PENNINGTON GAP – The Permit Office / Visitor Center near the trail head for Spearhead Trails’ Stone Mountain ATV Trail at Leeman Field in Pennington Gap. The Grand Opening and ribbon cutting event was held Wednesday (May 30, 2017) at this wonderful new facility. About 40 dignitaries, town officials, stakeholders, and citizens gathered for the event under beautiful, partly sunny skies. A light, refreshing breeze tempered the 70º+ air as the celebration began at 10 o’clock.
Pennington Gap mayor Larry Holbrook took to the podium first to introduce Mr. John Raeside, a pastor at Pennington Gap First Baptist Church, who offered a prayer of benediction. After the word of prayer, Mayor Holbrook began by thanking everyone for coming out on the beautiful morning to support the celebrate with the town in the opening of this new facility. He thanked the planners, architects, contractors, and funders for their hard work and dedication that made the building a reality. Holbrook then introduced Town Manager Keith Harless, who then took to the lectern to speak.
Harless also welcomed and thanked everyone who came out for the celebration, as well as everyone involved in the project from start to finish. Harless praised the project’s many partners, saying, “With great partnerships–with people and organizations like these–Pennington can only succeed from here.”
Harless made special mention of Jeff Cochran of Lane Engineering, who worked on the design and planning of the building, Greg Glass of Glass Machinery & Excavating, whose firm did the site work, Synthia Waymack of the Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR), who came from Richmond to be at the event, and whose agency was largely responsible for funding the building, with the long process starting in 2008, and Judy Williams of Old Virginia Log Homes, who produced much of the visible material of the building, including its beautiful, hand-hewn log work for which her company is well known throughout the county and the region. Harless added, “It is a blessing to have a company here in Lee County that takes such pride in their work as they do at Old Virginia Log Homes. That pride is reflected here in this structure.”
Other folks Harless mentioned included Mark Smith, Tina Rowe, and former Town Manager Phil Hensley: “They can look at this building, and the long process they went through to get it, as something to be proud of.” Harless thanked everyone in the Town Office for their hard work, too, “It took everybody to get this going and to get us to where we are today,” he remarked. Harless also thanked Jim Gordon of Southwest Heating and Cooling, who did the heat pump work, John Lyons of Lyon Metal Roofing for the roof, Ron Bailey and Michael Huff, who did a lot of finish work and built the beautiful fireplace, and Fred Woliver and James Shelburne with the Town, who oversaw the electrical and plumbing for the building.
Harless also made special thanks to Spearhead Trails, Heart of Appalachia, Becky Nave of Virginia Tourism, and Mountain Empire Older Citizens, whose work program for retirees provides David Williams to man the ticket office at no charge to the town. Of all these partnerships, Harless said, “The only way we can move forward in Southwest Virginia is for everybody to work together.”
After the remarks, stakeholders, officials and dignitaries cut the ribbon, and there was much rejoicing.
Citizens of Pennington Gap and all of Lee County are fortunate to have this beautiful, useful new facility right here at home. We all need to join together to make more projects like this one a reality. Lee County can be whatever we want it to be. It’s OUR home, after all. Let’s work together to make it a good one. To quote Keith Harless, “The only way we can move forward in Southwest Virginia is for everybody to work together.” Make today count!
Enjoy this gallery of photos taken at the ceremony.