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Moundsville to Create Arts and Culture Commission

MOUNDSVILLE – City leaders have taken the first step toward entrenching the city’s Arts and Culture Committee into its own full-fledged commission.

Since beginning in July, the Arts and Culture Committee has been involved with numerous festivities and public events with the city, such as the Jefferson Fridays in September and the annual Christmas events, as well as several others, primarily directed toward children, said City Manager Rick Healy.

Due to their successful first year, Healy said, committee chair Sara Wood requested council establish them as the Arts and Culture Commission, which would allow three city residents to be appointed full-time to the commission, alongside Wood and council member Brianna Hickman, the other member of the current committee.

The city passed the ordinance establishing the commission at its Tuesday council meeting, held online via Zoom.

If the ordinance passes on second reading at the June 2 council meeting, residents of the city interested in joining the council members in promoting Moundsville’s cultural identity will be able to submit letters of interest to the city manager. Healy said the city would solicit interest if the ordinance would pass on second reading.

“Since they’ve been running as a council subcommittee, councilperson Sara Wood, who was the chair of that committee, asked that council make them a commission, so they could officially have appointed members of the commission from residents that submit letters and request to be placed onto it,” Healy said. “They’d become an official commission just like the Planning Commission or Historic Landmarks Commission, and they’d have guidelines to be set up by ordinance.

“The main reason for the Arts and Culture (committee) is to encourage the artistic and cultural strengths of Moundsville, and provide opportunities and events that will foster that kind of programming,” he added.

Wood said the committee is excited for what the rest of the year will bring. Though events for June and July have been postponed or canceled, activities in the late summer and fall are still up in the air.

“The committee was thrilled for 2020 to bring more arts and cultural opportunities and events to Moundsville, but many of our programs have been cancelled or postponed due to COVID-19. With the success of last year’s Jefferson Fridays, we had a full line up of music planned from June — October. We have cancelled June and July so far and will make decisions about the additional events as further guidance from health professionals is available,” she said Wednesday.

“We often hear in Moundsville, ‘there’s nothing to do.’ This committee is trying to change this narrative by providing events that draw not only our citizens, but those from surrounding communities as well. We understand that economically, when people come to Moundsville for an event, they are often eating dinner and shopping within our city as well,” she added. “These events build a sense of community and excitement in our town. You can see people ranging in age from 1 to upwards of 80 at our events, all having a good time and mingling, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Wood said the move to a formal commission won’t drastically alter their decision making process, which already took into account the opinions of volunteers, but does offer more opportunities for shared responsibility of decisions.

“We have a strong community volunteer base already, but this move provides more shared ownership of decisions between Council and community members. … The way we have operated thus far has been through shared governance with everyone having a vote and opinion, albeit informally, since structurally the only formal members of the committee were Council members with community members serving as volunteers. This will create a more formal process that will allow our two council representatives and three community members to all have equal voting power.”

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