Compton Family Again On Cutting Edge With Charles Pointe Development

The Bridgeport Times

By Alexis McDaniel

BRIDGEPORT (Saturday, November 4, 2000, Page 1)

Harrison County’s Charles E. "Jim" Compton has a history of progressive thinking in West Virginia.

According to Dorothy Davis in "The History of Harrison County," he invented the coal auger, which can drill a hole nearly a city block long through solid coal in less than 15 minutes with the shavings coming out at the rate of three tons a minute. He remodeled the old tinplate building in east Clarksburg in the early 1950’s, where coal mining machinery was manufactured, she wrote.

His leadership helped establish the School of Nutrition at West Virginia University. And he quietly made contributions to better the way of life for area residents in numerous other ways.

Now the family name is behind a new forward-thinking project, named after Jim Compton, called Charles Pointe. The master-planned community is expected to bring in $750 million in investments to Harrison County as it is developed over the next decade or more. It will incorporate technology, tourism and shopping, research and residential housing on what is now a 2,000-acre farm. It will feature high-tech "smart homes" that will be an attractive lifestyle for the high-tech workers, who will be working in that area as the economy develops.

James Corton, president of Genesis Partners, and his wife Jennifer Compton Corton, announced the plans for Charles Pointe at a ceremony at the site that borders I-79 and the new Bridgeport Bypass on Oct. 25. The family invited local folks to the Benedum Civic Center, then shuttled them in vans to a hill overlooking the Benedum Airport and what will be an 18-hole championship golf course. Then, after the announcement, the guests were treated to a lunch at the civic center.

Jennifer Compton Corton said her father loves West Virginia and has always worked to make it a better place. "His blood runs blue and gold," she joked at the ceremony. The farm is primarily vacant, except for a buffalo, ponds and a few houses. Jennifer Compton Corton said the farm is her father’s favorite place on Earth, but that he didn’t want to hoard the property and wanted to share its beauty with others.

Jim Compton is ill, she said, and the family has been discussing the future for some time. Seven years ago, they started with the idea for Charles Pointe. Two years ago, the details began to be mapped out as the Compton and Corton families spent $2 million in research and planning.

The money included a feasibility study that showed the community could be successful in West Virginia. Genesis Partners is the company that will sell and market the project to others. A Washington, D.C., public relations firm is promoting the community.

The city of Bridgeport and a private developer are making the first investments in Charles Pointe by building a $9 million hotel and conference center complex. The city will work with its building commission to work on a funding plan for its share, which would be about $1.5 million, City Manager Kim Haws said. It will likely be funded by selling bonds.

"Those discussions are forthcoming," he said. The property is currently outside of Bridgeport’s city limits and will be annexed.

"Charles Pointe provides an excellent opportunity for our city to grow, not just in numbers, but in quality of life and new jobs," Bridgeport Mayor L. J. Timms said. The community has support from national political leaders.

"I am delighted to be a full partner in the planning and development of Charles Pointe. Since we met last year to discuss various elements of your project, I have been very pleased by the progress you have made," Sen. John D. Rockefeller said in a letter. "Charles Pointe is a tremendously ambitious project, of course. It is more than a place for families to live, work and play – Charles Pointe is a vision of what West Virginia’s future can be."

Rockefeller also noted the contributions of Jim Compton. "It is fitting that a project so much on the cutting edge, so much a part of West Virginia’s future, be named in honor of Mr. Compton…His contributions to our state, and your family’s continued commitment to it, makes Charles Pointe a fitting legacy."