We have been supporting residents of McDowell County for several years. As we continue to bring food and supplies, we also want to help the community tell its story to the world. This could help the county find long-term solutions to its problems. That's why this year, we interviewed several influential people in the area.
We spoke with Carol Sizemore, a mayor of Northfork. Carol has lived in this town since 1971. After being elected as mayor in 2016, she got a chance to improve things for her community. Since then, she has taken part in significant projects. One is the 6.3 million dollar Elkhorn Project, providing running water to Northfork, Upland, Kyle, and Powhatan households. Before the new system was installed, people living in those areas had to rely on antiquated water systems and other sources. Carol has also been working on providing sites for development.
I worked for two years trying to demolish the old high school building; if you want development, you have to provide the sites.Carol
I asked Carol about the future of McDowell County. She thinks one of the biggest problems is that McDowell County is an “entitlement” county.
The great majority of people in this community are retired and have worked all their lives in the colt industry. They are on a fixed income, social security, food stamps, and free funds. The other half are the young people who don’t want to work or are labeled as learning disabled. She illustrated this with one example:
I asked the little girl: What are your aspirations? The girl answered: I don't have any. I want to stay home and get a check like my mom.Carol
The city officials have a hard time meeting the needs of its citizens with limited resources. Now that they finally have running water and sites, the next step is the sewer. The county can’t support new businesses without a sewer system, but the residents might not be able to afford it.
Carol hopes to overcome challenges in order to bring a new industry to the county. She believes that career jobs can bring back motivation and hope and encourages people to work together toward this goal.
You change the future by changing people. People need to learn to communicate all over again as if they are newborn children and they first learn to speak. The meaningful dialogue goes a long way in bringing up problems and resolving them.Carol
We concluded that events like BYBM’s annual Food and Supplies Drive are necessary, but there is a need for a long-term solution. And that is the mayor’s message to the kind people that want to do something and help.
Help us to help ourselves and don't give up. Give us or lead us to resources, not necessarily money, then we can solve problems, strategize and make changes on our own.Carol