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Firefighter Named Distinguished Alumni

By Staff | Jun 23, 2010

The Cornerstone Project Committee will receive an honorary Distinguished Alumni Award for their work and success at having the closure of Paden City High School taken out of the Board of Education’s 10-year plan.

The 2010 Paden City Distinguished Alumni Award (DAA) reception scheduled for July 3 will have added flair this year as two winners have been announced to receive the annual award given for professional achievement, service to community, and betterment of humanity.The DAA committee received several nominations for individuals and one for a recently formed group of citizens.

The committee set aside the group nomination and reviewed the nominations for the individuals and chose Paden City Fire Chief Jim Richmond as a Distinguished Alum. The nomination for the organization came from an alumna in Florida and requested the Cornerstone Project Committee be considered for the Distinguished Alumni Award, as well.

The DAA committee elected to grant an honorary DAA to the Cornerstone this year.Both the Cornerstone group and Richmond will be honored at the reception to be held at Paden City High School beginning at 4:30 p.m. on July 3.

Longtime member and chief of the Paden City Volunteer Fire Company, Richmond is a 1952 graduate of Paden City High School has spent the past 57 years as a member of the Paden City Volunteer Company and 45 of those years as its chief.He also served as the fire company’s secretary-treasurer for 12 years.

The Paden City Alumni Association grants the Distinguished Alumni Award (DAA) each year to individuals who have demonstrated professional achievement, service to Paden City schools and/or their community of residence, and betterment of humanity.

Paden City Fire Chief Jim Richmond is the Distinguished Alumni for Paden City High School this year.

Richmond will be honored at the annual DAA reception that is part of the annual Paden City Alumni Weekend activities and is open to the public.

John Hopkins nominated Richmond for the award. His nomination papers state, “Jim has devoted most of his life to the betterment of our community and state through his involvement in fire service and training of others.” He holds an instructor’s certificate from the WVU Fire Service Extension and RESA.While employed by Corning (Paden City plant) as a Section Foreman for plant and equipment maintenance, Jim was also chief of the company’s fire brigade.

His association with firefighting organizations includes the Paden City ambulance service, being a charter member of the West Virginia State Fire Commission, and serving for 13 years, serving one year as Chairman, member and past president of the West Virginia State Firemen Association and president of the Northern Panhandle Fireman’s Association. He is also member and past president of the WV State Fire Chief’s Association and treasurer of the Wetzel County Fireman’s Association.Jim served as president of Firetac (training organization). Jim also served as director of the Wetzel County Office of Emergency Services and received the Distinguished West Virginian Award for Outstanding Achievement and Meritorious Service in 1991.

Two letters of endorsement were offered on Jim’s behalf in the nomination and both recognized his leadership in the fire company and the level of preparedness the local firefighting organization has achieved under his leadership.

Jim has also spent time in city government, having served on the Common Council of Paden City for 14 years and chaired the Finance committee for many of those years.He was a member of the Building Committee of the city’s municipal office building in the mid-1970’s and is a former employee of the Paden City Development Authority. Richmond has been a member of the Paden City Alumni Association in its early years and served as the group’s president for it first two two years.He also held the office of treasurer of the Paden City Schools Athletic Association at one time.

Jim is married to Loretta (Eddy) Richmond and they have two sons, Phillip (Wendy) and Eric (Anna), three grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

The Cornerstone Project Committee is the group formed under the guidance of the Paden City Foundation for the purpose of turning back a proposed school closure (of PCHS) by the administration of the Wetzel County Schools. The Cornerstone Project Committee began its work in March 2009 when it was made public the intentions of the proposed Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan (CEFP) of the Wetzel County Schools. The plan called for the closure of Paden City High School 2012. The group consists of citizen volunteers who have worked tirelessly to research the situation including meeting with officials of Wetzel County schools, principals, teachers, parents, students, the Board of Education members, Paden City Common Council, the Wetzel County Commission, and Wetzel County’s state delegate and senator. The group led the organized effort to have the proposed CEFP revised to remove the proposal to close the school before it is to be submitted to the state School Building Authority in August 2010. In order to achieve this goal, the volunteers performed countless hours of work and even undertook an enrollment campaign in July and August 2009 in hopes of increasing the enrollment at both Paden City Elementary and High Schools.The group spearheaded a fund-drive that raised thousands of dollars and used those funds for newspaper, radio, and billboard advertisements, published a full-color brochure about the school and sent letters to parents. The campaign proved successful as Paden City schools were the only schools in Wetzel County to show an increase of student population in the 2009-2010, even when the foreign exchange students were subtracted from the figures.

Additionally, the group conducted a survey of the student-families of PC schools to gauge their support and intentions regarding where their students would attend schools should PCHS close. That survey, along with other fact-finding missions, led to a comprehensive report that painted a much more positive picture of the outlook of Paden City High School than was given to the committee that worked on the ill-fated plan to close Paden City’s school. The Cornerstone held a town meeting on May 24, 2009, to inform the public of the intended CEFP and the group’s plan of action for the forthcoming months.Members of the group met bi-weekly throughout 2009 and 2010 gathering and refining the information and led a spirited and professional presentation of facts at the state-mandated public hearing before the Wetzel County Board of Education on March 25. On April 19, the Wetzel County Board of Education voted to remove the piece of the CEFP that called for closing Paden City High School.

The Cornerstone has performed all its work and committed its time completely on a volunteer basis and many of the members have spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars of their own money to accomplish the group’s goal, thus far.At last year’s Alumni Banquet, the group held a pledge drive to raise funds to help defray the cost of the enrollment campaign and the generous alumni pledged and donated nearly $2,000 on the spot. The group’s efforts extend beyond just saving PCHS from closing.The group has been working on long-term goals with regard to the curriculum and extra-curricular offerings at PCHS and are pushing forward with helping to get new experiences for our students.They are also taking a comprehensive look at the community and its ability to offer residents and would-residents the amenities many look for when choosing where to live, raise a family, and choose a school.

A spokesperson for the DAA group noted, “Jennifer Eddy Sterns, a graduate of PCHS and now residing in Florida, submitted the nomination for the Cornerstone.She has been keeping up to date with the happenings in Paden City with special regard to the school situation and felt compelled to make the nomination.She realizes it is intended for individuals, but wanted the group be recognized for their work. We are very happy to be able to make this special award to the Cornerstone, a most deserving group of individuals who have worked so hard for one of the most important institutions this town has ever known. A plaque in their name will be on permanent display at Paden City High School, recognizing their efforts and achievement. We hope everyone will turn out to show their appreciation and support of the Distinguished Alumni Award winners at the reception on July 3. The event precedes the Alumni banquet and many attendees will be taking in both events.”