Author: John Preece

2015 – One Of The Very Best Years

It is just amazing the effort that a small group of people put into special events here in Delbarton. From Albert Totten and his homecoming committee to Jeanna Curry, Tracy Slone, Wilma Sizemore and so many others, this little community is truly blessed to have so many people that make things so much better for all of us.

Those who attended the Homecoming activities know that this year was one of the very best and it also marked the 20th anniversary of the event for our town. Every event has been planned and worked by the homecoming committee that is chaired by Albert Totten. His committee also decides who receives the Community Service Award. Prior people chosen include Paul Sizemore, Tom O. Curry, W.H. Marcum, the Totten family and many more. This year, Wilma (Brewster) Sizemore was chosen and it was a most deserving selection. Wilma has probably served more fish at homecoming than Long John Silver’s during National Fish Month. Congratulations to Wilma.

The second annual “Walk Through Bethlehem” was presented the second weekend of December at the W.H. Compton Memorial Park at the Historic Elk Creek Bridge. Great weather and good crowds came to the park to take a time travel back to the days of Joseph and Mary and the birth of the Jesus Christ. Many hours were spent in building the “town”, practice of the tour and creating an atmosphere that enabled the “time traveler” to get a feeling of those times. Many churches and our own city employees, as well as many other volunteers put in many hours to make this very presentation a success. Much thanks and appreciation to all who participated.

Before getting too far along here, mention needs to be made of new faces in leadership positions in the town. The election of June 2015 saw Glen Dale Canada and Ralph Maynard capture two council seats and Rebecca (Sheppard) Fouch elected to serve as the Recorder for the town. Congratulations to the new leaders. On the same subject, a gigantic thank you to Clifford Davis who has served our town for twenty years on the council. Clifford has done an outstanding job over the years and is responsible for many of the improvements in town. He has worked tirelessly over the years to help our town and community. Unfortunately, a few health problems kept him from getting to campaign like he normally has done. Also note, Clifford’s dad, Sherman Davis, was on the very first Delbarton Town Council.

The last two years, class reunions are starting to be a part of the Homecoming activities weekend. It’s good planning. On Friday Night of the Homecoming weekend there is usually top shelf entertainment and great crowds in Town Square. The last two years the Class of 1964 (in 2014) and this year the Class of 1965 celebrated their Fifty Year Reunion in Delbarton during the festivities of Homecoming. Also, the class of 1985 held their Thirty Year Reunion this past September. From personal experience, I can tell you that the Class of 1964 reunion was a grand success. We even had our 1964 Homecoming Queen, the former Ms. Polly Perry, ride in the annual parade. Big stuff for a little town.

I want to tell you about a new non-profit committee that has been working for over a year now. It is the Southern Coal Camp Authority, originally formed as the Delbarton Coal Camp Authority and a fully functioning 501©(3) organization. Duly authorized and recognized by the town, the Coal Camp Authority is actively working to preserve the history of our coal camps. We want to tell the story of coal camp life, how things were when the steam engines were running, the company store was a center of activity and how our people lived. We want to recognize each coal camp, William Ann, Puritan, Lando, Island Creek and others and tell a little history of each. We plan to place roadside historical markers at the former locations and eventually have a motorized tour that will visit each one, finally ending at a current mining location showing how coal is mined today.

We want build a replica coal camp, with a functioning company store where purchases can be made with scrip that has been purchased with real dollars. A coal camp drama is in the early planning stages and other details are in the talking stages.

A “spin off” of all of this has been two things. First, an antique store “Weathered Treasures” has been opened in the lower level of the Delbarton Inn. The store is amazing with many unusual and interesting items for sale. Second, a start to a Delbarton Museum. We are trying to bring together the history of not only our coal camps and mining companies, but a history of our town and our people.  We are currently looking to interview some of our more “experienced” citizens for their recollection of the “old Delbarton”. We will video their time and will put it on a DVD that will play continuously in our museum. We hope to have our initial “Coal Camp Days Festival” this Spring.

Obviously, this is a major project. We estimate the final cost of maybe two to three million dollars. Our initial effort is to raise $250,000.00 private sector amount. We can use your help. For sure dollars are welcome and are fully tax deductible. But we also need photos and information. Anything you can contribute will be valuable to us as we go forward.

That’s all for now. Through this column, I will try to keep you posted and updated on all of this. For now…. Hoping you have had a wonderful holiday season and will enjoy a great and prosperous new year in 2016.

John Preece