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Wetzel Museum Set To Open Jan. 4

By Staff | Dec 24, 2013

The Wetzel County Museum is renovated and ready to open for visitors the first week of January. The displays, created by revamping an old American Red Cross exhibit, are very professional and informative. (Photo by Amy Witschey)

The Wetzel County Museum is set to reopen Jan. 2.

Sandy Hunt with the Wetzel County Convention and Visitors Bureau told New Martinsville City Council at their regular December meeting that the revamped museum located on Main Street will open the first week of January. It will now be open regularly Thursday through Saturday, noon to 4 p.m.

There is no admission charge to visit the museum.

The CVB officially took over the museum in January 2010 from the Wetzel County Historical Society. Since that time a lot of work has been going on behind the museum’s closed doors to document its contents, preserve the history, and rehabilitate the building-the old Wells Hardware on Main Street, beside RCS Printing/BMS. “The building was in terrible shape,” said Denise Tackett, acting director of the museum and member of the WCCVB.

The first step was to insulate the building. Changes in temperature and humidity deteriorate items, which they couldn’t let happen. “It has made a huge difference-huge,” exclaimed Tackett of the insulation project.

Pictured is Kenneth Sisler, president of the New Martinsville Lions Club, along with Sandy Hunt of the Wetzel County Convention and Visitors Bureau. The Lions Club recently presented a monetary donation to the Wetzel County Museum, which, after extensive renovation, will be opening its doors in January. (Photo by Lauren Matthews)

The front part of the building is a welcome center and office area. The middle of the first floor is for general displays, and the back room will be an industrial gallery with rotating exhibits. For now the second floor is storage, but they hope to one day have it open for more display.

“You all need to go see it. It is absolutely gorgeous,” New Martinsville Recorder Bonnie Shannon told council at the meeting.

“It’s going to be a true museum,” said Tackett. She hopes the museum will be something the community can be proud of and make them feel good.

Of course all of this work comes with a fairly hefty price tag. The CVB has been able to raise over $8,000 in donations. Also, their major form of funding is from half of the city’s hotel/motel tax income.

The CVB also uses their funding for promoting the county for tourism purposes.

Hunt explained to the city council that the CVB publishes the Wetzel County tourism guide and they advertise in the state travel guide, Ohio and Pennsylvania editions of Guest Quest, and a publication in the Washington, D.C., area that goes to federal workers. In the past year they have responded to 4,382 requests for information on Wetzel County.

The CVB also produces a restaurant card that goes to the bedside of all hotels/motels in Wetzel County. “It has all the restaurants in the county. We try not to leave anybody out,” said Hunt.

Wetzel County is also part of the First Frontier campaign to promote the area of West Virginia from Chester to Kenova. Hunt says First Frontier often hears the complaint that there are no places for camping, but Wetzel County does have some camping options, so they offer that information.

Hunt further said the region that includes Wetzel County is the second one to be evaluated by West Virginia University and West Virginia Tourism.

“The state is attempting to discover the strengths and weaknesses of the northern panhandle,” said Hunt. After the evaluation, then the the information will be used to help the areas be better marketed.

Finally, Hunt noted to council that statewide tourism saves each household about $119 per year in taxes. “It is a major industry for West Virginia,” she said.