Fayette County

On this West Virginia Morning, we continue hearing from and about kids. In this show, we highlight the conversation black families have with their teenagers about the police, and we share a special note from a mom to her kids about injustice and oppression. Also, we hear from a career school graduate in Fayette County who explores the reputation of career and trade schools as higher education institutions.  

Annetta Coffman

This story was updated on June 16, 2020, at 4:50 p.m. to include a statement from the Environmental Protection Agency. 

The rain poured down for hours on Sunday, slamming the valleys of Fayette County with water. As the earth became saturated, local streams swelled. 

Minden resident Marie Collins said the water washed out the underpinning of her house.

“We had to sleep in the car last night,” Collins said on Monday. 


On this West Virginia Morning, we share a youth report on an athlete’s perseverance. We also hear about what high schools in West Virginia are doing about graduation ceremonies, and we check in with communities cleaning up after flooding this weekend.

On this West Virginia Morning, we bring you the latest on West Virginia’s primary election. We also hear a report on protests against racism and police brutality in the Ohio Valley region, and we look at an investigation into a public water utility that serves Fayette County.

Fayette County Map
David Benbennick / wikimedia commons

The West Virginia Public Service Commission has opened a general investigation into the quality of water service provided by the Page-Kincaid Public Service District in Fayette County. 

As of May 18th, the entire service district is under a boil water advisory for an unspecified amount of time. It serves more than 600 Fayette County customers.

On March 18, 1905, a freak incident led to a mine disaster at Red Ash in Fayette County. Thirteen men were under ground when a mine car ran over some explosives, igniting coal dust. The massive explosion killed all 13 miners. The next day, members of a rescue party were carelessly carrying open-flame lights. 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we visit the small town of Ona, West Virginia to learn about the Ona Speedway racetrack. We also hear from high school students in Fayette County, and we hear a conversation on higher education challenges in the state.

Caitlin Tan / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Little creatures are popping up on the streets of downtown Fayetteville, W.Va. People might find them hiding in trees, behind bushes, on benches or even inside local shops.

“Cause at this point, we’re like a gnome explosion,” said Tabitha Stover, Fayetteville Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director.


November 1, 1968: Charles Rogers of Fayette County Earned Medal of Honor

Nov 1, 2019
Charles Rogers of Fayette County earned the Medal of Honor for his actions during a battle in the Vietnam War.
Photo Courtesy of HomeOfHeroes.com

On November 1, 1968, Charles Rogers of Fayette County earned the Medal of Honor for his actions during a battle in the Vietnam War. The 40-year-old Rogers had previously received Army ROTC training at West Virginia State College (now University).

In the early hours of November 1, he was commanding an army infantry battalion near the Cambodian border. The fire-support base he was protecting was under attack from heavy shelling and a ground wave assault.

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Fayette County has been designated as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, or HIDTA. The designation allows for more resources to combat the opioid epidemic.

Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy

As the Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy continues to graduate more West Virginia teens than ever, its leaders say the program has reached its capacity for the existing facility at Camp Dawson.

Legislation from the most recent special session advocates not only for an expansion there in Preston County, but for a second location in Fayette County. Lawmakers didn’t specify in writing where they want the new academy to go, but many are confident it will end up being at the former WVU Tech campus in Montgomery. 

July 3, 1989: Governor Okey Patteson Dies

Jul 3, 2019
Okey Patteson
E-WV

On July 3, 1989, West Virginia’s 23rd Governor Okey Patteson died at age 90. As a child, the Mingo County native had moved with his family to Mount Hope in Fayette County, where he later sold cars and real estate.

May 14, 1910: Businessman W. D. Thurmond Dies in Fayette County

May 14, 2019

Businessman W. D. Thurmond died in Fayette County on May 14, 1910, at age 89. He was born in Virginia and came to Fayette County as a young man with his family in 1845.

During the Civil War, he served as a captain with Thurmond’s Rangers—a Confederate guerrilla force commanded by his brother Philip, who was killed in Putnam County in 1864. According to his family, W. D. Thurmond remained an “unreconstructed Rebel” the rest of his long life.

March 1, 1925: New River Pocahontas Coal Company Acquires Kaymoor

Mar 1, 2019
Kaymoor
Jet Lowe, HAER staff photographer / Library of Congress

On March 1, 1925, the New River Pocahontas Coal Company acquired the Fayette County town of Kaymoor and its mining operations.

The new owner, a huge international company, began shipping coal from Kaymoor to the Atlantic Coast in Virginia, where the coal was used to fuel naval and merchant marine vessels.

January 29, 1873: Chesapeake & Ohio Completed

Jan 29, 2019
More than 7,000 men—including many African Americans—laid track through the New River Gorge and cut tunnels through the mountains between Hinton and Covington, Virginia.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

On January 29, 1873, railroad officials gathered at Hawks Nest in Fayette County to drive the last spike on the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway. The C&O, as it was known, connected the Ohio River with the Atlantic Ocean and gave birth to the modern coal and timber industries in southern West Virginia.

Jada Reeves (center) as she was recognized by Gov. Jim Justice during his 2019 State of the State Address.
Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

A fifth-grade teacher has been named West Virginia's Teacher of the Year for 2019.

The state Education Department said in a news release that Jada Reeves of Bradley Elementary in Mount Hope was presented the award on Thursday. It includes more than $15,000 and the use of a new car.

September 28, 1955: Labor Activist Mother Blizzard Dies

Sep 28, 2018
Sarah "Mother" Blizzard
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Labor activist Sarah “Mother” Blizzard died on September 28, 1955, at age 90. She spent her early years on her family’s farm in Fayette County.

August 17, 1944: Heroic Actions Earns Fayette Co. Native Medal of Honor

Aug 17, 2018
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Stanley Bender’s heroic actions on August 17, 1944, would earn him the Medal of Honor. Bender was born in Fayette County in 1909, the son of a coal miner and Russian immigrant. His family moved to Chicago in 1930, and Bender enlisted in the Army in 1939.

E-WV, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

On July 9, 1936, the electric power plant at Union Carbide’s metallurgical plant in Alloy went into operation. The power at the Fayette County plant was generated by water, which flowed through the manmade Hawks Nest Tunnel. Most of the tunnel’s construction had occurred between 1930 and 1932—primarily by black laborers from the South.

July 6, 1934: Coal Operator Sam Dixon Dies at 77

Jul 6, 2018
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Coal operator Sam Dixon died in Raleigh County on July 6, 1934, at age 77. A native of England, Dixon emigrated to Fayette County in the 1870s and worked for a while in his uncle’s coal mine. In 1893, he and a partner opened their own mine in Fayette County, quickly followed by several other mines.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this episode of West Virginia Morning, we’ll learn how a theater company in Morgantown is looking to contribute to community conversations about substance abuse issues ravaging the region. 


CSX train derailment, April 16, 2018, Fayette County.
Courtesy Photo

This is a developing story. Please check back for more details.

Updated Tuesday, April 17 at 12:06 p.m.

New River Gorge National River spokeswoman Julena Campbell said in a news release the engine that derailed landed on its side near the New River.

She said no diesel fuel spilled and that crews are working to remove 5,000 gallons of fuel from the locomotive. CSX stated the ten derailed cars remained upright.

Acts of violence and protests resisting racial integration were features in many American communities in the 1950s and 60s. A tiny town in the coalfields of South Central West Virginia appears to have been a notable exception.

January 12, 1880: W.Va. National Guard Puts Down the First Coal Strike

Jan 12, 2018
Photo of coal miners in West Virginia, 1908
Wikimedia commons

On January 12, 1880, West Virginia National Guard troops arrived at Hawks Nest in Fayette County to put down one of the state’s first coal strikes. The strike started at Montgomery when coal operators told their union miners that nonunion competition from the nearby Hawks Nest mines was hurting business.

Sept. 28, 1955 - Labor Activist Mother Blizzard Dies

Sep 28, 2017
Sarah "Mother" Blizzard
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Labor activist Sarah “Mother” Blizzard died on September 28, 1955, at age 90. She spent her early years on her family’s farm in Fayette County.

August 17, 1944: Heroic Actions Earns Fayete Co. Native Medal of Honor

Aug 17, 2017
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Stanley Bender’s heroic actions on August 17, 1944, would earn him the Medal of Honor. Bender was born in Fayette County in 1909, the son of a coal miner and Russian immigrant. His family moved to Chicago in 1930, and Bender enlisted in the Army in 1939.

July 6, 1934: Coal Operator Sam Dixon Dies at 77

Jul 6, 2017
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Coal operator Sam Dixon died in Raleigh County on July 6, 1934, at age 77. A native of England, Dixon emigrated to Fayette County in the 1870s and worked for a while in his uncle’s coal mine. In 1893, he and a partner opened their own mine in Fayette County, quickly followed by several other mines.

Fayette County Map
David Benbennick / wikimedia commons

Fayette County would close several existing school buildings under a plan approved by the county Board of Education.

The board agreed on the plan Tuesday to close schools, transfer students and reconfigure grade levels to reduce the number of public schools from 18 to 11. Most of the closings involve elementary schools.

Fayette County Map
David Benbennick / wikimedia commons

Fayetteville officials have renewed an effort to restore the old Fayetteville High School building.

The Register-Herald of Beckley reports Mayor Dennis Hanson and the school preservation board announced a drive Monday to raise funds for the restoration. To date, the board has raised more than $343,600.

Giles, Fayette & Kanawha Turnpike
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

On March 1, 1837, the Virginia General Assembly formed the Giles, Fayette & Kanawha Turnpike Company to build a 15-foot-wide road from Pearisburg, Virginia, to Gauley Bridge in Fayette County.

Begun in 1838, the turnpike was completed a decade later, running from Pearisburg to Red Sulphur Springs in Monroe County, to near present-day Hinton and Beckley, through Fayetteville, crossing Cotton Hill and New River, and connecting with the James River and Kanawha Turnpike—present Route 60—near Gauley Bridge.

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