Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

February 4, 2013

Will it be Blazer or Ashland?

School board ponders name change

Mike James
The Independent

ASHLAND — No one roots for the Blazer Tomcats.

Ashland’s flagship school is named after a former chief executive of the company that put the city on the map.

But the name “Paul G. Blazer High School” hardly trips off the tongue, and when it comes to sports usage, hometown teams invariably are known as the Ashland Tomcats.

Some people are saying it is time to change the name of Blazer High to reflect common usage.

That would be Ashland High School, the same as the old school on Lexington Avenue replaced when Blazer opened in 1962.

If that happened, George M. Verity Middle School probably also would be renamed as Ashland Middle School.

Discussions are preliminary, according to board members contacted Friday. The idea was floated near the conclusion of the Jan. 28 board meeting.

“Maybe it’s time. It needs to be discussed,” said board member Charlie Chatfield, who brought up the idea based on suggestions from some alumni.

“At some point we will discuss it but our big priority now is the Verity renovation,” said board member Carol Jackson.

“I’ve heard some people in the community say it is a good idea,” said member Frank DeMartino.

The topic is one that crops up from time to time, member Trish Hall said, and most people who mention it think it would be a good idea.

The question may come down to how attached Ashlanders are to the memory of Blazer’s namesake, and that of Verity as well.

Paul G. Blazer was president of Ashland Oil from 1936 to 1957 and the Ashland Refining Company for 12 years before that.

He was heavily involved in the planning and construction of the high school and contributed $100,000 to build the swimming pool. He made further donations that helped pave access roads, provide a communications system, and endow an extracurricular activities fund.

Verity was president of Armco Steel almost from its birth until 1930 and remained as chairman of the board until his death in 1943, building the company up from the remains of a metal roofing company.

“Both names need to be part of the institution and be incorporated somewhere,” member Molly Webb said.

Chatfield said he requested the issue be placed on the agenda of the board’s Feb. 25 meeting.

MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2652.