By Matt Combs, The Register-Herald
BECKLEY, W.Va. — Pax, like many small West Virginia towns, is dying.
From a high population of more than 600 in 1940 to closing in on 150, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, the small Fayette County community has lost its schools and many of its businesses as its population migrates elsewhere or passes away.
William Hughes was part of that migration.
After graduating from Mount Hope High in the early 1990s, Hughes joined the Navy before becoming a contractor for the U.S. Department of Defense and private companies working on modifications, structural repair and builds on several types of aircraft.
Tired of the travel involved in his work, Hughes moved back to West Virginia seeking to settle down and reconnect with his hometown.
What he saw in Pax was not a welcoming sight. He said when he was growing up in the small community along Paint Creek, Pax had several places to purchase groceries and gas. Now there is one. …