8/21/2014 5:19 PM
by Karen Franklin
BECKLEY - Leaders from around the state want to find a way to make the region more enticing to out-of-towners and more prosperous for residents.
Dozens of people brought their ideas to "What's Next West Virginia?" in Beckley.
Two leaders from the blueprint community of Hinton spoke with Newswatch specifically about Summers County. They both want to focus on drug-free activities for youth, who they say suffer the most from the prescription pill epidemic.
"I want to learn what I can do for my community in Hinton," Laura Lilly, of the Hinton Hope Foundation, told WOAY. "We've been very successful recently in a lot of community events with different organizations, so I want to see what we can do better for Hinton to make people want to come to Hinton to live as well as to work."
While many are aware of the area's stereotypes including obesity and undereducation, leaders have highlighted the positives like the growth of small businesses in Hinton. They believe success starts with education.
"You need to focus on not just taking care of those kids immediately -- taking care of their immediate needs, making sure they're fed and they're clothed and they're safe -- obviously those are the cornerstones, but then how do we build their resilience? How do we build their confidence? How do we instill hope?" Beth Sizemore, of REACHH, said.
As much as seven percent of Summers County students currently enrolled in grades six through 12 will be affected by hepatitis by 2035, according to Lilly.