SUMMERSVILLE, W.Va. — When Nicholas County’s two high school football teams meet Friday night to face one another, some are hoping it will be a time to unite and heal what has become a bitter divide in the county.
“It’s been a rough year, that’s for sure,” said Brian Shirak, with Young Life ministries in Nicholas County.
Friday night before Richwood High and Nicholas County High play football at Memorial Stadium in Summersville, a prayer vigil is planned outside the stadium just off the county school board’s property.
The idea didn’t come from any one person, but seemed to collectively gain strength.
The county endured heavy damage during the 2016 flood. The aftermath has included a bitter debate over possible consolidation and closing of schools in the Richwood Community.
A professional team of conflict negotiators, recommended by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and with the blessing of Gov. Jim Justice, has been meeting this week with community members to try to find common ground.
The past year of struggle and debate has left a wide rift among many in Nicholas County.
“It feels like it, not the consolidation, but just the whole thing,” said Shirak. “The general idea and theme is to rebuild relationships among people, regardless of where people stand on the school issue, pastors have just said let’s get together and start to rebuild relationships across the county.”
It’s unknown how many might show up for the event, which is set for 6:30 outside the stadium. Shirak also couldn’t guess how many might be there ahead of the game.
“It’s not anything big or extremely planned,” he said. “It’s just kind of organically a few people said let’s get together and pray. So we put it out there, and we’ll see if some people show up outside the stadium and pray. ”