By Wendy Holdren
A man who has dedicated his life to education and serving his community was honored at the Citizens Conservation Corps Annual Partners’ Appreciation Luncheon Friday at The Resort at Glade Springs.
William H. “Bill” Baker was presented with the 5th Annual H.C. “Kit” Lewis Jr. Leadership Award for all his hard work for his community throughout the years.
A McDowell County native, Baker held numerous positions in the education field, including seven years as superintendent at Mercer County schools and over 13 years as superintendent of Raleigh County schools. He was named West Virginia Superintendent of the Year and selected by the Bluefield Daily Telegraph as Mercer County Man of the Year in 1986.
After retiring from education, he continued his service to the community by filling numerous elected, board and volunteer positions ranging from Raleigh County commissioner to executive director of the Jobs Foundation, and much, much more.
Baker is currently serving as chairman of the Steering Committee for “Reaching The Summit 2013,” which is preparing southern West Virginia for the National Boy Scout Jamboree.
Robert A. Martin, CEO of the CCCWV, welcomed everyone to the luncheon and acknowledged nearly every person in the room for their support of the CCC.
He noted several programs that the CCCWV has established, such as the West Virginia Courtesy Patrol and the Twin Branch Adventure Facility. A slideshow of photos from projects throughout the year played throughout the luncheon.
After the introductions, recently named Spirit of Beckley award recipient Nancy Kissinger presented the CCC with a $50,000 check from the JP Morgan Chase Foundation. This money will be used to help recruit and train veterans to work for the government and corporations so they can earn a living for themselves and their families.
Letters were then read from Sen. Joe Manchin, Congressman Nick Rahall, and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, all noting Baker as one of the state’s finest leaders.
Beckley Mayor Emmett Pugh said he knew Baker from his work with the Raleigh County Commission.
“We worked together on infrastructure that will pay off for years to come.”
Pugh commended Baker for his leadership, guidance and vision.
Boy Scout volunteer and Charleston lawyer Steve McGowan then presented the man of the hour, Bill Baker.
“I don’t know what to say. I didn’t expect all this,” Baker said. “I’m humbled and I’m honored.”
He went on to say, “Nothing I’ve been involved in has happened without the help of an awful lot of people.”
He recalled his days in McDowell County as a Boy Scout and how happy he was to get on board with the “Reaching The Summit” service project initiative.
“Our future is going to happen because of these scouts.”
Just as Baker was about to step down from the podium, 2012 community service award winner Charlie Houck yelled, “Aren’t you going to tell us about your baseball days at Concord?”
Baker smiled, thought for a moment and said, “I hit four home runs and had 13 RBIs in one game.”
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