Editor's Note: Gems of the Valley is a regular feature of the The Parkersburg News and Sentinel highlighting residents who do wonderful things for the community. Nominations can be sent to 519 Juliana St., Parkersburg WV 26101, faxed to 304-485-5122 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
PARKERSBURG - Harold A. Taylor Sr. has been recognized as a Gem of the Valley for his many volunteer community activities.
Taylor, who has owned Harold's Refuse Removal on Broadway Avenue for the past 50 years, has been involved in a variety of community service projects over the years.
Photo by Pamela Brust
Harold Taylor Sr. has been recognized as a Gem of the Valley for his volunteer activities. Taylor , left, is shown with John Reed, director of the Wood County Solid Waste Authority, assembling new recycling containers that will be made available for use at public events. Taylor serves as SWA chairman among his many community service activities.
"Right now we are building a building at the fairgrounds, the tornado tore up our building. It's in memory of my wife. When you can see there's progress, or see that you are helping somebody, I enjoy doing it," Taylor said.
Taylor credited his late wife Alice for supporting him throughout the years in his volunteer service.
"I probably would not have been able to do everything I did if it wasn't for her," Taylor said.
He currently serves as chairman for the Wood County Solid Waste Authority, having served on the volunteer board for about 10 years.
"He is invaluable to the SWA because of his expertise in the services we provide. We call on him many times to find out what trash hauler services they can provide, what can and cannot be done. He is our expert in the field and we rely on him constantly for that," said SWA Director John Reed.
"He's always there, at every one of our events. He's there to participate. He is definitely a hands-on kind of guy," Reed said.
"This past weekend during the cleanup we had anticipated possibly having two tractor-trailer loads of televisions, but we got more than we ever thought, and we ended up with five semis. Harold spent Sunday and Monday morning assisting the crew to make sure they got all of them up. He brought in extra labor to get the job done. He's always there when we need him," he said.
"When the kids in the Citizens In Action Program in April were putting together benches which are going to area parks, he helped oversee that project. He really is a hands-on chairman of the board," Reed said.
Taylor, who is a native of Wood County, started out volunteering with the Fort Neal Kiwanis Club about 40 years ago.
"I was president for awhile. We created Safetytown and I did it for 25 years," he said.
"Harold and his late wife Alice were involved in a lot of events in the Parkersburg area. They were involved in Safetytown for many years; the West Virginia Interstate Fair and Exposition; and he is a very good supporter of the Erickson All-Sports field," said Gene Cumpston.
"Harold is on the Wood County Solid Waste board and has put forth a lot of effort to clean up Wood County. He was in the trash business for many years and worked to make it available to more people and be more affordable," Cumpston said.
"I would not have known how much he is involved if I hadn't been friends with him for the last several years. I have never heard him ask for any recognition for what he has done and never seen him advertise the things he has done and supported," Cumpston said.
Taylor also served on the Court-Appointed Special Advocates board for several years.
"They needed board members and I volunteered," he said simply.
He also served on the West Virginia SWA back in the 1990s.
Taylor has been affiliated with the board of the West Virginia Interstate Fair and Exposition for 30-40 years.
He's been involved with the fishing derby, "since Al Smith was mayor," Taylor said.
He is a member of the state Trash Hauler's Association board.
"Most of the activities are spread out so I have time. I used to go to a lot of meetings," he said. "Now all my time is to the fair board and the Solid Waste board, those are my two favorite picks."
The SWA sponsors cleanups, works with youth groups and is involved with a number of recycling projects.
Taylor said his volunteerism started when he became involved with the Kiwanis.
"We built the restrooms the year I was president on Blennerhassett Island. That was a major project. Then I realized there were things we could do to help. I worked with the kids at the juvenile center, we painted and had a picnic for them. I enjoy helping somebody that helps themself," he said.
"I started dinners every month at the Epworth United Methodist Church," Taylor said. adding while the church has a smaller membership, the dinners usually draw 50-100 people. "Everybody just gets together and talks," he said.
Taylor has three sons, and four grandchildren. When he's not working or volunteering, he enjoys camping, boating and playing banjo.