HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — A community rally in Huntington is scheduled for Monday night. It’s a send off for city officials who leave for Denver, Colorado this week to compete in the final round of the America’s Best Communities competition.

The competition started out with more than 300 communities in 2014. Huntington is now one of eight communities remaining in the competition.

The eight finalists include: Chicago Lakes Area, Minnesota; Darrington/Arlington, Washington; Huntington, West Virginia; Lake Havasu City, Arizona; Madison, Indiana; Statesboro, Georgia; Tualatin, Oregon; and Valley County/Meadows Valley, Idaho.

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams; Mary Witten Wiseman, president of Foundation for the Tri-State Community; Margaret Mary Layne, former Huntington city manager; and others will travel to Denver Tuesday to present their revitalization plan for the city to a panel of judges.

“The component that they’re looking at are how far we’ve come in 11 months on achieving the goals we’ve set,” Wiseman said. Judges will also consider community participation and future plans for the city.

Huntington officials will present their plan at 12 p.m. Wednesday. The grand prize ceremony is at 7 p.m.

The top community will be awarded $3 million, second place will win $2 million and third will receive $1 million.

All the prize money will go toward the city’s revilatization plan.

Wiseman said a win for Huntington would be a win for the region.

“Huntington is looking at this as a way to raise up the entire region, not just Huntington, but to say people need to come to our region,” she said.

The opioid overdose problem has drawn people away from the city, Wiseman said. She’s hoping for a win so Huntington can be seen in a positive light.

“The outside world has painted us in such a way that people only see us in negative term and if we can go and compete at the level of competition that we are competing in and end up victories, that is just a huge stamp of approval,” she said.

Huntington has already been awarded a $100,000 prize grant from competition sponsors Frontier Communications, DISH Network, CoBank and the Weather Channel.

A live stream of the community presentations and the Grand Prize Ceremony will be available here.

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