To Sell a Dream
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johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
March 26, 2005
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,987 posts
Does this sound familiar?
Roger Z
March 26, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Do you mean that they used to graze sheep on Herz Mountain?

Actually, come to think of it, they probably did...
March 28, 2005
Member since 01/25/2005 🔗
368 posts
Thanks so much for the link. Powder Mountain will always hold a special place in my heart, as I learned to ski there at the Panda Bear Ski School at the young age of four. My father used to take me up there pretty much every weekend in the early 80's, and I have fond memories of it as one of our favorite activities together. With my father now a 30 year veteran of the military and approaching sixty with a bum knee, our ski trips of the past are great memories.
lbotta - DCSki Supporter 
March 29, 2005
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,535 posts
Reisen, this and previous posts sound like you're... shall we say... quite enlightened for a Utah native... I have found a ocean-wide difference in attitude between the ski towns and the Utah local community, and although I love to travel to the state's ski areas, I have had some friction in the local towns in my travels and as a result I try to avoid the rest of the state.
DCSki Sponsor: Canaan Valley Resort
Roger Z
March 29, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Ibotta- my step grandfather was a Lutheran pastor in the U.S. Air Force for 25 years and oversaw base ministry operations at numerous locations. Regarding your observations, he always said that there was a world of difference between folks from Utah who had traveled out of state and those who never had. It sounds a lot like what you are getting at... but before giving Utah too much of a bum rap, is it really that much different anywhere in the United States?

That and Utah, like a lot of western states, is "under seige" with an influx of new residents, and that always gets people on the defensive. What we see as a good thing in the ski towns probably isn't seen the same way by folks who have lived there for four or more generations. I know one of the recent flare-ups is over St. George in "Dixie". Californians with a completely different mindset move in and demand the town change to their standards. Fight between locals and newbies gets attention throughout the state.

Heck, go talk to the locals in Wardensville and see what they think about all the DC commuters moving in!
March 29, 2005
Member since 12/1/2003 🔗
1,547 posts
Heh, Just be glad the DC commuters don't veer off of Rt 55/259 any onto those back roads like Trout Run, Waites Run, or other places. At certain times of the day or night you may never been seen again.

Actually RogerZ has a point, there is a serious mentioned and unmentioned friction going on between locals and out of staters going on here. The "mentioned" type of friction is that of DCer's using us as a playground to come in, throw their trash on, and leave. Plus many locals are highly pissed off of DCers coming in and buying up land when locals want to keep it for hunting, hiking, and keeping it quaint and rural.

Now the other "unmentioned" conflict going on in this area is mainly due to it's Political Correctness nature and people not wanting to be un-PC. The friction is that of Hardy County having the highest gay/homosexual population in the state of WV, most all of which have moved in directly from the DC area to live a low profile life. Although *MANY* locals are even more pissed off that gays are coming in, buying up businesses, catering to other gay clientel and so forth. This extends so far that there is actual a gay-only lodge that many locals don't even know about, located in the Mill Gap area near Baker. This was once the planned area of Pete Bryce to build another ski resort (founder of Bryce resort), but his financial backers backed out and left him with all this land that he eventually sold off to realtors for lots. I actually can see this coming to a boiling point down the road were locals could try to run gays out. Mind you this is the same county that 3 or 4 years ago when a business owner from Harrisonburg created a secret "byob" strip club in Mathias featuring JMU girls, and sprung it on the public at the last minute, these people nearly went with torches and pitchforks to have the place closed down. Well they didn't burn the place down, but they forced the county commission to make rules so hard for the joint to exsist that it's surviving scarcly I've heard.

Throw in Corridor H on top of that, and you have this county sitting on a powder keg ready to go at any moment. Thats why most locals now who pushed for Corridor H initially are changing their minds about not wanting it to go past Wardensville so as not to open up North Mountain to a free and easy ride for out of staters as a way to help keep more peace and quiet here.

Me personally... I see the solution as me becoming a multi-billionare, buying up every last acre that comes up for sale in this county and laughing at realtors who are crying because they can't sell anymore land to DCer's. It'd be nice to own my own county. lol.
March 29, 2005
Member since 01/25/2005 🔗
368 posts

Reisen, this and previous posts sound like you're... shall we say... quite enlightened for a Utah native... I have found a ocean-wide difference in attitude between the ski towns and the Utah local community, and although I love to travel to the state's ski areas, I have had some friction in the local towns in my travels and as a result I try to avoid the rest of the state.

Unfortunately, I'm not a true Utah native. I did live there for about 4 years as a child, but I'm not really native to anywhere, having grown up constantly moved about.

Places I've lived:

Phoenix, AZ
Tampa, FL
SLC, Utah
Norfolk, VA
Ipswich, UK
Bentwaters, UK
Utrecht, Netherlands
Madrid, Spain
Ramstein, Germany
Durham, NC
Fairfax, VA

I guess because of this, I love to travel. Some of the places I've been:


Washington, DC
New York City
San Diego
Salt Lake City
New Orleans
Dallas/Fort Worth
Charleston, SC
Los Angeles
Palo Alto/San Jose
St. Augustine, FL
San Francisco
Fort Myers
Macon, GA
Portsmouth, NH
Cass, WV
South Padre Island, TX



The Hague
San Moritz


Hong Kong
Christ Church
Kuala Lumpur

Skiing is really good for travelling, and I need to make a list of resorts I've been to.
JimK - DCSki Columnist
March 29, 2005
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,976 posts
Here's a very similar story about Mammoth Mtn and its great founder Dave McCoy. The last members of "greatest generation" of ski area builders are fading from the scene. We won't see the likes of them again.,0,5226792.story?coll=la-home-headlines

In case the link doesn't work here's the whole LA Times article, minus photos.

March 27, 2005

Mammoth's Real McCoy Is Leaving the Mountain
As the resort's founder searches for a buyer, unease about the future settles over town.

By Louis Sahagun, Times Staff Writer

MAMMOTH LAKES, Calif. - Up in the Sierra Nevada, Dave McCoy is revered as the man who, with grit and stubbornness and lots of hard work, turned a remote mountain into a top-notch ski resort.
But since announcing a few weeks ago that he plans to sell his Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, the elder statesman of the California ski industry finds himself facing some awkward questions from the usually adoring fans who crowd his path wherever he goes.
Ten children in helmets and black parkas took one look at the 89-year-old gentleman standing on a veranda overlooking the slopes on a recent Saturday and rushed up to thank him for the chance to be on his junior ski team, the Mighty Mites.
McCoy's smile faded, however, when 8-year-old Patty Anne Hensley stepped out of the pack and fiercely asked, "Why are you selling the mountain?"
Caught off guard, McCoy muttered, "Well, uh, we're trying to see how marketable it is."
The spunky third-grader with blue eyes and long hair flowing from beneath her helmet shot back another question. "If you sell it, will we still have things like the ski team?"
"Well, gee, yes, I think so."
It's that uncertainty - the fear that "Dave's Mountain" will never be the same - that churns up mixed feelings here. Take Stacey Bardfield, one of the region's top real estate brokers and a close friend of McCoy's for two decades.
"I have the most to gain because property values are going to go way up if he sells to, say, a Vail Resorts," Bardfield said. "But it's sad because this is Dave's empire.
"The good news," she added, "is that Dave is going out with a bang, and healthy as a bull."
The story of McCoy and the mountain began in 1937, when he ignored naysayers and created the first rope tow in the Mammoth area - a rope lashed to the axle of a Model A Ford.
He charged skiers 50 cents for the privilege of being pulled up the slopes.
Over the next 68 years, this affable, compact Paul Bunyan cleared land, groomed slopes, laid concrete, maneuvered cranes and even forged his own tools to transform Mammoth Mountain into a ski resort for Southern Californians and a community for his employees.
McCoy, who never kept a planner on his desk, launched the town's first water district, fire department, high school and college, and he often dispatched his crews to fix a resident's plumbing problem or to patch a leaky roof. Untold numbers of people have received financial help, even property, from McCoy over the years.
Then there are the legions of hard-core ski competitors, young racers and weekend warriors whom McCoy has coached, placing some on U.S. Olympic teams.
"The idea of Dave not being here is just devastating," said local historian Robin Morning, who is completing a biography of McCoy titled "Tracks of Passion."
"We're facing the loss of the region's heartbeat," she said. "Can we live without it? Will the new owners become part of the community like he did?"
Until now, McCoy has avoided comment on the sale. But in an interview, he acknowledged that he and townspeople share the same worry: Will the new owner be up to sustaining his legacy?

He also said he can't afford to wait much longer to find out.
"I'll kick the bucket someday, so I have to have some plans in place," said the father of six, grandfather of 17 and great grandfather of 15.
"I want a strong town, and I want the mountain to be more successful than it is today," he said. "So I want whoever gets it to commit to the community in a big way. And they'll have to do more than promise to do that. They'll have to demonstrate it."
McCoy and company officials say they have received more than 30 "credible" offers.
Investment banking firm Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin was hired to sell McCoy's controlling interest in the resort. Analysts have estimated that McCoy's stake could fetch more than $200 million.
The company is co-owned by Intrawest, a giant Canadian resort developer that teamed up with McCoy in the mid-1990s, and the ski area's chief executive, Rusty Gregory.
Under terms of their working agreement, Intrawest has first dibs on McCoy's stake. A spokesman for the ski area said, however, that Intrawest executives could join McCoy in selling their interests in Mammoth's operations.
A deal could be completed around the time of McCoy's 90th birthday in mid-August, company officials said.

In the meantime, the chatter in town suggests that there is a quiet fear for the future of the 4-square-mile community already coping with stratospheric home prices, fickle weather, traffic congestion and a 1970s strip mall ambience that some visitors find charming but others chide as chintzy.
It's hard to find anyone in this town of 7,700 who begrudges McCoy's desire to sell. The resort is debt-free and enjoying record snowpack and sales. It's just that the new owner will shape the lives of the people who reside here, for better or worse, forever.
"The mountain is half business, half icon," said Mammoth Lakes attorney Paul Rudder. "It's an overarching organization and the main reason we're all here. When the mountain gets a cold, we get the flu."
McCoy was born in 1915 in El Segundo, the son of a nomadic road construction worker with a knack for mechanical work.
Shortly after graduating from high school, he moved to Independence, Calif., an Eastern Sierra hamlet where they still talk about his speeding along Highway 395 on a brown-and-yellow Harley-Davidson and using skis he carved from ash wood.
McCoy was working as a soda jerk in Independence when he first laid eyes on his future wife, Roma Carriere.
"She was in a group of cheerleaders, and they'd stopped in to get sodas," he recalled. "I knew right then and there, she was the right gal for me. They don't make them like her anymore."
By the late 1930s, McCoy was working as a snow surveyor for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and he knew that skiing didn't come any better than on the stormy extinct volcano with steep chutes on all sides.
With the help of some like-minded buddies, McCoy worked through blizzards, droughts and economic downturns, building increasingly sophisticated machinery to pull skiers up the mountain and to groom the snow that fell early and deep.
"I always felt that life is so short, why not do the best you can?" he said. "Every part of our business had to be a little better every day."
In photographs taken of him around this time, whether he was schussing down the mountain or posing for snapshots with a winning ski team, McCoy often had a smudge of axle grease somewhere on his usual attire - T-shirt and jeans.

Dave and Roma married in 1941 and soon started a mom-and-pop ski business by using one of his motorcycles as collateral to buy a used portable rope tow. McCoy then secured a year-to-year permit from the U.S. Forest Service to run a portable tow anywhere in the Eastern Sierra between Bishop and Bridgeport.
The McCoys stashed the fees in a fishing creel. He also began leasing land from the U.S. Forest Service on which to expand his operations.
In 1942, McCoy was racing downhill in a state championship when he crashed, shattering the bones of his left leg. Doctors wanted to amputate, but McCoy wouldn't listen, just as he rebuffed those who said he could never make a ski resort work.
When the doctors went to his mother for consent, she advised, "If Dave says he's keeping the leg, then he's keeping his leg."
It was only one of many serious spills on the slopes and on his motorcycles and mountain bikes. (Just two years ago, at age 87, McCoy lost control of his motorcycle and spent a month in the hospital.)
After World War II, Southern California saw an explosion of interest in skiing, and McCoy met the demand by concocting a diesel-powered tow that could move 1,800 skiers an hour.
Still, no one but McCoy envisioned Mammoth Mountain as a major resort.
"People told me it snowed so much nobody would want to come," he recalled. "It was too stormy, too high and too far away."
In retrospect, he added, "all the things they said would work against us" made it what it is today: 4,000 acres of ski areas at Mammoth and June mountains, 185 ski trails served by 35 lifts, a lodge and more than a dozen stores and dining venues.

The area, which still operates on leased U.S. Forest Service land, gets 1.4 million skier-visits a year, and its nagging image as an affordable "Sears, Roebuck" resort of cheap rooms and hot dog lunches is changing fast.
A new hub of shops, restaurants, art galleries and taverns, called the Village at Mammoth, includes a gondola to shuttle people up and down the mountain.
Mammoth Lakes has a general aviation airport but no regular passenger carrier. City officials are working with the Federal Aviation Administration in the hopes of getting commercial flights approved; that could greatly enhance customer traffic at the resort.
The sale won't affect Intrawest's plans to open a 230-room, $140-million Westin hotel in Mammoth Lakes next year, company officials said. Home prices, meanwhile, continue to climb, and local real estate agents say the average home price has hit $1 million.
A new owner for the resort, McCoy and his staffers say, could further the general economic momentum.
Ski area Chief Executive Gregory, who began working for McCoy as a ski lift operator 28 years ago, delivered that message recently to the Inyo County Board of Supervisors. In true McCoy fashion, Gregory appeared in a T-shirt, jeans and black leather jacket.
"This is the right time to contemplate the future. The company is as strong as it's ever been," Gregory told the panel. "We're looking for an individual, or group, who will recognize the value of what Dave has done."
With such high stakes, Gregory is keeping identities of potential buyers close to the vest.
As negotiations heat up in the ski area's redwood-paneled headquarters, Dave and Roma McCoy make time each day to explore the mountain and its environs with an all-terrain vehicle known as a Rhino.
"We dress up warm and pack the Rhino with lunches and cameras, then we fire it up," McCoy said. "We travel side by side, and every time we go out we find something different.
"It might be a beautiful flower, or the sky might be extremely beautiful against a sunset," he said. "In this way, we're learning to be together, and a little better, every day."

lbotta - DCSki Supporter 
March 29, 2005
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,535 posts
bawalker, if you believe truly in free enterprise then the DCers are in the right. They have the money, they have the resources, the political clout, and soon enough they will outnumber the locals in Hardy County. Momma and Pappa Yuppie are here to stay.

The living example (with some exceptions) is in Vermont. Although since time inmemorial, Vermont has had a general educational level much higher than WV and a Yankee conservatism that conserves liberal values versus WV's deep-south ethos, both states used to have an old agricultural base. In VT, every radical started moving up there and setting up communes, Sholzenitzin (sp) and the modern intellectuals, New Yorkers and Bostonians, and gazillion ski bums and ski-searching millionaires. The result is that the population turned around big time and with it, a corresponding increase in the educational and economic level of the population. There are pockets of poverty in Vermont, but it more resembles the egalitarian situation of Europe than the drastic differences in class than the US. Today, there are probably more people working in the ski industry in VT than involved in agriculture. Burlington is run by the Socialist Party (heavens!!) and it was the first state to have same-sex civil unions.

West Virginia is next. Whether anyone likes it or not, it is the Liebensraum of the Richmond/DC/Baltimore nouveau rich and the rapidly growing intellectual community in the area. Shepperdstown has in fact become the sister town of Queeche Lake or Woodstock VT. As a matter of fact (since you mentioned the case of the Lost River Lodge) near Mathias, there is an entire housing development geared to same-sex female couples with houses that dwarf most of the "normal" houses in the county. Hey, more power to them if they can afford it. It's truly free enterprise. And that goes without regard to sex, orientation, race or origin. The DC area has the highest educated conglomerate of people in the country, perhaps one of the top places on the planet. Education and its resulting economics are the driving factor and this course is unstoppable unless you want to transform our society into a fascist state.

Frankly, looking at the Third World-like poverty conditions of much of West Virginia, a little of Vermont influence would go a looooong way to aleviate the horrendous conditions of many people there, even if you have to sit next to a gay couple while ascending on the high-speed quad...

lbotta - DCSki Supporter 
March 29, 2005
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,535 posts
Reisen, our travels have many paralells, myself having been in military transport and the security assistance world as well as several diplomatic assignments in various venues. My experience in Eastern Europe is quite limited, though I have a good travel record in Africa and six years in South America's main capital cities...

Traveling is wonderful, however tired one gets from living out of a suitcase...

Hope to meet you in a ski trip somewhere.
March 29, 2005
Member since 12/28/2004 🔗
20 posts
West Virginia will not become the next Vermont. While, a small portion of the Eastern Panhandle may someday resemble Vermont the majority of the state will remain in poverty. If you have ever been to the southern coal fields and visit McDowell County (the poorest county in the US), or really any other countyyou will get a completely different look at WV than the Suburban sprawl that has hit the eastern panhandle. Most people making the trek from DC to one of WV ski Resorts do not get a good look at the impoverished State that WV is. I have much love for WV as I spent about 10 yrs of my life there, but the state is not in any position to recover from the collapse of the coal mining industry too many years ago.
Other contrasts to Vermont. Vermont has 1 Wal Mart in the entire state. In one of WV many Wal-Mart's one will talk to a worker who may tell you that they have one of the best jobs in town. How many billboards do you see in Vermont?......Very Few. Fast Food restraunts....? Few once again. Trash?....not very much. Sheetz?....None.
My point is that just because there are 2 or 3 counties where rich DCers are moving into, there are about 52 other counties where things suck, and the best job one can muster might be at Snowshoe Mountain (so tip well).
P.S. The only thing WV has in common w/Vermont are the Mountains
March 29, 2005
Member since 12/1/2003 🔗
1,547 posts
Hardy county here is on the verge of suffering an identity crisis with the influx of people. This is creating a vast gap between those who come in riding the steamroller of financial success and a presumably better way of life due to their success and education, versus those who have lived here for eight generations living comfortably on the success of their own hard work of farming and common sense. Now I'm not saying either is right or that either is wrong, but that Hardy County is the current battleground between the clash of the titans at the moment, more so than Jefferson County ever was.

What is shaping up to happen is that the influx of DCers simply isn't going to stop without the aid of communtitiy leaders putting up boundaries in place to help slow down the bulldozer of suburbia from engulfing Wardensville and other places. But on the other side of the spectrum is the mass of locals who are starting to get enraged with feeling like they are being raped of the country conservative lifestyle they chose to live out the rest of their lives in. While growth simply isn't ever going to stop, as John S. has once told me, it can be greatly managed so that the city folk don't come in and don't ignorantly trample over the ideals and lifestyles of those who live here now, but at the same time allow the locals to grow slowly with changes that are inevitable.

An example of this was a potential 'commune-like' situation where several asian families had appearantly pooled thousands of dollars cash together to come into Wardensville to specifically buy up lots of acerage to transplant many asian families into the area. I was speaking with several guys that I've known since I was tiny, the first comment that the one guy mentioned was that if those <deleted expletitives> tried to cross his bridge to get access to the land they want, he'd C4 the bridge and every potential access road for miles to ensure no one touched that land.

While there was nothing illegal about that, and while it was fully free enterprise as it's best (or worst?) there was still a lack of major ethics on behalf of the asians or the other current guys as to how they acted and reacted. I can't argue with the guys who told me their comments because honestly... if I feel like someone is trampling over me to rape me of my land, my diginitity, and my right to be considered as an equal and not a lesser, I personally would take the same response and react the same way as that individual did. Yet the flip side of that is what gave those guys the full reason to react that way was the action of others appearing to come in, kick out the lower uneducated group and establish something for themselves. Doesn't that appear to be deja vu 200 years later?

Anyway, it has nothing nessecarily to do with race, sex, background, or anything else. In fact some of the nicest people I know are asians, or people with the oddest backgrounds contrary to what I've grown up around in the rural country life here. The whole issue at hand in and of itself is that the growing clomglomerate of DC folk are ignorantly growing and expanding themselves by ungulfing those people and communtities around them without taking into consideration the values of the people and communities that they have just expanded over. All of this without taking into consideration what the current land or lifestyle means to the locals and that anyone moving into an area should remember that they are an outsider and should be more respectful of the area and people they are moving into, rather than trying to plow them over and transplant suburbia DC.

While I as a business owner support free enterprise, I don't support reckless free-enterprise either. Everything in life including free enterprise comes with a major responsibility. The responsibility of those moving into the Hardy County area should be to help it maintain it's rural life, should be to learn about the land they just bought and moved onto. Of why it may mean something to a neighbor, or relatives of previous owners.

Thats why between the fight to stop the dams in this area ( and continually dealing with the current corrupted officials we have in place that I really am contemplating on running for positions like county commissioner, house of delegates or what not. Because someone needs to be in place to just say 'no' sometimes to certain types of growth in certain ways and to preserve the heritage we have as a state.

I fully believe that not everyone in DC is like that, obviously the forums prove that with all the great people on here. But realistically, everyone on here would be in the minoritity compared to the rest of... the metroplian area. I fear if no one protects this area from the likes of mass DC folk or Robert Byrd, then there won't be any thing in WV to enjoy down the road. I shutter at the thought of seeing Timberline turn into a Manassass on the mountain and yet not having been there to try and limit it and see that things were balanced out.

Speaking of free enterprise... a customer comes a calling.

March 29, 2005
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
JimK, thanks for the article on Mammoth. The bit about the housing market reminds me of The Valley, locals getting priced out of the housing market.

It's neat to read the history of these megaresorts though because it seems most of them were boot strapped up by a guy or family that became an icon. Now it's about slopeside realestate and counting beans. Oh well, whatever it takes to give me a place to ski, that works for me.
lbotta - DCSki Supporter 
March 29, 2005
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,535 posts
bawalker... As you correctly imply, I wonder if eight generations ago, the newcomers into Hardy County were as respectful of Native American lore and traditions when they moved there...

Since the focus of this site is skiing, I will try to corral the topic into this subject. There are hundreds of parcels selling every month in the North East part of West Virginia to people who want to establish second homes. These folks prize the land not for its agricultural value but for its recreational worth. Skiing is one of them.

The only way to stop this inexorable influx is for the folks to stop selling the land, period. The local folk will not do that because they reap a healthy profit from equity which is exponentially higher than when they bought or inherited the land. As a homeowner at Snowshoe, I see huge tracts of land being sold as parcels by these same local people driven by the profit motive. Nothing wrong with that.

With this influx of people, come new values that are appurtenant to the leisure class. Northern New England's experience with Bostonians and New Yorkers buying land and then calling for the outlawing of snowmobiling or posting their land off-limits to snowmobiling or hunting is an example. However distasteful to the locals, there's nothing wrong with that. In some cases, the newcomers will outnumber the locals within a few years. That's a fact of life. In many cases, the newcomers will seek services that are particular to their life style, such as a gondola (Park City) from downtown, vastly increased educational spending to ensure their kids can compete for Ivy League Schools, and better snow removal to ensure access to the recreational activities for which they paid large sums of money. Again, nothing wrong with that. He who pays the piper calls the tune.

I could predict that in 20 years, Hardy, Jefferson, Pocohontas and perhaps even Pendleton counties might contain a majority of "newcomer" population, along with Fairfax-quality schools, perhaps a new ski area (Mt Porte Crayon anyone?) and the area dotted with Whole Foods, Trader Joes' and William Sonoma stores, and Walmart and McDonald's will be driven out to Elkins and Buckhannon. NPR will broadcast with uninterrupted reception even in the hollers. Starbucks's omnipresence will be evident in Petersburg, Moorefield, Davis, Wardensville and even Marlinton. Asian-american communities will be prosperous and there will be even rainbow flags on some of the storefronts. Who knows, maybe Timberline and Canaan will be joined together and skiable withoug interruption, and you could take the gondola from the Cass Hilton up to the Village at Snowshoe and ski all the way down to the Cass Four Seasons for dinner at a duplicate of Peter Lugers's Brooklyn Steakhouse, or if you're on a budget, Mortons...

Frankly, I see nothing wrong with that picture...
Roger Z
March 29, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Bawalker- lol regarding your first comment. One of my new mottoes has become: "a gun, a cabin, and a thousand acres- tha's all I want." But the issues you raise are not unique to Hardy County, and are things we skim around in the planning department all the time. Down here, Blacksburg has a somewhat (or completely) negative opinion among locals. And, to be fair, a lot of Blacksburgians have a negative opinion of the rest of the region. It's seen as an outpost of northern Virginia, a place that considers itself too good for southwest Virginia, the source of sprawl, a new enterprise community completely at odds with the agricultural/manufacturing/mining tradition of the past, etc etc. But there's no denying that it does good for this area too. When Blacksburgians venture out it's with a lot of money that they've brought to the area (or created here) and this results in jobs and support for the arts or local businesses.

And within Blacksburg, Virginia Tech is definitely the 800 pound gorilla that's throwing the bananas around. Virginia Tech has a reputation for being footloose with their land decisions, a threat to rural character in a number of communities, etc. On the other hand, it is a land grant instutition and its absolutely undeniable that the school has had a positive effect on the economics and communities down here. Danville and Martinsville- both dead manufacturing towns- are dying for extended campuses, and I believe we're opening one up down there soon. We give free services to local towns and businesses all the time, and I'm convinced from some ancillary evidence I've seen that the patenting and development of technology here has had a positive effect of keeping some manufacturing in this region internationally competitive and thus providing job opportunities for a broad swath of people.

Now, as far as the future of West Virginia... I would seriously doubt it's going to be a Vermont anytime soon. Ibotta, you're overestimating how little impact seasonal vacationers have on a region. Pendleton County is experiencing population decline, as are a number of the mountain counties and they aren't remotely close to being commuter areas anytime soon. And regardless, WV isn't just attracting gay asians to open- what- some ultraweird Thailand porn communes around the state. I'd bet a lot of folks looking for second homes in WV are pretty conservative and sick of hanging around social liberals in the DC metro region too. On top of that, the state's politics are shifting to the right... but all of that is secondary. The real question is economic development. People buying another condo at Snowshoe does not equal economic development, nor does suburbanites moving to Wardensville. That latter case is displacement (and, by the way, suburbanites have an impact on farming and other local economies. Usually the first thing subdivision owners do when they move to farm country is start suing farmers, eating their crops, and treating their lands as public property. So it's not just a question of free markets- suburbanites at their worst are disgusting free riders who pick to death the locals who would otherwise be more than welcoming of an expanding market). Building a new ski area is not going to save 90% of the state, which struggles on. The person who comes up with how to save rural West Virginia economically should get a nobel prize.
March 30, 2005
Member since 09/13/2004 🔗
618 posts
Examples of this are happening all over the place. A microcosm of this is happening across the street from my house. A new, wealthy (by my neighborhood's standards) family just moved in. Before even moving in the owner invested $20,000 in landscaping and other improvements. In the process, he took down an old rusty section of chain link fence that ran between his front yard and his neighbor's. As it turns out the fence belonged to the neighbor (something I'm pretty sure he knew). He offered to replace it with a nice trellis or picket fence but the neighbor refused and is threatening to sue if he does put back the exact same fence. The fence was an eyesore and anyone would have been glad to have it gone but due to the way one man's lack of consideration for the established residents and another's unreasonable resentment of the newcomer we're now looking at a lawsuit.

I sure hope nothing like this ever happens at Buckhorn. Ain't that right Roger?
March 30, 2005
Member since 01/18/2005 🔗
2,067 posts
The "lock the gate after I'm in" mentality is everywhere and WV is no exception. I have watched in amazement as land speculation has priced locals out of the market in the CV area while a bit farther west, over hill and dale in the Parsons area, real estate is still pretty much as it has been in the past.
The questions of wether it will continue is easily answered by looking at two distinct indicators. Interest rates, and bond/stock/commodity investment values. What has fueled the real estate boom in WV and other areas of the US (my home area of Reva VA included) has been the lack of a bull market and cheap, plentiful, money, making the purchase of land/houses a VERY lucrative investment with a profit margin of unheard of amounts in a very short period of time.
You want to see this slow down? Let the feds jack the prime up to 5-7%, making loans cost 8 to 10%. The big energy corporations are also going to play a part in this with their greed for profit by raising the cost of fuel for the DC'ers favorite vehicle of choice, the gas guzzeling SUV.
What I have found more amazing is that a lot of buyers are making real estate purchases with very little down, and are making interest only payments on a 30 year note. The crap shoot here is that they are betting that values will continue to spiral upward, giving them equity in their investments and therefore their net worth will continue to increase as they live their chosen lifestyle. When, not if, the real estate market levels off, these will be the same individuals who will be unloading their "investments" at a level equal to or lower than appraised value rather than lose it all, similar to what happened in the early to mid 90s. I guess that the old saying "it's better to love and lost than to never have loved at all" has some meaning here.
March 30, 2005
Member since 12/19/2002 🔗
998 posts

Can you say xenophobia?

Seriously though... if the people in your area want to limit the development there are ways to do so that don't ionvlovle pitchforks, torches or high explosives. Zoning regulations, infastructure, road development and others will all control development etc... and if you want to run for office then bully for you. There is no shortage of good people in government today.

Saying that new people have to forget their old ways and assimilate is jsut as riddiculous as saying that the people who are there should behave as indulgent hosts. The fact is the once the new people are there they are a part of the community and the problems have to worked out just like anything else. Furthermore I have trouble beliveing the legitimacy of so called lifestyle conflicts. These are generally the result of ignorance and fear rather than any legitimate conflicts. No ones rights are being violated when a gay asian family moves in down the street.
Roger Z
March 30, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
The only thing I've seen control development in all the planning we've reviewed so far is a lack of infrastructure, not more of it. And since there is very little infrastructure in Hardy County right now anyway, that strategy doesn't appear to be working.

The second approach is simpler but just as difficult to do: Washington DC has to suck it up and start taking its fair share of growth. The growth restrictions in Montgomery County are a large part of the reason that people are moving to Frederick County, Washington County, and Pennsylvania. Aggressive opposition to new developments reduces density and requires more acreage to house the same number of people. Reducing growth pressure on West Virginia means adding to growth in the DC metro region: more houses, more infrastructure, more investment and coordination by the local governments. When I see Montgomery County abandon it's "farm preservation" zone then I'll believe DC is getting serious about controlling growth.

The Washington economy is for all intents and purposes bulletproof. Federal government is going nowhere and its bringing in more and more people. Every government around here would love to blame the lack of regulations in West Virginia for sprawl out there and say its their fault and ignore their own contribution to the mess. You can reduce sprawl into West Virginia by building the intercounty connector, by increasing density in the metro region, and so on. But modern America has turned from a "chicken in every pot" to "two acres in every lot." You can't have it all.

The flip side, again, is that the ever-booming economy of DC can drive tourism, which can help WV somewhat. It will also result in second homes and eventually a diffusion of businesses into the eastern Panhandle. All that only goes so far though. WV has far more areas with problems then it does areas under threat of development.
March 30, 2005
Member since 12/19/2002 🔗
998 posts

Imagine what will happen if Corridor H makes a 2 hour commute to DC a reality.

While I am a supporter of smart growth, I actually have a hard time with the idea of faulting counties such as montgomery which has been a typiclaly suburban and rural area for generations for maintaining the status quo. It is not surprising that they want to stave off urbanization. They currently have a suburban paradise. Who wants to mess with that? The citiczens of montgomery county do not have any obligation to take more growth than they want (which seems to be none). Your claim is that if MOCO opened its housing market then many of those in WVA would move there, or others new to the area would stop moving there... You seem to be showning a fundamental bias when you say that montgomery county should take all the development. Why is that so? How is Montgomery's desire to reduce development and urabization any different from the WV area's desire to maintain its rural flavor?

I personally think that your entire argument is bogus and the housing restrictions are a red herring. People in this area are very well off and the economy is doing well. They can afford to live where they want. Apparently everyone in the DC burbs wants to live near a city, not in a city. This isn't new york. They want to have the benefit of an urban area's sallary and cultural access with out the problems associtated with urban life (increased demand for services, crime, lack of personal space/yard, no parking, bad schools, reliance on public transit etc...). Why do you think people drive 2 hours to get to work in DC from WV? They like it out there. They like the rural flavor and they can afford to live there and commute or whatever they want to do. Why do I live in DC? I like it here.
March 30, 2005
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
Montgomery county is rural? come on, you cant even find the exit where the washantonian used to be (or is that frederick co?). Maybe if MO CO is done growing, it should also be done building new highways, bypasses, interchanges and otherwise sucking up your/our tax dollars to improve their "rural" lifestyle. Just my uniformed opinion, from the outside looking in.
March 30, 2005
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,551 posts

Maybe if MO CO is done growing, it should also be done building new highways, bypasses, interchanges and otherwise sucking up your/our tax dollars to improve their "rural" lifestyle.

A lot of the road improvements in the inner suburbs are needed to handle increased commuting from the outer suburbs and increased suburb-to-suburb commuting. The improvements may or may not be related to population (or job) growth in the inner county.
March 30, 2005
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
That reminds me of traffic in the Pittsburgh area; traffic jammed in both directions w/people who live in the south hills going to their jobs in monroeville and the people who live in the monroeville going to their jobs in the south hills.
Roger Z
March 30, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Actually, Tromano, you just proved one of the points I was obliquely making. Everyone is "for smart growth" right until they realize it requires more density near them, then suddenly they're for "maintaining the status quo." What I was pointing out was you can have one, or the other, but not both if you live in the DC metro area. Sorry for picking a little much on Montgomery County- my professors by and large hold that up as the holy grail of "growth management" but I don't see what they did as any such thing. Growth management done at a sub-regional level is, in my opinion, exclusionary.

"They want to have the benefit of an urban area's sallary and cultural access with out the problems associtated with urban life (increased demand for services, crime, lack of personal space/yard, no parking, bad schools, reliance on public transit etc...). "

Um, actually- "two acres for every lot"- maybe you missed that little swipe. That WAS my argument. They want all that but somehow they don't want sprawl, either. And as far as housing restrictions being a red herring, on that argument you're just flat out wrong. The amount of land consumed by a family for a housing unit- including sustaining infrastructure and commercial services- has been rising continuously for 50 years and now stands at a little over two acres per family. In the 1980s and early 1990s, the average new home was being built on one acre lots. That's come off a little, but the amount of land being consumed has not.

You can say that the market wouldn't sustain denser development; fine, you might be right. But to say that restrictions on growth that lead to less dense development somehow DOESN'T contribute to why people are moving farther and metro areas are taking up greater amounts of space is just putting your head in the sand.
lbotta - DCSki Supporter 
March 31, 2005
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,535 posts
Roger Z, if you want to see what the transitional owners have done to gentrify a place, stop by Breckenridge's sister town of Frisco by the interstate. 20 years ago it was still the trailer-strewn, ski bum town that was founded by and grew up by brothels. The change in the last 20 years has been dramatic and it's all positive. Yes, some drunken ski bums can't get their rock-bottom trailer prices and the perverts can't get their jollies with a madam in town anymore, but that is a good side.

I agree that the rest of WV will remain in poverty. However, one has to start someplace. As you imply in your description of Blacksburg, it has become the focus for gentrification of the area, albeit accompanied by the squalor of Walmart and its accompanying sprawl. But one doesn't have to have Walmart, Mcdonald's or miles of impersonal tract houses if living village concepts are applied to growth.

As far as rural farming in WV's Northeast, near DC, it is dead or dying and it follows economic imperatives. It is cheaper for Momma and Pappa Yuppie to take their stroller to Eastern Market, Trader Joes or Whole Foods and buy fresh vegetables cultivated on irrigated land in the Sonora Desert of Mexico, than it is for them to buy veggies, or milk, or chicken, grown or harvested in rural Moorefield WV. As the farmers' land becomes more valuable as summer or winter homes than as agricultural land, this land will inexorably follow the process of the marketplace. The future of Hardy, Pendleton and Pocahontas isn't in agriculture (except the exotic or organic stuff) but in the service, vacation, skiing and residential business. With the growth of communications, a group of ski fanatics can assemble a successful company in the shadow of Timberline and have 10-inch days the same as some of the high-tech companies do in Vermont or Colorado.
Roger Z
March 31, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
You've raised some good points Ibotta. Farming is pretty weak here on the east coast, in part because almost no farm in this area receives those farming subsidies (they're busy going to the Sonoran desert) and in part because houses do receive a subsidy- hence land rents bid out farming quite quickly.

Gentrification isn't all wine and roses though- a lot of towns out in the CO mountains have serious housing affordability crunches whereby it's getting difficult for people who do work in the local economies to live there. It's not just drug-addled skiers getting kicked out; teachers and police officers have a hard time living nearby as well. One of the cruxes in development is to make sure there's enough flexibility in zoning that a 150K house can get built as easily as a 350K or more house can get built. A lot of traditional zoning codes don't really permit that, and local opposition often prohibits it as well.

On the other hand, most of West Virginia doesn't have zoning. That has its good sides as well as its bad sides too. It certainly makes it easier for market forces to do what they will with a property, but it also makes it more difficult to manage for environmentally sound projects.

I guess what I'd like to see is a place that didn't have to go the way of commercial retail- Wholefoods and Walmart are birds of a feather, just different target markets. Davis and Thomas are both developing a little bit of local spunk and character (even if some of the drivers behind it are newbies); it'd be nice to see that trajectory continue over the next 10-20 years and maybe Almost Heaven can help with that. Where planning could help Tucker County- or Hardy County- is finding ways to integrate the local economy with the newcomers and the money they're bringing into the region. Farmers markets, work training programs, business start-ups, community college extensions, etc, could all be ways to leverage the new capital to help local citizens have better job opportunities and the skills to acquire them... or utilize resource-based industries more effectively and raise the profitability of some local farms, however slight that might be.
March 31, 2005
Member since 12/19/2002 🔗
998 posts

Roger there are 2 dynamics goign on right now in the area. A flight of telecommuting suburbanites and retirees to the further out suburbs and a massive urbanrenewal drawing many younger people into the heart of DC.

As far as those who are left in the suburbs, you are right, they want smart gorwth except when it increase local density. They want the suburbs and if density goes up to an urban level the aren't going to be happy.

"And as far as housing restrictions being a red herring, on that argument you're just flat out wrong. The amount of land consumed by a family for a housing unit- including sustaining infrastructure and commercial services- has been rising continuously for 50 years and now stands at a little over two acres per family."

Ok , ok MOCO is one of the largest counties in the area. Its hard to tell from the maps but I think it is like 10 times larger than DC. So it can have an effect. So you are saying that becuase of the ammount of appliances, technology, and consunomables that are used in the home they require more infastructure to support.

The restrictions in MOCO are keeping growth down in MOCO.... However this doesn't mean that all or even any of the people who wanted to move to MOCO and can't, will then move to WV. There are tremendous social, logistical, and economic factors to consider. For one thign WV is not the suburbs, if you want a suburban paradise with good schools, a short commute to a job in the city, a familiy friendly liberal intelignesia flavored community, then you don't want to move to WV. Any such person might move somewhere else close in like Nova or PG county. Moco closing down may lead to some trickle down type of arrangement that eventually leads people to being pushed out further toward the edges as other clos in burbs max out as well... so people from fredrick might get pushed to WV etc...

I agree that smart growth deosn't work unless all the jurisdictions implement it in concert. I think this goes back to the inherant problems of having 3 different states contributing to one metropoilitan area.

I know for my part that the reason I live in DC is because the rental prices are higher in rockville than in northwest which is totlaly bassakwards in my view. While you paymore for more sq ft. in newer buildings in rockville I don't want to pay more and I actually preffer the DC ethos to rockville so there you have it.

IMO if MOCO locking new people out pushes them to DC then it "works". If it pushed them to fredrick well thats a problem, as far as smart growth is concerned.

Also there are some other major problems with the roads in NW DC why is there no limited access road between 270 and Downtown DC? The ICC is supposed to actually increase sprawl becuase it will encourage commuting between far flung suburbs. Like Rockville to blatimore etc...
March 31, 2005
Member since 10/18/2004 🔗
45 posts

With the growth of communications, a group of ski fanatics can assemble a successful company in the shadow of Timberline and have 10-inch days the same as some of the high-tech companies do in Vermont or Colorado.

Sounds like heaven to me!!!!

Actually, I have watched the change in DC for over 40 years. I grew up in Fairfax Co. when cows outnumbered people and a train ran through my hometown. Now million dollar homes are becoming the norm in my zip code and finding someone in the area who still work with their hands is about as common as sighting wild buffalo.

Change can be uncomfortable and scary but it happens. Nothing any politican or local group can do will hold it off for long. You can delay it for awhile but that's it. I wasn't thrilled to see it as a child and during my adolescence but eventually came to accept it.

Much of eastern WV will go through the same growing pains. I can see the day when the drive along a completed Corridor "H" will strongly resemble that of I-70 from Denver to Vail in terms of development. Davis already begins to look a little like some of the old mining towns in Colorado like Leadville, Minturn, or even Idaho Springs (somebody please bring a Beau Jo's franchise to WV--I miss their pizzas). Without the skiing industry those places would have become ghost towns by now.
March 31, 2005
Member since 07/13/2004 🔗
1,052 posts
Hmmmm....Isn't Beau Jo's the place where they serve honey for your pizza crust? If it is, progress/urban spraw can't be all bad.
Roger Z
March 31, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts

You raised some good points there. I really liked this one:

"IMO if MOCO locking new people out pushes them to DC then it "works". If it pushed them to fredrick well thats a problem, as far as smart growth is concerned."

You've hit on an idea that I've been wondering about lately. I'd love to say it's a great idea since I've been thinking about it , but who knows. Aren't European cities more of people live in the cities, businesses are in the periphery? Why can't we work to develop our cities more like that? Obviously it wouldn't "solve sprawl" but if there was a greater focus on people moving to the cities- not only people like you and retirees (they're moving back in too) but families too- and located businesses along the periphery (in DC's case, the Beltway for the most part) you would have the critical mass for mass transit, potential lighter commutes, cheaper infrastructure, the mobility to switch jobs without moving, more retail opportunities, and a variety of housing options (as you know, there are more single family homes in a city than many people realize- could add more in some infill developments). Anyway, the idea is still poorly formed but it basically amounts to increasing residential at the expense of office in the central city. Not really sure how to make this work or if it would work, but- heck- Paris is nice, ain't it?
lbotta - DCSki Supporter 
April 1, 2005
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,535 posts
Hi there Mr Z! We do have commonality except in some significant issues. First, the Sonoran Desert isn't getting subsidies. It's the fact that the American companies can pay Mexicans five dollars a day versus five dollars an hour accross the border... That does make a difference.

Whole Foods and Walmart of the same type?! Not in a gazillion chances my friend! Whole Foods has a corporate ethos of developing humankind, enhancing health, and providing for the development of a community. It is geared towards an enlightened, educated, urban and close-suburban population and it adapts quite well to the Urban Village concept. Stop by Arlington's Clarendon store or DC's Logan Circle stores and notice how these stores have become pillars of a community. Whole Foods endows their workers with enviable benefits and is a leader in fair market pricing so the farmers (WV farmers included) can get a fair price for their products.

Walmart? Not a chance. A depradating, vicious, exploiting, sinister, and viscerally henous corporation that calls Social Security a Walmart benefit, pays their employees dirt wages, hires illegal aliens to undercut local labor, exploits the producer and the farmer by paying them unfair values, and is IMHO, THE reason for the death of downtowns in small-town America along with the increase in crime, corruption and unsupervised kids who take to petty crime and drugs. Walmart is the anathema to the Urban Village. It doesn't belong in a civilized community and represents the worst of American business ethics or lack thereof. If it was the last store on earth, I'd go without food or water but do not go inside of one of these monstruosities. Thanks for allowing me to get it off my chest.

As far as gentrification and the lack of housing for locals who perform vital services, it is gentrification that allows an increased tax base so the local government can subsidize housing (a la Aspen, Vail, Whistler, Breck) to allow the firefighters and police and teachers to buy the best house they've ever had in their lives. If it wasn't for that, many of them and their families would still be living in ramshackle trailer parks. For many of them, the exponential improvement in schools as a result of this tax base will allow their kids to realize their dream of getting a quality education for the first time in history. Some may even realize a dream of an Ivy League or Seven Sisters. Not bad. The increase in tax base will mean a suitable hospital where grandpa can get an angioplasty minutes after symptoms instead of having to be laid out in a cold steel bed to wait out his infarct. Not bad... As a matter of fact, pretty good. The increased tax base will also mean a water treatment plant so raw sewage and farm pollutants don't discharge into the potable water sources and poison the aquifiers.

With the added inflow of highly educated people, new business will come in and yes, zoning will take place. Actually, the law mandates that zoning must take place at least to prevent people from building in flood plains. That way you won't have the present phenomenon of thousands of seasonal homeless families...

What you say about Davis and Thomas is partly the result of new, educated, resourceful people with money. Long-term planning will result in a well-planned, more livable community. And happy people ski better... We definitely agree on that
April 1, 2005
Member since 09/13/2004 🔗
618 posts

As far as gentrification and the lack of housing for locals who perform vital services, it is gentrification that allows an increased tax base so the local government can subsidize housing (a la Aspen, Vail, Whistler, Breck) to allow the firefighters and police and teachers to buy the best house they've ever had in their lives. If it wasn't for that, many of them and their families would still be living in ramshackle trailer parks.

Don't you think that statement is a little elitist? Do you really think that schoolteachers and firefighters feel that they need someone's help to help get out of their ramshackle trailer parks? I work with several people who make salaries equivalent to those professions. They all have respectable homes, nice cars (trucks), some are even trying to send their children to college and most have home computers with internet access. Some even post on messageboards. They can afford all this, just not within the city limits of Blacksburg. My neighborhood in Blacksburg has several teachers and two figherfighters that have lived here for years yet in the 5 years that I've lived here every single family that has moved in has not only had college degrees but most have advanced degrees. Blacksburg's a college town, there's nothing wrong with that. But does that mean that we have the right to keep gobbling up the surrounding communities until anyone making less than 6 figures is forced to leave or move into subsidized housing?
Roger Z
April 1, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Yeah I realized the Sonoran desert wasn't getting subsidies but the farms in the California desert are in a HUGE way.

Your Walmart and Wholefoods and Gentrification post was... well, it was amusing. I assume you were going for entertainment value, right? A couple of smiley faces could have helped clear that up!
lbotta - DCSki Supporter 
April 1, 2005
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,535 posts
Murphy, I said many not all and it is certainly not elitist but a fact, adjectives notwithstanding. There is a big difference in the syllogism between "many" and "all" at the core of the major premise. And it is certainly a truism that when it comes to law enforcement, fire fighting, and teaching, the top -- and sometimes, the living wage salaries are NOT in the rural areas. In the case of teachers, it has been the source of much controversy and led several states, starting with Vermont, to literally take over the funding to reach parity between urban and rural schools. Just compare the differences between urban and rural states... Connecticut with an average teacher salary of over 63K and WV with 44K... And if you end up in the Dakotas, the difference is embarassing... (source: American Federation of Teachers). That's a heck of a difference. I would question whether teachers and firefighters and police officers in rural areas would eschew a substantial salary increase regardless of the source just because it came from yuppie developers selling condos to yuppies from DC. And yes, if you go to rural WV, you might see quite a few public servants living in, yes, trailers...

One unfortunate example of the situation is in the end of the federal subsidies of the 1990s for small towns as these have not been renewed by Congress. Many of these towns are now laying off police officers or not rehiring them through attrition, and cutting out vital services. Would they like the added tax base of a gentrified ski area? Mmmm.... I think they would...

A gentrified, yes, yuppie and, using your words, elitist, ski area can make the difference between services and no services. For example, talking to a lawyer nearby Snowshoe, I heard him state that over 50 percent of the tax base of Pocohontas County is comprised of Snowshoe and its immediate environs. That's a godsend for the roughly 10 thousand people who live in that county.

If caring for the welfare of the rural areas is elitist, then I welcome the title... :-)
Roger Z
April 1, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Ibotta- it appears you were not joking. In which case, not only was your first post mind-numbingly elitist, it was also racist, and imbued with ignorance of economics or how people in other socio-economic classes might view the world. Your second post continued with a screamingly dumb look at salaries.

There is no way to keep up with the litany of hyperbole, selective statistics and condescension in your posts other than to note the things you merrily gloss over on your way to a dream world where teachers thank you for being forced into Section 8 housing. These are: structure and operations of a business, the nature of gentrification and impacts on classes, urban and rural development and supply issues, wage and cost of living adjustments, markets and pricing, market analysis, urban infill and greenfield expansion sites, asset building for the poor, environmental considerations, fiscal budgeting, bid rent effects on natural resources, and property tax impacts. There's more but I'm running late for a dinner meeting so you get the picture.

The point is this: the world is very, very gray and you have the moral certainty of someone who has a complete lack of critical inquiry. It makes our battles here over the greenhouse effect look infused with caveats and humility by comparison. Suffice to say that I and, apparently Murphy, are not interested in your ilk coming to save us and our neighbors from our mortal sins of shopping at Walmart and living in houses that you think are "dumps." Go gentrify some other black neighborhood in Philly and tell 'em what a fine deal they're getting by being uprooted.
April 1, 2005
Member since 09/13/2004 🔗
618 posts

I don't disagree with you that many of these rural areas would welcome the potential jobs and tourism income that could be created by something such as a ski resort. I'm sure most of Pocahontas County is appreciative of what Snowshoe has done for them. I just doubt that "most" of the residents of rural West Virginia share your vision for their future home. The fact that you bring up a teacher's salary of $44K as an example of things that could be "fixed" through the influx of big city money shows me that you somewhat out of touch with life in rural West Virginia. A person making $44K is doing pretty well in Hardy County. After all, that is over 3 times the regional median income.
April 2, 2005
Member since 12/1/2003 🔗
1,547 posts
After taking off a few days i wanted to jump back in and point out a few things that seemed to have been completely ignored in the whole discussion of insiders moving in, life changing, etc. First is the comment about trailers and the quality of people who live in them. Obviously this is far more of a steriotypical generalization of a certain region than knowing the actual facts. OK, I admit alot of people in this area do live in trailers, and most of them tend to let their property and housing goto the pits. But that doesn't address the issue because my grandma for example and many others live in a trailer that is groomed to perfection because their median salary or social security simply can't afford more. To say or in this case imply that one living in a trailer is a lower quality human being than someone in a brick in mortar house, is well very indignant and highly rude towards the people of this area.

What all of the above discussions about should there be a walmart, should there be a big business, should there be suburbs all in the name of improving the quality of life... what those don't take into affect is the actualy *PEOPLE* that those things are supposed to help. Honestly many of you won't believe this, but the fact is the vast majority of people living in Hardy county love their way of life. That includes those whose income is below or at the average income for the region. That includes those who live in smaller less quality homes such as trailers. That includes the folks who get out and travel 2 hours to work a day and back.

All of the talk of how the coming suburbia way of life is going to benefit and increase the value of life really shows to me that those coming into this area simply are imposing their thoughts and wills against those of the locals living here. I've been doing computer work now in this area since 1998 and the one thing I've found in the vast majority of people, through direct questions or indirect listening is that people love their way of life. So what if their income is 30K a year instead of 45K. So what if they have to travel to Harrisonburg or Winchester for the malls, they thoroughly enjoy their way of life as it is. Of course everyone here would like to have a bit better car, or a bit larger house, or a bit more income, but the fact of the matter is is that people are geniuanly happy with the current Hardy Co. way of life (and this does go for hampshire, grant, and many others too.).

Now for outsiders to come into this area and try to say, "Oh look at these folks, they make less than what we do, they must be in poverty and are reaching out for help." is one of the most shortsighted, ignorant, and blatently stupid mindsets to have. This is where the whole foundation of the fight of influx of DCers vs locals exsists as I mentioned several postings ago.

Obviously West Virginia does have an image problem and a true financial problem neither of which is going to be corrected fully in the next 25 years. But the more I sit back and look at it, the more I realize it's a humanity problem. For example going back to the poverty stricken folks living in trailers on lots as trashy as a dump. Is that a problem due to the fact of those folks having less money, or is it due to the fact that those folks are obscessive spenders with little regard for appearance, or regard for the property that they have in this life? It's my firm belief through common sense knowledge and personal responsiblity that those in this area, if they were given better standards of living, better wages, closer shopping areas with full utilities hooked upto their properties, they would find a way to screw it up, mess it up, and totally make things look worse than before.

It really is due diligence on both sides of this fence to maintain high levels of personal responsibility for one another and for ones self along with having lots of common sense. Obviously with realtors trying to harass land owners up here to gobble up land, neither of these ways are on the top of the priority list. But sad to say, until people learn that, be it in VT, WV, or CO, the life situations will get continually worse no matter how good it appears to start out. It'll all end in a squalor of self decrepid living expecting the world to serve them and their every need.
April 2, 2005
Member since 03/27/2005 🔗
3,530 posts
I'm a plain & simple hard working kind of guy.had the chance for an education but passed it up for the "fun" life.Having a little hard time understanding some of the "elite" words bieng used but find the posts very interesting.What category do you all put me in as a guy who is building a home up in the canaan area with money generated from years of 10 to 12 hour BUST ASSING days...A joe six pack kind of guy who should be living in a trailer according to Mr IBotta but doesn't & actually resents the fact that there is a doublewide the next acre over from my prop?Plain & simple the rich & the Hard working will be moving to the mountains..its the last frontier & nothing is going to stop it.With that said all you can do is have a plan & a vision for the future.Make sure the rich cannot resrict access to streams or good hiking areas.make a 3 acre lot the smallest thing you can buy with to build just 1 home on.If you have to have a mobile home make sure its got some woodsy looking siding on it.Folks, The place just has to look nice I'm sorry!& last but not least..quit putting off the the friggin ski resort & lets be done with it!!! "ALMOST HEAVEN" West Va. With planning it will stay just that.
April 2, 2005
Member since 01/11/2000 🔗
609 posts
I get the feeling that it is believed these are problems unique to West Virginia and mountain regions. However, many of these problems are unique to rural environments.

I grew up in Eastern North Carolina which was very rural. And still is except for certain areas (Rocky Mount, Greenville). Many of the people there grew up on farms and farming is still a big way of life. The majority who are not on farms are working at some type of manufacturing plant. My father has worked for Weyerhaueser for over 35 years and has worked out a nice living and retirement plan for himself. My parents builit their dream home 6 years ago (a log cabin, barely bigger than my townhome). My father drives over an hour to work, works 6 days in a row, does shiftwork which changes every 6 days, has had 3 heart attacks and many scares but the insurance from his work has helped to cover much of the bills. Overall, he is a very happy man with this lifestyle. He makes about $35,000 a year.

Others work at various plants across the neighboring 3 counties. Some have had very steady jobs. Some get laid off frequently as the plants close. In some ways, it's much like Detroit except we don't make cars. Come to think of it, Detroit (a big city no less) has some of the same problems. And there are trailers up there.

Now granted there are many where I grew up that live in trailers. Some are fixed up nice and some are trashy. Then again, some of the brick houses are fixed up nice and some are trashy. Some of the trashy house families make more money than some of the people with the nice houses. It's not money, it's attitude.

And while many of us know the travesties that Wal-Mart inflicts globally, when they moved into my town, they created 200 jobs, inspired the town to build a new strip mall (which created other jobs), provided steady employment and a good wage (for rural areas minimum wage is not all that bad), and has much lower prices than anywhere else without driving an hour to go shopping.

BTW, I'm not an advocate for big businesses and want to promote small business communities, especially in big towns like DC. But in some ways, there not all bad.

My point is this. West Virginia's problems are not unique to WV. And in many ways, has nothing to do with it's residents but the people in charge. Vermont politicians worked for very positive changes to protect the mountains and the rural way of life. West Virginia has worked on a little greed and is selling off the natural resources. So don't look down on the people. Look up at the real ones who are ruining the place.

BTW, Vote Bawalker for office!
April 4, 2005
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
So johnfmh, didja hear that Powder Mountain is for sale?
lbotta - DCSki Supporter 
April 5, 2005
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,535 posts
Mr Z, I don't know how you got the racist designation to throw around, except that it is a good epithet when you can't argue with facts.

Whatever you may think of my postings, face it: Call us elitist or whatever. We're here to stay. No apologies. Buying land is a fact of free enterprise where money talks. We can either dialogue or we can't but the fact of the matter is that in 15 years, locals may be outnumbered in many communities.
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