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Cody Straley: C-K history slowly ceasing

April 4, 2018 GMT

This year the Ceredo and Kenova community has lost two more beloved historical sites, the Kenova Elementary School and the C-K High School football bleachers.

As a history major and a lifelong resident of Wayne County, I am deeply saddened by this; many family members of mine had attended these schools over the years. While I am sure that local politics and corruption have played a role in this destruction, most of the blame falls squarely on the lack of activism. By activism I do not mean writing angry, impulsive Facebook posts about the loss of our heritage (with embarrassing grammar and punctuation). I mean doing more tangible things; going to meetings, speaking out, confronting leaders, organizing preservation groups, and signing petitions, just to name a few. Our community is losing its history because we are allowing it.

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Despite my affinity for nostalgia, I understand that not everything can be saved. In order for a town to continue progressing, it must be willing to replace some things. Tearing down the C-K High School bleachers was justified in the fact that the presence of asbestos made it financially and logistically too difficult to preserve. Demolishing the Kenova Elementary School on the other hand was rather unnecessary. The building had the potential to be repurposed into something meaningful and productive for the town. It could have been turned into senior apartments, as was the case with Westmoreland Middle School. It could have been turned into a multi-purpose community center, a collection of small businesses, or even a combined Ceredo-Kenova Museum and Library. Instead it sat for six years, waiting in vain for the sinkhole to swallow it up. Now the site will likely become another gas station or car parts store, an unwanted and low wage-earning business that will not boost Kenova’s economy or image in any meaningful way. I believe if people had mobilized, if people had committed the time, energy, and resources to saving the elementary school building, it would still be standing today. The sad truth is it is much easier to tear down a building and start from scratch instead of looking for ways to do something new with the original.

Today Ceredo and Kenova have lost far too many historic sites. Some people might not care, but things such as these are vital to the culture, the heritage, the sense of identity for small towns like Ceredo and Kenova. If we continue to sit and do nothing, more will continue to be lost. Many sites are still with us today but suffer from a lack of attention, such as the Ceredo Museum, the Ramsdell House, and Dreamland Pool. The Kenova Museum has even been shuttered for years; the locomotive in its front yard is rusting away. There are ways that people can work to preserve our history, both big and small. Visit some of these places to show that you care. Write letters, send emails, and sign petitions. Revive our towns’ inactive historical societies, or form new preservation groups. Do more than just rant on social media from your living room; do something to let people know that you are serious about protecting our history. Some fights will be won, and some fights will be lost, but too many have been lost. If we work together as a community then maybe, just maybe, we can save what is left of our history. Remember, Wonders never cease.

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Cody Straley

Ceredo Museum