A small, central West Virginia community overlooking the Elk River is the next destination for the West Virginia University Community Design Team (CDT) April 26-28.

Clay is a beautiful community that has a great resource in the Elk River,said Meghan Stalebrink, CDT program coordinator.One of our goals is to help them utilize it and bring the river back into the community.

With a population just over 600, addressing the issues of health care, economic development, tourism and general beautification of the downtown area are among several community priorities, Stalebrink said.

Experts from WVU programs in landscape architecture, resource management and public administration will be on hand to help address those issues. Chris Plein, public administration division chair, will lead the Clay team.

Two WVU alumni, Scott Frederickson and Roger Kennedy, will represent two local businesses on the team. Frederickson, a civil engineering graduate, is the regional office manager at Gannett Fleming, Inc. Kennedy, a landscape architecture graduate, will represent Chapman Technical Group.

Like communities the team has helped in the past, Clay is a member of the Recruitable Community Program (RCP). Initiated in 1998, the RCP focuses on increasing a rural communitys recruiting potential for health care professionals.

The community health center, Primary Care Systems, Inc., serves most of the population of this small community along with surrounding areas and is currently having difficultly with the recruitment and retention of health care providers,explained Nancy Melton, program coordinator in the West Virginia Division of Rural Health and Recruitment.

A health care team assembled by the RCP will collaborate with the design team during the three day visit. The team will be lead by Dr. Ken Shannon, research director in the WVU School of Medicine and consultant for the Recruitable Community Program.

The CDT Health Care Team conducts interviews with the health care centers management personnel and their health care providers in an effort to determine and resolve issues pertaining to recruitment and retention,Melton said.

The teams will spend Friday, April 27, getting to know the needs of the community based on ideas presented by its citizens. On Saturday, April 28, the CDT will generate ideas, create and give a presentation of their recommendations. An oral report regarding the health care facility will also be given that evening. Both meetings will be held at 7 p.m. at the Lions Club on Main St.

After the initial presentation, the teams will collaborate to provide the community with written reports in about four to six weeks as well as schedule a six-month follow-up.

The CDT charges a nominal fee of $4,000 that is used to cover general operating expenses and the production of the subsequent report. However, since Clay is a recruitable community, the cost of the services is $5,000 and funded through the Division of Rural Health and Recruitment.

The Community Design Team is a program of the WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Consumer Sciences Division of Resource Management with contributions from WVU Extension and numerous other agencies and organizations.