By Derek Tyson, The Welch News Editor
WELCH, W.Va. – At a regular last Friday, the City Council of Welch motioned to approve the purchase of the 76 service station on Wyoming Street in Welch, formerly owned by longtime resident Ed Shepard.
“There’s a company out of Kentucky that does Brazilian coffee and we’re 99% sure he’s going to open a shop here, but he’s got some other ideas also,” said Mayor Harold McBride to City Council members. “The Ed Shepard building is kind of a special building and we don’t want someone to get it and just let it sit there. There are some prospects looking at it that will do exactly that. If worse comes to worse, can we tie that building up until we find someone that will actually do something with it instead of let it sit there?”
“It’s (Shepard’s) niece that owns it, they’re asking for 12 thousand,” said Jason Grubb, Welch’s Business Development Specialist. “But they will sell to the City for substantially less than they are asking.”
Mayor McBride spoke more about the Kentucky company, known as 37 Coffee that specializes in Brazilian coffee.
“It’s a young couple with a good plan business plan,” said McBride. “They came down and are ecstatic about Welch. We’re trying to get their coffee shop in the Jack Caffrey Center and they talked about doing an ice cream shop in Ed Shepard’s old building.”
“There’s also a second company out of North Carolina that are interested in opening a gift shop, ice cream and hot dog stand there,” said Grubb. “If worst comes to worst, can we step in and buy the building. Josh said we can buy it by ordinance, then we can sell or lease it by ordinance.”
Grubb said City Attorney Josh Miller had gone over the details, saying the City could buy it by ordinance and therefore, sell or lease it by ordinance.
“That’s what the City of Beckley has been doing. In fact, they just sold the police station because of the condition it was in, they didn’t have the funds to fix it,” said Grubb. “They had an investor out of Illinois buy it and there’s been a big uproar in Beckley now. This would prevent someone from buying it and just using it for storage.”
“Well why can’t we just go ahead and buy it,” said Jim Spence.
“We can if you so desire,” said McBride. “I wanted to just make sure we could, but that would be great.”
Council members agreed to go ahead and purchase the building, making a unanimous vote to proceed.