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Making A Difference – Terry Wiley

By Randy Rutherford - Staff Writer | Jan 27, 2021

Terry Wiley, local businessman and entrepreneur, came to Sistersville on July 7, 2007 from the Cincinnati area. When Terry was a youngster he often traveled to Tyler County in the late 1950’s with his dad to hunt on an old family farm becoming familiar with the Middlebourne. He remembers as a kid it seemed to take forever to get to Tyler County as Interstate 77 wasn’t complete from Charleston to Parkersburg. “It was always a sigh of relief when we passed the Tyler County sign near Ben’s Run,” remembered Terry. The farm road they traveled was just dirt and mud which was nearly impassable when it rained. “It was an adventure driving from the Wick Road to the farm especially if there had been rain,” acknowledged Terry.

The original farmhouse on the property didn’t have electricity or running water. It was as if someone had stopped time and put everything in boxes and trunks. Every visit to the farm was like opening a time capsule. Terry, an antique collector and lover of anything rich in history, said, “Nothing was thrown away, and lucky for me when I acquired the farm years later the treasures were still there!”

Fast forward to the time when there was no cell phone reception in Middlebourne, Terry would drive toward Sistersville looking for service. When he arrived in Sistersville he pulled in front of then Dudley’s Flower Shop to make a phone call. After he completed the call he realized the store was for sale. He called that afternoon and confirmed the sale on the phone. His original plans were to ‘flip’ the building and sell it. Instead of selling it he kept the building and restored the apartment above the store as a vacation getaway.

Terry eventually bought a home in Sistersville, where he lives today. “I had noticed my house several years ago as I drove through town. It had been for sale but had already sold when I was interested the first time. My love of historic property was the reason I decided on a 125 year old house instead of one built in the last few years. The characteristic architecture and colorful history made it much more appealing.” Terry resides on Main Street in an area rich with historic homes and beautiful examples of architecture popular in post oil boom days.

Terry’s background is in Education. He was a classroom teacher in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio, leading classes in Art Education, Special Education and Language Arts. His art background is in interior design, visual merchandising, photography, graphic design, painting, drawing, and film production.

While living in Cincinnati, Terry was only four miles from the Greater Cincinnati International Airport, so air travel was convenient. He took advantage of the close proximity and traveled extensively.

These travels opened his eyes to all the possibilities that might work in different cities, but fortunately he decided to make Sistersville his home and set out to make a difference.

His ideas for improving Sistersville led him to purchase the Gaslight Theater, Sistersville Florist, Sistersville Museum, Sistersville Emporium, and Bankers Corner Coffee Shop. Also recently Terry purchased the well known Joshua Russell House on Catherine Street at the Ferry landing with plans still undecided on how the historic property will be used. Currently, he is finalizing plans for opening a much needed Bed and Breakfast with short term guest accommodations located at the corner of 5th Avenue and South Chelsea Street. A grand opening is targeted for Spring/Summer 2021.

Terry believes Sistersville is unique and has a bright future. “Sistersville has the perfect location as a destination. It has the ideal layout for festivals and fairs. The small town atmosphere is one of its many attributes,” explains Terry. “Sistersville has a rare feature that sets it apart from most small towns. It has the ability to be off the main highway and not have all the traffic and noise that interferes with business operations. People can actually park in front of the businesses and window shop. We are growing in population and popularity. The convenience of small town shopping, dining and doing business is what sets Sistersville apart from most towns.”

Terry not only owns and operates the above mentioned businesses, he also serves on several community serving organizations. The Sistersville Planning Committee, Sistersville Urban Development, Sistersville Community Service Organization, Tyler County Planning Commission and Tyler County Development Authority all allow Terry to continue his quest for city and county improvements.

Terry also highlighted the Sistersville Ferry, whose board is busy planning a spring opening complete with opportunities for private rental cruises. He explained, “We have an excellent asset in the Sistersville Ferry for not only its uniqueness, but it is a means of literally bringing business from across the Ohio River. We should be looking into utilizing the Ohio River for recreational purposes. The possibilities are practically endless for bringing in tourists who enjoy activities along the waterfront.”

Sistersville is fortunate as it offers the convenience of being on a major highway from Parkersburg to Wheeling, but it has the unique ability to be a place where many families want to relocate. It also has the charm of a small town with access to several major cities in a matter of a couple hours. “The best is yet to come for Sistersville. I want to see great things happen…and they will,” said Terry.

Sistersville needs more people like Terry Wiley to re-build what was once a thriving community. His ideas and nonstop energy are contagious and the difference he is making in the downtown is obvious to locals and visitors alike. Yes, there are still buildings downtown that need cleaned up, and one of Terry’s goals, while serving on the Urban Development Committee, is to identify these buildings and make the necessary improvements. Although progress may be moving slowly, especially during the pandemic, he believes the community will bounce back stronger and more effectively. “Right now it might be an inconvenience of having to detour traffic through town, but when I look at what will be happening once the construction has been completed it will be well worth the effort. New businesses are eyeing our town. New folks are moving in and bringing some great ideas along with them,” conveyed Terry.

Something Terry would like to see more of is community involvement. He encourages residents old and new to join one of the community service organizations or volunteer for just a day or few hours. It is an investment in the well being and future of every resident!

Terry shared something with me that has motivated him since he was a young boy. As a child he always had a framed photo of a little train hanging in his room. Later that same train traveled with him and hung in every classroom wherever he was teaching. Today it hangs in his office. It says….“I THINK I CAN”….