By Shirley Shuman
For approximately 20 years, Gassaway residents and visitors to the town have looked upon the destroyed building on the lower end of the town with disapproval. However, as of last week, demolition has taken place. From the time the building fell until 2021, funds for demolition had been the major deterrent to getting rid of the eyesore. According to former Gassaway mayor Jeff Skidmore, Governor Jim Justice issued a grant for $225,000 on June 7, 2021, to the town of Gassaway for the demolition. This marked the first time the state had issued a grant for demolition.
Skidmore explained how all of this came about. “When I became mayor,” he said, “one of my main goals was getting rid of that building and other dilapidated buildings in the town.” Since no money was available locally, he contacted Region VII Planning and Development Council for help. “ They do a lot of grants. This is part of their area,” Skidmore continued, “and they do help municipalities get grants.”
The Braxton Development Authority Board, according to Skidmore who is a member of that group, “has been following this for the past two-and-a-half years.” Since the grant was awarded late in Skidmore’s term as mayor, he is unsure why the demolition did not take place until now. “Since this was the first grant awarded for demolition, I’m assuming there were a lot of questions, and that’s why it took so long. There would have been legal issues, and Region VII would have had to put out bidding and then award the bid.”
In addition to Region VII, the Braxton County Development Authority, and Governor Justice. the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG),and WV Brownfields Assistance Center made this demolition happen.
Lois Cole, a member of the Gassaway Area Improvement Council, and an advocate of keeping the town clean, neat, and attractive, commented on the demolition. “Getting rid of this eyesore and health and safety hazard has been a major goal of mine, since I moved back to Gassaway. It’s taken four years and the work of many dedicated individuals and agencies. If we as a community continue to work together with a vision of cleaning up and rebuilding our town, the opportunities are there if we just persevere,” Cole said.
One eyesore in the Town of Gassaway has come down, but several more exist. According to Skidmore, the Braxton Development Authority is still looking for funding for further development.