There are plenty of sad stories in southern West Virginia these days, like this one about coal's decline and this one about how that decline has hit one county hard.
I was saddened by a different kind of bad luck that is about to hit the town of Montgomery in Fayette County (actually, part of it is in Kanawha too). It looks like the powers that be want to move the WVU Tech, formerly the West Virginia Institute of Technology from there to Beckley in Raleigh County.
Tech is the lifeblood of that community and has been there since 1895. There's not a whole lot to take its place.
I have a soft spot for Tech. After I finished my masters in sociology in 2000 at Marshall, I thought it would be fun to teach a college class one night a week (and to gradually earn back what I spent on the degree). I had my first chance to do so at Tech and really enjoyed it. I did one class a semester for a few years before moving to doing off campus courses closer to home for Marshall.
(It may well be the next best thing to stand up comedy, except they can only heckle you at the risk of their grades.)
And, as many have said, teaching is a great way to learn. I particularly found the Tech students interesting and challenging because many of them were studying things like engineering, which I can't even begin to contemplate. I must have seemed equally weird to them but we got along pretty well.
I've stopped teaching for now and don't know if I'll ever go back to it, but I'll always fondly remember my first class. And I wish Montgomery all the best.