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70-year-old building renovated for co-op and marketplace

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ROMNEY, WV -

By MARLA PISCIOTTA
For The State Journal

What's old is becoming new again.

The former Hampshire County Co-op located on South Marsham Street in Romney is being refurbished top to bottom, inside and out.

Renamed Hampshire County Co-op and Heritage Marketplace, the Romney ON TRAC project began with an $8,000 Flex-E-Grant from the West Virginia Development Office, which was matched by $2,000 by Romney ON TRAC.

The idea of utilizing the building is to create a business design and plan that would stimulate economic development by establishing a self-sustaining, year-round co-op focused on regional heritage art and craftsmanship.

"This co-op will provide a new economic point of destination both to accommodate and increase tourism, improve civic volunteerism and small business development, and that's only the beginning," said Eileen Johnson, city of Romney administrator. 

Locals remember purchasing all manner of merchandise from seeds to stove pipes and just about anything else needed for the farm or home at the original co-op established in the early 1940s.

The refurbished co-op will showcase regional farm products to promote agribusiness by taking farm products from farm to co-op to table, and taking heritage art and crafts from home, garden and basements to co-op.

The emphasis is to stimulate economic growth and create jobs.

The co-op will provide a venue for local farmers to sell their produce to visitors, local people and businesses and also for local artisans to create, show, sell and teach their crafts.

Romney ON TRAC is leasing the building, which is owned by Fort Mill Ridge.

The original estimate for reconditioning the 40-foot wide, 100-foot long building was $100,000. Work has included removing interior walls, ceiling tiles and grid work along with fixtures, an oil tank and existing HVAC system and bathroom.

Most of the building has been rewired, air conditioning systems have been placed on the roof and a new bathroom has been installed. The old wooden floors have been cleaned, sanded, stained and will remain in the building.

Numerous walls and shelving units, original to the building, remain and have been repainted.

Hampshire High School carpentry students built an entrance ramp on the side of the building for easy handicap access. A platform to be used as a stage also is in the planning stages.

During two recent festivals in Romney, the building was used for entertainment and craft demonstrations.

West Virginia Department of Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick toured the building recently and said the concept of its use was unique and said he could be called on to help in any way to help complete the project.