live in the valley.

To harness the abilities of locals in new industries, such as wind turbine component manufacturing, Gary thinks the area needs a trade school, and that if they are going to attract new industries the roads and rails need to be improved. Additionally, he is concerned that polluted water will deter factories from citing in the valley. Barb says that the community needs more schools and clinics to meet the needs of residents. They both agree that there is a lack of political leadership to make the most of Coal River.

If some of the valley's natural beauty could be marketed as tourist attractions, antique and craft stores could develop as spin off businesses. At these stores, coal could find another use: local artisans could carve and polish it to sell as souvenirs.

West Virginia is blessed with abundant clean water, but made a mistake in tying itself to coal, spoiling its water. He thinks they should have diversified the economy. But, people still have an ethic of self sufficiency lacking in other parts of the country. The Andersons see that ethic in the handy crafts, woodworking, gardening, and food preservation practiced by many of their neighbors. Barb and Gary both think the talents of local people and the area's rich natural resources make it possible for the Coal River Valley to pull through these hard times.