I read the editorial in the Aug. 18 issue. I was surprised to read that Shinnston has no arts. That opinion is from an
other perspective than mine. I admit I did not recognize many of the cited examples – my war slogan of memory was “Make Love, not War”! And many of her iconic references are iconic to her generation; each generation has its own icons that cause generations before (and after) to say “who?”
I am what I call an “alien” (you ain’t from here are ya) since I grew up in Brooke County and got here via what I call “a 24-year sentence in Illinois” where I went for work. I cannot address anything pre-1995 in Shinnston, but I can tell you what was here in 1995 and what has happened since.
The Dabblers was a group of artists who met weekly at the library. My husband who was an artist was so happy to find that group that included Deloris Minor and Beverly Paushel. The group disbanded when inability to climb stairs and death decimated the membership.
When the 1996 All-School Reunion of Shinnston High School treated the city to an alumni band concert, the Shinnston Community Band was formed. It still exists in 2022. The musicians come from all over the state, currently from at least seven counties (with a large contingent coming from Tucker County, such is the reputation of the Shinnston Community Band) and in the past even from Pocahontas and Mason counties. The Shinnston Community Band performed at the Robinson Grand! The July 1 Independence Celebration features the Shinnston Community Band. The City of Shinnston had enough respect for the importance of the arts to invest in the performance center in Ferguson Park, a 50/50 grant process with the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture, and History.
The Lincoln High School band, large over the years, has produced many who became music teachers and performers. Lincoln High School performs a play every year that is well attended. The art department produces entries to the Woman’s Club Convention at The Greenbrier annually – coming home with many awards.
Shinnston has produced several authors and poets.
Shinnston has a museum and the Levi Shinn Log House. Both exist because there were people who cared about history and continue to care enough to staff and maintain them so people can visit history.
Nine years ago, the first “Shakespeare in the Park” took place in Shinnston, an event that happens annually. Wind Down Wednesday features local artists who perform for large crowds.
I have been blessed with many guests who are interested in learning about our city, allowing me to take them to tour the Levi Shinn Log House and then on a tour of Shinnston. They are amazed to see what this small City has to offer. In addition to the aforementioned, the Veterans Memorial, the library, the Chapel of Perpetual Adoration, the shopping, Community Garden, and the services that are available impress people who visit and bring them back.
Shinnston may be small, but it provides for art, music, literature, recreation, sports, and opportunities to volunteer. It supports our kids and their activities and takes care of those in need.
Those who worked to bring Shinnston to where it is today are sincerely hoping there will be those who will not just maintain but will step up and bring even more to the city with their ideas and hard work. Nothing happens without people who invest the time and energy to make it happen. Join the Lions Club, the Woman’s Club, and the other organizations that work tirelessly to support the bands, the various sports, the churches, and the city in making things happen. It takes volunteers behind the scenes that make things happen.