The Mercer County Commission ended the November meeting more knowledgeable about three groups operating in the county — the Mercer County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the West Virginia University Extension office, and Operation Clean Sweep.

Mercer CVB Executive Director Marie Blackwell led the round of updates. She explained that she was required by her organization’s bylaws to provide an annual update to the three governmental entities in Mercer County (the County Commission and the cities of Princeton and Bluefield).

Then, Blackwell said tourism is on the rise in Mercer County. In her report, Blackwell stated that an increase in the amount of lodging tax translated into more visitors from the previous year. For the year 2012, lodging tax receipts totaled $427,193 as compared to $410,558 in 2011.

“We anticipate an even greater increase with the addition of the newest Hatfield-McCoy Trail, the Pocahontas Trail located in Bramwell, and the arrival of the Boy Scouts in 2013,” Blackwell told the commissioners. “These are two huge economic engines for Mercer County.  While the scouts are at the summit, their families will be touring our area, staying in local motels, eating in our restaurants and visiting our attractions and shops.”


When Blackwell finished, Andrea “Andi” Bennett told the County Commission about some of the programs that the West Virginia University Extension office provided during the year.

Two of the programs, Venison 101 and a beekeeping course, captured the attention of Commissioner Mike Vinciguerra.

Bennett told Vinciguerra that her office had worked to provide lessons to people on how to prepare venison to eat. She said that they had prepared one deer and let the class work to prepare the other one.

“I think that’s something people would really enjoy,” Vinciguerra said.

The beekeeping class had a more personal interest from the commissioner. Vinciguerra’s granddaughter participated in the program and he was amazed at home much she learned during the class.


 Finally, Sarah Elswick informed the commission about Operation Clean Sweep’s progress in Mercer County. Elswick said her office coordinated a sweep on the first mile of Airport Road from its intersection with U.S. 52 in Bluewell.

This week, her office is working to do a similar sweep in the Bramwell area.

— Contact Matt Christian at

Recommended for you