Leadership class visits properties set for upgrades

WEIRTON – As part of their continuing efforts to learn about the community, the members of this year's Leadership Weirton class spent Monday touring five sites where dilapidated properties are being reinvented for either future housing or community use. With assistance from the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle, members of the class toured the sites at 3105 Elm St., 184 Culler Road and 226 North 20th St. in Weirton; 118 4th St. in Wellsburg and 29 Clendenin Ave. in Beech Bottom. “The tour detailed five projects in the portfolio of the Business Development Corporation's housing initiative,” said Casey Richards, Leadership Weirton Class member and elder care coordinator for the Weirton Geriatric Center. Article Photos TALKS?TO?CLASS — Marvin Six, at right, assistant director of the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle, addresses members of this year’s Leadership Weirton class Monday during the class’ business and economic development session. During the session, the class visited five sites where the BDC is either refurbishing or demolishing dilapidated houses for residential or community use. — Contributed   All five of the houses were under bank foreclosures, and deeded to the BDC by Wells Fargo for repurposing. BDC Executive Director Patrick Ford said regional leaders have found a way to join forces to address the issue of abandoned and dilapidated housing. “Local government officials, community organizations and residents are increasingly viewing vacant properties as opportunities for productive reuse, reimagining blight and dilapidation as community gardens, quality affordable housing, and employment opportunities,” Ford said. “Now we see abandoned properties as assets in community stabilization and revitalization that can be renovated, reoccupied or completely redeveloped.” The Beech Bottom property, for example, is being refurbished and soon will become a new home for a local family, while plans for the Elm Street site include a demolition and eventual use as a community garden under the auspices of the Weirton Christian Center. Leadership Weirton is organized by the Weirton Area Chamber of Commerce with the goal of encouraging local business representatives to become more involved in their community. Each year, participants are required to attend a series of sessions focused on areas of business and economic development; history and culture; health care; education; and government. They also must dedicate six hours to volunteering for a local organization and work together on a group service project. This year's class will conclude with a graduation on June 23.

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