Repeat of political posturing hindering state progress

We are now less than 40 days from a state government shutdown in West Virginia.

The West Virginia Legislature was recalled into a two-week special session to come up with a budget for next year. So far, they have settled a basketball bet with cupcakes and sang happy birthday but nothing has been accomplished. Well I take that back. So far the special session has accomplished costing taxpayers more than $200,000.

That is ridiculous and absolutely unacceptable.

I am a registered independent. Anyone that knows me personally knows that about me. I have been registered that way for several years now.

I for one like many other voters became disenfranchised with the whole two-party system. When I was registered as a Democrat, I habitually noticed I was voting on both sides of the ticket in November. I had enough common sense at 24 to understand that, “Hey, you are an independent.”

It was a simple progression to register that way. I hold beliefs from both parties and it would be extremely difficult for me to choose a political party to affiliate with if I ever decide to throw my hat into the political arena. I really am that independent.

After seeing this information posted on several credible state journalist’s Facebook posts the past week, I began to get angry. This situation is starting to boil my blood.

Republicans went into Charleston this year with this huge promise of change and the only thing I am seeing changing is the faces sitting on the House and Senate floors.

Instead of real change, the only things that happened were a few bills loosening up some civil liberties like Constitutional Carry and raw milk consumption. There was Right to Work and prevailing wage restructure, but I was not impressed.

The reason I was not impressed was there still was not a solution to the PEIA funding shortfall as well as a balanced budget for the state. No, instead it is pushing July 1 and our reps are still “hashing it out” in Charleston.

Political posturing in this state again is hindering progress. It should not only be alarming to residents – but also make us angry to watch such actions take place form those we elect in to office. I view it as arrogance.

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What can we change to keep our best and brightest here?

Graduations started this week in Wayne County.

Senior students from Spring Valley, Tolsia and Wayne High Schools will walk across the stage. They will receive their diplomas culminating a long a winding journey towards adulthood. There will be the usual speeches of “Follow your dreams” and “As we embark on the next chapter of our lives” as family and friends choke back tears from the weight of their student’s accomplishments.

There will be the “Pomp and Circumstance”, caps flying in the air and celebrations.

Did we as a community prepare these youngsters for the real journey they are going to take? What kind of future in our county and state are we leaving for these guys?

There is a picture in the final C-K High School yearbook. In it, I am sitting in a chair with my hands covering my face. The caption simply reads, “Hupp praying for his diploma.”

I have taken offense to that ever since. I was not praying for my diploma. I remember that moment clearly. The thought on my mind at that moment was, “What do I do next?”

It is a simple question many of us as adults still ask daily.

I could not imagine having to go back through those days as options overcame my mindset as I struggled to figure out what my next move was. I am perfectly confident that many of our Wayne County graduates have a plan. I wish them nothing but the best accomplishing those goals and sticking to that plan – but life has yet to start kicking you in the teeth at 18.

The world is ever changing. Nearly twenty years ago I believe I had more options. I could have gone to work for a labor union, went to work for AK Steel or the Nickel Plant, maybe started a business, joined the military, went to college, went to trade school, simply moved away for other opportunities, or found a job in the mines.

Look at that list above. It does not take much to figure out which of those options viably are not available to graduates today.

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We’re a country of judgers

I was quickly reminded this weekend that newspaper people are not allowed to make mistakes – even if what we write was not a mistake, but a misinterpretation.

I stated in my last column that Wayne High School is getting turf. Some day it will happen. The BOE did approve the Wayne Touchdown Club in January 2015 to pursue funding for turf on Pioneer Field.

A concerned citizen pointed out my error, which honestly – was not an error rather a lack of clarification that was going through my mind as I wrote that piece. To the readers, if anyone really concluded that turf was going down on the field and the BOE is paying for it with your tax dollars, I am sorry.

With that, I would like to move on to another topic concerning Wayne High School that I noticed last Thursday during Kid’s Day. I am well aware that the school is receiving a major facelift. I think that is wonderful and was really needed for the school. What concerns me is the lake of water accumulating outside the doors.

One person that I’ve spoke with about this said not only is it an eyesore but a health hazard as well. The standing water poses a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Those mosquitoes could have Zika or whatever mosquito-borne disease is the fear of millions this year.

Well I will agree with half of the individual’s statement. It is an eyesore and standing water out front of the school has been a continuous issue as long as I can remember. Seems like every time it rains, the front part of the schools appears to be surrounded by a small lake.

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Now the real fun begins

I have to say that I am not surprised that either Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders took the primary. Many pundits throughout the country believe Hilary Clinton’s defeat signals a serious issue for her campaign while giving Trump the advantage.

Sanders’ victory shows that democrats are not going to forgive Clinton’s loyalty to the anti-coal movement. I honestly will be surprised that if she does win the nomination, that she will return to West Virginia. If she does I expect the same icy reception.

I believe unless some major snafu comes up that Trump will take West Virginia in November.

The governor’s race is about what I expected to see as well. I do believe Booth Goodwin would have been a good choice, but Jim Justice has the name and clout. Bill Cole is in an odd spot.

Depending on what happens with the budget during the extended session will tell if he moves to the governor’s spot. His fellow party members are going to have to prove they can look across the aisle and find some allies and/or a willingness to work across party lines for the best benefit of all West Virginia citizens and not an agenda.

I think this year’s regular session did not prove that rather showing Republicans had an agenda and were hell bent on making sure it was met. Justice on the other hand has a lot of tax issues…between the taxes owed to Raleigh County to debts he ha incurred with the Greenbrier and coal companies – he leaves some voters wondering what is going to happen with the state’s money if he is in office.

Yes, Justice has created some jobs with his businesses but I am still not a fan that just because you are successful in the private sector that it indicates your ability to be the leader of the state’s public sector.

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Thanks to those who did their civic duty and voted

Politics can be a dirty game.

Just ask Democratic candidate for the District 7 West Virginia Senate race Richard Ojeda. A man attacked Ojeda Sunday for what he believes is a “politically motivated” move. Ojeda has been vocal about hoping to fight corruption and nepotism during his campaign.

Ojeda is running against incumbent Art Kirkendoll in District 7, which covers Boone, Lincoln and Logan counties and parts of Mingo and Wayne counties.

If you look up corruption in West Virginia, I am pretty sure that district would make your eyebrows rise. I speak from experience.

Once upon a time when I was an idealistic wet behind the ears journalist…I lived in Lincoln County. During that time, I worked for two different publications. I got to experience first hand the “corruption”. We are talking 2006 and there was still vote buying and bloated, made up voter rolls filled with names of the deceased or those no longer living in the county. I helped comb those rolls and eliminated several hundred names. Then I got to cover several investigations into vote buying.

When you start putting people’s names in the paper is when you really learn who friend or foe is. I mean you find out very quickly. Well thanks to a few stories I had written, I was introduced to a couple fine people in Harts Creek. I met a few from the Ranger area as well.

They were some very nice people who offered to “change my tires” and were nice enough to suggest a few changes to my appearance and career choices….you get the picture.

Politics can be and is a dirty game. We need to keep the Republic going and there does need to be governing bodies. I am not suggesting anarchy, but I have seen more showmanship, empty promises and candidates at all three levels that I just do not feel comfortable voting for.

It is more of a popularity contest and who can say or do the most outlandish thing to one up their opponent. I’m not calling out anyone in Wayne County. This is more directed at the federal and state level.

It is simply disappointing to think that “the machine” still run things.

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Can we get back to the values that made this country great?

Wednesday evening I helped out a lady in distress at Dollar General on Spring Valley Drive. My purpose for telling you this story is not to get a pat on the back. There is another reason. I promise.

This lady’s rear hatch window had not only lost the plastic screw in the clip to hold it to the top of the vehicle, but it had also come out of the little hydraulic arm. I stopped and popped the window back into the hydraulic. I then asked the clerk at Dollar General if they could spare some duct tape or packing tape so I could secure the window enough for the lady to drive the less than a mile back to her home – where her husband could then remedy the situation.

I MacGyver’ed the window, shook her hand and accepted a thank you then on I went.

The only reason I did it honestly was not to be nice (which was part of it) but to take an opportunity to teach my two young children a lesson.

See, I believe in leading by example for my kids. Trust me I do enough setting bad examples at times that anytime I can redeem myself, I am all for it.

I turned to the kids in their booster seats. My son smiled and innocently said, “You helped that woman Daddy. That was very nice of you.”

I thanked him for his observation and explained to both of those little faces that we do what is right for people and help out when you can. I can not remember where I saw the figure, but a poll taken of individuals walking the street under the age of 40 were asked if they had a chance to save someone from dying, but would have to give up the net and their phones for life to do it – if they would. Sadly, the majority said they wouldn’t.

This is the point I am trying to make – when/how did my generation and those behind me become so jaded that we refuse to help our neighbors. You could have a chance to save a life, but selfishly would not give up the Internet? Granted, it would make my job pretty difficult, but that is the only obstacle.

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Misinformation should not hinder county development

Fort Gay and Louisa could not be anymore different.

Louisa is happening compared to Fort Gay. There are businesses and there are grocery stores. There is a Wal-Mart. There is economic development. Fort Gay is a PreK-8 School as well as a couple gas stations. The main drag is littered with vacant buildings.

The only thing separating the two communities is a bridge. So why the vast difference?

Well for one the people of Louisa have embraced change and development. Fort Gay on the other hand…not so much.

A prime example is the former Fort Gay Elementary School property. For nearly three years the property has sat abandoned. It has been vandalized. It sits as an eyesore next to the community’s youth baseball and softball fields.

Recently, Wayne County Economic Development Authority executive director Don Perdue and officials from the West Virginia Department of Agriculture toured the building. After inspection, Perdue formally approached the Wayne County Board of Education to donate the building to the WCEDA to develop the property as a food-processing facility.

The move would create a few jobs, fix up a building that desperately needs some attention and provide economic development to an area of the county that desperately needs it. Then the misinformation started flowing.

There has been several attacks on social media surrounding the possible move because the people of Fort Gay have been misinformed that if the county works an agreement to give the building to the WCEDA that the community will lose its youth athletic fields.

Simply not the case.

After a phone conversation Monday with Superintendent Sandra Pertee, it was confirmed that is not the truth. In no way shape or form will the community lose its athletic fields. The buildings on the property that used to be the main school itself are the only parts of the property that will be utilized. In fact, the BOE has been reviewing possible language in any contract that would revert the property back to the BOE if the processing facility becomes a bust. That way the county is just not giving property away – a point one board member has contested the past several times when someone has asked for the county to donate property for use. The same concerns arose when “A New Day in Fort Gay” asked for the former middle school property via Coalfield Development.

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Visionaries needed in county

I’m going to simplify this for everyone.

We need visionaries in Wayne County. We need about eight to twelve people to step up and show the rest of the state what the people of Wayne County are about. Those folks need to come together for a monthly meeting and work towards the common goal of pulling Wayne County back fiscally to the steady median our citizens once enjoyed.

The Heartland Intermodal has to be the first thing to focus on. It really is the biggest thing going in not only this county, but also Southwestern West Virginia. Granted, there have been many different agencies and individuals along with other entities working on this project to get it where it is. The project is almost to the finish line.

Unfortunately, after a meeting at the Intermodal earlier this month, I did not leave with the most confident feeling. To me it seems that the project is near the finish line, yet no one is really driving the car. Marketing of this project has been minimal at best from the information I gathered. Sen. Bob Plymale had the best idea suggesting an economic forum to invite local businesses to see what the facility has to offer. I think that is a great start – but allow me to get back to the innovators. These men and women need to be business savvy.

They need to include representatives from Parsec, Wayne County Economic Development Authority, KYOVA, HADCO, Port Authority, Department of Commerce, Huntington Mayor Steve Williams, Kenova and Ceredo’s mayors. These are just to start. The rest need to be salesman at heart with a passion for Wayne County. Familiarity with the local business climate and the industries within a 50-mile radius definitely would be a plus. We need people with connections to these businesses and the area.

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Sad statistic haunts America

There is a sad statistic that haunts America. I have read it several times from several different sources but on average 22 veterans take their own life everyday.

Think about that stat. Basically, two basketball teams a day kills themselves after returning from service.

The stat is especially high in those returning from Operation Enduring Freedom. War is gruesome. There are several men and women that return home, but never really leave the battlefield. They return home changed inside after seeing things the good Lord never intended any of us to see.

They harbor memories that will haunt them the rest of their lives. Those memories can cause feelings of loneliness, depression, anxiety, isolation, despair and overall disconnected from the world around them.

My family knows first hand the devastating effects of suicide.

My cousin Randy served in the Navy. He became depressed and anxious. He often would call home to Florida to my aunt and tell her stories of how he was feeling. On his birthday, it became too much pain for him to handle. He shot himself.

Every April 18 since, my family honors his memory and remembers what he went through. We honor those that fell to the same circumstances and try to encourage those who will after him.

Even though we are scattered in West Virginia, Colorado, Mississippi and Florida – we all say a prayer and send a balloon in hopes he got it.

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Why is cock-fighting illegal?

I am going to put this out there. Every now and again I like to stir up a little trouble and if anything make people think.

I have friends that are animal rights advocates. I think the folks at Heart of Phoenix Equestrian Rescue based in Wayne County do a tremendous job with actually all kinds of animal rescues – not just horses. As a matter of fact, it was one Tinia Creamer that actually informed me about the alleged cock-fighting ring busted earlier this week in Wayne County.

I have cats. I like dogs, but we never have had luck with them at our house. Kids tend to forget their responsibilities then it turns into Dad taking care of another “kid.” I’ve got enough on my plate.

I would love to move out of the city and raise a farm. My kids enjoy horses, chickens, ducks, cows, goats and sheep like the next set. It honestly would be a dream come true. I respect animals.

I am also a middle-ground thinker.

Why is cock-fighting illegal? Why is dog fighting illegal? Do animals have souls like humans? When a family pet dies does it meet us at the pearly gates? Is there a doggy Hades for those that bite the mailman?

With those questions asked, please understand I am not advocating for chicken or dog fights. I do not want to become a social pariah like Michael Vick. I am simply asking the question.

At least when it comes to cock-fighting the chicken has a chance to live. No one has any issues with the way chickens are harvested, breaded, deep-fried and enjoyed at Kentucky Fried Chicken or Popeye’s. Trust me. Do the research. Fast-food chicken is not treated as fairly as old Clementine the Egg-layer residing on White’s Creek.

Honestly when it boils down to it, there is not any animal walking the face of the Earth today that wouldn’t be consumed if times get tough. Other countries throughout the world kill all kinds of animals for food and sport. No one in those countries raises an eyebrow for eating Lassie or Mr. Ed.

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Don’t look the gift horse in the mouth because this a huge gift

Wayne County may have finally caught a much-needed break Monday afternoon.
State political leaders applauded Monday afternoon.

Canadian Pacific Railway’s announced that it is ending efforts to takeover Norfolk Southern. The announcement comes after they expressed their concerns about the merger due to the potentially devastating impact it would have on West Virginia’s economy. Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Army expressed their opposition to the merger as well.

What does that have to do with Wayne County?

Well, a takeover from Canadian Pacific would have directly put the Heartland Intermodal Facility in direct jeopardy. Norfolk has been one of the largest investors into the HIF project with the company’s rail lines being the direct feeder into the facility.

According to earlier reports when news of a possible hostile takeover was announced last year, panic started to set in. Canadian Pacific officials in so little words had planned to gut the Norfolk rail lines all but killing the Heartland before it even began.

Canadian Pacific has slashed 6,000 jobs, including 1,800 people in 2015. Just last week, the company announced plans to cut another 1,000 jobs – or 12 percent of its workforce – in 2016. For years, Norfolk Southern has been committed not just to its shareholders, but to its employees and to the West Virginia communities it serves. Norfolk Southern currently employs 990 people and supports 430 retirees in the Mountain State.

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Time to step up to the plate

I heard something that made me uneasy earlier this week.

During a roundtable discussion about the future of the Intermodal Facility several things made me uneasy actually. The first one was when a local business rep asked a question and it just seemed to me the ones in the know were not accommodating to this potential client.

He represents a large company whose customers will obviously benefit from the Intermodal, yet no one seemed to have an answer for this gentleman when he asked questions about logistics. Actually according to him, the question had been raised month’s ago and he to this week had still not received and answer.

That is bad for business and not a good start working with potential clients.

Which leads me to the next unsettling thing about Tuesday’s roundtable – marketing. It is apparent to me that some kind of plan needs developed to bring in potential clients to use the facility. It was also apparent there has not been a concrete plan developed despite what was said at the meeting.

I am all for bringing in big name clients and new business from outside the state. I am also a huge supporter of building from the ground up utilizing resources that are already available – like the businesses surrounding the Intermodal 30 to 50 miles either direction.

From hearing this business rep speak Tuesday, it is apparent that has not happened. The group did make one solid suggestion that an economic forum take place to help draw in business. It could be a showcase of sorts.

It’s a start, but I have a better suggestion. Someone from this area that is knowledgeable of the county’s businesses and people needs to get in their car with a solid presentation and go to everyone of these identified local businesses that could utilize the Intermodal.

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I had my eyes opened

I took my own advice and I got away last week.

I went to a place where only four people knew my name and it was only because they are family. Sometimes it takes a trip to another state to open your eyes as to what is going on around you.

Boy did I have my eyes opened.

My cousin Karie and her essentially common-law husband moved to Hendersonville, NC outside Asheville about two years ago. The move upset my grandmother and aunt. They had two kids and were struggling to get by in Charleston. My cousin worked for DHHR dealing with CPS as a caseworker. Johnny worked restaurants and catering to make ends meet.

On a whim, they took a chance. The couple got a hotel in Asheville and went hunting for jobs. Honestly what they found was opportunities that sadly I do not believe our residents will realize early enough. Like many young and in some instances older residents they made the mass exodus from West Virginia becoming another figure in what has become the state’s top export – people.

Two years later, Johnny is working for the City of Ashville’s water plant and getting licensure opportunities/training that just is not available here. Karie is working for a funeral home and is making a career out of it. She said it was something in a million years she never would have thought to get into, but you go where the jobs are.

Plus 1 for job opportunity.

Education options are also different. My cousin’s oldest daughter attends a North Carolina Department of Education accredited charter school outside Hendersonville. There are 19 students in the school, but it is set on a farm. The kids learn the basic principles of education, but also have an opportunity to learn agriculture. There are horses and chickens and a huge garden and beehives and a lake. The students learn about bio-organisms and what is the best soil for growing crops. I could not have been anymore floored in my life. It was borderline Utopian in efforts.

Plus 1 for education.

Drugs are everywhere. So is trash and pollution. You know what else was amazing? There was no trash or hypodermic needles on the streets. Even the homeless are on a higher level of community support. I watched one gentleman literally chase down a guy for flicking a cigarette butt on the ground.

The whole time I was there last week, I was blown away by the community activism and cultural events provided for the residents. Parks, art shows, and living arts – even the former industrial district is now a living arts center where art and graffiti are encouraged.

Ashville has a bright brewing industry developing with two major breweries in the area and New Belgium building a multi-million dollar brewery expected to bring hundreds of jobs to the area. That is great but you know what made it over-the-top? Everywhere you look, major companies are utilizing solar power to limit their carbon footprint. They utilize the rivers beside the breweries through major water-filtration systems that leave little wastewater.

Blown away.

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Taking a break from the world today takes everything you got

Those of us awesome enough to be around in the 80s may remember that little tune from the theme song to “Cheers”. For those who weren’t or just did not enjoy the show it was about a Boston neighborhood watering hole highlighting the lives of the patrons, bartenders and owners.

Honestly looking back on it today, it was another piece of nostalgia that makes me yearn for simpler times. Every instance that I pick up a newspaper, turn on the television or look at an Internet news feed – I think to myself…”Wouldn’t you like to get away?”

Absolutely. I am starting to get what people who grew up during the Cold War felt like. It was a time of uneasiness in this country and throughout the world as we were all a button push away from nuclear meltdown.

Today, I see memes on Facebook stating, “Enough of the sarcasm. Where are the real presidential candidates?” I have never felt less confident in my decision at the polls since becoming old enough to vote. The direction this country is heading could be a scary place.

The events that unfolded in Brussels earlier this week and reports that ISIS are calling for jihadist Muslims to bring blood throughout the streets of Europe is unnerving.

At least during the Cold War both sides knew who their enemies were. Yet now we have no real idea. It could be anyone. That thought is why it is called terrorism because it truly brings terror to think about it.

Maybe it is because I am older and have had plenty of “adulting” and bill paying under my belt now, but it truly does feel like the economic gap between the rich and poor keeps getting wider and wider. The world economy if you let pundits tell it is on the brink of another huge downturn as we all struggle to figure out what will work. Goods are becoming costlier to produce and purchase. It is a vicious cycle. I do not know about the rest of you, but my grocery budget is tighter than ever. A Ben Franklin doesn’t go as far as it used to – in any facet of life.

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Reliable transportation a challenge “Out Wayne”

Is Uber going to be effective for Wayne County?

I am not 100 percent convinced. I see the benefits of the service in urban areas. I think the concept is wonderful. Studies have shown that in many cities throughout the country that have Uber actually saw a decrease in DUI fatalities.

I think its gives folks that do not have reliable transportation and cannot always catch that ever-elusive taxi an opportunity for transportation.

I know my mother will feel more comfortable using the service rather than calling a cab –if Uber will go to her house. She lives in Lavalette out Rt. 75. Some friends and I were having this same discussion recently.

How far will Uber go in the surrounding area? Should Wayne County even care that Uber has finally come to West Virginia?

I have the feeling the first time a Uber driver has to go past Fort Gay from Huntington, that will be the last trip that driver makes.

That is the real point of this column. It is not ultimately about Uber, but just some social commentary on transportation issues for rural Americans. Wayne County and Southern West Virginia as a whole has a difficult time finding reliable transportation. We live in a state that the overall median age is elderly or retirement age individuals.

I do as much as I possibly can for my mother who does not drive. I try to run errands and make appointments and the grocery store, but I cannot be there all the time. It is difficult to be there for her all the time. To get a bus or the mini-bus to come by there is expensive for travel. Cabs add up.

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Sometimes this state is on the road to nowhere

West Virginia citizens have had to sit back and watch one of the most detested Legislative sessions in recent memory. Everyone has blamed GOP agenda pushing and the Democrats lack of effectiveness for the poor results. It appears the special session to tweak the budget will probably be as ineffective – filling the halls of the state capitol with more jibberish and ineptitude.

The last week of any Legislative regular session is filled with fast handshakes, glory and disappointment. One bill in particular has me disappointed. Last weekend Del. Matt Rohrbach penned a “Letter to the Editor” about HB 4239.

HB 4239 was legislation that would begin the process of building a modern highway from Mingo County to Beckley. The Bill would give West Virginia the necessary tools required to build this modern highway thus connecting southern West Virginia, including Route 73/74 and the King Coal Highway with other major highways. Mingo, McDowell, Wyoming, Wayne and all of the southern counties would benefit from this Bill.

It passed in House 98-1.

Wayne County needed this. Rohrbach recognized the potential and asked for an amendment to the original bill, which did not include plans for a four-lane from Kenova to Mingo County where the new road would be built from Pikeville to Beckley. Rohrbach tried to make sure Wayne County would not get cut out of the process.

If this road is ever constructed and I-73/74 is not connected to it from the Kenova I-64 exit, essentially Wayne County will become more isolated than ever. I was leery of this bill when it was first brought to my attention, but after Rohrbach’s amendment, I felt much better about it. I just want Wayne County to be steered in the right direction.

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Expanding broadband an
investment in job creation

Sometimes when thing go down to the wire – the outcome is not positive.

That could not be any more truth to the statement as the death of broadband Internet expansion bills that died in committee this week. Thursday was the last day for bills to leave committee for passage. If they did not make it to floor for vote – then they ended up in “pasture” instead.

The Senate passed legislation aiming to expand broadband Internet across the state, but the good folks in the House did not allow any version of the bill to leave committee.

Instead the House wants to study broadband issues during legislative interim meetings over the next 10 months.

(SB 315) would have created a state-owned fiber-cable Internet network. The legislation allowed Internet companies to apply for grant money and bonds through the state government. The Internet providers would build the statewide network in segments.

The purpose was to spur competition, drive down prices and boost Internet speeds.

I for one think that all sounds wonderful. Especially in a state that needs this kind of boost. At this point, anything that could help attract businesses and generate revenue is a good thing – apparently to House members though they would rather be buried in the details.

I have heard opponents to such action say it takes away from private companies, it puts the Internet in the hands of government control, and the most ridiculous statement I have heard – “Why should the rest of taxpayers foot the cost of updating broadband because they decided to live up a holler?”

So now we have to tell the government where we can live as well?

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Playing “Devil’s Advocate”

I have this condition that makes me look at both sides of situations.

It is a gift and a curse because often times I admittedly have a difficult time taking a clear-cut stance on something. Even when I do feel passionate enough about a situation, I still rationalize with the other side.

The 2016 West Virginia Legislative session is one of these situations.

The media throughout the state has been brutal on this year’s GOP-led session. Many have called this the, “Worst session in West Virginia’s history.” One recent editorial in a state publication asked the question if the “GOP has any decency?”

I have asked the question myself. Especially since it appears a budget plan is not going to be agreed upon by Friday (the end of this year’s official session). The PEIA shortfall still lingers. There was no restructuring of the B&O tax to help attract businesses. Instead the only two measures that did pass were repealing prevailing wage and right-to-work implementation. The state still sits in a financial whole with a stagnant economy tainted by a federal government-led attack on the coal industry. One of the most hotly debated bills was the “Religious Freedom” bill which in my opinion is a direct response to a Kentucky county clerk’s refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex partners due to what she stated was her religious beliefs.

So were there any positives? I know I am going to take some flack for my answer, but I like playing “Devil’s advocate.

The real question should be, “Was this the best session in history for personal freedoms?”

I am not 100 percent convinced that is the case. A friend of mine and I had this argument the other morning. He brought up the flipside to my argument that this is in fact the worst session ever. He believes in fact it was a victory for personal rights.

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“Let them eat cake”

I have recently started a healthier lifestyle. I still drink. I’ve cut back on the smoking, but I don’t eat fast food or processed junk anymore.

If I want sweets, I actually make a cookie. I eat a lot of protein (fish, beef and chicken) along with a lot of vegetables. Carbs other than the natural sugars from the fruits and vegetables is basically all I am taking in…..and boy has my grocery bill shot through the roof.

Before everyone jumps on the “Make SNAP benefits only healthy foods” bandwagon, let me explain the alternative. I advocate fresh, clean eating. Processed foods high in sugars and unnecessarily high sodium, preservative and additive contents as what is found in mac n’ cheese.

It is nasty, but it is cheap – so when you are receiving $190 for a family of four…do the math. It is less expensive to buy 10 boxes of mac n’ cheese than one family pack of lean ground beef. It is cheaper to purchase a bag of cheese curls than it is to buy actual cheese.

Have you seen the price of grapes? I was blown away the last time I went to the store. So if I see the shelf of Little Debbie snack cakes and they cost $1.99 box, then why am I going to pound of grapes?

I admit. It is disgusting that people purchase $212 of Pepsi cubes only to sell .50 cents on the dollar back to businesses and convenience stores for re-purchase. It is a direct abuse of the system and is why as my Maw Maw used to say, “Why people cannot have nice things.”

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Party lines define this election

Is anyone else tired of the presidential race already?

I was having dinner with some friends. We all are under 40 and actively pay attention to politics. The dinner conversation naturally gravitated to the presidential election.

The conclusion that came from that conversation did not leave me confident in any candidate running for the White House. When did our country become an instant sound byte driven society whose presidential candidates are weak at best.

It almost reminds me of the Bush/Kerry election a few years back. IT reminds me of both Obama elections.

There is no clear-cut choice.

I will be the first to state that every election of my adult life that I have voted that I have either chose a fringe candidate or did a write-in. So what happened to candidates that stood for something?

Of course the current candidates stand for something, but for my generation (atleast those of us that look deeper than CNN or Fox News headlines) truly believe that there is not a good candidate period.

The days of people just pulling the straight ticket lever are gone. More people have registered independent in rebellion of the two-party system than any time in the history of this country. The problem in this state is that to be an independent candidate on the ballot the Secretary of State’s office forces you to get 5,000 signatures to be placed on the ballot as an independent candidate.

So that is fair how? No registered democrats or republicans have to do that.

The presidential election has become a reflection of the state of our country’s political climate. From Capitol Hill to Charleston, our lawmakers are divided by party lines more than ever. Yet, Americans as a whole in my opinion yearn for a candidate that gets the common man.

Donald Trump has filed bankruptcy several times. He is dangerous with his tongue. The sheer thought of him in the Oval makes me nervous. Cruz and Rubio are no better. Both have qualities that do absolutely nothing for me. I am neither an Evangelical right-winger, nor overly conservative.

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Innocent until proven guilty for criminal courts – not family court

I have bashed the Legislature enough for two weeks. I think it is time to share something more personal.

I am not going into to many of the specific details, but this is something I feel strongly passionate about. If anyone would like to speak to me directly about my experience, then I am an open book. Some things are better to speak eye-to-eye on though.

I believe this story is something everyone from all ages and sexes can appreciate. The topic of discussion is the family court system. Before I start, this could go either way with either parent. I’m just speaking from what I have seen and from what my friends have dealt with.

I saw a post on Facebook that sparked this opinion piece. And for the record, I have not been through the Wayne County Family Court so this is in no way directed at Judge Lewis or candidate Sean Maynard.

Instead this is just an observation as a Dad that has been through it.

Stop bias towards Dad’s. The formula for child-support is skewed. Actually the whole system is skewed.

Here is an example. Man and woman divorce. Two young children are involved. They go to court and judge using the formula, never taking into consideration who did what parenting wise in the relationship – gives what the court calls “joint custody”. In reality it is some token days to the father while the mother gets to keep the kids most of the time and Dad forks out money.

Before people get into an uproar, any man that can make a child should be prepared to take care of that child financially and emotionally – but the odds are stacked against you as a father. The Facebook post I saw said as much as the prior sentence. But not every Dad walks away because he is scared or a bum. Some of us have no other options to ensure the happiness of our children and our own sanity.

So, Dad gets his three weekends a month and holidays. He now has to work a second job in order to pay the child support. Because he has a second job to cover child support on top of countering the loss of a second income in the home, now has trouble getting to see his kids because he has to work. Meanwhile, mom is going to eat at Taste of Asia sending texts of the receipt as a big, “A-ha.”

Mom withholds kids because Dad has work and may need them to be with a babysitter or new girlfriend. This goes on for months. Finally Dad has enough and takes ex-wife back to court. Not once but several times. Requests a guardian-ad-litem, which is Latin for “does nothing, takes your money.” All the while the father is being alienated from the children during the experience. They are young kids so without the Dad in their life, it makes him a stranger.

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Wayne High School gets it

I opened up my work email Tuesday morning and inside it discovered a wonderful piece of information coming from Wayne High School. The high school’s ornamental horticulture classes have been growing hydroponic tomatoes. The system is unique for high school students and is only one of the few in the area.

The program has in fact been so successful that Huntington Restaurant “La Famiglia” is purchasing many of the tomatoes to utilize at the boutique Italian eatery.

How amazing is that?

To me it is a testimony as to what could happen in Wayne County and the state if folks would just see past natural resources in the traditional sense. Agriculture is a renewable natural resource.

It can be re-grown, year-after-year. In some cases, such as the tomatoes being produced by high school kids, some produce can be grown year round via hydroponics. I have watched the agro-science movement return to the Wayne County School systems the past five years and it makes me smile.

Often times I have been hard on Wayne County Schools, but this legitimately is an opportunity to commend the school board for utilizing fresh produce, while teaching students the value of agricultural practices. I think it truly is time the state takes notice.

I have touched on it several times the past few months about the importance agriculture could play in our local economy.

You look around Wayne County and you see empty farmland. You can drive through the area and see empty storefronts. There is acres of former coal mine land just being reclaimed by nature while land-tract corporations sit back wondering what to do with the properties (or for coal to makes its triumphant return).

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It all runs down hill

Here is the deal.

The Wayne County Board of Education was presented with information from AFT (presentation transcribed in this edition) on the “bloated” central office figures as far as salary, benefits and positions go.

According to the information provided by ATF staff rep for Wayne County, the West Virginia Department of Education recommends that counties employ only two professional personnel (superintendent and treasurer) be given 261-day contracts. Tinney said Wayne County has 24 professionals with 261-day contracts.

A 240-day employee and a 261-day employee actually work the EXACT same number of days, but a 261-day employee earns a paid vacation, according to Tinney. Tinney said that equates to $136,000 annually in paid vacation that could go to saving three teaching positions or five service positions.

Tinney goes on in the presentation to state Wayne County has the highest number of 261-day contract employees in RESA 2 behind Cabell County.

I think it is time for just not Wayne County Schools, but all county schools to look at combined services via their regional RESA districts. Counties should share services. Example: I think David Lycan is a very knowledgeable attorney – always been a help and amicable to me. From a financial standpoint, his position does not make sense to me. Lincoln County utilizes the services of the RESA retained attorney. Why don’t other counties?

Of course the argument is gong to be workload, but wouldn’t it make sense for six counties to use the same attorney at salary with one or two paralegals than having six different attorneys? Wayne County has consistently the past several years had to outsource thousands of dollars for legal services to Steptoe & Johnson. That isn’t even counting the salary Lycan receives.

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Charleston priorities a mystery

I have to say there has been some serious debate on topics during the 2016 session of the Legislature.

Our representatives have fought over concealed carry, defining religious freedoms, right-to-work and repealing prevailing wage. The Republicans have done basically what they set out to do. I mean funding PEIA, creating jobs and helping the education system surely can wait right?

I know forced pooling is still lurking around the corner to take up the remaining weeks of session. Surely that should take priority seeing that the price of oil right now makes in my opinion forced pooling something that could wait.

WE do not need to restructure our coal severance at this point either or am I wrong? I mean the current rates and methods are raking in the money for counties and municipalities to operate from – especially as coal production decreases, while regulation increases. What seemed like a victory for coal by the Supreme Court’s decision last week has turned shaky with the death of Justice Scalia.

What about bills to create jobs? Right-to-work is not going to be the magic bullet. Sorry.

It is going to take more than softening unions to rebuild this state’s economy. Could it be beneficial? Maybe. Time will tell if that will be the case – but there are more serious underlying issues.

How about strengthening the education system by focusing on Career and Technical Education and STEM curriculum so we are producing students prepared for technical jobs. This is coming from someone with a liberal arts based degree. There are enough writers, philosophers and basket weavers. We need technically trained, job ready students coming out of our education system.

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The purpose of the WCN is to inform the public

“A Florida con man uses the passing of the long time Congressman from his district who he just happens to share a name with, to get elected to his version of paradise, Congress…” That is an excerpt from describing the movie “Distinguished Gentleman” starring Eddie Murphy.

It is an obscure 90s movie that not many have seen. It gets replayed frequently on TBS and other Sunday afternoon television movie runs.

Well it appears that we have some of that going on here in Wayne County.

First off, I am not calling anyone a con man. So before I get angry letters and phone calls that is not the point of this piece.

The point of this piece is to inform the public that when they go to the voting booth for the upcoming season that the Judge David Ferguson is not the Dave Ferguson that has served this county honorably for the past several years.

No, the Ferguson voters will be electing is David Elba Ferguson – Judge Ferguson’s son.

The Judge Ferguson we all know is retiring.

Instead, his son is wisely running for his seat.

Is it a good idea for the younger Ferguson to hopefully ride on the family name? Absolutely. It is politically a wonderful move.

Is it a way that will confuse voters? I believe so. Granted on the ballot it will read David E. Ferguson, but no one thinks to check for the “E”.

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Legislators need a one-track mind to fix the real problems

There are some topics that just cannot civilly be discussed at the dinner table. For my mother and I, that topic is gun control. She is for it. I am against it.

I believe the Constitution spells out my rights as a citizen to own and posses a weapon at anytime. I’m not going to litter this piece with facts and figures about what countries have the lowest crime rates, yaddi yaddi yada.

I will keep it brief on this subject and then transition into something else. It will all make sense in a moment.

Passing legislation that limits the ability of a citizen to arm themselves does not keep bad guys from getting them. Laws made to combat the War on Drugs have proven time and again that they do not keep people from using drugs. Sometimes our government takes things too far in hopes of providing measurements that protect the whole population.

Honestly, I do not think the House’s passage of a bill that would make it legal for citizens of the state to carry concealed weapons without a permit, as long as they meet certain requirements is, well too off kilter.

Del. Don Perdue called the bill an act of “responding to fear”.

Perdue and I have had this discussion in the past about responding to fear. Don and I like my mother disagree. I think this is exactly the kind of level playing field that needs put out there. A criminal is going to have a weapon whether they are banned from having one or not if they want to obtain one badly enough. A violent crime is a violent crime. Who knows if it could have been prevented if the person committing the crime knew the victim was possibly carrying a gun. It probably does not matter to a criminal either way.

I do not believe that if Senate passes a version of the bill as well that we will see an increase in shootings. I don’t see a drop in crime either. People that want to carry, probably already are. Especially if the bill keeps those people who have substance abuse issues, mental health issues or convictions of domestic violence or other violent crimes from obtaining permits.
So with that said here comes the transition.

I have to give credit to Tim Miley (D-Harrison). Miley released a statement following the vote in which he said the House of Delegates has not passed any legislation that addressed job creation, fixing PEIA or finding money to fix the state’s roads.

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Lack of growth indicates serious issues with state’s economy

The BIG Map does not lie.

We have known for months that the last half of the prior year was a fiscal nightmare for Wayne County’s economy. We have all opined at the diner in Wayne or at Ric Griffith’s Soda Fountain how bad.

This past week West Virginia Secretary of State’s office released it monthly Business Industry Growth (BIG) Map. Basically the map tells how many businesses were opened and how many closed in a county each month.

Wirt County showed the most growth this past month adding three new businesses. Yes, top in the state by adding three new businesses. That is shooting for the stars.

Don’t let the numbers fool you. Wirt was actually tops because it is gauged on percentage of growth. Wirt County, being small and not known as a hotspot for industry, adding three jobs increased the county’s total business by 2.59 percent.

Wayne tied Kanawha County last month with .45 percent growth. Wayne County lost three businesses while opening six. The amazing thing is that is good news. After looking into the data I was shocked to learn according to WVSOS information, Wayne County lost 82 jobs this past November while only gaining five. To put it in perspective for every business that opened its doors in Wayne County three months ago, there were 16 closing theirs.

Pretty staggering figures.

This is why I am still conflicted about right to work and prevailing wage.

I know many are angry the GOP-led Legislature is really trying to knock it out of the park this session but when .45 percent growth is progress for a county then there are some serious issues within this state’s economy.

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Time to get back to the key principles of unions

In case anyone has been paying attention the last couple columns, I have really been on a grassroots, do-it-yourself kick as of late.

Probably because a huge chunk of my life has been centered on doing things myself. Have I had some help along the way? Yes. Have I required a push from parents, bosses, colleagues, friends and others? I’d be lying if I said no.

I grew up in a union family. Both my father and stepfather were in unions for as long as I can remember. The union helped provide for my family. It provided both men the opportunity for stable employment and decent living wages.

It is not to say at times things were lean, but both men kept our family going.

That is why I have yet to comment on right-to-work or prevailing wage. I call it the gift and the curse – basically my ability to see both sides of an argument. Sometimes it is difficult for me to take a distinct side in an argument. This is definitely one of those times.

I am not going to either.

Instead, Hoppy Kerchival makes a compelling point about RTW legislation and the opportunity it provides. I am not 100 percent sold that this is a good idea. As I said, I see the positives and negatives – yet I still do not rationalize enough to pick a side.

What I will say for those in the labor unions is to take what apparently is the inevitable and turn it into a positive. Adaptation is the key to survival. There is a time and a place to stand firm in your beliefs, but sometimes you have to simply play with the cards you have been dealt. Take the risk and play the hand out. What may appear to be a bad hand could win in the long term.

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Wayne County lives matter

I am sick of hearing about the “this group’s lives matters” movement. I have a movement that will rattle some folks’ cages. How about “Wayne County Lives Matter”? Even bigger would be “Appalachian Lives Matter”?

This is a subject I have pondered in some degree since I was a child. We would take trips throughout the country. One time at King’s Island some friends of mine and myself were standing in line for one of the roller coasters. These cute young ladies from Indiana were in line behind us. One of them overheard me speak. Shortly after she asked us where we were from.

All of us teenage girl crazy young gentlemen gladly obliged proudly stating we were from West Virginia. We then were forced to listen to some of the most stereotypical and absurd statements I had ever heard.

“Do you wear shoes?” Obviously I do if they are on my feet now.

“Do you take baths in the creek?” Only when I’m roughing it or the public water lines are out.

“Do you date your sisters and cousins?” Well some idiots, but…

I was amazed. That day was something that has stuck with me ever since. See racism and classism exist in West Virginia like every other part of the country. The only difference is in my opinion it is not as prominent as in other places because we all realize we are poor. No matter our differences we are all fully aware of our environment and the current situation of our state. It bonds us. It unifies us together. We wear our 304 roots with pride.

This state is in top five in military participation. Our timber helped build the White House and Carnegie Hall. Our coal has kept everyone’s lights on. Our blood, sweat and tears have helped drive the nation’s auto industry with migrant Appalachian workers. Whole neighborhoods in Cleveland and Detroit were and still are mirror images of West Virginia with folks from Appalachia living there.

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As if Wayne County doesn’t have enough problems

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced Tuesday in Charleston that the Heartland Intermodal Facility in Prichard is essentially in trouble before it even started. Norfolk Southern Railroad, which has been the driving force behind the facility, is fighting a hostile corporate takeover from Canadian Pacific Railway.

Canadian Pacific has been trying to push a merger since last November. The takeover is being opposed by several industry groups urging U.S. rail regulators to block the potential takeover, Reuters reports.

Norfolk Southern has rejected a number of takeover offers by Canadian Pacific since November. In mid-December, Canadian Pacific Railway sweetened its $30 billion cash-and-stock bid by offering to compensate Norfolk Southern shareholders if Canadian Pacific shares declined during the merger process.

The takeover bid has also been the catalyst for Norfolk stock to slide as the company battles for its livelihood.

Norfolk Southern employs 990 West Virginians with a payroll of $67 million and investments of $85 million in tracks and facilities, according to company information.

So what does this mean for the facility if the merger goes through?

Wayne County faces having a nice new facility in our backyard with no commerce occurring. Norfolk officials claim that if the takeover happens, Canadian will come in and dismantle Norfolk Southern. Something tells me Manchin’s announcement gives merit to Norfolk officials’ claims.

He obviously knows something the rest of us do not.

It would be a crying shame that all the time, money and effort to bring the facility to Prichard could possibly be for nothing.

Manchin is calling for a full hearing into Canadian’s efforts “as soon as possible” in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

“There’s no way we can think that there’s going to be a positive outcome of this. No way. If you look at the past history and the past track record of the people involved, it’s not going to be positive,” Manchin said during the press conference.

Del. Don Perdue reacted in the same manner as Manchin Tuesday stating that he is uncertain about the future of the facility and supports Manchin’s call for a hearing.

“What I find the most upsetting is that they (Canadian) has no investment into this property and have given no indication that it will have any use for the facility if it is acquired,” Perdue said.

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It may be time for a huge change in West Virginia

The announcement this week from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s office that the state will not receive $140 million in federal money to help the struggling southern coalfields. In a news release Thursday, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said he was disappointed in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s decision to reject the application.

Tomblin mentioned the National Disaster Resilience Competition money during his State of the State earlier this month. It would have helped rebuild infrastructure and other needs in six coalfield counties.

And folks outside West Virginia wonder why we feel like the stepchild of the Union.

So here is the deal Wayne County and West Virginia – it is time to as former Wayne County News editor Ron Ferguson would tell me, “Have a coming to Jesus”.

There has to be some tough decisions both morally and economically made for the benefit of our financially battered state. I know what I am about to say is going to anger some folks – but like our forefathers that carved this state out of western Virginia, we have to look out for ourselves.

The coalfields have become a dilapidated wasteland of struggling communities on the brink of extinction. McDowell County is losing its Wal-Mart. If that is not a sign of things to come, then I do not know what is. Especially when we are talking about a county that coal regulations and declining market needs destroyed. Bramwell still has a slow-dying reminder of the wealth that once flowed through the southern coalfields. Their high school mascot wasn’t called the Millionaires for nothing.

For starters, new taxes are not the answer. That is not the way to go right now. I cannot believe I am even about to write this as a man that has prided most of my adult life on believing I am against corporate greed. Do I believe CEOs should make $100 million bonuses? No. Do I believe that this country has made it too easy to allow companies to move operations to other countries, taking with it American jobs while claiming to be an American company? No.

It is counterproductive at this time to take any measure though that adds more fiscal pressure on companies looking to operate in West Virginia. The B&O tax set-up needs reviewed. The way the state acquires coal severance needs overhauled. That “all eggs in the basket, hail-mary, savior” natural gas industry is not going to be the golden goose we all pray for. Maybe with some changes in the White House things can get better for that sector, but not under the current world markets the way they are.

So here comes the bombshell…maybe it is time we look at a serious hard look towards marijuana legalization in some capacity.

Currently there is a bill in the House of Delegates, which would allow the controlled production of marijuana for the sale and distribution to states that legally allow marijuana in some capacity.

Any West Virginia State trooper can tell you that this state is not short on capable growers. I’m not calling for its full legalization, just yet. I know morally this state is not ready for it. Especially since we currently have become the heroin overdose capital of the country.

I will say if you have the time to really do the research via NORML though states that have legalized marijuana in its entirety actually saw a decrease in overall crime arrests as well as decreased opiate abuse cases – while increasing revenues. Call Colorado’s governor John Hickenlooper and ask how he feels about the financial windfall his state has seen in the past two years.

Another FYI…as of five years ago when I worked for another paper and covered this same topic when the subject of legalization began crossing the minds of lawmakers in Charleston, data stated that the No. 1 cash-crop in West Virginia is marijuana. It just isn’t legal.

The thing is though this state has acres upon acres of strip mine land just sitting there ready for some kind of repurpose. There are hundreds of warehouses and former industrial sites that could be utilized for indoor grow facilities. People could get back to work and healthy profits made from it.

This state actually needs to not only figure out how to modernize our economy through infrastructure improvements and putting heavy resources into developments such as the Heartland Intermodal Facility in Prichard, but also take a look back at our roots. Our roots are simple immigrant farmers making the best of the land they were given to produce crops and livestock. Agriculture is our ticket. Marijuana falls under agriculture. In my opinion the race for Commissioner of Agriculture is one of if not the most important race at the state level this election season because whoever wins will have a huge impact in the direction this state decides to take.

I know no one want the state to go to “pot” but the truth of the matter is we already are in a situation where hard choices need made.

And if it is not too much to ask could we also get some raw milk legislation that makes sense? Quit restricting agriculture and farmers’ ability to make a living. I think you would find the results of lifting some of these restrictions, including growing marijuana, would be a quick decline in overall state unemployment figures within a year.

What do candidates at any level stand for anymore?

In case you missed, four republican candidates running for the House 19th District in Wayne County were on the Tom Roten Show (WVHU 800) Monday morning for a little debate.

In all honesty it wasn’t what I think of in a debate. I was actually a little disappointed. The candidates agreed basically on every topic. There wasn’t any heated exchanges – but I have been told I am a “theatrical joke of a reporter” so I guess I am hardwired to want to see more juice per se.

If you didn’t listen to the debate or watched the stream, you can via Tom Roten’s homepage.

Education (primarily Common Core) took up the bulk of the debate.

The only candidate that has run for a political office or has any experience is Mark Ross. Ross is a teacher at Wayne High School. He was appointed to fill an unexpired seat in the House back in 2000. He eventually ran for the seat the following election after the term expired where he was defeated.

Ross spoke candidly about his doubts that the West Virginia State Board of Education is truly repealing Common Core. As a man in the trenches, Ross said that he believes teachers are teaching to tests and that he is disheartened to see students that cannot perform basic math skills.

Matt Harmon was fairly quiet on all topics. He said he did not have an opinion on Right to Work. I did enjoy the fact he did ask the question, “Why does the county not have enough jobs?” I wish someone had the answer to that question Mr. Harmon. Harmon did sum up the economic situation well stating we are all fighting over the same nickel.

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For Westmoreland, why is Comcast the only option?

I have pointed out that although Westmoreland has its perks…it also has its downfalls – mainly because residents live in both Wayne County and the City of Huntington.

It is a very unique situation. The biggest gripes I have had about it are the fire tax and the 911 issue that every time you call for help you are bounced between the two counties (Cabell and Wayne). I have talked about this to death.

A new one has come to mind though.

Why is it when you cross the Spring Valley Bridge, basically immediately, you can get Armstrong Cable services, but if you live say on the floodwall side, you are only offered Comcast Cable?

I for one am absolutely disgusted with Comcast’s overpriced and underperforming services. I used to use Comcast for both Internet and TV services. I have since dropped down to just Internet. Even it is slow. I pay too much for the issues I have had from the net dropping, to slow connections to their customer service is awful.

As a matter of fact, just Google “Comcast poor customer service” and watch not only customer complaints, but also where Comcast has received “Awards” for their poor performance.

Yet, this is the company that the City of Huntington continues to allow to be the only franchise in town. Granted, you can go to DirectTv or Dish (which I have), but it still isn’t “local” offices really. It still does not give a viable option for Internet.

Charleston has Suddenlink and Comcast to choose from, but not Huntington. Nope we apparently are not allowed choices.

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The state must face its fears

Facing fears.

Honestly in my opinion that is a necessary ingredient for success. I am facing fear this weekend – well not necessarily fear but the unknown. After several years talking a good story in my youth, I decided to enter the Toughman amateur boxing competition. For those of you who have never attended such an event it is a spectacle.

This year 200 amateur fighting men and women signed up to compete. People enter the ring and slug it out for bragging rights as the Tri-State’s toughest. Two Wayne County residents Don Pennington and Nathan Butcher have won it. There is probably more Wayne Countians that have done so, but I know these two personally.

Pennington was the first person I texted after I decided to make a go of it at 35 for some pointers. I expected to hear, “At your age don’t.” Instead “Dirty Don” gave me a workout regiment that has put me in the best shape I have been in since high school.

Pennington encouraged me instead of discouraging me in essence helping me to face my fears.

Wayne County and West Virginia are in the same boat. In order to be successful it is time for lawmakers to face some fears. The thing about fear is it can force you to stay comfortable for fear of getting outside your comfort zone, it can leave you paralyzed with thoughts of the unknown or both.

I received a press release from the Office of the State Treasurer that coal severance disbursements are going to be down this year. As if anyone that is consistently in the know about the state’s financial peril and the coal industry’s eulogy all but being written by the Obama Administration.

According to the release – counties and towns would see approximately $22 million dispersed, a 23 percent downturn from fiscal year 2015.

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Election season is upon us

Is anyone friends with the “Kenova Friends” page on Facebook.

If you are not I suggest you take a look at it. Monday, former Kenova Police Chief Ray Mossman went on a rant. Mossman is running for sheriff in Wayne County. The ex-chief said that he will not accept support from voters who expect favors in return. Actually I will just let you the reader take a glance at what the Facebook post stated.

“In case anyone has forgotten, I am a Democratic Candidate for the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office. You can follow, support or whatever me at http://www.RayMossman”

“I’m not going to accept support from people who expect favors in return. The other candidates can if they wish get their support from those individuals that expect favors in return that has every sign of potential corruption.”

“You won’t find me associating with any special groups that expect something in return. I believe the law is the law, it is equal to everyone.”

“I stand up to everyone when they ask for favors. I never liked it through my years of Law Enforcement work and I don’t like it now. It’s not fair that someone with connections gets out of a predicament when a family with no connections has to pay the piper when their loved ones are caught committing a crime. It happens all around us. I must say that with my 25 years of experience with a Nationally Accredited and one of the largest Sheriff’s Office in Florida I very seldom saw favors or favoritism, in fact I can say I never saw it.”

“While working as a Police Officer with the Kenova PD in the early eighties the Chiefs unilaterally just pulled tickets and made arrest dockets go away. It was just the way of the era. If you knew someone you got out of the problem. Was it right or wrong, of course it was wrong, but if you will, it was right for the time.”

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Our seniors deserve better

Senior care in Wayne County gets a major boost from Wayne County Community Services Organization. They do tremendous things from meal programs to transportation to housing for seniors. WCCSO is a tremendous asset to the community.

The question I have is what are people that do not have resources readily available? For example: there is a couple living in Shoals right now. The husband has diabetes. He has had several heart attacks. The wife has lupus and deals with depression as well as is going through chemotherapy for cancer.

The husband has not worked in several years and receives his Social Security. The wife did not work enough quarters to qualify for SSI, but she cannot get disability because the lupus and depression are not acceptable diagnosis.

They have no vehicle. The wife hasn’t drove in decades anyways. The husband now cannot drive due to his health.

Recently, the husband took a turn for the worse. His sugar and blood pressure sky-rocketed due to the fact he hit his donut hole in his Medicare coverage. He was rushed to the hospital where he spent nearly a month in ICU and Health South. He was eventually released only to return to Health South a week later because he kept falling.

The wife is taking chemo and is weak. The husband now requires 75 percent home care. Should be 100, but the system believes if the wife still lives with the husband, then he has full care.

Which is not true, because the wife is nursing her own health issues. The woman is trying to get the husband into a nursing facility. The original episode with the high sugar caused neurological damage. He has to use a walker or wheel chair, can not walk on his own, needs assistance with all daily activities and has incontinence issues now.

The wife’s health continues to deteriorate due to the stress. She has to rely on the kindness of neighbors, church, her son or taxis to get anywhere.

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Failing at the War on Drugs

This is not going to sit well with some. I may even be dubbed cruel – but my most favorite saying recently has been, “It is what it is.”

We are failing at the War on Drugs. For every information officer or communications director for whatever agency this week saying that we are combating heroin in Huntington, I have a list of names that will dispute those statements. Here is something that no one is looking into at all and quite frankly it angers me to no end.

You will never dissolve human appetite. Plain and simple.

This past week, northern Wayne County lost two young men. Both gentlemen leave behind families, both were fathers, both were friends and both leave behind people wondering what happened. These were men that we used to play basketball in the backyard with or toss football on the schoolyard.

There were long nights of gaming and watching sports. There were memories made and now that is all that will ever be left of them because of the battle against addiction. Wars can actually be won – a new phrase needs to be coined for what is happening in our hometowns. This is more like the “100 Year Dope War”.

Huntington alone is averaging 40 calls a month with the overdose total reaching record-breaking levels. Actually local officials had to increase their predicted overdose total to 920 overdose deaths for the year. The number was already disgusting, yet it has been increased to reflect reality.

You can look at it from the social aspect that a lack of jobs and hope is what drives people to heroin. One can say that the pill explosion surrounding opiate based narcotics that used to flow throughout the streets of Huntington have now been replaced by heroin.

Increased regulations made it more difficult for the illegal distribution of pills as well as a full-on assault on pill mill doctors in the Tri-State area.

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Could elk be an economic boom for Wayne County?

Could an elk wildlife management area be an economic boom for Wayne County?

In a story that appeared this past Sunday in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, West Virginia’s wildlife officials hope they’ll have a small herd of 15 to 35 elk established in the hills of southern West Virginia by some time next spring.

That and other details about the state’s elk-reintroduction effort came to light this week when the Division of Natural Resources released for public comment its new elk management plan.
Overall, the plan calls for DNR officials to acquire and stock a total of 150 elk by 2019, with an eye toward developing a herd of about 2,500 animals spread over all or parts of seven southwestern counties.

Wayne County was included in the list with the focus on south of East Lynn.

So could this be another economic jolt. I honestly do not believe it would make a huge impact, but it should be enough to add some economic bite into the southern end of the county.

Based upon what I have learned the past few years covering the Hatfield McCoy Trail systems coming to Wayne County – I just do not see it happening. There has been no progress. There has been no movement. It has just been a stalemate. Same as the Beech Fork Lodge, there have been promises made and proposals galore but no progress.

That is why I am not holding my breath on an elk wildlife management area making its way into Wayne County borders.

The county still needs to focus and fight for the Tolsia Highway to be expanded to help the infrastructure for the Intermodal. That to me is the most important economic focus the county’s representatives should go full throttle on.

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Wayne Co. might be stiff armed out of another fiscal opportunity

Several articles appeared at the end of last year and earlier this year surrounding the Rogersville Shale that supposedly holds the possibility of one of the largest oil and natural gas reserves in the world. The Rogersville was being touted as a possible economic saving grace.

Then the oil and natural gas market plunged. It started with the decline in oil prices that has now culminated to gas that is as low as $1.81/gallon in some parts of our area.

An unseasonably warm November tacked in with predictions that a strong Pacific El Nino system this winter will keep heating oil and gas prices at near record lows.

The end result has been what many analysts are calling the biggest downturn in production on the once state cash cow Marcellus Shale. Plummeting prices has forced many larger companies such as Cabot and many mom & pop companies to either cut staff, production or both.

So what does that mean for Wayne County?

A day late and an inch short again. Coal was essentially destroyed by exports being crushed by the low-balled prices being paid in foreign developing countries. Add the fact that the DEP and EPA cracked the whip on coal companies domestically – the perfect storm took out the little two-century economic tugboat that coal once was.

So here we go again…an industry that has seen scrutiny for fracking and the waste the process produces to methane leaks to water pollution – is about to feel regulatory oppression. Add the other factors mentioned above to make matters worse.

There is nothing that Wayne County is going to be able to do about it. Maybe if the founder of the Weather Channel is right and global warming is a hoax, then it will get really cold. Maybe if we get in our winter best and make fake snow angels the cold temperatures will follow. And I have oceanfront property for sale near Stepptown.

Night Before ode to the Rebels

Twas the Night Before the AA state championship
And all through West Virginia’s South
Not a person in the state will doubt
Tolsia Football is ready to play smashmouth

The players were nestled all snug in hotel room beds
While visions of trophies and glory danced in their heads
Coach Smith with his headphones, Coach Matt with the game plan
Know what it takes to defeat the Bridgeport’s Indians

The sun rose and out of Wheeling Island arose such a clatter
The Wayne County school buses pulled in with the force of a Rebel battler
The doors opened fans poured out with a crash
Ready to bring fury and spend a little cash

When what in front of Bridgeport’s wandering eyes did appear
Was the Lumberjack and Jenning Holland’s bushy beard
The orange and blue so lively and quick
I knew in a moment hind end would be kicked

More rapid than eagles, the players they came,
Coach Smith whistled and called them by name:
Now Logan! Now Luke! Now Holland and Maynard!
On McMillon! On Stroud!
When you get on the field get angry get loud!
To the top of the goal posts to the tops of the walls
We came here to win and dash away all!

As dry leaves that before the wild straight winds fly around
When we meet with an obstacle, mount to the ground
So to the ground the Rebels flew
Picking up yardage on the feet of No. 22

And then with a whistle blow I heard from the box
WE will win this game for our friend Luis Fox
As I drew my eyes closer to see numbers on the field
It was like the Rebels had axes to yield

They were dressed in orange from head to foot
And their eyes were all blackened like covered in soot
A clipboard of plays, brothers in arms
It didn’t take long for Bridgeport to seem a little alarmed

The Rebels were big an mean, that tail back as smooth as jelly
Then they took it to them running I Right 28 Belly
Luke Presley is a machine of an elf
Who will flat run you over or make a fool of yourself

He spoke not a word and went right to work
He filled up the scoreboard, then turned with a jerk
Taking a knee and pointed at the sky
And giving a nod as the celebratory tears are cried

They sprang to the fifty, they played like missiles
They did work every play to the very last whistles
But I heard them explain, ere they drove out of sight

“Tolsia Rebels are Champions, we conquered Friday Nights!

Be the cheer for someone else

Thanksgiving has turned into the speed bump on our way to Christmas. I have to agree with the Facebook posts that there is a War on November being waged in this country.

As soon a Halloween was over and in some instances just days before, the Christmas commercials started on television. The decorations hit the shelves and if you are my neighbor, you have had the house decorated since then as well.

To me it is all a humbug this year and I am not alone.

The holiday’s can be a tough time for people going through loss. While families and friends gather to celebrate with copious meals that equal the caloric intake of a year for others – the season can be a painful memory.

Whether it be a death in the family, a divorce, financial problems, job loss, family fighting overseas or just general seasonal depression can affect us all.

This season I am dealing with my own loss.

I don’t want to hear Christmas carols. I don’t want to decorate the tree and I especially do not want to go deal with all of my family members and answer all the questions.

Honestly, I think I would be satisfied at the house watching football and eating a Banquet turkey potpie – but that sounds even depressing to me.

Often in year’s past I would drive by Shoneys and wonder why they are open on Thanksgiving. I wonder what person would go have a holiday meal by their self? Luckily, I do have family and I will be spending the holiday with them – but what about those that don’t?

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Thank You for working on Thanksgiving

I give a round of applause to those who work holidays. I have said it before that there is nothing more sad than a newsroom when you work on a holiday.

More so than any other time this season, I have seen a push for Black Friday and employees working on Thanksgiving. Once upon a time in this country, every thing shut down on Thanksgiving. Mothers and daughters did not spend their Thanksgiving dinner conversation mapping out a route to hit 31 sales starting just hours later.

For more than a decade now, workers say goodbye a little earlier than the rest of us to their family and head to work. There has been a backlash on social media against the practice. Many believe that the stores should close. Some major retailers have proudly announced they are not going to open their doors until Friday morning. I applaud you for your bravery and looking out for employees.

I have something for you to ponder though…

What about factory workers? What about police officers and doctors and nurses and support staff and EMT and firefighters and 911 Center workers and the news staffs and convenience store workers? These professions have traditionally worked holidays for years.

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Consolidation a bad thing that takes a toll on communities

Everyone in the southern end of the county has been waiting to hear where Tolsia would fall when the West Virginia Secondary Schools Athletic Commission’s classifications came out.

The bad news came yesterday afternoon when it was revealed Tolsia has dropped to Class A. It is not the first time for the school, but anyone that was around during that time knows it made scheduling athletic opponents a nightmare. The nearest team is Tug Valley, which will surely create a major rivalry.

After that the nearest schools are Van, Sherman, Montcalm, Fayetteville, Meadow Bridge, Valley Fayette, Greenbrier West, Buffalo Putnam and Hannan. Get the gas cards ready.

This is a true reflection of the times in southern Wayne County. Jobs are scarce. People are moving out. Enrollment throughout the county as a whole has declined.

Now time to anger a few folks.

I know during the time of the bond issue, there was a lot of anger and venom at times behind some of Ron Ferguson’s editorials. No one was more openly critical of the school board and the SBA.

What I am about to say is going to shock some of you.

Money should never have been given to Crum to build a new school or should Fort Gay Pk-8 have ever been built. I know this isn’t going to sit well but hear me out. The reality of the situation is that a new Kermit/Crum regional school such as the one should have been built instead of Crum and another school built beside Tolsia High School for the rest of the students. Better yet one school should have been built at Tolsia period to house Pk-8.

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Why don’t we put the money where it really is needed?

Last week’s announcement that long-term road funding is finally returning to West Virginia after nearly a decade is good news.

This state has a lot of need. Wayne County has a lot of need.

Now comes the jockeying for prioritization.

Of course my opinion is going to be biased. I think Wayne County should be No. 1 on the list. First should be the Tolsia Highway stretch from Kenova to Prichard. At the very least this should be first.

The Prichard Intermodal Facility has to have a reliable road from the I-64. Currently the road is in severe disrepair. It is actually getting to the point that the southbound lane just above Prichard is unusable.

Cars actually veer to the opposite lane risking a head-on collision just to avoid the broken asphalt. So now, let us open up an industrial center that could be this area’s financial saving grace with sub-par roads.

The second priority needs to be the completion of King Coal Highway. The proposed stretch of I-73/74 was supposed to be completed five years after I graduated high school. That means we are still complaining that a road has not been completed nearly two decades ago.

That is truly despairing.

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To all Wayne Co. veterans…
Thank you for your sacrifice

I sat and had a few conversations with my stepfather’s stepfather when I was a younger man (yeah, it is a mouth-full).

He fought in the Pacific during WWII. He was a proud man. He was a hard-working man and honest to the point of bluntness.

The stories he told were priceless. He gave accounts of the men he served with and what happened to each one of them after the war. He told of his time of service fighting enemy troops on foreign soil. Harold Shannon was something else.

I have a friend who I hung out with shortly after high school. He graduated from Spring Valley. Actually I have two friends that graduated that year from Spring Valley. Both of them went into the service and both were injured in battle. One went into the Airborne another a grunt. They saw time in Afghanistan.

Neither one have had an easy path since returning home.

Which is so typical of soldiers returning from battle. Never fully feeling like they are anywhere. Heart and head still in the battle – feet at home.

Which leads me to another Spring Valley graduate that served in Iraq. He served with a gentleman by the name of Toby J. Stinson. Stinson killed himself after returning from combat. He was still on the battlefield once back in the States.

The Spring Valley graduate started a wiffle ball tournament in Stinson’s honor that has raised more than $20,000 to benefit organizations such as Wounded Warrior and War Fighter Sports. He continues to honor his friend’s memory.

Why am I talking about these people at random with no real rhyme or reason?

Because they like so many throughout the country are these people. They are friends, family, brother, cousin, uncle, son. Most importantly and proudly, they are veterans. They gave their time to our country so folks like you and I can enjoy the freedoms we have in this country.

They made sacrifices that so many of us either could not or will not make to serve this country. It takes a special kind of man or woman to give that kind of commitment. They put themselves in harm’s way to come home and feel isolated. Many feel lost – the horrors and things they witnessed are things we can never imagine as civilians.

It is why things like Veteran’s Day is so important. It is why giving back to homeless veterans, cooking dinner for a veteran, going to the VA Hospital and talking to a former soldier or airman on midshipman or marine is important.

Their acts of bravery should always be thanked and remembered.

So to all of Wayne County’s veterans…I thank you. Thank you for your sacrifice and time.

The other day, I caught a gentleman off guard. It is not something I normally do, but I saw a gentleman get out of his car at the gas station. Couldn’t be a few years older or younger than me. He had a purple-heart license plate and Iraq War sticker. I walked up to him and stuck my hand out. He oddly looked at me until I simply said, “Thank you.”

He then smiled and shook my hand. WE need more of that in America.

Walker Machinery layoffs shows the hurt our state is in

Walker Machinery announced that it is set to lay off nearly 80 employees. The reason company officials give is the ongoing demise of coal and the unforeseeable turn around. Bottom line – when one if not the largest equipment rental/sales companies in the area that highly relied on the coal industry to keep profits coming then the end is here.

This is not a popular subject. The reasons are numerous for why. We can talk and debate, place blame as a state and try to figure out how to put coal back in the ground but it isn’t going to happen.

Coal has been the life-blood of the state and Wayne County’s economy. The state has tried it’s best and continue to fight regulations on the industry. It may have been the final push, but increasing supply of foreign steel into the market and foreign countries mining cheap coal to burn without tight restrictions has hurt.

Walker’s announcement shows the hurt our state is in.

I have opined on this several times. Decisions and new industries should have been investigated decades ago, not just now a topic of concern as Rome burns around us.

Wayne County has hit the least amount of coal severance available in recent memory to help operate the county’s services.

Proof was as recent as yesterday as yet another recipient of county money discussed concerns there are needs. Ceredo Fire Chief Dave Caudill said there are not enough funds to help cover aging equipment replacement due. Ceredo EMS was forced to increase salaries with the mandated minimum wage increase. And like several other’s before him the past few months, he was told, “Sorry.”

Hopefully the Intermodal and a possible agriculture program at the former Fort Gay Elementary school building will get the ball rolling in the right direction.

Somber tone for Friday’s game

Kids are resilient. They are not indestructible.

That is often the lesson our youth have to learn growing up – usually the hard way. It amazes me as a father and a member of the community the families I come in contact with. The “circle of life” we all know. It is the moment you look at a teenager and start calling them a kid because your youth has passed you by. You no longer relate as you once did. Especially when you have children of your own.

I find myself looking at not only my own child, but other kids throughout the community and wonder what they will be when they grow up. Sadly in West Virginia it isn’t always positive. Of course I wonder if that one will be a doctor or a lawyer. Will that one drive trucks or steal them? Will that one be a good father or teacher or coach? Who is the politician? Who is the next town drunk?

I really found myself doing it Saturday night during Trick-or-Treat. The one thing I never think is will this kid be alive tomorrow. Honestly, I pray every night that no harm comes to my kids or anyone’s children. As a parent if you are a decent human being you worry about the safety of all kids – whether they are your own or not.

So imagine my sadness Sunday afternoon along with the entire Spring Valley community when it was discovered Bryce Lewis had passed from an ATV accident. You see the message on social media or a headline on the news – your heart drops.

The first thing that I thought was, “I just saw that kid the other night on the sidelines.”

I walked past him. His teammates and coaches walked passed him Friday. So did nearly 1,100 students at Spring Valley High School. So did his parents.

It breaks my heart when youth have to learn a lesson that so many of us adults dread. Even lose sleep at night over. It is the only thing in life we can 100 percent be certain of, but to a child or young adult still full of youth and promise it is the last thing on their mind. That is until it hits home.

It seems like every year the story of losing a classmate haunts at least one community. It is a teammate. It is a friend. It is a family member. It is someone you went to church with. It is the kid that shared a locker two or three down. It is heartbreaking. It is real.

The Spring Valley community is grieving this week. The Wolves have been so divided due to final remnants of the bad taste consolidation left, but when a family member is lost – the community rallies. No longer is it C-K, Buffalo or Vinson…it is family.

Friday night’s game will have a somber tone – win or lose. The halls are surely a little more quiet than usual this week. A family tries to cope.

When you go to bed tonight and every night here after….hold your kids a little longer. Squeeze them a little tighter. Tell them you love them an extra time, because we all still have a little kid in us. We all can be resilient, but we are not indestructible. Sometimes it takes another to make us realize that – even if the thought is fleeting. So we pray…

Fly high young man.

Let the attack ads begin

I cannot speak for anyone else, but nothing turns me off faster from a candidate than attack ads. Evan Jenkins can actually thank my vote to those ridiculous ads Nick Joe Rahall’s supporters ran last election.

Although West Virginia is not facing any major races this election season, it is just around the corner – and Kentucky has began. That is why I am writing this piece.

I have heard on the radio and seen multiple television ads regarding Kentucky candidates. The one I find the most deplorable involves a candidate for the KY Supreme Court using rape and a murder conviction decision the judge made as a reason to not vote for the opponent. Is it true what the ad says?

Quite possibly it is or it wouldn’t be allowed to run in the ad, right?

Here is just a simple suggestion from a simple approach voter. I do not vote along political parties. Never have. I am a registered independent for reason. I vote for the candidate that most likely matches my views.

In the past several years I will admit I have voted for more Republicans than I ever used to but it is only because the older I get, the more conservative on certain issues I have become.

I still vote for Democrats when applicable and the only reason I vote the way I do is because the Libertarian Party has yet to put a major fight against the three-party system in our state. I think it would be wonderful for any third-party candidate to make a legitimate run at a West Virginia office – but I digress.

The attack ads are more than often distasteful. I do not believe any local or state candidate is anymore a puppet of Obama as I did when ads were ran calling candidates George W. Bush or Koch brother puppets.

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Let us pause for applause

Sometimes a spoon-full of sugar makes the medicine go down…or at least that is what the song says.

Since I have been on a rip recently on several different things, thought I would highlight the positives going on in our state and local school systems.

I will start with the state system. According to data released this week by the U.S. Department of Education, West Virginia saw the fourth-largest increase in its four-year high school graduation rate from the 2012-13 school year to 2013-14.

West Virginia saw its graduation rate increase by 3.1 percentage points to 84.5 percent, putting it at 25th in the nation for 2013-14. The state’s students labeled “economically disadvantaged” by the federal education department saw their graduation rate increase 6.4 percentage points to 80.1 percent.

Not bad considering the obstacles facing our state’s education system. I do not know if that is a god thing or a bad thing considering the state still scores low on standardized test and is near the bottom when it comes to teacher salaries. Still, it is something positive for this state considering all the low rankings Mountaineers receive in every category any dimwit with some research can come up with.

Wayne County has had some positives as well. We try to print them regularly, but sometimes they get lost in the shuffle or don’t make the front page so people do not read about it.

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Well now the fun starts

Everyone in the county is well aware that the county is being forced to shave $414,000 off of its operating budget due to funding cuts from the state. Already social media is a buzz with speculation. Will the county cut 41 service personnel? Why is this trip on the budget and why is the county spending money on this, but not this?

I would not want to be in any board member’s shoes right now.

Teachers are angry because any hope of a raise is out the door. That is a whole other beast all in itself. Granted there are some teachers that deserve raises, but I had a crazy thought run through my head this past weekend.

Just on a hunch, I asked a recent graduate if Wayne County Schools prepared her for college. I got some surprising answers.

The grad said it was 50/50. She said some teachers taught her a lot while others, simply put, did not do their jobs. This is a student who was an honor student participating in the college courses offered by Marshall University her senior year.

She said sometimes she has felt like other students from other parts of the state seem to be more knowledgeable and prepared for college.

I asked her if she had seen the most recent test scores from Wayne County and she said the most prolific thing I have heard in describing the testing-for-funding scenario. It is a nuance that I have yet to hear anyone bring up.

“I saw the test scores, but I do not think that has anything to do with how intelligent students are. I just don’t think anyone really cares when they take those tests because they know it doesn’t directly mean anything to them,” the now Marshall University student said.

Bingo! Students do not care and why should they?

Of course the school system cares. Federal funding depends on scores and overall participation. School systems throughout the country do all they can to make sure those test scores are up from incentives to pep rallies like the students are preparing to battle their rivals on the grid iron. Their fiscal lives depend on it.

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Eliminate the heroin problem then the gun issue goes away

Often times I find some really funny memes on Facebook.

Granted some of them are crude, tasteless, have a kitten involved or “If you do not share then you do not support kids with cancer or Jesus”. Sometimes though, someone produces one that is actually on point.

I came across one of those Monday night. It showed a picture of a heroin needle and spoon. The text on it read, “This war is more important than gun control.” It made me think.
Is it more important?

I say at the very least it is for this area. I do not know about you, but I am more concerned with heroin addicts than gun control at this point. Huntington and the surrounding areas are being overwhelmed with the drug problem. Every day the news headlines are filled with the issue. Whether it be the efforts from law enforcement and the community to combat the problem or an arrest made involving a Detroit drug dealer mixed with local residents – there is a story daily related to heroin.

Guns also have made the news locally. This past week there was a drive-by shooting in Huntington. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out it was drug related.

Here is my small take on this issue for what it is worth. Take it with a grain of salt.

lem then the gun issue locally goes away. All of our gun issues revolve around crime linked to the drug trade. Now that is not to say there have been murders involving sick people and some domestic issues, but I would not be too far off to say most are linked in the drug trade.

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Education about to take a big punch in the gut next week

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin announced earlier this week a 4 percent cut for most state government agencies, seeking to recover $100 million after what he called an unforeseen drop in West Virginia’s coal and natural gas tax collections.

One percent of that cut will come to education.

Wayne County Schools recently announced that in the immediate future cuts would have to be made due to reduction in coal severance funding locally. Add that with a reduction in student enrollment numbers and increasing needs, the county was already planning to tighten its fiscal belt for next year’s budget.

That day will now come sooner than expected thanks to Tomblin’s announcement.

Board president Trey Morrone confirmed Friday that the county is being asked by the state to cut $414,000 immediately from this year’s budget. Not next year…this year’s general fund. The cuts are a reduction in funding from the state in addition to the lack of coal severance funds locally. Wayne, we have a problem.

It is like sending an army with spoons to face a fully armed opponent.

According to Morrone, Wayne County was not the only school system asked to make cuts. All 55 counties are being asked to make a sacrifice. This could not come at a worse time for local school systems as coal revenues have all but dried up.

Boone County announced this week that three elementary schools are slated for closure due to a decline in that school system’s coal severance and dropping student population as mine closures force families to move out of the county.

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Teaching children, adults to manage money the same thing

Anyone who have children knows the struggles when it comes to allowances. An even bigger struggle is teaching your children the value of the money they earned and what to spend it on. Rationalizing importance of saving your money to buy that $300 X-Box or a pair of $150 Lebron James basketball shoes versus spending it immediately on trinkets from the Dollar Tree is a never-ending battle it seems.

We face the same difficult decisions as adults. Do I spend $1,000 on a weekend getaway or tickets for the family to the next Marshall home game or do I make my car payment? The struggle is real.

Apparently, it is a struggle for public officials as well. Voters and now non-voters alike should apparently see us as parents and the Huntington City Council as our children.

They voted last week to raise their allowance via the city user fee based on the cries they need money for road repairs and additional police force.

It is almost comparable to my kids telling me they must have Disney Infinity 3.0 so I need to give them $5 to wash the dishes instead of the standard $1. For the sake of saving an argument, I would not dream of asking them to do more chores (i.e.) work to earn more money. Instead, ultimately they will do their chore for $1 and eventually I will have it put on my back come Christmas to foot the rest of the money to buy it so it can be wrapped beautifully under the tree Christmas Day.

Kind of what the council is doing now with the funds generated from the user fee. They increased the user fees for the privilege to work in Huntington city limits, fight over what the money should be spent on and it will all fall on the taxpayer backs eventually to foot the bill.

Our parent paper published an editorial this past week suggesting the money raised from the user fees should be distributed in detail – meaning tell the citizens where the money is specifically going down to the last dime. The HD also ran a top-fold story that the city is now “discussing” with what to do with the money. Thought they already knew. Is that not why the fee was increased to begin with?

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Sometimes you wonder what people are thinking

Kenova Mayor Terry Carpenter recently requested to have the county commission look into the possibility of creating a new PSD.

Carpenter proposed the PSD service Kenova Water Customers that reside outside the Kenova City Limits. The commission did not take long to come up with the short-term answer of, “No” at this week’s meeting. Commissioner Pasley stated that he wants to meet with officials from other PSDs in the county.

Although, I give Carpenter credit for the old adage, “It doesn’t hurt to ask,” I have to say even a blind man could have seen this outcome.

Money is tight. Not just for municipalities such as Kenova, but also in the county, the state, the country and municipalities throughout the country. I have covered for several years the woes facing Kenova’s utilities. I have covered the water, the sewer and the unwelcoming mandates brought down from federal agencies. The floodwall and MS4 mandates took a huge unexpected chunk from city budgets throughout the region. Kenova and Ceredo were no exception.

Kenova was hit harder though because the city was already battling an aging infrastructure that has had some service, but not enough to remedy all its problems. I am acknowledging that a pair of multi-million dollar projects has taken place. The issues are still there though.

Now Kenova not only is dealing with in-town issues, but out-of-town issues involving its water system. Granted, there is work in progress to take care of an albatross surrounding a reliable, solid line to Prichard. I am still waiting with bated breath on the details surrounding that topic.

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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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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

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.

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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Matt McComas

Working class needs a stronger voice in Charleston to support fair wages

This is one of a series of columns written by candidates in the West Virginia primary election on May 10.

West Virginia is facing some of its most troubling times, and I am sure it is no surprise to anyone. However, that very reason is why I am seeking election for the West Virginia House of Delegates in the 19th District of Wayne County.

We have seen the current majority leadership’s agenda, and we have seen that their agenda is not worker friendly. The majority has not accomplished one piece of legislation that will benefit the blue-collar, working men and women of this state. They have repealed prevailing wages and implemented so called “work place freedom” (right to work) legislation, both of which are nothing more than direct attacks on unions. This is very disturbing considering West Virginia is the birthplace of the labor movement. These two pieces of legislation, along with many others, were driven by out-of-state corporate interests such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Koch brothers. I vow to not stand with out-of-state interests, but to stand with workers.

Having been a lobbyist and representative for the construction trades in West Virginia over the past several years, I have seen firsthand the attacks on the working class during the past two legislative sessions. Within that capacity, I have been appointed by the governor to serve on the West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council. Infrastructure has to be one of our first priorities to grow our economy, not cutting wages and workplace rights. When businesses look for a place to locate, they want developed infrastructure and a well-trained and drug-free workforce. These are some of my main priorities to grow Wayne County and West Virginia.

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Robert Thompson

State must build more economic opportunities

Since I was old enough to understand what community was, I have loved my community and Wayne County. I grew up at East Lynn, the son of a coal miner and a teacher’s aide. While a student at Wayne Middle School, and spurred on by some wonderful teachers, I began researching my community and writing about its culture and history. Since that time, I have written numerous articles and several books about Wayne County history.

After graduating from Wayne High School in 2006, I attended Marshall University, where I studied engineering and education before graduating in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education. I have since been a teacher in the Wayne County school system, having taught one semester at Tolsia High School and five years at Wayne High School.

During that time, I have come face to face with the problems facing our county. Our people are living under a blanket of poverty, joblessness and drug addiction that must be halted. I know the important role coal jobs play in our society, and coal put clothing on my back the whole time I was growing up. I will fight to help coal rebound in Wayne County and the state; however, we must also work to develop other economic opportunities.

We must make sure that projects such as the Prichard Intermodal Facility and others are successful so that good-paying jobs are available to our residents.

Wayne County has every asset that other counties in the state have, including natural beauty, parks and historical sites. There is no reason we cannot benefit economically from these resources the way places in the New River Gorge or eastern panhandle do. As a member of the Wayne County Convention and Visitors Bureau, I know Wayne County can be a destination for people to visit. That being said, we need lodging in the form of the Beech Fork Lodge and improved infrastructure in the form of better roads when they get here.

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County Assessor Tim Kinsey

The most
positive opinion I have formed is the work ethic and refreshing attitude of our staff

Five weeks into my position as your Assessor, I would like to share with you what I have observed to date. As with anyone new to a job, certain organizational matters, learning of personnel and office duties have been a priority. That said, the most positive opinion I have formed is the work ethic, knowledge and refreshing attitude of our staff. There are 16 employees in the Assessor’s Office with a total of 234 years of experience. They monitor the assessment of over $618 million of real property and $368 million of personal property, nearly a billion dollars within our county borders. There are over 30,000 real estate parcels and 16,000 personal property returns that are touched in some manner on an annual basis.

On November 10, I was privileged to receive a letter from Jeff Amburgy, Chairman of the Property Valuation Training and Procedures Commission, West Virginia State Tax Department, congratulating our Assessor’s Office on a passing grade of county monitoring reports for 2015. An office only receives a passing grade if ALL areas of a multifaceted examination are complete. In fact, only 60% of our counties achieve a passing grade. Our reward is a bye for 2016.

An important step in the development of this office was the hire of consultant Jerry Maynard, President of Appalachia Crest Appraisal Services, LLC. Prior to having his consulting business, Jerry was the Senior Appraiser for the State Tax Department. He directs commercial property assessment, updates land tables, defines county modifiers and neighborhood factors and performs sales ratio analysis and monitoring procedures.

With the backing of our County Commission and County Administrator, I feel fortunate to have been appointed to this position. Are there some challenges and a few hurdles? Sure. What billion dollar business doesn’t? But with the staff and foundation I have inherited, this learning experience is, and will be, an enjoyable one. Please feel free to come in or call with any questions you may have concerning your property assessment. We look forward to serving you.


Doug Reynolds

Time for a break from school consolidations

When I was in high school in the mid-1990s, we had four high schools in Cabell County, five in Wayne and four in Lincoln. During that time I can still remember the fierce debates about consolidation and how these debates played out visibly in the school board elections of that era.

Since that time, there have been many school closures; however, the venue of the debate has moved away from county school board elections. The most recent example in Fayette County, of the State Board of Education leveraging control to effectuate closures, is alarming. However, this only represents implementation of a policy of closing schools that has been more subtly pursued in all our communities.

It’s time to call a time out on closing any more community schools until we can answer one important question: Have these school closures and consolidations improved student achievement in West Virginia? In the next legislative session, I will introduce legislation that calls for a five-year moratorium on school closures until we can answer that question.

In light of 25 years of closures and consolidations at the high school level and now a focus to impose this same paradigm on middle and elementary schools, we need to ask three key questions.

First, what effect does closing schools have on a community? Second, what are the financial realities of running a community vs. consolidated school? Lastly, the issue that overrides all others, do consolidated schools better educate our children?

A casual drive through most communities in West Virginia would support the assertion that when the local high school closes, a certain aspect of a given community dies. While there is some degree of circularity to the argument that schools are closing at a greater rate in struggling communities, these closings often result in the cessation of one more avenue of community solidarity. Parents that would stand outside in the rain and collect tickets, coach or sponsor a bake sale to support after-school activities in many cases can’t afford to drive the extra hour to support the amalgamation dictated from Charleston.

As to the second question, one of the main defenses of consolidation is that the fixed costs of running a school with declining enrollment are so high that there is no effective choice. First, the state school aid formula sets out the amount of money a county receives on a per-pupil basis, so the amount of state support is unaffected. Second, as pointed out in the 2010 West Virginia State Education Audit, many of the inefficiencies within county systems reside within transportation programs. Increasing the amount of transportation and the failing logistical components of transporting students does not seem to be wise. Furthermore, these findings do not take into account the value of the student’s time or the value to the parent in having shorter commutes for school and all associated school activities.

Locally, several months ago we all learned about preliminary plans to close Davis Creek Elementary and force those students to attend Martha Elementary. As of the end of last year, Davis Creek had 262 students. In a growing part of Cabell County, closing a robust and successful elementary school seems to make no sense. We should applaud our local school board for declining this approach.

The final and overriding point is that there is no clear anecdotal evidence that these consolidated schools are providing a better quality of education for the majority of our children compared with the community schools that were closed to create them.

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Don Perdue

Time to build on envisioned economic activity

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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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


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



Time to turn every incumbent and hanger on out and start fresh


Franklin Delano Roosevelt is highly revered by many democrats for raising West Virginia out of abject poverty during the great depression. Democrats will assure you that the Roosevelt new deal policies were responsible for returning our country to prosperity. The facts say otherwise. With the benefit of hindsight those government programs only make matters worse. The most conspicuous Roosevelt failed policy is Social Security. Originally SS was a simple idea for employees and employers to put away a modest sum of money each pay period for a time when the employee retired. The blunder was allowing the government to get its hands on the cash. Today there are all sort of people dipping into the nonexistent “trust fund” many never contributed a dime for their benefits.

The Great Depression ended with our involvement in WWII. The commander of the Japanese that bombed Pearl Harbor said, “we have awakened a sleeping giant.” I only recently learned that Roosevelt admired some of the economic polices of Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin. It was the Democrats whose economic model was somewhat influenced by fascism. Roosevelt said what we were doing in this country were some of the things that were being done in Russia and even some things that were being done under Hitler in Germany. But we were doing them in an orderly way.” From Harold Ickies Sr. 1933.

According to John P. Diggins, Mussolini and Fascism: The View from America, page 279, Roosevelt wrote in June 1933: “There seems no question that he is really interested in what we are doing and I am much interested and deeply impressed by what he has accomplished and by his evidenced honest purpose of restoring Italy and seeking to prevent general European trouble.” FDR told correspondent John Lawrence “I don’t mind telling you in confidence that I am keeping in fairly close touch with that admirable Italian gentleman.” The “gentleman” was Mussolini. Roosevelt also referred to Mussolini and Stalin as “blood brothers.”

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I would prefer reading Wayne County opinions


Are you tired of reading left over opinions from Morgantown, Charleston, Cabell County, and Smelly Dave Peyton? And the like? Unless Wayne County citizens stop depending on outsiders for the news and opinions it isn’t going to get any better. As far as I know the only wordsmiths dipping their toes into Wayne County is managing editor Mike and yours truly. I don’t know who picks the political cartoons but they appear to be mostly all about Donald Trump. There are several really good cartoons poking fun at democrats.

Democrats and republicans in our legislature are trying to sew together an opera purse form a pig’s ear; they are trying to balance the budget. Jim Morgan a tax and spend democrat from Cabell Co. wants us now to act like big boys and girls. We must stop having it our way or not at all so says delegate Jim. Excuse me but that is exactly the way it was for 80 years of democrat rule in West Virginia. It just is no fun anymore being the minority party. Sheriff to be Rick Thompson saw what was coming and quit his speaker post and his delegate post for a cushy job at the capital. My favorite liberal Don Purdue all but said as much for his reason not to run for office any more. Ditto with Mr. Morgan.

Every democrat is telling us what a great job they will do if you will only vote for them. Thompson as sheriff said he would do judicial reform. Ric Browning says “to put it mildly, I stay very busy” So if he is so busy are we going to have another part time assessor? A delegate told me he was going to suggest a law that requires all county office holders (county clerk, assessor, sheriff etc.) to punch a time clock each day but was told he’d be laughed out of the chamber for such a thing. The only one that ever did keep regular hours was Bullet Bob Paisley. Bob was in the courthouse all the time.

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Kroger secrets and lame duck tax increases


No doubt you will think ole Fred has lost a few more marbles because I find so much to laugh about in the weekly Kroger Store new paper supplement. Just keep reading and I think you will agree with me that the Kroger boys who dream up those catchy headlines are the ones losing their marble.

I can’t help but wonder what secrets does Kroger uncover with their data mining when you present the Kroger Plus Shopper’s Card. Understand your Kroger Shopper card does not belong to you. Kroger just loaned it to you. They might just take it back whenever they please.

Organic is becoming the “in” thing these days. Examples for organic choices include “Simple Truth Fruit”. Is there also complicated truth fruit and is there false fruit? What is “Honest Organic Tea”? We all know about Honest Abe. Was this the kind of tea he drank? I wonder what dishonest tea taste like. Kroger say to “Live Naturally” How many of you live artificially?

Many grocery stores now have a complete “Organic” produce department. If you want to drive the vegetable guys nuts ask where do they keep the inorganic vegetables. I found an interesting article about free-range chicken eggs. The enterprising chicken rancher built a mobile (think trailer) chick house that was moved around the ranch. The chickens were allowed to range free just like that free range GICHO chicken that sent home photos of her adventures. Of course the eggs were not just any old eggs the yuppies who hail from places like Long Island New York and Hollywood bought the eggs at the bargain price of only $12.00 a dozen. Now there is a great idea for Don Perdue instead of the Wayne County potato boom.

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Democrats are responsible for West Virginia’s fiscal mess


You won’t be surprise when you read another Dave Peyton column full of rubbish. Dave didn’t like my flattering description of his work so he threatening to delete anything more I send him. Don’t hold your breath Dave. The Sunday Peyton column says West Virginia republicans are waiting for divine intervention. Nothing new about that the democrats who held political power for 80 years expected divine intervention for years in the form of more government grants, loans and other freebees running West Virginia into debt to our eyeballs. Dave is upset that no budget has yet been passed in West Virginia legislature. No big deal democrats in the US house and senate did not pass a budget for years. Obama & Co. with help from elitist republicans added more to the national debt than what was added by all the previous administrations put together.

Allow me to point out that it was not the republicans who caused all the heartache and devastation in our coalfields. Long before Obama Jay Rockefeller was bad mouthing coal on the floor of the US Senate. Democrats are responsible for West Virginia’s fiscal mess. That is what democrats do. You can see for yourself the result of continuous democrat rule in such places as Chicago, Detroit, California, Illinois, New York City, LA, Baltimore and Atlanta. The former majority leader in the West Virginia senate now thinks himself governor material freely admitted that the democrats squandered all the money derived from taxing coal.

He and the other democrats promised not to do it again with the money they hoped to get from taxing natural gas. Speaking of a rainy day fund, what happen to the democrat proposed rainy day fund filled with taxes collected on natural gas? There is a very strong market for premium coal, which West Virginia has in abundance. Once again the wisdom of democrats prevails by adding severance taxes, which makes our coal less competitive on the world market. Never mind the Constitution prohibits laying any tax on an export.

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Local agriculture success is producing small quantities of high value produce

A few columns ago I talked about strip mine reclamation money that has been gathering moss for years now will be taped to help our coal miners, so says congressman Jenkins. After reading the fine print 10 percent will go to the states to cover administration and planning cost. Some of the cash will be held back for “special programs”. The program is to be paid for with one billion dollars spread over a five years period going to the coal producing states and Indian tribes- yes it says Indian tribes. Like every government program this one is full of exceptions. In fact the money must be spent to make strip mines whole again as the original reclamation money was intended. Not one dime will go directly to coal miners. The only way an unemployed coal mine might be helped is if he can land a job with the reclamation contractors doing the actual work.

Now the Obama administration that is busy destroying the coal industry wants to throw a few bucks (of our tax money) at the result of their madness. Obama wants to turn the strip mine wasteland into farmland and peach orchards. Yep, peaches that will surely solve the problem.

Restoring strip mine land is nothing new. My Dad was hired to oversee restoration of a strip mine back in 1953-54. He wanted to include small fishing ponds fed by the water flowing out of the auger mining holes. That was vetoed by some Charleston fluky as I recall. As for planting peach trees, making a go in the peach business here is at best a crapshoot. West Virginia’s spring weather is not friendly to peaches. Peaches as a cash crop was tired years ago in Guatemala the land of eternal spring. Problem was a defoliant (agent orange) was used causing many trees to die. During my first visit to Jamaica the big news was strawberries. Several berry patches were planted. The crop was beautiful but so sour they were not fit to eat.

Politicians and developers like to use the no flat land excuse as a reason for our perpetual high unemployment numbers. Strip mine and mountaintop removal creates lots of flat ground only problem with this is the engineering nightmare to build roads to the flat spots. Switzerland has no strip mine land and little flat land yet they prosper how come? One upon a time the old bridge crossing the Ohio had a sign calling West Virginia Little Switzerland. Actually there is nothing little about us West Virginia is much bigger than Switzerland. The Swiss played the hand they were dealt instead of whining about what they do not have. The state of Georgia has a good peach climate so they grow peaches. Idaho’s flat ground and cool climate is good for potatoes

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Heritage Farm artist guild giving a sneak peek

By the time this hits the news stands or your mail box half of the Dog Wood Festival will be history; however, don’t despair you have not missed a thing because yours truly will be the star attraction Saturday evening starting at 5:00 PM.

Crazy Legs Friar will be showing off how he cranks out his world famous brooms. The Heritage Farm artist guild will be there to give a sneak peek of what there is to see come May 7th, the first Saturday in May the day at the farm where you get to see all the exhibits working. It is the day to buy fresh ground corn meal the secret to old time corn bread.

You can savor lama spit. Watch men risk life and limb making shingles. There is a new playground for kids this year. Someone told me Audy Perry will be the target in a dunking tank.

McSweeny’s Greenhouse has done it again offering the most magnificent porch ferns putting the competition to shame. My job every spring is to pickup several for Molly’s front porch. While there is was almost a traffic jam backing to the greenhouse door to load up.

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Isn’t modern technology grand?

Our ability to swipe a credit card seamed never to be fast enough. When the darn thing would not work warping one in a piece of plastic bag sometimes would make it work. My Sam’s card would work to buy gas but would not work at the inside check out. Once when checking out a buggy full of stuff nothing worked. So we left empty handed and felt like criminals. The next day we got a phone call from the credit card company telling us our credit card along with a few more hundred thousand had been canceled because of a security breech. We got a new one in the mail. Now that all the bugs have been worked out fast swiping is out and slower the better is in. Cards now sport that cute little magical square thingy. When you find the secret slot the screen keeps telling you to “please wait.” ‘Don’t remove the card’, please wait”.

What’s with the national fascination now with a slow cooker? Now it’s slow, slow, and slow. The latest from the AP recipe department is how to cook hot chocolate slow cooker style. “Cook on low for four hours and two hours on high.” Can anything be more stupid? Who wants to wait two hours for a steaming hot cup of hot chocolate on a chilly evening? No it gets better modern science gives us instant coffee, three minute pudding an instant oatmeal. Who in their right mind would get up at midnight to start the breakfast oatmeal in a slow cooker so that it would be ready at 6 am? Did you know you could have a slow cooker peach cobbler in only six hours? Boy Scout cobbler is a can of peaches, bisquick, and cinnamon in a Dutch oven over an open fire and presto in about 30-40 minutes you have cobbler.

Talk about show cooking I recall a recipe for baking ham in a compost pile. Build the pile wrap your ham in aluminum foil then bury it in the compost wait 24-36 hours and dig out your ham if you can find it and hope the foil has not sprung a leak. Yum Yum.

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Why would coal
barons kill miners they depended on?

I believe it was Congressman John Lewis from Georgia who accused slave traders of throwing their captives overboard. He never explains why they would have done such a thing as murdering the very people the traders wanted to sell. People like Dave Peyton continues to repeat a similar notion that mine owners deliberately sent the people they depended on to mine the coal to an early death with out any regard for their well being. Just as congressmen Lewis can’t explain Dave Peyton can’t explain why coal barons would kill coal miners they depending on. Peyton’s spin is rubbish.

Coal company management from the superintendent down to the straw boss work in the mines beside the miners would they enter a mine if they knew it was not safe? Sure there are examples of coal miners being mistreated, just as some people were mistreated working in Andrew Carnegie’s steel mills. People work under very poor conditions to this day in the garment district sweatshops of New York. Chinese were brought to this country held as indentured servants building railroad lines. Irish immigrants who settled in New York endured terrible conditions. At one time English sailors were whipped with a cat of nine tails. There are many examples of man’s inhumanity to man.

My father’s father went to work in the mines at an early age. He and his brothers worked at pulling pillars and were well compensated for doing this dangerous work. My granddad lost half of his left hand operating a motorcar used under ground to pull coal cars. The company physician treaded the injury, he was paid for his loss and he kept his job. In many cases there were no roads to the coal mines. The only way in or out was by rail. The company had to prove the housing (with running water in the backyard), the company store, health care, and schooling. During Granddad Friar’s 50 years of mining coal the companies paid to build several state of the art hospitals for coal miners. The truth is coal miners were well cared for and very well paid. The UMW was responsible for the hospital operations but alas over the years they fell into disrepair finally they all closed. My dad worked in and around coal mines most of his life and I worked two summers on a strip job and painting coal camp houses. For every mistreatment example there is another story about coal companies going to great extremes to rescue trapped miners, building a play ground for kids, paying for special healthcare, paying for school supplies, and generally being a good community citizen.

I personally know of one positive example. While attending Concord College I often bummed a ride home with the son of a coal company executive. Owen became a schoolteacher and was sent to the poorest Raleigh County grade school. Owen being the only male teacher he was elected to act as the school principal in addition to teaching. There was no playground equipment. He asks for some money to provide something and got no help from the BOE. With his father’s connections local coal operations bought the finest playground equipment and had it installed. The school had little in the way of teaching aids and no library – again coal companies bought everything. Owen asked for and paid for a complete school library. A funny side story goes like this. Owen’s school had a cafeteria; the lady in charge never wasted a thing. By mistake two 100-lb bags of pinto beans were delivered. The kitchen made every sort of recipe using those pintos even faux pumpkin pies. Most everyday BOE supervisors made it to this school because the food was so good. When one ask for seconds on the pumpkin pie he was told it was not really pumpkin instead it was pinto beans. He said, “Oh my gosh I can’t eat pinto beans.”

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New York state has now shown us the way

I guess Governor Tomblin could just ignore the law that requires West Virginia to have a balanced budget so there would be no need for a special session. When democrats ran the US Senate they got away without a budget for years. Our republican legislature this year wasted about as much time as the democrats did in prior years. Nobody seams to have any idea how to get us out of the hole dug by 80 years of democratic rule.

New York State has now shown us the way. Its legislature passes a law requiring everyone to be paid at least $15.00 an hour. West Virginians are entitled and deserve $15.00 an hour too don’t you think? Soon with everyone making over 31 grand a year it won’t be long until there is a marked improvement in West Virginia’s economy. New York has granted its citizens 12 weeks of paid family leave time.

In order to further stimulate the New York economy they are cutting taxes by 4.2 billion dollars. State spending increase will be held to only 2%. Lets cut our taxes by 4.2 billion. What about our West Virginia roads and bridges? Simple do like New York and ear mark 100 billion for infrastructure spending. We can get our education system out of last place by increasing school spending 6.5 percent just like New York. Everybody knows to solve a problem just throw more public money at it. That sure has solved our drug abuse problem. West Virginia can’t give away a college education but we can at least freeze tuition. Obliviously in the case of undocumented citizens there will be no cost at all. Plus they will be paid the $15.00 minimum wage for any time they spend planning terrorist acts.

There you have it. If New York can do all this why not West Virginia? New York does not give a clue about where the money will come. We could apply for federal grants to cover some our cost. We can borrow more money from the US department of Agriculture and the EPA they do owe us something don’t you agree? Now that everyone will be making $31,000.00 a year we can easily raise taxes on tobacco, alcohol, gasoline, water, food, and the air we breathe. There will be many making a lot more then that so lets tax them starting with our only billionaire a tiny bit more. I think a fare tax would be about 80%. Our leaders had no problem running putting us in debt for two billion dollars worth of school bonds so lets sell a whole lot more revenue bonds. Wayne Co. leaders wants a fancy lodge built on Beech Fork Lake. Why not sell tourist improvement bonds to build the thing. The bonds would be easy to pay off from all those enjoying their 12 weeks of family leave time at the lodge

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Democrats and unions failed to act on VA fiasco

If you pride yourself being a patriot and a citizen of the USA then this column should make you ill. It served to explain my distaste for unions and democrats.

First of all the cast of players: Germaine Clarno – a lifetime democrat and social worker at the Hines Veterans Hospital in Hines, Ill. She is the president of the doctors union. Senator Mark Kirk – ranking Republican on the senate VA appropriations committee.

Lisa Nee – a VA doctor

John Howell – radio host

Dick Durbin – democrat senator from Illinois

Tammy Duckworth – US Army helicopter pilot who lost both legs in combat now a democrat representing Illinois

Danny Davis – a democrat representing the district that includes Hines.

Ron Johnson – republican senator from Wisconsin

Lin Ellinghuysen – union president at the Tomah, VA hospital in Wisconsin

Russ Feingold running for senate in Wisconsin

Tammy Baldwin – democrat senator from Wisconsin

Ron Kind – another democrat

Ryan Honi – life long democrat VA employee at the Tomah hospital who renounced his political party.

Clarno now regrets not spilling the beans years ago about the mistreatment of our veterans at the Hines VA hospital. She did not tell congressional leaders because they were republicans. She said during an interview on John Howell’s radio show, “If I would’ve gone to him (Senator Kirk) who knows what kind of lives could have been saved”. What kind of sick mind would think this way?

Dozens of veterans have died waiting to see a doctor at our VA hospitals. Hospitals where records are lost or made to appear the wait times are short. Clarno did take her concern to democrats but they were in no position to do anything. Say what?. At the very least they could have worked with people who could get something done. Durbin, Davis and Duckworth all stuck their heads into the sand. Duckworth would not even read the report about the situation at Hines. The same thing went on in Wisconsin at the Tomah VA hospital. Ellinghuysen said, “we didn’t even talk to republicans” Would you believe that now this same damn union is campaigning for Feingold claiming that Senator Johnson did not act on the information he was never given. Ryan Honi did go to Johnson’s office and got a response the very next day.

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What business would hire people who are ranked the least educated in the nation?

As the monkey said when he got his tail caught in the screen door it won’t be long now until the 2016-legislature session is history. Once again little to no progress was made getting our dysfunctional education system to show measurable improvement. No new taxes thankfully, the reason is republicans are now in charge and they recognize the citizens of West Virginia are taxed to the limit. There is no more blood to be squeezed out of us turnips.

It is not as if the democrats did not try for more new taxes. They wanted to tax cigarettes beyond the point of diminishing returns. New York tried that and their tax revenue ended up with a $400 million deficient.

Too many we send to Charleston continue to have the mistaken idea that if you spend enough money on development of infrastructure industry will come. Sorry that is just no so. The industrial park in Prichard took dedicates to fill, course asking over $300,000.00 for one lousy lot did not help.

There is a shell building on Rt. 2 that has been empty for years and there is no occupier in sight. Even the road-building governor Arch Moore learned that the hard way when his bridge to industry program was a flop. Near Sutton there are two very nice bridges into an empty pasture. Route 50 between Parkersburg and Clarksburg was upgraded to a four-lane 30 plus years ago I don’t think that has encouraged much develop along that route. This bass ackwards approach was tried during the Roosevelt years with the social engineered town of Eleanor.

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Needed is a leader cast from the Reagan, Kennedy or Lincoln mold

For those of you who yearn for the days of President Kennedy and Camelot then Donald Trump and his Wife will return to those days in spades. There is a lot of talk about Mrs. Trump the third. Her bio says she is no dummy. She studied at the University of Slovene but did not graduate instead joined the world of a high paid fashion model. Melanie is fluent in English, French, Slovene, Serbian and German. She designs jewelry (not cheap). She is involved in New York charity work raising millions every year. Melania came to the United States in 1996, gained permanent residence status in 2001 earned U.S. citizenship in 2006. The usual time required to earn citizenship is 5 years after receiving you green card.

The Trumps are a super wealthy family. Donald started with a small fortune from his father and built a billion dollar empire. Mrs. Trump rose for a teen age modeling job to working in the high fashion world of New York City. She and Donald have a 10-year-old son. At their wedding she wore a simple $200,000.00 dress. Among those attending the wedding were the following. suck ups: perky Kate Couric, Matt the liar, P Diddy, Bab’s Walters Simon Cowell, and last but not least Bill and Hill (who not doubt brought along their secret service security detail, traveled to Florida at taxpayer expense or was it the Clinton Foundation.

Who do you suppose was the wealthiest of our Presidents so far? No not the Roosevelt’s, not Kennedy or if Trump if he is elected. George Washington in today’s dollars was worth more then the rest put together. As a thank you from our grateful new nation he was awarded vast tracks of land worth today billions. The lot of our first home in Columbus, Ohio was traced back to land that was owed by Washington. Land along the Ohio where Kenova is now was also part of Washington’s holding. The wealth of Kennedy and Rockefeller was inherited where as Donald Trump earned the wealth he has today.

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The most important issue is W.Va.’s dysfunctional K-12 education system

My editor asks, “What do politicians stand for?” Put another way how about telling us why we should choose (vote) you to represent us. During the colonial days the people would choose one of there number to speak on their behalf, argue for the groups concerns, and to compromise for what was in the best interest for the people represented. This was an arrangement – not a career job. Regularly a new representative was picked allowing the other guy to get back to his personal responsibilities. As it is now all one has to do is print up a bunch of yard signs to clutter up the neighborhood then wait for Election Day. I have no idea why I should vote for any one running for office in Wayne County. I see some family names out of the past but that is no indication of their ability to do the job. One prospective sheriff has told me why I should vote for him.

The 2016 legislature session is now about half over. All of the members once again are ignoring the single most important issue that faces West Virginia. It is not more taxes, it is not rearranging the titanic deck chairs, it is not another study, it is not again promising our state employees they will fix PEIA. And it is not filling the hopper with pet project bills that will never see the light of day. Prevailing wage?? That is price fixing which is collusion and is illegal yet many believe that allowing a committee of pointy headed academics or mid level government functionaries to set wages is the thing to do. We are endowed with certain unalienable rights and one of them is liberty (freedom.) How can Mountaineers be free when we are not allowed to have a job unless we join a union and pay their dues? I wonder what the legislature is going to do once the tobacco tax increase kicks in and people start buying on the black market? When New York City did their last tobacco tax increase revenue loss was $400 million dollars.

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Why has coal tax money been accumulating instead of being put to work?

Merciful heavens we are saved. Congressman Evan Jenkins former democrat is going to bring jobs to southern West Virginia. As with most everything else we hear from our elected representatives this isn’t necessary so. For years the Feds have been collecting taxes on coal intending it to be used to restore abandoned coal mining operations. I understand there is about 2 billion dollars in that fund. Frankly I doubt there is a penny in that fund instead just more government IOU’s. The real question is why has that tax money been accumulating instead of putting it to work years ago? I believe the reason is government bureaucrats wanted to get their hands on the cash and spend it else where instead of fixing up all the damage left by the coal industry.

Jenkins says there will be 200 million out of this fund annually for each year for the next five years to the “participating states”. This is not correct. First of all five million will be set aside the bill does not explain why and each state and tribe will get 10 percent for planning and administration. The act does not itemize who the participating states are but it does include Indian tribes. Obliviously West Virginia should be in the list along with Kentucky, Virginia is mentioned. What about Pennsylvania and Tennessee, they will want to get in on the money free for all too? Who knows how many real and imaginary Indian tribes will want to get a pieces of the action. So let us suppose there will be seven states and Indian tribes. Dividing the money equally each one will get about 27.5 less the 10 percent for planning comes out to be 24.75 million. An Indian tribe can’t build one casino for that and if 24.75 million went to Kentucky’s 11,000 miners who lost their jobs each one would get all of $2250.00.00.

Fact is there are no jobs or training in this legislation. The bill says, “Section (b): Use of Funds – specifies that the funding will be distributed to States and Indian tribes to carry out reclamation projects that will create favorable conditions for economic development in the surrounding area.” Darn few of our coal miners will get jobs with companies contracted to do the reclamation. Even if they do it will be only a temporary job.


We need to find things in our own state and stop depending on fed entitlements

This column is to answer Mr. David Peyton affectionately know by me as “ole smelly Dave”.

The real smelly Dave was a fictional whale created by the radio comedy team of Bob & Ray. Dave was a blue whale that Bob & Ray hauled around the county on a low boy trailer for children in rural American so they could see what a whale look like close up. Dave was a hit for the first few days until he started to decompose and stink. Word got around that smelly Dave was on the way so town police would meet him at the city limits to refuse entry. I never did learn the conclusion to the smelly Dave episodes as I tuned into Cincinnati radio traveling my sales territory in central Ohio.

Hay David, West Virginia has been withering for a very long time and you know it. Come on you have opined about everything imaginable for the last 30 years so you do know a thing or two about development and especially politics so don’t sell yourself sort. Have you forgot that you were chairman of your trusty dogs committee to get him elected Governor? Many of the things you bring up in this right to work column are the very same things that old Fred has be preaching long before you came to realize them as true. I am the one who told mining coal doesn’t need not be that dirty dangerous job it once was. It is already highly mechanized. If technology allows a person to fly an airplane in the Middle East from a comfortable place in Nevada, of course man can mine coal remotely.

It takes a highly trained staff to program a robot and repair them when they break. Your son is a program guy; perhaps he can be one of those natives who yearn to come home. I know how you feel my son earned his engineering degree from West Virginia Tech. It took him 18 years of gaining enough expertise and contacts that now allows him to be home again.

You are dancing a round another Fred Friar line of thought, “we need to find the things in our own part of the state” I say we need to stop depending on federal entitlements and start doing for ourselves. Put it another way – figure out what can we can do that others cannot. You are so right when you say, “tourism is underdeveloped”.

There is no place like West Virginia and we should champion it. We should make West Virginia an indispensable part of the sale. Technology now allows many professions to do for others with out leaving the comfort of home. Some of these are engineers, architects, poets, writers, medical research people, consultants, exporters, and I know you me and a few other people in a room would think of lot more. West Virginia would and can be a great place to have real advancements in medicine if a few busy bodies would poke their nose elsewhere and let the real professional health guys get on with building it. Shucks, West Virginia could be the place where a newspaper worth reading is again printed. It could be a paper that reports all the wonders of our state and provides ample space for all sides to have their say.

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Appears to be no expertise at turning around our dysfunctional education system

Wade Linger, member of the state’s board of education has quit.

I think he was president of the board once. We have a lot of quitters don’t we? Rick Thompson (twice), Joe Manchin, Linger, J. Wade Gilley, one Marshall coach after another. Hot pants Bob Wise even quit being governor after his escapade with an international trade expert. Gaston Caperton lives about a mile from the Maryland border. Jay Rockefeller quit his adopted home of West Virginia never to be heard from again. Robert C. Byrd loved us so much he had himself buried in Virginia.

Mr. Linger said he is “frustrated” over the legislature’s meddling with the board’s work. I’ve criticized politicians for their meddling in education – a sector many of them know nothing about. I do; however, believe that our elected legislature has every right to question appointed BOE members about the poor quality of education in our state. I don’t know what “work” Wade is talking about but considering the continued poor test scores…

What our students receive sure does not have much to do with education. There are more state BOE employees per student in West Virginias than any other state but Alaska. What pray tell are they doing over there? If you read the resume of the board members there does not appear to be any expertise at turning around our dysfunctional education system.

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Jobs that require a union membership inhibits our right of freedom

It may not be journalistically proper to take exception with one’s editor. Because I’m not a journalist what the heck, here it goes.

Mike Hupp, a victim of journalism school writes, ‘It may be time”. Ever notice how so many news stores start out with a question? Maybe, perhaps could be, more examples, “could the east be in for another winter storm?” or “is Donald Trump ready to be president”? I believe that most of my fellow West Virginians (politicians excluded) would say, “It is past time.” or “it is time to recognize there is no easy way, this is no silver bullet, and there is no quick fix.

It was not so long ago that legalizing gambling in our state would be a quack fix. Then we were promised that if we would approve slot machines the state would spend every dime of it’s taken on education. I remember that bringing Powerball to West Virginia was going to bring us lots of money for education. All that did was to put us in debt (over 2 billion) for fancy new cracker box buildings.

Technology now allows us access the deep natural gas and light crude deposits. Before the first cubic foot of gas was pumped our legislature was busy taxing the driller at over $10,000 a hole. Perdue told me that was chicken feed compared to all the money that was going to be made. Many drillers chose not to drill here and those that did are now gasping for air because the Middle East producers are flooding the market with cheap oil.

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Jobs that require a union membership inhibits our right of freedom

The political ad that reads, “Right to Work is not Right for West Virginia” is all over the place, even cluttering my computer screen.

Union bosses and labor democrats like Don Perdue are trotting out one seminar supporter after another posing as a guest columnist or writing letters to the editor. These supporters tell us how great unions have been for West Virginia. Labor democrats tell us that a right to work law will cost West Virginia jobs. Unions in fact have a very poor record at employment retention in our state as well as nationally. Thousands of union auto workers lost their jobs when the current democrat administration bailed out Chrysler and General Motors. Union bosses kept their jobs while many union men and women were sacrificed. Unionized labor continues to lose jobs, for example it was just announced that GM will move the Cadillac SUV assembly to China.

History of the UMW (United Mine Workers) shows over 500,000 coal miners lost their jobs over the years as coal companies countered union demands for ever more money by mechanizing the industry. Once upon a time UMW miner hospitals were state of the art. However, the UMW chose to spend member dues on politics instead of their hospitals. I had the occasion to talk with a union employ at a local hospital. She was afraid of losing her job if it was not for her union. This person was a skillful employee and was valuable to the hospital so why would the hospital fire her. They would not. It was just another union fear tactic visited on their members.

If you are good at what you do your employer will not eliminate your job. My grandfather was a UMW member for 50 years. During his younger days he and his brothers were expert at that very dangerous job of pulling pillars. It was profitable for the coal company. How stupid would it be to fire these men? My granddad was rewarded for his ability with out union help. His reward was an extra 12.5 percent pay.

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Seems the way to a political job in Wayne County is who can put up more yard signs

The vote for me political signs are sprouting all over Wayne County like weeds and are mostly just as objectionable.

Richard Thompson has joined the race for Sheriff. If you ask me Rick is more qualified for the sheriff job then all the other democrats. I don’t believe there has ever been a barrister asking for the job. Rick was an US Army military policeman where they are actually taught how to direct traffic. There never has been a speaker of the house apply for the sheriff job either. It is not going to be a race folks. It will be more like a cakewalk. The H-D is pondering why Rick would take the pay cut from his appointed gig in Charleston to an Out Wayne job. For one thing a Sheriff besides his salary also gets a piece of the action from the taxes collected. After all the real job of a county sheriff is collecting taxes and not a crime fighter. I think it is so that a state retirement is based on the highest salary earned during the time one dines at the government trough. Rick is actually over qualified and that brings me to another line of thought.

Attending a meeting at Heritage Farm, a fellow cast member asked me who are all these unfamiliar names popping up on the yard signs. He wondered how he could find out their background. The county clerk is the top election official so I suppose that would be a good place to start. The way to a political job in Wayne County seems to be who can put up more yard and road signs. We had one delegate whose whole campaign were his yard signs. He finally had a real opponent and he lost. What qualifications are required to be Assessor, County Clerk, Circuit Court Clerk or Sheriff. Tim Kinsey told me that a West Virginia Assessor is only required to be in his office once a year. That must be the day the assessor gets his cut of the taxes collected. Seems to me a background in real estate and property values would be appropriate. The circuit court clerk should have some law experience. Perhaps paralegal training or even a law school degree and not passed the bar yet. Every new Sheriff tells us he is going to fight drug abuse but every year drug abuse gets worse.

Remember what I told you about democrats and their propensity for more and more taxes. The mayor of Huntington told us that they had to raise the extortion one employee tax by 60 percent to pay for police, fire and road maintenance. Already it is not enough so now there is going to be a tax on unoccupied buildings. Huntington is and has been full of empty buildings for years and years. Why so many empty spaces? Could it be because every business is looked upon as just another source of revenue? I moved my business out of town for that very reason. Success is staring Huntington in the face and they can’t recognize it. Hong Kong and Singapore are two city-states that has no taxes on business period. Yet Singapore was so rich they paid cash to overhaul the city water system to the tune of several billion dollars.

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West Virginia needs a miracle

“It is not an exaggeration to describe West Virginia as being a state in broad-based extreme distress signaling a need for help” so writes Charleston Attorney Charles McElwee.

He presents a dismal description of our state laying out the very same points that I write about. I watched both the original and the remake of the Christmas movie “Miracle on 34th Street” just before Christmas. I like the latest version. Kris Kringle’s defense lawyer was brilliant. When it appeared all was lost, the trial judge told him you need a miracle to win this case and he produced one. West Virginia does not need help we need a miracle as well.

There is a lot of talk going around about Forced Pooling, which has to do with the oil and gas people wanting a law that will force mineral rights owners to sell their oil and gas against their wishes. I stopped reading the proposed bill (HB 2688) because my brain started to hurt. If this is any example of what we the people pay for when we send the legislature to Charleston then it is no wonder we are in extreme distress.

The state chamber of commerce is in favor of a right to work law. Organized labor says a right to work law is not right for West Virginia. Instead of endless arguments, why not put this question to a test? Approve a simple one-page bill making right to work the law for a two-year period. At the end of the test if unemployment is more and income is less then unionism is right – so repeal the law. If at the end of the two years there are more jobs and less unemployed make the law permanent. My money is on right to work. I can’t wait until our teachers drop their union membership like a hot potato.

There is a common denominator causing most of our ills. West Virginia’s governor talks about the variety of new programs created to help put West Virginians back to work which is typical Democrat – all talk and little action. The best program ever conceived to assure prosperity is a good education. Over and over test results say we are not getting the job done educating our citizens. Democrats from Wayne County to Washington are now suggesting we have too much testing. I believe this would just sweep our education dilemma under the rug.

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War is Hell

Elitist Republicans labeling themselves as conservative once again are seriously offended and their sanctimonious feelings are hurt because Vladimir Putin said Trump was a leader while Trump retuned the “compliment”.

When former Congressman Scarborough reminded Trump that Putin bumps off his adversaries and he invades counties Trump said, “our country does plenty of killing too.” One of the Powerline guys accuses Trump of slandering the USA. Cleary the NYC/ DC so called conservative know-it-alls conveniently ignores just how vicious we Americans can be. Trump once again is correct.

During our Revolutionary War the British and their hired gun German Hessians wanted to conduct the war like gentlemen where only the peon soldier was to be killed. The approach was to stand shoulder to shoulder against each other with muskets firing until one side was all killed, wounded or turned and ran. Meanwhile the officers on both sides watched. The native peoples of our new country not all that gentlemanly taught the colonist to ambush, hide and to kill off the leaders first. I think it was the native tribes that taught us about scalping, blood and guts and take no prisoners. Fast forward to the American Civil War that still has the record of the most dead in any of our wars.

As much as liberals would like to go back to a gentleman’s war, the truth is war is hell. General Patton said to win a war you must kill more of them then they can kill us. The German city of Dresden had no military value yet our side firebombed the place. The firebombing of Japanese towns killed far more Japanese than were killed when we dropped the atomic bombs. During my time in the Army it was our job to stand against the USSR. We were always ready to bring hell, fire and damnation upon them should they ever cross that line. At the same time the conflict in Vietnam was heating up. No one ever shot at me but many from my battalion were sent to “advise” the South Vietnamese.

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What is Freedom?

Enough is enough!

The march continues toward absolute complete censorship of knowledge. Schools controlled by flaming libs, democrats and teacher unions are not allowing students to read the literally works of Mr. Samuel Langhorne Clemens. The libs are upset with Mr. Clemens and his adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Yes, you know Clemens as Mark Twain.

First Huck’s adventures were frowned upon because it portrayed little white boys playing with little black kids. Later on we were not to read it because of the dreaded N-word. These days we are so “hurt” and offended by so many down right silly words, dirty looks, flags, songs, jokes, etc. Take Negro and its contraction during the 18th century Negro was viewed as proper English.

Negro replaced the word colored as a more polite word. During those days, black was offensive. Malcolm Little (aka Malcolm X and el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz) is credited with switching the description to black. It is a major taboo to utter that N-word but many have no hesitation calling us white people whitey or crackers or worse. It’s against the law so says one US attorney to threaten federal agents. So why is it not also against a law to threat killing by a citizen or anyone else living in our country? It just happened in Colorado by a ACLU board member who suggested Donald Trump be bumped off.

Only a few days ago God’s gift to journalism, columnist Dave Payton wrote that none of our rights of freedom have been threatened except our right to privacy. Sorry Dave but the “right to privacy” is nowhere in the US Constitution. Conveniently progressives used the nonexistent right as the way of legalizing abortion. I sent a note to Dave pointing out a few examples where our freedom is being abridged and I called his column rubbish. Poor Dave was so “offended” that he says he’ll delete my e-mail. Dec. 16 update. Now Mr. Peyton has changed his tune saying that our Freedoms can only go so far. More political correctness?

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You can get a very good education right here at home

We poor ignorant West Virginia hillbilly’s are spoon fed the belief that some how a Harvard education or one from those other “Ivy League schools” is far superior to what is offered by less noteworthy schools like UK, WVU or Marshall.

Harvard proclaimed to be the pinnacle of diversification is nothing of the sort. During the dust up over Liz Warren’s bio claiming to be Cherokee (because she has high cheek bones) I learned that ole Liz was one of the 1-2 percent of the Harvard Facility that was not Harvard alumina. To use one of my favorite expressions, the place is a self-licking ice cream cone.

When Marshall’s business school was working to gain accreditation (what ever that means) I was a member of the MBA advisory board. Over the 18-month life of the board, not one piece of advice we gave was ever accepted by the school so we disbanded. We did discover that Harvard is not accredited. Those guys are so smart they do not need to be accredited.

During my time earning the MBA from Marshall almost all the textbooks were the exact same thing used at Harvard MBA program. Marshall’s business school facility is about as diverse as possible. I don’t remember any one of them being educated at Harvard. The wife of the current White house resident is a Harvard grad-ju-witt. Mrs. Obama was one of the speakers at a ceremony for about 50 people who have earned their US citizenship. Michelle talking about the Declaration of Independence said the 56 men who signed the document are just like the audience. They too were not born in the 13 original colonies.

No doubt the speech was not Michelle’s words but instead the work of a White House speechwriter but how stupid can one be. In fact all but eight men signing the declaration were born in the original thirteen colonies. I suppose you are not surprised to lean that Michelle Obama is also a product of Harvard.

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The Obama
is clueless in
stopping radical Muslims

As it stands now nobody associated with the Obama administration has even a foggy notion about how to stop those radical Muslims (not all Muslims mind you) and their drive to take over the world using terrorism.

I hear lots of excuses. The one that stands out for me is, “We can’t be everywhere, or we do not have enough resources.” It was the same during the colonial period. Our population was very small. We did not have any sort of a formal army, no navy and there were no police departments. Instead there were disorganized groups that staged such things as the Boston Tea Party. There were shotgun weddings. To keep the British Empire loyalists in line we had stockades and tar and feathers. When English soldiers and German mercenaries appeared – an underground to disrupt their occupancy developed. Simply put we the people had to defend our colonies.

Senator Byrd was a student of the Roman Empire. He often talked about how organized things were during those days. According to Senator Byrd, Roman citizens could travel anywhere within the empire with out fear of bodily harm. It was well known to harm a Roman citizen would bring the whole of the Roman Army down on ones head.

The favorite punishment was crucifixion. If we had a president with the guts of a titmouse he’d do the same thing to free our imprisoned citizens in Iran. Countries who terrorize, persecuted and imprison a citizen of the United States must be taught this is a bad idea. It would have to be proved only once that you do not mess with the USA.

Colonel Peters (medal of honor recipient) was asked about the latest TV mumblings of Obama. Peters called him a name the president believed unbecoming then was slapped on his wrist with a wet noodle by Fox and told he could not appear again for all of two weeks. I love Colonel Peluse’s comment as follows:

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Christmas is for people like me who still believe in Santa Claus

Yesterday, the 6tth of December turned on the Christmas time spirit for me. The events of the day made the threats of one Loretta Lynch current jackleg lawyer that has the once highly respected title of Attorney General seam so petty and small. It also brought into focus just how simple mined and down right stupid many of the over priced and over rated collages are. Instead of insisting students get what their parents paid for now there are whole departments of diversity, politically correctness, inclusiveness, aimed at removing anything remotely associated with the Jewish and Christian religion or anything that might offend others.

We had an excellent outfit to protect us called the United States Military. The men and woman of our armies and navies were shoved aside in favor of spending billions on the massive federal hodgepodge called homeland security (HS), does that make you fell more secure? HS now tells us if you see something say something.

However, if it involves Muslims don’t say anything less you be judged a racist and get yourself prosecuted by the justice department.

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PEIA, Trump, and another terrorist attack

It is not really news that health insurance for public employs (PETA) is in trouble again. Everybody knows that everyday folks working for West Virginia gets the short end of the stick. Political appointees and the worthless jobs such as Agriculture Commissioner, Auditor, Treasure and Secretary of State are taken care of. Teachers are grossly underpaid plus their retirement is under funded. Our state police retirement fund is in the red. We have many examples of retired government employees receiving another check from the state (double dipping). For years Democrats promised much more in benefits than can now be delivered. What pinhead arranged for PEIA to be managed by the same insurance company that has now been kicked out of St. Mary’s Hospital?

Sean Hornbuckle says, “we have to find a funding source”. Translation: raise taxes is what Democrats do. Don Perdue the drug abused bird dog sings the praises of Obamacare now says “Band-Aid” fixes applied for many years now requires major intervention”. Perdue has been in the legislature for the last 18 years he is responsible for the Band-Aid approach. Another Band-Aid suggestion is dipping into the teacher retirement fund. It is raining cats and dogs so get the bail out from the rainy day fund (or is it broke too)

Kelli Sobonya points to failed policies of the past and total dependence on coal to support state government is the reason West Virginia is in last place. How can one expect a good education when the whole system is run by teacher unions. Why would any business local here when we are the least educated of all states? No business wants to adhere union demands. West Virginia once had a thriving chemical industry, where is it now.

Donald Trump:
A huge amount of airtime and the printed word is being consumed discrediting Donald Trump. I have yet to see or hear any of the so-called journalists rebut Mr. Trump’s basic views. They ones I recall in no particular are: No. 1: People who wish to immigrate to our country should get in line and follow our rules. Those who sneak in should be deported. No. 2: The Democrats have once again reduced military funding to providing more vote buying programs. No. 3: Those we elect to represent our best interests are not doing their job. We allow unlimited access to our markets where as many countries stop us from theirs. The US is a poor “deal” maker. No. 4: The massive immigration from Mexico is costing our citizens a lot of money. Mexico should be forced to help pay for the upkeep of their citizens. No. 5: It is time for our leaders to put US citizens first.

Chuck Todd another liberal Democrat cheerleader had Mr. Trump on Meet the Press not to ask questions concerning his candidacy for president but to challenge his recollection of people celebrating the destructing of the world trade center in New York City. More and more often we are treated to opinions, distortions and missing facts by the MSM. Todd did not disappoint us. Another left leaning rag published a recap of the Todd-Trump exchange. It was an almost word for word copy of the program’s transcript. It took two men to edit one girl’s work of real hard-hitting journalism. The heart of this story is completely ignored. I do recall mobs in the streets cheering the murder of over 3000 people. Probably they were in Iraq, Iran Syria or even Israel. The location detail is not the issue. The story should be the fact that humans celebrated the death of so many innocent men woman and children. What kind of evil, sick belief is it that preaches so much contempt and destruction for another human life?

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Democrats a devious bunch where you have to look beyond what they are saying to what they do


A recent editorial in a local paper chastised their competition and a state agency for exposing some business records of Bill Cole, the man that cut the strangle hold in the senate held by West Virginia Democrats for over 80 years.

The paper takes the sanctimonious position saying shame, shame of them. Rubbish! The local liberal rag would have loved nothing better then to espouse any political dirt on anyone standing in the way of Mr. Jim Justice a Democrat for the sole purpose of buying his way into the governor’s mansion.

Today’s Democrats are a devious bunch and you have to look beyond what that are saying to see what they are doing. For example, ever wonder why Democrats are so opposed to requiring some sort of identification of voters on Election Day? They are not opposed to proving who you are and how old you are when buying alcohol or tobacco. If you are a Sam’s Club member you can’t get past the check out line unless you have a Sam’s card. If you happen to be stopped by the police the first thing they want to see is your ID i.e. driver license. Many places accept a driver’s license as your ID. However, this is not so when dealing with the department of motor vehicles. Those guys dutifully bent over and grabbed their ankles to the homeland security people who require even more ID in the form of a birth certificate. Too bad for women who happen to have been married more then once. The most serious is not having a birth certificate at all.

To prove you are alive and was born you might have to spend several hundred dollars to get something that provides your birthday.

The real reason to oppose identification on Election Day is well documented when one Chicago citizen voted 7 times for Obama. Democrats say these events are few and meaningless. Oh yea then explain how Al Franken was elected to the U.S. Senate with a few extra votes found in the trunk of an election official’s car.

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Global warmers say we have too many cows causing all the methane damage

Global warming is going on right now in Lavalette and who can we thank for that? Turns out that we have about one half of the world’s population to thank if indeed there is such thing. As many of my intelligent readers know there is stuff that is called a greenhouse gas. Far and away the most effective green house gas is water vapor. Yep, the same stuff we use to wash down an adult beverage or sprinkle our lawn and what Mike Blatt uses to water his tomatoes. No one has any idea how to minimize or decrease water vapor in our atmosphere so that is never discussed by the global warming gang.

In second place is methane – the stuff Obama wants us to burn in place of good clean West Virginia coal. Some of those experts that harp about dirty coal say that methane is about 20 times more effective than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. Just to be a fair Frank Gilliam who runs the climate lobby and wants a $10 tax on every ton of carbon dioxide released by burning coal, wood, dried sewage sludge and emitted by those health care nuts you see running around Ritter Park. Frank should also lobby to get a $200 tax on every ton of methane released since that gas is 20 times more of a greenhouse gas then carbon dioxide. Methane is a by-product of decaying vegetable matter. So if you are one of those organic farmers, quit making compost. Methane is also produced in the digestive tract of all warm-blooded creatures. Some foods when digested cause more methane than others. So much for pintos and corn bread. Vegetarians say we carnivores should not eat meat but really digesting plants causes more methane than eating a cow. Come to think of it, the global warmers say we are growing too many cows and that is causing all the methane damage. The current cutting edge sewage treatment has digesters, and they are making methane too.

West Virginia is also to blame for methane because our mountains continue to belch large quantities every day. Driving around Wayne County, it smells like there is also a lot of methane coming from all the leaky gas lines and the sewage collection lift stations you smell. Right now the one beside the Lavalette Fire Department is breath taking. Yes I know methane does not smell but to make methane presence known, gas companies add a teeny tiny amount of methyl mercaptan to make it stink.

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Nothing puts fear into the heart of a politician like ticked-off voters

Being a highly respected member of the media, I received correspondence our guy in Congress Evan Jenkins telling me about how hard he is working to “help” people in Beckley apply for more government handouts. That my friend is classic Democrat to keep us dependent on Washington/Charleston bureaucrats. We must learn how to properly construct grant applications if we expect to get a meager share of the money we sent to Washington in the first place.

That is not the only thing that caught my attention. Here is my answer to Congressman Jenkins: Evan, I’ve heard you say now several times that “roads are not built overnight”. Duh! Your constituents are not that dumb!! That does not excuse allowing more time to pass waiting to finish (not build mind you) the short (about 12 miles) of I-73/74 aka the Tolsia Highway to Prichard. I was told that most of the right-of-way land was acquired during the last Underwood administration. After my Army hitch, we settled in Wayne County in 1972 that was 44 years ago and Barney Asberry was talking about the Tolsia Highway then. Wayne County has been treated like a bastard stepchild for much too long some of it during your time as a Democrat. We want action now and no more throwaway lines

As long as we Wayne County citizens continue to vote a straight Democrat party ticket, Charleston will continue to pander to other parts of our state where electing Democrats is not a sure thing. If you understand just how vital a good road to the new intermodal facility in Pritchard is, then call Evan and tell him you are sick and tired of more empty promises like me. There is no reason why some of the highway money can’t be directed toward finishing Tolsia now. Senator Byrd knew how to direct federal funds and leave Charleston out of the loop – it is time to do it again. If you don’t want to call, then write a letter. Compose a hand written petition. Ask your neighbors and friends to sign. Nothing puts fear into the hearts of a politician like a group of ticked-off voters. You can send a note to Evan’s web site.

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Tourists would
pay handsomely
to see West
Virginia Whales

We know cows can be bred to produce more milk. Corn has been improved to the point that 200 to 300 bushels of corn per acre is not uncommon. Cows give us milk in exchange for grass, a few pounds of cow food and all the Ohio River water they care to drink. All renewable resources mind you. Don Perdue, a disabled pharmacist and Walt Helmick West Virginia’s agriculture commission have big plans for Wayne County. He and Foghorn Leghorn Helmick want to stimulate farming around here. Commissioner Helmick has zero experience at making anything grow except his ego. I don’t know anything about Don Perdue’s expertise with the science of agriculture except someone told me he was into raising fighting chickens just as a hobby mind you. Their big idea is to bring back the county kitchen so we farmers will have a place to process the crops we produce.

This got me to thinking again about cows and milk and what we need most. So what about whales? My friend Mike Blatt knows all there is to know about milk so he could help the EDA cross breed whales to produce more whale oil.

The Beech Fork and East Lynn lakes would make a great home for our whales. The whales would eat the fish and we get a totally renewable supply of oil. Just think of what a great educational resource the whale farms would be. Bus-loads of kids could come to see a real live whale. A West Virginia Sea Would could be developed with trained whales instead of mistreated Dolphins and Orcas. Tourists would pay handsomely to see West Virginia Whales. You know about the Miami Dolphins so we could have the Lavalette Whales football team.

I call upon Walt “Water Farm” Helmick and Dangerous Don Perdue to give my suggestion some thought. I can visualize it now the county kitchen putting up bottled whale oil when there are no vegetables to can.


With good teaching our youth can be well above average

Remember I told you first a few months ago that the solution to poor test scores reported from our public schools is going to be solved.

Half-baked Senator Bullet Bob Pylmale telegraphed the Democrat solution when he said that there is too much testing. Just the other day Obama parroted the same thing. Our kids spend too much time taking tests according to Obama. The time spent is twenty some hours over the course of an academic year. Wow! What a waste of valuable time. Evidently Obama didn’t take tests because there is no public record of him ever attending Columbia, Harvard or passing any tests.

Here in Wayne County students regularly get a day off for teacher meetings. That is about one-third of testing time for a full year. Why not reserve Saturdays for teacher meetings? Is it any wonder that the liberals, schoolteachers and their unions do not want any testing?

I sure would not want my students tested knowing nationally 67 percent of students can’t read at the 8th grade level and 68 percent can’t do 8th grade math. For heaven sakes how much longer must we wait for those we elect to stop this spiral? Jumping Jim Justice, currently a Democrat intends to buy his way to the governor’s office. He is running on a platform of jobs, jobs, jobs. Holy smokes Jim! With education records like these who is going to give our kids a job?

Detroit public schools finds that 96 percent of 8th grades can’t do math and 93 percent can’t read plus they spend $14,743.00 per student. A few other cities with equally poor records are: Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Washington DC, New York City and Philadelphia. Notice anything these cities have in common? Each one is governed by Democrats and have been for years.

What state that has been run by democrats for 80 years (until the last election) has the worst education record in the nation? Any questions? Thursday’s H-D paper says West Virginia and Kentucky seen some reading gains. Really? What do these scores mean? What is the difference between 257 & 260? Ohio’s 4th graders remained “flat” at 221. Two twenty one of what? I was passed around from number to number trying to get an answer from the Wayne County BOE.

Each time I got a recording to leave a message and I’ll call you back. The H-D doesn’t know what these numbers mean either when I asked the news desk so how can they write about gains? Or is it Dave Peyton journalism where you report what others say is true instead of searching to discover the real truth. It appears to me to be more smoke and mirrors coming from those responsible for the bad grades. Grades A, B, C, D, and F works very well so why now these three-digit numbers conceived by a committee of pointy headed academic intellectuals?

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The root cause of all our ills is our inability to provide a meaningful education


For those of you that might be inclined to go alone with the crackpot ideas of the Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders – Let me fill you in.

Sanders proposes that we tax the be-gee-burs out of the wealthy to make a college education free plus all there other goodies. He says it is just not fare that so few own so much of our economy. Once again a Democrat (who bills of himself as an independent) is wrong. Bernie is a Vietnam draft dodger by the way. If you believe that the billionaires and the millionaires have all the money think again. Suppose we confiscate all the money, liquidate the assets of the billion and millionaires so they are broke. Then we take all money others earn over $250,00.00 and take all the profit of the top 500 companies. That sum would operate our federal government for about 8 months. No my friends, we the people is where you find income earners.

Speaking of earners, there is a big difference between wealth and earnings. Wealth has already been taxed and can’t be taxed again although Democrats would love nothing better. Only earnings are taxed. That is why it is called income tax. The position of Democrats is the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer is just not so. Low income earners usually do not stay that way. People who have acquired an education or skills that are in demand such as doctors, engineers, nurses, master welders, chiefs and designers will have a much higher rate of income growth than the wealthy that have a low rate of income growth.

Bernie thinks we can learn a lot from Denmark. That might be so. Life all together should be a continuous leaning experience. Denmark’s homeland consists of many islands. It is small relevant to other European countries; however, taken together the Kingdom of Denmark is huge because Greenland is also Denmark. They have a very generous welfare system, their healthcare is free and Danes are among the most educated people in the world. So how do they pay for all this? For starters their income taxes are very high for everyone. If you earn over $80,000 you are taxed at 56.5 percent. Also they have a VAT tax of 2 percent. This means for every dollar you spend you have a tax of 25 cents.

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Don’t be suckered into believing that humans can change weather


Is the climate changing?

Well, sure right now Wayne County is leaving summer behind heading into fall and before you know it winter will be upon us. Did we humans have anything to do with these changes? I don’t think so. In my last column I told you that the US Senator from Vermont says we can learn a lot from Denmark and the other Scandinavian countries. This got me thinking (yes I know dangerous). I suppose sometime ago a teacher told me about the largest island, Greenland but I don’t remember that. Greenland once was part of the Danish monarchy – much like India. The colonies and Jamaica was part of the British Empire.

So that made me more interested in Greenland. Really I pictured the place as an uninhabited land covered with ice and snow. This is sort of so but turns out that Greenland is now an official country with their own government, flag and politicians. The total population is about 5,700 making Greenland the least densely populated country in the world.

Greenland has been home to humans for at least 4,700 years. Scientists who can read ice core samples tell us that Greenland’s climate has changed often over the last 100,000 years. In more recent times from 800 up to 1300 the climate was warm enough for trees to grow and farming to take place. How could that be without .04 percent CO2 in the air we breathe. Erik the Red was banished from Iceland during this period. To escape the chopping block for the murder of his father, he fled to Greenland and low and behold discovered America. Erik named the place hoping the name would encourage others to buy into his housing project.

You too can read for yourself all this interesting stuff about where more Americans live. Just go to YouTube and search Greenland. One video goes into great detail about why a little global warming is good for Greenland. Actually warming there has been going on for the last 20 years. The video shows one farmer who now can raise potatoes and turnips – so many he has extra to sell at the local market. Another cattleman has a small herd and believes if the warm weather holds he can become a cattle king. Weather changes all the time. Once only a few hundred years ago there were trees growing several hundred miles north of the current arctic tree line.

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Gone are the days of citizen representatives in government


Recently Mike Hupp wrote a column about what a “big punch in the gut” education is about to receive. Mike questions my work just as Ron Ferguson did to make sure what I mean to say gets printed. I sent a note to Mike over his “big punch” piece asking isn’t it about time someone started cutting the cost of government. After all four percent is only four pennies per dollar and that is not enough to buy a five cent candy bar even if they did cost that much today.

I can clearly see that it does not seem to make much difference how much is spent on education in our state because we continue to be ranked near the bottom. I wondered why the money “saved” (because the Kenova grade school project bid was less then expected) could not be used to defray that $4,000,000 reduction our governor wants. Days after Huntington jacked up their weekly user fee, they announced a $200,000 saving realized from the new stoplights. If there is money to be saved, why do they need another $2.00 a week?

Every state agency rushes to spend every last penny of their budget because if they do not then the following year’s budget is reduced by the amount not spent. Mike says the money “saved” can’t be spent else where because the state School Building Authority (SNA) demands every dime be spent on the project even to the point of adding more that is not actually needed. What a convoluted distorted jackleg mess our elected have created for us. Is it any wonder why people charged with educating our youth are not getting the job done? They are so busy with the bureaucratic nonsense, rules, paper work and lesson-plans, that it leaves less time for teaching. BOEs are prevented from being frugal because of law enacted or rules dreamed up by the non-elected.

Dave Peyton, back from his sabbatical says he knows much of what he writes is like spitting into the wind (my words) but it makes him feel better. Dave wants more “home rule” for cities. That will fix it. Funny, before Huntington collected their first dollar of the newly increased user fee (to pay for fixing roads and new policemen) they voted to buy the police department a brand new Harley motorcycle. That sure will go a long way at fighting crime, fixing potholes and drug abuse.

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We should utiliz the many ways to make electric power as long as they are cost effective

One of my many loyal readers asked me why I’m so against solar panels and windmills to make electricity.

I’m in favor of utilizing all the many ways to make electric power as long as they are cost effective. I don’t know why the hydroelectric part of the Bluestone Dam was never completed. Water runs from the Beech Fork and East Lynn dams. That flow could be used to make electric power. There are many rivers in our state that could be harnessed to make more power. No we don’t have a place to build a mega watt-producing dam, but we do have a lot of flowing water that could be utilized.

I suppose a lot of people in Wayne County are not aware of the drought situation in sunny California. Those that are out on the left coast with a lack of rain should also figure there is a drop in electricity out put because California has a lot of hydroelectric capabilities. It turns out their generator capacity is down about 20 percent. I posed the question in another masterfully written column what happens when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow. Yep, you guessed it. The wind out California way has lost the punch. The demise and the obituary of coal by my friend Dave Peyton and the libs appear to be a bit premature.

The Climate Lobby wants to convince our representatives in congress to tack on a $10.00 tax for each ton of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, then double the tax ever year until someone yells “Uncle”. The target is coal, but in the interest of fairness all CO2 generators should be taxed as well. Switching to methane (natural gas) to make steam to make electricity solves nothing because propane, methane, butane and all the other “tanes” release carbon dioxide when they burn. For all you organic gardeners who make compose that releases CO2. The only way to stop CO2 release from the Okefenokee is to drain the swamp. All the liberals in Washington, D.C. held a ribbon cutting ceremony at their fancy new sewage treatment plant on the outskirts of town.

The new plant concentrates the sewage into a soup that they then cook in a pressure cooker, which allows the soup to decay to make methane. This methane is then burned in a turbine engine to make electricity. More CO2. Come to think of it, the Climate Lobby will have to tax all the distilleries that makes adult beverages and the distillers that make corn liquor we all are forced to buy every time we fill up at Go-Mart. Fermentation generates CO2 as it turns sugar into ethyl alcohol.

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Instead of billions on windmills and solar panels, we should focus on ultimate fuel fusion

If you ever had any doubt about global warming, changing, or cooling is an enterprise, then doubt no longer. I’ve written about a crackpot scheme now organizing itself in West Virginia called the Climate Lobby. Doctor-and I use that title loosely. Frank Gilliam who should know better first wrote a piece in the H-D, invited concerned citizens to join up. The basic premise is to convince our elected to enact a law that would impose an ever-increasing fine on those who release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Well shucks we do that with our every breath. The lobby is of course after the electric power industry. The group says all the tax money collected will be rebated to the public, if you can believe that.

Some of the so called weather scientists are suggesting those of us who do not believe in global whatever is caused by human activity and we should be criminally prosecuted. Jagadish Shukla, weather professor at George Mason University, leads this effort. Funding for climate change research is warmly accepted but any monies to pay for opposing research is described as deceiving the public for financial gain.

This is a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black. Shukla earns about $314.000.00, well paid by George Mason. This is only the half of it because ole Jag has a non-profit called the Institute of Global Environment and Security, Inc. He has received $4.2 million dollars of our tax money. In fact, IGES is a slush fund for Shukla and his family. Beside the $300k he gets from George Mason University he pays himself another $800 grand (against the University’s rule of no double dipping) annually. Members of his family are also on the IGES payroll. No one can account for the federal funds and little or no research has been published.

Jim Probst, a fellow woodworker who makes wonderful furniture, has written a column in the H-D explaining to us why we should support the Climate Lobby. His reason is if 10-12 republican Congressmen have co-sponsored a resolution to act on climate change then we should support that too. Recall I also told you about two guys who calculated the cost and the infrastructure necessary to replace fossil fuels and nuclear. I reported they found it would take a solar panel field the size of Ohio plus about one-third of West Virginia to meet the electric power needs of just the northeast of our country. When the sun does not shine, millions of batteries would be needed and a few million shipping containers to house them all. Wind turbines have never produced as much power as promised. There is a mountain ridge as you approach Thomas, West Virginia, full of these windmills. Every time I drive by some are not working and in need of repair. What to do if the wind does not blow? I suppose it would be back to batteries.

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GOP leadership in Wayne County pathetically lacking

My editor can write satire so as not to “create an uproar”. Well someone has to start an uproar, so here it goes.

I told you guys who have jobs in Huntington that you were going to be hit with a 66 percent tax increase to your “user fee”. Is anyone surprised that the city fathers approved the additional tax? Some of them freely admitted that they did not expect much resistance. One such council member is not even elected – he is an appointee.

The only weapon you have to counter this tax without representation is your money and later on your vote. Huntington has already instructed your employer to start withholding more of your hard earned money starting tomorrow as I write this. The ink is not yet dry of the paperwork. Remember when you have a fender-bender and call the Huntington police, don’t hold your breath for their assistance. Mike Hupp suggests sarcastically to brown bag your lunch. It will be cheaper and probably less fattening. Go to the movies in Ashland or eat out but not within the Huntington City limits. You already have to pay an extra 16.6 percent sales tax there, but that is one tax you can stop. Shop online or go to the mall out Barboursville.

I told you that there is never enough. Huntington increased the user tax by 66 percent. If you allow them to get by with this without any consequence the next increase just as well be 100 percent. Democrats raise taxes. That is what they do. I bet most of you did not know about the following tax increases imposed by democrats alone. Effective January 1, 2015: Medicare tax went up from 1.45 percent to 2.35 percent; top Income tax went from 35 percent to 39.65 percent; top payroll tax went from 37.4 percent to 52.2 percent; capital gains tax went from 15 percent to 28 percent; dividend tax went from 15 percent to 39.6 percent; estate tax went from none to 55 percent; and finally a 3.5 percent real estate transaction tax was added. Those are taxes on the rich you say. Has anyone ever worked for a poor man? The more taxes on the rich the less they will have to invest and make for jobs for you. The Democrat Senator Bob Pylmale wants to increase the gasoline tax. Democrats want to keep and increase the tolls on the turnpike road to Beckley and Princeton. The only way to stop this madness is to stop voting Democrats back into office. Democrats do not understand living within your means especially if it is someone else’s means. Cities run by Dems cannot be trusted with home rule. Every city large or small run by Democrats is in debt to their keester (what ever that is). The top democratic presidential candidate now proposes to squander $2 (with a B) billion to treat drug and alcohol addicts. A commentator summed up my feelings like this: “So once again rather than treating the root causes (systemic poverty, generational dependency and depression - the result of decades of misguided leftists policies) this Democrat will do what all other Democrats have done: throw money at the symptoms. It will result in the same outcomes, and they won’t be good.”

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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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