Story by Jarrett Lewis, MetroNews

ELKINS, W.Va. — City officials in Elkins are looking at annexation as a way to grow the city.

Elkins Mayor Jerry Marco said he and City Clerk Sutton Stokes are on a mission to educate more people about annexation and to bring in more revenue. Marco said there are businesses nearby that they want to encourage to be included in the City of Elkins.

Mayor of Elkins Jerry Marco

“One of the mayor’s duties is to identify sources to increase revenue for the city and annexation of those businesses that are just outside the city’s limits is one way to do that,” said Marco. “We’re taking a streamline approach when approaching them to tell them what the benefit is to the city and to the business themselves.”

Stokes said this process is voluntary annexation and completely up to the business.

“We are not talking about forcing anyone to come in,” Stokes said. “If they don’t want to do it, we can’t make them.”

They both believe they have a strong case though as to why businesses should look into starting something in Elkins.

“There are businesses located near the city and so our pitch to them is that if they were to come into the city voluntarily, the additional revenues would make the city even more appealing,” said Stokes.

The appeals of the city include low-cost trash removal, paving and street maintenance, well-maintained parks and a 24/7 police agency in the area. Stokes said they also have a more modern and not too restrictive zoning code that was adopted a few years ago.

“It gives businesses that peace of mind of what’s going to be next door to them,” said Stokes.

South of the city is a roadway known as the “five-lane region” that is within city limits but there are only a few businesses that reside in that area within the city. Marco and Stokes are looking at that area in particular as one to annex. They think the businesses get the benefit of the Elkins name without actually residing there.

“People when they’re done downtown tend to go that way so we’re trying to encourage them to be part of our business family,” Marco said.

The idea of annexation came partially due to the rising costs from inflation and the annual increase of insurance. Marco said the city doesn’t want to cut into the current services they offer so they’re branching out with the potential for annexation.

“This would allow us to continue the great service that we currently offer, maybe improve our level of service or add additional services to our citizens and make the area more attractive to our visitors,” he said.

The city already sees a great number of visitors and residents who are moving in. The Ascend West Virginia program is one reason for that.

The city holds numerous different businesses downtown along with a hospital and a county seat. Elkins is also home to the Monongahela National Forest Supervisor’s Office.

“It’s a very friendly, welcoming, engaging and inclusive community,” said Marco.

Mayor Marco also gave thanks to state and federal leaders who he says see a bright future for the city and have been focal in some of the investments made that have led to a growing population and visitation.

“We couldn’t be successful the way we are if we didn’t have the partners throughout the state and in Washington, D.C.,” Marco said. “They see the benefit of investing in Elkins and we’re hoping to continue that.”