In the News: "Plans for Riverfront Park Unveiled"

From the Parsons Advocate (May 4, 2016):

MORGANTOWN – Folks from Parsons gathered Friday at the Erickson Alumni Center in Morgantown to review design concepts for the Shaver Shore Waterfront Project. The design presentations were made by students in the West Virginia University Landscape Architecture Class who visited the area earlier in the year to get a feel from the property.

“It was nice to be able to review and discuss each design concept with each student,” Parsons Mayor Dorothy Judy said. “You can tell that each student took a lot of time on these projects.”

Parsons City Administrator Jason Myers said there were so many awesome designs.
“We plan to take these designs and hold meetings with the different stakeholder groups and residents from within the community. Once we agree on a design, we’ll move forward with the project,” Myers said.

AmeriCorps member Sydney Haltom said the project will be a park located between Water Street and Shaver Fork up to the brick building.
“There are also two FEMA buy-out lots that are also being considered as part of the project,” Haltom said. “We have left a buffer around the existing houses so nothing is right up against the houses.”

She said the project came about through attendance at a Try-This Conference.
“We were at the conference and some of the board members who attended this began asking themselves for ways to get more Parsons residents outside and moving,” Haltom said. “The PRO ON TRAC members were walking around town one day and came across the beautiful waterfront section, and thought something should go in there.”

Haltom said Cynthia Kolsun and Debbie Stevens were the pioneers of the project.
“In the early phases, it looked more like a beach with a sand volleyball court, but that is not exactly what it has turned into,” Haltom said. “The area is currently used for strolling and enjoying the river views and the project is meant to augment the spot. The student designs will serve as a starting point and some items tossed around could be a fire pit, a walking path, interpretive signs discussing the history and environment of the area.”

Haltom said Dr. Peter Butler spoke on how university students could aid in redevelopment at a recent conference she attended.
“I approached him afterword and mentioned the park idea that PRO had been kicking around. He became interested in it and assigned it to his students as a design project. He is a landscape architecture professor at WVU.”
Haltom said the class came to Parsons to visit the site of the proposed park on April 1 and talked to folks around time.

“They presented their designs on Friday,” Haltom said. “I think this spot will be a jewel of a spot for both residents and visitors, especially since it is just around the corner from the center of town.”

Haltom said the next step to bringing the project to fruition will be to seek a final design and find funding. “There are a couple of grant opportunities that have funded projects in the past.”

She said the group wanted folks to know that they understand the area is prone to flooding.
“We understand the area is prone to flooding and the design will take that into account,” Haltom said. “Much of Parsons is in a flood-hazard zone. That does not need to be a barrier to developing the site for recreational use. There are no existing homes to consider – all the land is already owned by the City of Parsons.”

Celebrate Parsons

Many thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate the honorees and support revitalization at our second annual Celebrate Parsons banquet!

From the Parsons Advocate (May 4, 2016):

PARSONS – Parsons is a beautiful place to live and work and on Sunday, hundreds of residents gathered to Celebrate Parsons and recognize some of their friends and neighbors for their accomplishments to keep Parsons on the move. The event was hosted by the Parsons Revitalization Organization ON TRAC, a volunteer-based non-profit organization dedicated to revitalizing Parsons.

Recognition awards were presented to Employee of the Year, Jim Hebb; Volunteer of the Year, Janice McDaniel; Business Person of the Year, Ken Smith; Public Safety Officer of the Year, Preston Simmons; Distinguished Senior Citizen of the Year, Vera Auvil; Most Courageous Person of the Year, Faye Tag Stiles; and Celebrate Parsons Person of the Year, Jimmy Judy.

The clean-up volunteers were recognized by Bonnie Swyter-Smith and include the Parsons Church of God, Hambleton United Methodist Church, St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, St. John’s United Methodist and Riverview Chapel.

Debbie Stevens served as emcee for the event. She recognized new business in Parsons including Brenda’s Backwoods Grill, Patriots 4 General Store and Grill, Soap City WV, Hattie Jane’s Old Thyme Primitives, J.B.’s Auto, Parsons Pizza and 7th Street Car Wash and Dog Wash.

A special award for being a friend of Parsons PRO ON TRAC was given to Dr. Cynthia Kolsun who helped Parsons move forward through grant writing and her time. David Humphrey was recognized for helping rescue folks during the 1985 flood, and for being a man about town.

The meal, featuring chicken and oak barrel marinated beef, was prepared by Jon and Paula Bush.

The Partnering Sponsor for Celebrate Parsons was David Hansford, Hansford Insurance. Supporting Sponsors include Bob Gutshall, State Farm Insurance; Bonnie and Ken Smith; Emily Whitaker; and Little Andi’s Restaurant.

Silent Auction donors include Alain Kieny, Andrea Felton, B.F. Long & Co., Bonnie & Ken Smith, Brenda’s Backwoods Grill, the City of Parsons, Cutting Edge Graphics, Five River Campground, Gifts to Go, Hattie Jane’s, Jivaka Wellness Center, Lafontaine Bakery, Kelly Cain, Mariwyn Smith, McClain Printing Company, Michael Ledden, Mountain State Honey Co., Phyllis Carr, the Purple Fiddle, Shop ‘n Save, Sydney Haltom, TipTop, The White Room Gallery and Wild Ginger and Spice.

Landscape Architecture Students Present Park Designs

Last Friday, PRO ON TRAC members and city officials traveled to Morgantown, where WVU landscape architecture students presented their designs for a Parsons riverfront park.

Each of the thirty students in Professor Peter Butler's class came up with a design for the riverfront area along Water Street and two lots on the opposite side of the street.  The designs included a wide range of styles and features, from simple riverfront paths to floating docks, fire pits, croquet courts, terraces, natural playgrounds and contemplative gardens.  This body of student work will provide a rich source of ideas and inspiration for future park planning efforts.

Professor Butler plans to continue developing a design for the Water Street park over the summer.  He will visit Parsons on Saturday, May 14 to hold a design workshop with community members.  If you are interested in this park project, stop by the McDonald Building on First Street any time between 10am and 6pm Saturday to participate in the workshop.

We would like to thank the students for their thoughtful work and wish them a great summer!

Music in the Park Summer Concert Series

We are excited to announce the musical lineup for the 2016 Music in the Park summer concert series in Parsons, WV!  The series is put on by the Parsons Parks and Recreation Commission in beautiful Mill Race Park.

Music in the Park - 2016 Music Lineup

JUNE 3 - Michael Bonnett and River's Edge

Country | Elkins, WV

JUNE 10 - Rockin' Rednecks

Country, blues and classic rock | Preston County, WV

JUNE 17 - Ally Norris and Triple S

Ally Norris - singer-songwriter - country, pop and rock | Cresapton, MD

Triple S - classic rock | Parsons, WV

JUNE 24 - Gospel Sing: Goldenaires, Parsons United Methodist Sonbeams and the Shahan Family

Gospel | Parsons, WV

JULY 8 - Dirty Little Secret

Classic rock and country | Parsons, WV

JULY 15 - The Ginsangers

Jazz, blues, folk and country | Elkins, WV

JULY 22 - Allies

Rock | Elkins, WV

JULY 29 - Maysville Express

Bluegrass | Maysville, WV

AUGUST 12 - Empty

Southern rock, classic rock | Parsons, WV

AUGUST 19 - End of Summer Party: The Davisson Brothers Band

Country, southern rock, and bluegrass | Clarksburg, WV

WVU Class Begins Riverfront Park Design

Students from a WVU landscape architecture class visited Parsons on Friday, April 1, to begin a design project focused on the Parsons riverfront. 

Led by Professor Peter Butler, the students explored the banks of Shavers Fork, documenting natural and manmade features.  They also visited Mill Race Park and downtown Parsons and met with community members to discuss the project.

Each student will come up with a design for a park along Water Street, including a long stretch of land along Shavers Fork and two FEMA buyout lots on the opposite side of the street.  The students will present their designs on April 29 at the Erickson Alumni Center in Morgantown.  Parsons residents are welcome to attend.

Using the student designs as a starting point, PRO ON TRAC and the City of Parsons plan to work toward a final design for a riverfront park with the assistance of Professor Butler.  Together we will work to ensure that the design is beneficial to residents and visitors, respectful of the environment, and appropriate for its floodplain site.  We believe the river is one of Parsons' greatest resources (especially with the growth of recreation-based tourism), and we are excited to see the riverfront reimagined as a place to celebrate the unique culture, heritage and natural environment of Parsons and Tucker County.

We look forward to seeing what the students come up with!


If you have any questions, comments or concerns about the project, please feel free to contact us at

Repainting the Quiltwalks—Volunteers Needed!

Let's make sure downtown looks dazzling for the Fire Dept. Homecoming Carnival!

Please come out and help us repaint the quiltwalks at Second and Walnut Street on Saturday, April 30.  In case of rain, we will choose a different date.

Please call (304) 478-6009 or email if you would like to help (so that we can make sure there are enough paintbrushes).

PRO ON TRAC Receives Harman Fund Grant

The Parsons City Council met on Tuesday, March 8, 2016, to distribute the $895,000 available this year from the William Mahan Harman Memorial Fund.  PRO ON TRAC received a grant of $64,000 to be used for the renovation of the Eddie McDonald Building in downtown Parsons.

The purpose of the Harman Fund is to provide perpetual funding for several entities in the city of Parsons.  As Parsons Attorney Pat Nichols explained last year, “There are basically four components – one is the Parsons Cemetery, another is the distribution of funds to maintain the Parsons Parks, one for the Parsons Five Rivers Public Library and finally, any remaining net income to be used for the benefit of the citizens of Parsons.”  The fund is managed by the Tucker Community Foundation and the interest distributed annually by the Parsons City Council.

The McDonald Building renovation was among the projects selected for the benefit of the citizens.  When completed, one of the most prominent dilapidated buildings in Parsons will have been transformed into a productive and appealing space.  Two apartments are planned for the second floor, while the ground floor will provide commercial space and a community events facility. 

Funding from a 2015 Harman Fund grant enabled PRO ON TRAC to stop the deterioration of the building by shoring the structure, rebuilding the floors and center wall, replacing the roof and installing windows.  All of our efforts up to this point have laid important groundwork for the next phase of the project.

PRO ON TRAC is a non-profit organization, and all future income from the building will go toward our continuing efforts to revitalize Parsons.  We are deeply grateful for the City Council's willingness to invest in this project, which we believe is an essential part of the future of our city.