RIPLEY, WV (WOWK) – The City of Ripley has a history as rich as The Downtowner’s chocolate covered cherry pie. A charter request was granted in 1832 officially making the small town Ripley. Take a quick stroll down Court Street and you will soon get a sense of the deep history behind the town. This same stroll will take you to my first stop…which is the same place you can get a piece of that warm chocolate covered cherry pie.
I was in Ripley a few weeks ago covering a story at the courthouse; I peaked out the front door and saw two older gentlemen across the street sitting on a bench outside of what looked like a diner. You could tell that this place was where a lot of locals started their morning and I knew it was worth exploring.
I arrived at The Downtowner around 9:30 a.m. a few days later. I walked in and was greeted by a hot cup of coffee and David Adkins, who is co-owner with his wife Melissa. Melissa is a hometown girl who pulled David from Smithers, WV to live the Ripley life. They have owned the establishment for a few years now and take pride in knowing this is where people like to start their day.
“The neatest part about our job is watching who comes through that door, knowing what they are going to have, and we have it ready almost before they can even order it,” says Mr. Adkins. “Or watching them come through without a smile and leave with one,” adds Mrs. Adkins.
This place is a staple in Ripley. The kind of place where you are greeted with a smile and immediately feel like you are part of the community.
I took a seat in a booth behind a couple who often have their breakfast at The Downtowner. They turned around, greeted me and then we got to talking about some high school football. Also a Ripley staple..
Mrs. Adkins had to get up mid way through our interview to help her mother in the kitchen, this place is certainly a family affair. As Mr. Adkins sat back down to finish answering my questions he leaned in and told me he wants to make sure that I knew this place would not be here without the hard work of his wife… I think his love and respect for her emulates the overall feel you get in this place.
“Hello Mr. and Mrs. Hutcheson,” Mr. Adkins says as he walks over to a booth to greet a couple. “They have been professional educators for a great number of years.”
Mrs. Adkins politely interrupts as she steps in front of her husband to deliver the customer’s home cooked meals.
The Adkins make everyone who walks through their door feel like family, and they make sure they leave with a full belly.
It is very easy to lose track of time in Ripley. Everywhere you turn there is someone with a smile and a “good morning”. Everyone I talked to said I needed to meet the mayor. They said she is the best person you could talk to about hometown pride.
I head over to the municipal building and ask if I can talk to the mayor. I was led back to her office and was greeted by a huge smile.
“Well come on in and sit down honey,” Mayor Carolyn Rader says.
She tells me she is about to put her ‘painting clothes’ on and start fixing up the fire hydrants…
This left me with a lot of questions. She continued to tell me she likes to make sure everything looks nice and “pops” as they already start preparations for their 4th of July parade. After all, Ripley is home of the largest small town Independence Day Celebration, according to their website.
I met Mayor Rader outside and she told me what she loved about this place as she was painting a fire hydrant ‘Ripley blue’ decked out in jeans and work boots.
“The people. They are Ripley,” says the Rader. “The people of this town are unbelievable. They are the true example of what America is all about. We are a true example of small city USA, and we are the ones that keep America bleeding red, white and blue.”
Mayor Rader knows a lot about what it means to bleed red, white and blue. Emphasis on the Ripley blue she likes to add… Every Friday morning she stands outside of her office and waves the American flag to the tune of some of your favorite patriotic melodies as the kids pass by on the busses on their way to school.
This is America. This is Ripley. This is loving living local.