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Ribbon cutting celebrates grand opening of Highmark West Virginia Downtown Community Garden

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (May 8, 2015) — A ribbon cutting ceremony was held today for the newly completed Highmark West Virginia Downtown Community Garden at Point Park Marketplace. The City of Parkersburg, the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, the Wood County Development Authority and Downtown PKB, along with local schools and community members, joined Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia to celebrate the grand opening of the community garden.

Funded by Highmark West Virginia, the garden will provide a park-like atmosphere for people to work together, build community bonds, provide educational opportunities and grow fresh produce for participants, schools and local food banks.

"This is an exciting day," said Fred Earley, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia president. "Improving the health of the communities we serve is fundamental to our mission and values, and the community garden will provide a means for local residents, schools and businesses to build better skills for healthy living. It will be an asset to downtown Parkersburg for many years to come."

In addition to 49 raised-bed plots, including five handicap-accessible beds, the garden also features a fountain, sidewalks and a 16-by-20-foot greenhouse to be used for educational purposes.

"We are very excited to see this community garden at Point Park Marketplace in Parkersburg," said West Virginia Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick. "We salute Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia for stepping forward to fund the effort and make it a reality. The movement is on in our country to get fresh, healthy, locally grown food onto the dinner table. Projects like this help to promote and educate the citizenry about agriculture at the local level and it will lead to more people growing their own food."

Helmick also thanked the City of Parkersburg, Downtown PKB and the Wood County Development Authority for providing support for the garden.

About Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia serves approximately 280,000 customers through the company's health care benefits business and also serves tens of thousands of additional members through the Blue Card program. Highmark West Virginia employs approximately 800 people in Parkersburg, Charleston and Wheeling. Highmark West Virginia is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more information, visit www.highmark.com.
For more information, contact:
Kristy Cramlet
Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia
304-424-9888
kristy.cramlet@highmarkhealth.org