For Tug Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Wes Wilson, all roads lead home to Williamson, WV.
As many young people feel the need to move away from home, he feels the need to stay and invest in his community. A 2012 graduate of Mingo Central High School, Wes has a love of his community that shows in his work and efforts to move Williamson and the Tug Valley area along in tourism and growth.
“My decision to stay in Williamson surrounded the fact it will always be home. I’ve been blessed to travel many places in my life so far and I really couldn’t imagine “going home” meaning somewhere other than Williamson. I love the people here, I love what our area offers, and it’s a perfect fit for me.” Says Wilson.
As an avid hiker, ATV trail rider, and photographer Wes has found no better backdrop for his passions than what is offered in the Tug Valley area.
“London, England was a wonderful place to visit, but Williamson will always be where my heart is. This is my community.” Wilson continued, “ My love of community starts with my family and being around two grandfathers who built successful local businesses. Weaver Mortuary and Wilson Eye Care. I grew up seeing both guys be involved in so many things and that carried over to my own father and uncle as they took over those family businesses.”
Watching how involved his family was in helping others, their love of this area, and attending local events drove home his love of Williamson. Wes recalled growing up attending events hosted by local civic and arts groups and seeing how engaged everyone was with each other and the happenings of the town.
“It would fascinate me to see people working toward a vision they had for our area. That’s what we are gaining again here in Williamson. People working together toward a common vision for our area. A lot of folks couldn’t imagine staying here, but for me it really means everything. Growing up here has given me an intense appreciation for the place I call home. I care about this area and being able to live and work here is a great thing.”
For Wilson, Williamson isn’t just memories of the past. Its’s continuing that vision the previous generations had for this area. With the great beauty and strength the Tug Valley area has to offer, the potential is endless.
“We are the complete gateway to so many things. Our local area has so much history that goes untold. We have many stories that could be main focal points for our history. We have several valuable assets in our area. The history in our area truly speaks for itself. While we do have a huge focus on the Hatfield and McCoy feud, we have a plethora of smaller stories that attract folks to learn and visit”
Discussing the history of our area Wilson mentioned many historical stories from the Great Mingo Oak to the Matewan Massacre, The Glen Alum Train Robbery to the Breeden Circus Train crash. History surrounds us in the Tug Valley area.
While discussing assets in the Williamson and Tug Valley area the trail system cannot be left out. The H&M trail system is major attraction for visitors coming from all over the world. It’s not uncommon to have dinner in any local restaurant and talk with visitors from Canada, Oklahoma, Indiana, New York, and many other places.
“The trail system is massive and continues to grow as they connect more towns along the way. More and more people are riding into Williamson, Matewan, Gilbert, and Delbarton because of the excitement and adventure generated from getting out and getting muddy.” Wilson offered
Another top asset in our community is the people. The hospitality found in southern WV cannot be matched. The warmth in the “Hey, how are you?” and those good bye’s that last ten minutes and end with “Be careful” as a way of showing care and concern.
“We have some of the most kind, loving, generous, and welcoming people in the world. We’re excited to see folks come to our area and show interest in learning about our area.”
To end the interview Wes was asked what would he tell someone thinking about visiting out area? Enthusiastically he replied, “Definitely come see us! Come in with an open mind. Our state and area can get very heavy with stereotypes and folks that I’ve met are always commenting that things are not what they thought when thinking of those stereotypes. Our area thrives through its rich history, deep valleys, and rugged landscapes. The absolute best way to experience the Tug Valley area is stop by and learn just how we came to be such a staple in time.”
Grab your family. Grab your friends. Leave your worries behind. Once you visit one time you’re not a visitor anymore. You’re part of our family. Remember, all roads lead home when you’re family. Welcome home.