Sipes Promoting County Through His Award-Winning Work

by admin on February 16, 2016

Sipes: ‘Preston County is uniquely suited for growth,’ Terra Alta resident promoting county through his award-winning work

TERRA ALTA — At the age of 5, Leonard Sipes Jr. would often find himself in the backseat of his family’s vehicle to take a drive to the Mountain State from their home in Baltimore.

Once he was old enough to drive, he continued that tradition in his Jeep Wrangler, inviting friends to go off-roading with him in Preston County or go whitewater rafting on the Youghiogheny River in Pennsylvania.

From the depths of his earliest childhood memories, Sipes can still recall the feeling of awe and excitement as his family and friends would take the drive through Preston County. The laidback lifestyle of the community and its people were a refreshing change of pace from their lives in Baltimore.

“They all remark as to how beautiful it is, the drive from Alpine Lake to Morgantown,” he said. “It’s the beauty of the county. It’s the idea of being in a natural environment that is so incredibly beautiful. You take the backroads, the sideroads — as I like to do — and do photography, you find the county itself is filled with beautiful little nooks and crannies. All you have to do is get off the roads and go explore.”

By promoting the county through a myriad of avenues, Sipes said it can attract more people to the area. Through his work in public relations and marketing, he is showcasing the unique beauty and attributes of Preston County through video, audio and photos. Videos and audio files are posted on his website at and are also promoted through his own social media accounts.

Most recently, he did promotional videos for Alpine Lake, where he has owned a home for the past seven years and the Aurora Project Barn Dance, a 501©3 charitable project devoted to keeping the arts alive in Appalachia.

An award-winning media affairs and social media manager with 35 years of national and state government experience, Sipes has been hosting radio and television shows in the Washington, D.C. region and has won multiple awards for best podcast, best audio, and also has won awards from hosting and producing television shows.

Economic development is his ultimate objective, as he feels Preston County is uniquely suited for growth. Centered between several metropolitan areas like Morgantown, Deep Creek Lake and Garrett County, it could draw more people from those areas by showcasing the attributes that make it a great place to live. Within the mountainous and rural county, for example, are a great selection of restaurants and outdoor activities to enjoy year round.

“We prefer eating and staying and spending our money in Preston County than going to a tourist area like Deep Creek Lake or even going to a metro area like Morgantown,” he said. “I’ve never had a bad meal at Monroe’s.”

Not only is there affordable housing in the county and a lower crime rate than surrounding areas like Washington, D.C., but Sipes also said he believes the culture and environment are enticing qualities.

“It just strikes me that there is a possibility that Preston County is uniquely suited for growth,” he said. “It’s a matter of marketing, and it’s a matter of making sure that others outside the area are aware of the beauty and the friendliness of the people.”

In many conversations with residents from D.C., Sipes could see the interest in building a residency within the county. However, many of those interested individuals didn’t proceed after seeing the condition of the roads, he said, which is hurting economic development to some degree.

Others who decided to relocate to the county from major metropolitan areas are enjoying the benefits of a laidback lifestyle, Sipes said, and are adding to the tax base without taking much in return.

“These are individuals who pump literally hundreds of thousands of dollars into the economy of Preston County and West Virginia and really take little to nothing in return,” Sipes said. “They don’t send their kids to local schools. They don’t take anything away from existing services. All they do is add to the tax base, so I would think these would be people that Preston County and the state would want to go overboard to attract.”

While the condition of the roads can deter potential residents, Sipes said there is more than enough positive qualities to outweigh any cons. An easy commute to three metropolitan areas for a lower cost of living is encouraging for baby boomers, who are interested in building a vacation home for retreats or a future retirement home.

“They see it as eventually something they can move into upon retiring, so some are taking a look at long-range plans to making Preston County their future,” he said.

What Sipes is starting through his own promotional purposes is something he hopes the county and the Preston County Chamber of Commerce will follow suit on in the future.

“Preston County and the Chamber of Commerce needs to embrace social media, needs to embrace YouTube, needs to embrace Facebook, needs to embrace all the strategies possible to promote Preston County,” Sipes said, adding that a day tour of the county like he once did with his family and friends in his childhood is enough to sell people on the region.

“We go throughout the area to see the beauty, and we may stop for dinner in Morgantown, and I have yet to see individuals leave that experience without a big smile on their face.”

Seeing the potential the county has for its current residents, Sipes wants to let others in on what he describes as a treasure. Upon retirement from his telecommute in Washington, D.C. in the near future, he plans to put complete focus on his website and will do work for nonprofits at little to no cost. Additionally, he conducts interviews with families and individuals who wish to preserve their family’s history.

“Preston County is a gem,” Sipes said. “I’m just not sure everyone sees the same gem as we do or as maybe people from the outside do. We love the beauty. We love the peacefulness. We love the friendliness, and we love the low taxes.”

Once outsiders are here, there is no question in his mind that they will see not only the great qualities that make Preston County what it is, but also the sense of pride so many residents have for living in the Mountain State.

From the many years that Sipes spent time traveling through West Virginia with family and friends or traveling the world, he has never seen that same level of pride elsewhere.

“I don’t know of many states that promote itself as strongly as West Virginia does,” he said. “There seems to be a pride there, and it seems to be a sense of place, and most people acknowledge that they live in a special area. That’s how I feel about West Virginia based on the friendliness of its people. There seems to be a lot of pride in the area, and we recognize that, and I think outsiders are drawn to that.”

For more information or requests for promotional multimedia, visit his website

Posted by the Preston County News Journal



Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: