Bridge dedicated to late fire chief

The late Lyle Ware, former fire chief and founding member of the Valley Head Volunteer Fire Department, was honored Saturday with a bridge dedication commemorating his service to the community. Family, friends and community officials came out to show their support for Ware’s contributions to Valley Head and Randolph County.

With the help of Del. Bill Hartman, D-Randolph, Ware’s son, Randall Ware, was able to have the bridge named in honor of Ware. The Fire Chief Lyle Ware Memorial Bridge is located along U.S. Route 219 in Valley Head.

“It’s truly a great honor,” said Randall Ware about the dedication ceremony. “It means so much to my family and I know that he would be honored if he were here.”

“It has been my pleasure to be here today,” said Hartman, addressing the congregation at the ceremony. “Lyle was as dedicated to his community as anyone I know. He served the people of Valley Head in as many ways as he could.”

Lyle Ware was born and raised in Valley Head, married and had seven children. He worked for 30 years as a coal miner and helped establish the Valley Head Volunteer Fire Department, where he was the fire chief for 47 years.

“If it weren’t for Lyle, there wouldn’t be a Valley Head Fire Department,” said Rhonda Channell, a close friend and colleague of Ware’s.

While serving as fire chief, he partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to install four fire hydrants in the district and worked with the Tygart Valley Watershed to help residents of southern Randolph County receive much-needed water. He also increased fire protection in many areas in the region, family members and friends said.

He was awarded the Fireman of the Year Award in 1989 and was recognized as a Distinguished Mountaineer in 2006 by then-Gov. Joe Manchin. Ware also served as president of the Randolph County Fire Association and was a member of the West Virginia Fire Chief’s Association and the West Virginia Firemen’s Association.

“Bridges connect people,” said Randolph County Circuit Court Judge Jaymie Wilfong, who also spoke at the ceremony. “How appropriate it is that we name a bridge after Lyle Ware. He devoted his entire life to connecting with people.”

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