WELCH, WV (WOAY) – The Renaissance Village officially opened up its doors in Welch Friday.
Leaders and supporters of Reconnecting McDowell, including Governor Jim Justice, came out to hold a dedication and a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new housing development. Senator Joe Manchin also came out to support the endeavor and to share a few words on its behalf.
It’s the organization’s several-year project aimed at revitalizing the impoverished county.
“To see this come to fruition now… this is a county that has given so much to our country, not just the state of West Virginia, but when you think what McDowell County has done for the United States of America, producing the energy that had helped us win both wars, World War I and World War II, that built the industrial might of our country,” says Senator Joe Manchin.
The county has been caught in the grips of a severe teacher shortage and the new apartment complex was built with the goal of attracting them to the area, among other working professionals.
In addition, the county was extremely lacking the availability of modern housing. Project Manager Leah Daughtry believes the 20-unit complex will now be helping to resolve the longtime issues.
“We understood after listening to the residents here was that part of the problem was the lack of accessible, modern housing so we said, ‘let’s build some housing,” Project Manager of Reconnecting McDowell Leah Daughtry says.
The first new multi-story building McDowell has seen in over 50 years, the former West Virginia First Lady Gayle Manchin was responsible for the positive undertaking, along with the American Federation of Teachers.
They initiated the now 11-year-old Reconnecting McDowell which currently has around 100 national, state, and local partners working to make the area a better place.
“What you see here, is that, in McDowell, a community that has come together with lots of public and private help, across ideological lines, trying to help our students have a future,” says President of AFT Randi Weingarten.
As part of the AFT’s Reading Opens the World Project, a book giveaway was also set to be held at the new village on Friday. They would be giving out around 40,000 free books to children and their families.