PRO: a member of WV ON TRAC

A few weeks have passed since our last blog post.  The weather has begun to get a bit more like spring, and Parsons ON TRAC is in the process of undergoing a bit of a change.  After consulting with the state ON TRAC office and several members of both organizations, Parsons ON TRAC is going to merge with the Parsons Revitalization Organization (PRO) so that the people and resources of each group can work together towards the goal of revitalizing the city of Parsons.

What does this merge mean to you?  Well, absolutely nothing has changed regarding either groups’ mission.  The goal of both remains bringing people and businesses into Parsons, maintaining and improving the appearance of buildings and storefronts in downtown, and working with local groups on community development projects.  By working as one, PRO and ON TRAC has access to the experience of PRO (established and active since 2001) and the state resources of ON TRAC (including membership in the West Virginia Non-Profit Association, GrantStation, and participation in statewide training).  Combining these resources will allow PRO/ON TRAC to do more and reach more people.

There are two big changes about PRO/ON TRAC.  One is the name.  PRO/ON TRAC is a bit unwieldy.  To simplify things, we are going to work on phasing out the use of “ON TRAC” in the main title of the organization.  There are several reasons for this.  ON TRAC is an acronym created by the state that stands for Organization, Training, Revitalization, and Capacity.  This acronym does not have anything to do with the city of Parsons and is hard to explain to new members – ON stands for Organization?  In this case, yes.  As you can see – it is not that clear.  Also, the label ON TRAC does not have a local connection with the town like PRO does.  This is our organization – not the state’s.  While the state gives assistance, we want to promote the fact that it is the people of Parsons, people living right here (not in Charleston), that will be doing the work to improve Parsons’s downtown.  Many ON TRAC communities throughout the state have dropped the ON TRAC from their names in order to emphasize the local community’s ownership of their organization.  For example, Wheeling’s ON TRAC program is called Downtown Wheeling, Inc.  Parkersburg’s ON TRAC organization is called Downtown PKB.  This change will take some getting used to, but we believe it is the right thing for the organization in order to help it move forward and take initiative on local projects.

In order to explain it better, we are working with a few phrases that describe how PRO and ON TRAC are connected, as follows:

Parsons Revitalization Organization (PRO) represents the community development and downtown revitalization efforts Parsons, a West Virginia ON TRAC community.

PRO is a member a West Virginia ON TRAC.

The second big change is the implementation of the Main Street Four Point Approach.  Past blog posts have described the four ON TRAC volunteer committees: Organization, Economic Restructuring, Design, and Promotions.  This division of PRO into committees will make it easier for members to work on projects that they feel deeply about.  For example, one of the projects that the Organization committee is working on is the maintenance of the Tucker County Bank Building.  This committee has commissioned a new front step (to replace the old one) and will oversee its installation.  The Promotions committee is working on several projects with ArtSpring (the annual county-wide High Mountain Arts festival), including organizing and overseeing an exhibit in Heritage House during the Memorial Day arts festival.  By dividing into committees, members of PRO and volunteers can decide what they want to work on and focus on it.  Meetings will be shortened and made more efficient.  Instead of one meeting that must tackle issues ranging from building insurance to event planning to administrative tasks to marketing to business strategies, each committee will meet on its own time and work out issues as they individually apply.  If you have any questions about the committees, would like to figure out which one is right for you, or anything else about this new change, please email parsonsontrac@gmail.com or give us a call at 304.478.6009.  We would love to answer any questions that you may have.

Another change with PRO is the implementation of a $5/year suggested member donation.  As discussed in our most recent meeting, this suggested donation will allow for the creation of an updated list of active members, making it much easier to keep members who are invested in projects informed.  We plan to provide a annual party or some kind of token for the public from these funds.

We recognize that these are some big changes.  But, they will help this organization  function more efficiently, increase its scope of work to the entire city of Parsons, and give members more freedom to work on projects they are truly passionate about.  Work plans for each committee outlining specific projects will be available in the beginning of April.  Change does not happen overnight.  Our Facebook page and or email address are still labeled Parsons ON TRAC, and it may take a while to incorporate all these changes across the many channels of communication we utilize.  We hope that you will accept the changes we are implementing and will be patient as the many aspects of this organization transform into what is best for the people of Parsons.

If you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to email us at parsonsontrac@gmail.com or give us a call at 304.478.6009.  Thank you for your understanding and continued support of revitalizing Parsons’s downtown!  Look for posts describing some of our new projects in the next few weeks.

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