Mayor Robbie Skinner delivers his 2023 State of the City address at city council's Jan. 19 meeting. Also pictured, from left, are Buckhannon City Recorder Randy Sanders, Councilman Jack Reger and Councilman David McCauley. / Photo by Katie Kuba

City to prioritize park programming, maintenance in 2023, mayor says

Editor’s note: You can read the full speech here.

BUCKHANNON – Prioritizing its parks is at the forefront of the City of Buckhannon’s goals in 2023.

Buckhannon Mayor Robbie Skinner this past Thursday hit the highs, the lows and the important happenings within the City of Buckhannon over the 2022 calendar year during his State of the City address.

Skinner outlined the city’s proud moments of the past year as well as its priorities heading into 2023 at Buckhannon City Council’s most recent meeting Jan. 19.

“Over the course of the next year, one of our main goals is to comprehensively look at our city parks and make some much-needed improvements,” Skinner said. “We have done a great job in developing the Jawbone Park area, but our City Park on Park Street, and our other five public parks also need our attention.”

In 2022, Skinner said the city’s first-ever Buckhannon Parks and Recreation Advisory Board had been established via ordinance and asked that council allocate money to bring their suggestions to fruition.

“I am confident that this energetic group will help us realize our goal of improving all parks,” he said. “Council, as we work on our 2023-2024 general fund budget, I am asking that we consider an allocation of funds to support the efforts and suggestions of our board and committee members toward improving our parks and recreational facilities.”

He also touched on the progress happening with both the long-anticipated Colonial Theatre renovation and Stockert Youth & Community Center’s new multipurpose addition.

“We are excited to see the light at the end of the tunnel with our Colonial Theatre project,” Skinner announced. “We’ve made significant progress in 2022 toward completing the project, which should open very soon as a fully renovated, state-of-the-art public entertainment space, adding yet another amazing asset to our beautiful downtown. In September, following significant discussion and community conversation, City Council finalized the architectural plans for our new, also state-of-the-art Stockert Youth & Community Center’s new multipurpose facility.”

Skinner said the city plans to break ground on the new SYCC addition later in 2023.

“It’s been a long time coming, but we’re thrilled to be able to offer additional space for our youth to enjoy recreation. We couldn’t have done without the guidance and leadership of our Stockert Board of Directors, generous donors and community members,” Skinner added. “Thank you!”

Skinner emphasized the local business-related and large event-related happenings that unfolded in 2022.

“We welcomed back a full, 10-day-long West Virginia Strawberry Festival, and it was a lot of fun,” Skinner said. “Our city beamed with pride as we were finally able to show off our strawberry spirit for fifty-plus thousand people who flock to Buckhannon to enjoy the unofficial kickoff to summer in north-central West Virginia.”

“As mayor, I joined the West Virginia Strawberry Festival Board of Directors in 2022, and I am proud to report that, under the direction of President Shane Jenkins, our festival organization is in the best shape that it’s been in many years,” the mayor added. “We’re looking forward to another great festival in 2023!”

A slew of new businesses opened or announced their forthcoming openings in 2023 on Main Street or elsewhere in Buckhannon or its outskirts, including Fish Hawk Acres’s The Coop, Mountain Chic Boutique, Brightside, The Outpost and Event Center, People’s Bank, Shop N’ Save, CPImagery, the Tanning Hut, ParMar Stores, Mizu Japanese Steakhouse and Sam’s Southern Seafood. Other businesses like Sweet A Licious and the Donut Shop – soon-to-be ‘The Donut Spot’ – announced their reopenings.

“Community Care of West Virginia purchased and remodeled the former Citizens Bank location. Buffalo Wild Wings and First Community Bank both underwent complete interior renovations. Wendling’s Food Service continued to expand, adding more job opportunities – further proving that Upshur County IS a great place to live, work, and invest!” Skinner said.

Skinner mentioned he would be opening a new jewelry shop in the same place where Anderegg’s Jewelers operated for decades.

Other highlights included:

  • The Buckhannon Police Department having achieved its first full year as a fully accredited agency under the Commission for Accreditation on Law Enforcement Agencies
  • The Buckhannon Fire Department’s ISO rating dropping (improving) from a 4 to a 3, hopefully reducing the homeowners’ insurance rates of people who live both within the city and in the first-due area.
  • The construction of the city’s new 30-foot-by-130-foot city greenhouse with the supervision of city horticulturist Dixie Green
  • The Buckhannon Water Department’s maintenance of a “well under 10 percent” water loss rate, one of the best in the Mountain State
  • The Buckhannon Sanitary Sewer Department’s installation of main, service and storm sewer lines under the new Madison Street green space and parking area
  • The Buckhannon Street Department’s installation of thousands of feet of new ADA-compliant sidewalks on West Main Street, North and South Kanawha streets, North Spring Street, Willard Way and South Florida Street

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