Whites Mill Foundation Gets Another $15,000 in Welfare for 2011

by Lewis Loflin

White's Mill is a late 18th century vintage grain grinding mill. It shut down around 1989 because it simply wasn't viable as a real business. But who has to be viable as a business when tax dollars up for the grabbing are floating around for those with the proper political connections? So something called the White's Mill Foundation was setup to get the money and save this rotting eyesore at the edge of Abingdon that's noted for its 1930s metal water wheel.

Their business plan according to their website is to sell the usual hillbilly memorabilia at something called the Mercantile;

handmade quilts, fabric art, and wall decorations
artwork of various styles depicting White's Mill and the southern Appalachian region
books of Appalachian writing
CDs of local and regional music
much, much more from over 100 local artisans

They ask, "Where else can you refresh yourself with a cold root beer and a Moon Pie?" How about any gas station? This is the same old failed nonsense other tourism venues promote here and they can't pay their bills or generate any jobs either. That's why they have to be bailed out by the taxpayer. What bank would be stupid enough to fund something like this? Guess who paid to refurbish the thing? Need I say? According to the Bristol Herald Courier (April 13, 2009) this works in three phases:

Phase 1 used $85,000 in state and federal grants to fix the crumbling foundation.

Phase II, which they were into at the time of the writing, was funded by over $400,000 in state and federal transportation money. This misuse of transportation funding is common in this region while roads are full of potholes. This paid to make the crumbling structure more sound "repairing windows, siding, structural timbers, stonework and other aspects of the building."

The status of the water wheel is unclear and Phase 3 is supposed to get the gears and machine part of the mill back into shape and get water flowing again. That was unfunded as of 2009. A Mr. Price that heads the Foundation believes all of this is worth it. To quote,

"If you really think about it, a lot of children growing up, as far as they're concerned, bread comes off the shelf at the grocery store...I had never taken on a project like this. It just spurred me because I thought, 'Yeah, it needs to be done. If nobody's going to do anything, I'm going to have to.' And it became a necessity with me that it had to be done or the mill was not going to be there."

Really? Our children are going to be thrilled to watch corn being ground in an old mill costing taxpayers likely $1 million and will be floated on public funds forever? What about the children of this community? To quote Kevin Crutchfield, President Alpha Natural Resources, January 15, 2009 in Abingdon:

"It's a little-known fact that roughly 20 percent of the children in Southwest Virginia live below the poverty line and go hungry every night."

Perhaps those hungry kids can get a few bags of stone ground corn meal to take home? After all funding that should have went for public services instead paid for this.

They bought the Mill for $200,000 and Mr. Price says, "We got money from the county, the town ... a $100,000 grant from the state, and then local businesses contributed substantially, plus private donations, and that's how we bought it."

He claims it will produce all kinds of tax revenue, etc. There's no proof of that and the latest $15,000 bailout will cost more than it will ever produce in taxes. Their website is at Please buy some of their over priced crap and help make them self-supporting.

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