By JAKE JARVIS
The Charleston Gazette-Mail
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state’s Division of Highways is planning to build a memorial at the Williamstown Interstate 77 welcome center to honor all of its highway workers who have died on the job.
The idea for the memorial came from DOH employees in the Parkersburg area. When a worker there, Randy Bland, was fatally struck and killed last year in a work zone, people he worked with wanted a way to honor the man.
“The whole reason to have a memorial like this is not for family members and friends who have been affected by these deaths to reflect on it, but for somebody who may stop at the rest center,” said Carrie Jones, spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Transportation. “When you see a name, it makes such a difference.”
To be included in the memorial, family members and friends of employees who have lost their lives while doing their job should contact Candice Caviness by email at [email protected] with the person’s name, details of the death and any contact information for family members.
“It’s something that is so preventable. We can talk about it all we want, but we wanted to find a way to honor Randy,” Jones said. “Then we thought, instead of making this a local effort, let’s turn it into a statewide effort.”
A committee has since formed to construct the memorial. Jones said the committee is working aggressively to ensure the memorial will be constructed by the spring of next year.
DOH and Department of Transportation employees have been invited to design the memorial. It will be constructed so future names of fallen employees can be added.
Jones said the committee has worked closely with agencies in other states to determine how many names to expect to be included. In all, Jones expects the memorial to have anywhere between 100 and 150 names. The committee has collected only about 50 names so far.
Jones said it has been tricky to locate all of the names because of gaps between records. Some records are in paper form, others are digitized and not all contain complete information about the employee.
To be included in the memorial, fallen workers must have been employed part- or full-time by the Division of Highways, the Department of Highways or the State Road Commission. The person’s death must have been from a work-related accident or injury.
“When you see each name, I think people connect with that more. Our end goal is to not have any more deaths,” Jones said. “Our hope is people who see this, that the next time they go through a work zone, they realize that this is somebody’s work area.”
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