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Buckhannon City horticulturist leaving his post

The Inter-Mountain photo by Amanda Hayes City horticulturist Rob Barbor is leaving his post soon after seven years at the helm of Buckhannon’s horticulture program.

BUCKHANNON — Buckhannon’s reputation as the City of Flowers has blossomed under city horticulturist Rob Barbor, but he will soon uproot to take a new position.

Barbor joined the City of Buckhannon in August 2012 and has spent the last seven years cultivating flowers, trees and bushes throughout the city limits.

The downtown floral displays from hanging baskets to round planters and larger planters beside Wilson Martino and Dairy Queen receive much attention.

“Every season, I’m very proud of the flowers,” he said. “The amount of color that our Main Street has and our hanging baskets have always been very impressive.”

Barbor said he built on the past work of Bob Braine, whom he trained with, and Donnie Tenney, but has also expanded in other areas.

“I’m also very proud of the countless number of trees that I have planted around our community,” he said. “Not only flowering trees and shade trees, but fruit bearing trees such as apples and pears. I will be able to watch them grow and develop from the sidelines. I will look back years from now and think how nice it is that I was a part of this.”

This year, Barbor and his crew redid the plantings in front of the electric substation coming into Buckhannon from the Route 20 exit.

“It has always looked good, but there is some uniformity now,” he said.

Planters are also featured at the prominent intersections in town and there are other landscaped areas from the wall past the Marion Street intersection, to those in local parks and at the Riverwalk.

Some of the projects Barbor has been involved with have come from suggestions in the community.

He helped Josh Hinchman establish Buckhannon’s first orchard, a project that Hinchman is maintaining.

Another young person in the community brought an idea to city council about pollinator gardens with wildflowers that could be done in FEMA lots to aid in habitats and reduce maintenance loads by decreasing the amount of mowing for city crews.

That project has worked great, although Barbor said some gardens are more beautiful than others due to battling weed.

Still, the wildflower areas give bees and butterflies a habitat to live in and a food source.

Barbor is full time but oversees a seasonal part-time crew during the growing season to keep up with watering, weeding and mulching.

Sitting not far from one of those pollinator beds at the river walk, Barbor said Thursday, “This has been a great job, It really has. I enjoyed my work here. It was very rewarding. We can see our progress. At the end of every day, you can see progress which is fantastic and it was nice getting positive feedback from the community.”

Barbor will be working as a utility forester but plans to still live in Upshur County.

Mayor David McCauley offered a statement at Thursday’s regular city council meeting.

“We are sad to lose Rob, but we are happy that he’ll be staying in our area with his new job and he will continue to be a contributor and available to consult with us about forthcoming projects,” he said. “Just today, Rob and his crew were working on new landscaping along the Route 20 North entrance to Buckhannon. Rob has told us very clearly that he wants our programs that he’s taken to the next level, to continue to grow and succeed. We wish Rob and his wife and two little ones only the very best that life has to offer and hope his new position turns out to be everything he hopes it will be.”

McCauley said that Buckhannon has become known throughout West Virginia for flowers and landscaping building on the efforts of Braine, Tenney and now Barbor.

“Buckhannon remains committed to being the City of Flowers and we will earnestly seek to maintain the high quality of our ever expanding horticulture program,” McCauley said.

During Thursday’s meeting, council approved a job description for the next horticulturist which can be viewed at www.buckhannonwv.org.