Charleston still alive in national competition

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Four West Virginia communities are still in the running for the $3 million top prize in America’s Best Communities competition.

Frontier Communications and other sponsors announced this week Fairmont, Charleston, Huntington and Jackson County are four of the 50 quarterfinalists across the country.

Frontier Area General Manager Tammy Shingleton met with officials in Ripley, Charleston and Huntington Wednesday.

“We’re looking for ideas that spark economic vitality and sustainable growth and focus on small towns and rural communities,” Shingleton said.

The competition focuses on the revival of local economies and improvement of the quality of life. All four West Virginia communities will be given $50,000 to develop their plans.

“It’s kind of like seed money to make a more confirmed plan of action before we get to the semifinal round next year,” Shingleton said. “This is an evolving project for our communities.”

Jackson County, Charleston, Huntington and Fairmont are now shooting to be one of the 15 semifinalists that will be named in January 2016. Those 15 will be invited to a April 2016 summit where they will present their plans. Eight finalists will be chosen and later three winners getting $1 million, $2 million or $3 million.

Other main sponsors include DISH Network, CoBank and The Weather Channel.