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 “wveis.k12.wv.us/schoolFinance/sf000018.cfm.”

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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I have been trying to reach an operator


Anyone remember the old days when you picked up the phone only to hear an operator on the other line ask to connect your call?

I rarely do as a child. By the time I came of age, party lines were all but a thing of the past except in rural communities such as Prichard –or at least that is what my wife has told me about growing up on White’s Creek.

Funny thing is, apparently people are still looking for an operator in Prichard.

The Prichard Intermodal Facility is supposed to be finished and ready for business by the end of 2015. By my estimates, that means businesses will soon be ready to start rolling in like our state officials have led us to believe.

Prichard should become the Boise of the East, filled with new shopping centers, new homes filled with a well-paid local workforce and the excitement of an economic boomtown.

Too bad, I was just describing what Louisa is about to become.

West Virginia is notorious for missing the boat – always a day late and a dollar short. We lack innovation, forward-thinking, education and just about anything else you can imagine, according to whichever new poll/study was released this week.

That makes me sad. I love Wayne County and I love West Virginia. I want to see what is best for this area, but sadly it is like watching history repeat itself.

Prichard is about to be completed and the state has still not found an operator. The Port Authority interviewed, from my understanding, upwards of 15 possible candidates several months ago.

That is progress. Now in two West Virginia “powers that be” fashion, let’s take two steps back.

The Port Authority announced shortly after the interviews that it needed to burn even more taxpayer dollars to hire a firm to make the decision as to what operator gets the job.

Reason why? you ask. I mean they are the Port Authority….

The reasoning was that the Authority did not believe it had the expertise to make that decision.

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Diane Pottorff

Oscars not bad despite protest

Being cooped up in the house because you can’t get out due to a foot of snow is fun.

For one day!

Granted I did get some stories written for The Wayne County News by gathering information using a landline telephone (cells do not work well were I live in rural Cabell County) and social media.

One thing that can be boring is watching television, especially when you have seen all the reruns on the Dish Network channels.

Anyway, Sunday was a day of different shows. The Daytona 500 was on and the driver I liked to watch, Jeff Gordon, is retiring and did his last 500.

But, what I was looking forward to was the Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars.

In years past, there has been controversy and this year’s hubbub concerned a lack of minorities being nominated.

Who cares! It is the work that matters and maybe some of the work that was presented was not as good as the ones that were nominated.

Before the schedule was changed for televising the award shows, the Oscars were shown close to my birthday in March.

I was never one to really care about this type of show as I thought they were boring and I don’t really care as to who thanked who for receiving an award.

But, the Oscars are different. It is where anything can happen.At my house, when it was someone’s birthday, that person got to select a show to watch on television. Mine was the Oscars.

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Snow days not like they used to be


Snow days just are not as much fun as when I was a kid.

I watched the weather forecasts like a hawk the night before, setting my snow gear out – ready to explore the possibilities a frozen white tundra presented.

That was more than 20 years ago.

Now fast forward to that same kid – only with six children of his own, arthritis and a short patience threshold. Snow Days are looked at with dread.
Why the change?
Because, as any parent can attest the first day of a snow day is the best. The adults get to sleep in, we get to spend time as a family and all is well. That little kid still lives inside me that enjoys waking up to the joy of a freshly fallen snow.

Then reality hits….

“Dad I’m thirsty!”

“Dad she is touching me!”

“Dad I’m hungry!”

“Dad, Gavin just tried to flush the cat down the toilet!”

“Dad, Olivia spilled her juice!”

“Dad, Skylar won’t let me watch cartoons!”


(Hello, Dad is unable to come to reality right now. Please leave a message at the tone and I will get back to you at my earliest convenience.) BEEEEEEEEP BEEEP BA BEEP BEEEP!

Do not get me wrong. I love my family and would crawl over broken glass with one arm to do anything for them. Despite my own angry, sometimes overly dramatic take on my kids and sometimes over the top dictator parenting style, I know they will only be young once.

And that does make me sad.

But Mother Nature is a woman that is on my list right now.

One day of no school equals a deep breath and a stiff drink after the day’s events…but two or more makes you start to re-evaluate your priorities as a parent.

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It was a NyQuil, gummy bear Christmas


I have six kids.

Yes, I know what causes that and yes, I have no nerves and yes, it is never a dull moment in my household.

We are a focal point of finger pointing, laughter and open discussion when we go anywhere outside the walls of our humble abode. Those escalate during the Holiday Season and this Holiday Season was no different.

My holiday was spent with two sick kids and myself falling ill. They are young and rocked through it, passing on their pestilence to the rest of their brothers and sisters. We have gone through numerous breathing treatments, a trip to the emergency room, snot pukes (not snot and/or puke, snot pukes) and myself believing I was near death.

It was quite the Holiday Season – but the holidays are about family and the children, so the show had to go on.

Well, Christmas Eve my lovely wife and even lovelier mother-in-law (who was supposed to stay with us through New Years, but magically left yesterday to go to her sister’s house to stay the New Year) needed some time to cook dinner for the family.

Anyone with one child, let alone a house full, knows that is nearly impossible to do. So despite my chest cold and copious amount of fluid leaving my sinuses, I manned-up and took the kids on “errands” to free up time for the feast’s preparation.

Me, with a severe head/chest thing, and six kids on a mission…

Our first stop was to the grocery store for last-minute items, then back home to drop them off. Happened without a hitch, except the baby (who by the way is almost three, but still my baby) cried the whole trip to Foodland and the whole trip back.

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Anyone seen ‘Wayne County Band Follies’


And the music stopped…literally this month in Wayne County.

There have been two incidents involving county high school bands in the month of December. Instead of ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ or ‘March of the Wooden Soldiers’ coming from local high school bands – the actions have mirrored the Drama Club more than band.

Rest easy Tolsia High School. This isn’t about you for a change.

Merry Christmas.

Instead, the county’s other two high school band directors’ actions could only be compared to ‘The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.”

One reminds me of the Dr. Seuss version – comical with a light-hearted ending. The other one… more like the live action Jim Carey version – a little more realistic and not as fuzzy.

It all started earlier this month when the Town of Wayne had to cancel its scheduled holiday parade December 13. It is pretty difficult to have a parade without the town high school’s band.

The reason the Wayne High School band could not participate?

Huntington was having its parade basically at the same time and the Marching Pioneers had already committed to the Huntington parade. At least that is the story the Wayne Town Council received.

So with great disappointment in their hearts, the Council cancelled the parade.

December 13 came and when folks from Wayne attended the Huntington Parade they were shocked to find something missing. The Wayne High School Band was nowhere to be found.

I am still waiting to hear the reason for this, but to me it’s funny. That is why this is the warm, fuzzy cartoon version. No one could possibly be as deliberate in their actions?

I mean, the man had dealt with the embarrassment of the “Mud Festival,” where only two bands could compete and those that did lost shoes and uniforms to the mud.

That is the only reason I hope Wayne figures out how to turf their field. Football is meant to be played in the mud. Quit being delicate snowflakes.
But the band deserves better.

Then this past week, Spring Valley got the Jim Carey Grinch. After months of planning for the Wolf Pack student section and a pep band to play at the games, the band director at Spring Valley decided not to participate.

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Hupp “band follies” folly

I would like to respond to the article written by Michael Hupp, “Anyone seen ‘Wayne County Band Follies,’” and perhaps give him some insight he is obviously lacking. I believe this is the finest example of “creative journalism” I have ever seen. Let’s start at the beginning and work our way through the web, shall we?

The reason the Wayne High School Band could not participate in the Wayne Christmas parade, according to Mr. Hupp, was that the Huntington Christmas Parade was on the same date. HHHmmmm. Let’s analyze this for a moment. Let’s assume this story is correct. The Huntington Christmas Parade has its date set in stone months before the parade actually begins. So if Huntington’s date was set first (as it was) shouldn’t the Wayne Town Council schedule their date on a day that does not interfere with this one? It seems logical if you want a band to participate, you would make certain your date does not interfere with any others. I also find it hard to believe that another date could not be set for this Christmas parade. Now, let’s look at the archives of the Wayne County News and find the story that was reported earlier…”The Wayne High School Band had already “winterized” their uniforms and were not going to participate due to this fact.” While Mr. Hupp may not read the Wayne County News he writes for, I do.

The fact that Mr. Hupp found it prudent to cast shame and embarrassment on Mr. Dunfee at Wayne High School for the “Mud Festival” as he called it, revealed so much about him personally. Let me say, since Brian Dunfee has taken over the Wayne High School Band, that program has done nothing but succeed. He is a fine band director that puts in countless hours before and after school, which by the way he does not get paid for, to make that program a success. I find it difficult to compare him to the cartoon “Grinch” as Michael Hupp has done, but easier to compare him to Mr. Holland (look that one up Michael).

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Tolsia administrators and failing grades

What would you do if your school administrators received failing grades? What if the administrators were the direct cause of your school failing?

Well, that is the question parents, teachers, staff and students are faced with now at Tolsia High School.

Since last school year, 2013-2014, as one instructor put it, Tolsia is slowly being destroyed from the inside out.

Tolsia’s Report Card for 2013-2014:
Math Proficiency: 11% WORSE
Reading and Language Arts Proficiency: 9% WORSE
Attendance: 12% WORSE
School Climate: WORSE
Employee Morale: WORSE
Community Involvement: LESS
Employee Involvement: LESS

This is the report card for Shayne Carey, principal of Tolsia, even with $50,000 extra from a grant to spend on students other schools didn’t have. Doesn’t your student deserve a better opportunity for education? In any normal company, we would see a change in management. How in the world did we let this happen?

Well we didn’t.

The previous Board Of Education president’s inexperienced nephew Shayne Carey, with one year as a Wayne County Schools employee behind his belt, was vicariously imposed upon the school as principal. With no experience as a high school principal, having never taught a single Wayne County student, filled with a better and smarter than us attitude, Mr. Carey implemented his “bell-to-bell teaching” mismanagement style at Tolsia last year.

How’s that working for us? It’s NOT.

Tolsia eleventh graders last year, compared to the same group of students in the tenth grade two years ago, performed 11 percent worse in Math and 9 percent worse in Reading and Language Arts proficiency under Mr. Carey’s administration.

The attendance rate dropped 12 percent last year as compared to two years ago, also under the fine tutelage of Mr. Carey.

School climate and employee morale at the school is worse and community and employee involvement is virtually non-existent. One West Virginia Department of Education official felt it was a shame how divided the school has become.

What’s behind Tolsia’s recent failure? The only change last year was putting in charge inexperienced, out-of-town administrators that don’t seem to have a clue how to run a school, work with professionals or connect with the local communities. Students don’t want to be here either, which is evident from the rise in the absentee rate. Just last Friday, the attendance rate for the school was 83 percent, also the average of last year, down from 95 percent in previous years.

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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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