The Mullens Advocate  February 22, 2008  article submitted by Dewey Houck


Beartown Community Assocation meets with Commissioner Harold Hayden

Left to Right Oly Bye, RAIL; Harold Hayden, WCC; Josh Fangmeier, RAIL
Beartown Residents are; Regina Mullins, Barbara Mullins, Jeremy Tilly, Pete Bailey, Tina Mitchem, Willis Mitchem, Barbara Bailey

Beartown residents braved blizzard conditions, on February 20, to meet with Wyoming County Commissioner Harold Hayden and discuss renovating the former Beartown two room School House that has been closed for almost fifty years.  The group gathered around the old Burnside stove and talked about their needs to continue preserving the School House in its original state.  Beartown is situated on a mountaintop in the southeastern corner of Wyoming County.  The former school now gets heavy usage as a Community Center.  At one o’clock every Sunday you can find the residents sitting down to one of the best dinners that can be found anywhere, in their prized Community Center.  It was noted that Carmen Bailey had always looked after the business of the School House/Community Center but unfortunately she was unable to attend the meeting.

Time and weather has taken its toll on the wooden structure and it is in need of extensive repairs.  All agreed that the local community had done well in keeping this historic structure preserved, which is not only a treasure to Beartown, but to West Virginia as well.  Commissioner Hayden noted that at one time there were 132 schools in Wyoming County and now there are 13.  Many of the original schools were the same as Beartown and he expressed appreciation that the community had salvaging the school.  Commissioner Hayden noted the community’s request and agreed to present their need to the full County Commission.

Oly Bye and Josh Fangmeir accompanied Commissioner Hayden and discussed other programs that could help businesses in the County.  The Wyoming County Commission is sponsoring Groundwork Wyoming County, a program funded by the National Park Service and EPA that helps communities like Beartown better utilize and market their resources.  Oly is heading up this program and has a three part agricultural program beginning March 18 at 6:00 PM at the Mullens Opportunity Center in Mullens.  Josh heads up the Artisans Trail program sponsored by West Virginia State University.  The Artisans Trail program is set up to locate and organize outlying communities such Beartown to market any product they might want to offer.  Josh and Oly are serving as AmeriCorps VISTA’s with the Rural Appalachian Improvement League in Mullens.  Anyone having questions about Groundwork or Artisans Trail may contact them at the Mullens Opportunity Center or calling 304 294 6188.

Anyone desiring to help with the Beartown School renovation may call Carmen Bailey at 304 294 7168.  All donations and labor are welcomed and appreciated.  The bell that once called the community to the school was lost many years ago and help in restoring a bell to the tower will greatly enhance the facility and help with this will also be much appreciated. 

July 28, 2011 Note from Patricia Smith webmaster RAIL: 
Carmen Earsel Bailey September 29, 1918 - May 8, 2008 Beartown lost a great lady with Carmen's passing.

new contact information: 

Beartown Community Association
Rt 1, Box 162, Matoaka, WV 24736

Phone: 304 294-5177 (Ivan Kelly Jr.) 

email: (Jim Smith)

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Volunteers are a vital part of RAIL's success. We are SEEKING VOLUNTEERS! Please contact us if you want to make a difference and join our remarkable work teams.

In September 2010 RAIL volunteers began initiating a plan to invigorate Community and Economic development in the southern coalfields of West Virginia. In the past ten years RAIL has studied the needs of families in Appalachia as well as available resources and other accessible opportunities that can help their community become sustainable. Gaining a better understanding of what is needed has culminated in the Coal Heritage Trail of New Commerce Action Plan. Those implementing this plan, an organization at the grass roots, well understand their work cannot be successful without the help of volunteers and generous resources providers. Anyone interested in participating in this bold undertaking of helping families living in the Appalachian coalfields improve their economic and social conditions may contact for more information. RAIL gets its name from Rural Appalachian Improvement League, Inc. and can best be described as Volunteers coming together as an organization to find ways to best benefit their community

March 18, 2011

Alternative Spring Break
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