BUCKHANNON – What’s in a name?
Or perhaps a clearer question is, what’s the significance of a name?
By majority vote, Buckhannon City Council members resolved that the name of the building located at 70 E. Main St. – Buckhannon City Hall – is meaningful because it signifies who the building was constructed for: the residents of Buckhannon and Upshur County.
At Thursday’s city council meeting, council members considered a Consolidated Public Works Board recommendation to name Buckhannon City Hall after longtime mayor, the late J.D. Hinkle Jr., and to establish a “Municipal Wall of Fame” at city hall or nearby.
Mayor David McCauley said Hinkle served as mayor for six two-year terms for a total of 12 years.
Councilman CJ Rylands made a motion to bring the recommendation to the table, which McCauley seconded.
Councilman David Thomas said he didn’t believe naming the central city building after one person was “appropriate.”
“David, I don’t know J.D. Hinkle at all … I know he was mayor for a couple of terms, but I don’t think it’s appropriate to memorialize a person’s name on city hall,” Thomas said. “It would be similar to naming the Capitol building after someone.
“I think it should just be Buckhannon City Hall and that it not be recognized with someone’s name, even thought that person has served either as a mayor or a council member. That’s just my position. It has nothing to do with the person, it’s the process that I don’t think is appropriate.”
However, Rylands said he’d support the CPWB’s recommendation.
“I think this was brought up at Consolidated Public Works, and there was no opposition to it,” Rylands said. “I have no problem with recognizing people’s contributions in the city or any other entity, so I support this.”
McCauley highlighted several of Hinkle’s achievements during his tenure, including a notable expansion of city waste collection and sanitary sewer services and a significant uptick in the number of streets that were paved at his direction.
“I would tell you, that if we were to carve in a filler mountain around Buckhannon some place – the Mount Rushmore of Buckhannon – I would have my thoughts on who the four figures would be. It would be Binky Poundstone, Bob Wallace, Harley Brown and the central figure that they all swore by was J.D. Hinkle.
“Until the early ‘60s, there were not only unpaved alleys all over the place, but there were some unpaved streets in Buckhannon, and we didn’t have hardly any streetlights, and all of those things – those essential things – came to pass [under J.D. Hinkle’s tenure],” McCauley said. “There’s nobody that did more for our city than J.D. Hinkle Jr. That’s just my thoughts on it; I’m one of seven votes.”
Councilman Robbie Skinner said that while he wouldn’t be opposed to establishing a Municipal Wall of Fame, he wasn’t comfortable with singling Hinkle out.
“We have had a lot of people that have contributed to this community, that have moved it along, and we’re not finished with that,” Skinner said. “I think it also could potentially open up a slippery slope: Do we name the Public Safety Complex? Do we rename Jawbone Park after someone?”
Skinner suggested council erect a wall with iconic characters of the Buckhannon-Upshur community, “but leave Buckhannon City Hall as Buckhannon City Hall.”
“The business owners and the residents, this is their building, and they pay for it monthly,” he said. “We all do … I just believe that naming the single most integral building of this organization and of this city after one person when so many have given, and so many will give in the future, I would rather it stay Buckhannon City Hall and no more.”
Councilwoman Mary Albaugh agreed with Skinner, as did city recorder Colin Reger.
“Usually I try to go along with what a board does … but I like Buckhannon City Hall. I think maybe not right now,” Albaugh said.
The motion to name city hall after Hinkle failed 4-2, with Thomas, Skinner, Reger and Albaugh voting against it, while McCauley and Rylands voted in favor of it.
Councilwoman Pamela Bucklew (formerly Cuppari) was absent from Thursday’s meeting.
At McCauley’s suggestion, Reger made a motion to form a committee that will be tasked with brainstorming criteria to be considered when adding a person’s name to the Municipal Wall of Fame.
Thomas seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.
In other city news, council also:
- Approved a request from the City of Elkins’ Fire Department to borrow the Buckhannon Fire Department’s Reserve E911 engine for 30 days.
- Approved a request from the W.Va. Service Dog Support Group to use the Buckhannon Dog Park one night a week for dog training classes throughout the month of April in exchange for a $100 contribution to the dog park.