Highlands Needs A Tamarack

Cabela’s pulls an enormous number of travelers off Interstate 70 to spend money, sometimes lots of it, here in Ohio County. Quite a few people come here specifically to visit the giant outdoors store. It’s a tourist attraction.

Imagine how much more business could be pulled into The Highlands with another tourist attraction.

Yes, it’s time again to push one of my pet projects – Tamarack North.

I proposed it years ago, even before The Highlands was established. Despite two or three mentions since then, not much interest has been expressed.

Now may be a good time to start the ball rolling. West Virginia has a new commissioner of tourism and deputy secretary of commerce – Amy Shuler Goodwin. Many area residents know and like Goodwin, who has strong links to the Northern Panhandle. Before Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin named her to the new posts, she served as his communications director.

I’ve worked with her off and on for many years. She’s very capable and very smart.

Smart enough, I suspect, to see the wisdom of a Tamarack North.

That’s the name I picked years ago for a northern West Virginia clone of the Tamarack Arts and Crafts Center in Beckley. It’s a wonderful showcase of Mountain State culture.

But Tamarack hasn’t always done well financially, and that may have made some in Charleston leery of trying another one in this region of the state.

Consider the advantages a Tamarack-type establishment would have at The Highlands, however. For starters, it would be in a major retail center right beside I-70. And, of course, it would be near Cabela’s.

The two would complement each other nicely. Lots of the same type of people who love Cabela’s would enjoy a West Virginia arts, crafts, food, literature and culture center nearby.

The original Tamarack is beside the West Virginia Turnpike, but there are no other attractions around it. Tamarack North would have more going for it than its parent did.

State government doesn’t have a lot of money for purposes such as Tamarack North, of course. But this is a venture that, in short order, could be making money for the state and many local residents.

Maybe now’s the right time to consider it.

Myer can be reached at: mmyer@theintelligencer.net.