Commission recognizes, honors local artist

July 27, 2013

POINT PLEASANT — One of Mason County’s best known artists was honored at this week’s Mason County Commission meeting.

Though Bob Roach of New Haven hasn’t personally met everyone in Mason County, practically everyone in Mason County has met him in a way, simply by encountering his work.

Roach takes stainless steel and bends it into unforgettable statues which include a firefighter outside the New Haven Fire Department and the Wahama White Falcon in the Bend Area. Several of Roach’s pieces have found a permanent home in Point Pleasant, including Chief Cornstalk, Col. Andrew Lewis, Mad Anne Bailey and the new addition — Daniel Boone. All of these historic statues sit near their respective, historic murals along the flood wall at Riverfront Park.

However, perhaps the most well known piece of Roach’s work, is the Mothman statue in Gunn Park in downtown Point Pleasant. The statue itself has become its own tourist destination. Both day and night, people, many from across the country and even some from around the world, can be seen at the foot of the statue, taking endless photos of the creature.

This week, the Mason County Commission presented Roach with a plaque to honor him and his work — work that is a reflection of the culture and history of the area.

Roach told the commission he appreciated the plaque and spoke a bit about his creations; about the year he put the white falcon at Wahama and how it was the same year his grandson graduated high school. He said it meant something to him to see the kids stopping to take pictures in front of the sculpture he created.

Kelly Miller, Roach’s daughter, told commissioners about her dad: “I always think in my heart, he’s one of a kind.”

Miller then went on to tell the story of how her dad called her over to his house when he was constructing Daniel Boone. She talked about her dad handing her Boone’s hand to hold in place as he began to weld it to the statue’s arm. Miller said though she grew up around welding, and she knew not to look at the torch, she said she did for just a moment because in that moment, “I thought, nobody else in the world gets to do this.”

In addition to Miller, also present at this week’s meeting were his grandchildren Micah and Ryan Ohlinger, as well as Bill James from the New Haven Fire Department.

In other business:

Commissioners voted to set up a special fund where donations towards the new 4-H dining hall can be deposited.

County Administrator John Gerlach discussed a cumulative change order, which included the installation of French drains, on the old hardware building. The cost on the change order was $38,759.

Marilyn Kearns from Letart reported on progress made on county property behind the Letart Community Building. Kearns said several community members, as well as personnel from Ohio Valley Bank, had been to the site to clear brush and clean walking trails. Kearns said the local community members hope to develop not only trails but primitive camping sites which can be utilized by everyone from visitors to Boy Scouts. Kearns also said fundraisers will be planned in the future to help further develop the county property.

Brook Fletcher from West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s office was in attendance as was Chris Chiles from Sen. Joe Manchin’s office.

Also at the meeting Commissioners Tracy Doolittle, Miles Epling, Rick Handley, County Clerk Diana Cromley and Gerlach.