Richwood Mayor Speaks Out

Gregory’s Web
by Ron Gregory
According to Richwood Mayor Bob Henry Baber, Huntington did its part. So too did several towns, cities, private citizens and businesses across the state. For its part, Huntington Mayor Steve Williams donated holiday trees to Baber’s town, which was devastated by last summer’s flooding. To say nearly nothing is the same in Richwood these days is an understatement. The town, as we knew it, was destroyed.
One ray of hope for reclamation of the town, its heritage and its lifeblood came when the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced it would provide funding to rebuild two destroyed schools, Richwood Middle and Richwood High School.
The intervening weeks, however, have seen local political machinations essentially “take” the funds from the devastation in Richwood and “give” it to the pristine, non-flooded area of Summersville. For years, Nicholas County operated with a high school enigma. The one located in Summersville was inappropriately known as Nicholas County High while Richwood High remained open serving its 200 or 300 students. Generally, a “county high” designation means there is just one such entity serving an entire county’s school population.
Now, after many rancorous public hearings and meetings, Summersville will get what it always wanted. As Baber says, “the people are stealing our schools under the guise of a devastating flood. It’s ridiculous.”
Powers-that-be at the statehouse, particularly at the state Board of Education, have never seen a consolidation they didn’t like. The die is cast and Richwood loses again.
Baber has one potential move he’d still like to try, hoping to alter the outcome. He wants to take the Richwood Lumberjack band to play music in front of the White House. He hopes that would attract enough attention to make consolidation proponents pause. “I’m no Trump supporter,” said Baber, “but maybe he’ll see or hear us and come out to see what’s going on. I DO think he’d understand how outrageous this is.”