Apr 04 2023
Sarah Ingram | Harald-Dispatch
HUNTINGTON — The renaming of the Cabell County Career Technology Center to honor the late Hershel “Woody” Williams was approved in a unanimous decision during Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting.
The career technology center will be named the Woody Williams Center for Advanced Learning and Careers.
Williams, a West Virginian who received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Battle of Iwo Jima and became the last living recipient of that award from World War II, died June, 29, 2022.
His daughter Tracie Ross said while Williams has been recognized in many ways by having his named attached to different buildings and projects, including the Huntington veterans medical center and a U.S. Navy vessel, he would be grateful to be honored at the new career technology center.
“For Cabell County to name that school for dad, means a whole lot to us (the Williams family),” Ross said. “There have been several things named for dad, but — and I can’t say that any one thing would be more important than any other — but I know that he would be thrilled about this. Because he just, he saw the importance of education.”
The new center will be located at the Huntington Mall in Barboursville and is expected to go out for bid in May, Deputy Superintendent of Operations and Support Tim Hardesty said, with a groundbreaking ceremony expected to take place during the summer. The goal is for the career center to be completed during the 2024-25 school year.
Ross said Williams loved going into the schools more than anything else, and he enjoyed sharing his patriotism and teaching students about, “living your life the right way to make it count.”
Superintendent Ryan Saxe recounted meeting Williams as a young man when he rode horses, not knowing then of his heroic past in the U.S. Marine Corps. Saxe said it was an honor to know him as both a “horse whisperer” and as an American hero.
Saxe said with his contributions to the community and always being a positive influence on the students, it is an honor to rename the career tech center after Williams.
“He is just such a spirit, so when thinking about how to really look at what he has done in his career, in his life, and how that has impacted so many students in Cabell County, I couldn’t think of a better place to look at (than the CCCTC) and rebranding and giving it the honor of naming it after Woody,” Saxe said.
Current CCCTC Principal Frank Barnett said the dedication is also a chance for students to learn about why the building is being renamed, who Williams was and what characteristics are associated with a Medal of Honor recipient. These aspects will also go into creating a new logo for the school.
Board President Rhonda Smalley made the motion to approve the title change, after having seen how Williams spoke to students and thinking about how he deserves to be honored.
“I cannot think, there can’t be another person that deserves being honored more than Woody Williams,” she said.