On this West Virginia Morning, many schools in rural areas of West Virginia have closed – leaving vacant buildings. When a community in eastern Boone County lost its elementary school, it became a community center. Briana Heaney has the story.
More than a thousand people, hailing from close to home and around the nation, attended the Wednesday memorial service for slain West Virginia State Police Sgt. Cory Maynard. The trooper was shot and killed in the line of duty last Friday.
Troopers from both panhandles and from the Iowa, New Jersey and Nebraska State Police, joined masses of first responders and civilians who packed the funeral service in the Mingo Central High School gymnasium.
Curtis Meade, from Matewan, said Cory Maynard helped him once when he ran out of gas. He said the trooper ended up helping save him from living a troubled life.
“We became buddies,” Meade said. “The day I found out that it was him that was shot. It ate me up. I ain’t gonna lie, I was wanting to go after that dude. But, like God and Cory said, forgive and forget. I decided the best thing I could do is come up here and show my respects to a buddy of mine.”
Denise Browning brought her daughter Olivia to the memorial, paying a debt of gratitude to a first responder who became a perpetual part of their lives. Browning said Maynard was there in a moment of personal tragedy.
“Olivia was raped in 2019 and Cory Maynard stood by her side,” Browning said. “He was a fantastic guy in every single way. If I needed him at one o’clock in the morning, I could call his cell phone, he would talk and come if necessary.”
Shawn Marcum said he was honored to call Maynard a personal friend. Marcum was one of dozens who agreed that the 37-year-old husband and father, library volunteer and community activist was the kind of person you wanted your son or daughter to grow up to be like.
“He would help anyone in need,” Marcum said. “I’ve witnessed multiple times of him just stopping on the street, both in and out of uniform, to help people. It didn’t matter whether it was to buy something to drink, if they needed food just to talk. Cory never met a stranger.”
State Police Major Jim Mitchell said the sermon he delivered at the memorial service honored a person who truly lived a life of service to others. Mitchell said Marcum was the finest example of a trooper — and a person. He called him a generous man who was raised well and cherished his loving family — his wife Rachel, daughter Zoe and son Finn.
“We want to give his family the honor that they deserve,” Mitchell said. “They’ve stood by Cory for the 15 years that he served us. And it’s not easy for a family. But they really have, and they’ve done well. So we want to honor him. We want to honor his family. We want to honor the state police family.”
Mitchell said he told Maynard’s fellow troopers to take the pain that might be inside them and manifest it for the good.
“Sometimes, if we’re careful or not careful, things like this can happen,” he said. “It can upset us, it makes us angry and makes us sad. And if you just respond to the mere emotion of it, it’s not the best thing. But if you can sit back and look at it and remember why we’re here, why we do this — that’s how we continue.”
It seemed all who attended the funeral were close or extended family who came to honor the life and legacy of a beloved West Virginia State Police Trooper.
Across the country thousands of park rangers will be furloughed, gates will be locked, and visitor centers will be closed at national park sites, if there is a government shut down, including all of West Virginia's national park and forest lands.