The Town of Pocahontas is getting a community center.
Bluefield College, who now operates the former Pocahontas High School facility, recently announced the opening of the onetime educational building to the community for social and recreational events.
BC took control of the former PHS campus in June of 2010 after the Tazewell County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) generously offered the facility to the college to expand its academic and athletic programs.
But, in addition to developing its own educational and recreational plans to serve Pocahontas and surrounding communities, the college wanted the town’s residents to benefit by having the facility available for their own programs and activities.
“We want to see the building full of life again with people, both young and old, enjoying the facilities,” said BC’s Ruth Blankenship, vice president for advancement. “We encourage individuals to use the facilities for youth events, recreational activities, family gatherings, reunions, parties, and other community functions.”
In fact, Pocahontas resident Amy Short has been hired by the college to serve as facilities coordinator. Local residents who wish to use the gymnasium, football field, classrooms, or other areas in the building are encouraged to contact Short by phone at 276-945-5874 to reserve the space.
Gary Short, another Pocahontas resident, is serving as facilities manager for the BC Pocahontas Community Center, maintaining the grounds and structure and tending to other custodial duties.
“Our goal is to provide economic development and community building opportunities through this facility for the Town of Pocahontas,” said Blankenship.
In June 2010, shortly after announcing the return of intercollegiate football to Bluefield College after nearly 70 years of absence, BC leaders announced plans to use the former Pocahontas High School for football practice and training, thanks to the generosity of the Tazewell County IDA. Specifically, BC will use the PHS football field, locker rooms, and other space for practice, training, and equipment storage.
The facilities also will enable the college to explore the addition of other future sports, including field hockey, lacrosse, wrestling, and track and field. In addition, through the use of PHS facilities the college will explore further development of its instrumental music program. Created in the fall of 2008 in order to give students an opportunity to study and participate in instrumental music at the collegiate level, the new instrumental music program already includes a jazz band, concert ensemble, community orchestra, and instrumental music education curriculum for students. Now, with the onset of BC football, the next natural instrumental music component will be a marching band.
“On behalf of the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors, Industrial Development Authority and Recreational Authority, we would like to thank Bluefield College for their interest in the Pocahontas community,” said county administrator Jim Spencer when the IDA announced its partnership with BC in June 2010. “Bluefield College is a great partner to Tazewell County.”
Pocahontas residents, Blankenship added, are encouraged to explore ideas for use of the building, as well.
“The college welcomes individuals, small business proprietors, restaurant owners, and organizations associated with the Spearhead ATV Trails to join us in strengthening the economy of this community,” Blankenship said. “Our expansions will generate additional revenue for the college, but more importantly will support the revitalization and economic development efforts of the Pocahontas community. This would not have been possible without the generosity of the Tazewell County IDA.”