Heralding our history
There’s no overstating what a positive development Charles Town has in the new tours that explore the history of the Jefferson County Courthouse and other sites downtown.
The free, hour-long jaunts began Saturday and soon will be offered twice daily through mid-August. Now all of us – tourists as well as local residents and friends and families in for visits – will have a better appreciation not only of the story of abolitionist John Brown but of all the incredible American history that has happened here.
The tours also provide a great excuse to spend time – and money – downtown. As Charles Town Mayor Peggy Smith noted in last week’s Page 1 news story, by timing the tours to start at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., those taking part will be downtown at midday, the perfect time to grab a bite to eat or drink and maybe do some shopping to boot.
As good as this news is, there’s no reason we shouldn’t see this as a mere starting point. We hope merchants and others build on the example of the Jefferson County Museum, which extended its hours to cater to Memorial Day weekend visitors. The museum also updated the sign outside its Washington Street home to let passersby know the museum, normally closed on Sundays and Mondays, would stay open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days.
How can Charles Town businesses piggyback on the partnership and further meet the needs of those who come out for the tours? What might Shepherdstown, Middleway and other entities do to give visitors even more to do here?
What can other mayors and city leaders in neighboring communities learn from the way Charles Town officials have begun with the National Park Service?
Stephanie Pierson Smith isn’t alone in grieving after last week’s fire left her boutique et cetera heavily damaged and closed for at least much of the summer.
How sad to walk down Washington Street now and see Smith’s bay windows – always perfectly up-to-date with whimsical, eye-catching scenes – covered over with plywood.
Anyone who visited et cetera became a fan of the tiny shop that Smith filled (and refilled) with an eclectic mix of wares, including unique gourmet items, funky repurposed furniture, vintage finds and lovely home furnishings.
But et cetera’s success wasn’t Smith’s sole goal. She wanted to see her fellow downtown merchants make it, too. From the day it opened last fall, et cetera served as a vibrant hub for the Charles Town business district.
Many credit Smith’s energy and solid business ideas in kicking off the revival that continues to attract locals and visitors to downtown. Innovative promotions including “Sip and Shop” events in December and before Valentine’s Day brought about a much-needed revival downtown. The weekend before the fire, Smith partnered with Christy Jaeger of Southern Charm for a fun afternoon event that included food, drink and a catwalk set up on Charles Street for a fashion show.
Unfailingly upbeat even in the face of setbacks, supportive of her neighbors, filled with smart business ideas, Smith provides Charles Town with a terrific example of what a force for good a small business owner can be.
As devastating a setback as the May 22 fire is, it’s heartening to see the way Smith’s fans and friends and the community as a whole have rushed to find a way to help. We cannot wait to see Smith reopen et cetera. We want to formally wish her well during the difficult weeks ahead and to encourage our readers to look at how they might help. Simply put, lending a hand to the person who’s done so much to keep our downtown moving in the right direction is just the right thing to do.
Bring on the debates
In two races at the top of the heap – Rep. Nick Rahall against state Sen. Evan Jenkins, and U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito against Secretary of State Natalie Tennant – we think debates are in order.
Much of what we have learned about the candidates so far has come from out-of-state, national political reporters, or out-of-state attack ads aired on West Virginia television stations.
That may be a crucial issue in Washington, but we think obsessing about who controls Congress detracts from discussions about our needs here in southern West Virginia.
We want the candidates to concentrate on our issues, and give us answers to questions asked by West Virginians.
We also look forward to the debates because we think slickly produced television attack ads don’t tell us enough about the candidates who are seeking to represent us. They may well be effective with voters, but we want to hear what the candidates stand for, not why they think their opponent is vulnerable.
When it comes to debates, talk is not cheap. It is necessary.
– The Register-Herald of Beckley