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Community Resource Mapping

Sheila and Natasha Walk

Sheila Walk is 37-years-old and lives in Eunice just down the road from her parents Ray and Lottie Cottrell. She is a home care nurse, and primarily takes care of the elderly. She lives with her daughter Natasha, a 17-year-old high school senior.

Sheila thinks one of the best social aspects of the area is that most people treat each other like family. There is a strong sense of community between the people that live here. Both Natasha and Sheila say the best part of the Valley is the abundance of nature and the mountains. Natasha mentions one of the worst parts of living in the Valley is all of the coal trucks that drive up and down Route 3, the only paved road through a portion of the Valley. People can live off the land - swim, fish, hunt, and garden. Natasha thinks the valley is fairly prosperous.

Sheila says there is a lot of money that could be made, but is worried that people will not prosper due to the deep-rooted poverty that goes back over 100 years. She believes that the way coal companies operate in the valley is damaging, saying that they make people work in unsafe, illegal conditions and if workers refuse, they are fired.

Sheila looks to the past for ideas of prosperity, saying that prosperity would restore the Whitesville area to what it was 30 years ago, when it was bustling with people, businesses and local bars. Natasha thinks a Tutor’s Biscuit World would be a good way to bring people and business into the valley. She thinks there should be more jobs for 16- to 24-year-olds.

“If we want to restore the area” she says, “we need new industries and factory jobs. It doesn’t even have to be directly in the Valley. Economic growth can start in Glen Daniel. However, if there is going to be a new industry, it has to carry the same payment and benefits as the coal jobs.”

Sheila hunts ginseng and molly moochers. She also makes candles, practices woodworking and makes other crafts. Natasha hunts squirrels and fishes. Both she and her mom repair their truck, have a garden and preserve food each year.  Sheila says if there was a venue to make money off of her hobbies she would like to do so. Natasha would like to sell produce she grows in the Valley, adding that many people have side jobs selling produce, working on houses and fixing vehicles.

Sheila would like to be able to expand her personal farm into a larger, for-profit operation but recognizes that one of the largest barriers for starting a larger farming operation not only for her but the entire community is lack of money and land. Natasha also sees money as one of the biggest barriers for starting a new business in the area as well as available infrastructure, pointing out the large number of abandoned buildings in the area.

Written by: Josh Graupera