Jackson’s Mill looking for ‘friends’ in high places

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WESTON, W.Va. – Mary Kay Cote hopes memories of fun times spent at WVU Jackson’s Mill in Weston, W.Va., will prompt past visitors to become “Friends” of the mill.

Cote, founder of Friends of Jackson’s Mill, often travels throughout the Mountain State with her husband Larry, associate provost for WVU Extension and Public Service, and found many who had been touched by their stay at the mill. Cote wanted to start the campaign to give those people an opportunity to give something back to the mill.

The group’s official debut was held Dec. 1 at the WVU Jackson’s Mill Assembly Hall. Those attending previewed promotional and membership materials, the master plan for Jackson’s Mill and were offered the opportunity to become charter members in the organization.

“About 60 to 70 people turned out for the event,” said Cote. “We now have about 30 members, with more people calling every day to get more information.

“There have been so many people who have visited Jackson’s Mill for one reason or another. There could be potentially thousands of members.”

There are four major goals of the group. They are to conduct, sponsor and facilitate programs and events that will increase the visibility of the mill; raise funds to support services and activities not covered by the facility’s budget; encourage community involvement and volunteerism in Jackson’s Mill-related activities; and educate West Virginia’s citizens about its history and past contributions and introduce them to what the facility can provide.

“We’ve started some small fund-raising activities already,” said Cote. “We also have volunteers starting on a historic archives project with materials from as early as the 1920s.”

Cote says much of the material for the archives project was found in basements of the mill’s facilities. The volunteers will catalog all of the material for exhibits and for use by researchers interested in the mill’s history.

In 1921, Jackson’s Mill became the nation’s first state 4-H camp through an act of the West Virginia legislature and was assigned to the care of the WVU Extension Service. Jackson’s Mill has taken its place as an important part of W.Va. youth activities, adult education and special events.

The mill has also adopted a six-year renovation and building plan. Many of the facility’s 14 cottages are in need of repair and updating, Cote said. There are also plans to add buildings to the mill. Cote says “friends” will be instrumental in seeing these plans carried out.

“Many volunteers from the counties for which the cottages are named have committed to repairing them,” said Cote. “For example, the first cottage to go up was the Lewis County cottage (home county to Jackson’s Mill), and volunteers throughout the county have shown a large interest in repairing the cottage.”

A yearly membership to the organization is $20 for individuals, $30 for families and $10 for full-time students. There are also higher levels of membership up to $1,000.

To become a Friend of Jackson’s Mill write to WVU Jackson’s Mill, Route 1, Box 210-WVU, Weston, WV 26452; or call 1-800-287-8206 for a membership application.

Cote hopes that in addition to paying a membership fee, Friends will volunteer their time and come back to Jackson’s Mill.

“Jackson’s Mill will celebrate 80 years in 2001. It has played an important part in West Virginia history,” said Cote. “We hope to continually build membership to ensure the future of Jackson’s Mill.”

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