WAYLAND – The little town of Wayland is a town on the move. Once a bustling coal town, the city has been in decline since the coal industry left Eastern Kentucky. Mayor Jerry Fultz and the Wayland City Commission, consisting of Kathy Mills, Charles Butch Bentley, Attorney Tyler Green Craig Case, Curtis Lee, and City Clerk Sharon Anderson have worked tirelessly to develop other avenues to create economic development and generate pride and hope among the city’s citizens. In hopes of changing the atmosphere in their tiny community, Mayor Fultz and the City Commission look for different ways to create a community the citizens of Wayland can be proud of. One thing the City of Wayland is proud of is the Mountain Sports Hall of Fame, home of basketball legend King Kelly Coleman.
Fultz and the Wayland City Commission and are working to create a museum worthy of promoting tourism in the small Appalachian town. The gym – built in 1937 – is in need of updates and repairs. From 1953-1956, the gym was known as the Palace of King Kelly Coleman, the small town player that Adolf Rupp once called the greatest high school basketball player to ever live. During Coleman’s high school basketball career, he scored a total of 4,337 points and set records that still stand today.
The City of Wayland and the Wayland Historical Society purchased the Wayland Gym in 2005. The Historical Society purchased the building in hopes of restoring it back to its former glory, and plans to move the Mountain Sports Hall of Fame into the gym once renovation is complete. The museum will contain objects from various sports legends throughout the region from 36 counties. A model of the project is on display at the Historical Society.
The city relies on grants to complete projects such as the gym. Fultz is a master at finding and applying for grants that will give his tiny community better parks, playgrounds, and recreational facilities. The city received a grant from the State Forestry Department to cover the planning fee of the gym and the Mountain Sports Hall of Fame. The city has also benefited from a Center for Rural Development Grant offered through the Soar Project.
“We want to create a Health and Wellness Recreational center and gym with an indoor walking track, new dressing rooms, and possibly have exercise classes that our citizens will want to come out and take a part of,” Fultz said. “We are planning on moving the Mountain Sports Hall of Fame over to the gym once renovations are completed. It will be a living museum.”
The city has applied for a grant of $500,000 that will enable it to complete the gym project. In addition to the grant. the city also has partnered with the ARH Clinic and received a Community Development Block Grant that has enabled it to give the city a much needed facelift, which includes waterfall overlooking the new park. The City of Wayland is also part of the Rails to Trails, Recreation and Trails Program. The city is currently working on creating an outdoor walking track and trails the citizens of Wayland can take advantage of and promote tourism in their small city.
“We have various groups come in and want tour the gym and also the Coal museum and Mountain Sports Hall of Fame,” Fultz commented. “A retired coal miner speaks to tour groups and shows them the various tools used in the coal mines of Eastern Kentucky throughout history.”
The Wayland Historical Society also has a small soda shop where tourists can get a cold cola for 10 cents and a candy bar for a nickel. The City of Prestonsburg has recently donated some large shelves and cabinets that once belonged to the Prestonsburg Tourism Commission and housed Rainer Racing trophies. Fultz and the City Commission are constantly working to find grants and services that will benefit the citizens in their community. Fultz recently attended a meeting for the ARC (Appalachian Regional Commission) 2016 Power Initiative Technical Assistance Grant. ARC’s goals are to promote economic opportunities, ready workforce, critical infrastructure support, promote natural and cultural assets and build leadership and community capacity.
Progress is being made on the trails project currently going on in the City of Wayland. The Mountain Sports Hall of Fame will be moved to its new location once renovation is completed. For more information on the Mountain Sports Hall of Fame, contact Fultz at (606) 477-5180.
Andrea Saddler is a reporter for the Floyd County Times. She can be reached at (606) 886-8506.