MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (WDVM) — In West Virginia’s eastern panhandle, Martinsburg is very much looking forward to the Christmas season but also far beyond that.
Mayor Kevin Knowles has long seen the potential for growth. A priority for Marrtisnburg’s mayor has been downtown revitalization.
Robby Blair heads Main Street Martinsburg and wants to showcase Main Street with this weekend’s holiday celebration. “You’ll see this Saturday, with Christmas on Main, we’ve combined our tree lighting ceremony our Christmas market. We’ve brought in some new attractions. We have ice skating.”
More people downtown means more patrons for the historic Apollo Theatre. Mayor Knowles wants more cultural activities for the community.
“You know, we’re looking at some development on the other side of town here. We’re looking at what’s happening at the roundhouse, at the Apollo. It is so so important that we continue to keep that MARC train coming to here in Martinsburg,” Blair said.
That commuter rail service taps into a rich railroad tradition in Martinsburg. Mike Giovannelli is working to make the landmark railroad station roundhouse a premiere events space for the region.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the Martinsburg Roundhouse and property and all the buildings being used for a nice events center and making things happen in Martinsburg,” Giovannelli said.
Wanda Swan recently moved to town from North Carolina and is leading the Calvary Church youth ministry here.
“I’m very encouraged that the mayor has such a heart for Martinsburg because it’s a wonderful little town and its got so much history and it’s so beautiful,” Swan said.
“It’s a holiday spirit Swan anticipates will last far beyond this Christmas season. As the mayor sees it, these streets will soon be bustling with holiday shoppers.
Mayor Knowles sees the continuation of the MARC commuter rail service as a drawing card for young professionals in the crowded and expensive Washington, D.C. area as a way to lead a more affordable and less hectic lifestyle.