Englebert echos Carper’s goals for Clendenin library, which could open in May

By: Alexander Thomas | Posted: Feb. 12, 2018 | Source: WCHS News Network

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Reflecting remarks made last week by Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper, Kanawha County Public Library Director Alan Englebert said a temporary library in Clendenin would be operational in 90 to 100 days.

The library Board of Directors announced in December it plans to enter an agreement to rent the first floor of the Clendenin Middle School building for a temporary space. The board is still working on reaching a deal with 25404 A New Clendenin Inc., who owns the property. (more…)

Temporary Clendenin library could be open by late May

By: Alexander Thomas | Posted: Feb. 12, 2018 | Source: WCHS News Network

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A temporary library in Clendenin could open by late May, according to Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper, providing town residents with its first standing library since the June 2016 flood destroyed their permanent facility.

The plan is to transform the first floor of the Clendenin Middle School building into a usable library area. The Kanawha County Public Library Board of Directors will pay $1,500 in rent per month to use the 3,000-square-foot space. (more…)

Voluntary organizations brave winter weather to rebuild homes for flood survivors

By: WV VOAD | Posted: Feb. 9, 2018 | Source: WV VOAD

WV VOAD and its member agencies wrapping up 10 building projects despite snow and icy conditions.

Rainelle Home

BELLE, W.VA. — Even during snow and ice storms in many parts of the state, West Virginia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (WV VOAD) and its member agencies are working in several counties to build new homes for survivors of the June 2016 flood.

WV VOAD and its member agencies have built and funded new homes in all 11 counties where flood damage occurred, and repair projects in all those counties are ongoing. Right now, volunteers are on site and have been working throughout the winter in Kanawha, Clay, Nicholas and Greenbrier counties building new homes for 10 families who were displaced.

Construction work is ongoing or about to be completed on homes in Clendenin, Richwood, White Sulphur Springs, Caldwell, Rainelle and Procious.

All these homes, which range from 900 square feet to 1,100 square feet in size, have been funded by donations and built by volunteer labor even as snow flies and temperatures have dropped below freezing.

Continuing the building process over the winter was difficult, but important to help get families back into safe, secure and sanitary housing and get their lives back together as quickly as possible. It took plenty of logistical planning and cooperation between WV VOAD and its member agencies.

“Our volunteer teams spent time at the end of last year, before the ground froze, doing as much prep work as possible, digging foundations and getting sites ready so we could do the finishing work even when weather was bad,” said Cathy Rennard, Disaster Case Management Supervisor for WV VOAD.

Volunteers with WV VOAD’s member agencies have come from around the country, as far as Kansas, Michigan, Maine and Illinois, to help with these particular rebuilding projects.

“Volunteers understand that when they come to West Virginia in the winter months, there is going to be snow on the ground,” said Sara Hambrick, WV VOAD Disaster Case Manager Supervisor. “They aren’t here to sit in hotel rooms. They are here to work, and when they’re here, they just want to accomplish as much as they possibly can.”

At times, when weather-related challenges occur, local volunteers and officials with county long-term recovery groups step in to assist with transportation and other logistical issues.

WV VOAD and its member agencies have been on the ground since the June 2016 flood assisting with cleanup, rebuilding and with the long-term recovery needs of survivors. The flood, which left 23 people dead and more than 3,000 homes destroyed, was declared a federal disaster.

“Logistically, it takes time to work through the cases based on the vulnerability of the clients,” Rennard said. “The majority of these flood survivors have had multiple challenges to work through, from financial hardship to age and physical disabilities.”

Each new home that’s now being built costs between $55,000 and $70,000. Families were required to invest any money they received in federal grants in the construction and the rest came from private donations, philanthropic foundations and contributions from WV VOAD member agencies.

“A lot of hard work is being done around the state and we appreciate all of our voluntary organizations and their dedication to work with us during the winter months,” WV VOAD Executive Director Jenny Gannaway said. “Our goal is to stay focused on the families so that every family is back in safe, secure and sanitary housing.”

WV VOAD is a humanitarian association of independent organizations that may be active in all phases of disaster. Its mission is to identify unmet needs and facilitate efficient streamlined service delivery to those imperiled or impacted by disaster while eliminating duplication of effort through cooperation, coordination, communication, collaboration in the four phases of disaster: preparation, response, recovery and mitigation. West Virginia is a member of the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.

WVUMC Disaster 2016 Update – Feb. 9, 2018

By: WVUMC Disaster 2016: A New Vision with Hope Facebook Page | Posted: Feb. 9, 2018 at 8:33 p.m. | Source: @WVUMCFloods16

Tempting as it was to make mud pies, we opted to work in mud that would suck your shoes off to build these steps and landing for the back door of a new home in Clendenin for a survivor family from the June 23, 2016 storms and flood disaster.

The WV United Methodist Disaster Recovery team schedules a team work day each month (okay, well, almost every month 😇) somewhere in the 12-county declared disaster region.

A few interior plumbing details remain for this home, and we should be able to welcome the owners with a house blessing in the next week or two.

Nine-foot elevation of the home was required for flood hazard mitigation.

Love my team!


Potential plans announced for new Clendenin Elementary and Herbert Hoover High School

By: Kalea Gunderson | Posted: Feb. 8, 2018 | Source: WCHS/WVAH

Residents gather Wednesday night at a public meeting in Clendenin Wednesday night to talk about rebuilding Clendenin Elementary and Herbert Hoover High School. (WCHS/WVAH)

Kanawha County school administrators said at a public meeting in Clendenin Wednesday night that the tentative site for rebuilding Herbert Hoover High School is in Elkview. The tentative site for Clendenin Elementary is just outside the current town limits of Clendenin. (more…)

Clendenin community learns about work underway for new schools

By: Alexander Thomas | Posted: Feb. 8, 2018 | Source: WCHS News Network

CLENDENIN, W.Va. — More than 200 people packed the Clendenin Volunteer Fire Department Wednesday evening to learn about the progress being made regarding new Herbert Hoover High and Clendenin Elementary schools.

Both institutions were destroyed in the June 2016 flood. Herbert Hoover High has been holding classes in modular classrooms on the campus of Elkview Middle School and Clendenin Elementary students have been taking part in classes at Bridge Elementary School. (more…)

WVU Law Facilitates Productive Discussions at Clendenin Planning Commission’s Second Meeting

On Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 6:30 PM, the Clendenin Planning Commission held their second meeting at the Recreation Building located beside Town Hall. Representatives from WVU Law facilitated the nearly two hour public meeting, which according to head facilitator, Jesse Richardson, was “the most active community [he has] worked in so far.” That being said, it was echoed throughout the meeting that more people needed to be involved and attend the public meetings.

The bulk of the meeting included a comprehensive SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis and review of Clendenin’s assets and challenges. You can view all of the public documents, including the SWOT analysis, that were distributed at this meeting on the Planning Commission page of our website HERE. The SWOT analysis can be viewed HERE.

Some of the strengths that had been previously identified included the Clendenin Health Center, which has seen up to 100 people in a day, according to Councilman David Knight, and brings people from out of town to the area; the proximity of Clendenin to Charleston; strong emergency services; the town being level, which makes it possible to potentially develop the town into a golf cart community; and the bus service.

Several weaknesses that were previously identified were reported by commission members and the public as being addressed, some of which included the following:

  1. Lack of a local library: According to Planning Commission Member and 25045 A New Clendenin Director, Kay Summers, the local library will be opening in the basement of the Clendenin Health Center (former Clendenin Middle School). As the result of a grant, repairs to the lower floor will begin soon.
  2. Lack of appealing “downtown”: Town council applied for a grant, which, if granted, will include a complete remodel of both sides of Main Street, including sidewalks, planters, and lighting, according to Mayor Shana Clendenin.
  3. Lack of local news: Councilman and Planning Commission Member, David Knight reported that Elk River Living, a monthly color magazine, would be launching April 1. In addition, Mark Burdette from The Clendenin Leader announced that an online news publication would be launching within a week to provide Clendenin and the Elk River Valley communities with local news and resources.

The public attendees and commission members worked together to identify other issues that could be classified as weaknesses, including the lack of recycling, lack of venues to draw people in from outside of the area, lack of daycare, and erosion.

Some of the opportunities that were discussed included completing The Roxy, which could host local theatre, movies, talent shows, entertainment, meetings, etc. Planning Commission member, Susan Jack, explained how the old Elk Refinery, located in Falling Rock, could be utilized for haunted tours, movie sets, trail heads, or other activities that could attract tourists to the area. Mayor Clendenin explained how abandoned railroads throughout the area could be converted, as part of the national Rails-to-Trails Conservancy program, which would be a tourist attraction and provide activities for local residents as well.

The threats assessment created the most energized and heated discussions of the evening. Longtime business owners Jim Smith and son George Smith, were in attendance and addressed questions pertaining to the re-opening of Smith’s Foodfair, which had been the largest grocery store in Clendenin for decades. Smith’s Foodfair was destroyed during the 2016 Flood and has not reopened. According to the Smith’s, they would employ approximately 50 people and “it would take a couple million dollars to re-open the grocery store.” George Smith firmly stated, “If you move the schools ten miles down the road, there goes the population, and we can’t justify re-opening the store. We will re-open that store if we can save the schools!”

The location of the new Clendenin Elementary and Herbert Hoover High School was a hot topic of conversation. Councilman David Knight compared the current school location issue to Richwood’s, explaining that because Herbert Hoover was outside of the Clendenin municipality that it would be difficult for Hoover to be re-located in the same proximity of Hoover’s original location.” What Richwood has over us, they’re a municipality and their schools were in their municipality”. Planning Commission member, Susan Jack, questioned the accuracy of that statement, and to date, The Clendenin Leader has not been able to find any information to corroborate Knight’s statement. Mayor Shana Clendenin requested that all conversations pertaining to the schools locations be tabled until the Kanawha County Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, February 7, 2018 at 6:30PM at the Clendenin Volunteer Fire Department. This is a public meeting and all citizens in Clendenin and surrounding communities were encouraged to attend this very important meeting. The location of  the new schools has not yet been determined and public input is critical to the decision making process. You can listen to excerpts from the meeting that pertain to the schools below.

The meeting concluded with a review and open discussion of Clendenin’s assets and challenges. Some of the assets discussed included The Roxy, Clendenin Heath Center, emergency services, ministerial association, scenery, historic homes, restaurants, the river, kayaking and fishing opportunities, the potential of Rails-to-Trails development, and the Morris Creek property. Clendenin’s challenges included the location of local schools, poor signage, as well as vacant and dilapidated buildings, which the public was asked to help identify. The public was also encouraged to help identify key stakeholders who could provide valuable insight about specific needs within the community.

In addition, numerous attendees voiced their concerns about a sudden increase in property taxes. Landlord, J.D. Gandee, indicated he had rental property that was flooded and property taxes were now 300% higher than the previous assessment. Mayor Clendenin encouraged those affected to contact the Kanawha County Assessor’s Office and offered to reach out to the Assessor to determine the “cause and effect” and report on it at the next Town Council meeting.

The next Planning Commission meeting was scheduled for Thursday, February 15, 2018 at 6:30 PM at the Clendenin Recreation Building. This is a public meeting and everyone is encouraged to attend and participate.

You can listen to the entire meeting below.

Kanawha County Commission puts plans in place for new Clendenin Library

By: Kalea Gunderson | Posted: Jan. 25, 2018 | Source: WCHSTV

Clendenin is still a work in progress after the devastating flood in 2016, but one important facility in the town is set to be replaced.

At the Kanawha County Commission meeting Wednesday night, plans for a Clendenin Library were announced. It’s a project the commission will be funding with hopes to see it replaced as quickly possible.

Now it’s up to Clendenin leaders and the library board to get it started.

“It’s important to young folks, our teenagers, and the elderly of town, because a lot of people don’t have computers, so a lot of people could just go there and get books and read and reading is so important, and they’ve lost that, they have no place to go or even do their homework sometimes,” 25045 A New Clendenin Inc. Executive Board member Kay Summers said.

Summers and Councilman Dave Knight are on the 25045 A New Clendenin Inc. Executive Board and have been working closely with the Kanawha Library Board to come up with a plan.

“We’re going to receive $50,000 to help build out the library. We’re real excited about getting the library back open for the community,” Knight said.

The money was given generously by the county commission.

“If this takes a little extra money to get this done and get this moving, the sooner the better,” Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said.

It will fund construction of the 3,400-square foot space underneath the Clendenin Health Clinic.

“It would not be coming back if it were not for Commissioner Carper and General Hoyer,” Summer said.

“We thank them so much for not forgetting us and to help us keep rebuilding Clendenin,” Knight said.

In addition, FEMA money was reimbursed to Metro 911 and fire departments across the county to refund their fuel costs, workers compensation and lost or damaged equipment and to thank them for their continuous work.

“During that time period, during those weeks after the flood the members did work extra hard, a lot of extra calls, it was a lot of work,” Pinch Volunteer Fire Chief David Wagoner said.

The new space is not expected to the permanent location for the library, but it is expected to last several years. Plans for the new library space are expected to be completed within the next few months.

God Has a Plan for Clendenin

By Hannah Kessler Trautwein, Project Coordinator, Next Step Ministries

I’ll never forget the summer of 2016. At that time, I was serving in the role of Partnership Coordinator with Next Step Ministries in Braxton/Gilmer County. I had lived there for almost 2 years, working alongside some friends in a small town called Rosedale.

The week of June 19th, weather reports caught my attention, so the summer staff and I started preparing for heavy rains, and potential flooding. We had about 75 young teen volunteers with us that week, and I was very worried that I could have people under my purview in danger. The week passed and there was a lot of rain, some scary weather warnings, and a high creek leading into Rosedale. Other than that, I woke up on Friday the 24th and everything seemed okay. It wasn’t until later that day that I realized the weight of the damage done in other places. (more…)

WV VOAD still helping more than 700 families recover from 2016 flood

By: Carrie Hodousek | Posted: Jan. 22, 2018 at 12:01 a.m. | Source: MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — More than a year and half later, the West Virginia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster group is still helping hundreds of families recover from the June 2016 flood.

WV VOAD logo

“We’re still building houses, we’re still building bridges and repairing. I think we still have a way’s to go, but we’ve came a long way too,” said Jenny Gannaway, executive director of West Virginia VOAD.

So far, the organization has closed 1,300 cases. There are still 700 families that need assistance. (more…)