Local government officials and business leaders attended a “Greenbrier County Celebration” reception co-hosted by the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) and West Virginia Executive magazine on July 12 on the school’s Lewisburg, W.Va., campus.
The event offered a chance for community members to network, socialize and hear about some of Lewisburg’s cultural, recreational and business highlights as well as the recent successes of projects elsewhere in Greenbrier County, including revitalization efforts in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., Ronceverte, W.Va., and the Meadow River Valley, which encompasses the towns of Rainelle, W.Va., and Rupert, W.Va.
Government officials attending the reception included West Virginia State Sen. Stephen Baldwin, West Virginia State Delegate Mike Honaker, Ronceverte Mayor Deena Pack, Lewisburg Mayor Beverly White and Rainelle Mayor Robin Williams.
Paige Kocourek, production manager for West Virginia Executive, attended the event along with the magazine’s publisher, Kensie Hamilton Fauber. In an introduction, Kocourek told guests that she became aware of the county’s achievements while authoring a story for the magazine’s spring 2022 issue.
“Our hope at West Virginia Executive is to make sure the entire state knows and recognizes the awesome things you are doing in Greenbrier County,” Kocourek said. “I’m astounded by the hard work of the community members who dedicate themselves to making this area flourish and thrive.”
Ashley Vickers, executive director of the Greater Greenbrier Chamber of Commerce, cited a number of public initiatives and commercial ventures that are giving new life to communities following the floods that devastated portions of the county in 2016.
“It took a tragic, historic event to revitalize White Sulphur Springs. When I moved here 12 years ago, Main Street was empty, but you had new leadership within the city and you had citizens who wanted to make White Sulphur Springs a wonderful place to visit,” she said. “We’re also seeing a resurgence of Ronceverte. They’re doing wonderful things at Island Park, where the first dog park in southern West Virginia opened, and we recently welcomed Montani Homes, which specializes in energy-efficient modular homes. And in the Meadow River Valley, a great group of people have made the Meadow River Rail Trail, which is another outdoor destination for folks throughout the state and country to enjoy.”
James W. Nemitz, Ph.D., WVSOM’s president, recently was named one of 10 Class of 2022 “Sharp Shooters” by West Virginia Executive. At the reception, he spoke of his love for the people and culture of Greenbrier County.
“I’ve been a resident of this county for almost 40 years, and I tell people all the time that this is the best place I’ve ever lived,” Nemitz said. “Our valley is rich with history, with culture, and there’s a real sense of community. People care about others and they do what they need to do in order to help each other. It’s a cliche to say that we’re better together, but it’s true.”
Additionally, Nemitz told attendees about WVSOM’s own accomplishments. He discussed the medical school’s economic impact in the county, state and nation, and pointed out that WVSOM has grown to become West Virginia’s largest medical school. This year, WVSOM is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its founding.
“Our founders had a vision,” he said. “The school was created to meet what they saw as a real need for physicians in rural areas. There continues to be that need, not just in West Virginia but throughout the country. Against a lot of challenges, this school, 50 years later, is an incredible success story.”