Over the past year, Community Development Agent, Adam Hodges has been working with the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority, National Coal Heritage Area Authority, and West Virginia State University to develop a new community resource guide titled “Destination Beautification”.

This project truly began back in 2011 with a generous grant from the Claude Worthington-Benedum Foundation. Destination Beautification is the second and expanded version of the original “Beautification Toolkit.” The original version was created to help communities prepare for visitors from the 2013 National Boy Scout Jamboree. The concept originated from community discussions surrounding the specific needs of the New River Gorge region as it pertained to beautification. After searching for similar resources, it was decided that one would have to be created to serve the purposes of the region’s current needs.

In this new guide, West Virginia State University extension agents lent their expertise, the Communications Department at West Virginia State University lent their design and production skills, and the National Coal Heritage Area Authority provided additional funding to allow for additional printed copies and an expanded release area.

At just over 90 pages, the new Destination Beautification: Community Resource Guide covers topics like: Façade Improvements, Historic Preservation, Public Arts, Urban Agriculture, Urban Orchards, Urban Renewal, and Tourism Development. These topics were selected due to the potential positive impact they could have on quality of life and the impression communities were giving visitors. Many of the projects are low to no cost and can be achieved by individual community members and local governments alike. The release of this resource comes in April to allow communities to plan for projects throughout the Spring and Summer of 2015.

Adam Hodges, the Fayette County Extension Agent for West Virginia State University, will be distributing copies throughout communities and giving presentations to allow communities to engage in dialogue regarding the concepts within the guide. The guide will also be available to any community and will be accessible electronically at: http://issuu.com/nrgrda/docs/destination_beautification_toolkit .

It is the hope of these partners, that by providing community members and civic leaders real examples of successful projects from communities across southern West Virginia, they will be inspired to guide their own successes. This publication will also be a useful tool for extension agents seeking to improve the quality of life in each community they serve.

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