Progress on Thomas' Beginner Mountain Bike Trail

Construction of the Thomas' Beginner Bike Loop is under way! New Historic Thomas is recruiting volunteers to work with trail builder Zach Adams on the construction of a much-needed beginner trail. Thomas and the surrounding areas are abundant with technically challenging trails, and this new beginner-level trail will give less-experienced or young riders the opportunity to build their skills. With your help, New Historic Thomas has already raised about $10,000 for trail construction. 

Please join us for one of our trail construction days, and remember to bring work gloves! If you can't donate your time, please consider donating funds to help complete the trail construction. 

On April 22nd, New Historic Thomas will have a volunteer trail work day from 9-12, after which volunteers will have the opportunity to have a picnic and take a bike ride down the Canyon trail to Hendricks, where there will be a shuttle back up the mountain. Please join us!



What's Happening in Thomas - April

4/3: New Historic Thomas public meeting - 6:30 pm @ Thomas Ed. Center
4/10: Public Meeting hosted by Thomas Planning Commission – 6:30 pm @ Thomas Ed. Center
4/11: Thomas City Council meeting - 6:30 pm @ Thomas City Hall

Live Music
4/1: Cradle and Grave – 1:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
4/1: The Company Stores - 8:30 pm @ Purple Fiddle
4/8: Tamara Hansson- 1:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
4/8: The Bid Takeover - 8:30 pm @ Purple Fiddle
4/9: Tamara Hansson - 1:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
4/15: Kyle Sherman - 1:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
4/15: Johnny Staats and Robert Shafer - 8:30 pm @ Purple Fiddle
4/16: Kyle Sherman - 1:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
4/16: Anthony Mossburg - 8:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
4/18: Gleewood - 8:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
4/21: Dangermuffin - 8:30 pm @ Purple Fiddle
4/22: Sparrow Blue – 1:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
4/22: The Tillers – 8:30 pm @ Purple Fiddle
4/22: Hackensaw Boys – 9:30 pm @ Purple Fiddle
4/23: Sparrow Blue – 1:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
4/23: Marbin- 8:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
4/29: Charlotte Berg – 1:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
4/29: The Stash! Band - 8:30 pm @ Purple Fiddle
4/29: Digisaurus - 10:30 pm @ Purple Fiddle
4/30: Charlotte Berg - 1:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle

Check out Purple Fiddle and Mountain State Brewing Co. online for times and more details.

Other Happenings
4/1: Robert Singleton Opening – For the Joy of Light – 5:00 pm @ Lamplight
4/7: ArtSpring Benefit: Local Music Showcase- 7:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
4/7: Knights of Columbus Fish Fry- 4:00-7:00 pm @ Thomas Education Center
4/14: Knights of Columbus Fish Fry- 4:00-7:00 pm @ Thomas Education Center
4/22: Thomas Trails Volunteer Day, Picnic, and Canyon Ride – 9:00 am @ Thomas City Park
4/30: Aves and Art – 12:00-4:00 pm @ Buxton and Landstreet Gallery

Regular Happenings
Stop for lunch at Tip Top for Mediterranean Monday with both delicious meat and vegetarian options. Mediterranean Monday will take place from 11 am – 2 pm.

Check out Tip Top's Burger Night every Friday evening starting at 6 pm and Sunday Brunch weekly from 10 am-2 pm.

Community Mountain Yoga every Wednesday at 6 pm in the Thomas Education Center. Donations encouraged! Check blog for updates. 

Purple Fiddle hosts an Open Mic Night every second Tuesday of the month starting at 8 pm.

To submit events for next month’s newsletter, email details to by the 25th of the current month.

Spoken Word at Lamplight

Between the 2017 Juried Exhibition, Art Crawl, a spoken word performance, and another gallery opening, Lamplight Gallery has been the hub for artistic activity in Thomas this past March. This most recent spoken word performance featured Kevin Chesser, a multi-talented individual and first place winner of the 2016 West Virginia State Open Fiddle and Banjo Contest for Old Time Banjo. 

Opening for Kevin Chesser was Thomas' very own Seth Pitt. We know him from his gallery Creature, which features his own work, but I had no idea how talented he was with poetry until now. It may have been intimidating for anyone to follow Seth's reading, but Kevin gave quite the show. It was like watching a stand-up comedy performance. 


Kevin started by turning on a radio and stacking up a seemingly endless supply of Twister and Independence Day on VHS as everyone watched and giggled.

Kevin then gave a memorable performance. His poetry often lacked punctuation, and the effect when read brought to mind the ravings of slightly disturbed individual. I found myself wanting to hear more. 

Don't just take it from me—watch the below video of Kevin explaining and reading a piece of his called "The Zen of Resistance." 

People of Thomas: Father Timothy Grassi

By Katie Teems, NHT AmeirCorps Member

I walked into the St. Thomas Aquinas church office, and Father Grassi greeted me with a smile and offered me a mug of coffee that had "Almost Heaven" written on the side. He said that when he came to Thomas in the summer of 2004, he thought he was in heaven. The joke was that Thomas must have been as close to heaven as possible because he hadn't seen anyone in the confessional for a month, meaning Thomas must have been without sin!

When Father Grassi first came to Thomas, he said, "I saw so much potential in the town because it was such a charming place." Still, he talked of there being almost nothing open on Front Street. He saw so much need here and knew that he could be an instrument for God's grace because "when people are hurting or when they're in need, that's when God becomes so much more significant to them."

Since then, he's been happy to see people's excitement at how Thomas has been blossoming. He noted seeing a change when artist and entrepreneur Seth Pitt came to Thomas, saying that "Seth was the biggest kicker" and "I'm very impressed with him."

You may be wondering, how does Father Grassi serve Thomas daily? His routine looks something like this: He wakes up at 4:15 am and prays. Then, he gets dressed and prays in the church until about 6:15 am. He then exercises before getting ready for the day and saying the Traditional Latin Mass at 7:45 am. After that, he makes home visits to shut-ins, visits the nursing home, and takes appointments before saying Mass in the evenings. "I have a plan," he says, "and I just open up to God's plan."  He added, "if you want to make God laugh, tell him what your plans are."

Father Grassi hadn't always planned on becoming a priest, either. When I asked him about how he heard his call to the priesthood, he said that he had been working at IBM as an Field Engineer for 12 years. The call to the priesthood was "always a part of my thought process," but his job was comfortable, and he had also mused on marrying and having 8-12 children. 

In prayer one morning before work, he had asked God to make his calling clear to him by taking care of the two things that were holding him back: his job and his house. That day his boss called him into the office and said "You're not gonna believe this, but you have been made surplus." After 12 years of work and one of the top engineers in a division of 80 people, he was chosen to be laid off from his position.  Then, when he got home, his mother told him that someone had called wanting to buy the house. "Could He have hit me with a bigger sledgehammer," he said.

I've met a number of people whose lives have been ameliorated by Father Grassi and his calling to the priesthood. He always greets others with warmth and friendliness, and even if he is not feeling well himself, he pays close attention to the well being of his flock. "We have to be the Bible" for others, he says. He noted that he's called on more by non-Catholics if anything happens, and that he wants to embrace as many people as possible as a very visible presence of the Church. Father ended by saying that "everyone is invited to experience the Catholic faith and come to Mass."

A Business Map of Thomas

by Katie Teems, NHT AmeriCorps Member

The main roads in Thomas, Front and Spruce Streets, are both one-way streets. This means that any visitor who's unfamiliar with Thomas can pass through Spruce Street and leave completely unaware of our unique local businesses located on Front Street.

The area gets a lot of people passing through as well as tourists from Northern Virginia, many of whom love Tucker County but do not know about Thomas. Or, if they do know about Thomas, they stop at one or two businesses and then leave. 

My committee in action

My committee in action

Bridging the gap between our local businesses and potential patrons is my main project as an AmeriCorps member. Along with a committee of dedicated artists and business owners, I am helping to put together a professional and enticing illustrated business map of Thomas. 

The printed map should be complete and ready for distribution by Memorial Day Weekend when ArtSpring Festival will take place.

Elkins-based artist Emily Prentice, who has had pieces at the B&L Gallery, is in the process of illustrating the map. Below are the latest drafts of Front Street buildings:

Throughout this process, my committee and I will be offering feedback to Emily, who will then revise the illustrations, color palette, and layout, as needed. We have also been considering the importance of format to various audiences. To reach a wide variety of people, we will be working with a graphic designer to offer an interactive version of the map. The interactive version will be completed and available online by late July of this year. 

 In the mean time, we look forward to releasing a quality illustrated map that represents Thomas in aesthetic and promotes all of our wonderful businesses. 

2017 Juried Exhibition

I walked by Lamplight before the exhibition and saw Morgan Smith, owner of Lamplight Gallery, arranging new pieces and making preparations for talkative Davis and Elkins students standing by the door whose art would be judged at the 2017 Juried Exhibition that evening. 

The artists who exhibited their work study under artist Michael Doig in Davis and Elkins' Department of Art. Attendees of this event milled around, discussing and examining the art while drinking refreshments before voting on their favorite pieces and talking to the young artists about their processes. 

I stood around for quite a while in front of the ceramic art. A large black skull with a frying pan, both sculpted ceramics, drew my eye. I looked down at a nest made from ceramic twigs with tiny blue oil drums set in the middle made to look like eggs. 

I marveled at the tiny oil drums. They were as small as thimbles. I wondered aloud to local artist Nellie Rose that I liked the nest with oil drums but didn't have the artistic vocabulary to explain why. She said with eyes sparkling, "I'll tell you why you like it so much," and she explained how the artist had to sculpt the tiny oil drums using a pottery wheel. She explained how much care probably went into that process and how the oil drums, which are normally large, must have been an interest to the mind to be placed in a bird's nest. 

Another onlooker talked about how the artist grew up in a town that manufactured Teflon, which is why there were ceramic pans. Teflon, he said, is known to be toxic. Further research told me that fumes from Teflon have been known to cause a respiratory condition in birds; hence, the bird's nest. 

Many people came from Thomas and beyond to view the art and support the artists. If you're interested in learning more about the program and the artists, the video at the bottom of this page shows Professor Michael Doig and his students at work. 

It's a March Snow Storm!

by Katie Teems, NHT AmeriCorps Member

"Come see the north wind's masonry. 
Out of an unseen quarry evermore
Furnished with tile, the fierce artificer
Curves his white bastions with projected roof
Round every windward stake, or tree, or door. "

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

It's snowing in Thomas, and there is no sign of it stopping any time soon. Farewell for now, spring!

The Snow-Storm
by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Announced by all the trumpets of the sky, 
Arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields, 
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven, 
And veils the farm-house at the garden's end. 
The sled and traveller stopped, the courier's feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm. 

Come see the north wind's masonry. 
Out of an unseen quarry evermore
Furnished with tile, the fierce artificer
Curves his white bastions with projected roof
Round every windward stake, or tree, or door. 
Speeding, the myriad-handed, his wild work
So fanciful, so savage, nought cares he
For number or proportion. Mockingly, 
On coop or kennel he hangs Parian wreaths; 
A swan-like form invests the hidden thorn; 
Fills up the farmer's lane from wall to wall, 
Maugre the farmer's sighs; and, at the gate, 
A tapering turret overtops the work. 
And when his hours are numbered, and the world
Is all his own, retiring, as he were not, 
Leaves, when the sun appears, astonished Art
To mimic in slow structures, stone by stone, 
Built in an age, the mad wind's night-work, 
The frolic architecture of the snow. 

On Being an AmeriCorps Member in Thomas

by Katie Teems, NHT AmeriCorps Member

This week is AmeriCorps Week 2017. For those of you who aren't familiar, AmeriCorps is a national service program (similar to Peace Corps) that supports communities like ours while giving members a chance to gain valuable professional experience, make an impact, and pay off student loans. According to the AmeriCorps website, I am one of 1 million AmeriCorps members serving around the United States since 1994.

I moved to Thomas from Metro-Atlanta in September 2016 and am serving with New Historic Thomas as well as Tucker County Development Authority and Tucker County Planning Commission. Before finding my position online, I had been wanting to move to a rural area, specifically in Appalachia, to work on community and economic development projects.

Here are some perks of living and working in Thomas as an AmeriCorps member:

  1. I can walk from my house to the sites where I serve!
  2. It's easier to "get things done" (following the AmeriCorps motto) since everyone in Thomas cares about Thomas and supports one another.
  3. I can see live music, go to art galleries, and recreate outdoors without leaving Thomas or even getting in my car. 
  4. Most people in Thomas are so kind, hospitable, and fun-loving, which makes adjusting to a new environment easier.
  5. A lot of AmeriCorps members have trouble seeing an immediate impact of their service, but people in Thomas let me know that they are grateful for my service. 
Me enjoying the blue skies on a trip to Belington.

Me enjoying the blue skies on a trip to Belington.

Picking up and moving to a small, tight-knit community like Thomas far away from my family, home, and a lot of the conveniences living in a city has to offer has been more of an adjustment for me than I had originally thought, and I don't regret a moment of it.

No matter where I end up after my service term ends, I will always cherish my experience of living and serving in Thomas and Tucker County.

Thomas' Bathroom Galleries

by Katie Teems, NHT AmeriCorps Member

"I'm going to see the Loo-vre" was the phrase on everyone's lips during Art Crawl when people toured the bathroom galleries on Front Street. In December at the previous Art Crawl, Front Street Grocers debuted pieces from local artists Nellie Rose Davis and Seth Pitt in their bathrooms. This time Front Street Grocers hosted art from local artists Kyle Rooke and Michael Doig. 

Photo courtesy of Front Street Grocers

Photo courtesy of Front Street Grocers

Photo Courtesy of Front Street Grocers

Photo Courtesy of Front Street Grocers

Since the last Art Crawl, art has spread to more bathrooms on Front Street. Tip Top just debuted lavatory galleries from another pair of local artists, Kristin Winebrenner and Joshua Gambetta. Kristin showcased some lively paintings are perfect for daydreaming on the toilet, and Joshua had his velvet "bathroom graffiti" hanging up in the men's facilities.

Front Street Grocers' newest bathroom gallery featuring more local artists, Kyle Rooke and Michael Doig, would allow the bathroom user an occasion to stare up in wonder. Kyle Rooke's cathedral-inspired pieces bring a new meaning to using the [Saint] John. Michael Doig displayed his dreamy paintings on wood panels.  

Bathroom galleries are earning a reputation in Thomas, where art never stops, not even to take a bathroom break. I wonder which business's bathroom will be next. 

Click here to read more about February's Art Crawl.


February Art Crawl

by Katie Teems, NHT AmeriCorps Member

Pete Cizmadia

Pete Cizmadia

Kristin Winebrenner

Kristin Winebrenner

Saturday, February 18th, marked another Art Crawl. The cool air felt like early Spring—a perfect evening to browse the open galleries. 

Lamplight had a gallery opening featuring "The Far Country" by Pete Cizmadia. Cizmadia's spray painted pieces depict workers and scenes from the American West. The style reminded me of vintage ad posters. 

A look at TipTop's new bathroom galleries show art from two local artists, Kristin Winebrenner and Joshua Gambetta.

I spied Kristin in one of her paintings in the women's bathroom, so she told me how she painted it from a picture taken of her in a dance club in South Korea.

Joshua explained his process of carving graffiti-style art onto a wood block and then ir