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Wyoming County Literature Fund

Founded by Lonnie Bailey

The Wyoming County Economic Development Authority is hosting a writing competition to encourage and recognize, through grant awards, new or established writers of Wyoming County, WV. The purpose is to help keep alive and inspire new historical and cultural endeavors through the craft of writing. Applicants must submit an entry to the Planning Commission comprised of writers and Wyoming County residents approved by the Beckley Area Foundation (BAF).

Awards will be made based upon the merit of submitted work. There will be three prizes available for elementary students and two prizes available for each of the remaining categories. Winners will be announced in the Spring of 2023. There is no entry fee, although we encourage each applicant to only submit 1-3 entries. These awards are made possible by the generous gift of a Wyoming County donor, Lonnie Bailey, who created the Literature Fund for Wyoming County at BAF. This is the second year for the Literature Fund awards. Each entry will receive a certificate of participation.

Lonnie Bailey is the author of 22 books, 21 of them being composed of poetry. His poetry has been published in 133 anthologies and his songs have been included on sixteen CDs; he had a play performed by the Mullens Community Theater. On more than 300 occasions he has had material published in various newspapers and magazines. Lonnie Bailey’s work, both prose and poetry, has received dozens of national and international honors.

BAF was established in 1985 and began with a gift of $1.1 million from the Dr. Thomas Walker Memorial Health Foundation as “seed” money for the Raleigh County project. BAF assets have grown to nearly $60 million in over 500 different funds managed by three trustee banks. Today, the BAF is one of West Virginia’s largest community foundations. Since its inception, the Foundation has distributed more than $20 million to charities and other worthy projects in the fields of education, public recreation, health and human services, the arts and beautification.

Deadline

Entries must be submitted to the Planning Commission between January 15, 2023, and May 1, 2023.

Eligibility

The entrant must be a resident of Wyoming County in grades 1-12 or adults 18+. Public, private and homeschool students are allowed. All entries must be the original work of the entrant. Published works are not eligible to be entered.

Categories & Prizes

Elementary (1st-5th grade)

  • 1st – $150/medal 2nd $100/medal 3rd $50/medal

Middle School (6th-8th grade)

  • 1st – $200/medal 2nd $150/medal

High School (9th-12th grade)

  • 1st – $200/medal 2nd $150/medal

Adults (18+)

  • 1st – $500/medal 2nd $400/medal

Guidelines

  • The author’s name must not appear in the entry.
  • Entries must be titled, typed in standard 12-point font on one side of 8.5×11 white paper and double-spaced. (A parent or teacher may assist with typing elementary school entries.)
  • Each entry must contain at least 1,000 words with a 5,000-word max; 1st -5th grades have a 200-word minimum.
  • Entries with multiple pages must be stapled or secured with paper clips.
  • Entries must be the original work of the entrant.
  • All sources should be specifically named.
  • Poetry will be accepted and not have a word requirement.
  • Please submit a separate page with your name, category, and school name (if applicable).

Submission

Entries must be sent to the Planning Commission at 506A River Road, P.O. Box 1828, Pineville, WV, 24874 or emailed to christylaxton@wyomingcounty.com. If emailing, please include “Wyoming County Writing Contest” in the subject line.

Elementary students may choose to write from one of the following prompts (or create your own):

Sunny Summer Day… What is your favorite thing to do in Wyoming County on sunny summer days?

Unique Facts… Research and share three unique facts about Wyoming County.

Pay it Forward… What is one thing you would like to do now or in the future to make Wyoming County a better place?

Cityscapes… If you had a friend visit from another state, what is the one place in Wyoming County you would insist they visit or see? What makes this place so special?

Notable people… Write about a famous person born and raised in Wyoming County.

2023 Winners

Adult Winner:

1st - $500

Benny Mills

“Cards from the County” Script

2nd - $400

Benny Mills

“The Preacher and the PotBelly Stove”

Benny Mills, with two exceptional entries, takes the top spot in the Adult Category. His script, “Cards from the County,” and heartwarming tale, “The Preacher and the PotBelly Stove,” showcase his literary prowess and storytelling finesse.

High School Winners:

1st - $200

Aiden Cardwell

Wyoming East High School

“Paranormal Side of Wyoming County”

2nd - $150

Piper Cook

Wyoming East High School

“The Walls of the Courthouse”

3rd - $50

Madison Clark

Wyoming East High School

“Eastern Hemlock”

2nd - $150

Piper Cook

Wyoming East High School

“The Walls of the Courthouse”

Aiden Cardwell’s exploration of the “Paranormal Side of Wyoming County” delves into the mysteries that shroud the region, while Piper Cook’s narrative explores the historic significance of “The Walls of the Courthouse.” Madison Clark’s piece, “Eastern Hemlock,” offers a fresh perspective on the natural beauty of the county.

Middle School Winners:

1st - $200

Abby Laxton

6th Grade, Glen Fork

“Lost World Caverns”

2nd - $150

Shaina McKinney

8th Grade, Herndon Consolidated

“Wyoming County Hills”

Abby Laxton’s captivating piece, “Lost World Caverns,” takes readers on an underground adventure, while Shaina McKinney’s ode to the “Wyoming County Hills” beautifully showcases the county’s stunning topography.

Elementary School Winners:

1st - $150

Lillian Stewart

Berlin McKinney 4th Grade

“The Changing of the Season”

2nd - $100

Mason Bailey

5th Grade, Mullens Middle School

“Notable People Born and Raised in Wyoming County”

Lillian Stewart’s vivid portrayal of “The Changing of the Season” beautifully captures the essence of Wyoming County’s ever-evolving landscapes. Meanwhile, Mason Bailey pays tribute to local legends with his exploration of “Notable People Born and Raised in Wyoming County.”

2022 Winners

Writers from Wyoming County of all ages were encouraged to enter and submit works.

We had 4 entry categories: Elementary school (1st-5th grade), Middle school (6th-8th grade), High school (9th-12th grade), and Adults (18+).

The theme for all entry categories was Wyoming County History & Culture.

Read the winning works below!

Adult Winner:

1st - $500

Rebecca Adams

Memories of mining were told to all who would listen
Painfully you were dealt a hand you could not hold
Talk of family made your blue eyes glisten
Proudly sacrificing your life to mine that black gold.

2nd - $400

Sante "Sonny" Boninsegna, Jr.

Their spirits and hearts say “FIGHT”
But their heads say “FLEE”
as the dead offer no resistance,
win no fights

High School Winners:

1st - $200

Ty Eller

Wyoming East High School

Nestled in the hills of wild and wonderful West Virginia, Wyoming County serves as a home to many talented people. From actor Bernie Casey to professional boxer Christy Martin, natural talent is teeming with the citizens of our county and has been for years. Though society encourages the pursuance of more traditional money-making jobs, many break the glass ceiling and test out the waters in the entertainment industry...

2nd - $150

Charleigh Price

Wyoming East High School

Wyoming County, West Virginia is a wonderful place to live all around. Although a few years ago it seemed rather undesirable, it is now a thriving county with many new additions. Over the last few years, Wyoming County has expanded its local business spectrum. There are many additions to Wyoming County including new businesses and a new thriving four-lane road. Citizens are ecstatic to have life restored in their small towns...

Middle School Winners:

1st - $200

Landon Belcher

Herndon Consolidated

Skys of blue
Mountains of gold
Whether you're young or old
There's always a story to be told...

2nd - $150

Abby Graham

Herndon Consolidated

Oh Wyoming County
Mountains
Bipolar weather
and great people...

Elementary School Winners:

1st - $150

Jordyn Lester

Berlin McKinney

Sometimes late at night, when I’m lying in bed and can’t sleep, I wonder what is out there in WV that no one has seen...

2nd - $100

Abby Laxton

Glen Fork Elementary

On day there was a cute couple ice skating on a chilly winter day. Their names were Jon and Rose...

3rd - $50

Dylan Toler

Glen Fork Elementary

I want to help people by creating jobs with businesses like building a hospital in Oceana that is three to four stories high with at least a hundred and fifty beds that will help people here, so they do not have to drive far if they get sick or in need of emergency medical services quicker so they do not have a long way to be seen and it would also bring more jobs to Wyoming County, and it would help save on gas...

2021 Winners

Writers from Wyoming County of all ages were encouraged to enter and submit works.

We had 4 entry categories: Elementary school (1st-5th grade), Middle school (6th-8th grade), High school (9th-12th grade), and Adults (18+).

The theme for all entry categories was Wyoming County History & Culture.

Read the winning works below!

Adult Winner:

1st - $200

Kathy Brewster

I felt it in the raindrops touching my face on a hot summerday, on a Wyoming County day.

I can see it in my yard, in the beauty of a bluejay...

High School Winners:

1st - $100

Chloe Cook

Wyoming East High School Senior

The history of Wyoming County provides a precedent to achieve greatness in the present and the future...

2nd - $75

Deztiny Quesenberry

Wyoming East High School Senior

The most delightful attributes Wyoming County has to offer is the natural beauty of the land, the outdoor activities, and the genuine people that call the County home...

Middle School Winners:

1st - $100

Austin Criss

Herndon Consolidated
8th Grade

On the porch, sun glaring down,

Steak on the grill, people having a thrill...

Elementary School Winners:

1st - $75

Aiden Craigo

Mullens Elementary
4th Grade

Wyoming County was first formed on January, 26, 1850. It was formed from a part of Logan County. Wyoming County was named after the Wyoming Indian Tribe, who were some of the first people to set foot in present day Wyoming County...

2nd - $50

Hunter Hill

Mullens Elementary
4th Grade

This year I killed a 5 point buck with a bow. Here is Wyoming County you can only bow hunt for deer. My dad killed a small 8 point, and my mom killed a big 8 point. Hunting is a family activity that we enjoy every year...

3rd - $25

McCrae Massie

Mullens Elementary
4th Grade

Wyoming County is a small town place filled with small communities where most everybody knows each other. I live on a mountain in Wyoming County called Barker's Ridge. I think Wyoming County is a very special place...