Every small town has the “Andy Griffith Effect”; meaning there is always one person that everyone knows, respects, likes and is appreciated for the work they do in the community.
Mayberry had Andy Griffith, and Williamson has Dr. Christopher “Dino” Beckett.
Inspiration Starts Young
Just like Andy, Beckett’s story starts with a small-town childhood rooted in a strong-willed community. Beckett’s childhood was full of the great experiences in Williamson from Jaws at the Cinderella Theatre to walking down to the railroad tracks to visit his dad who worked as the local yardmaster. It was during these childhood years that his knack for business seemed to kick in. In grade school, Beckett decided to sell the pencils his aunt had stockpiled in two large cedar chests. “Things were great until the Principal at my school decided to put in his own pencil machine. That was the time that I learned how the regulatory part of business worked,” Beckett said. Today, this entrepreneurship has led to his involvement in numerous business ventures including the founding of Williamson Health and Wellness Center, partial ownership of The Mountaineer Hotel, and numerous other real estate opportunities.
The inspiration to be a doctor started a little later in life. During his undergraduate education at West Virginia University, Beckett thought he was going to be a pharmacist. That quickly changed. After graduating from WVU, Beckett did a 6-month internship in South America with the University of Miami. It was here that Beckett decided to take on the career that he is most well-known for in the town of Williamson. Beckett said, “I ended up in a very rural part of Chile and lived there for 6 months. The doctors there had limited equipment and were excellent diagnosticians using all of their senses. It was then that I decided to become a physician and return to my hometown. “
A Healthier Hometown
After making this decision, Beckett attended the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine to turn this dream into a reality. Once he graduated, Beckett returned home to open his own private practice clinic in 2006. In 2011, Beckett had decided to open a free clinic within his private practice. This idea soon grew into Williamson Health and Wellness Center (WHWC).
WHWC is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) geared towards the needs of the area located in the heart of Williamson. Dr. Beckett serves as the CEO and Medical Director. Since its founding in 2013, Williamson Health and Wellness Center has grown to provide adult medicine, behavioral health services, dentistry, pediatrics, and podiatry. WHWC also houses programs such as the Diabetes Coalition, the Farmers Market, the Community Garden, and numerous other programs. They have also expanded beyond Williamson with a new clinic in Gilbert, WV.
However, WHWC is not stopping there. “I see WHWC continuing to be the economic driver for the
City and greater Williamson area. I also see it continuing to grow its services to complement other healthcare facilities in our area as we have always done,” Beckett said.
A Family Man In A Family Town
In his free time, Beckett spends every moment that he can with his family. He’s an avid outdoorsman and loves to do just about anything in nature that he can with his family. Williamson provides a perfect place for him to do that.
Thanks to WHWC there are countless community programs to help build a healthier, family-oriented community. WHWC hosts the Williamson Farmers Market every Saturday throughout the summer. Aside from the Farmers Market, they sponsor many local 5Ks, walks, and runs. They also keep children in mind with fun events such as cooking camps, gardening camps, and an annual back to school block party. Building on this family atmosphere, WHWC also works with the local family resource network and hosts events like community baby showers.
Aside from the great community programs for families, there is also a new source of economic opportunity in the area. Williamson’s tourism industry provides an economic gateway towards a bright future for those who decided to settle down here. Beckett said, “I think we will see many businesses locate to Williamson due to the trail system but also other forms of tourism. I see the arts and cultural part of our area drawing tourists as well. Williamson is the only city located next to a major corridor and minutes from some incredible trail riding. The secret is beginning to get out and it will continue to grow.”
On top of all of these great aspects, Beckett said Williamson is great for raising a family simply because of its essentially low crime, a sense that people still look out for one another, and not to mention the centralized location to larger cities and airports.
“Nothing but upside”
As Dr. Beckett has helped to move the area towards a healthier future, he has also helped to
move it towards a more prosperous one. As for the future of Williamson, Beckett said, “I really see nothing but upside.” With the growth of WHWC and their community involvement, the area is beginning to see a resurgence in hope. Williamson is breaking the stereotype of a “dying coal town”, and we are turning into a growing tourism town. However, every successful town needs a good doctor. Luckily for us, we have a good doctor, a good businessman, and a good person all in one.