Mayor Steve Williams likes to meet with his constituents often. During one of his visits to the student center at Marshall University, the students invited him to get his blood sugar checked. It was very high. With a little encouragement from the students, the mayor started taking steps to get healthier.
It was also students from Marshall University who came up with the idea for The Wild Ramp, the local food market run primarily by volunteers. The students first identified the lack of access to local, healthy food in parts of Huntington. They then worked with Create Huntington, a citizen group that also includes the mayor, to turn the idea into a reality. In 2014, The Wild Ramp opened up in a building the city leases to them for a dollar a year.
The operation is still primarily run by volunteers with only a few paid positions. Since opening, The Wild Ramp has helped 145 local famers sell their produce and expanded access to healthy food.
“When citizens come up with initiatives, we analyze if we have policy that contradicts this and overcome it,” said former City Manager Margaret Mary Layne. “We provide them resources and technical assistance to become successful.”