WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — The mayor of the Greenbrier County town hit heavily by the June 2016 floods is impressed by how far the town has come in two years.
During an appearance on MetroNews Talkline, Mayor Bruce Bowling said he initially didn’t think the progress would be as quick as it has been. The appearance was during “A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier” Tuesday.
“It’s just been tremendous. I would never have dreamed we’d come this far in two years. I was thinking five years maybe. Things seem to be rolling and it’s not just the leadership of the town. The folks have come together and out of tragedy a lot of times good things happen and it’s truly happening in White Sulphur.”
Bowling noted recent economic progress in town, thanks partly to the Greenbrier Resort and the PGA golf tournament. Nine previously-empty buildings have recently been purchased along Main Street with the intention of restoring them and bringing new business to town.
Residential areas previously abandoned after flood damage have been converted into green space. Hope Village was an initiative that started after the flood to build a new community for those who lost homes. Since 2016, 42 families have been relocated to the community, which also features soccer fields, baseball fields and a playground.
“We’ve built new parks in town. We’ve got nine parks in town now. Brad Paisley donated and we’ve got Brad Paisley Park which is a wonderful venue. We’ve had weddings there, picnics, reunions, things like that. We traded those properties so that the folks that moved up there (Hope Village) would not have that expense of having to buy a piece of property.”
Bowling indicated other projects are in the works in and near the city. The development of a hotel is underway, as well as the The West Virginia Great Barrel Company. The project was announced last October but remained quiet for several months.
“Because it’s in the city limits it’s qualified for some of that HUD money. They raised over $20 million to get this thing going. Jim Bean buys 1,800 bourbon barrels a day. This time next year the demand will overkill the supplies so there’s not going to be enough barrels.”
It will be located on approximately 40 acres of land along Harts Run Road near exit 175 on I-64. Construction is expected to begin in August, according to Bowling.