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Community Resource Mapping


Kay and Danny Howell

Kay and Danny  were born and raised on the Marsh Fork of the Coal River. They still live on the Marsh Fork, near Pettry Bottom and across the valley from Massey Energy's Edwight mountaintop removal site.  Danny lived for two months in Cleveland, Ohio, where he deeply missed the mountains and their greenery. Kay's only time away from the valley was for college, when she attended Warren Wilson in North Carolina. Danny is a retired union underground coal miner and Kay has worked a wide variety of jobs. They have two grown children, and a new grandchild.

The Howells are the first family in the Coal River Valley to install a solar hot water heater on their home in summer 2010. They did for both the hot water and to create on-the-job training opportunities and an example for the rest of the community.

Installing the solar water heater was a step towards their vision of prosperity in the Coal River Valley. They want to see more small businesses and renewable energy installations throughout the valley. Dominance of the coal industry over the Valley's economy is a barrier they say.

The Howell's enjoy the slow pace of life and peaceful tranquility of Coal River. It's safe, and people are friendly. Their children have a yard to play in, but, referring to school consolidation, Danny says you have to “ship your kids to school.” They both agree that the distance of public schools is a barrier for the area's youth to get off to a good start in life.
The Howell's list their church, the Sundial Church, and the Chevrolet dealer, gym, and flower shop in Whitesville as existing community assets. Beckley's Mountain State University is a resource to the area's youth who can afford it. The Howell's also see it as a potential place to find interns to work on local economic development projects.

Based on their experience with solar installation, they think it is a viable job opportunity for people in the area. Raising edible mushrooms in the shady woods could be a business undertaking for someone in the area. The area's natural beauty could make it a destination for eco-tourism.

Kay, now a member of the Marsh Fork Community Association, would like to combine her home cooking abilities with her experience in retail and catering as she moves onto her next project – starting a donut business. The Marsh Fork Community Association's community kitchen is intended to become a business incubator for endeavors such as Kay's. Even without a donut business, she is already well known for her stack cakes and fried pies. She would like to take on apprentices once the business takes off.