Panhandle (W.Va.) Grassroots for Democracy

The Panhandle Grassroots for Democracy is working to improve our corner of eastern West Virginia, our state and our nation.

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Sunday, May 08, 2005

Hispanic population rises in West Virginia

From the Associated Press:

CHARLES TOWN — Rosie Flores sells Spanish cookies, Mexican spices and international calling cards at Rincon Latino. Kindness comes free of charge.

When a quiet customer with the sniffles heads for the door, Flores stops him, presses a bag of chamomile into his hand and tells him to boil it for tea.

“It will make you feel better,” she says in Spanish, shaking her head as he reaches for his pocket. “No, no charge.”

For six months, Rincon Latino has flourished amid the antique shops, real estate offices and historic homes of Washington Street, the main avenue in a West Virginia town where times have begun to change.

Though their numbers remain small, Hispanics are now streaming into historically homogenous, overwhelmingly white West Virginia and other parts of northern Appalachia, including western Pennsylvania, southern New York and Ohio.

Economic opportunity here — in apple orchards, poultry plants, horse farms and construction — is starting to translate to diversity.

From a political and community standpoint, what are we doing to reach out to this segment of the population? West Virginians (most of them) are a warm, welcoming people. Are we putting up welcome signs at the entrance of our big tent?


At Monday, May 09, 2005 12:19:00 PM, Blogger John C. said...

Good post Ben. I have noticed an increase in Hispanic peoples all over the eastern panhandle doing the work that natives to our area used to do and also some jobs that they are still landscape and farming. I also see some of the mom and pop businesses that the article points out but not sure if I have ever ventured inside one, I think not. Why? Not sure really just haven't been motivated. It will take time for the newcomers to be brought into the mainstream that is our local culture. How do we reach out to them? That's a darn good question but being able to communicate with each other is very important of course, language is definitely a barrier to understanding. They don't seem to worried about learning english and we spanish....until that one is resolved we will view each other with curiosity and hopefully kindness and that's about it.


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