Senator Warner Visits Highland Center


On Sunday, July 27th, Senator Mark Warner will pay a visit to Highland County, Virginia for a meet and greet and ice cream social at the Highland Center. According to Executive Director Betty Mitchell, Senator Warner is a long-time supporter of The Highland Center. In the fall of 2013, he and Senator Tim Kaine announced that the Center had been awarded a $1.2 million federal grant from the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), which helped the Highland Center achieve the $3 million goal for its Historic Renovation project.

“We’ve had a capital campaign underway for a number of years to try to garner all the funds needed to renovate The Highland Center,” Mitchell said. “We were very pleased to have the support of Senator Warner early on in the campaign as both a contributor and also as a spokesperson for the campaign on the video that we did and shared with potential funders. He’s actually been to Highland on several occasions, and was here first probably about 10 years ago. We were delighted to have him visit then and always welcome him back.”

When it was first constructed in 1922, the building served as Monterey High School, then later as the county’s elementary school.  Since The Highland Center was formed in 1998, the building has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register.  The goal in renovating the building is to create more usable space, allowing it to be used for a wide variety programs.

“Our programs are really based around four areas,” Mitchell said. “One is local foods and agriculture. Another is business incubation, working with small businesses in the community. We do community and economic development projects that take a variety of forms. And then we work with youth. We’re very excited to keep this structure for the community, hopefully for another hundred years, and use it for lots of economic development and community development purposes.”

The ice cream social will take place at the Highland Center will take place Sunday, July 27 from 1-3pm. Senator Warner will take a tour of the Center and be available to talk with community members. The event is open to the public.

“During the time that Senator Warner was governor of Virginia, he served as co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, which provides federal funding for the 13 Appalachian states,” Mitchell said. “So I think he’s well aware of some of the challenges that the Appalachian region has faced in the past and the out-migration of youth, and really looks at projects such as this as ways that people can rally in the community and come up with some innovative ways to attract young people or ways to really sustain economies.”

Mitchell believes the support The Highland Center has received is a vote of confidence in the programs offered over the past decade. “We try to always look at the natural assets in the area when we’re developing projects and thinking about what type of economic development fits and ways that we can encourage more people to live in this beautiful part of Virginia.”

Story By

Megan Moriarty

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