Highland EDA Hears Comments from The Highland Center Regarding Grant for The Highland Inn Revitalization


The Economic Development Authority of Highland County held a Specially Called Meeting on Monday, January 28, 2019 to discuss two items:  the IRF Grant for The Highland Inn’s Revitalization and the EDA’s 2019 Incentive Grant Program.

Regarding the first topic, in 2016, the EDA was awarded a $600,000 Industrial Revitalization Fund, or IRF, Grant to renovate The Highland Inn, which The Highland Center currently owns.  On Monday night, the EDA Chair Bryan Obaugh reported that the EDA had sent The Highland Center Board of Directors a list of terms defined within the grant determined to be necessary to bring it to completion within the time frame allotted.  The EDA had also received a request about the EDA’s intentions regarding the matter from Jessica Hupp with the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, which is the organization that implements the IRF Grant Program.

President of The Highland Center Board, Caroline Smith, had also spoken with Jessica Hupp, and she delivered her message to the EDA Board.  Her message was that The Highland Center will not be able to meet the requirements of the IRF Grant and that she would be meeting with the EDA to inform them of this.  She also said that Ms. Hupp was under the impression that The Highland Center had spent some of the funds from the grant, but she told Ms. Hupp that none of that money had been touched.  Ms. Smith also reported that Ms. Hupp had thanked her and encouraged The Highland Center to contact them as they get future plans organized.

Bryan Obaugh reiterated that the discussion was specific to the current IRF Grant as it pertains to the EDA, and what The Highland Center and Highland Inn choose to do beyond this point is up to them. EDA Member Nancy Witschey asked Caroline Smith whether The Highland Center would be able to work on the revitalization of The Highland Inn at a later time, whether through an IRF Grant, or anything else.  Ms. Smith responded that, at this point, The Highland Center does not know, as they are currently concentrating on getting reorganized, including hiring a new Executive Director.  Ms. Witschey wished The Highland Center luck.

EDA Secretary Sarah Collins-Simmons added at the meeting and afterward that The Highland Center had met the requirements for matching funds according to the grant stipulations, but the renovation budget grew exponentially with a change of architect.  Due to the extra costs, The Highland Center was not able to complete the renovation within the required timeline.

At the conclusion of the discussion, the EDA unanimously approved a motion to contact Jessica Hupp to update her on the information reported at the meeting.

Regarding the EDA’s other item of business, the EDA unanimously approved the 2019 Application of their Incentive Grant Program with some minor amendments.  The application forms plan to be available in the Highland County Courthouse in the main lobby.

In additional news, Bryan Obaugh reported that The Highland Child Care Initiative is moving forward.  The Child Care location is planned to be at The Highland Center, opening in August of 2019.  A link to the Child Care Level of Interest Survey is available on Facebook by searching for “Highland Child Care in 2019” and will also be available online with the posting of this story at www.alleghenymountainradio.org.

Allegheny Mountain Radio would like to thank The Highland-Bath Recorder for information used in this story.

Highland Child Care Level of Interest Survey Link:


Story By

Chris Swecker

is the Assistant Station Coordinator and a News Reporter for WVLS. He has roots in Highland County going back several generations, and he grew up in Monterey. Since graduating from James Madison University with a bachelor’s degree in Media Arts and Design, he has pursued his career at a news station and advertising agency in Virginia, on Microsoft’s campus in the state of Washington, and in both states as sole owner and employee of a video production company. He enjoys exploring life with his wife, Jessa Fowler, traveling, hiking, hunting, gardening, and trying new foods, all while discovering more about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. He feels blessed to be a small part of this talented AMR team to help give back to the community that has provided him with so much.

Current Weather