Bookmark and Share

Community Resource Mapping


Ray and Lottie Cottrell

Ray is 62-years-old and has lived in the Coal River Valley his entire life. He is a retired coal miner and currently collects disability. Lottie is 57-years-old and has also lived in the valley her entire life. She currently works as a cashier. They both live in Eunice just outside of Whitesville.

Living next to Route 3, they are only a few steps away from Montcoal Mountain and surrounded by the Coal River Valley's forest ecosystem. Both hailed the natural elements as one of the most precious characteristics of the valley. They also mentioned that the people in the area are some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet and that most people know each other. It’s like one big family, they add.

Ray’s assessment of the area is that we’re, “catching up but it’s coming slowly.”  He points out that there are no businesses here, which forces people to leave the valley to find work. For the businesses that do operate here, any revenue they generate leaves the valley. He feels that “this area will never prosper if it stays like this.” Ray believes that building an interstate highway through the valley would help bring prosperity. The difficult routes to and from the area prevent new businesses from coming here.  If a highway was built, the valley would become more accessible not only for business owners and other industries, but people from surrounding counties and other states. Ray also pointed out that reclaiming old mountaintop removal sites into airports would be a good way to bring money, resources and tourism to the area.

Lottie hopes that more businesses will come into the area. She says the valley could use another general store, more clothing stores, a Ben Franklin (a chain of five and dime discount stores), as well as more pools, parks, and youth activities so children and teens in the area can stay engaged in their community. Ray envisions a variety of industry jobs for younger generations, an ample amount of local jobs, as well as more grocery and other service stores and businesses.

While they have several ideas of how to make the valley more prosperous, they’ve both mentioned visible barriers that make that dream difficult to achieve. One of those barriers is the large hand the coal companies have in the area. They are the only industry in town which they say makes it hard for other businesses and industries to thrive. Rays stated that, “other than coal mining and lumber, there’s no other way to make a living. ” Since there are very few other businesses in the valley, and many people leave the area for work, areas like the valley depopulate very quickly. The lack of people in the area make it harder to start a new business. It’s cheaper to go to Charleston or Beckley. Lottie thinks government funding for small businesses would be a good way to bring more money in the area for local business to get off the ground and begin building up the local economy.

Many people in the valley have their own personal gardens to bring in more fresh produce into their homes. Lottie and Ray used to have a garden but say now it’s cheaper to go to Beckley and buy from Wal-Mart.

Both Ray and Lottie have several hobbies. In his free time Ray builds bird houses and jewelry.  Lottie regularly hunts for ginseng and crochets clothing. She also used to can. Both she and Ray fix their car and appliances.

Written by Josh Graupera