How do we bring back “Almost Heaven”?

GRAFTON— How do we re-establish “Almost Heaven”? This was the question raised by Alex Reneman, during Wednesday’s Grafton Rotary Club meeting. 

Reneman presented a power point to the members of the club, which showcased his ideas on how the community can come together to make positive changes.

“This idea has been baking with me for years. West Virginia always seems to be at the top of a list that we don’t want to be on the top of, or the bottom of a list that we don’t want to be on the bottom of. So, I thought to myself, we need to figure out how to change this,” commented Reneman. 

He is proposing the idea of, what he calls, an “Almost Heaven Index”. This index, which is in the form of a survey, consists of four pillars, which include Health and Wellness, Standard of Living, Governance and Culture and Education. 

Reneman sent out an initial survey to a small group of individuals in Taylor County. In the survey, participates were asked questions about their happiness level, as well as, how satisfied they are with their community, jobs and personal lives. 

It is the hope of Reneman, to be able to use the results of the index as a way to measure progress, success and achievement within the community, and also to allow residents to have their own input on upcoming projects, using the data to help decide what projects would be most beneficial to the area.

“We need a plan. We need to focus on our own satisfaction as a community. Is what the community doing beneficial to all? Who better to judge our community than those who live here?” Reneman expressed.

He went on to explain that he believes community projects would be more successful with more input from community members.

Reneman used the example of building a footbridge. “I want this bridge to use as a walking trail. But who else will use it? You start with a simple idea, then someone might say ‘I could use that bridge to walk my dog,’ in return you now have more people interested, because it has now become more than just a place to walk,” explained Reneman.

He plans to send the Almost Heaven Index out to a larger number of people in the county in the near future, and hopes that someday it can spread throughout the entire state and assist in bringing back “Almost Heaven.”

“We want to make changes, and add things to the community that won’t be a ‘flop’, if you will. However, we also want to remember the history of our community, things that were here when our grandparents and great grandparents where here. If we forget those things, we loose who we are as a community and as a state,” Reneman concluded.