As one of a number of projects first targeted seven years ago for the WV HUB-sponsored Turn This Town Around initiative in Matewan, the restoration of the nearly century-old historic Lockup and City Hall building has required supplemental funding from a number of grant sources and private donations.
For those having spearheaded the project, getting to the finishing point has also taken a great deal of perseverance and patience.
Although there is one more notable restorative stage of work to be addressed before the facilitators of the project can at long last proclaim it fully completed, one of these organizers now feels confident enough to say the long-term mission is all but accomplished.
Helping validate this confidence, this week participants in the Mingo County Fresh Start and Mingo County Day Report programs were in Matewan to complete one of the last stages by removing old paint from the building’s exterior and replacing it with a new coat.
Patricia Brown, who along with former Matewan Town Council member Francine Jones took on the project and who have stayed the course over the past seven years, said although it has been a lengthy process it has also been well worth the time and effort expended on it.
Because the old jail is on the National Register of Historic Places, Brown said each phase of work has had to meet certain standards and specifications in order to remain on the register.
“When this (Turn This Town Around) began, Francine and I chose this project because we wanted to see the old jail with all its history restored back to the way it was,” she said this week. “But each phase has had to meet all the specifications, and that in turn has caused it to be a long and more expensive process that’s required additional sources of funding and work.
“But because we have been able to overcome these obstacles, the building is now about 90 percent completed and we’re finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel.”
Brown said a major player in the success of the project has been the Matewan Methodist Church, who several years ago acquired ownership of the building.
“From the very beginning, the church graciously accepted us in wanting what we wanted, which was to see the old lockup restored to its former glory,” she said. “We simply cannot express enough how appreciative we are to them for both their cooperation and help in seeing that the project got finished.”
Jessie Spaulding, who is the Fresh Start Coordinator in Mingo County as well as the Pure Recovery Support Specialist for the county, said the new paint afforded to the jail this week represents the kind of new life Fresh Start participants are looking to find after drug addiction.
The 12-month program, which began in 2017 in Mingo, Boone, Logan and Lincoln counties but that just officially began in Mingo County in January of this year, was first launched in these counties as a way help those struggling with opioid addiction move toward a quicker, and ideally, lasting recovery.
“It is a 12-month program that combines attending classes, undergoing and successfully passing drug screenings four times a week, health and wellness visits with the health department, and work in community projects like this one,” he said. “And this demonstrates really well the kind of worthwhile projects we attempt to participate in and the kind that best shows how this part of the program gives everybody the chance to change and successfully begin a new life.”
Brown said the final phase of the project will be the revamping of the building’s interior, which will be undertaken and completed in the near future by Virginia Thomas’ art class at Mingo Central High School.