Since the former Mineral Wells Livestock Exchange closed more than a decade ago, farmers wanting to sell animals have had to go to Jackson County.
In about a week, with the opening of a new livestock market at the same location, that will change.
"Right now, we want to start out this year, and get everybody knowing we're here, too," says Dale Collins, one of the owners of the new Parkersburg Livestock Market. "We have a lot of local farmers, and old people, who can't drive long distances, and who can't see (the highway late at night). This would be really convenient for them, too. That's what a lot of them are telling us."
They've just received approval to reopen, but they've been working since July to renovate the auditorium and livestock yards to serve farmers in Wood and surrounding counties.
"99% of the major work is done," says co-owner Gary Smith. "The facility is ready to go. We've been approved by the department of agriculture, and the department of weights and measures will be here next week to certify the scales. Other than that, we're pretty much ready to go."
The market is located near the Liberty Truck Stop, off Interstate 77, in Mineral Wells. The truck stop's owner, Eric Fleming, hopes to benefit. But he also hopes the expected weekly auctions become an event for the whole family.
"If we get one kid out of 20 who learns something about the FFA, about livestock, about agriculture," Fleming says, "it's a win-win for our community and the state of West Virginia."
"I think this will help the packing houses, who buy the beef, Collins adds. "I think this will help them big time."
But this isn't a step into the past. Farmers from throughout the area have learned about, and responded to, the reopening from a social media page created by the new owners.
For more information on the market and upcoming auctions, contact Operations Manager Dale Collins at (304) 483-2897, Gary Smith at (304) 482-1838, or Jason Collins at (304) 679-7192.
Collins says the market will help farmers transport their livestock to the market if they need it.