Bypass the User Fee – Wayne County is open for business

I just want to go on record and say this is purely satirical before everyone gets in an uproar. It is just meant to open eyes is all and bring up scenarios that more than likely will never occur.

Last week I called for local politicians to give up their pay in an effort to balance budgets and provide extra revenue for needed projects throughout the area. I did have one respond to the article. I will not mention names, but they do already donate a lot of time and money to causes throughout the county. My hat is off to you. You know who you are.

This week I am going to push this a little farther. Huntington City Council voted 8-2 Monday night to increase the user fee to $5 a week for anyone working in the city. I have explained several times of my disgust for this action. This piece is no different.

What is done is done.

The issue I have is we all know that Huntington is the central hub for the region. Most of the workforce comes from outside the city to work in Huntington. Other than those working for the school board or the county residing in Wayne County also travel to Huntington for work.

I would go on a limb and say other than maybe the towns directly across the Ohio River, Wayne County has more residents per capita traveling to work in Huntington than any other area.

So now, not only do we shop in Huntington, work in Huntington, Wayne County residents as well as others will have to pay more money for the privilege to work in Huntington – because make no mistakes about it. The Huntington City Council made it a privilege to work in Huntington with the very first user fee vote. Increasing the fee collected just adds insult.

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The art seed was planted – now it’s time to make it grow

Wonderful things happened in Westmoreland this thing all involving art.

Like I have said a million times over, it is going to take creativity to bring money into the local economy. West Edge may be the first step in a long process.

Tuesday night an art show opened the week-long events leading up to Saturday’s Huntington music and Art Festival. The event is the brainchild of Westmorleand native Ian Thorton.

Originally the festival was a one-day event, but thanks to the wonderful space catering to artists that West Edge provides, new events were added to this year’s festival. I have to admit. My train of thought does not always match with the community around me. Wayne County is not known for the arts. Huntington has a little due to Marshall University, but mostly this is a football first, fine arts second kind of town.

I was skeptical of the crowd an art show would bring in Westmoreland, let alone Wayne County. I was blown away.

Not only were there more than 30 artists displaying their works but also the venue drew in several hundred – if anything curious people to see what the show was all about. Granted, I am a khaki and polo shirt kind of guy – so the eclectic mix of artists and community was unique.

That is what was beautiful about the event were so many different backgrounds converging for art.

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A simple fix for the budget from Huntington to Wayne

This is a direct question to those who serve in public offices either at the local, county or state levels involving Wayne County?
Why do you do it?

Is it to help your community? Is it to make Wayne County a better place to live? Do you do it because something you saw with the political process angered you and you wanted to make a change? Was it because something positive was happening and you wanted to see it continue? Was it for economic development or education? Or was it for the money and prestige?

I have a simple solution to everyone’s budget crunches from Huntington to the courthouse in Wayne to the steps of the Capitol…give up your pay for your services. How is that for a solution? Guarantee it is not a popular suggestion before it even hits print.

Donald Trump, Republican presidential candidate and business tycoon says he will not accept a paycheck for his services if elected president. He claims he is in it to bring this country back to prominence and he does not think receiving pay while so many in this country are struggling is just.

Do I believe him – probably not? He is a politician after all. Plus it would take an act of Congress to prevent the check from being cut.

The gesture is commendable. Now nothing comes for free and I get that, but I find it hard to stomach when the political powers complain they do not have money for budgets, but give themselves raises or continue to take salaries at the same rate they have been enjoying. They want services to be cut, jobs to be cut but don’t take cuts themselves. Yet they want to put the burden on taxpayers. They want cuts and tax or fee increases.

It is easy for myself to sit here and complain. Like everyone else, I want services, but do not want to see tax or fee increases to pay for them. I think public service, like teaching is a thankless job filled with long hours and more complaints than praises. You took the job though.

Has anyone given themselves a raise locally in Wayne County or the local municipalities this year? Not to my knowledge there has not been. Congress needs to take a look at itself for that issue.

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Standardized testing a failed “one size fits all” approach

Have you ever heard some variation of the term, “You can’t sugar coat manure?”

That is the kind of feeling I got Tuesday night during the Wayne County Board of Education meeting after hearing the results from last year’s Smarter Balance Test. For those that do not know, this was the first year for the test that aligns with Common Core standards.

I have made no qualms about my feelings of Common Core. I honestly thought No Child Left Behind had issues, but Common Core takes the cake. There is not enough ink on the press to express my disdain for Common Core standards and curriculum. I am reminded of how much every time I help my children with their homework.

Well the results are in and from my opinion I believe Wayne County failed. I am sure the state as a whole followed suit.

I will go on record and say that I agree with Wayne County Schools Director of Assessment John Waugaman on two statements he made during Tuesday’s presentation. The first being that data can be used and made to say whatever you want it to. The second is that it is difficult to discuss not only Wayne County’s scores on the Math section, but the state’s overall failure.

I do not have space in this piece to break down every school’s scores. Those should be made available if not already on the state board’s website. What I will say is one school had a score of 3 out of 100 in Math. That means three percent of students were proficient in Math at that particular school. My calculations put the overall average for Wayne County Schools somewhere between 9 to 12 percent.

Language Arts scores overall were better but they are far from the 75 percent proficiency that the state is shooting for statewide by 2020.

Statements were made that overall Waugaman believes the testing went well because those that participated took it seriously. The great opt-out debacle/controversy was also cited in the presentation. Some school’s individual teachers were pointed out for their diligent work to explain higher scores, while excuses were given as to why some were so low. Everything from teachers with multiple classes to certain groups struggling with the curriculum to the possibility of a new teacher unfamiliar with the expectations of the class work being taught were listed to explain the scores.

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City cannot continue to tax non-residents for sub-standard services

I cannot begin to tell you how disheartening it is to agree with Fred Friar.

I was going to write this column last week, but I held off. Then as I was editing stories for this edition, I came across Fred’s piece on the proposed Huntington City User Fee increase.

For those who have read my ramblings the past three years, you are familiar with my voiced plight of being a Westmoreland resident and feeling underserved. Westmoreland residents already pay twice for a fire fee. We pay for police services that at most provide us with a patrol every now and again. And that is not the police department’s fault. I am not taking jabs at the boys in blue.

I am pointing directly to the atrocity that is calling 911 as a Westmoreland resident. Ah, the dance. The one where you contact 911 and sometimes Ohio picks you up because of the cell phone tower position. If that does not happen, then the jig really speeds up. Your call goes from Cabell County to Wayne County to Cabell and finally back to Wayne because you live in Huntington, but it is Wayne County. So an officer is finally dispatched and by then the rims are stolen off your car, a drug deal has taken place, a garage is broken in to while the crooks get away. That is if the police are able to show up at all.

So now, due to the “increases” in the cost of doing business, Huntington wants to impose an increase on the already ridiculous user fee. I say it is ridiculous because my wife is a business owner in Westmoreland. Not only does she pay B&O taxes and a city sales tax – she and her partner pay for an annual business license and the user fee.

Huntington wonders why no one wants to conduct business in the city limits. That is why Barboursville is growing, Ashland is bringing in business and all the area in between 29th St. to the I-64 exit is full of businesses.

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Wayne County’s renaissance for agriculture has room to grow

I could not be happier that agriculture is making a comeback in Wayne County.
West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture Walt Helmick was in Fort Gay to tour the former Fort Gay Elementary School site. Why?

Helmick is looking at locations throughout the state for an agricultural processing site. The tour is part of Helmick’s plan to bring agriculture jobs back into the state to help boost the economy.

Many times I have heard that Wayne County is considered an “agricultural desert”. You know, I would almost agree if it was not for all the home gardens, acres of cattle on White’s Creek, pigs on Spring Valley and corn growing on Big Sandy River Road – but because of that I disagree.

I myself raise a garden, try to buy local if possible and am looking into how many chickens I can legally keep in my backyard. This is possible on a larger scale. Remember several months ago, I wrote that in order for Wayne County to pull itself out of the economic tailspin created from coal’s departure that it would take some creativity? Huh hmmm….(hint hint)! This is the kind of innovation I was talking about.

There is abandoned mine sites in Wayne County and throughout the state. Underground mines could be utilized for mushroom production. When was the last time salt was looked for in this area if there is any to find? I don’t know, just spit-balling ideas.

What about strip mine sites? Flat land a plenty. Those sites could be used for hog farms and honeybee production. Bees are dying off at alarming rates. Why not try to boost the bee population in West Virginia?

There will be plenty of room for mass crop slots from corn to wheat to beans to…who knows. That is the beauty of it. The possibilities are endless.

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Time for us to focus on the things we have in common

I am all for civil liberties and personal freedoms. I wish people could honestly just worry about themselves let alone everyone else. Sadly, the world is heading into a totally opposite direction – especially in this country.

I truly understand that we must be tolerant of individual’s life choices, whether it be liberal, conservative, sexual/identity preferences, religious affiliations and personal belief systems.
The thing that gets me though is we are heading into dangerous territory. Everyone is so easily offended from speech, other’s beliefs and religion. My Facebook feed for the past several months has been flooded with everything from the Confederate flag to gay marriage to Black Lives Matter to Kim Davis.

Well let me break this down for you…Confederate flag? It is a symbol that has been used for both pride and ignorance. Just because someone or group has used it as a symbol of hate does not mean it doesn’t have value. There really are some out there that see it as heritage and not hate.

Gay marriage? Who cares? If someone wants to marry a box of Pop Tarts I say go for it. If you honestly sit and think about what the “traditional” marriage is in this country is then all a marriage amounts to it is a legal contract. Heck anyone can move in together and claim to be spouses. It is the piece of paper from the government that gives you the tax breaks.

Gay marriage is deteriorating the fabric of the family and threatens traditional values? I am remarried. I got a divorce and had more children with my second wife. In the Lord’s eyes it is a sin. And if I am not mistaken all sin is sin. There are none greater or less and who are we to judge that? Something like 50 percent of all marriages now end in divorce so if homosexuals want to deal with the same fights, bills hurt, joys, pains, highs, lows, trials and tribulations of marriage heterosexuals go through, then more power to them. Bible says nothing about thou shall not make angry spouse sleep on couch.

Black Lives Matter? How about all lives matter? Don’t even get me going on this. It is 2015 people. We live in a society with all kinds of races and nationalities many from mixed decent. Grow up. Human lives matter and by separating yourself into saying specifically your group matters, then you are doing nothing by buying into the race baiting that divides us.

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We have a responsibility that the public is safe as possible

ISIS has made its mark in Wayne County.

Wednesday morning was yet another eventful day for our small little corner of the Earth. The Wayne County Board of Education website was hacked. When viewers clicked on the site, they were redirected to an apparent ISIS propaganda site jam backed with a video, scary pictures and loud music blaring.

The news erupted on social media, before the traditional media (myself included) picked up on the story. Parents were angered that the county schools were not dismissed or at least put on lockdown. School officials stated that law enforcement had been notified and no immediate threat was opposing our children.

Parents still decided to remove their children from school throughout the county. Luckily, the BOE was understanding of the situation and parents were not charged with an unexcused absence Wednesday.

I included took my kids out of school for the simple fact Sandy Hook came with no warning. I would not be able to live with myself if my kids were shot and I could have done something to prevent it.

Now as foolish as that sounds to some, I will agree. It is foolish. I highly doubt ISIS was coming to Wayne County to bring Jihad. I am still a parent. Del. Don Perdue gave me a call to ask if I knew what was going on and to be honest we had a pretty heated exchange about the fact I removed my children from school. Having the uncanny ability to see two sides of everything, I get why Perdue was angry with me. By allowing ourselves to be panicked and remove kids from school, we were doing exactly what the hackers’ intentions were – to be terrorized.

The fact still remains that I am a parent and my kids come first no matter my opinions.

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A Hodge Podge in Wayne Co.

Honestly…I cannot begin to put together sentences to convey my thoughts on what is going on in Wayne County.

I actually had someone tell me in the assessor’s office they need my divorce agreement to confirm my ex-wife did not pay taxes on a vehicle that apparently the courthouse believes I am responsible for. Said they need proof in case they get audited.

Pardon my anger, loud voice and disgust for being there an hour fighting the poor ladies who were just trying to do their job – but seriously. An audit is the last thing the assessor’s office or anyone working in that office should be concerned about right now.

The taxpayer’s of Wayne County may never know the full story about what was going through Eric Hodges’ head. I’d pay for the price of a ticket and popcorn to find out though. Remember, this story has been strange at the least and I don’t think the investigators are done. There is more to this story that only time will reveal.

Add in the political posturing taking place throughout the county and it is going to be a long winter in Wayne County. All I can honestly say so I stick to reporting fact is the wind is blowing heavy right now. El Nino is going to have nothing on the upcoming election year. I am predicting a lot of changes. Of course some things will stay the same – but between the ongoing courthouse saga; some folks jockeying for greener pastures; the opening of an Intermodal Facility that is going to fail if the infrastructure issues such as Tolsia Highway and Kenova’s water service to Prichard isn’t fixed sooner than later; and just a wave of voter disgust thanks to eight promise filled years at the national level – things are going to get interesting around here.

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Road priorities need to change

Thank you Department of Highways.

I, along with every other Wayne county resident that utilizes Route 152 through Lavalette was pleased to see fresh paving. That road has become fairly hazardous in spots thanks to poor weather and heavy travel. The paving alleviated those problems.

That is enough with the pleasantries.

Has the state roads ever heard of the word “priority”?

The adjective form according to is, “highest or higher in importance, rank, privilege, etc.” The noun version has several meanings. The first one that struck me was, “something given special importance”. It was the next one that really has some relevance here – “the right to take precedence in obtaining certain supplies, services, facilities, etc., especially during a shortage.”

Guess what is in shortage in this state…funding for road projects and paving. Guess what has the right to take precedence in obtaining certain supplies, services, facilities, etc., especially during a shortage? How about the stretch of Route 52 from Kenova to Prichard?

I do understand that Rt. 152 is a direct route to our great county seat, but Tolsia Highway is a route of potential trade. Within the next few months, that is going to be a route of important trade with the opening of the Heartland Intermodal Facility.

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We all have our own truths

I just want to give a quick reminder to our readers in Wayne County.

The role of a true community newspaper is not just to report the warm and fuzzy stuff. Do not get me wrong. Nothing makes me happier as an editor when I get someone to come up and thank me for something we published. Sometimes it is a picture of a kid who did something in sports, or an academic achievement, or a local citizen making positive impacts on a community or just a good heart-felt feature.

Often times, though this is a thankless job. Can get lonely too. Often times you wonder who really is your friend or who is just trying to further an agenda in the press. Often times this job makes you question your own objectivity. If anything as a man and a journalist, this field has forced me to look at both sides of everything. It has made me a critical thinker even when emotion gets the better of me. An old friend told me a story has two sides and the truth normally lies somewhere in the middle. He was right.

We all have our own truths.

To say controversy does not sell papers would be a lie. People love a juicy story. The ongoing Eric Hodges’ saga is one of them – and that is why this job is difficult. Hodges, despite his alleged transgressions, has family that lives in this county and friends. He is a well-liked individual so headlines involving him can become a point of contention.

The fact of the matter is our role as journalists is to be the “Fourth Estate”. The press is the check and balance to our government – whether it is at the local, state or federal level.

The First Amendment to the Constitution “frees” the press but carries with it a responsibility to be the people’s watchdog. That means we have an ethical duty as journalists to report not only wrongdoing, but keep those involved on their toes.

It is the whole, “We are watching,” mentality.

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It is always about the kids

I have a son with Autism. He is the most loving, smart, unique and funny little guy in my tribe of six kids.

I can relate to the parent’s that were at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting. You literally have to take the bad days with the good. Luckily we truly are blessed with many good days and very few bad ones. To see my son in action, you would never know it.

Like most parents though we see what others, including the school system often does not.

Tuesday’s story on the front page, “Special Services Debate Turns Emotional” highlighted what is going on with special services in Wayne County Schools. I only have so much space to talk about what I believe needs discussed so if you want more details, pick up the prior edition from the office or become an e-subscriber.

Since Tuesday, my phone has ringed with individuals wanting to comment on the events from Tuesday. I have been sent a few emails of concern as well. All along, I have struggled as I listen to what people tell me. I have to struggle with being a parent of a child who could benefit from these services, but also I have to remain as objective as possible while writing on this subject as a journalist.

I see both sides of this issue. Special Services Director Kim Adkins, along with every other director at central office was told by the board in previous meetings at the end of the school year not to wait until the last minute to have contracts approved. Regardless of reasoning, circumstance or confusion – that point was made quite clear. Had these contracts been submitted for board approval in June, then this battle would have taken place in July instead of now. Now, services are still being delivered, but with uncertainty hanging over the contracts. Parents are worried their children that receive Applied Behavior Analysis Services and speech therapy are going to go without or have the services completely shook up. Currently, Kenova has no speech therapist servicing the school. That is alarming.

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Moving forward will take change

Believe nothing you are told and only half of what you see. An old wise man told me this once and I am starting to understand the meaning.

It has been stated by several Westmoreland residents that the plan for the new firehouse is to put it in between the entrance to the Kellogg Elementary student drop-off lane and the school itself. I have been told from both members of the Westmoreland Neighborhood Association’s fire commission and the community that this is true. I and everyone else that attended last month’s meeting heard it publicly stated that it was a done deal.

Not so fast. My instinct told me this was all wrong. Not only is that a terrible spot as anyone who has to travel through that intersection in the morning or mid-afternoon knows. The traffic from Kellogg, Vinson Middle, Spring Valley High School and the VA Hospital shift change intermingle into a cluster of disaster waiting to happen for nine months out of the year. A house would burn down by the time the fire truck left the station.

Secondly, no official vote has been taken by the Wayne County Education to donate, sell or do anything with that property. During a meeting of the Wayne County Board of Education earlier this year Huntington Mayor Steve Williams and police chief Joe Ciccarelli attended. It was to discuss putting a resource officer in Kellogg and Vinson Middle. There was a joke made by Williams that if the school system could find a piece of property in Westmoreland to donate for a fire station, it would be appreciated. I was at that meeting. Apparently, it was presented to Superintendent Sandra Pertee after the meeting to see if in fact it was possible. Only problem is the BOE did not bite. There has never been a discussion of the topic on an agenda since, let alone any other meetings or votes for a decision.

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We’re in this together Wayne Co.

Before State Senator Bob Plymale (D-Wayne) introduced gubernatorial candidate Jim Justice during the C-K Business Association meeting Tuesday, he made a prolific statement.

“The state’s next governor needs to understand the unique situation facing southern and western West Virginia right now,” Plymale said.

We are truly in a unique position.

All the counties that fall under Plymale’s statement are facing a myriad of problems. The coal industry is all but gone. Replacing coal jobs is drug abuse and stagnant local economies. Coal severance money is drying up quicker than a little farm creek in the August heat. Personal property crimes are increasing, as drug abusers need resources to fuel their habits. Our jails are overcrowding by the minute. Social services, community outreaches and county services are at the brink with all they can provide as demand for their services increase against dwindling resources.

I am no groundhog, but I have a pretty solid prediction to make about the election cycle for 2016. Mark your calendars for the Jim Justice-v-Bill Cole showdown for the state’s top office.

Both men have their strong points and their downfalls. They could not be more night and day when it comes to personality, but both do have two things in common that could benefit our region. Both men are from the southern end of the state and both are businessmen.

Now, I think it would be obtuse yet safe to say that one has seen a little more success than the other when it comes to capital ventures. Justice is openly considered one of if not the wealthiest man in West Virginia. Cole has seen success of his own though with a chain of auto dealerships in multiple states. He has risen to be the Senate President. I’d deem that pretty successful.

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Lessons to learn on education

School is back in session.

Parents rejoice, while the children cringe. Teachers are ready to take the blank canvasses of our children and paint them with the brush of knowledge.

Too bad that paint is Common Core brand.

Yesterday, the opinion in the Herald Dispatch headline read, “GOP leaders’ Common Core evaluation premature.” I could not disagree more. I try to remain as middle of the road on topics while presenting both sides, but Common Core is one of those topics as a parent that I cannot say anything positive about.

Well, let me rephrase that. There is one thing I can say that is positive. The utopian idea of having a “common” curriculum through all states is a good idea. There are no borders when it comes to commerce and industry. Having a job pool educated with the same standards should in theory be a positive thing.

The August 7th HD opinion stated, “Logic would suggest that it’s premature to give a failing or passing mark until the school work has been completed and graded.

But that logic apparently isn’t a requirement for some of West Virginia’s Republican leaders when it comes to the Common Core educational standards adopted by the state a few years ago. It’s clear that they plan an all-out assault on Common Core during next year’s legislative session.”

I applaud Senate President Bill Cole, House Speaker Tim Armstead and Delegate Mike Folk, R-Berkeley, for their efforts to end Common Core. And the HD editorial is right on one point.

There will be an all out assault on Common Core and it already has begun.

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Adults ruin youth sports

Parents ruin youth sports. Let me rephrase that. Adults ruin youth sports.

Are you aware that for your child to play for a team in the Tri-State Youth Football League, it is based upon where your child attends school – not lives? Furthermore, there are no waivers to have your child released from one league to play in another. The logic behind it is that they do not want parents pulling their kids from a league based on the individual league’s performance and take them to a more competitive league.

They say they adhere to “WVSSAC standards”. As many know, the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission regulates athletics at the middle school and high school levels – not the elementary school level. Granted, the organization is needed for some stability and consistent guidance, but it has been proven many times over a judge can quickly take the teeth out of any WVSSAC ruling.

Students still transfer freely from school to school. The district lines are continuously blurred. It happens in the Kanawha Valley, it happens at Cabell Midland and it especially has traditionally happened here in Wayne County. Mingo County like Wayne County battles the issue as well with kids jumping back and forth across the river to Kentucky.

But those are middle school and high school kids. Parents do not have to pay money for their kids to play. Of course there are secondary expenses that come up. Unlike youth sports though, a player just shows up for the team and is on the team. There is no participation fee.
In the TSYFL, parents pay an average of $35 to $45 per child depending on if they cheer or play football. Then there are additional fees for additional kids. Take my family for example. I have six kids. If all play football and cheer at the same time that is almost $200 on the low end.

If you have $200 and you need to buy groceries, you have a wide variety of choice where to spend your money. Within 10 miles of my home I can shop at Wal-Mart, Kroger, Shopper’s Value, Sav-A-Lot, Aldi, IGA and Foodfair. That is seven different grocery stores. Well guess what. I cannot take my kids to another league to play within that same 10 miles because the TSYFL says that is a no-no.

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Sometimes kids just need a life lesson

As many people know I am the father of six beautiful and strong-willed children ranging in ages from my oldest at nine to youngest at three. They admittedly are like every other kid today. I call them the “Playstation Generation”. They have Ipods, access to several laptops and a Kindle Fire.

Even my youngest can find a “My Little Pony” video on YouTube with the precision of a molecular scientist. In other words, they have it pretty easy.

My wife and I like many parents work hard to provide for our kids. Often we have to go above and beyond to give them the “extras” – especially my wife. She does a lot of extras for them to pay for trips, clothes, toys and treats. The problem is more times than not the things we do get taken for granted. The Ipod gets lost. The Kindle gets dropped. The computer gets a sippy cup of juice dumped on it.

This past weekend downtown Huntington was the place to be. There was the Hot Dog Festival at Pullman Square and the Regatta at Harris Riverfront. My wife left Saturday morning to go to Charlotte to help her mother move taking the new van with her. It is our most reliable form of transportation – and newest. The A to B Honda Civic can not only hold five passengers at most (leaving two children to ride in the trunk or strapped to the ceiling), but it is also on its last leg. The Ford Expedition, which can seat eight passengers, is also out of commission.

My loving children awoke Saturday morning well rested and ready to go. Problem was I had no way of getting them anywhere. Although it was only a 10-minute conversation, it seemed like their whines and complaints of having nothing to do went on for hours. Especially when you only slept a few hours compared to their nine-hour slumber. One kid can weigh on you. Six can be equated to water boarding. So in my quick thinking, I got online. I do not know if it was desperation or sheer genius, but I got on the TTA website to get the bus schedule. We actually live a block from the bus route.

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Jail bill could be the final nail

Here is a scenario for Wayne County residents to ponder.

When the regional jail system was put into the hands of a state agency to house offenders of the law rather than the locally operated county jails – an unforeseen problem emerged nearly 20 years later. Cost to the counties.

If memory serves me right, the whole push from local jails was overcrowding and cost burden on the counties to house the inmates. Some local county jails had become modern day dungeons. There were complaints of mistreatment of prisoners and a lack of officers to control the jail.

Flash forward to today. In a recent WV MetroNews article by Hoppy Kercheval, West Virginia is facing a serious shortage in correctional officers. According to the article, West Virginia Corrections Commissioner Jim Rubenstein says the shortage of guards at state prisons has reached a critical point. He estimates that more than 300 of the approximately 2,400 corrections staff positions are vacant, and most of those are for correctional officers.

Kercheval writes as a result, “corrections officers are forced into double shifts of 16 hours and mandatory overtime. Many of the corrections officers want some overtime at time-and-a-half because it supplements their low salary (corrections officers start at less than $23,000), but the consistent long hours and low pay are driving many officers to other jobs. Nearly two out of every three hires leave within the first year.”

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A silver lining for completion of I-73/74 King Coal Highway?

Is there finally a silver lining for the completion of the I-73/74 King Coal Highway?

According to a Charleston engineer there is. During Tuesday’s quarterly meeting of the King Coal Highway I-73/74 Authority Metting, John Bullock of Gaddy Engineering introduced the group to new market tax credits.

In Bullock’s words – these are how they work.

The Authority could seek funding to purchase land the road would go through with the caveat that the land company keeps the rest of the tract. Then once the road is developed, the property surrounding the road could be resold to investors to help pay for the project.

Those funds could be facilitated through New Market Tax Credits, according to Bullock.

NMTCs are federal tax credits that were legislated in 2000 with the purpose of encouraging the investment of private capital in designated low-income communities.

They are intended to support business growth, job creation and spur economic development in underserved communities throughout the country. Currently, Gaddy is looking at a stretch of land from Jenny’s Creek in the southern end of Wayne County to Belo in Mingo County.

Bullock said this area meets the requirements to obtain new market credits.

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I lost my friend and mentor

It is hard when we lose a hero or someone we look up to. It is difficult to realize all the advice that helped mold you in some direction from a mentor can no longer be questioned. You are left to put into practice their wisdom.

You pray that all of the conversations, all the teachings and lessons can become active through you. In fact, how much did I listen or absorb?

I became that person this past Tuesday. I lost my mentor. I lost my advice.

I met Ron Ferguson for the first time in January of 2012 when I began working at the Wayne County News. Ron was no stranger to the community or myself. He had owned Ron’s used cars for several years in Kenova. I was at least familiar with him – actually a bit taken back a used car salesman was the editor of a newspaper.

For the next three years, I spent my time with Ron building a life-long friendship and respect. Ron had a history in journalism working for the Ashland Independent and Huntington Newspapers before selling cars. He had covered everything from murder trials to city council meetings. He was always a wealth of knowledge or knew how to handle a situation. He was calm under pressure.

He was passionate about what he did. He would often say he hated the newspaper business but did not want to see the Wayne County News fold into an afterthought. Ron would tell anyone who would listen that is why he got back into newspapers. He was opinionated. You either loved him or hated him based upon what he wrote in his “Ron’s Rambling’s”. IT didn’t matter what side of the fence you were on. You still read it.

The “Grand Poohbah of Wayne County” as we dubbed him in the office, would call me outside or to his desk to talk about the next juicy bit of information he had gathered at the auto parts store or down at the greasy spoon in Wayne during lunch. We would discuss different scenarios and decipher what was truth from lies. Many times our conversations lasted well into the late hours.

There were car trips to Wheeling for football. There will always be an image stuck in my head of Ron with a white button-up shirt, jeans and cigarette resting on his lips as he pulled first prints off the press for careful inspection. A look of distant, yet questioned approval as he looked at the day’s product.

“This is running high red,” Ron would say.

He looked at our staff as family and he treated us as such. He patiently taught us the skills to hone our craft much as a father would his children or a skilled master talking to his apprentice.

“Michael I swear you could be a great writer. You are good, but you would be great if you could ever learn the difference between ‘then’ and ‘than,’” Ron would yell across the newsroom as he edited my stories.

Ron also had advice on life. Many times I would come into the office beaten up with the challenges of raising a large family, paying bills and being a husband my wife could be proud of. No matter my mood, he had some anecdote or story to relate to what I was feeling that day.

He allowed me to use his garage in Kenova as my own whenever I needed to fix a car. He never would do it for me or in most cases show me. Instead he would tell me to take it apart and put it back together because that was the only way I would ever learn.

Pretty prolific stuff if you think about it.

He loved his family. He often talked to us about his wife Roberta and their son Morgan. He beamed about his wife bragging often of their relationship. If you really wanted to see him light up then you had to get him talking about Morgan. He was so proud of the young man his son had become and the future he has in front of him. Ron was proud Morgan worked hard on the family farm, loved tractors and is well on his way to be a very-well respected engineer. Ron was proud of his son’s work ethic and general peace with the world. He helped me appreciate my own children even more.

Ron loved my son Jaxson. He would let me go to their farm and pick black walnuts for pumpkin rolls in the fall. Jaxson would pick up the nuts laughing and running -- talking to the horses. He would say, “Hey Jaxxssson,” whenever I would bring the kids to the office. Of course he loved all of my kids and gave them candy or said hi to them all, but he absolutely adored Jaxson. My kids often ask how Ron is and if I am going to “Ron’s Office” as they began to call the paper as they grew older. I still haven’t told them yet. They adored Ron. He always would tell me when I got off the phone, “Now you take care of them baby’s. Be careful boy.”

He always called me boy. Even though I am 34, he called me boy. I get it now. To him I was and always will be a boy. He was a man and in his eyes, I was still a kid. The same way I have started to look at all high school kids. I can no longer relate, just understand and see myself in them.

I lost my friend and my mentor Tuesday. The things I have learned from Ron Ferguson will always stay in my heart and my thoughts. He was like the grandfather I never really got to have growing up. Full of wisdom. So whatever pasture you ended up at, sitting underneath a huge oak working on a car – continue to pass on your wisdom and pontificate Poohbah. Watch out for deer on your way home.

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Ron Ferguson, center, back row, was managing editor of the WCN from 2011 to 2015. The production crew poses for a photo after the last edition printed at the Wayne location rolled off the press Nov. 15, 2014. WCN file photo

Perfect storm possibly brewing in Wayne County

I am not talking about the hit movie with George Clooney. I am not talking about the recent weather we have been having – although what I am about to write is weather related. It is a perfect storm of sorts.

International meteorologists and weather pontificators announced last week that North America (especially California) could face the strongest El Nino weather pattern since the winter of 1997-98.

The American Meteorological Society published an article in September 1999 outlining the effects of that specific weather pattern.

According to the article, Southern states and California were plagued by storms, whereas the northern half of the nation experienced much above normal cold season temperatures and below normal precipitation and snowfall.

Major economic losses were property and crop damages from storms, loss of business by the recreation industry and by snow removal equipment/supplies manufacturers and sales firms, and government relief costs. Benefits included an estimated saving of 850 lives because of the lack of bad winter weather. Areas of major economic benefits (primarily in the nation’s northern sections) included major reductions in expenditures (and costs) for natural gas and heating oil, record seasonal sales of retail products and homes, lack of spring flood damages, record construction levels, and savings in highway-based and airline transportation.

The estimated direct losses nationally were about $4 billion and the benefits were approximately $19 billion. The highly accurate long-range predictions issued by the Climate Prediction Center in the summer of 1997 for the winter conditions led to some major benefits. For example, the predictions led California to conduct major mitigation efforts and the results suggest these led to a major reduction in losses. Several utilities in the northern United States used the winter forecasts to alter their strategy for purchasing natural gas, leading to major savings to their customers.

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Fort Gay water issues strains town’s economic development

Who would have thought a third-world problem would turn into a first world problem for southern Wayne County?


Approximately 71 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water. The oceans hold 95.5 percent of that total. The human body is made up of 60 percent water.

We all need water to survive. Not only do we need clean water for consumption, we need clean water for agriculture, cooking, bathing and cleaning. We need it for manufacturing.

Does anyone remember the Derecho a few years back? OR what about the Elk River spill? In both instances society in West Virginia came close to the brink. Again, it is a first-world problem, but one that affected West Virginia residents.

We take water for granted until we do not have any.

For several years now Fort Gay residents have been battling a war with water. Utility mismanagement left the Fort Gay water utility in shambles. There was no leadership, no management or oversight to keep that utility running properly.

The Wayne County Commission – already strapped for cash – took over the utility to keep the water flowing. What they inherited was a fiscal mess of a run down facility.

The infrastructure is deteriorated.

According to members of the commission, they have gone to every public funding source they possibly can to get the issues under control. Their efforts have not been fruitful to say the least.

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Potential landslide preventable

Spring Valley residents may want to take note of this – especially those living between JoJo’s Bar and the RPA Memorial Park.

Any day now a hard rain is going to come. There is going to be a natural disaster and I am not talking about flooding in the traditional sense. Instead, the front of your homes could be flooded with earthen debris.

There is a home that sits atop the hill above the creek running alongside Spring Valley Drive. A few months back, I wrote a story about this residence in hopes of getting them some help – and informing the community about the situation.

The Adkins’ have been forced to leave their 2,000+ sq. ft. home due to a massive landslide. They are currently living in a two-bedroom trailer. The insurance company will not pay for the damages or cover the cost of the house. According to Melinda Adkins, the family has $500,000 of coverage that they cannot claim against. The moving earth is considered an “Act of God”.

The family home is split-level. The bottom level where the kids’ bedrooms were became flooded when the ground shifted, busting a water line and destroying everything. Now, black mold has set in making the home completely inhabitable.

The Adkins’ have called the state and FEMA only to get no help. According to the family, the state claims no fault. The neighbors above have begun cutting trees down, which is compounding the situation.

The issue began on the opposite side of the road their house sits on according to the Adkins’. An engineer came out and determined a poorly maintained state road drain caused the problem. Furthermore, the neighbors’ home above theirs is draining onto the Adkins’ property. Over the course of six months, the land and the home have moved several yards. In some spots there is huge breaks in the land.

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Heroin allowed; fireworks not?

I am absolutely tired of local, state and federal lawmakers playing “nanny-state” by telling citizens what they can do within their personal lives.

I think Huntington has finally hit my threshold.

The city is becoming “progressive” in its fight against heroin abuse by implementing the state’s first needle exchange program. The program’s intention is to limit the spike in Hepatitis and HIV cases throughout the area due to dirty needle sharing by users.

The idea is if users have clean needles, then they will not spread disease.

Wonderful. You can openly exchange needles in Huntington, but you cannot let off fireworks. What kind of example does this set?

Westmoreland resident Carole Boster recently was published in the opinion section of our publication’s parent company paper. Boster wrote, “Due to lack of enforcement by previous administrations, use of illegal fireworks has escalated in Huntington as residents compete to see who can set off the loudest, most spectacular display. Fireworks manufacturers feed into this mindset as they attempt to produce more dangerous items than their competitors. That leaves some of as prisoners in our home while fireworks rain down on our roofs and yards into the wee hours of the morning.”

Prisoners? Heroin makes families and neighbors prisoners. Boster went on to write, “Last year in the greater Huntington area, a Wayne County boy was severely burned when he and his brother were playing with fireworks. The boy had to be air lifted to the burn unit of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Last year in Rome, Ohio, a couple lost their lives when fireworks set fire to their home as they slept. In Huntington, a home was set on fire by illegal fireworks. Thanks to a neighbor who saw the flames, the Huntington Fire Department was able to extinguish the fire without serious harm to the home or its residents.”

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What does Wayne County need?

U.S Senator Evan Jenkins returned home to speak at a round-table with Wayne County constituents about what the county needs.

The answer is, “a lot”.

Wayne County needs economic stability. We need the projects county business leaders and political officials are planning/currently working on funded. We need infrastructure. We need support.

For the nearly 20 years I have been a legal voter, it just appears to me that Wayne County has not had support from our highest representatives. We have had voices talking to us.

They have told Wayne County residents that, “I-73/74 will be done by 2002.” We have been told that, “The Beech Fork Lodge is important to not only Wayne County, but the tourism and economic development of West Virginia. We are committing funds.”

We have been told, “Kenova will fix its water, stormwater and sewer problems.” We have been told, “The residents of Fort Gay will have clean water and the sewer problem fixed.” We have been told, “The Prichard Intermodal Facility will bring jobs and economic development to Wayne County.”

We have been told a lot of things Sen. Jenkins.

Wayne County residents have been told things for so long, pardon the scoff if you find many of us find any promises hard to believe when Wayne County is mentioned in the same breathe. That is not even talking about the national promises that have been made to all of this country’s citizens – who like us locally are beginning to sense the desperation evolve into hostile resentment.

Sure, there have been some roads built. There have been some jobs created. There has been some tax breaks and other nibbles given off the table, but we need solid representation in Washington. We need action in Charleston.

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It has been a crazy week

It has been a crazy week in the news.

The Supreme Court ruled to allow gay marriage. The SCOTUS also upheld King-v-Burwell which outlays premium tax credits under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) to people buying private health insurance in all states, both those with exchanges established directly by a state, and those established by the Department of Health and Human Services in states that choose not to set up their own state exchange. Basically, Obamacare is here to stay for a while longer at the least.

You cannot forget the Confederate Flag debacle sparked in South Carolina – a movement that has sparked many merchants to pull any merchandise out of inventory displaying the controversial symbol. It also has labeled anyone a racist within the realm of social media for supporting the flag’s existence.

This all happened as the U.S. military announced Tuesday it will be sending dozens of tanks, Bradley armored fighting vehicles and self-propelled howitzers to allied countries in the Baltics and Eastern Europe in response to Russian actions in the Ukraine, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said.

The equipment, enough to arm one combat brigade, will be positioned in Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Bulgaria, Romania and Poland, Carter announced at a press conference with U.S. allies in Estonia. The equipment will be moved throughout Europe for training exercises.

Congress also quietly passed “fast-track authority” essentially allowing President Obama to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement. The TPP has been highly contested simply on the basis no one understands what it will mean for the country.

Opponents claim it surrenders U.S. sovereignty to multinational corporations, handing them total global monopolies over labor practices, immigration, Big Pharma drug pricing, GMO food labeling, criminalization of garden seeds and much more. In all, the TPP hands over control of 80% of the U.S. economy to global monopolists, and the TPP is set up to enable those corporations to engage in virtually unlimited toxic chemical pollution, medical monopolization, the gutting of labor safety laws. It also potentially outsources American jobs to foreign countries – something the country is still attempting to recover from former free trade agreements.

So what does this all mean for Wayne County residents? I do not know.

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Using tragedy for agenda proof of media ignorance

The shooting in Charleston, South Carolina this week was a sickening act by an obviously disturbed individual. The things I have seen in the national media in the passing days is equaling saddening.

The fact anti-gun activists and race-baiters have come out of the wood works is mind boggling. They have not even began the proper grieving process. Already talking heads were discussing race and gun control. President Obama even delved into the need for stronger gun rights while taking questions on the shooting. It never seizes to amaze me.

Wayne County is pro-gun. We identify as Democrats, but topics such as gun control has forced us to vote Republican in recent elections. There are other factors, but telling the people of West Virginia to stop, “clinging to guns and the Bible” is not the way to win votes around here.

I do not know how many times this can be stated in a straight-forward and obvious manor, but guns do not kill people. People kill people.

Knives are deadly weapons, as are properly sharpened sticks. Bricks and rocks can be used as a deadly weapon. Power cords and simple rope can be used as a deadly weapon. A woman’s high heel can kill someone. So can certain chemicals, so do cigarettes and alcohol and prescription drugs. You can die at the hands of another individual – but the common theme is a person has to use the weapon to kill someone and there are many common things used in daily life that could be deadly.

It is like an obese person blaming forks and butter for their health issues.
That is just the tip of the ice berg.

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Rogersville Shale – remember that name

Monday evening an environmental group called OVEC conducted a “town hall” forum in Westmoreland titled, “Not Your Grandparents’ Oil and Gas Industry”. It was a packed house for the informational meeting.

The meeting entailed what I would typically expect from that kind of meeting. There was a short film showing residents from the Marcellus Shale areas talking about the horror stories involved with the industry. The air pollution, the water pollution, the increased traffic and the raping of the land were all flash points of the short film. Basically the same gripes about the coal industry.

Then a gentleman from Wetzel County did a 15-minute slide show “highlighting” the same above-mentioned issues in his home county. The gentleman actually ended his presentation telling people,” Don’t say I did not warn you.”

A lawyer specializing in mineral and surface rights was up next. He was about the less biased of the group, essentially bound by what the laws of the state appropriate. Even his discussion was talking about the “tricks of the trade” from oil/gas companies utilized to get land and/or mineral rights from property owners. There was even a handout given on what to omit out of a contract for leasing if presented.

I am not against giving out that kind of info. I am not against rallying for the environment.

One resident was for oil/gas coming to Wayne County, while another was cautious.

I for one think it is high time for this state to learn from its mistakes. Coal mining has been a disaster in many ways. It was a boon industry the state centered all of its infrastructure resources to cater to coal only to have the land raped, our workforce abused and jobs snatched through government regulation. Fact is the industry has not always abided by the book when it comes to safety regulations. Ask Don Blankenship how that is working out.

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What happened to ingenuity?

Once upon a time, our communities when faced with a problem rallied together to solve the issue. I have heard stories from various old timers telling tales of how families and neighbors banded together during the Great Depression. Someone was low on food, they all went to their gardens and gave what they could.

Someone’s child had an opportunity to leave the coalfields and get an education, but did not have enough money to get to the “big city”. They didn’t let that stop the young adult from getting an opportunity. They pooled together some cash for a train ticket or the only man with a truck moved the future student up the road to Huntington or Morgantown or Charleston. Heck, the ladies of the community even prepared a few lunch pails with whatever they could come up with for the journey.

Resources are thin and more than ever the sense of neighborhoods and strengthening communities is more vital than ever. It was a breathe of fresh air to have Gladys Hamer come forward to help save Dreamland Pool this past week. I honestly thought it was gone.

Philanthropy is all but dead in this day and age. However, people such as Mrs. Hamer are the difference makers when government is no longer an option. Everyone expects government to provide, but what do you do when government is having a hard time providing for itself?

Currently, there are a lot of good things going on from citizen groups in Northern Wayne County. Last year when their backs were against the wall and a new school was looking like nothing but a pipe dream, members of the Ceredo-Kenova and Crum communities fought for new schools. Whether I, or anyone on the staff agreed with the school bond vote, they informed their communities and got people out to vote in favor. Two new schools are being built with renovations on a third.

That was grass roots activism.

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State road funding misguided

The state song is “Country Roads”.

Only problem is the funding for some of the state’s roads is not going where it belongs. Corridor H? Great job guys. Pat yourselves on the back.

Two weeks after finalizing bids for the completion of U.S. 35, the West Virginia Division of Highways has announced the winning contract for the 14.6-mile project.

On Tuesday, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox announced that Lexington-based Bizzack Construction had been awarded the contract to grade and prepare the drainage systems for the proposed route through Putnam and Mason counties.

The offer is the largest contract ever awarded by the state, but it is only the second project ever financed through the public private partnership financing method.

Tomblin said, “Investing in our state’s infrastructure is critical to our state’s continued economic growth. With today’s bid awarding for the completion US Route 35, we are ensuring the safety of our residents and making it easier for new and existing businesses to expand as part of West Virginia’s growing economy.”

Wow. There you have it –another investment in infrastructure that does not benefit Wayne County or the development of the I-73/74 corridor.

Never mind the fact Wayne County is home to the Heartland Intermodal Project. Also do not pay attention to the fact that the project is a potential economic windfall for not only the county or region. Do not mind the project needs as County Commissioner Kenny Adkins put it, “Interstate quality roads connecting it to other interstates being vital to the facility’s success.” Do not pay any attention to it readers. Charleston obviously isn’t. What is Tomblin’s reaction? Well he was busy Tuesday also responding to Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo’s announced plan calling for the Kentucky Mountain Parkway to be expanded through West Virginia to Beckley. Kentucky lawmakers have already approved a 10-year, $753 million project to widen a 46-mile stretch of the parkway that, when completed, would create a 400-mile stretch of four-lane highway between Paducah and Pikeville.

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Things are going down the toilet in Prichard

Things are going down the toilet in Prichard.

Not just figuratively, but literally.

This past Thursday I was invited by a community member to be witness to a meeting at the Prichard Public Service District concerning a foul odor that is in the air in Prichard. It was your typical angry citizen-vs-(insert public utility) meeting. I feel for both sides of this issue. Is it the sewer plant’s fault? Honestly, I could not see or smell how it is.

I did however finally get a whiff of what everyone was talking about on my way out of town. If that is what I were smelling nightly as residents complained, then I would be angry and looking for blame too.

I live near Huntington’s treatment plant so trust me. I have smelled some terrible smells.

The odor problem is just not the only thing stinking though.

Several things came to mind during this meeting. 1) Do not tell a newspaper reporter that your last name is “none of their business” when not only are you the operator of a public utility, you are someone whose father-in-law spoke highly of while alive and considered a friend. It is a big county, with small borders. Everyone knows everyone. Not good for business and it makes you appear suspicious even if you really are not doing anything. 2) If you are a public utility, all meetings of your board need to be made public. It is public money at a public meeting and the public should be informed. The paper has not received a single public announcement of any board meetings concerning the PPSD.

I’m not even going to tell you we would be at all of them to cover, but without Facebook, no one at the paper would have known about this issue.

Those are just small petty things. There is a much bigger issue at play here that I think local and state officials need to take a look at. Where is the Heartland Intermodal located? Prichard.

Where is there a foul odor encompassing the community? Prichard.

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‘Cameragate’ decision sets very bad example

“Cameragate” has been the topic of discussion in Wayne for a little more than a year now. For those of you unfamiliar with what I am referring to – Scott D. Followay, Jeffrey L. Spence and James “Junior” Ramey III entered an outside building known as “Big Red” on the campus of Wayne High School to install a camera in the ceiling of the building disguising it in a smoke detector.

Their reasons for such action was to catch an “alleged” affair in progress.

Was there an affair going on? Some things are none of our business. We are all entitled to private lives. Did something happen on public property? If so, those people should be punished by the powers that be – even still it is none of the public’s business unless it is a criminal act. In this case, the school administration and the school board should step in.

What I gather, an investigation turned up no evidence, but the parties involved were reprimanded. We are innocent until proven guilty.

What is the public’s business is a camera being placed in a building used as a weight room as well as a locker room for visiting teams during football, baseball and softball seasons, especially in a building that is for both young men and women to use.

Minors, who were utilizing the space with the expectation of privacy, were potentially exposed to being filmed privately without knowledge. Now we know from WHS parents that attended a meeting where the footage of the tapes was shown that no minor was filmed in an inappropriate manner.

They still could have been.

Judge James H. Young Jr. accepted a no contest plea to trespassing and a destruction of property charge was dismissed. Prosecuting attorney Tom Plymale said there is no law or required punishment for a situation like this one. In what state are you speaking of?

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Wayne County needs the Hatfield-McCoy Trails

How many readers own an ATV or know someone who does?

Almost any time day or night, ATVs are the unofficial second vehicle of Wayne County residents. Despite it being illegal to ride on a paved, lined road in most parts of the state (except Gilbert and sections of Matewan) – they are commonplace on our county roads.

There is a magical place in Wayne County, a Graceland for ATV riders if I may.

Go out to the last campsite at the East Lynn Lake campground, walk a few yards past a fenced off dirt road and you will find it. Not many people know, but there is an ATV superhighway located there.

Any of the area gas stations and business owners will tell you during the summer months their businesses are frequented by truckloads of riders. Often those trucks are pulling trailers with three and four ATVS. They spend money on gas, food, beverages and ice.

Two years ago, I went to check this ATV trail that for those in the know is the county’s worst kept secret. I was amazed by the amounts of riders that were out. In one hour’s time, I counted 57 different riders pass by just yards from East Lynn Lake. I met a doctor, a gas line worker and a family out for a Sunday ride – all from different walks of life. I met one family that had come from Michigan to spend part of their summer vacation riding this illegal trail. They said they look forward to it every year.

One individual told me there is even cabins built on family properties all throughout the trail.

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Community can have an impact

Positive change occurs in communities when citizens become engaged in the small world around them. From community food drives to neighborhood association meetings to youth sports - each providing an opportunity to participate.

Recently, it appears on the national and world scenes that news coverage has lost touch with the “good news.” So often the good news is saved for the last sound bite. The fast-paced “Information Age” has taken over the traditional news cycle making breaking news the expected norm.

It is unfortunate for the Wayne County News that we publish bi-weekly. Sometimes it is challenging to put some “new car smell” into a three-day-old story. The positive to that though is we have a niche. Our goal is not to keep up with the blink-of-an-eye turnaround other media outlets provide.

Instead, we are a community newspaper.

Recently, I have taken a leadership role here at the paper with the goal of making county residents truly believe that the Wayne County News is their community voice.

My mission is to ensure the validity of this paper throughout the communities that make up our wonderful home. I want to bring the “news you can use.” That is not to say we will not continue to strive to report the hard investigative pieces on topics throughout the county, but it does mean we will work hard to report what you the reader want to see.

That is why I am asking all residents of Wayne County to come “work” for us. We want to publish your story. We want to know what is on your minds and going on in your lives.

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Milk, liberty and compromise

The battle for Raw Milk consumption in West Virginia soured earlier this year after Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed a bill that would have allowed herd sharing.

In layman’s terms, herd sharing meant two or more people could co-own a dairy animal for the purpose of sharing the goods produced from the animal. Basically residents would be able to share raw milk.

House approved it and so did the Senate, but Tomblin vetoed it.

Recently, the owners of Lucas Farms in Wayne County organized a protest of the veto on the Capitol steps in Charleston. An honest sized group protested the veto calling it an, “infringement on private citizen liberties.” That has pretty much been the theme this week in Wayne County after several parents fought the school board to opt out their kids from assessment testing.

Supporters of raw milk cite the fact our forefathers drank unpasteurized milk for centuries. They claim it is natural, free of chemicals and an individual right to consume raw milk.

Opponents, including Tomblin, believe it is a matter of public health. Delegate Don Perdue (D-Wayne) was one of the most vocal opponents of the bill in the House. The former Health and Human Resources committee chairman said it is a matter of science.

Perdue said that both the Food and Drug Administration, along with the Center for Disease Control do not support raw milk consumption. Both entities claim it is a risky practice due to the possible spread of diseases such as e-coli.

Perdue said that although raw milk consumption was the norm for hundreds of years, now is not the case. He said that the risk of spreading bacteria that is building immunity to antibiotics and mutating was not a problem 200 years ago.

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Testing people’s patience American education style

As journalists, it is our goal to remain objective at all times.

We are community members, which often puts us in a direct moral conflict of keeping personal opinion out of the paper.

The positive is we have trained minds for objectivity and try to search for “everyone’s truth” during times of conflicting information. The situation with school testing and parents’ choice to opt students out of said testing is definitely one of those times.

On one side, you have Superintendent Sandra Pertee, central office administration and the faculty at these individual schools. They are sworn to uphold the rules and regulations set forth by not only the West Virginia Board of Education, the West Virginia Department of Education - but ultimately the U.S. Department of Education.

In other words, they are just “doing their jobs”- a job that sometimes forces hard decisions to be made.

Friday afternoon, Pertee along with Director of Assessment John Waugaman conducted an assembly at Spring Valley High School with students whose parents had signed opt-out forms from Smarter Balance testing scheduled to begin this week. Essentially, the central office duo told the students that there is no statute on state books allowing students to opt out of standardized testing.

Which brings us to the parents who believe their civil liberties to make decisions for their children’s education are being trampled on. The parents are against Common Core curriculum, they are against what is being viewed as “pervasive” information mining, and overall, do not see the value in the Smarter Balance testing. They believe it is their right as taxpayers to pull their student from testing.

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It may be time for ‘prehab’

I was scrolling through my Facebook Easter Sunday to see pictures of my friends’ kids and families dressed in their new outfits, along with evidence the bunny had come to visit their homes.

I saw some kids squirming due to the tight church clothes they were being forced to wear. I saw pictures of excited youngsters receiving the creative baskets mom and dad had painfully constructed.

The pictures and posts made me smile. Then, I saw it. There was a post no one takes pleasure in reading. A former classmate had posted his brother and his brother’s wife had been found dead in their home. Their son had discovered the pair.

The couple was from South Charleston. My connection to them is that I grew up with both of them. I have memories of endless hours of classroom time together, sleepovers, school functions, athletic events, dances and long summer days being teenagers on the streets of St. Albans.

I have fond memories of both of them - not of what I was reading.

They presumably died of a heroin overdose. According to WSAZ, they were two of eight heroin overdoses reported in Kanawha County alone Easter weekend. My childhood friends left behind three children and a mourning family.

Apparently the couple had struggled with addiction for some time, but I had no idea. The only perception I have of them is two high school sweethearts who were loved by so many. Not addicts. Their Facebook posts show loving parents just trying to raise their families like the rest of us - never a hint of addiction.

And to be honest with you, I will naively keep my former memories of them. To me they will be forever young.

So what is the point of this to tell you about my friends?

Heroin and pills have claimed the lives of people I grew up with from Wayne County back to the Kanawha Valley. It breaks my heart to see people that had so much promise lose their lives to addiction.

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Construction of the Heartland Intermodal Gateway facility continues on Thursday, March 12, in Prichard. By Lori Wolfe/The Herald-Dispatch

Time to move on naming an Intermodal operator

Wayne County News Editorial

Construction on the Heartland Intermodal Gateway at Prichard is on track for the facility to open late this year.

The long-awaited project is designed to connect Wayne County and the Tri-State to the world of global shipping. But a critical piece of the public-private project is still up in the air – naming the private company that will operate the cargo transfer station.

The project was first unveiled in 2003, as Norfolk Southern Railroad and government leaders recognized the potential of expanding shipping between the major Atlantic port of Norfolk, Virginia, and the Midwest by raising the height on tunnels through our region. That work allowed the double stacking of the large shipping containers used in international shipping, and the first double stacked trains began rolling through in 2010.

When the new Prichard center opens, those containers can be unloaded from the Norfolk Southern rail line to trucks and from trucks to containers and rail cars. Eventually, officials hope to add connections to river barges along the Big Sandy River and air shipping at Tri-State Airport.

The shipping hub will provide an advantage for local industry, allowing companies to ship and receive parts and product more quickly. But it also will provide a new way for businesses in the region to ship out to the rest of the world, and officials hope that capability will draw warehousing and distribution centers that would benefit from locating close to the cargo transfer station.

The West Virginia Port Authority, which is a major public player in developing the intermodal facility, is charged with reviewing detailed proposals from private companies interested in handling the day-to-day operations and maintenance for the complex. Local leaders hope a decision is made soon.

“The critical piece is now,” state Sen. Robert Plymale told The Herald-Dispatch last month. “We’ve reached the point where companies are making decisions on what intermodal facilities they’re going to be using, and they need to know as soon as possible who the operator is going to be and what is going on.”

It certainly makes sense to move ahead with naming the operator. If the goal of attracting new business in and around the cargo center is to be realized, interested businesses need to see that a strong private partner is on board to ensure a well-managed facility.

Let’s hope a decision on the private operator is coming soon, and this game-changing project does not face any more unnecessary delays.

Hugh Roberts, the former carpentry teacher at Tolsia High School and current assistant principal at Spring Valley High School CTE, instructs a Tolsia student on building construction. Roberts was named the first recipient of a national CTE award in 2014. Photo submitted

Schools expand career focus

Wayne County
News Editorial

There was a time when a young person could find a decent job with just a high school degree.

But those days are numbered, and today students graduating from high school need to be ready for post-secondary education or participating in training programs that will provide them with the skills that the job market demands.

That is why the Career and Technical Education program at Wayne County’s high schools is so important. As Reporter Michael Hupp detailed in last Saturday’s Progress Edition, the Wayne County program is finding great success connecting students to the training that will help them get a start with meaningful careers.

From “simulated workplace” environments to agri-business, health care and technical training, the CTE programs are introducing students to the responsibilities of the workplace and what it takes to get started.

“We teach workplace skills that they will need, regardless of if they go the next level of learning or straight to the workforce,” CTE Director Velvet Kelly said. The real-world emphasis also helps student understand the practical applications of what they study in school.

“A student may have difficulties visualizing how photosynthesis applies in a text, but once they see it in practice, then it clicks,” Kelly noted. “They have a moment when it all makes sense.”

That is a more critical step than ever, because the job market has changed. Many of the old careers have faded away, but jobs are available if the graduate has the right skills.

A recent survey by the the Huntington Area Development Council, which serves Wayne County, found more than 700 job current job openings, but many employers said they have difficulty finding qualified candidates to fill them.

“It’s important that parents and students understand what careers are out there for them, what kind of education it takes to get those jobs, and the skill sets they need to have,” said Kathy D’Antoni of the West Virginia Department of Education, who visited Wayne County schools last year to recognize the CTE program. “That’s why Career and Technical Education is so important, because it allows students to find where their interest lies.”

It is good to see Wayne County Schools taking the lead on practical programs to help our students find good careers right here in the Tri-State.

30 YEARS IN THE MAKING – In April of 2012, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, surrounded by officials and community members, is all smiles after signing Senate Bill 362, funding about $28 million for the lodge at Beech Fork Lake. Tomblin recently vetoed issuing the bonds for the Beech Fork project. WCN photo by Diane Pottorff

State needs to “find a way” with Beech Fork lodge

Wayne County
News Editorial

It was a pretty April day in 2012 when West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin sat on the shores of Beech Fork Lake and signed a bill authorizing a bond sale of $28 million to construct a lodge and conference center at the state park.

But the bonds were never issued, and the project Wayne County leaders have worked on for decades remained in limbo for another three years.

A legislative effort this year to get the ball rolling again turned to disappointment once more, when this week Tomblin vetoed issuing the bonds for Beech Fork and another project at Cacapon State Park. The governor explained he felt issuing the bonds would downgrade the state’s bond rating because of declining revenue in the state lottery fund.

This latest setback has some questioning whether state leaders were ever really behind the project.

“I am bitter about all of this,” Delegate Don Perdue told the Wayne County News on Tuesday. “The way it looks, it is like this administration never had a real desire to see both of these projects go forward.”

Tomblin’s office maintains he remains committed to the projects and “continues to work with his administration to explore other options to finance the project while remaining committed to fiscally responsible policies.”

Residents of Wayne and Cabell counties need to make sure Tomblin does not forget his pledge. If lottery-backed bonds are not a workable approach, the state needs to find another funding source, because the lodge represents a solid investment in local and regional tourism.

Building the planned 75-room lodge with restaurant, indoor swimming pool and meeting facilities would enable the already popular state park to host conferences, reunions and other events. That could be an important boost to tourism in Wayne County, but the project also holds great promise beyond that.

Wayne County has the potential to tie into the growing Hatfield McCoy Trails for all terrain vehicles. An enhanced Beech Fork State Park would provide an additional gateway to the trail system on the western side of the state with air service and interstate access to easily connect with large population centers in the Midwest.

This is a project that benefits our region and the entire state of West Virginia, and it is time to find a way to get it done.
Contacting the governor
MAIL: Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, 1900 Kanawha Boulevard, East, Charleston, WV, 25305.
PHONE: (304) 558-2000.


Current board continuing
previous panels’ miscues?

There have been mumblings and grumblings from various and sundry Wayne Countians over the past three-plus years of my association with The Wayne County News concerning salaries of the county Board of Education’s Central Office.

The complaints and gripes have come from private citizens, teachers, business people and even certain elected officials.

Many have called for an “investigation.” Others have just shaken their heads, while some have “tsk, tsked” and noted that’s the way it’s always been.

One, however, pointed out the salaries of those school officials “On the Hill” far exceeded those of “this entire school” as he swung his arm encompassing one of the county’s largest seat of academic instruction.

One of those elected to a county office even mentioned that courthouse officials will make no comments regarding what goes on “across the street.”

With the latest recommendation from the county board to increase the pay of current Superintendent Sandra Pertee to bring her pay to a level enjoyed by others with the same jobs in other counties, we did a little research.

You can, too. Just google “”

If you do, you will find 21 directors, coordinators or those with titles, account for $1,595,679.95 of Wayne Count schools budget. This includes the board’s attorney ($92,600) and treasurer ($83,830.59).

Or, an average yearly salary of $75,984.76. This includes one coordinator who only earns $22,273 and another’s whose pay is $48,663.45. If these lower salaries were taken out of the equation, the average pay would be more than $80,000.

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‘Thor:’ winter’s last gasp?
If not, we’ve had enough


In Norse mythology, ‘Thor’ was the god of thunder and weather.

Didn’t hear any thunder this week, but doggone it, we sure got the weather.

Despite local meteorologists’ lackluster past predictions, they get kudos for predicting Wednesday and Thursday’s snow and cold.

A foot of snow hit the Kenova area and coming on top of Wednesday’s all-day rain, a base of ice made travel of any kind, nearly impossible.

By late evening Wednesday, inches of the white stuff had covered the county and the “falling weather” didn’t let up until mid-afternoon Thursday.

Schools in all 55 West Virginia counties were cancelled, businesses were closed, and again, Wayne County and surrounding areas were virtually at a standstill.

A traffic snarl on hilly I-65 near Louisville left motorists stranded for some 15 hours as 21 inches of snow hit the area.

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin declared states of emergencies.

The Huntington Mall in Barboursville and Charleston Town Center closed early.

West Virginia University, Fairmont State, Bluefield State and Marshall also closed Thursday. Marshall remained closed Friday.

Many residents throughout the Tri-State were without power, some even on Friday due to the heavy snow uprooting trees, breaking limbs or downing power lines. Some 80,000 customers lost service in the storm.

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Drug tests a good idea
for assistance applicants


A former “friend’ of mine who happens to be a delegate in the state legislature recently wrote a column, published in the Herald-Dispatch, explaining why applicants for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families with previous drug-related convictions should not be required to undergo drug tests as a qualification for the program.


Why not?

If the former friend needed a job, he would probably be required to get tested.

When The Herald-Dispatch bought The Wayne News, those who were hired back had to submit to a drug test.

I had to pee in a cup for my other job with an auto parts company.

Why should someone receiving state money, federal money (my tax money) be exempt?

They are being paid.

The delegate said the cash assistance could amount to $460 a month for a mother of four.

True, that’s not a lot of money for five people, but if they are poor they would also qualify for other programs.

He says they should be exempt because they are poor.


I’ve been poor most of my life, I just happened to marry someone with a good job.

What’s being poor got to do with taking a drug test?

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‘Extra snow,’ a lot to handle


On the drive to “Out Wayne” Wednesday, some weather guru on the radio said we could get some “extra snow” later that day.


Lordy! Far as I’m concerned the very first flake that fell this year was too much. It was “extra snow.”

All you cold weather lovers out there need to ignore me. It seems the older I get, the less I like ole Man Winter.

About five years ago, my son and I went to McAllen, Texas, for the wedding of my Army buddy’s daughter.

It was the middle of November. Every day the temperature was 75-80 degrees. Shorts and tennis shoes were the norm.

In November!

‘Course it does get cold there occasionally.

One day, he mentioned it was going to get into the 40s, “with rain. Going to be cold,” he said.

Not like the minus-12 at my house Friday!

During my time stationed at Fort Lee, Va., in the late 60s, he said he had never seen snow except in pictures and on TV.

He came home with me every weekend but one, and on one occasion as we left Huntington (AWOL again), it snowed. He was amazed.

A few years back, he sent pictures of his first white Christmas in McAllen.

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Some tips from an old driver


Monday morning’s cold and snowy start brought tough driving conditions and a few frozen water lines (at the Ferguson Plantation) and a lot of inconvenience.

But the weather cannot be an excuse when folks have jobs. Many workers, such as government, can usually stay home (quite often it benefits the rest of us) and still get paid, or at least are not penalized.

But headed to work at 7 a.m. Monday morning, after a certain young engineer had thawed the water lines, other drivers’ habits on the snowy roadway drew attention.

Although the local highway department has worked diligently to keep roads passable, single-digit temperatures and below-zero wind-chills are not favorable to treatment of roadways.

Growing up in the 50s and 60s, there weren’t many four-wheel drive vehicles around. Now there are four in our three-person household. And, there are two four-wheel drive tractors.

Back then, we learned to drive in the snow with only two-wheel drive – and only rear-wheel drive – and we did okay.

Sure, once in a while we’d get stuck, but help was usually only a phone call (maybe at the end of a walk) away. Try driving a 60s muscle car in four to six inches of snow… Too much muscle and not enough traction.

But with the marketing of so many four-wheel drive vehicles, owners think they can go anywhere at any speed.

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Real Wayne Countian,
and darn proud of it


We here in West Virginia are always caricaturized in movies and on TV as illiterate, ignorant, inbred fools who are married to our cousins, quit school in the first grade, chew tobacco, carry a jug of moonshine, live in squalor and are just downright – stupid.

Think the “Buckwild” TV program, a reality series about some idiot kids who were drunk half the time and crazy all the time. The show lasted until one of the stars (and two relatives) wound up dead and another jailed on drug charges.

True, some of us chew tobacco and some probably carry moonshine around. Lord knows there’s lots of dope available, but… we all didn’t marry our cousins and some of us managed a third or fourth grade education.

Wayne Countians are a bit different than other West Virginians.

Several years ago, in a heated discussion with a bank manager brought in from the Northern part of the state, I told him that, “If you haven’t noticed, people in this area are a little different than those up North.

“People around here are more dependable – you can take them at their word and they’re not out to take advantage of other people. We’re different here than those… even from Milton north.”

“I have noticed,” he said.

It’s true. Don’t know if it’s the Appalachian heritage or the influence of the true South and its gentility, but Wayne County people as a whole, are more polite and respectful than those up North.

Examples of that rudeness are as common as chants from visiting teams. Several years ago, supporters of Spring Valley sports were often slammed with slurs from other teams, one local school in particular would chant, “Wayne… County… trailer trash!”

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Football fans ‘bowled’ over


I love football.

Have for years and years.

High school, college, pro… doesn’t matter.

Even midge (oops! gotta be politically correct) “youth” football, when played the right way with all the players getting a shot, and not running up the score with the first team the whole way, can be interesting. It’s nice to see the youngsters learning the game and proper techniques to block and tackle, seeing it truly takes a “team.”

And, I’m a lucky husband. My wife likes the game just as much, if not more, than I do. Soon after we tied the knot, I was telling her about a movie we had talked about but had not seen, being shown on TV that evening.

“But isn’t there a football game?” she asked.

“Yeah, but it’s somebody like the Jets and Buccaneers who haven’t won three games between them,” I said.

“I know – but,” she came right back, “it’s football.”


Thinking about how many guys who liked football, but whose wives refused to watch it with them…

I think the Jets lost.

Saw the movie on reruns.

Over the Christmas-New Year’s break we always watch a lot of football and this year was no different. A few days this recently the big screen was tuned to bowl games from noon to midnight, while the normal-sized TV went virtually unwatched.

Lots of games.

The motto at the Ferguson farm is “Watch as many bowl games as possible, ‘cause it’s a long time before football starts again.”

But, I think even we were a little bit “bowled out” over the number of bowls. Seems like half the major college teams played in post-season games.

Wait a minute…

There are 128 schools listed in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision of the NCAA…

And there are 39 bowl games!

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Natural vs. artificial turf:
Grass is still the best


The debate goes on.

Natural grass vs. artificial surfaces.

Football on grass, dirt, mud…

Football on Field Turf…

We’ve all seen a player taken off the field on a cart with a severe leg injury.

It’s a terrible thing, whether it’s a professional player or a high schooler. Whether they’re playing for money, a scholarship or just to be part of a team.

Happens all the time.

Players now are bigger, stronger, and faster than when football first began.

Collisions are more violent.

The human body can take only so much.

Remember when AstroTurf came on the scene?

The Houston Astros, a professional baseball team in Texas, built the first indoor sports facility and couldn’t get grass to grow. Not enough light.

So somebody came up with a green, grass like material that looked like grass, kinda felt like grass and laid it down over the field.

The Astros used it and those who saw it thought it to be the greatest thing since sliced bread.

The Houston football team, the Oilers, used the same facility.

Everyone went “WOW!”

Players felt they were faster. Their uniforms didn’t get dirty and, since they were playing inside, the building could be heated or air-conditioned.


Being plastic, the material could also be used outdoors. So very soon, practically every pro, then college, stadium in the country went to the “plastic grass.”

Spectators didn’t have to wonder if it was number 88 or 86 or 80 who made the play since there was no dirt or mud to obscure the letters.

How wonderful!

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Delegates need to take action on cell phone service in the county

I recently wrote a post on my Kenova Friends Facebook page about the lack of cell phone coverage in certain parts of Wayne County. Last week, I went out to the Crum Pizza House to enjoy one of their pizzas. While driving there from Kenova, I noticed that my cell phone had lost its signal way before I passed Tolsia High School. I still did not have cell phone service while sitting in the restaurant. I was shocked to learn that I did not have service because Route 52 is supposed to be the main highway from Kenova to Williamson. Otherwise, one would have to drive to Charleston and travel across U.S. 119.

Much talk has been made about upgrading Route 52 due to the Intermodal Facility that is starting up in the Prichard area. This facility will not only benefit the Kenova area, but the area of Crum as well. In fact, if the Intermodal Facility creates jobs as it has been predicted, local and non-local area residents will become employees of the facility. These non-local residents may choose to move to the area rather than commute and will need to find housing. I could only assume they would want cell phone service just as the people currently living in the Crum area do.

This article is not about the highway being upgraded. That issue has been previously addressed and we already know it is an absolute requirement for that area. I would suggest that the highway upgrade and cell phone service issues are tied to each other. This writing is a plea for anyone who has the power to make those changes, do so and listen to the people in Crum. They want and need cell service in that area. After writing the Facebook post, I became aware of other areas in Wayne County without cell phone service too. We can’t just say, “Let’s get cell phone service coverage in all of Wayne County”. It is not the most practical way to approach the issue. I am a realist and know the best way to approach the problem is to take it one step at a time – one area of the county at a time. Eventually, we can get cell phone service for most, if not the entire county, but one step at a time will work best in this matter.

The potential of an emergency occurring in the Crum area with the lack of cell phone service would be an absolute disaster. Everyone has read about the shooters in various schools across the country. How much damage and how many children could be harmed if a crazed individual cut the phone lines to Tolsia High School where there is no cell phone service? Do I really need to say more? The same goes for any business if landline service was interrupted. How could the owner continue to go about conducting their daily business without having the option of using a cellphone? As they say in the movie Ghostbusters, “Who they gonna call?”

The Facebook post also had one person commenting about Internet service lacking in that area. I don’t know how big of a problem it is, but with a couple of schools in that area and the internet being a major resource for our children to learn, I would think that would be a major educational concern.

Lastly, I mentioned in the post that as a Candidate for Sheriff of Wayne County and if elected, I would use public safety as the need and theme for persuading officials to install cell phone towers in the Crum area. So many emergency situations in law enforcement dictate the use of cell phones to communicate. I find it inconceivable that there is no cell phone service in the Crum area.

I would ask at this time for our House of Delegate Representatives; Don Perdue and Kenny Hicks to take action on this issue and help the forgotten people of Crum to get cell phone service. I know them both and have the highest respect for each of them. I know they will work diligently to do the right thing.

Ray Mossman


Don Perdue

Looking toward a better, brighter Wayne County

Despite all the potential that has existed along the way for temporary setbacks to become permanent failures, the Intermodal Facility at Prichard (The Heartland Intermodal Gateway) will be opening very soon.

Six years ago (when I took the job as Executive Director of the WCEDA) many believed it would be completed within a year or two, but circumstances, funding and political will were not forthcoming at that time. To the credit of everyone involved (from local citizen advocates, county officials, both federal and local legislators, the business community and the railroad) this important new opportunity is arriving at (now) breakneck speed.

With the contracting of PARSEC Inc. to operate the facility, the next to last puzzle piece has been set in place. What remains now is to build on the promise and achieve the economic activity envisioned many years ago. The naysayers and critics will still be with us, but they will rapidly become a vanishing breed, as they have in places like Hampton Roads, Virginia and (more recently) Mechanicsville. New York.

From the beginning, I have believed HIG has the potential to “re-purpose” not only Wayne County, but the entire southern coalfields region. New endeavors in transportation, logistics and agriculture coupled with advantages to manufacturers with international marketing structures (that a portal such as Prichard will expose) will yield an economic groundswell.

At the same time, the struggle to upgrade infrastructure (four-lane upgrade of Tolsia Highway, improved water and wastewater infrastructure) will continue unabated. Right now the granting process for the water-line upgrade is in full swing and I believe will yield a positive result over the next year or so. Discussions have begun on how best to serve wastewater treatment not only for Prichard but on a much larger scale in the area from Fort Gay to Kenova.

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Keeping the tradition alive is so important for our towns and future generations

By Michelle Watts
C-K Class of 1990

As I turned the corner from Oak Street, a corner I have turned on no fewer than a million times in my life, I saw the other side of the Ohio River for the first time without Old Main standing there. I got a little choked up, and a little teary when I realized that the parking spot I was pulling into was on our baseball field....

I’ve been here since C-K closed. I stood with my family last Fall and took photos in front of the old campus one last time. I knew the elementary was here now and would soon be replaced by a beautiful new school. I just didn’t expect to be emotional about it all. Then it hit me...

It’s a Friday...26 years ago, at this time, we would’ve been getting ready for a pep rally to cheer on The Wonders. The band would’ve been squeezing in one last practice before launching into “Fight” or “Hail”. The afternoon would bleed into prep for the game...The cheerleaders and majorettes would have been sharing cans of Aqua Net in the band room bathrooms and making sure our hair was appropriately curled and varnished to withstand the weather. You could hear the cleats on the pavement as the boys of Fall made their way from the locker rooms...And then we would all take the field.

It isn’t lost on me that if I followed from my parking spot right now, through the school and over to the press box; I would be on that old 50 yard line with Missie on one side and Lisa on the other. I can hear Trey Heather Morrone yelling “knees up” and “point your toes”....I can smell the concession stand...I can hear the band and I can feel every Friday night of my life from the age of 1 until I was 18...Those days were glorious. They were Wonderful.

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Statement from Chief Poston regarding recent Ceredo-Kenova mutual aid questions

To put to rest some of the rumors being said about the Ceredo Police Department not assisting other agencies is totally false. We have always and will continue to back up officers from other agencies when requested. Their safety as well as the public is our number one concern. We have been a part of a Mutual Aid Response Agreement with the Huntington Police Department, The Wayne County Sheriff’s Department and the Kenova Police Department for many years now. These Mutual Aid Agreements serve to benefit Ceredo’s officers as well when they are in need of outside assistance. We normally work with one officer on a shift at a time, but when requested we will assist in any way we can. We have never, not assisted an agency in an emergency situation, We ask that you do not believe these remarks being said and to call the Ceredo Police Department if you have any questions about what’s being published in social media. This situation at the Kenova Police Department is very concerning for everyone and when they hurt, we do too. We wish only the best for the Kenova Police Department and its community.


Most fireworks should be left to the professionals


Due to lack of enforcement by previous administrations, use of illegal fireworks has escalated in Huntington as residents compete to see who can set off the loudest, most spectacular display. Fireworks manufacturers feed into this mindset as they attempt to produce more dangerous items than their competitors.
That leaves some of as prisoners in our home while fireworks rain down on our roofs and yards into the wee hours of the morning. Here are some facts you should know:

1) The ONLY fireworks legal for use by other than pyrotechnical professionals licensed by the West Virginia Fire Marshal are:
Ground based items such as sparklers; glow worms; party poppers; string poppers; and wire sparklers, etc. State code 29-3-24 and city code 545.10.

2) Illegal for use are firecrackers; large reloadable shells; festival balls or shots; cherry bombs; aerial bombs such as skyrockets; Roman candles; daygo bombs; M-80 salutes; and other like items. If it is propelled into the air or makes a report, it is illegal for use.
Why are these laws important?

A press release from the state Fire Marshal states that each year teens and children are killed or permanently injured by consumer fireworks people thought were safe to handle.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission states the main ingredient in fireworks is black powder (AKA gunpowder) and was never meant for consumer use in fireworks. According to the National Fire Protection Association, fireworks cause more property damage than all other fire causes combined for the Fourth of July in the United States.

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Dear Editor,

I want to apologize to our many WFGH listeners for being off the air so long, except on the website. As you know, I have been telling you that a power amplifier which cost $5,600.00 was on order which had been approved by the Wayne County Board of Education to get us back on the air. However, just recently we learned the equipment was not ordered, much to our shock, since we were never informed that it was not being ordered.

In reading Wayne County News Editor Michael Hupp’s report of the June 9th BOE meeting, our Chief Engineer, Fred Damron was blamed for not filling out an affidavit for the insurance company. The reason Mr. Damron did not fill out the affidavit for total loss and have it notarized was that until he received the power amplifier, he could not begin to estimate the complete dollar amount of damage done by the lightning strike at our transmitter site. This was conveyed to Mr. Hart as well as the Insurance Adjuster. The Adjuster seemed to understand Mr. Damron’s position.

After a few months elapsed, the insurance company hired an engineer to visit the site along with Mr. Damron. However, a lot of preparatory work had to begin prior to that visit. Also, he wanted a tower inspector to be present. It has taken all this time, until June 10th, to locate the original manufacturer of the tower, since there were no drawings or other information on file at WFGH. Most all of our equipment is over 40 years old. Our engineer has been working diligently to get all the information together for the insurance company’s engineer and World Tower representatives visit. After the visit it will be some time before their reports are complete.

All of this time and expense could have been avoided had the power amplifier been ordered.

We ask that you be patient and remain supporters of WFGH as we go through this difficult time. Your prayers are really needed.

We can be reached at 304-648-5752 or 304-648-5129. If you have a computer, you can pick up the station at

God Bless All,
Hazel B. Damron
Program Director, WFGH




We pay the fees and illegal immigrants are the end users

In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue trying to find a new route to the Far East. For those of you educated during the last 30-50 years the Far East was China. Ole Chris Columbus was not a sailor of means so he hit up the Spanish Court for cash to pay for his adventures.

As with all history classes only the boring dates and events are taught leaving out scandals, beheadings who was sleeping with who, i.e. the juicy interesting stuff. In January 1492 King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella’s army beat the crap out of the remaining Muslims held up in their Granada fortress thus beginning the end of Muslim occupation of Spain. Running the Moors out of town resulted in Spain being a little short of cash. To finance the Columbus trip, Ferdinand instituted a user fee on the Pope and his non-citizen missionaries who only worked eight hours a day, but really needed Spain’s police and fire protection. Fergie and Isabella took the money, but gave them no right to vote or anyone to represent them while in Spain.

A new trade route to China would mean vast new riches for Spain. However, the islands we know as North and South America blocked finding a new trade route to the Far East. Poor Columbus never realized that his discovery was worth considerably more than all the tea in China.

Over the next 200 years many more trips to he “new world” occurred. Many of us elders know the stories about the pilgrims, the Mayflower, Thanksgiving and the people of Jamestown. Jamestown was established as a communist town where every resident shared and shared alike – because everyone got an equal amount there was no reason to work, heck being on welfare there was not needed to add any value. During their first winters many died of starvation. Things changed when each family was allotted a plot of land to do with as they wished. Native people (Indians) taught them how to hunt, what was safe to eat and how to plant a garden.

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Nothing as important to West Virginia’s future as adding value by educating our children

What’s with the buzz about the misappropriated (make that miss spent) money discovered with the audit of the West Virginia BOE? Is anyone surprised?

It’s no secret that “educators” can’t add or subtract much less teach high school math. Here in Wayne County our BOE can’t even keep track of school lunch money or demonstrate good stewardship public money.

West Virginia’s education system is populated with people who have a one-track mind on money and how to waste as much of it as possible. At the risk of sounding like an incompetent former US Secretary Of State (no, not Madilyn) the money and the amount appropriated by the state BOE to each of the mimi-BOEs doesn’t seem to make any difference. West Virginia students as a whole can’t even score 50 percent in Math and only 10 percent better in English. Are there good students graduating from our schools? Many say, “ in spite of our school system.” Thanks to individual fortitude, insistence to do well by their parents, and hopefully by real teachers there are many smart kids. It’s the rest that I’m concerned with.

A real teacher example: Susan, a research chemist (20 years of industrial chemistry) returned to college to obtain those worthless education classes required for a teaching certificate. Susan substituted a chemistry class for a week. She discovered her students knew nothing. She spent the week making chemistry interesting and fun. She taught extra every evening during that week staying for as long as the students kept asking good questions. Some of the parents came to those evening catch up classes. At the end of the week, students agreed she had taught them more chemistry then they had learned in the previous months of school. Young and old alike, humans are hungry for knowledge. If you are a teacher and your class can’t wait for it to be over, you’re not teaching. If you can’t wait for quitting time each day, you are in the wrong line of work.

I thought if I embarrassed the education community enough about their lack of education success they’d get the message and start teaching our kids math, science, and proper English – perhaps some interesting history. Alas I’m starting to believe that the only solution to our education mess is analogous to Dr. Ben Carson’s Veterans Administration fix – dissolve it!

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Drug addiction a growth industry

The survey growth industry offers another one. There are never enough surveys either but that is not the subject here.

A national survey conducted last year reports that despite all the fix it programs, drug abuse continue to get worse. One in ten Americans are using illicit drugs! Dr Goldsmith, president of the Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), parrots the same well worn reframe we hear often, “it’s clear that we have much more to do to prevent drug use and treat the disease of addiction”. Call it what it is doc – drug addiction. It is not a disease or a “substance use disorder” any more than obesity or alcoholism is a disease. No one intentionally impose a disease upon himself.

As I have pointed out before, this whole addiction thing is also a growth industry. Most every police department has a drug enforcement department. In many places there is a drug court. Lawyers can make a comfortable living representing drug addicts and are paid by tax dollars. Many criminals are not jailed or they are released early to make room for more dope heads. Liberals do not want to send them to jail because addiction is not a violent crime. Breaking and entering, armed robbery, prostitution, murder and even beheadings are not violent? It would be interesting to know how many jobs depend on those addicted to drugs.

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Washington’s cut only a reduction of the rate of increase

It seems that great minds often run the same channel.

I started this essay about the adding value jobs compared to value losing jobs over the weekend. Today I read the following comment, “Over the next few years we will witness the collapse in socialism, liberal, progressive, and Democrat rule. You simply cannot keep on borrowing to support a life style you have not earned. What I absolutely despise about a reckless socialist is their cannibal behavior, how they borrow today to support their own life styles and then hand the bill to their own children whose futures they are destroying. The coffee is made and now it is the time to smell it. Most western nations are broke – Greece, Italy, Ireland, France, UK and many others.”

I don’t understand why this Englishman left the USA off his list? If being $19 trillion in debt is not broke, I sure don’t know what is.

Democrats and Republicans in name only (RINOs) have been consuming far more than they produce. In Bible terms, they are coveting thy neighbor’s goods. How is it that voters who do not pay the property taxes are allowed to put those that do ever deeper in debt i.e. school bonds? Even worse unelected bureaucrats impose mandates upon local governments (we the people) and do not provide the money to pay for them. Charleston bureaucrats with the blessing of democrats have for years be doing the same thing and now wonder why so much of our once thriving chemical industry has left.

There is a simple economic principle that career politicians, liberal Democrats (what other kind are there) and RINOs just do not understand and that is the concept of adding value to a product or service. Economies must add value in order to provide the money to pay for the people adding the value. There also has to be enough to pay for necessary government value losing services such as police, infrastructure, military, and the bureaucracy i.e. Red tape. Paper pushers. Bean counters. Vast, cookie-cutter buildings with fluorescent lighting and thousands of file cabinets. The more services provided by government, the less money there will be left to pay for those who are adding value. West Virginia is spending more and more on drug fighting programs and services while none of them add a dime’s worth of value. Instead of more jobs to add value, our government including West Virginia has been busy spending more and more on government services with the result of less money left over for the purpose of adding value. Sort of like you see draining the bath tub or flushing the toilet as ever faster spinning shish down the drain with nothing to show for it. Evan Jenkins announced several grants for police. Because every dollar sent to Washington about .26 cents is diverted to pay for the Washington bureaucracy, we have to pay $6,300.00 for each of those $5,000 grants. Huntington wants to increase its user tax again to pay for more police, equipment and investments. It’s a never-ending cycle of tax and spending. Apparently no one knows how many agencies there are and how big the Washington bureaucracy is. I bet few know how many people are on the West Virginia payroll.

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Shouldn’t Wayne 911 make sure all Wayne Co. landlines are paying their tax to Wayne instead of Cabell County?

There is a lot of Wayne County citizens employed inside the city limits of Huntington. Route 152 is bumper-to-bumper south bound with folks coming home after work. Doesn’t it seem like yesterday that Huntington’s City Council dreamed up a weekly user fee of $2 for each employee to pay for their inability to balance the books? It wasn’t so long ago that they increased the fee by percent. Mayor Williams (a Democrat) campaigned against increasing the tax because his opponent former Major Wolfe wanted to increase the tax.

Now Mayor Williams comfortable in office until the next election wants to do what he did not want to do when he was asking for the mayor’s office. This time Huntington is going for an even bigger tax increase of 66.3 percent. Five dollars a week is $260.00 a year. Pocket change for some or it is the price of a dinner for four at some of the downtown restaurants. But for those serving the food or washing the dishes it is a lot of money. Didn’t Huntington tack on an extra penny sales tax? Beware taxes are never high enough as far as Democrats are concerned.

Speaking of taxes, Wayne County 911 imposes a $2 tax they call a surcharge on every phone line plus more taxes on every cell phone. For years now I’ve been harping to Bill Willis, Bob Pasley and Don Perdue to fix the accounting mess where all Frontier phone customers in Wayne County who live on a Huntington mail route is billed for Cabell County 911.

During the summer of 2014, I finally got my bill straightened out. Willis told me soon he would be asking for $3 per line. Shouldn’t Wayne 911 first make sure all existing Wayne County landlines are paying their tax to Wayne instead of Cabell County? I had to threaten to take my case to our Republican attorney general, which I believe got Frontier’s attention. I even got a fat credit. Today I discovered Frontier is at it again. This time I was fortunate to speak to a West Virginia service guy who promised to get it corrected. I’ll let you and brother Bill know if indeed it gets fixed. Our 911 services are poor enough with out my few bucks and yours going to Cabell 911.

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Voting YES to a resolution that says no?

My phone rang. I think it was Tuesday evening, with a message from Congressman Evan Jenkins inviting me to stay on for another telephone town meeting.

I listened for a while as Evan mostly agreed with the callers. He told us he intended to vote against that Iran “deal”. He explained that his vote would be YES to a resolution that says no. Only in our screwed up District of Columbia do our so called “people’s representatives” have to vote yes to say no. So far Congressman Jenkins is head and shoulder over the last guy to hold this seat. I don’t know of a time when Nick Rahall actually addressed the people. Once when I contacted Rahall about how distorted the insurance requirement was for those who handled hazardous chemicals, he asked me if I could come and testify before a committee – but that was the end of it. As for the vote yes to say no, it now looks like even that simple thing can be managed by Washington.

My favorite liberal DW says in her latest column quoting some pin headed nun that we should be more concerned about the welfare of the “children” instead of abortions on demand. In a nutshell Diane Mufson says it is far better to abort an unwanted life then to bring it into the world. Abortion as birth control is really a symptom of a much worse sickness of our solidity. Somehow love, marriage and sex has been denigrated into an exercise on the same level as a speeding ticket, or voting or just another way to “have a good time”. It now is no big deal to have a one night stand, with the male side of things moving on to the next conquest and taking no responsibly what so ever. Once, a man asked me what he should do when he learned his lady friend was expecting. I told him to make an honest woman out of her and he did. That turned out to be a really great family. There was a time of shotgun weddings and the threat of death, castration, or a horse whipping was a way to ensure the child and mother was properly cared for. Nothing like the loss of one’s man hood to encourage finding a job and becoming a happy family man.

– I suppose many are wondering what is all the digging going on at Kenny Queen’s Hardware along the Fred Friar freeway in Lavalette. There is a little branch crossing the field where the hardware store is now. In order to make way for the parking lot, steel culvert was installed for that branch. Tar coating is a very poor solution for corrosion regardless of the thickness. The culvert has failed, so it now must be replaced. Please buy something from Kenny, Mark and Kent because this fix ain’t gon’a be cheap. Really they should be

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Replace our W.Va. perpetual political hacks in favor of citizen public servants

My readers know by now that paying for studies in West Virginia is a growth industry.

Another industry that I had not thought of is complying with Washington and Charleston mandates. To describe this industry bluntly, it is kissing the fanny of bureaucrats who dream up all sorts of goodies that we “need” and that we must pay for. Three of the most conspicuous in Wayne County are the over priced 911 Call Center with bullet proof windows, the fancy new school buildings and the Lavalette area sewage system. Cabell County BOE reports they now have a $3.7 million dollar surplus. The new C-K school will cost 3 million less to build than estimated. Good news you say? Nope, instead of using the extra money to reduce the school bond debts, Cabell is dreaming about all the ways to spend their surplus and in Wayne County that $3 million will be spent on more union scale work.

Colleges around the country are caught up in the compliance maze. One Ohio college had to fire 160 people, shut down their multicultural center, theater and printing press because they could not pay for these goodies imposed on them by bureaucrats. A South Carolina school had to eliminate 35 jobs plus close nine building for a similar reason. Ashford University (where ever that is) went in debt $40 million complying with bureaucrat demands. Now they can’t pay the debt because they could not enroll 110 new students. Vanderbilt spends 11percent of its budget (25 percent of every student’s tuition) to comply with federal regulations. People we elect to represent us instead can’t agree fast enough to do as they are told.

Liberals (think Democrats) in Washington starring President Obama has managed to severely cripple our coal industry. We have a whinny liberal biology teacher, Frank Gilliam at Marshall who wants you to join him to lobby who ever will listen to impose a $10.00 tax on every ton of CO2 released into the atmosphere. He wants your money to pay for the lobbying. Has any Democrat, Frank Gilliam or DW Mufson bothered to add up what would be required and how much it will cost to replace current fossil fuels or nuclear power with solar and wind energy? No, there is not enough brainpower in the lot of them to figure that out but, Tom D. Tamarkin has. Tom is the inventor of the smart electric power meter. He owns the company that makes them. I did not look up Barrie Lawson who along with Tom co-authored the scientific article summarizing what is required. You can read the whole thing at: Watts Up With That on the Internet.

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Provide our kids an education with value – one that others are willing to pay for

Recently a commenter accused Donald Trump of “screwing over brothers & sisters” for his personal gain.

I don’t know that, but I am sure he has done a lot of out shuffling the other guy building his real estate empire. Which would you rather have running our county – a fast talking community organizer or someone who ain’t bragging because he has already done it? Obama has made a complete mess of our country. We desperately need a leader. We do not need another pretty face. We need a president meaner then a junk yard dog to put pip squeaks like Iran in their place. We need someone who will be a good steward of our money. Some one to say, “No” – and mean it. I like Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great Again.” Ben Carson is hot on Don Trump’s heels now and I’m tickled. Dr Carson said he’ll impose a 2-3 percent cut in all federal spending. That is a good start.

Carly Floriena doubled the value of a major corporation. She did the job of management i.e. she maximized the profit for the shareholders. Yes, non-essential people were laid off. Despite what Obama & Co thinks, corporate America is not a provider of welfare. You and I are shareholders of the United States don’t you think it is time for us to receive the maximum? As it is now real U.S. Citizens are the whipping boy for every one else. Speaking of everyone else there is a recent survey that has found 51 percent of all immigrants both legal and illegal are receiving some sort of government assistance. What became of the reason to be an American where it was to work hard, contribute to the good of our country and make a good life for yourself and family? We are no longer the home of the free when we are taxed for everything to the point that many have to give up half of what the earn. Liberals think that is still not enough. Just ask Bernie Sanders, socialist running for president. Our county is now in debt nearly 20 trillion to pay for the freeloaders among us.

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Roads priorities set by where politics can get votes

The interstate highway system was started in 1956. It was built to last only 50 years. After that the whole thing must be ripped up and replaced says an “out of town expert” testifying before Congress.

Right now my neck of the Wayne County woods is getting a fresh coat of black top. You have me to thank for this (you’re welcome) because it was me your humble columnist who harped about the asphalt quilt of patches and potholes. You might have noticed that the access ramps in I-64 got a fresh coat too. How long do you think that will last? It sure is a pleasure to ride on the Fred Friar Freeway between Kenny Queen Hardware and the Lavalette post office. As for my editor’s question about setting priorities, roads get fixed based on where politics can garner the most votes. Wayne County in this case ranks at almost zero because of our very low voter turn out and the propensity to always vote Democrat. No need to do any sucking up here because voting Democrat is a sure thing.

I don’t know where that out of town expert got that 50 years expiration date. What kind of civil engineers are coming out of our schools when they can’t build a road to last no more then 50 years? During my winter “government holiday” in Germany (provided by the US Army) we traveled on the German Autobahn often. An interesting design element is all their interchanges and access ways were paved with granite cobblestones. Each paver was about 4-5 square foot and at least a foot long. They were stood on end in a semicircular pattern. Granite is a very durable material. It is the same stuff used by railroads to support rails and ties. The Autobahns were built before WWII, making them 80 years old and still going strong. Granite does not wear out. You can see for yourself similar paving using bricks in Huntington. Those city streets are well over 100 years old. Bumpy, wavy and patched with concrete or asphalt now because no one knows how to maintain or repair a cobblestone or brick paved street. More expensive you say? Yes, but once paved you never have to do it again. The Roman army built roads still in use today. I’m NOT suggesting pave the interstate, just the access ways once and for all so that next time all the paving money could be applied to the actual highway.

Another question I’d like answered is why must the bridges be rebuilt? The Coliseum in Rome was built with their concrete, how come it has lasted for centuries? Much of the German defenses were built with their high strength concrete. It is all but indestructible. Many of those pill boxes and artillery placements are still standing.

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Armed “to the teeth” citizens would make land invasion foolish

My favorite lib Diane Musfon (I call her DW for short) has another column saying college student are not mature, they are young and full of themselves.

These days they are all on a party kick. What do they do with drugs and alcohol so easily available? Who knows what might happen if they would be allowed to carry a gun. Why does this progressive liberal belittle the very people she expects to protect her in the event of a war? It is after all the people “full of themselves” who are the soldiers committed to fight our wars starting at age 18. Actually the proper term is a pistol because only the US Navy has guns. Diane has let slip what a party animal she was during her college years. After an evening where adult beverages were served, she and her roomie were aroused (not that kind of aroused – make that woken up) at 3 a.m. by one of her drunken male friends pounding on the door. Wow! What did DW do to provoke John’s threat to kill them or her?

DW’s column displays her complete lack of understanding for the reason of the Constitution’s Second Amendment. It has nothing to do with hunting or skeet shooting and everything to do with defending our Republic (yes Republic not Democracy) against those who would destroy it both foreign and domestic. The “those” I refer to will smugly say we have the right to keep and bare arms (which they would gleefully repeal if they had half a chance) never bothers to include the first part of the amendment that says, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state”. DW and her cadre of misinformed libs have no understanding what a well-regulated Militia was when our Constitution was codified. A Militia during the founding of our nation was composed of every man starting at age 16 or so through age 45. The unregulated Militia was every man older then 45 years. Article I, Section 8 spells out Congress is responsible for “calling forth” the Militia and to provide for organizing, arming and disciplining the Militia and for governing. The US Congress has ignored this responsibility. Note the regulated Militia is apart from members of the United States Military.

I say most of the problems related to the use of fire arms is the lack of regulation and training that is the law of our land that has been advocated by Congress. The armed citizenry of Switzerland did deter the Nazi invasion of WWII and remains an armed country today. As long as the citizens of the United State are armed “to the teeth” any invading force be foreign or domestic would be fool-hardy to attempt a land invasion here.

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Voters sick of the same ole same ole

As Dr. Ben Carson has been saying, the American voter is sick of the same ole same ole. We elect the same tired bunch of old peas or another pea out of the same pod and get the same results – i.e. tax and spend, more welfare, more illegal immigrants, more debt, more drug addition, more unemployment, and more catchy campaign slogans. No need to list the rest. You know them all.

Likewise in the Republican camp promises they will be conservative but never do. A recent Wayne County News head line said Wayne County gets the most “bang for our buck”. This came from yet another out of town expert “study”. Apparently they did not study the near million dollars of school lunch money unaccounted for at the BOE. What about all the bang we got for 911. That building was promised to cost less than one million and ended up costing more than two (Don Perdue, Bob Paisley). Wayne County citizens are in debt to our rears to pay for fancy new school buildings. There are some who now want the BOE to give us another bang with plastic grass on school football fields. If what we get is the “most bang” then indeed we need to fire a whole lot of ole peas.

A lead story in the Washington Post opines that the current leading Republican contender for President, Donald Trump, plans to deal with all the illegals invading our country. They contend Trump would destabilize society. What rock have they been living under? The millions of people who did not bother to be invited to the United States have already done that. The proper way to become an official citizen is you simply apply and wait your turn. No, can’t have that. The liberals think the more the merrier and the illegal voting that will come with them. Mr. Trump was a Democrat you know and so was Evan Jenkins. Jim Justice who wants to buy West Virginia’s governor seat has vacillated back and forth over the years between Democrat and Republican when it would benefit him the most. Mr. Justice now has employed Don Nehlen and Bob Pruett to speak on his behalf. Don and Bob says Justice is independent. If that is so, then why didn’t Mr. Justice choose to register as an independent? Then voters of either persuasion could vote for him. He was quoted just a few weeks ago that he morphed into a Democrat because Democrat means he is for the little guy. Democrats have talked the same ole same ole for 80 years and what has that brought West Virginia’s little guys? We are in last place in just about anything. The Justice platform is simple according to the Pruett/Nehlen duo. It is “providing jobs”. Now that is an electrifying platform. Never heard that one before…have you?

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Commissioners rushed to judge when filing papers to have Eric Hodges removed

It is reported that the current (soon to be former) Wayne County assessor got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He used a Wayne County credit card to purchase a bunch of stuff. So far there still is no itemized accounting. Never the less, the Wayne County Commissioners rushed to judge and filed papers to have Eric Hodges removed from office.

The Constitution of the United States says say a person is innocent until PROVEN guilty, but that does not apply in the case of Wayne County or the West Virginia Supreme Court. In another case heard by that court they declared that Article 1, Section 9 paragraph 5, “No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from and State”. The US Constitution also does not apply, which allowed West Virginia to continue collecting taxes on exported coal.

I asked Commissioner Bob Paisley just what is the requirement to be assessor or county clerk, or commissioner or sheriff. Turns out there is no specific qualifications what so ever beyond being of voter age (18). So a high school drop out could run for office in Wayne County (or any other of the 54 West Virginia counties for that matter) and win a job for which he knows nothing about.

Speaking about a job one knows nothing about. My first class of Broom Technology 101 is history and boasts two graduates. I was slightly disappointed at first that only two people actually made it to the class, but as the day wore on I was grateful that I had only two students. It was almost a matter of the blind leading the blind. I had forgotten all the goof ups I make starting out. In the end both students took home a Cob broom and promised to return next week to finish off their kitchen brooms. I thought it would be a piece of cake, but it is hard work. We’re going to visit Jim Shaffer’s Charleston Broom & Mob soon for them to see a real master broom square at work.

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Why spend billions searching for a genie when an inexhaustible source of energy is staring us in the face

Global Warming is now a $1.5 billion dollar industry so reports Climate Change Business Journal (yes there is a magazine for just about anything).

A large portion of this $1.5 billion is driven by tree-hugging politicians and the mandates they dream up.

A local college teacher Frank Gilliam, writes in the H-D that the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan is a much needed step to solve global cooling or warming or change or whatever it is called this week. Frankie now wants to encourage well intended, but poorly informed people to join an outfit called Citizen Climate Change Lobby. Just another way to separate you from your money. The all-knowing Gilliam portrays himself as an environmental scientist and plant ecologist. That will be news to the natural history Dean. Frankie is supposed to be teaching biology subjects.

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Manchin another
media darling
never passing up
the chance for
more tube time

An editorial from the Charleston newspaper appeared recently in the Wayne County News just below the fold page 5A in the August 1 weekend edition.

The editors sing the praises of the military genius Senator Joe Manchin when he said he supports John “Swift Boat” Kerry and his total capitulation of the United States to Iran. Any person with a brain beyond the size of a pea knows the whole matter is rubbish. John Kerry’s first attempt at negotiations was during his four-month tour in Vietnam where he “volunteered” his services to be captain of a Navy riverboat (swift boat). On one occasion Kerry was playing with a M-79 (a shot gun like weapon that fires a grenade projectile) when it went off. A small splinter of wire ricocheted into Kerry’ fanny. Being the only officer on the boat, he put himself in for a purple heart.

Joe Manchin parrots the Obama administration that says the only alternative is war. I recognize that there are those in the Middle East who say some very stupid things, but Iran is not so dumb as to pick a fight with the United States. Over and over we have witnessed most Arab countries ganging up on the teeny little county of Israel only to receive a shellacking. So how could anyone of them expect to win anything with the United States? One of our submarines could lay the entire country of Iran into a wasteland. Our Air Force could render Iran’s attempt to become a nuclear power a pipe dream overnight. The Army would soon show up as they did fighting Sadaam Hussein’s “mother of all battles” proving that Iran’s republican guard is just some more puff pastry.

Who ever wrote this piece did not do their homework by simple fact v. fiction to be found on the Internet. Had the Gazette editors done so, they would find a New York Times piece about “some 5,000 chemical shells have been discovered over the years in Iraq by U.S. or U.S.-trained Iraqi forces. Many more such munitions litter the wreckage of an old Iraqi weapons facility northwest of Baghdad, which the Islamic State captured.”

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Getting a disability judgment is a
growth industry

Gaining a disability judgment is a growth industry much like all those involved with “fighting “ drug abuse.

The usual path goes like this – consult the nearest yellow pages to choose lawyers from double page ads, full page ads, half page ads and quarter page ads soliciting you as their client to secure for you a veterans, rail road employee, workers comp or social security (SS) disability. You just can’t say your disabled you must prove it. Certainly there are individuals who are actually disabled and unable to earn a living; however, just like the rotten apple that spoils the barrow, there are those who play the system.

Suppose you break your leg on a construction job? Sure you are disabled until that broken leg healed. By looking in the yellow pages you can find a lawyer wiling to plea your case that you are now permanently disabled and entitled to a full workers comp disability. Best for the lawyer and workers comp if you will accept a single cash settlement (sometimes a six figure amount). This way the lawyer gets his 30-40 percent and workers comp is not stuck with paying monthly for the life of the client. Not to fear though, with this settlement in hand proving you are disabled, you can then apply to SS for that monthly check. Railroad and industrial employees work much the same way. It is easy to get on with your life gainfully employed because there is little effort to confirm that you continue to be “disabled”.

The revered circuit Judge David B Daughterly (who’s picture once hung on the courthouse wall) along with a Kentucky lawyer Eric “Mr. Social Security” Conn. Worked the system for themselves and their clients. After Daughterly retired he double dipped by going to work for the federal government overseeing disability cased for SS. One account says he heard 1030 cases sometimes rubber-stamping 10 to 12 per day finding in favor of claimant 99.7 percent of the time. Mr. Conn earned $4 million dollars and did nothing wrong.

Now that SS wants to review all these cases, more lawyers are squealing there are not enough attorneys and that they need special training. The lawyers have mudded up the water so much that now cases concerning people receiving a SS check arranged by “Mr. Social Security” will drag on for years. This whole matter could be resolved in a few moths by having a fresh medical exam. Claimants who are actually disabled have nothing to fear and a new fresh physical exam will only reinforce the eligibility. But alas this is too simple and it cuts the lawyers out of picture all together.

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Our education
system is not
providing enough STEM trained Americans to fill country’s demand


In a recent Bloomberg news column I read,” the growing demand for high-skilled workers, especially in the technology industry, brought foreigners who possess those skills to the U.S. They are compensated appropriately and can afford to live in these high-cost areas.”

The column was addressing the fact that many people are leaving cities with a high cost of living. Because it was not the subject of the column, there was no explanation about why the technology industry has to import workers.

I do not hear from our elected officials and those in education explaining how it our education system is not providing enough of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) trained Americans to fill this demand. I often ask young people visiting Heritage Farm what they want to make out of themselves and most have no idea. It is very refreshing when a few say they want to become a doctor or health care worker or engineer.

What is going on at school? Can our teachers at least put a spark into their students? Just about every kid working at Foodland is bright-eyed, articulate and full of youthful energy. Girls especially don’t realize what a great profession science, technology and engineering is for women. The demand is much greater than the supply.

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Heros few in current crop of presidential hopefuls

Those men and women who died during the Revolutionary War so that their children would be free are heroes.

Those who fought Germany twice to free others from oppression are heroes. The people who flew relief missions to the Chinese were heroes. Those awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor are heroes. The policeman who disregards his own safety by pulling the unconscious driver from a burning wreck is a hero. The fireman who runs into a wall of flame to rescue a child or even a family pet is a hero. The dad who drowns trying to save the life of his child is a hero. Those secret service members who shield the President with their own body are heroes.

The list goes on and on. Those people who donate a kidney to a stranger are heroes. The teacher who stays after school to ensure a student understands is a hero. There are many more acts of heroism that never went noticed. One example is the combat nurses of WWII who drowned during the invasion of Italy. Those who survived the invasion used their own hair to stitch up the wounded.

One hears a lot of praise for the Navy Seals exploits or the deeds of our Delta Force. To my mind, those acts pail in comparison to an almost unknown branch of the Air Force –Pararescue called the PJs. Their job is to lay down their life to save the life of a downed pilot. They fly into a raging battle by parachute or riding a helicopter to rescue the wounded including sometimes the enemy. Their motto is “That Others May Live”. It takes two years to become a PJ and only 20 percent who start the program make the grade.

There are heroes living among us who cherish life and save lives on a daily basis. They get no recognition because that’s what they do. These are the nurses and doctors who are on the job 24/7.

I don’t believe for a minute being a prisoner of war make one a hero. It is what they do during captivity that makes the difference. In some cases it is what they did before capture made them a hero. The Doolittle Raiders on Japan are an example. The Great Escape movie portrays the exploits of allied pilots that kept thousands of Germans busy guarding them instead of aiding in the war. The movie is a true account and is not fiction.

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Liberal stupidity on parade route

During the last Democrat-led legislative session in West Virginia, the libs addressed the earth-shattering problem of high school dropouts.

Their solution is to raise the drop out age from 17 to 18 – problem solved. I pondered at the time asking why not find out from those wishing to drop out why and see if the reasons could be addressed. I suggested that Delegate Doug and Prayer Beads meet with students at Wayne and Spring Valley High schools. No, that is too simple for the liberal mind.

During the time when deep well gas drilling was getting underway, the drilling tax was $750.00. Legislators saw dollar signs in their eyes and jacked up the tax to well over $10,000. Ever ask yourself what right does the state have to impose a tax on someone who wants to drill a hole with the property owner’s consent? Do water well diggers have to pay a tax? Don Perdue told me not to be concerned the new tax that it was mere chicken feed compared to all vast riches the wild cat drillers would make. So now many drilling rigs have been mothballed.

On a national level, tax money has been rolling into the highway trust fund. The fund money is intended to pay for highway maintenance. Turns out the politicians have been dipping into this fund as if it was their personal piggy bank. Every year we are treated to a click-it or ticket-it campaign to encourage the use of auto seat belts. The money to pay police overtime comes from that fund. The fund has foot the bill for bicycle trails, the big dig in Boston subsidized bus service and only God know what else…the fund is broke and full of government IOU’s.

If you have a TV set you have no doubt seen the advertisements hoping to persuade you not to pollute our environment with those empty plastic water and soda pop bottles. At the bequest of our globe trotting vacationing first lady academia at all levels starting with K-12 level are doing their part to prove school foods that will reduce childhood obesity and be nutritional and eliminate the bottle pollution. These so-called health foods now served at our schools are rejected as not fit to eat.

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A real friend who never expected anything in return

It’s Wednesday July 15. This morning I got this e-mail note, “Roberta Ferguson went in the house after work this evening and found her husband, Ron, passed away.”

Ron is my friend and fellow column writer. We were together only a week or so ago when he gave me a pick up load of his famous pedigreed horse manure for our garden. He wanted me to see his garden before I left. It started to rain, so I said I’d see it next trip.

Most all of us have a friend that we wished we’d known for a lot longer. Ron was one of those for me. He was the editor who made me look good. He’d correct my spelling and help redo a sentence so it made sense. Ron was a life-long Wayne County resident, who told me many good “war” stories about his younger days and the unwritten history around here.

We had one very important thing in common – our sons. Ron was so proud of his boy Morgan becoming an engineer. I would brag about my son Fred who is also an engineer. I would match that with Morgan’s accomplishments. I have not yet met Morgan face-to-face, but I do believe after all the stories that I do know him. Ron recently had showed me a picture of Morgan’s girlfriend. I suggested Ron to advise Morgan to marry that girl before someone else steals her away. Ron also talked about Roberta and I have yet to meet her. Dog gone it Ron…there was just so many more things for us to do and it won’t be fun now.

A real friend is someone you know that is there just for the sake of being a pal and never expecting anything in return. That sure was Ron. We had lunch together a few times. We swapped e-mails and solved the world’s problems if only the know-it-all’s would listen to us.
Don’t put off seeing your friends and doing things together. It is time well spent.

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The So-called scholars twist our constitution to fit their misguided agenda

During the time our country had it formal beginnings there was no such thing as a typewriter or word processor. Books and documents all had to be written by hand or the words had to be laboriously set in type one character at a time. Our founding fathers considered each and every word before they were written every word has meaning. History tells us after the Declaration of Independence was agreed upon it took several more to type.

Setters worked all night to prepare a printed version for distribution the following morning. If you visit Heritage Farm you can see how this was done for yourself. You can see a half-size duplication of a Ben Franklin printing press.

Those so-called constitutional scholars or a political want-a-be of today twist the words of our constitution to fit their misguided agenda. I doubt those we send to Charleston to represent us have ever bothered to read much less understand the West Virginia Constitution or the US Constitution. Clearly, our schools do not teach the simple basics. Most of our citizens think we have a Democracy. Dr. Walter Williams a well educated man and gifted writer wrote the following explanation concerning the real reason for the second amendment. Obliviously, the current twit occupying the White House has no clue.

The nation’s demagogues and constitutionally ignorant are using the Charleston, South Carolina church shooting to attack the Second Amendment’s “right of the people to keep and bear Arms.”

A couple of years ago, President Barack Obama said, “I have a profound respect for the traditions of hunting that trace back in this country for generations.” That’s a vision shared by many Americans, namely that the Constitution’s framers gave us the Second Amendment to protect our rights to go deer and duck hunting, do a bit of skeet shooting, and protect ourselves against criminals. This vision is so widely held reflecting the failure of gun rights advocates, such as the NRA and Gun Owners of America, to educate the American people. The following are some statements by the Founding Fathers. You tell me which one of them suggests that they gave us the Second Amendment for deer and duck hunting and protection against criminals.

Alexander Hamilton said, “The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed,” adding later, “If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no recourse left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government.”

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When the gov’t gets involved in business the public suffers

Politicians and the news media are squealing bloody murder about how the public is being ripped off.

The airlines are accused of conspiring among themselves to jointly limit the number of aircraft and thus seats to limit supply – which allows them to raise their prices. This is called collusion. What is not reported is those squealing the loudest happen to their own airline stock and are happy as a clam that their investment is earning so much money. The question is are the airlines conspiring with each other and doing this intentionally. Yes, of course. Collusion happens all the time and is very difficult to prove.

Companies offering motor fuel do the same darnn thing. Does anyone actually believe that every gas station in Wayne posting the exact same prices is accidental? How can the sticker price for a new pickup be about the same from brand to brand? One reason the cost of healthcare is so high is the federal government (Medicare) sets the price they will pay on each and every procedure. Here in West Virginia, like most every state has a bureaucracy (a committee) that determines the number of beds every hospital is allowed to have. They dictate the number of CAT scan machines. One hospital in Huntington has a radiation machine they call a cyber knife. They boast it is the only one in West Virginia. When another hospital wanted to acquire one, the first hospital had a cow saying that the competition would cause them to lose business. This government oversight (price controls) is just hunky dory with Don Perdue.

Every time a government gets involved in business the public suffers. The public has to pay a high price for sugar mainly because of the strong lobby by sugar growers that keeps a high duty (a tax) on imported sugar. Same thing is true about winter tomatoes. The islands of the Caribbean can grow good tasting tomatoes the year around but they are prevented from selling them to us because of the influence of tomato growers in Florida. Thankfully our very own Mike (Mr. Tomato himself) Blatt has figured out how to grow good tasting tomatoes right here in Wayne County. Mike said he should have a new crop sometime in September. I sure hope so.

Profit is not a dirty word contrary to the liberal mind. Maximizing profit for the shareholders is the job of the highly paid top corporate management. That is the reason they make so much money if they did not maximize the shareholders would replace them. Any one can participate in the ownership of company. If you are just a tiny bit wise you too can enjoy making a profit. For example: it always was believed that investing in utilities was very safe but not all that lucrative.

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Unionism inhibits expansion of our WV labor force

Recently at the Lavalette Post Office, being a highly respected (I suppose I could say worshiped but I have not made it that far yet) member of the print media and all, I was ask by two gentlemen if I knew about one Wayne County Board of Education member making a change in the construction method of the new county schools.

Which one is a structural engineer? I was told wall construction will use those Styrofoam stackable forms that are filled with concrete instead of conventional brick and mortar. This change has resulted in redesign work and at what extra cost? The concern was two-fold. First, union brick layers are left out of the project. Second, there is a claim that the poured walls won’t support the roof. All this sounded to me like sour grapes by the brick mason. I do recognize that concrete is far superior to masonry especially in sky scraper construction.

This conversation then evolved into blaming those damnable Republicans for throwing out West Virginia’s prevailing wage law during the last legislative session. Mostly Senate President Bill Cole is catching the blame. I pointed out the prevailing wage administered by our Department of Labor is like a fox guarding the hen house in as much as labor and unions go hand in hand. To strengthen the union side of our friendly debate, I was told that the prevailing wage was a Republican invention. Turns out that is so. The Davis-Bacon Act of 1931 was passed finally after 13 tries.

The original intent was to ensure workers were paid by the hour instead of by the day. It was also to defeat contractors bringing in low cost labor from elsewhere instead of providing all those pork barrel jobs for the locals.

In fact, Davis-Bacon has been amended and added to starting almost the day it was singed to law. In 1979, the U.S. Congress’ accounting office published a report titled, “The Davis-Bacon Act Should Be Repealed.” The report said, “Significant changes in economic conditions, and the economic character of the construction industry since 1931, plus the passage of other wage laws, make the act unnecessary.”

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We should speak for ourselves instead of depending on others


Being a very influential member of the media, I receive my personal weekly update from Senator Capito every weekend. Actually, I call her Shelly for short. After Shelly beat the crap out her Democrat opponent hand picked (by Dirty Harry) Natalie Tennant, I started getting her weekly news and videos on the Internet. I was so glad that her dad Governor Moore lived to see his daughter take the old seat of Senator Rockefeller.

My first response back to Senator Capito was when she was in effect told to buzz off when she asked the VA about the closing of a West Virginia veteran clinic and how poor she was treated by a bunch of R/R safety guys remember the railroad wreck and fire in Boomer? My main theme was asking for her help to get something going to finish the Tolsia Highway segment to Pritchard. Would you believe I got a pandering phone call from a middle level functionary in her DC office?

He proceeded to enlighten me about how it was not their business to meddle in state affairs and that Senator Capito had to work within the state DOH. Strange I don’t recall Senator Byrd ever working within anybody to get his pet projects underway including the road to nowhere known as Corridor H. Really anybody with an Iphone or computer can get her weekly update.

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Racial tensions will remain unresolved until the children of slaves stop segregating themselves

Most of us have seen the report and the wall to wall covering of the murder of nine people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. The gunman has all the characteristics of pinheads, taught from a very early age to hate this group or that because of their appearance, religion, standing in a society, politics and other trivial reasons. In this case the color of ones skin is the reason behind the murders.

The victims had not yet been identified when those who want media attention or stand to gain from the atrocity, came out of their sewer to whip up trouble among the discontent. As usual, the principle provocateur President Obama attempted to make it a reason for more government control as if any sort of law would have prevented the crime. Eugene Robinson, that syndicated Washington Post columnist, was about first in line to suggest he hoped this event would “spark action on guns”. He listed several mass shootings to reinforce his argument against weapon owner ship. Eugene did not report that each one of these killing grounds was a so-called gun-free zone. I believe if members of the Bible study group had been armed that evening – Mr. Roof would be history and some of those who lost their lives would still be with us today.

I fully agree with this comment that does a darn good job of explaining what the heck is the reason many of our people whose ancestors came from Africa can’t seem to bring themselves to become a simple citizen of the United States.

“America was born with the original 13 English Colonies and Slavery after the War for Independence in 1780; Eighty-five years later the Civil War ended that Slave legacy carried over from England and King George V’s Reign. Fast forward to 1964 less than a 100 years later and the United States ended segregation with the Civil Rights Act (over the objections and votes of the Democrat Party). Today in 2015 which is still fifty (50) years later, after integration we still have the Black Community, the Black Congressional Caucus, Historically Black Colleges and a people still divided by Color by design based on the Wishes of the Former Slaves. Just what went wrong?”

Lets not leave out Black History Month, Black Churches, Black neighborhoods and the usual Black agitators like, Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan (aka Louis X, his real name is Louis Walcott) and the liberal news media who relishes covering every incident that involves “people of color”. I despise that description.

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The more money that is spent to help drug addicts the worse the drug problem becomes


Recently yet another program to “help” drug addicts was announced. The story featured comments and a photo of Dr. Matt Rohrbach speaking on the program’s behalf. Dr. Rohrbach, a new delegate to the West Virginia House is among those that assumed Republican control of our state legislature. The Hippocratic Oath taken by all physicians promises to do no harm, so I can’t criticize Doc Rohrbach for his support of another drug program – but doing harm is exactly what must be done to put the brakes on drug addiction.

Yes, I’m suggesting that cruel and unusual punishment must be administered. The usual punishment does not work. A well respected (I suppose) expert on drug offenders both addicts and sellers tells me the only sure way to correct addiction is to put them in jail where they can free themselves of drug dependency “cold turkey”. Will it be painful? I sure hope so. The pain must be so intolerable that no one would be willing to endure it again. The bleeding hearts such as Prayer Bead Purdue will say these people are sick they need help and it is a disease. Nonsense. We should not bastardize addiction by smoothing over the condition – claiming it to be something it is not. Drug addiction is illegal, it is terrible, can lead to death, and it is cruel mainly to the innocent. As I write this a dear family friend, mentor, grandmother, excellent nurse and guardian to a grandson has died. Who now will take the responsibility for the child that the dope head mother abandoned? A person with much more empathy than me wrote this about the passing of this wonderful soul.

“There was something that no one knew was wrong and she didn’t either but God knew that whatever it was it would’ve made her life worse and more pain and wanted the best for her and not for her to be in pain. God always does what’s right and he just though this was the right thing to do.”

There is a lot of happy talk from Governor Tomblin all the way down to Don Perdue about how successful West Virginia is at combating drug abuse and helping those addicted. Happy talk aside, only today did I read that West Virginia ranks No.1 in drug overdose resulting in death. The rate is almost two people each day. All we hear about is compassion for those addicted. What about the innocent friends, loved ones, and just bystanders? Where should our concerns be? I don’t think kid glove treatment is a solution. The more money that is spent to help drug addicts the worse the drug problem becomes. I believe that this mother and the dope head father should have been sentenced to a living hell for as long as it takes for it to soak in that they must take responsibility for the life they created.

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Expecting others to do for us is fruitless


Jeffry Sachs, is a squirrelly eyed, pointed headed intellectual who has a full tenure gig (he can’t be fired) at some eastern flaming liberal university. He counts himself as one of those Felicitators who believe the world revolves around them and more and bigger government is the solution to all our ills. He wants the to current Argentinian Pope to say as much when he visits the US later on this summer. A felicitator as defined by Robert Reich in his book Work of Nations are the select few who graduated from those eastern schools of higher learning. The actual definition is to make oneself happy. Reich goes on to say the other two divisions are people who provide any service from a brain surgeon to a hamburger flipper. The largest third class are those uneducated poor who provide labor at the lowest cost.

I found a great quotation by Pope Paul II that says, “The American democratic experiment has been successful in many ways. Millions of people around the world look to the United States as a model, in their search for freedom, dignity, and prosperity”. He acknowledges that our success is the result of a Republic form of government. Our Constitution says, “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican form of Government.”

What is does that mean? A republic demands Freedom from any sort of domineering repressive government, unions and political parties. A republic is government by and for the people and not just the majority. Cleary, what we have now is repressive over bearing and demanding.

Here in Wayne County, and West Virginia, both federal and state demands we toe the line in exchange for grants, loans, education money, guarantees and those monies politicians pass out to get your vote. After years of my complaining Bill Willis finally acknowledged that our cement block building with bulletproof windows is far more then we needed to house 911. It is ancient history now, but the sewer system serving Lavalette was very expensive to build and is costly to maintain.

In fact much of the proposed coverage was never completed (Bowman Hill Road). Those lift stations stink unless caustic soda and bleach are continuously pumped into them. I understand Northern Wayne Co. public service is the most expensive sewer service in the state. Why did we have to build a sewer befitting a swanky Connecticut neighborhood? Instead of educating our children, West Virginia is in hock to the tune of $2 billion to pay for all those cracker box schoolhouses.

Any day now I expect to read another damning story about the poor test scores of West Virgins students. Senator Robert Pylmale wants to tack on more fuel taxes. Another group want to keep the Turnpike tolls and increase them. Delegate Don Perdue should once again demonstrate he has guts by proposing a tax on water and air to pay for more drug addiction programs.

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Make yourself an indispensable part of the sale to get 100% of the market

Last year in 2014, 100 newspapers were sold or dumped at bargain basement prices. Mort Zukerman panelist of the McLaughlin Report and newspaper owner, has had The New York Daily News on the block for months now and still no takers.

What is wrong with the print media these days? It was not so long ago that such publications as Times and News Week were magazines you just could not do with out. Readers have come to realize they can do without the likes of the New York Times the Washington Post the Herald Dispatch and even the Wayne Co News. These publications are ignoring the simple sales principal that insures success.

National and international news is there for the taking on the TV networks, and the Internet, so why bother to read what happen yesterday in the newspaper. Once The Wall Street Journal was required reading to learn: who; what; when; and where in the investment and business world. Today this is not so because those interested can get ticker tape news live on your I-pad. Huntington’s only daily paper (liberal to the core) boasts about how they cover the goings on around here like no one else yet much of the paper is filled with new items fresh or stale off the Associated Press wire.

Only a few might be interested in a New Jersey story. A news item from east Podunk might be interesting if it had to do with exposing our current president for the loony tune he really is. Does anyone here in the Tri-State really give a hoot about Hawaii’s Waimanalo Bay Beach?

For as long as I can remember, West Virginians favorite beach destination was Myrtle Beach. Now, because there is a fast way to Florida, the interest is there. Tri-Staters will read what is going on at their Florida destinations. We want to hear direct from those we elect to represent us. We are not the least bit interested in another puff piece about Don Perdue’s latest drug addition solution.

Huntington’s mayor wrote a fat check to the now departed for greener pastures former police chief. What the heck is that all about? The citizens of Huntington want to know what sort of shenanigans that is. Whose idea was it to buy $300,000.00 worth of lots for the new Kenova grade school?

People want to read about their neighbors and friends. The Wayne County News devotes a whole section to sports which is interesting to many including mother and fathers and the grandparents too. I happen to believe we do not spend near enough space on academic achievement, which is after all much more important in the long run than who won the last 400 meter foot race.

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You get what you vote for around here

In order to get to the bottom of no progress (going 40 years now), on the state converting 12 miles of the Tolsia Highway to Pritchard into four lanes, I fired up the Gulf-Stream and flew to Corridor H.

I wanted to see what is going on there for myself. Corridor H, one of the many pet projects of Robert Byrd, will provide easy access for the movers and shakers of the Washington DC area. Senators, Congressman, Hollywood types, the rich and famous can pop over during the many holidays for a little down time at a place known as Canaan Valley. Mike Perry once told me Sen. Byrd had a place there to counter his critics over his lack of a residence in West Virginia. Most of the license plates on cars parked at the motels and restaurants I saw were from Virginia or Pennsylvania.

As this paper reported, money now has miraculously been found to finish what work is left of the Corridor H project. I suppose the cash was discovered under the rug in Governor Tomblin’s office. No doubt this highway project will generate “good paying jobs” for West Virginians provided they are wiling to cater to the wishes of the fat cats getting quality time in Canaan Valley ski country. The only industrial development I saw was a few logging trucks parked here and there.

Most of the permanent residents I saw were little farm operations, artists selling their crafts in Davis or Thomas and those already working in the tourist trades. The state of West Virginia built a fancy place called, “The Canaan Valley Resort & Conference Center.” The money they spent on the road to the center would have completed the four-lane to Pritchard.

I really did not go to the Canaan Valley to snoop on what is going on there. I was taking a rocker I made for an old friend who does live near Washington and does own a place in the valley. Years ago I offered my work for sale at a craft center in Thomas. The center called MountianMade went bust when congressman Allan Bowlby Mollohan was caught with his hand in the cookie jar and was subsequently voted out of office. His net worth jumped by $5.6 million bucks in four short years.

I never ventured the few short miles from Thomas to the Canaan Valley. It is strikingly beautiful part of our state. There is not much for us surfs to do there except to ride around and look. On the way home my travel companion and I took a side adventure to see Dolly Sods. Dolly Sods is a vast part of earth on top of mountains that appears more like the artic tundra instead of West Virginia. Two things you can’t help but notice is how many straight stretches of road you will see Canaan and through Dolly Sods. I never dreamed I would see 2-3 miles of straight highway in West Virginia. The other is the condition of the roads. No potholes or patches and no over growth along the roads.

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Self appointed expert sour on raw milk


A few days ago, Wayne County’s self appointed expert on everything drugs (and now raw milk) proclaimed how dangerous it is to drink cows milk direct (almost) from the spigot.

According to media reports, he was the most vocal opponent of a bill that would allow raw milk. The contorted loop-hole to allow raw milk was to lease one cow, which then you would be permitted to purchase a percentage of the leased cow’s daily output.

According to the milk expert, a cow’s udder sometimes gets splattered with manure.

For those of you liberals who have no idea what I’m talking about when I say udder, I’ll enlighten you.

The utter is the milk storage organ of a milk cow. The milk know-it-all says, “you can wash a cantaloupe, but you can’t wash milk.”

During my childhood summers in Greenbrier County, I often watched the Smith’s cows being milked by hand. The first order of business was to the wash the udder and the spigots.

While Blatt’s dairy was still in operation, I purchased the freshest milk anyone could buy – along with just about everybody else who lived near the farm and on to road to Beech Fork dam. Their milking parlor was so clean (including the milk business end of a milk cow) that I would have been willing to eat off the floor.

Studies were cited about how dangerous raw milk consumption was along with pronouncements from the FDA and the CDC. I don’t believe that the Food and Drug Administration has much to do with dairy products falling under the USDA.

As for the CDC, after their debacle controlling an outbreak of the Ebola virus, I just don’t have much confidence in anything they have to say. Turns out that the CDC had to admit that no one had died from consuming raw milk.

They did claim that as many as 300 people might have developed an upset tummy or the johnny house trots because of raw milk. Just as I thought, there are far more illnesses and deaths attributed to consuming leafy vegetables, fish, beef and poultry. Just today it is reported that 7 million chickens will be destroyed because of the possibility of them having bird flu and maybe that virus might (Get it? Perhaps maybe, might, could be) mutate. Mutate to what nobody seems to know.

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Studies: W.Va. Growth industry


Who has been telling you now for years that studies in West Virginia is a growth industry?

CBS News, Sacramento, California, reveals that a study made by a California outfit and another in Finland concluded there are too many studies.

Studies from the last few years, commissioned by Democrats, all turned out to be a means to convince the voting public that they are accomplishing something.

Perhaps the most silly, was media darling Senator Joe Minchin’s study to find out how to save money. He ordered up the study, conducted by a study mill in Pennsylvania, without regard to seeking completive bidding to the tune of about $600,000.

Remember the big push from a few years ago to build a new airport in Lincoln County?

That time, there was at least two studies because the first one did not give the movers and shakers the right recommendations.

I believe several million was spent between those in favor, and the Yeager Air supporters who were against the idea. My numbers could be wrong because toward the end of the effort no one was willing tell us just how much public money was squandered.

As I write this, the so-called “engineered fill” at Yeager is sliding into the creek. Perhaps Yeager should not have been against a new airport after all..

Two or three legislative sessions ago, there was a study asking what needs to be done to fix our broken education system. I think that one cost about 300 grand.

There was another 300 grand model looking into our healthcare system. The specifics that time, was ill health resulting from tobacco and alcoholism.

It also gave recommendations about obesity caused by over eating and a poor diet; it might also have studied drug addition.

Then again, there might have been a separate study of drug addition.

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Union, Social Security, facts and figures


“The top two items on the republican’s agenda, for years, have been to rid our country of Social Security and break the unions. These two things saved this country,” so says a commenter.

I sure have no idea how anyone could construe that Social Security saved our country.

In today’s news, their inspector general reports that there are 6.5 million people on the SS rolls that are 112 years old.

Wow! Talk about senior citizens!

There are those who have assumed some of these Social Security numbers, including President Obama.

Apparently, Social Security is so bloated with antiquated accounting methods they have no way of knowing when people pass on to that Happy Hunting Ground.

Roosevelt told the people that their Social Security money would be invested to earn interest, but that never happened.

Like all government “lock boxes,” politicians dip into the funds as fast as it accumulates. There are only IOUs in the trust fund of Social Security, the highway trust fund and who knows what else.

Obama took a $700 Billion advance from the Medicare fund to balance the books of Obamacare – and that was not enough.

I took the opportunity to ask a real living SEIU union member “What has the union done for you?”

“If it was not for the union, our employer would fire us without cause.”

“Really?” I asked.

“You have an important job here, do you really believe that?”

She likes it that the union “backs us up.”

I then asked if she knew that SEIU took $34 million dollars of union dues to put Obama in office.

She didn’t know that.

What about SEIU raising union dues in California for the purpose of spending it on more political activity?

Nope, she did not know that either.

I asked her if SEIU has ever offered any sort of additional training to make you a more valuable employee?

Answer. “No.”

I asked have they spent any of your dues for the betterment of members besides wage increases.

I suggested she do some reading about SEIU for herself. She told me I had given her cause to wonder.

It is no secret that our education system continues to decline.

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Liberal columnist blames GOP for Democrat failures


If only she would subscribe to the Wayne County News so she could read my columns she’d already know that West Virginia is the sickest, most addicted, least educated, most obese, most welfare dependent, least business friendly and just now reported – the most unhappy.

Each of these is the legacy of Democrat rule.

All this, Diane Mufson is now blaming on the new Republican majority in the House and Senate.

It took 80 years for the Democrats to get us into the shape we are in now, surely it all can’t be reversed in the time frame of a single legislative session.

Indeed, when God created West Virginia, He blessed us with vast natural resources, beautiful vistas to see, plenty of water, magnificent mountains, and a Goldilocks climate. So much was provided all the other states are so jealous they could spit.

The Archangel Gabriel asked God, “aren’t You over doing it?”

God said, “Yes, perhaps, but I’m making things more equal so the other states can better compete by filling West Virginia with a pack of liberal Democrats.”

My liberal buddy, DW Mufson (I call her DW for short), is the Eleanor Cliff of the Herald-Dispatch.

DW starts off with the chemical spill into the Elk River she says was poison.

That is not so!

A calamity?

Yes. But no one died. Some got sick and many signed up with ambulance-chasing law firms to see how much money they could get.

The real calamity was the knee jerk reaction by the Democrats in the legislature to hurry and pass that water bill to solve all our water problems. The concern was tank size instead of what might be in the tanks.

Turns out, the law is so convoluted it is unworkable and needs serious re-writing or junked for a totally new law.

Despite the fact that nicotine is the most dangerous and most addictive of all drugs, tobacco in all its forms remains legal to sell on every street corner.

DW is not concerned about that, instead she doesn’t like allowing people to smoke or chew in designated places.

The real reason tobacco continues to be used is governments are not willing to give up all the tax revenue.

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Constitution did not require a gun permit


It has been in the news lately that the largest shopping mall in the United State is now a target of Muslim extremists – make that terrorists.

Because that is what they are.

Never mind the contorted reasoning of Barack Obama and his lightweight empty suit staff.

Along with assurances of increased security by management staff of the Mall of America they have signs posted “weapons are prohibited inside the mall.”

Wow! I feel better already.

I don ‘t know about the Huntington Mall (that is in Barboursville); do they have such signs too?

I can just see a group of black-dressed terrorists wearing their balaclavas stopping by (on their way to another mass beheading) to buy fresh undies and checking their weapons at the door.

Our founders thought it was wise to provide that U.S. citizens can arm themselves against assault by tyrannical governments, criminals and terrorists.

The very idea of a piece of paper or plastic to allow you to arm yourself is absurd.

There is no place in our constitution that says you must have permission to carry a firearm, the second amendment grants that permission – period.

The uncertainly that a person might be armed is a good deterrent. Remember when Crocodile Dundee explained the difference between his knife and that of the punk kid?

Now there is a bill in the West Virginia legislature to dismiss the concealed weapon permit requirement.

Such a permit sure does not stop criminals from carrying a weapon, does it?

Sheriff Tom McComas thinks it does.

Memo to Sheriff Tom; criminals and dope peddlers could not care less about a conceal carry permit.

Sheriff Tom believes that the permit promotes safety.

That’s just more hogwash.

What more is there to understand about a shootin’ iron than to know where the business end is, how to load it and how to pull the trigger?

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Constitution did not require a gun permit


It has been in the news lately that the largest shopping mall in the United State is now a target of Muslim extremists – make that terrorists.

Because that is what they are.

Never mind the contorted reasoning of Barack Obama and his lightweight empty suit staff.

Along with assurances of increased security by management staff of the Mall of America they have signs posted “weapons are prohibited inside the mall.”

Wow! I feel better already.

I don ‘t know about the Huntington Mall (that is in Barboursville); do they have such signs too?

I can just see a group of black-dressed terrorists wearing their balaclavas stopping by (on their way to another mass beheading) to buy fresh undies and checking their weapons at the door.

Our founders thought it was wise to provide that U.S. citizens can arm themselves against assault by tyrannical governments, criminals and terrorists.

The very idea of a piece of paper or plastic to allow you to arm yourself is absurd.

There is no place in our constitution that says you must have permission to carry a firearm, the second amendment grants that permission – period.

The uncertainly that a person might be armed is a good deterrent. Remember when Crocodile Dundee explained the difference between his knife and that of the punk kid?

Now there is a bill in the West Virginia legislature to dismiss the concealed weapon permit requirement.

Such a permit sure does not stop criminals from carrying a weapon, does it?

Sheriff Tom McComas thinks it does.

Memo to Sheriff Tom; criminals and dope peddlers could not care less about a conceal carry permit.

Sheriff Tom believes that the permit promotes safety.

That’s just more hogwash.

What more is there to understand about a shootin’ iron than to know where the business end is, how to load it and how to pull the trigger?

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Who can tell if
you’re a Christian?


Ruddy Giuliani, while giving a speech, said he did not think Barack Obama loves his country.

That got expanded to questions about Mr. Obama’s Christianity.

I believe most of us have a very strong affection for the place where we were reared. The older I get the more emotional I am. I get teary eyed watching one of those Hallmark TV love stories, especially if there is a dog in the show.

I can’t recite much of West Virginia’s real state song without chocking up. I’m hopelessly a West Virginian.

Obama was raised in Indonesia, so I suppose he has fond memories of that country. Truth is, Democrats were so eager to regain the White House they did not bother to learn much of anything about the man.

The only thing we actually do know about President Obama is he has no life experience about anything.

My home was on top of the Beckley-area mountains, so I just never understood why anyone would love Logan where the sun does not rise until about 10 a.m.

I’m sure Governor Tomlin loves Logan as much as I love my Friar Patch Mountain.

I had a business acquaintance in Amman, Jordan, who told me he could never be happy unless he lived in the desert.

My Jamaican brother lived in a tropical paradise.

Eskimos would not have it any other way than eternal snow.

I do not believe for a minute that President Obama has any real deep understanding about the history of the United States.

Does he like what he has been given?

Who would not like a free college education, the cushy Senator job and all the benefits of President of the United States?

He has zero comprehension of what it means to be a United States soldier. He is in good company because there is a lot of our citizens that don’t know either.

I doubt he gets that tingle when he hears the Star Spangled Banner and I doubt he knows why Francis Scott Key was on an English Man-of-War when he wrote the lines.

Few people have ever heard about the yellow butterflies that are always near the tomb of the unknown. Too bad so much of our heritage is lost to us because such trivial things are not worth learning.

The people who should be teaching us about our history are not because they were not taught either.

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Right to work


Just about every union boss in West Virginia has jumped on the bandwagon, saying that a right to work law in West Virginia is wrong for “the working man.”


A federal judge in Texas points out that the Obama administration has, “granted the right to work lawfully to people it chose not to deport.” President Obama has issued a Do Not Deport executive order that allows about 5 million people who are in our country illegally the right to stay here and the right to work.

If a right to work law is good enough for illegals, then certainly it should be good enough for law-abiding citizens of the United States.

If not, then unions are making their members second-class citizens.

The second Continental Congress says it is self-evident that “we the people” are given unalienable rights – one of them is Liberty.

“We the people” created our government to secure this right. If the government is not willing to protect this right, then “we the people” can abolish it (vote out of office current members) and elect new ones.

That is what happened in West Virginia; Democrats not willing to protect the rights of all have been replaced.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, last year (2014) only about 10 percent of West Virginia’s work force was unionized. Almost half of that are our hard working under-paid and over-worked schoolteachers.

Most West Virginians recognize that college educated people by and large do not need the protection of a union. The West Virginia legislature should have long ago insured that the teaching profession is well-paid, well-respected and recognized as very necessary for the well being of our West Virginias citizens but they did not.

This is the only reason there is a teacher union. Each and every politician puts education first in his or her bucket list when running for office. Yet once in office, all those lofty words and promises are ignored.

Before I continue, please understand there is nothing wrong with being a union member provided membership is a freedom of choice and not a condition of employment. Unions were derived from trade unions that were derived from trade guilds.

Guild members were, and continue to be, a respected part of society. Membership indicates you are a master of your craft. In the days of guilds, apprenticeship was an integral and necessary part of a guild. This insured continuation of the high quality expected from a guild members.

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Pharmacists becoming more vigilant in reducing drug abuse


HD Media Editorial

It’s become evident over the past couple of decades that reducing the diversion of prescription drugs for non-medical uses requires a multi-pronged approach.

Police, of course, are a factor in arresting those who steal prescription medications for their own use or to sell to others.

Also a must is aggressive prosecution of those who operate “pill mills,” or places that prescribe or dispense potent painkillers without concern about whether “patients” needs them for legitimate medical reasons. And, as local officials and residents have discussed extensively in recent months, finding ways to help people recover from their addictions is an element picking up steam.

Another group that plays a crucial role - and is stepping up efforts to reduce substance abuse - are pharmacists, or the people who dispense the medications.

As a recent report by The Charleston Gazette indicates, pharmacists across the state are paying closer attention to prescriptions coming across their counters and increasingly are rejecting those they consider suspect.

Examples include prescriptions that are issued every 27 days for 30-day supplies of oxycodone pills, meaning the recipient of those pills would have an extra month’s supply of the medication in a year’s time. Or, in the case of one Charleston pain clinic, the names of doctors were removed from its prescription slips and the name of the clinic was blurred.

“We’re seeing 19-year-olds being prescribed large amounts of oxycodone, and their diagnosis is a migraine,” Daniel Hemmings, a pharmacist at Advance Pharmacy Services in Charleston, told the Gazette. “It’s not ethical or professional.”

Pharmacists across the state are also mindful of whether a pain clinic has been licensed under a state law passed in 2012 and enforced since last summer. If it’s not licensed, its prescriptions are turned down.

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Community needed to reduce addiction


By Del. Mathew Rohrbach

In Huntington this week, more than 500 citizens came together to have a conversation about the drug-crisis, and the alarming amount of overdose deaths taking place in our community.

As a physician of 31 years, this is one of the most serious health epidemics I have witnessed. Cabell County alone has experienced over 200 overdose cases to date resulting in 24 deaths; the majority due to heroin.

This crisis has serious consequences on the health and safety of our community including the rippling effects of increased crime, and high incidences of neonatal abstinence syndrome, infant mortality and hepatitis.

We have one of the highest opioid prescribing rates in the country compounded by a death rate from illegal drug use that is five times the national average. Deservingly, tougher policing of rogue “pain clinics” has facilitated heroin as the new and cheaper drug of choice compared to OxyContin.

According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control in 2013, there were 524 drug-related overdose deaths in West Virginia putting the state at an average of 29.7 per a population of 100,000. West Virginia has an overdose-to-homicide ratio of 7.1, second in the nation to New Hampshire.

I would challenge that with the disproportionate amount of drug use compared to other states, it would be impossible for West Virginia to land new business and industry that we all so desperately desire. Businesses will simply not choose to locate to areas with high levels of addiction.

As a member of the House of Delegates, I would like to share an update of the actions we’ve taken during this year’s session regarding the drug-crisis plaguing our state.

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West Virginia’s lax gun laws contribute to violence statewide


WVU School of Journalism

Last December, Jody Hunt, a towing truck operator in the Morgantown area, went on a killing spree that left five people dead, including himself. Hunt was a convicted felon who should not have been in possession of a firearm, and some blame his rampage on the laxness of West Virginia’s gun laws.

West Virginia Governor Tomblin may have been thinking of Hunt’s massacre when he vetoed a bill passed by the state legislature in March that would have allowed residents to carry guns without a concealed weapon permit. Law enforcement officials say such a law would have made living in West Virginia even more dangerous than it already is.

West Virginia’s gun laws are already among the least restrictive in the United States, according to the FBI. Residents of the Mountain State can buy and sell guns at gun shows or from private sales without a background check. Hunt acquired his illegal firearm in a private sale and no charges were issued against the seller of the gun, according to police. In addition, the state does not require a gun purchase permit for private sales, which means that guns are easy to acquire and hard to trace.

In 2012, West Virginia had the 12th highest death rate from firearms in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Murders and aggravated assaults involving firearms are on the rise in West Virginia, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report.

Experts blame the high rate of gun violence in West Virginia on the state’s lax gun control laws and the fact that so many people in the state own guns. More than 55 percent of West Virginians own a gun, one of the highest gun ownership rates in the nation.

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