2017-06-14 / News

Bench installed to honor Charles Biggs

“He was trying to help our planet survive and thrive.” by Trish Rudder

A dedication was held last week to honor Charles R. Biggs, the man who was instrumental in bringing a recycling center to Morgan County.

Biggs’ son-in-law, Peter Gordon, made a bench that was placed in the rain garden at the Charles R. Biggs Recycling Center on U.S. 522 on Tuesday, June 6.

About 30 people attended the dedication ceremony.

Before retiring to Berkeley Springs in the 1990s, Biggs had his own engineering firm in New Jersey.

He was passionate about recycling and was instrumental in bringing a self-serving two-acre recycling center to the county, which he designed. The center officially opened in December 2008.

“Charles Biggs started it all,” said Ellen Smith, recycling coordinator for the Morgan County Solid Waste Authority, “and we all have benefitted by helping to save the environment. We are all grateful to him and we all miss him.”

A recycled bench for Charlie

Gordon said after Biggs died in 2012, it was decided that a bench would be placed in the rain garden at the recycling center in his honor, but the family did not want to buy an $800 bench that lacked character.

With his wife Margaret and his mother-in-law, Margaret Biggs, it was decided that Gordon would build a bench from a dead walnut tree that was on the Biggs property in Berkeley Springs.

Margaret Biggs told the story at the dedication that Charles had built a bench for the porch at their New Jersey home in the 1950s and had put it together with some iron legs he had found and recycled them for the bench.

The wood had rotted on the old bench and it was no longer usable, Gordon said, but the iron pieces could be recycled for the new bench, and he and Margaret cleaned up the iron.

Gordon said he took the walnut wood to local millworker, Kenny Heironimus to mill the wood, and local metal worker, Glenn Horr made the connecting rods to support the bench.

Gordon then had the pieces to make a bench.

“I worked on it on and off for more than a year,” Gordon said.

Gordon said Margaret Biggs was also a big part of the recycling center. She could be seen along with her husband helping people unload their recyclables at the mobile recycling sites before the center was up and running.

Morgan County Solid Waste Authority Vice Chair Leslie Hotaling said Biggs “made it happen. He was quite the environmentalist.”

She also remembered taking recyclables to the mobile trucks before the center was built. “It was a pleasure to watch it unfold and open,” Hotaling said.

Gordon said people remember what Biggs represented

“and what that means to the planet.”

“He was trying to help our planet survive and thrive,” Gordon said.

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