Create Your State Tour Comes To Marlinton

The town of Marlinton has been selected as one of five WV communities to host the Create Your State Tour this fall. CYS is a multi-media performance, educational presentation and workshop that inspires and empowers creative community revitalization and development. Anyone is welcome to come to the show and workshop on Friday, October 13 from 6:30-9:30pm at the Marlinton Municipal Building, which will provide a full program of immersive experiential learning and strategic planning for leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, students and other involved citizens.

According to a press release from CYS, the presentation tells the inspiring story of arts-driven community transformation in Princeton, West Virginia through the eyes of artists and cultural entrepreneurs Lori McKinney and Robert Blankenship. The arts are reigniting their once abandoned downtown with creative capital, reclaiming it as an arts district that is increasingly drawing new business and tourism. Participants will gain skills, tools, and on-the-ground contacts to spark positive change and cultivate a similar scene in Marlinton and they will be invited to take advantage of ongoing support—resources, contacts, mentorship—after the workshop as they carry out arts-based community development projects.

The workshop features original music, visual projections and a compelling exchange about how the arts, creativity and an out-of-the-box approach can establish a creative scene that redefines and reinvigorates a community. Participants will have access to a web portal with step-by-step instructional toolkits, video shorts, webinars and more. And they will receive ongoing guidance from the Create Your State (CYS) founders to execute community projects and plant new creative capital in Marlinton.

Since 2012, McKinney and Blankenship, along with their music ensemble Option 22, have been traveling to localities around the region to provide them with tools to transform their environment and boost their local economy. Now teamed with Community Connections, The Create Your State Tour was awarded a major grant by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation to take the show on the road around West Virginia. Ten towns received the program and, ten additional WV towns will participate in the 2017-2018 tour based on their interest, drive, and need for this type of development.

CYS project manager and presenter Lori McKinney said, “This is a project ten years in the making. We have worked so hard for so long and we are incredibly thankful to have this opportunity to contribute to communities around the state, sharing what we’ve learned and inspiring people to transform their environment. The tour last year was impactful, and we have loved providing ongoing coaching to the wonderful teams that are working all around West Virginia. We are extremely grateful to Greg Puckett and Community Connections for all the support they have given us over the years to develop our work, and this opportunity is something we’ve been waiting for—to share what we have learned and give back at a bigger level. Many, many thanks to Community Connections and the Benedum Foundation for enabling this project!”

Greg Puckett, Executive Director of Community Connections says that, “We are exceptionally pleased at this amazing opportunity. Statistics show that when you change the physical design of a community, followed by an infusion of cultural diversity, it provides a vision of hope, innovation, and dedication from the community at large. This hope builds new partnerships and truly changes perception of negative, to overwhelmingly positive.”


For more information about the CYS tour, visit their website at, send an e-mail to, or call 304-320-8833.

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Current Weather