WEIRTON - The Top of West Virginia Convention and Visitors Bureau has big plans for the area in the coming years.
Some of those plans, including the expansion of concert programs in Hancock and Brooke counties, the use of social media and new ways to draw visitors, were outlined during the CVB's annual membership meeting held Tuesday at the Weirton Event Center.
"We've had some great success this year," CVB Executive Director Dan Greathouse said.
Area officials in attendance praised the work of the CVB in establishing the Weirton Event Center this year, saying they look forward to seeing what is coming for the facility in the future.
In its first year, the Weirton Event Center featured a summer concert series, became the site of a performance by the Wheeling Symphony and has become the home of weekly farmers' markets and flea markets.
"It has really become the showcase of Weirton," Hancock County Commissioner Mike Swartzmiller said.
The event center became possible through contributions from the Hancock and Brooke county commissions, the city of Weirton and private businesses.
Mayor George Kondik announced the city again will lend a hand with the Event Center in the coming months, providing $1,500 for additional landscaping work, with members of Weirton's two Rotary clubs volunteering their time to provide the labor.
"Hopefully we're going to start this fall and be ready for the next concert season," Kondik said.
Greathouse announced the Wheeling Symphony will return to the Weirton Event Center in 2013, and he also is planning on meeting with officials in Wellsburg and Chester to work on the possibility of similar concert venues in those communities.
Brooke Hills Park Manager Janice McFadden, speaking on behalf of Brooke County officials, said she has enjoyed seeing the results of cooperative efforts from people in the area and believes it can only help bring more attention to the Northern Panhandle.
For the future, Greathouse announced plans to create an art gallery at the CVB office in Weirton, which would rotate displays showcasing works by local artists, and he would like to look into expanding on the Panhandle Recreational Trail and begin working on more local winter activities.
Greathouse said the CVB plans to improve its use of social media to promote the activities and attractions of the two counties, with the goal of drawing visitors to the area.
"We try to create opportunities for people to come into our communities," Greathouse said.