NEW MARTINSVILLE - A few members of a large crowd of Paden City residents burst into tears of joy when the Wetzel County Board of Education voted Monday to keep Paden City High School open.
And when the PCHS Wildcats head back to class this fall following summer break, new Principal Jay Salva will be there to guide them, as current Principal Warren Grace is retiring.
Board members Michael Blair, Robert Patterson, Willie Baker, Amy Jo Dieffenbauch and Linda Sue Ritz voted unanimously during their Monday meeting to remove the provision to close Paden City high from the district's 10-year plan, officially known as the Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan.
The plan will now be reformulated before the board votes to approve it in August.
Superintendent William Jones stressed, however, that no matter what ends up in the new plan, PCHS will remain open as a 7-12 high school.
"That is how board members felt they should vote," he said.
On March 25, the board held a public meeting at PCHS to accept comments regarding the school's fate. Rodney McWilliams, a 1984 PCHS graduate and president of the Paden City Foundation Inc., was a key player in keeping the school open.
Following the board's Monday vote, McWilliams expressed his thanks for members' consideration.
"We accomplished what we set out to do," he said as he left the meeting to attend the parade set to roll through Paden City in celebration. "We will continue to support this school as we have for the past 60 years."
"If you can sustain the schools, you should. The school is a vital part of the community," said Blair, board president, after the meeting.
Salva will head to Paden City from Bridge Street Middle School in Wheeling. He brings nine years teaching experience and a master's degree in educational leadership from West Virginia University to the school.
"It was great to see how much the community supports the school," he said of the great showing of residents Monday. "It was pretty overwhelming."
Though he was not sure of Salva's exact starting salary, Jones said after the meeting that the new principal will earn roughly $70,000 a year in his new position.