Meet Your Mayor – Shana Clendenin

CLENDENIN, W.Va. – The Clendenin Leader had an opportunity to sit down with Clendenin, West Virginia Mayor, Shana Clendenin. Not only did we learn about Mayor Clendenin, and why she decided to run for mayor, we also talked about the progress that has been made during her past 11 months in office. In addition to the upcoming Clendenin Homecoming Festival June 22-24, 2018, Clendenin is now a prime location for recreation and tourism based economic development.

A very important event coming up on Saturday, June 2, 2018 is the Elk River Clean-up. This is a great opportunity for the community to get involved and make a difference for the Elk River area. We plan to have more sit down discussions with Mayor Clendenin in the future to keep the Clendenin community informed and encourage everyone to get involved in the great things that are going on in the town of Clendenin.

A “City Guy” Converted, A New Kayak Business on The Elk, and A Song

CLENDENIN, W.Va. – As I navigated my way back to Clendenin after an interview with Steven Grau (pronounced Grouw), owner of a new kayaking and shuttle business called Elk River Get-A-Way, I couldn’t seem to get an old song out of my head. Before I was even born, in the late 1950s, songwriter Pete Seeger wrote a song called “Turn, Turn, Turn” in which he derived the lyrics almost verbatim from the Book of Ecclesiastes in The Bible. The song was later recorded by the folk/rock band The Byrds and quickly soared to number one on the music charts in 1965. The opening line; “To everything (turn, turn, turn), there is a Season (turn, turn, turn), and a time to every purpose under Heaven.” (more…)

Clendenin Conducting Community Survey for Comprehensive Plan – Deadline May 31

CLENDENIN, W.Va. – The Town of Clendenin is currently in the process of developing a comprehensive plan. The purpose of a comprehensive plan is to identify issues and concerns of residents that are negatively affecting the quality of life for those that live and work in Clendenin. The plan will include a detailed action plan outlining specific steps that Town government and other partners can take to address the identified issues and concerns. The plan will also be the foundation for future growth and development in the Town.


Living Legend: Hoyt Newman


On December 16, 2017, with the assistance of Hoyt’s wife Sandy, Susan Jack and Mark Burdette from the Clendenin Leader interviewed Mr. Hoyt Newman at his home nestled on Goad Hill overlooking the town of Clendenin.  Hoyt, a lifelong Clendenin resident and owner of the historic Clendenin Dairy Queen that was lost during the flood of 2016, is now 77 years old. His mind is still sharp, his familiar humor and wit are totally intact, and his storytelling is as good as it ever was.

Hoyt and Sandy bravely admit that there have been bumps in the road over the many years of their marriage and partnership. However, they have remained steadfast and together through it all and feel that they are closer now than ever before.

The publishing of this interview will be done in a multi-part series, comprised of both a highlight summary written article, and actual video footage taken during our interview. Although many may feel that they know the man, this interview is sure to enlighten readers and viewers to interesting facts you may not have known about Hoyt.

The Leader’s philosophy and intent is to help propel our community into the future, however we feel strongly that we must also celebrate our past, our people, and our rich history. Hoyt Newman is a local treasure to most in the Clendenin and Elk River area. He is known near and far as the owner of the iconic Clendenin Dairy Queen that served up those fantastic hotdogs and stood the test of time. We feel that he is the very definition of a “living legend” within our community and we could not think of a better person to feature in our inaugural edition.

The Clendenin Leader would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to both Hoyt and Sandy, for allowing us into their home and entrusting us with this task. It is truly an honor to help tell this story.




Hoyt Newman 3 yrs old and his mother Geraldine "Jerry" Davis

Hoyt Newman 3 yrs old and his mother Geraldine “Jerry” Davis

Hoyt Everett Newman was born February 9, 1941 and was the oldest of two boys born to Elva Geraldine “Gerry/Jerry” Osborne. His father was never involved with them as a family, making it extremely difficult for his single mother to raise them on her own. She placed him in the hands of his grandparents, Willet and Ervie Osborne. Hoyt had a tremendous amount of respect for his grandfather, who in his eyes was “the best man that ever hit the world”. Willet Osborne worked at the old Elk Refinery and only made about $1 an hour, but Hoyt recalls that he doesn’t ever remember his grandfather complaining about a thing. Hoyt credits his grandfather with instilling in him good Christian values that stayed with him throughout his life, even in times when he wasn’t as devoted. In Hoyt’s words, “it never left me”. He said, “I think going to church with him (his grandfather) saved my heart. All the years that I didn’t go to church, it still stayed there.” Hoyt added that he, himself, had been saved about five or six years ago.

Hoyt Newman 7th grade

Hoyt Newman 7th grade


Hoyt indicated that the most fun he ever had in his younger years, was attending a one-room schoolhouse called Roadside School. It was located close to the Kanawha/Roane County borderline, near what used to be Sandy Brae Golf Course. He is very proud of that fact saying, “Not very many people went to a one-room school”. He reflected on the Parker Family and their children that attended school with him there. They lived not far away and would invite him to their house and secretly feed him a hot lunch many times because all he had packed for lunch was a biscuit. They were careful not tell his grandmother, for she would have been upset about it, and as Hoyt put it, he would have received a “whip’in” for bumming. They had one single teacher at that one-room schoolhouse and he would divide his time among all the children, working with each of them individually according to their grade level. Hoyt attended this school through the 7th grade. “I’ll never forget it. I learned a lot there, maybe not with the bookwork, but I learned a lot.”, Hoyt said.

Hoyt Newman, Senior, Clendenin High School

Hoyt Newman, Senior, Clendenin High School


After being asked about his fondest childhood memory, Hoyt paused for several minutes thinking. He then laughed and said, “Learning how to squirrel hunt probably.” He proceeded to tell a squirrel hunting story about he and a childhood friend competing to see who could kill the most squirrels. It is interesting to note, that even at an early age, competition was an important part of life for Hoyt. As you will see, this mindset ultimately served him well later in life, as he dealt with the many challenges of business ownership and competition related to it.

Hoyt Newman and mother Geraldine "Jerry" Davis

Hoyt Newman and mother Geraldine “Jerry” Davis


Hoyt remained with his grandparents until the age of 14. He then moved into the town of Clendenin and back in with his mother who was now married to Mr. Blake Davis. She had since had another baby, Julia Ann Davis, nicknamed “Tootie”, and she was running Davis Diner, a roadside diner owned by her husband’s brother French Davis. Most of Hoyt’s days consisted of going to school in Clendenin, then coming home to babysit his little sister Tootie and helping his mother at the restaurant.

Davis Diner

Davis Diner

Davis Diner was constructed of two streetcars, one of which housed the restaurant portion and the other for storage. It had been moved into Clendenin back in the 1930s and was located on Route 119 where the former Smith’s Foodfair parking lot is now. It was one of those classic iconic diners for its day, having booths for sit-down dining and neon lights around the exterior. Hoyt went on to discuss the landscape in that area at that time and the people involved in shaping it. The Clendenin Dairy Queen was built by the Davis family in 1956, adjacent to the diner. In 1957 Hoyt’s mother leased the DQ and managed both it and the diner. In 1958 she purchased the Dairy Queen outright. “She give $40,000  for it” Hoyt said with a chuckle. “Yeah, that’s what she give for it. And I bought it off of her. That’s what I give for it.”, continued Hoyt, laughing a little harder. Hoyt purchased the Dairy Queen from his mother in 1977 and she worked for him for many years when she was able.

Geraldine “Jerry” Davis

Hoyt and his mother were very close. He loved her dearly, stating that she was a good person and added, “Boy she was a worker. Work, work, work, work, work.” Although her given name was Geraldine, everyone called her Jerry, so that is what Hoyt had placed on her headstone after her death years later. Hoyt had her buried at Tyler Mountain and he recalled a conversation he had with her about their burial plots there. He laughed and said, “I told Mom, I’m gonna be right at your feet.” She responded, “Like always.” There is no doubt that she provided a great example of work ethic and determination for Hoyt and was a tremendous influence on his life. Hoyt’s wife Sandy later summed up Hoyts feelings for his mother by saying, “He loved her more than anyone that has ever walked.”

Check out the video interview for more, and stay tuned for Part II of this interview series to be released soon! Teaser: You’ll see Hoyt talk about his military service, love at first sight, and business challenges he faced over the years while owning and operating the Clendenin Dairy Queen.

Meet Your Neighbor: Keith Murdock

Welcome to the Clendenin Leader’s “Meet Your Neighbor” video segment with Keith Murdock, owner of Murdock’s Auto Sales and Auto Repair in Clendenin, WV! Learn more about Keith and hear a great Elk River Little League story as well in our latest segment of Meet Your Neighbor. Be sure to check out his website at

Meet Your Neighbor is intended to be light, informal, and fun. We will be highlighting random individuals in the Elk River Community on a regular basis, so don’t be surprised if we, one day, pick YOU! Enjoy! [adrotate banner=”46″]


Town of Clendenin Encourages Public to Attend Comprehensive Plan Meeting


Contact: Town of Clendenin (304) 548-4192


Town of Clendenin Encourages Public to Attend Comprehensive Plan Meeting

What are the biggest issues facing the Town of Clendenin? The Clendenin Planning Commission is hosting a community meeting to gather citizen input on creating the Town’s comprehensive plan.  All residents, business owners, and other interested persons are invited and encouraged to attend the meeting, which is being held on Thursday, April 26, 2018 from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM at Town Hall at 103 First Street.

The meeting will be in an open house format to accommodate citizens’ schedules.  Interested persons can stop by anytime from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM to offer ideas, voice concerns, and help formulate a vision for the future of Clendenin.

Why is the town engaged in a planning process? When communities do not plan, they fail to take advantage of their opportunities.  The Town of Clendenin has many strengths and advantages, but the town has challenges as well.  The plan will recommend specific projects to address the issues and concerns that are voiced throughout the planning process.

The plan is being facilitated by the Planning Commission. For more information, please call the Town of Clendenin at (304) 548-4192.


Promotional Flyers To Distribute – JPG | PDF
Community Meeting Agenda – PDF

2019 Fiscal Year Budget Publication For Town of Clendenin

Fiscal Year July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019
Levy Estimate – Budget Document


In accordance with Code 11-8-14, as amended, the Council proceeded to make an estimate of the amounts necessary to be raised by levy of taxes for the current fiscal year, and does determine and estimate the several amounts to be as follows:

The amount due and the amount that will become due and collectible from every source during the fiscal year INCLUDING THE LEVY OF TAXES, is as follows:

2019 Fiscal Year Budget Publication for Town of Clendenin, WV Page 1 of 3

Download 2019 Fiscal Year Budget Publication for Town of Clendenin, WV [PDF]

Growing Concern For Hungry Residents In West Virginia

By: Stacy Nelson | Posted Mar. 11, 2018

Town of Clendenin

In June 2016, southern portions of West Virginia were devastated by what experts called, “The Thousand Year Flood”. As the flood waters began to recede, assistance came from far and near to begin the cleanup process, and to deliver food, water, and necessary living supplies. Faith based organizations and volunteers continue to assist with rebuilding efforts in these communities nearly two years after floods ravaged the region. One of those communities still receiving assistance, is the small incorporated Town of Clendenin in northern Kanawha County, home to West Virginia’s Capitol, located in nearby Charleston.

Clendenin Town Hall

The Town of Clendenin has a Mayor, Town Council, decorated Fire Department, Police Department, and even a newly created Planning Commission, all of which have been diligently working together, along with state and federal government organizations, to rebuild the town. Clendenin is only 20 miles north of Charleston, just off of Interstate 79. It sits along the Elk River, which is enjoyed by kayakers as well as musky and bass fisherman. Current plans and discussions, among the Clendenin Planning Commission revolve around the development of a quaint bedroom community to Charleston, focused on recreational tourism and the creation of community gardens on now-vacant properties. Volunteers in the community are working non-stop on these efforts. The Clendenin Homecoming Festival is slated to occur June 22-24, 2018, and plans are in place to make it an annual event where the town hopes to attract thousands of visitors and generate additional revenue for local small businesses that are gradually re-opening.

Smith’s Foodfair, sole grocery store within town limits,  has not reopened after the 2016 Flood.

Even with the many positive initiatives and accomplishments, which are discussed daily among this close-knit community, most outside of the area are completely unaware of an underlying issue that plagues Clendenin and other communities affected by the 2016 Floods.

Many of the residents in and around Clendenin, West Virginia are hungry!

They simply do not have enough food each month to feed their families. Many children in the community only receive a hot meal while they are at school, and wouldn’t have food over the weekend if it were not for non-profit organizations like Elk River Backpack Blessings. In addition, there are numerous families in the community who do not have electricity, running water, or basic living supplies. Others are homeless. Clendenin needs help!

I have only been visiting Clendenin for about six months, however it is abundantly clear to me from my numerous conversations with residents who have called Clendenin and/or the Elk River Valley “home” for all or most of their lives, that this region was economically depressed and struggling prior to the 2016 Flood. Local employment opportunities were limited and the general consensus among those in the community is that the flood simply escalated the deprivation that had been facing them for several years. It destroyed nearly every small business in the Town of Clendenin, including the largest employer; a local grocery store, which provided approximately 50 jobs. The store has still not been re-established, and as of this writing, there are no immediate plans to do so.

Clendenin United Methodist Church

I recently wrote an article about the emergency food pantry, which is located at the Clendenin United Methodist Church, and was curious to learn about other organizations or individuals that were helping those with ongoing needs. My curiosity, along with the assistance of some locals, led me to Crystal Hawkins. Crystal works as the Care Coordinator for the Clendenin Health Center, and is in charge of the Center’s Community Outreach Program. The Clendenin Health Center, also referred to locally as “The Clinic” or “The Health Center”,  is located in the original section of the old Clendenin Middle School building at 107 Koontz Avenue in Clendenin. It is owned by Cabin Creek Health Systems. In addition to providing medical services to patients in the Elk River Valley communities, this facility has an outreach program that helps those in need throughout their service area, which includes Kanawha, Clay, Roane, and Jackson Counties.

I sat down with Crystal in her office and was quite impressed to learn that Cabin Creek requires their administrative staff to participate in two community outreach projects, and two community care projects, per year. Each staff member is able to select the type of projects they want to be involved in. As part of Crystal’s community outreach requirements with Cabin Creek Health Systems, she chose to work with those in the community that were in dire need of basic living essentials.

Crystal’s position places her in front of each patient, where she is a firsthand witness, to the continuous and growing needs within the community. She provides items and services of all kinds; from common everyday needs including food, to figuring out how to help individuals pay their utility bills. She also calls patients on a daily basis to make sure they are taking their medicine, and that they have food, water, and other necessary items. It was abundantly clear to me, that she and the others at The Health Center, are on a mission to help in any way they can and seem excited about the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those within the community. Crystal is a resident of neighboring Roane County, West Virginia and also volunteers with the Roane County Schools, who accept donations of new or lightly worn clothes, shoes, personal hygiene items, as well as food. These items are then distributed to the students there in need, during school hours, through their individual school pantries.

Clendenin Health Center

Crystal, her colleagues and staff at The Health Center, have established a secured space at the facility to store donated items. They first assess individual and/or family needs, then distribute supplies out of this space accordingly. She gave me a tour of the space and what I saw spoke volumes to me regarding their selfless efforts. It was quite obvious that the space they had converted to assist these individuals and/or families within the community, had formerly been their employee lounge.

Crystal explained that volunteers are in place to prepare and serve hot meals, but they are in need of a facility with a commercial kitchen, a food truck, or a way to deliver meals to those who cannot travel. I could see the concern on her face as she explained the severity of hunger in the community. “There are numerous people in the community that do not have hot food or a way to even prepare hot food”. She went on to explain that meals used to be provided at the Recreation Center in Clendenin, but that facility can no longer be used due to flood damage to the kitchen there. At the time of this interview, The Health Center was ready to prepare and feed the hungry, but have no location with a commercial kitchen and the necessary space to do so.

The sheer compassion that Crystal displayed when speaking about the local hunger issue gave me chills, and in order to better understand the total scope of need within the community, I wanted to understand the severity of all non-hunger related needs as well. She explained that while everyone’s priorities are different, they could all be categorized as “necessary living essentials”. She reiterated that they do not provide items that are unnecessary or support personal habits. When the immediate needs of a patient are met, they try to identify long term solutions for patients. Resources have been limited however. According to Crystal, many in the community are left without things like food and clean running water. She echoed the opinion of others I have been speaking with, saying there has “always been a need in the community but it has gotten worse since the flood.” She went on to explain that numerous people do not have access to transportation and are not well enough physically to ride the public bus line that services Clendenin.

The Clendenin Health Center works closely with the Clendenin Ministerial Association to provide hot showers for those without running water and volunteers help with laundry needs. In regards to these specific issues, Crystal stated with much empathy, “Sadly enough, Clendenin didn’t bounce back as quickly as people thought it would after the flood”. She went on to say that they did not have a firm, total number of people with extreme needs in the community, on an ongoing basis, because there are still many individuals and families who are not patients at the clinic, but in dire need of assistance.

It took many businesses in the Town of Clendenin a year before they were able to re-open their doors, and several are still closed. As mentioned previously, Clendenin still does not have a grocery store, and both of their schools were relocated after the flood, to portable trailers at neighboring schools in Elkview, West Virginia. According to FEMA and other government agencies at a recent public meeting, it could be years years before construction is complete on Clendenin Elementary, and the same for Herbert Hoover High School, which is at risk of not even returning to the Clendenin area.

Maywood Avenue, Clendenin, West Virginia

I’ve known since the moment I stepped foot in Clendenin, West Virginia, that the people here genuinely care about one another, and that was reaffirmed when I learned that until recently, Crystal and other staff members at The Health Center were using their own personal money to purchase food and items that patients were in desperate need of. I believe the fact that the most requested item that Crystal receives, after food, is adult briefs for incontinence. This reinforces the fact that the need is real, and that the need is dire.

From my conversations with those in the community, the perception is that several of those with ongoing needs are employed, but not earning enough to meet their basic needs due to low wages and/or lack of workable hours from their employer(s). Others are simply unable to locate employment at all. Many seniors and disabled residents, who are physically unable to work but may be receiving benefits, are still struggling each month just to make ends meet, often going without food.

Emergency Food Pantry

Susan Jack, with The Clendenin Leader, visited students from Clendenin/Bridge Elementary and Elkview Middle Schools, to get their response to the teacher strike that closed schools in all 55 counties in West Virginia for nine days recently. To Susan’s surprise, the students’ number one fear about the teacher strike was a genuine concern for other students whose only meal often comes from school. On that day, the Clendenin Health Center volunteered to feed hungry students at the Clendenin Fire Department and, after the announcement on social media, several Herbert Hoover High School students took to Facebook and Twitter to offer free rides to anyone who was hungry.

The people of Clendenin, West Virginia are resilient. They are compassionate, kind, and care deeply about one another. They have a mindset that is admirable and respectable. They are good people, but I can honestly say the same thing about West Virginians as a whole. Unfortunately, West Virginia ranks as the worst state in the United States for business, ranking 50th for Economy and 49th for Workforce, according to a 2017 CNBC Report . A recent Spotlight on Poverty & Opportunity Study found that 45% of West Virginian’s living in poverty are single-parent families with children. With businesses and educated young people leaving the state for better opportunities, how will we recover, and when will hunger not be the primary concern facing the state of West Virginia?

There are several ways you can get involved. Even a small donation can make a monumental difference.

Donated food (non-perishables) and supplies to help the Town of Clendenin, West Virginia and surrounding communities, can be dropped off or shipped to:

Clendenin Health Center
c/o Food Pantry
107 Koontz Avenue
Clendenin, WV 25045

Phone calls can be directed to Crystal Hawkins at (304) 548-7272 and emails can be sent to

Requested items for the Clendenin Health Center include the following:

  • Non-perishable food items like canned and boxed food, granola bars, protein bars, pudding, peanut butter, canned fruit, crackers, canned soup, bottled water, etc.
  • Personal hygiene items including deodorant, soap, shampoo, razors, feminine products, baby wipes, baby diapers, toothbrushes, toothpaste, adult briefs, etc.
  • Household items & clothing including blankets, warm hats, scarves, gloves, coats, etc.
  • A location to prepare and distribute hot meals to the hungry, which would require a commercial kitchen. Once in place they will need food to prepare for them as well as supplies like paper plates, cups, and utensils.

The emergency food pantry, located at the Clendenin United Methodist Church, is operated by the Clendenin Ministerial Association. Donations can be dropped off there on Tuesdays 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Clendenin United Methodist Church, 121 Koontz Avenue, Clendenin, West Virginia 25045.

Roane County School Pantry: Contact: Shawnee Jarrell – Items requested include socks, underwear, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, deodorant, pencils, paper backpacks, sweatpants, sweatshirts, feminine hygiene products, non-perishable food.

Elk River Blessings: Contact Debi O’Dell (304) 767-0699. View complete list of needs HERE

The Bicycle: A ride down Memory Lane

As we grow older we can’t help but notice the changes all around us relative to how we did things when we were young.  Changes in how we socialize, changes in how we communicate, changes in how we travel and work, just to name a few. Some changes are for the better, some for the worse and some are still yet to be determined. (more…)