Richwood mayor keeps up anti-consolidation fight

By MetroNews Staff in News
RICHWOOD, W.Va. — Mayor Bob Henry Baber says Richwood has been all but broken by the June floods. He says adding the threat of consolidation to the mix is simply going too far.

The Nicholas County Board of Education is getting public input on the matter through a series of upcoming public hearings that start this week. The first hearing will be this Friday, Feb. 24, at Summersville Middle School.
The second hearing will be Feb. 27 at Nicholas County High School.

On March 1, a hearing about Richwood Middle School will take place at Cherry River Elementary School.

The Richwood High School hearing will be March 3 at Cherry River Elementary School.

The Nicholas County Career/Technical Center hearing will be March 6 at Nicholas County Career/Technical Center.

Each hearing will start at 6 p.m.

Already, to kick back against a decision that Baber calls “cruel and unusual punishment,” Baber and the Save Our Schools Coalition have brought lawsuit against the Nicholas County Board of Education to stop consolidation of five county schools.

The proposal from the board is to close the Nicholas County High School, Richwood High School and Nicholas County Career/Technical Center into one high school at the close of the 2020 school year.

Richwood Middle School and Summersville Middle School would be consolidated into a new middle school at the end of the 2020 school year.

Both new schools would be at Glade Creek Business Park.

“The city council unanimously passed a resolution in support of the lawsuit,” Baber said. “I want you to know that we’re united as a city council, as a city, and as a mayor. We’re all together in this.”

Baber says he’s been trying to figure out how everything turned out this way.

“How did we get to this place when the superintendent in the beginning, and the board, said they were going to put these schools back, and FEMA made the commitment to pay for them?” Baber asked. “How did we get to this bad place? It’s a shame.”

Baber says he had a feeling that consolidation was coming for the county, but there wasn’t much anyone could do at that point.”

“We kind of knew this was heading towards consolidation a long time ago,” Baber said.
“Months and months ago, frankly, when they went silent on us. But you really can’t push back against silence.”

Baber says the town has suffered enough.

“This contentious, vile, nasty, unneeded consolidation being done on the basis of a flood has absolutely put the city of Richwood emotionally over the edge,” he said.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this. I’ve never experienced cruel and unusual punishment that has been rained down on a town that has been flooded.”