CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Officials for the U.S. Geological Survey recently changed the name of the town of Tornado to Upper Falls. But members of the community, county and state officials want them to change it back.
The controversial name change came to a head at a regular meeting of the Kanawha County Commission on Thursday.
Kanawha County Commission assistant Colt Sandoro told county commissioners Kent Carper and Hoppy Shores that Robert Thompson, a resident of the area, petitioned the U.S. Geological Survey's place names division to change the name Tornado to Upper Falls. Federal officials approved the change, but local authorities didn't find out about it until after the fact.
As near as county officials can tell, Thompson is the only one who wants the name changed, and most Tornado residents are opposed to the new name.
About a dozen local residents came to Thursday's meeting in support of keeping the community Tornado. "The community's name has been Tornado since 1881," said Tornado Fire Chief Greg Childress. He said the area was once known as Upper Falls, but it was before West Virginia was a separate state.
Thompson was not at Thursday's meeting, where Carper repeatedly asked how federal officials could change the name of the community without actually asking those who lived there about it.
"Is there anyone here in favor of this foolishness?" Carper asked. "You people live there, and you don't want us to change it."
They didn't. Neither do Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., Sens. Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller, both D-W.Va., or state delegates Suzette Raines and Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha.