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Hope Village rises in White Sulphur Springs

Register-Herald photo by Jenny Harnish  Greenbrier East High School carpentry students work at the site of a future home in Hope Village in White Sulphur Springs Wednesday. The students are part of the West Virginia Simulated Workplace Program at Greenbrier East.
Register-Herald photo by Jenny Harnish
Greenbrier East High School carpentry students work at the site of a future home in Hope Village in White Sulphur Springs Wednesday. The students are part of the West Virginia Simulated Workplace Program at Greenbrier East.

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Attending a recent open house in the offices of Homes for White Sulphur Springs Inc. — the nonprofit corporation that is guiding the Hope Valley development on Big Draft Road — a future resident of a one-bedroom villa said she longs for the day she can move into her new home.

It won’t be long.

Street improvements, utilities and infrastructure were the first pieces of the puzzle, and construction is continuing apace on the planned housing development that will eventually include as many as 42 homes, occupied by people who were left homeless by the June 23 flood that devastated the Spa City.

Aptly dubbed Hope Village, the new neighborhood will eventually include a community park along Howard’s Creek and a river trail that will connect the development and downtown White Sulphur Springs.

“It couldn’t be going better,” Tom Crabtree, an architect who is one of the founders of the enterprise, told The Register-Herald.

“Homeowners are on site every day, looking at what’s been done,” he said, noting there’s a lot of interest now that several houses are in varying stages of construction. “People are going out there and kicking the tires.”

Twenty homeowners have qualified for ownership, Crabtree said, adding, “We haven’t had to turn anybody away.”

Homes nearing completion in the development are conventional construction, ranging in size from 900 to 1,200 square feet and offering two or three bedrooms with two full baths.

Added to the mix after a need was recognized are several one-bedroom “villas” — smaller connected units, but built to the same standards.

Rhonda Craft, who currently lives in a rented apartment, said she was “flooded out” of the mobile home she owned in a Freeland Avenue trailer park when floodwaters swept through White Sulphur this summer.

“My trailer was held against a telephone pole, so it didn’t sweep away completely,” Craft said. “I was trapped in the trailer for three days. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.”

Having been born just three miles up Big Draft Road from the site of her future home in Hope Village, Craft is particularly eager to take occupancy.

“I’m looking forward to getting off the main road and back into the country,” she said. “I’m ready to move.”


While no precise timetable has been set for completion of the villas that will house Craft and others, Crabtree said a “neighborhood move-in” will be staged on Tuesday, with a 2 p.m. ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony for up to seven houses. He likened the event to “an Amish barn-raising.”

That atmosphere would be appropriate, given that much of the construction in Hope Village is being done by volunteers with Mennonite Disaster Service and Amish Storm Aid contractors.

Local contractors have also pitched in, providing deep discounts for plumbing, electrical and heating and air conditioning work, Crabtree noted.

“We have gotten great community support,” he said.

Homeowners are asked to apply whatever funding they have available from insurance settlements or FEMA assistance toward the cost of their new homes, according to Crabtree. The balance comes from donations, which he said have been heartening.

Sitting on around $1.1 million in unsolicited donations when he finally sent out the first fundraising appeal letter, Crabtree reported that in less than two weeks, another $135,000 had arrived.

“So much has been done, but there’s much, much more to do,” he said. “Big corporations have stepped up with major gifts. Now, we need those $20 gifts to do things like put drywall in the rooms. We need grassroots support to finish what we started.”

Crabtree emphasized that Homes for White Sulphur Springs is about more than just one housing development.

“We’re not just Hope Village; we’re also doing major repairs on houses that were damaged by the flood,” he said. “We don’t want these neighborhoods to be destroyed because people were forced to leave when they couldn’t afford repairs.”


When Crabtree says, “We just connect the dots,” he acknowledges there are many contributors to this project that, at the end of the day, is all about lifting the community of White Sulphur Springs back up after the tragic summer flood that killed 23 people statewide.

One of those unsung contributors is White Sulphur poet Dorothy Milliner, whose latest work, “Wake-up Call for W.Va. — The Flood of 2016, June 23rd,” has been selected for publication in Poetryfest’s book, “On the Wings of Angels — Our 50 Brightest Poetry Stars.”

“I wasn’t in the flood, but I feel others’ pain and sorrow,” said Milliner, who accompanied a flood survivor she has been caring for to the recent open house held by Homes for White Sulphur Springs.

“We are not always promised tomorrow,” Milliner’s soon-to-be-published poem begins, as she writes of the “homes, lives, hopes and many dreams” that were washed away in the flood.

“God has a plan, but he’s quiet right now,

“The ones that were chosen during the flood are already heaven bound.”


Homes for White Sulphur Springs Inc. is working with the Greater Greenbrier Valley Community Foundation (GGVCF), Main Street White Sulphur Springs and other community partners.

GGVCF is handling Homes for White Sulphur Springs’ financial reporting and is serving as a clearinghouse for applications for assistance from the nonprofit.

According to the GGVCF’s website (www.gvfoundation.org), total contributions for Homes for White Sulphur Springs Inc. stood at more than $1.5 million as of Oct. 20, the last reporting date.

Major donors as of that date included Mylan Charitable Foundation, K.W. Cares, United Health Services Inc./MedExpress, Judith and Jerry Jared, St. Charles Borromeo Church, Brenda and Robert Maust, Harry Ballard, Black Dog Salvage of Roanoke, Todd W. Jared, James Wade, The Spartan Foundation of Parkersburg, The Becker Family Foundation of the Bank of America Charitable Gift Fund and the 24th Virginia Volunteer Infantry Regiment.

Total expenses paid out of the Homes for White Sulphur Springs Inc. fund as of Oct. 20 came to $168,269.37. Those expenditures include $105,000 transferred to Mennonite Disaster Service for building materials, $15,000 for office expenses, $50 for bank wire transfer fees, $16,190.43 paid to Total Tech for HVAC at the Christian Retreat where the MDS workers are staying while volunteering in the area and $26,858.94 paid to Foster Supply Inc. to install electrical hookups and the sewer system.


Homes for White Sulphur Springs Committee members, all of whom are providing services to the organization at no cost, are:

• Frank Alderman – CEO, MedExpress

• Marcie McClintic-Coates – VP, Mylan Pharmaceuticals

• Gary Keller – chairman, Keller Williams Realty

• Tony Alexander – chairman (retired), FirstEnergy Corporation

• Marty Becker – chairman, Max Capital Group

• Robert Bennett – COO, Grand Home Furnishings

• Tom Crabtree – Architect

• Norm Daniels – principal, Daniels Law Firm

• Mike and Laurel D’Antoni – NBA

• Chris Hanna – WSS business owner

• Tom Hays – past chair, Red Cross of Eastern Pennsylvania

• Maggie Hutchison – consultant, U.S. Navy

• Jerry Jared – Greenbrier Sporting Club member

• Jim King – president, Bank of Monroe

• Pat King – WSS business owner

• Larry Klein – Greenbrier Sporting Club executive director

• Carolyn Kohn – Smith Barney

• Ryan Lewellyn – CEO, Tall Oak Midstream

• Josh Polan – landscape designer

• Henry Lynch – Lynch Construction

• Ed Robinson – E.L. Robinson Engineering

• Rob Vass – Main Street Building Group

• Brian Wood – BC Wood Properties

— Email: [email protected]

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