After reading Travis Crum's article in the Aug. 1, 2019, issue of the Herald-Dispatch — titled "Huntington Foundation seeks solution to city's cramped Wall of Fame" — I am reminded of a conversation I had with the CEO of the city of Huntington Foundation several months back. It was then when I was informed by Maxine Loudermilk, during a conversation we had at the Huntington Habitat for Humanity ReStore, that my plaque commemorating my induction into the Wall of Fame in 1991 was removed from the wall, which is located in the lobby of the city-owned civic center, currently known as the Big Sandy Superstore Arena. It is a proud moment during my 42-year career in radio broadcasting in the Huntington radio market. At least it was.
Not only was my plaque removed, so were those of 27 others who, like me, were inducted into the Greater Huntington Wall of Fame for contributions to the community we hold near and dear to our hearts. Who made the decision to remove those 28 plaques from the Wall? What were the criteria for making such decisions for removal of the plaques? Were the individuals whose plaques were removed notified? Were the families of those who are deceased whose plaques were removed contacted and told that had happened?
When I think of halls of fame, I think of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame, the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and many others. I am reminded of the West Virginia Broadcasting Hall of Fame, of which I am a 2012 inductee. The inductions for these halls of fame are permanent. They're not simply in effect until a facility no longer offers enough space for new inductees, so the governing body of the hall removes older inductees. Can you imagine if someone or a committee of people decided arbitrarily to remove an inductee's commemoration from those halls of fame that feature such commemoration with a plaque, and sticking the plaque in storage somewhere because they have run out of room? Whose plaques do you remove and on what grounds?
Everyone who is inducted into the Greater Huntington Wall of Fame is deserving of having their plaques remain there forever. Their contributions have impacted our community and the lives in it in a substantial manner. If one plaque comes down, all of them should come down.
Who decided that the Wall of Fame is limited to one wall in the lobby of the arena? Aren't there other walls in the city-owned facility on which the Wall of Fame can expand? At the very least, if space is an issue, all of the plaques should come down; the Foundation should give them to the inductees or their family members. Then, the Foundation should create a new commemoration of the names of inductees and years during which they were inducted by installing such a condensed plaque on the wall. A kiosk, as was suggested in the article, would provide visitors of the wall an opportunity, on demand, to pull up the information and photographs that are currently on the plaques.
It is my hope that a solution to this "space" issue is solved as quickly as possible. I urge the city of Huntington and the city's Foundation to do the right thing by treating all inductees into the Greater Huntington Wall of Fame equally and with the same degree of respect. This group of 138 people (and their families) who have contributed, significantly, to the betterment of the city we love deserve no less.
J.B. Miller is manager of the Huntington Habitat for Humanity ReStore, a morning air personality on radio station Big Buck Country 101.5 and a 1991 inductee of the Greater Huntington Wall of Fame.