Buy Local This Valentine’s Day: The Cupcakerie

Valentine’s Day isn’t just about showing your love for your significant other, family and friends; it’s also about showing love for your community. Purchasing local gifts are a great way to give back, and for Valentine’s Day, the Cupcakerie is the perfect local option for anyone with a sweet tooth.

Opened in September 2011, the Cupcakerie has the pleasure of being Morgantown’s only exclusively cupcake bakery. Owners Anna Carrier and Janet Williams are both West Virginia University alumnae and “townies,”and they love serving their community.

“We love the university students,” said Carrier, a WVU exercise physiology graduate. “We love meeting all the great people. That’s our favorite part.”

The Cupcakerie will be featuring a few specials this Valentine’s Day. Three cupcakes with a rose and Hershey Kisses all bundled up with a big ribbon only costs $15, while four mini cupcakes with all the additions only costs $10. Additionally, you can add the Hershey Kisses and rose to any other treat for $5.

Special Valentine’s flavors include Raspberry Kiss, Pretty in Pink, chocolate caramel and hot fudge among many others. Walk-ins are always welcome, or you may place your orders in advance or order delivery by checking out http://thecupcakerie.com.

Whether you’re shopping for a loved one or just treating yourself, the Cupcakerie is a delicious, local choice this Valentine’s Day.

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Morgantown’s Comprehensive Plan: What’s in it for students?

Unknown to many residents of Morgantown, the city has a comprehensive plan that outlines the future of this great city. Although many have no idea of its existence, the plan states objectives and strategies for the next 10 years in Morgantown. Obviously, this is an important document.

The plan has to be updated (at least) every 10 years, and it just so happens that the document was finished this past June. Many of the items listed  in the plan greatly affect students, especially since they are half of the town’s population. Here’s some of the stuff you want to know:

  • There are plans to revitalize South High Street and University Avenue with mixed-use, but primarily residential buildings. As a mixed-use district, it will feature shops and restaurants on the ground floor with apartments on top, allowing students and other residents to have easy access to all of their needs. (page 44)
  • There are similar plans for Beechurst Avenue, which has already been apparent. The new (and awesome) apartment complex, Beech View Place is fully taking advantage of the mixed-use lifestyle. The ground level features a new (much needed) grocery store, CoGos, Mountaineer Hots (American-style food), a Greek gyro shop, a café, a butcher shop, a pizza place and a nail, tanning and hair salon. Again, this is a great place for students since they don’t have to drive all the way out to Kroger to go shopping. (page 45)
  • The Woodburn area will be revitalized, making it more pedestrian-friendly. This will include improved access to WVU’s campus and to downtown. The plan also states that there will be some mixed-use development, so students on and off campus can easily shop. (page 45)
  • An expansion of neighborhoods in WVU’s agricultural land, by the 705 (West Run, Suncrest Towne Centre area) is in the works. According to the plan, “Growth in this area should be accessed and supported by a new multi-modal transportation corridor connecting the University Avenue and Route 705 corridors.” (page 46)
  • The revitalization of Sunnyside has been pretty obvious. One thing the plan lists that will be great is more park and open space in the area. According to Sunnyside Up, they hope to expand the area to more than just college students, including  young professionals, university staff and families.” (page 47)
  • In general, the city hopes to increase sidewalks and street signage across Morgantown and Star City. (page 56) The city is also creating a Regional Bike Plan with a 10-year implementation plan with a connecting bike route network all across the city. (page 60)
  • The City of Morgantown’s plan outlines a plan to partner with WVU to improve traffic. This includes “developing a grade-separated pedestrian crossing at Grumbeins Island” (that area you never stop and look both ways in front of the ‘Lair), a connection from the Coliseum to the Evansdale campus (it’s about time!) and a proposed parking garage beside the Coliseum. (They also want to “lobby WVU to develop long-term storage parking for students who live on and off campus.”) (page 64)
  • According to EN 1.1 and 1.2,  the city hopes to “lobby state and federal environmental agencies to strengthen air quality standards” and to “lobby state and federal environmental agencies to enhance the monitoring and enforcement of air quality standards.” (page 70) They also want to promote green building through a Green Building Program that utilizes techniques according to the LEED standards.
  • According to the Housing and Neighborhoods section, they want to form a task force of students to address property issues, and they want to conduct a student cleanup twice a year. To ensure the streets of Morgantown are as safe as possible, they also will require adequate  street lighting. (page 77)
  • Additionally, many students will love that the city wants to develop a plan to incentivize the development of affordable student housing. (page 78)

Though you may only live in Morgantown for four years, this plan is looking toward the future, taking into account the inevitable growth of a college city such as this. With an emphasis on mixed-use zoning, walkability and alternate forms of energy, Morgantown is making this one of the best college towns for future generations (and Mountaineers) to come.

Black Friday Cheat Sheet: Morgantown and Beyond

Black Friday can be a wild experience, but if you’re up for the task, it can be well worth it.

First you need to decide if Black Friday shopping is for you. (I mean really think it through.) If there isn’t a particular item you have in mind, it probably isn’t worth going. Black Friday isn’t the time to go browsing. However, if you have a plan, know what you’re going to buy and don’t eat too much turkey beforehand, you can master Black Friday. Here’s your cheat sheet:

The Morgantown Mall:

Select stores in the mall will be opening at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving. This includes Aeropostale, American Eagle, Victoria’s Secret, PacSun, JC Penney, Elder-Beerman, Journeys, Spencer’s and Charlotte Russe among many others. Finish Line, Forever 21, Radio Shack and the GAP will be opening at midnight with Christopher and Banks, GNC and Francesca’s opening at 6 a.m. The rest of the mall will open at 8 a.m. on Black Friday. (Click here to read the full listing.) Plan accordingly!

University Town Center:

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Image from Target.com. This is the best price for the iPad Air, however, Walmart is having the best deal for the iPad Mini.

The Town Center holds many of the big-name department stores that will be having great deals on Black Friday. For example, Target is a major player on Black Friday. They even have a pre-Black Friday sale going on now. For the real deal though, check out their advertisement for Black Friday. Some of the best deals include a Nintendo 3DS for only $149.99, an iPad Air for $479 with a $100 Target gift card and an Xbox Kinect bundle for $189.99.

Walmart is another major Black Friday hub. If you’re wanting to get an iPad Mini, this is the best place to purchase it. They’re on sale for $299 and include a $100 Walmart gift card. Other great deals include a $29 HP printer and some great prices on TVs (see below). Walmart is having a special this Black Friday where you’re guaranteed certain items at the sale price so long as you pick up a wristband between the allotted time (which varies per product). Don’t forget, they’ll price match everything, too. (Pssst.. don’t forget there’s another Walmart in Morgantown! This one might be less busy.)

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Image from Walmart.com. Here are just a few of the great prices on TVs.

Best Buy is the third big one in the Town Center. Doors open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, but there will be special doorbusters throughout the evening. Great deals include an Xbox 360 bundle worth $399.95 for only $189.99, discounted DVDs (between $1.99 and $9.99, originally $2.99 to $59.99) and $200 savings on HP Intel laptops. Keep in mind, though, you need to have a ticket for all doorbusters.

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Image from best buy.com. Save $200 on HP Intel laptops!

Unfortunately, Morgantown doesn’t have all the best deals. If you’re serious about savings, travel up to Pennsylvania to get great deals (and get out of paying sales tax on clothing!)

Tanger Outlets:

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Image form Tanger Outlets. Get 20 and 30 percent off when you download the savings card.

Tanger Outlets in Washington, Pa. is just a short drive from Morgantown. It opens at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Download the bonus card to save 20 percent from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m., and save 30 percent from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. Additionally, individual stores are having some great deals on their own, too! If you want to avoid the Black Friday rush, they’ll be having deals all weekend.

The Mall at Robinson:

rock star

Image from the Mall at Robinson’s Facebook page.

Located in Robinson Town Center, Pa., the Mall at Robinson is a fairly short drive from Morgantown, too. The mall is hosting an event, Shop Like a Rockstar starting at midnight with gift card giveaways and freebies.

The mall includes a Macy’s, Banana Republic, Sears, (a really awesome) Forever 21, JC Penney and Buckle among many others.

With this guide, a little planning and a lot of patience, Black Friday can be a success. Good luck, and have a happy Thanksgiving!

Parking in Morgantown: a Bitter College-Town Problem

It’s no secret that parking in Morgantown is terrible. With a growing population (outward–ahem, the sprawl of West Run) there is a serious lack of parking. Because of this, it’s also no surprise that the towing companies are sketchy in this area.

https://twitter.com/T_money0807/status/401015230307643393

https://twitter.com/asmead802/status/402835305881149440

The good news is there are some people and groups trying to fix these problems.

  • Shannon Martin, a Morgantown native and sophomore at West Virginia University is working on extending the amount of time you can park at the meter. It varies by location in Morgantown, but the maximum time is typically 10 hours. Considering Morgantown’s demographics (a large college-age population) and tourism in the area, this rule is inconvenient for students and visitors. Between move-in day for students, home football games and other attractions that bring tourists to our hometown, parking in Morgantown has a large impact. Martin is currently working on a petition to extend these hours.
  • SALA recently had a “Know Your Rights” campaign to raise awareness of towing companies breaking the rules. Check out this recent article about Ben Seebaugh’s experience with the towing companies around here.
  • The City of Morgantown is trying–really! With the Morgantown Parking Authority, the City of Morgantown featured a parking spot of the week this past summer, though they stopped in July. (They do have a decent, up-to-date map on the site that’s pretty helpful.) The Parking Authority also lets you pay citations online now, which is very convenient for students.
  • WVU is helping, too. (Here’s a handy map they made!) On Sundays they have a little-known shopping shuttle that goes out to the mall and the University Town Center so you don’t have to make the drive. Similar to the City of Morgantown, they let you pay WVU parking tickets online, too.

Keep in mind you don’t necessarily need your car in Morgantown, anyway (here’s looking at you, incoming freshmen!) Though it is rickety, the PRT  is a great alternative to driving around Morgantown. Mountain Line is another great option for going back and forth among campuses. The Caperton Trail (known as the Rail Trail) is another great way to get around Morgantown that’s healthy and fun. Additionally, all of these are free for students (you don’t even have to pay for gasoline!)

Riding the PRT is a great way to travel around Morgantown! (Though arguably, this video is terrifying.)

video from West Virginia University Transportation and Parking

What are your thoughts on parking in Morgantown?

Four Reasons to Say No to the Waste-Water Well

There is a proposed fracking waste-water well one mile from Masontown, W.Va., less than 500 feet away from Decker’s Creek and the Rail Trail. This potentially produces many risks for the Masontown area and Morgantown.

The red triangle shows the proposed location of the well. The blue line shows Decker’s Creek which runs into the Monongahela River in Morgantown. This is where Morgantown gets its drinking water.

The idea of a waste-water well can be confusing.

“This one is not a fracking well, it’s fracking fluid that can’t be recycled anymore. That old waste water is being injected into a vertical well near Masontown,” said Brian Bellew, a junior geology student at West Virginia University and member of the grassroots group No Injection Well.

This isn’t something you want in your backyard (or for that matter, upstream). Here are four reasons why you should be against this waste-water well:

1. Water Contamination. The biggest reason people are against this well is the potential for water contamination. If this well leaks into Decker’s Creek, it will make its way into the Monongahela River and thus into Morgantown’s water system.

According to Bellew, this waste-water well would contain “99 percent water mixed with really fine quartz sand, mixed with a whole batch of chemicals that are harmful to the human body and a lot of other chemicals that are also unnamed that haven’t been released. I know one is Toulene, which is poison.”

“Stress from the high pressure can compromise the well casing, resulting in groundwater contamination” according to No Injection Well’s website. This wouldn’t be the first time it’s happened.

2. Worsening Road Conditions. The roads in this area are small and unpaved, using only dirt and gravel. Large trucks like those with big tanks have no place on a tiny road; they will only destroy them. Not unlike all of West Virginia, the roads are windy, and they pass through residential neighborhoods and the Rail Trail, too.

If one of these trucks crashes, the results could be devastating for the area. Again, this wouldn’t be the first time it has happened.

3. Discouragement of Recreation on the Rail Trail. Since this road passes through the trail, the large trucks will discourage the recreation on the Rail Trail.

As the group’s website states, “Over the last 20 years, the City of Morgantown, Monongalia and Preston Counties, and the State of West Virginia have invested over $10 million in restoring the Deckers Creek Watershed and creating a natural recreational destination.  Let’s not allow that effort and money go to waste!”

4. No Economic Benefit for West Virginia. The people of West Virginia don’t see any of the money from this well or fracking company. The Energy Corporation of America, who owns the well, will gain all the profit and economic benefits. Not only do the people of Masontown and Morgantown not receive any benefits, but property values will go down in the Masontown area due to the unattractiveness of the waste-water well and trucks driving through.

Keep West Virginia wild and wonderful and a great place to live.

Keep West Virginia wild and wonderful and a great place to live.

The EPA does have stated regulations on waste-water wells, however horizontal drilling is fairly new so not all of the effects have been thoroughly tested. And as Bellew said, “just because it isn’t illegal doesn’t mean it’s not horrible.”

Interested in joining the cause? Check out No Injection Well’s website and be sure to sign the petition.

More to Morgantown

There’s more to Morgantown than fraternities, fires and football. While many West Virginia University students consider it temporary living, many families call Morgantown home.

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Hazel Ruby McQuain Park along the Rail Trail. Many residents choose to live in Morgantown for the gorgeous natural beauty and the benefits of living in a town with a fantastic economic position (like the rail trail along the Monongahela River).

Whether students realize it or not, they affect the greater Morgantown area significantly. House parties in South Park are just a few blocks away from the local high school. Monongalia County schools often dismiss their students early when there’s game-day traffic. Families live on those streets where couches are burned. Morgantown residents know the students very well, but the students rarely take the time to meet the residents. Morgantown boasts great diversity in its landscape, buildings and people, and there are a lot of folks worth getting to know.

Karyn Mock Hoskinson has lived in Morgantown since she was 6 months old. She loved it so much, she never left. She got a job with WVU Healthcare working at Ruby Memorial Hospital and raised her daughter, Hannah here.

Mock Hoskinson lives by the Mountaineer Mall, also known as the “old mall.” This area has changed a lot within the past decade or so. It used to hold a Walmart, Elder Beerman, a Gabriel Brothers among many other shops. Today it holds some offices for Mylan Pharmaceuticals and a few smaller businesses.

The change has really affected where Mock Hoskinson shops. Obviously, there aren’t many stores right next door anymore, and due to urban sprawl in the growing Morgantown area, she can no longer walk to where she needs to go.

“It is depressing that we build things and then stop using them,” she said.

Mock Hoskinson does love Morgantown, though. She enjoys the culture and diversity the university brings along with being able to live in the same city as her daughter, a current WVU student. She also loves the size of the college town.

“It is small, but not too small. It is small enough to know people and see them when you are out, but not so small that people are constantly in your business.”

Jenny and Nathan Wilson are two other locals in the area that love Morgantown, too. Along with their son, Evan, they have their own jazz band: the Jenny Wilson Trio. They play concerts at local venues like Black Bear, the Pines Country Club and more. Nathan was even recently featured on America’s Got Talent.

The Wilsons have been living in Morgantown for about 11 years.

“Morgantown has played a role in our success as a couple,” Nathan said.

“We love to go to Coopers Rock and go out on the lake and walk to the library. It’s very romantic,” Jenny said.

Although they love Morgantown, they admit it’s not perfect.

“I don’t appreciate the trash. There are little areas of town that just look like hell. I mean, just dirty, like garbage everywhere, and it’s depressing to walk through that,” she said.

Even so, Morgantown is home, and it was the perfect place to raise their two children.

“I think when you put all the pieces together that make up Morgantown: the university, the river, Cheat Lake, Coopers Rock, the variety of restaurants, proximity to Pittsburgh, proximity to Washington D.C., the little bit of nature that’s left over from all the developing, you’ve got a pretty nice place to live. It offers you culture, nature, the youthful population which makes it exciting and also an elderly population,” she said.

These are just two examples. Go out and meet the locals. Next time you’re eating dinner at Black Bear, supporting a candidate at a local political rally or just walking downtown, stop and take in where you are. Look at the art, the architecture and ambiance of Morgantown. Introduce yourself to the person sitting next to you; you might be surprised they have a Morgantown all their own. Morgantown is an extraordinary place, and like the culture and friendship that defines the town, it is meant to be shared.

Morgantown’s Best Neighborhoods for Trick or Treating

Morgantown is known for its college and beautiful scenery. Unfortunately, both affect where local kids can go trick or treating.

College neighborhoods are not the place for young kids to be roaming the streets asking for candy. In Morgantown, this includes neighborhoods like Sunnyside and parts of South Park. Rural seclusion also adds to places you can’t trick or treat. Many kids in Morgantown don’t live in actual neighborhoods or suburbia. There are either too few neighbors to even bother getting candy or the terrain is too difficult for younger kids to roam.

Here I’ve compiled nine great neighborhoods to take your kids for Halloween. As a townie, I know first hand where the safest areas are (and of course, where to get the most candy!) Check out the map in full to see all the details.

Best neighborhoods for trick or treating in the Morgantown metropolitan area. Green = best for babies and younger children (to about second grade); Yellow = best for grades 3 through 5; Red = best for middle schoolers; Blue = great for anyone and everyone

The darker the shade, the better the candy!

Eastgate:

Eastgate is a small neighborhood off of Summer School Road in Morgantown. This neighborhood has three parallel roads with a lot of houses close together. This makes it easy for younger kids to walk because there aren’t so many side streets and turns, and it is fairly small for the amount of houses, so it’s easy to gather a lot of candy. There is some parking located at the entrance of Eastgate, but there isn’t much so take that into account.

Brookhaven:

Brookhaven is focused around the elementary school, so there are a lot of younger families in this area that are excited for Halloween. The area is bigger than Eastgate, but is really easy to walk because it isn’t very hilly. Many students of Brookhaven Elementary trick or treat here, so this is a good area for elementary school kids. There is parking at the school.

Westover:

Westover encompasses a very large area so approach this neighborhood with the mentality of “I’m not going to do the whole thing.” If you do as much as you can, you can still get a good bit of candy, and it’s good for every age group. There are some local businesses nearby where you can park, but use caution.

Woodburn:

Woodburn is another area with a lot of young families, so it’s great for elementary school kids. Keep in mind, though, many college kids do live in this neighborhood, and you’ll probably want to avoid them. You can park at Woodburn Elementary.

South Park:

South Park, like Woodburn, boasts a lot of college kids. However, if you only trick or treat in the non-college parts, you’ll be fine. South Park is a gorgeous neighborhood where many parents enjoy the walk, too. Due to the hilly terrain and college kids, this area is best for middle schoolers. You can park at Morgantown High School or along certain streets.

Star City:

Star City is good for middle schoolers and kids who can handle walking long distances. The houses are pretty spread out, but they offer a decent amount of candy and a nice neighborhood feel. There should be parking in the various businesses or down by the waterfront.

Graystone:

candy

DID YOU SAY CANDY?
Graystone is one of the best places in Morgantown to get candy.

Locals know that this is the place to go to get the best candy. As a high class neighborhood, full candy bars are often given out to trick-or-treaters. Keep in mind, this neighborhood isn’t walkable, so you’ll have to drive the whole time. Bonus: You don’t have to search for parking!

First Ward:

First Ward has lots of streets perfect for older kids who want to get the most candy, but it also is relatively small so it’s easy for little kids to walk. Located by South Middle School, there are a lot of families in this neighborhood who are excited to see trick or treaters. There is parking at Jack Roberts Park or the middle school, though the park is closer.

Suncrest:

Located by Suncrest Middle School, the Suncrest neighborhood is a great place to trick or treat for middle schoolers. Although it’s big in size, the terrain is relatively flat making it easy for younger kids as well. Similar to First Ward, many families live in this area making it a safe, fun place to trick or treat. You can park at Suncrest Middle School.

With this guide, a little safety research ahead of time and a good costume, your family is sure to have a great Halloween no matter where you live. Happy Halloween!