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Ramey honored as distinguished citizen

April 24, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Roger Ramey's life started in the heart of the community with which he has become so strongly associated.

Ramey grew up in a two-story house at the intersection of Lawrence and Washington streets downtown that later was torn down to make way for a JCPenney store while Ramey was in the military.

Ramey's life has involved everything from firefighting to business to horse racing in Jefferson County.

Ramey, 71, has been involved in both the firefighting and administrative part of volunteer fire service, ran a downtown furniture and appliance business for years, and has been closely involved in the state's horse racing industry, including 12 years as a member of the West Virginia Racing Commission, which regulates the sport.

Ramey is vice president of public affairs at Charles Town Races & Slots, a position which involves working as a liaison between the track and local and state government.

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And although Ramey and his wife, Sandra, moved to Winchester, Va., in 1991, it's mainly Jefferson County life that still runs through his veins.

Ramey's wife is from Winchester, but Ramey said he is usually running around in Charles Town or Jefferson County during the day.

"I'm rarely here," Ramey said in a telephone interview from his Winchester home.

Ramey's long history with the county was recognized Saturday night when the Shenandoah Area Council of the Boy Scouts presented him with its 2006 Distinguished Citizen Award.

In its third year, the annual awards ceremony attracted about 200 people to the Clarion Hotel & Conference Center in Shepherdstown, W.Va. Guests paid $75 for a dinner, which raised $22,000 for the local scouts organization, said John Sherwood, who helped organize the event.

As part of the tribute to Ramey, a caricature of Ramey was unveiled at the dinner.

The image of Ramey showed him on a horse, and in the air above him were some of the many hats he wears in the community.

"It was really good," Sherwood said.

Ramey was involved in fire service in and out of the county. In about 1959, Ramey started work as a firefighter with the U.S. Corps of Engineers in Mount Weather, Va. Ramey has been a member of Citizens Fire Co. since 1954, and was president in the mid-1960s, which involved formulating the department's budget and working on fundraising. Ramey was an active firefighter for Citizens for more than a dozen years.

Ramey ran his own business, Ramey's Furniture and Appliance, downtown for about 30 years, and then took his job at Charles Town Races & Slots. Ramey has watched the track go through some tough times and when Penn National Gaming Inc. proposed taking over the oval, Ramey was a strong proponent of Penn National's proposal to have slot machines at the track.

Jefferson County voters eventually approved allowing the track to have slot machines and Penn National has since pumped tens of millions of dollars into the track to expand gaming operations there.

"It's been a pleasure to be there. It's something I believe in," Ramey said.

Ramey acknowledged the reservations people have had about expanded gambling but "I think pretty much those reservations have subsided." Ramey said he understands some people are opposed to gambling and "we respect their thoughts."

Ramey has overseen blood collection campaigns for the Jefferson County chapter of the American Red Cross, and is a member of the board of directors for the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce and the Anna Mae Reedy Senior Center in Ranson, W.Va. Ramey has been involved with local Boy Scouts since the late 1940s and has helped the organization with fundraising over the years.

Ramey said much of his community service was a result of people asking him to help out.

"Most people don't go out seeking these jobs. When people ask you to do something, you try to do your best," Ramey said.

Ramey loves sports too.

He has been involved in West Virginia Senior Sports, which is part of a nationwide sports program for people 55 years and older.

Ramey enjoys basketball and has played around the country at events.

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