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Community Resource Mapping

Jimmy Platt

Jimmy grew up on a farm in Leevale, and even though he has lived in a town, Whitesville, since 1974, he still hopes to return to gardening someday soon. Throughout his life Jimmy has worked a wide array of jobs, for both himself and others. He spent 17 ½ years as a coal miner, worked as a carry out boy in a grocery store, did carpentry work, home construction in Nitro, and, most recently, owned the restaurant Nuttin' Fancy with his wife, Nancy.

The range of jobs that Jimmy has had reflects his variety of skills. Jimmy identifies business possibilities with his woodworking, cooking, and gardening, but he has no interest in starting his own business—“it ain’t worth the time.”  The main problem to starting a business in the Coal River Valley, he explains, is that “this river is based on cliques,” different groups do not support each other, and local leadership has failed.  Local politicians do not seem to care about the future of Whitesville, whether it thrives or falls apart.  Massey isn’t the root of the problem. In his view, it is the people living on the river, who do not support and care for each other.

Whitesville and the rest of the Valley used to be fun and vibrant. There were softball leagues through the mines, theaters, bowling lanes, teen centers, grocery stores, dancing in the streets, and everything that you could ever need. If Whitesville were to be great again, it would be like a great big giant Wal-Mart—Jimmy hates Wal-Mart, but he wishes that Whitesville would once again provide people with all their shopping needs. Jimmy believes that the decline of the local economy is typical for the United States—if you look at the mining towns and industry towns across the U.S., they have a pattern of running out of resources and then running out of people.

Jimmy and his wife Nancy made their own attempt to revitalize Whitesville with their restaurant Nuttin' Fancy. They ran the restaurant with Nancy's daughter until closing shop early in the spring of 2010. The restaurant moved location in summer 2009, from the edge of town on a backstreet to route 3 in the middle of town. Although they had more business at the route 3 location, it was not enough to keep running the restaurant.

Given his experiences, Jimmy has no hope for the future of his community. In fact, he says that the best thing to do for Whitesville would be to burn it down—the infrastructure is “too far gone, town is too old, systems are too old,” and it would need to be rebuilt from scratch. He does not see any opportunities for economic growth here; it could only serve as a community for retired people and those who already have a source of income.

Even though Jimmy does not want to start a business again, he is excited about pursuing his hobbies and skills for his own benefit and that of his friends.  Jimmy hopes to start woodworking again in the future, and he describes a project to make wooden valentines in February, saying that he could make $300 off of a piece of plywood.  Nancy and Jimmy are also building a new home, and Jimmy plans to construct greenhouses and gardens.  While Nancy sees these as potential business opportunities, Jimmy simply wants to return to gardening, for his and his friends' welfare.