The Pocahontas Times readers' letters
Letters to the Editor
Anyone associated with Pocahontas County tourism not supporting the National Monument campaign could perhaps be charged with malfeasance.
Do folks vacation in Pocahontas to personally experience extractive industries and logging trucks?
Ignorance can be excused, but willful ignorance has no place in a governing position. Implicit in the oath of office is a promise to learn about relevant issues. Now is the time to drop old, perhaps unconscious, thought patterns that reinforce worn-out positions obstructing our way to a promising tomorrow for future generations of Pocahontasans.
With best wishes to all.
No, this isn’t another letter about the National Monument. Nor is it about fracking, nor any of the other issues that have been dividing our community lately,. It’s about an issue we all agree on: THE NEW PHONE BOOKS! The old phone book was user friendly –the type was fairly large, and all the Pocahontas County numbers were in one section, easy to find. If you wanted to call someone in Elkins, you looked in the Elkins section – or Richwood, or Mill Creek. The new phone book has tiny type and many, many communities are jammed in together – you have to squint your eyes and struggle through dozens of names from away from here to find the person you want. What’s the last time you called someone from Clintonville or Montrose or Mabie or Smoot? You have to plow through all these irrelevant listings to find the number you want in Arbovale. I know many people, like me, still use their ragged old phone books, because the new ones are so unhandy.
I realize Frontier has financial constraints operating in a rural state like West Virginia that doesn’t permit them to upgrade phone and internet service to a level people in more urban areas expect, but certainly they can afford to give us a phone book we like and can use! What do you think?
Lake Reed Road
I want to make people aware of a situation that happened at the Mountain View Cemetery.
Recently a person or persons took three Christmas wreaths from the graves of my family members.
I don’t know if they took them home or if they put them on the graves of their loved ones.
But whatever was done with the wreaths, I think the person or persons may as well be known as grave robbers.
I don’t know who they are, but the Lord knows, and they will have to answer to him one day.
Ann W. Meeks
Letters to the editor
I am writing to update you about an item on this evening’s (February 19) Pocahontas County Commission meeting agenda. This item concerned the discussion and/or action to approve the hiring of Mr. Bob Martin to the position of assistant prosecuting attorney.
I remember the difficulty that former prosecuting attorney Donna Meadows Price experienced in trying to recruit and retain an assistant prosecuting attorney. Thus I appreciate the challenge it is to find qualified help. And I further appreciate the need to be able to prosecute cases in a timely fashion. Our prosecuting attorney Gene Simmons must have an assistant prosecuting attorney who is helpful to him and to the needs and goals of his office.
In tonight’s discussion, I realize that I offended Mr. Martin in my attempts to explain my reasoning for wanting to postpone his hiring. Mr. Martin wanted to explain the two misdemeanor charges against him, and I should have listened to him before I attempted to express my concerns. For that I apologize.
Mr. Martin did eventually have the chance to explain to us commissioners the reasons for his arrest and for the charges, and I have to say that I believe him. If what Mr. Martin conveyed to us commissioners is true, then I hope he finds a just and expedient resolution to the two misdemeanor charges before him.
Mr. Martin’s innocence or guilt is not my decision to make. That is the role of the magistrate court. I feel that my role as a county commissioner is to exercise good judgment when we are asked to approve the hiring of an employee. In this case, the candidate for the position has two misdemeanor charges before him, and I felt that approving his hire at this stage would be an irresponsible action for us the Pocahontas County Commission to take. My objection to his hiring is not based on any personal judgment of Mr. Martin. I don’t know Mr. Martin from Adam, as they say, and I have no reason to judge him unfit for the position. In fact, our prosecuting attorney Gene Simmons made it clear that Bob Martin has been a great help to him, having assisted with several cases thus far. For this, I am glad and thankful.
I feel we should have waited to hire Mr. Martin until the charges against him would be dismissed, or until Mr. Martin would be found innocent. Given that my fellow commissioners decided this evening to hire Mr. Martin prior to such an outcome, I very much hope that one of these two outcomes will come true and soon. But it is already too late, I fear, to recover the trust of those who expect us to exercise better judgment in these circumstances. Our county government is presently facing several issues and allegations that raise questions of trust and competency in us, and as such it must be acknowledged that to hire an individual presently facing charges will only further erode that trust. This is my single and simple concern. This is the reason for my professional disagreement with the decision we made in the majority this evening to hire Mr. Martin.
I hope that my reasoning on objecting to Mr. Bob Martin’s hiring at this stage is sound and understood. Again I apologize for offending Mr. Martin; for not listening to him before speaking. I wish him and his family peace, and an expedient and rightful outcome to the charges before him. For those that are saddened or despaired by the action taken tonight, I wish too that we as your county government can find the path to regaining your trust in us.
David M. Fleming,
I was born September 1939, when Germany invaded Poland. After defeating Germany and Japan in the second World War, the U.S. government supported the national Rifle Association (NRA). They encouraged everyone to have a rifle and 1,000 rounds of ammunition. The U. S. government even sold surplus military weapons, many of which were semi-automatic rifles, to NRA members at a discount price.
The thought was that the reason Japan did not invade our west coast was because they knew that a large number of citizens had guns and would use them.
The NRA has done a lot to promote gun safety and has supported legislation to mandate harsh penalties for anyone committing a crime with a gun.
I do not see that any more gun laws would have prevented the Aurora, Colorado, or the Newtown, Connecticut, tragedies. A background check would not have prevented the two killers from getting a gun. If one person in that school had a shotgun, twenty children could have been saved.
I have lived in a different era and things have definitely changed. We should pay more attention to the mentally ill and to the violence in the movies and video games the young people are watching.
Please support the NRA and let your representatives in Washington know that we do not need any more gun control laws.
Hiking into Cranberry on a recent backpacking trip, I passed some fellow campers who were hiking out. We stopped and chatted a bit, and I asked them where they were from. “Oh, we’re from western Ohio,” they replied. “It took us over six hours to drive here. How about you?” When I told them I lived in Hillsboro, and a trip they had planned for months I was doing on a whim, I could see the envy on their faces. Growing up in Pocahontas County, it’s easy to forget just how unique – how rare and precious – this area really is. I didn’t really understand it myself until I moved to Colorado, and later to California. Now that I’ve moved back, I love having friends from those places visit. They are always shocked at the beauty of where I call home.
The National Monument designation is a formal acknowledgement of the beauty, as well as a means to protect it for generations to come. Of course, in order to do so, we as a community must also think about ensuring long-term economic stability and growth for the county, so that our children will continue to have opportunities locally. The Monument designation has the potential to expand our economy through tourism, just as it has consistently been shown to in other monument communities. (For details, see http://headwaterseconomics.org/land/reports/national-monuments)
Pocahontas County isn’t the only place in the United States discussing a national monument right now, but in our community the conversation seems to be different than in places where monument initiatives are broadly supported. Local government officials in New Mexico, for example, have provided leadership on two proposed monuments consisting of about 600,000 acres. Not only have elected officials embraced the potential economic benefits, but monument designation in New Mexico is also supported by hunting groups including the state chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, the United Bowhunters of New Mexico, Southwest Consolidated Sportsmen, and Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. Why would hunters in New Mexico even consider monument designation if there was a chance the National Park Service would take over and restrict their rights to use the land as they do now? New Mexico is having an informed discussion, realizing that hunting and fishing are 100 percent compatible with the proposed monuments, and understanding claims that a unilateral switch to the Park Service are nothing but misinformation that hinders a community’s ability to move forward. In fact, there is nothing in the Antiquities Act or any other existing statute that allows the President to single-handedly switch a land-managing agency. Far from robbing anyone of their rights, the Monument designation will keep some of most important lands in West Virginia – and the country– just the way they are, the way we have enjoyed and respected for decades.
Opportunities presented by the Monument designation are overwhelmingly positive, but I understand the concerns others have expressed. The vast majority of our community desires sustainable, long-term economic growth. In order to achieve that goal, we must be proactive and utilize the virtues the area has now, instead of taking a “do nothing” approach and hoping past industries will revive themselves.
Despite contentions surrounding the proposal, I believe that everyone involved has common goals: protection of the land for hunting, fishing, and other recreational use, and sustainable growth for our economy that will provide continued opportunities for years to come. Let’s continue to discuss and debate the facts, and weigh the benefits against the costs. We can do better than nativism and dismissing opinions simply because of where someone was born.
Nathaniel Dane Sizemore
I am writing to express my experience with smoking. I was in the seventh grade when I first tried smoking. I gave into peer pressure and wanted to fit in. I graduated from high school and went to college, and I got back into smoking when I entered the work force. I smoked for four years, joining co-workers on their smoke breaks. I smoked about a pack and a half a week, which isn’t much compared to others, but I still felt the impact on my breathing and on my wallet. I met my wife while at that job, and I was fortunate enough to be able to quit smoking cold turkey. My co-workers were never that lucky when they tried to quit.
I first tried smoking because of peer pressure. Peer pressure is a tough thing to deal with in middle school. Being able to stand up to your friends and resist the temptation to try tobacco is a struggle for many youth. Adolescents are very impressionable. When they see parents, friends and family smoking and chewing, they think it is a cool thing to do. At that age, kids don’t understand the gravity of the decision to start smoking or chewing. Tobacco is a very addictive substance and can lead to serious health problems, not to mention spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on cigarettes or chew in the course of a lifetime. Let’s consider cigarettes which cost $3.50 per pack. If you smoke one pack a day, you’re looking at $24.50 per week, $98 per month, $1,176 per year and $47,040 over the course of 40 years. I don’t know about you, but I sure could use an extra $47,000! These numbers are on the low end. Just think if you paid more for a pack of cigarettes/chewing tobacco and smoked three packs a day!
Curiosity is another reason for youth to try tobacco. However, when you know that this substance is deadly and expensive, it just seems to be better to not even get started in it. It’s like putting your hand on a hot stove when you know you’re going to get burned. Coming from someone who has smoked and been around lots of smokers growing up, smoking does not make you look cool - does not help your image. All it does is hurt your body and cost lots of money.
Tobacco is very addictive, but it does affect people in different ways. Luckily, I was not physically addicted to cigarettes, but I was mentally addicted. I thought it made me look cooler, and I smoked because legally, I could. I would smoke in between classes in college, and in the car on my way to work. The reason I smoked when I did was because I felt that that was what smokers did. However, I never smoked around my house and around my family. I never once had the urge to smoke while at home because I knew I didn’t want my family around that. I finally quit because I met my wife and I knew I didn’t want to be smoking around here. I quit cold turkey and was fortunate enough to not have any problems. There are, however, lots of people who do have problems quitting. For those that are struggling to quit West Virginia Tobacco Quit-line is a great resource. The phone number is 1-877-966-8784.
Letters to the Editor
Late last summer friends of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank sent out a call to pens when word was handed down that a potential divestment of the GBT and VLBA telescopes from the National Science Foundation Astronomy budget had been suggested by a review committee.
Outside of our own congressional delegation not much was heard from Washington. Ho hum. So this is just another cut in the vast fabric of our national budget.
Fast forward one half cycle around the sun and two traveling celestial bodies later and it seems people in DC are starting to see the light. Witness a Washington Post article this past Friday morning in which Congressmen Rush Holt (NJ) and Donna F. Edwards (MD) discuss the importance of funding programs that track asteroids. Their opinion article concludes with: “We should make the investments necessary to track near-Earth objects and prepare for disasters of all kinds.”
US House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (TX) announced his committee will hold a hearing in the coming weeks to examine ways to better identify and address asteroids that pose a potential threat to Earth.
Now is perhaps the opportune time to remind our leaders in Washington that the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Green Bank is an integral component in our Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), a network of telescopes that, among other duties, is tasked with “Tracking Near-Earth Asteroids.“ -such as Asteroid 2012 DA14.
While discussing investments in new research and inventions intended to track asteroids, it may be wise to also consider not de-funding a valuable system already in place, our very own NRAO and the system that just helped the world track Asteroid 2012 DA14.
I loved C. A. Curry’s article, “The Big Red School House.”
I was disappointed to discover that my favorite part of the old schools was left out – the huge metal sliding fire escapes!
The Marlinton Jr. High and the High School also had the sliding fire escapes.
From inside the classroom you opened a door in the outer wall, sat down, pushed off, swirling downward in the dark, on a two-story, in-school sliding board amusement ride!
The Jr. High continued to have the sliding fire drills until the mid 70s. The only kids who didn’t like the sliding fire drills were the young ladies who had decided to wear a skirt on that day.
In the early 70s “The Big Red School House” stood vacant, but the local kids still played on the swings and see-saws on the playground and on the best ride of all – the sliding fire escape. It was a tough, two- story climb up the sliding board in the dark. Sometimes you made it to the top and sometimes you lost your grip and slid out early, but for a kid, it was absolutely worth it.
D. Edward Kennison
In regards to the National Monument debate, Mr. Paul Wilson stated last week in reference to his group, The West Virginia Wilderness Coalition (WVWC), quote: “We advocate for a monument designation that will stay with the Forest Service, with wildlife and fisheries management under the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, preserving special lands where hunting and fishing will continue in perpetuity.”
I don’t doubt Mr. Wilson’s statement one bit. However, I can’t get over that one word, “advocate.” Which implies to me that the coalition wishes to keep the national monument with the Forest Service, but cannot guarantee, nor know for certain if it will or not. They only hope, wish, and pray that our honorable, trustworthy President will heed the coalition’s wishes.
I, however, do not trust my ancestor’s property to the Federal Government. Even if it was to stay with the Forest Service initially, it can be changed. Changed over to what, readers may be wondering? Any time the President wants to put the monument under the control of the National Park Service he can do so. Which would allow the Federal Government to outlaw hunting and fishing, or tax it to the heavens or enforce some other kind of unforeseen ridicules regulations onto it. Please don’t take my word for it. Look up the American Antiquities Act of 1906 and read it for yourself. Also, keep in mind that this thing can be changed at any time. It doesn’t have to happen immediately. It could happen 20 years from now when President Taylor Swift decides to give control to the National Parks Service.
Another issue is Jobs.
Now again, admittedly, I don’t know for sure how the monument would affect jobs. But I do have common sense. But if it was to happen as Wilson describes it, staying with the Forest Service, how would we gain any jobs? I mean, if they want me to believe all that is changing is some minor paperwork and changing the name of the forest then how do hundreds of new jobs appear from that? Something stinks a little bit about that one. I mean how can supporters say it’s going to bring new jobs unless they know something we don’t. Maybe they think the National Parks Service is coming to town. Perhaps someone can explain that one to me sometime.
So, let’s break this down as simply as we can. If you trust the Federal Government to keep the Monument under the control of the Forest Service for all of eternity, that’s great, I’m happy for you. I would love to live in the same fairytale land as you. But, if you believe it is possible, maybe even probable, that the Monument, if established, would be switched over to the control of the National Park Service, then you should stand against it.
Ben Franklin, referring to the Declaration of Independence once said, “We must all hang together, or assuredly, we will all hang separately.” The “noose” Franklin was referring to back then is present in this argument, it just happens to be tightening around our freedoms instead of our necks.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German political figure in the 1930s and 40s stated once, in reference to Hitler’s regime: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
More people like Mr. Curtis Walker need to speak up. If you can see through the empty promises. If you have the insight to see how easily our rights of use of the land could be taken, then the county needs to hear from you.
You need to comment to the paper with your thoughts and opinion.
You need to call your senators and tell them this is a bad idea.
On WVMR this morning, I heard Gibbs Kinderman interviewing Gene Simmons, our prosecuting attorney, about Obama’s new gun control efforts. Gene said he had a hard time understanding why anyone needs a semi-automatic rifle with a thirty shot clip.
The reason many decent people want to keep their constitutional right to own military-style weapons is to protect their families, homes and freedoms from violent crazies (including rogue cops and military people), violent drug traffickers (as in Mexico and at times, even in Pocahontas and surrounding counties), burglars, rapists – and vicious government tyranny as we have seen at Ruby Ridge and the Waco siege.
We live in an age of increasing collusion between big government and big business, with public officials bought and paid for by large corporations even right here in West Virginia, as Big Coal uses union-busting and MTR mining to encroach on and destroy our mountain way of life. In particular, we West Virginians should remember and honor the brave miners who once armed themselves with military-style rifles to defend their homes and families against coal company thugs and government agents at Matewan and the Battle of Blair Mountain.
Many seem to forget that George Washington and our Founding Fathers used flintlocks, the modern military rifle of their time, to overthrow the “legal” government in order to secure their freedom and found our nation.
While the government and major media conspire to disarm the American people, they simultaneously grow a bigger and deeper security apparatus of police, F.B.I., C.I.A., B.A.T.F. and “private contractors” to protect themselves and their self-enriching activities. They have given the President secret, unchecked power to target American citizens for assassination by the C.I.A. They have weakened the Freedom of Information Act and waged unprecedented war against whistleblowers. And it was the liberal supporters of gun control, Rahm Emanuel and Michael Bloomberg, who were the first to use naked police state tactics to brutally crush the peaceful protests in their cities.
This government is becoming less and less responsive to the will of the people and less tolerant of any opposition or protests. Our right to Keep and Bear Arms has nothing to do with hunting. The day may come when we Americans need to follow the example of our Founding Fathers and re-establish a government “of, by and for the people.”
Alan R. Balogh
Letters to the Editor
I am writing this letter in response to recent letters that have been published in your paper regarding our county and our county commissioners.
Our heritage and our way of life in this county were established many years ago by our ancestors. I have lived here all my life, and I can honestly say at one time I could tell you who lived in every house in the southern end of the county. But, many years have passed since then and many outsiders have found reason to move in to this county. That is all well and good, and I’m assuming they chose to move here because they liked what they saw. So, my question is this: Why are they so determined to try and change our whole lifestyle?
If they don’t like the way things are done here, why did they move here?
This whole issue of the Cranberry being made into a National Monument is nothing more than another attempt for a tourism attraction. What about the folks who live here and want it to stay a wilderness area as it has been all our lives?
In closing, I’d just like to say, the last time I looked, the same roads that led you to Pocahontas County will take you away. If you don’t like the way of life here, maybe you should check it out.
Independent analyses rating the viability of each State demonstrate a consistent pattern. West Virginia routinely occupies one of the worst positions on the lists when it comes to education, health, obesity, intelligence, standard of living, environmental degradation, political corruption, lawyer atrocities, apathy, etc.
Interestingly it seems that Pocahontas County is a true reflection of the above. The County Commission meeting in regards to the Cranberry Wilderness area becoming a National Monument and the subsequent letters to the editor clearly demonstrate that there are many here who take pride in using their heritage of a hundred years or more to demonstrate that all those assessments of West Virginia’s inferiority are correct.
I was born in Washington, D.C. and was considered an outsider because both my parents grew up in an orphanage and my mother was an immigrant. Before coming here I lived for more than thirty years in a suburban neighborhood where I was considered to be unworthy by some because they had lived there longer.
In West Virginia I have been called everything from a carpetbagger, to an outsider, a no-good, a pilgrim, a worthless immigrant and of course much more that cannot be printed, and now an “import.” Many have told me to leave or be run out.
I just laugh. I love it.
I did not come here to associate or make friends with those displaying such ignorance, but I truly appreciate those who voice openly their dislike of me. At least they are up front with it. But, of course, they are bullies and cowards and just do not know any better. They think that only those born in Pocahontas County should have an opinion.
In reality I am but a harmless, little, old, grey-haired, hillbilly, mountain hermit who wishes nothing else but to be left alone on my place with the animals. I really do not care about economic development and it would be fine with me if the county lost a thousand or more in population every year, if all the young people were to leave to see the world and seek their fortunes elsewhere, if all the schools closed down, if Snowshoe went belly-up, if Marlinton became a ghost town and if all those farmers with Fracking money sold their cows, took their booty and moved to Florida.
I am not a politician, I hold no public office, I make no decisions for the county, I belong to no groups which desire to influence policy, and I personally cannot influence anyone.
I had my first gun before I was a teenager and was hunting before most of you were born. I can only surmise that those who criticize me and what I say do so because they know that my words have veracity and are creditable. So why are these guys so scared of the truth?
In Pocahontas County I have the best place east of the Rocky Mountains and I pinch myself every day because I cannot believe that I am really living this wonderful dream of mine. So hunt all you want in the National Forest, kill everything that moves; if you think it makes you a man. Just keep yourself and your dogs off of my place and I will not be in your face. Oh, yes. I do wonder what all those indigenous cultures who were here for thousands of years before any of us would think of the recent claims of ownership and assertions of dictatorial powers?
The Pink Out basketball games at Pocahontas County High School Saturday night were the most enjoyable community event I’ve seen in years.
Thank you, Lady Warriors, cheerleaders and Karen Murphy, for initiating the idea.
It certainly was a great community affair.
Many things happened to make this a successful event.
The stands were filled, and I haven’t seen that since the Lady Warriors basketball team played Hinton High School in 1994 at home. Young and old were present. All parts of the county were represented, and everyone seemed to be talkative and happy after the games.
Even a contingent from Pendleton County showed up dressed in pink.
The common purpose was more than just ourselves and our own teams. The Pink Out was a fundraiser for finding a cure for cancer.
Probably all of our families have been affected by an early death from cancer.
Cakes were auctioned and bought and returned again for auction.
One hundred and fifty pink basketball T-shirts were sold out in two days. The school donated one dollar for each admission ticket. The 50-50 raffle by the cheerleaders gave the full proceeds to the cancer fund.
Thank you, Allegheny Mountain Radio, for coming on board on very short notice.
Rachel Thompkins, Toney Minter and I enjoyed broadcasting the very exciting games.
There were great interviews by athletes Heather Snead, Olivia Workman, and Cary Robertson who laid in the winning basket to win the boys game 62-61.
Well done Lady Warriors, PCHS, AMR and the community.
Let’s do this annually!
When people help people, it’s a win-win situation.
That’s what life should be all about on this earth.
What a nice success for our community.
I hope other high schools will also join in.
Letters to the Editor: The deadline for Letters to the Editor is Monday at noon. Writers may use a maximum of 600 words. Letters should be issue-oriented and never personal. Send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org
Letters to the Editor
Surely it cannot have escaped everyone’s notice that of the 21 National Honor Society inductees pictured on page six of the latest edition of The Pocahontas Times only four were boys.
Perhaps moving fifth graders back to elementary schools will propel some of the boys among them to achieve – in the words of Superintendent C.C. Lester – the “optimal goal to encourage their untainted academic view and help promote their choices that pertain to social norms and academic expectations”.
That sounds like just what they need: sound pedagogical thinking to get back on track.
After reading a recent letter by Hillsboro’s Devin McCoy about the Birthplace of Rivers National Monument, I strongly felt the need to respond.
Unfortunately, there are intentional misconceptions about what a National Monument would mean for our outdoor traditions, and I’m afraid Mr. McCoy’s letter only reinforced those myths.
Like many West Virginians, I have only been able to hunt on our state and federal public lands, and I’ve spent many years volunteering with programs that connect youth and military veterans to our great outdoors, introducing new sportsmen to hunting and fishing via programs like Project Healing Waters and Sierra Club’s Mission Outdoors. I am also on the board of the West Virginia Wilderness Coalition (WVWC) because continuing our sporting traditions and preserving the lands where those traditions are enjoyed go hand-in-hand.
I can assure readers in Pocahontas County that WVWC would never support a designation that threatened West Virginians’ ability to hunt on the Monongahela National Forest. We advocate for a monument designation that will stay with the Forest Service, with wildlife and fisheries management under the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, preserving special lands where hunting and fishing will continue in perpetuity. Instead of curbing our freedoms, monument designation helps ensure this cherished land will always be available for these activities, because some of our richest backcountry areas and six trout-heavy watersheds will enjoy stronger, more permanent protected status.
I’ve worked on many public lands issues before, so I have a great deal of respect for Mr. McCoy and others who have concerns about the future of the Monongahela National Forest. After all, the Monongahela National Forest is land that belongs to every single one of us as American citizens, and we should all be concerned about its future. What I find especially problematic with Mr. McCoy’s letter, however, is his statement that monument supporters do not want to talk about uses such as hunting or the role of the State of West Virginia with regard to wildlife management. In fact, everyone is talking about it, and supporting organizations such as WVWC and Trout Unlimited have issued official position statements reflecting a shared desire for hunting, fishing and state control of fish and wildlife management to continue.
This flexible management scenario would absolutely be the case under monument designation, as was confirmed in a letter the Pocahontas County Commission recently received from the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service. Mr. McCoy is correct when he states the need to evaluate the facts without bias.
National Monument status is unfamiliar to West Virginians, so we need to continue a process to make sure we know the facts, and we must ensure the designation works for all who are willing to work together in a constructive manner. Participating in the conversation, providing concerns and feedback strengthens our mutual understanding and will hone our final proposal, but deliberately presenting worst-case concerns as fact only perpetuates misinformation and does little to foster constructive conversation about the issues at hand.
Vice Chair West Virginia
In response to the letters sent in to The Pocahontas Times week before last about the National Monument, I was shocked to read where a few imports into our county bad mouthed our local commissioners.
No matter what comes up, it’s always the same ones who have their noses in the middle of everything that is going on.
As for what Joel Rosenthal said he was promised, I won’t speak for David [Fleming] or Dolan [Irvine], but I will promise the citizens of Pocahontas County one thing – Jamie Walker promised Joel Rosenthal absolutely nothing.
I was born in Pocahontas County and have lived here 63 years, with the exception of the two years I gave Uncle Sam in the Army.
I love Pocahontas County and before I would try to change what our forefathers left here for us - like a few always want to change - I would just pack up and move on.
I would like to thank the commissioners for supporting the local people that made Pocahontas County what it is today.
My Point of View,
Letter to the Editor
Open letter to Associated Universities, Inc.
Re:AACD Report of August 2012
I respond to endorse the commentary offered thru the NRAO Doc.PRC-2012.08 as prepared by the staff of NRAO, and to add the following:
The implementation of either of Scenarios “A” or “B” as requested by the AACD report will decimate the highly successful and experienced intellectual/Astronomy community which functions within our country. The loss of this valuable asset along with our huge investment of tax dollars spent on the facilities is damaging and wasteful.
As a taxpayer, I have real difficulty trying to justify the destruction of productive assets in order to gain more “Sky-Time,” and especially when the report strongly wants to spend our money in another country.
Technology is a wonderful thing.
Thanks to the collective ingenuity of our country, we enjoy a world leadership in Astronomy. Let’s keep its development base here.
And of course we should keep our portals open to and from other worldwide sites and people who share our curiosity about the universe.
I believe we need to take a closer look at advancing the sciences on our own turf while improving the facilities we have.
Thank you for considering these thoughts.
Owen S. Higgins
West Virginia’s Observatory in Green Bank is a world leader in Astronomy research. The Observatory owes this honor to the support of West Virginia’s elected officials who worked for funding for West Virginians to build the world’s greatest telescope – the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT).
Recently the observatory has been threatened with budget cuts that will damage West Virginia’s future. The Observatory needs your help, your voice of support and your prayers.
World recognition comes only from results. With your telescope, the scientists and engineers have discovered important properties of our world. Your Observatory has discovered most of the chemicals identified in our galaxy. Your observatory has discovered gravitational lenses, where the gravitational pull of a “nearby” galaxy magnifies an even more distant galaxy. These lenses have revealed the same chemicals seen in our galaxy were already visible when the Universe was one tenth its current age. This is a great surprise. Even more surprising was my discovery, in collaboration with others, proving that fundamental physics properties have not changed at all in more than six billion years. We don’t have space here to mention all of our discoveries, but there are enough to prove West Virginia’s leadership in Astronomy.
Being a world leader is not easy. The weather in West Virginia is not perfect, but that problem is compensated by our efforts to build the biggest telescopes, the most able to answer questions about chemistry in our galaxy. The chemistry that led to life on Earth.
The Observatory appreciates West Virginia’s support. The Observatory has given back to West Virginia’s children. Our outreach to children is through the Governor’s schools and online programs. We have worked hard to inspire each and every West Virginia child through our science activities center. The Observatory’s discoveries are important for all West Virginians.
Due to regulations, the employees at the Observatory have had difficulty expressing the moral relevance of astronomy to West Virginians lives. However, astronomical discoveries are tests of the sensibility of mankind’s laws. This is not new. Astronomers have always been advisers to lawgivers and the government, attempting to put our lives in the context of the bigger world.
The prayer below expresses thanks for our place in the universe, revealed by your Observatory. The prayer is for all of West Virginia.
Glen Langston, Ph. D.
Retired Astronomer from the Observatory
Elder of Liberty Presbyterian Church, Green Bank
I want to address a letter I read in the recent paper about the national monument proposal. In that letter, Joel Rosenthal stated, “I was not surprised that these hunters voiced their selfishness at the meeting,” during his argument at the County Commission meeting.
I respect Mr. Rosenthal’s opinion, beliefs and freedom of speech. But I don’t agree with his belief that all hunters are selfish.
If a decision is made to turn the national forest into a national monument, the state of West Virginia will no longer have any control over any of the decisions to be made surrounding it, such as whether or not people would be allowed to hunt on it. This means, that the people who take care of, use and respect this land the most won’t have any say on how it is to be used.
But no one who is pro-monument seems to want to talk about that.
And that concerns someone like me.
You see, my ancestors have been here since before the civil war. My times-five- great grandfather, William O McCoy, settled in the hills of Locust Creek. My grandmother was a Kennison, and great-grandmother a Bruffy – hence the names: Bruffys Creek and Kennison Mountain. Now, I am well aware that this part of the national forest is not currently up for debate, but I wanted you to know how much this debate means to me.
I am a hunter who has never once stepped foot on any national forest with intentions of hunting. I hunt as a landowner. So, my stance of keeping the status quo has nothing to do with hunting for me, personally, although I understand and sympathize with hunters’ concerns.
My issue is with local people unknowingly handing over their say in how their ancestors’ property will be used. At the end of the day - when all of the facts have been submitted without bias - informed decisions can be made.
Some say a National Monument would stimulate job growth in the area it encompasses. I honestly have no idea if that’s true or not. But I can’t help but wonder how many of those new jobs will go to local people?
Will the average person be qualified to work for the federal government?
When a Federal Prison was voted to be built in McDowell County the residents were promised jobs. But what happened was people from other states and other areas came and took most of those jobs, because coal miners – although the backbone of West Virgina – are not very qualified to work in corrections.
But, remaining honest, I can tell you that I really don’t know how the economy would be affected if the monument were to come to town. I guess the real question is: is it worth giving away your freedoms of use of the land for a chance that you might get a job from it?
Letters to the Editor
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to visit your lovely county – my family was meeting up for a much anticipated ski trip. My husband and I flew into Charleston, rented a car, and began our drive to the Elk River Inn in Slaty Fork. Our route was determined by my iPhone, and we were sent down the Williams River Road and onto the Scenic Highway. Unfortunately, we were unaware that the roads in the National Forest were closed for the winter because they weren’t plowed. Not surprisingly, our car got stuck in the snow on Forest Road 86, and my husband ended up walking for help while I panicked because I had no cell service and no satellite service for the car’s emergency system. I walked out myself after 16 hours had passed without any help responding.
My husband found help at the home of one of your citizens after about 16 hours of hiking, and I was picked up by a search party about four hours after that. In total, we were missing for around 20 hours.
I wanted the opportunity to say thank you to all of the people who came to our aid this past weekend. Thank you to the State Troopers who coordinated efforts with the Forest Service to search for us. Thank you to Mr. and Mrs. Mullens for inviting my husband in to use your phone after a 16 hour hike in the snow. Thank you to Sean and Ashley and Tawny and her family for volunteering to look for a complete stranger and for picking me up on the side of the highway. Thank you to everyone at the Quick Stop in Edray for letting us set up camp with you for hours while we waited for our car to be towed. Thank you to Gil and Mary at the Elk River Inn for letting our families monopolize your phone lines for two days straight. And, thank you to Gil at Gil’s Towing for taking the bulk of your Saturday to drag our car out of the Forest. We were strangers to every person that helped us, and yet not one person hesitated to do everything they could to make sure we were safe. I have to say, even though I was absolutely terrified for the day we were missing, my trip to West Virginia this past weekend restored my sometimes flagging faith in humanity.
I prayed for God to send me help, and he sent me quite an army! I so appreciate each and every person who came to our aid, and I’m blessed and proud to have met each of you.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to express my appreciation on behalf of myself and my family. We are home safely now, but I’m sure it won’t be our last trip. I look forward to being back next winter with my family. This time we’ll make sure to stick to major roads where the snowplow is a regular sight!
Heather S. Courtney
I liked the article, “Are you willing?” in last week’s paper concerning drug recovery plans.
The issue is not “do we have a drug problem.” It is apathy. At least 95 percent of the hundreds of people I have talked to in our county about drug abuse said “you can’t do anything about the drug problem. You can’t change it. You just as well quit trying.”
Then they begin to find fault with the groups that are trying to do something.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
We all make mistakes because we are human.
If we fight all the time with each other, we will fail. If we stand together, with God’s help, we can succeed.
I am challenging us to go to any lengths to defeat the scourge drugs are having on all of us. Embrace the same passion in fighting against drug abuse as we have in other issues.
People can suffer from environmental issues – people are suffering from drug abuse.
People can die from water pollution – people are dying from drug abuse.
If a plan doesn’t work – change the plan, but don’t give up.
We should not look on each other as enemies if we do not agree on every issue.
We have people who have lost loved ones – wives, husbands, parents, children and friends – to the ravages of drug abuse.
Preserving history is great, but “let’s make history” that we can be proud of, and not be recorded as quitters.
If we work together we can build a stronghold against drug abuse.
We need to support the people who are in the battle for salvaging lives. Then make ourselves available to help however we can.
I am proud of the ladies of “Journey for New Hope” and all the others who have risen above the crowd and refuse to be controlled by drugs.
My desire is to build a fire down deep in your soul, so you can’t “do nothing” and you can’t stand still. You must move.
“Is there not a cause?”
Open letter to Senator Joe Manchin
You are dead wrong about West Virginians’ notion of our Second Amendment. It ain’t just about huntin’!
It is about defense of family, home, business, schools and country against any and all aggressors - from foreign terrorists to rabid raccoons to home-grown nuts to tyrannical government-gone-wrong (which happens, now and again, in the history of our fallen race). And military-style weapons are exactly what citizens need unfettered (uniinfringed) access to, if our individual and collective ability to defend what we love is to be credible.
If you truly care about the safety of our children, and if you truly understand the Constitution you swore to uphold, you will sponsor and support a Senate version of HR 35 , to allow school personnel to exercise their Second Amendment rights in our schools, so that our children will not be condemned to victimhood-by-law in defense-free killing zones.
Letters to the Editor
The likelihood that any county commission can really influence the establishment of a National Monument is probably very remote. But the commissioners in recent weeks more importantly generated an insight into how they make decisions and whether those decisions reflect their stump speech promises.
The meeting on the 3rd of January which attracted about 100 people to discuss having the Cranberry Wilderness area become a National Monument became just such a window into the minds of these men. Each of our county commissioners ran for office on a platform of seeking jobs and bringing economic development into the county and doing whatever was best for all the citizens. The dialogue at the meeting on the 3rd became heated between folks supporting and those opposed to any National Monument. The irony, though, is that those opposed simply wanted to satisfy their individual self-interests, their own selfishness. They fervently wanted the county to “stay the same” in regards to their interests in hunting, fishing and camping. And all of them voiced a total distrust in the “Government.”
The proposal to make the Cranberry Wilderness area into a National Monument if enacted would consume only a small portion of the 600 square miles in Pocahontas County owned by the Government. It is only because of this government ownership that Pocahontas County is such a wonderful place for all of us. It has been shown over and over that local economic activity increases when an area has been upgraded to National Monument status.
So while I was not surprised that these hunters voiced their selfishness at the meeting I was surprised that the commissioners so easily seconded these people to the detriment of all the other citizens who want jobs and depend on tourism for their livelihood. My biggest surprise came when Dolan Irvine opined that because schools were funded by the taxes on timber sales he would vote against the National Monument because he did not want to jeopardize these funds. Dolan, as tax assessor for a million years, knows full well that there have never been any timber sales in the Cranberry Wilderness and that such sales are prohibited. So Dolan’s pledge to protect the county environment and to seek economic development during his campaign was really only a smoke screen so that he would get elected and then support the guys he grew up with.
Likewise Jamie Walker went so far as to say that he voted against the Monument because he feared that fishermen might be restricted to catching but one fish and that no one could feed their family on that. Of course this is preposterous since this county boasts hundreds of miles of fishing waterways. And of course Jamie does not even acknowledge that it is the government who stocks all our creeks, streams and rivers. As a “hunter” he is willing to help his buddies while stabbing the rest of the citizens in the back.
Folks told me many times that I better “go along to get along,” Ha. It seems that David Fleming got the same message and simply voted to“get along.”
Oh, yes, all the commissioners were threatened with being voted out of office by these selfish, vocal few. So we now know that our commissioners are perfectly willing to speak with forked tongues when running for election so that they can do the bidding of their friends when elected.
I want to personally thank Dolan, Jamie and David for revealing their true selves. Like those humans who are unfortunate to have spondylolisthesis, our commissioners also suffer from having a weak spine.
Point of View Farm
Since I couldn’t attend the county commission meeting last week, I appreciated the thorough coverage in The Pocahontas Times, but I was concerned to read about some statements that were clearly uninformed.
Declaring a national monument would not affect federal taxes that Pocahontas County receives.
The PILT (Payments in Lieu of Taxes) would remain exactly the same, because the land would still be federal land, and those payments are based on the total acres of federal land, not the way those lands are managed. The other funds the county receives under the Secure Rural Schools program are no longer based on a percentage of current receipts from logging, so they would also remain the same.
The economic benefits of logging that can be had from the area are small to nothing. The largest chunk of the area is the Cranberry Wilderness, where logging is prohibited by law. Falls of Hills Creek, Cranberry Glades, Tea Creek and Turkey Mountain are also special areas where logging is illegal. Most of the rest of the area is high country that is being managed for spruce restoration, and those in favor of the national monument are also in favor of continuing spruce restoration, which could involve some timber harvest.
There have been some legitimate questions about how national monument status would affect activities such as hunting, but while we are waiting for answers and community meetings with the Forest Service, making up concerns that don’t exist is just using scare tactics, and will not help us find common ground.
Last year more than 20,000 people were killed with guns in the United States where there are more than 300,000,000 guns. There are less than one million guns in Japan where last year there were zero people killed with guns.
Serious gun control is needed in the United States.
Write and/or call your representatives in Congress.
Letters to the Editor
“A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Few sentences have been scrutinized and argued over more than these 27 words. The second amendment to the United States Constitution literally gives power to the people, and allows them to protect themselves from tyrannical governments and criminals. In the weeks since the tragic school shootings of innocent children in Connecticut, much talk has been in the news about “assault weapons” bans and limits on magazine capacities.
Senator Joe Manchin came out in support of some sort of legislation regulating guns. A bill, proposed by California Senator Dianne Feinstein is expected January 3, 2013. She is the author of the 1994-2004 “assault weapons” ban. This time, the bill she is introducing includes a much larger range of weapons which will be considered “assault weapons.”
I suggest you Google the bill sometime.
The neutering thing about this issue at the present time is that it is impossible for any pro-gun public official to stand up and say we shouldn’t talk about gun bans of any kind, or magazine capacity restrictions without looking like a psychopath, after some idiot just got through killing 26 innocent people, 20 of which were children. The issue of gun control has been labeled as the culprit of a much larger issue that everyone is missing. As a society, we have gradually become a less and less moral people. We have removed God from schools and replaced that with an atmosphere of entitlements.
The problem isn’t a gun. A gun is a tool, albeit a powerful one. So is an automobile – until a drunk gets into it, or a scalpel – if a doctor uses incorrectly.
So my point is this: deranged killers will always find a way to kill someone if they decide to. Timothy McVeigh did it with fertilizer, and terrorists did it with airplanes. Until our society changes, these events will only happen more and more frequently.
Gun control, in any fashion, does not work. Criminals do not operate by the same rules that law abiding citizens do.
Senator Manchin said the other day that nobody needs a gun with a 30 round magazine for hunting.
I agree with him. However, that’s my personal decision, not the government’s decision to make for me. If someone wants to buy a beta magazine, put war paint on, dance naked in the woods, and burn the barrel off of their AR15 to relieve stress, that’s their decision. It’s their God-given right.
So, maybe you’re reading this and thinking “Okay. But why is it such a bad idea to outlaw AR15s and 30 round mags?”
Well, in my opinion, legislation of any kind to regulate guns is a “foot in the door” and one more step toward anti-gun politicians’ ultimate goal to outlaw all guns.
I have a message to every patriotic American reading this.
Now is the time to donate to the NRA Now is the time to be heard by your Senators. Now is the time to call your Congressman. Now is the time for President Obama to hear us.
If we let them take our second amendment, rest assured, the others will soon follow.
You have been warned!
I am responding to the excellent letter by Mike Costello, Executive Director of the Wilderness Coalition. I am pleased that we are having an intelligent discussion about the pros and cons of establishing the Birthplace of Rivers National Monument. I know everyone concerned loves the area and only wants the best for it. It is a land of many uses and from my view point is managed very well as is.
I have had an interest in two similar projects that I saw backfire on the local support that created them. The first is the New River National River established in November 1978. It was local support that wanted to save the area along the New River from further mining activities and even the Corps of Engineers that planned another flood control dam on the New. The original bill 95-625 that Senator Byrd pushed provided that the area be protected by scenic easements from private landowners and by local zoning laws.
The National Park Service took charge of the area and immediately started buying up land and even referring to it as the New River National Park. They now own most of the land along the New River and are arresting people for digging ginseng and yellow root on “their” property. I know from first -hand that this was not what the initial local support envisioned.
The second similar situation is the Cuyahoga Recreation Area between Cleveland and Akron, Ohio. The local people in the mid-1970s were afraid the two cities would grow together and industry would move in along the Cuyahoga River, changing the farming and rural communities forever. The National Park Service took charge of the area and immediately started buying up property and moved more than 500 families out of the area. The last time I was there in about 2000 you still saw boarded up houses to be torn down. This was not what the local support envisioned, but it was too late.
At this point I fail to see what the benefit would be if the Cranberry area were to be designated a National Monument, but let us keep communicating with an open mind and keep the idea of preserving the land of many uses for future generations.
West Virginia Open Trails Association
A large turnout of community citizens packed the courtroom at last week’s Pocahontas County Commission meeting on the issue of a proposed Birthplace of Rivers National Monument. During what turned out to be a three hour meeting, dozens of our neighbors and friends presented a variety of viewpoints and questions, with the conversation civil and respectful throughout. Our common thread was an appreciation for the land under consideration, and our mutual desire that it continue in top condition. Our disagreements revolved around whether or not a national monument would be the best way to do this.
I believe that local supporters of the national monument now better understand the concerns and issues raised by some of the county’s residents. Discussion about these concerns helps all of us collaborate to define a proposal that best addresses the issues that matter to everyone. I hope a response to the county’s letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture will clarify what exactly a monument would be, so we have a better foundation for future discussion in the ongoing process.
The County Commission’s decision to continue looking for accurate information on national monuments is important, and I hope that the people of the county will do the same. The supporters of the Birthplace of Rivers initiative will work to address the interests of all concerned, constructive participants in the conversation.
As a Pocahontas County native who seeks the economic opportunity to stay here, I am a firm believer in the Birthplace of Rivers National Monument’s potential. Although I appreciate the commission’s quest for accurate information on national monuments, I hope that they will remain open to lending their support once they discover more about the impacts to our area.
Monument designation would really put the area “on the map” in a new way by establishing an elevated status, the only national monument in West Virginia. I have decided to carry on our proud tradition of farming, and would have a better local market for my products if a national monument brought more visitors to the region. When people visit Pocahontas County, they want to enjoy local food, hear local music, buy local crafts and support local gas stations, shops, motels, restaurants, etc. There are plenty of others like me who either want to come home to the area, or will move to our community with the intention of starting a business of their own. There isn’t a single solution to our future, but the local foods initiative and the Birthplace of Rivers National Monument are two complimentary ways of moving our economy in the right direction.
Preserving some of the public lands around the Cranberry Wilderness would prove to be an excellent use of our natural resources, and would leave ample land available for logging and other uses. The creation of a national monument would help spur a sustainable future economy while ensuring that hunting, fishing, trapping and gathering will remain part of what the area is used for in perpetuity.
The scenic beauty of our county is an increasingly rare resource, and we should work together to ensure that we can make the most of it.
Letters to the Editor
While I have enjoyed reading your paper, I have decided not to renew my subscription.
The reason I was reading your paper was because I was thinking of retiring in Pocahontas County, but the property prices there are just insane, obviously the people there have not heard about the real estate bubble busting.
I guess the people there have not heard of the business concept of the more you buy the less it cost. For example, if I buy a couple acres it might cost $10,000, but if I buy 100 acres it is no longer $2,000 or $3,000 an acre, it is now $500 an acre. If I buy a thousand or 1,700 acres it would be $200 or $300 an acre.
For what people are asking for property there I could move to sunny California or Florida or even the Bahamas and live comfortably. I can buy 10 times the acreage here and other places for the same price. So there is no need for me to continue with your paper. I have enjoyed reading about the quaint little towns and events etc, but likely will not move there.
Ronald D. Beller
This letter is prompted by the recent decision by the Public Service Commission (PSC) to change the proposed Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) from the concept of decentralized units to a large centralized WWTP.
The Slatyfork Farm Owners Association (SFOA) believes the vast majority of the citizens of our county are not aware of the fact that our association is opposed to being forced to hook-up to the WWTP. The main objectives of this letter are to inform the citizens of Pocahontas County that we are opposed to mandatory hook-up to the WWTP, go on record with your newspaper, and reaffirm our objections to the PSC.
As a matter of introduction, Slatyfork Farm is located just off Route 219, approximately one mile south of Route 66. We are a private community of approximately 58 houses.
SFOA has made known our opposition to forced hook-up, by sending letters to the proper authorities and participating in PSD meetings dealing with the WWTP. Our concerns regarding this matter include the following:
1. All of our existing homes have functioning septic systems which were approved by the county Health Department and installed by a licensed contractor in compliance with existing regulations. We have experienced no signs of failure on any systems since their operations began.
2. The majority of homes are vacation/second homes which, by nature, have a lighter use of sanitary systems than primary units.
3. Our lots and homes are connected by a road system of nearly 8 miles, many of which are single lane roads. This could well result in the inability to access our property during the installation of underground WWTP pipe lines. In addition, all of our electrical, water, and telephone lines are underground, which further complicates the situation and could be disastrous if any lines are severed during the sewage pipe line installation.
4. Slatyfork Farm is underlain with karst limestone, which contains caves and fissures. Any pipeline leak could result in effluent contamination of drinking water in the immediate and surrounding areas.
5. The topography of our area runs from a mountain valley at – 3,000 feet to mountains above 4,000 feet. This rise and drop in elevations would require extensive engineering design, surveys, excavation, pipe/lift station installation and extensive upkeep in the future.
Our association held a formal meeting to discuss this issue, and the vote in opposition was unanimous. A letter was sent to the PSC advising of this, with copies to various agencies.
Nonetheless, the SFOA board was dismayed to learn that our opposition to the mandatory hook-up was essentially disregarded in the PSC decision in August of this year. It appears that Slatyfork Farm continues to be considered a customer of the WWTP and, as such, figures into the WWTP monthly cost of service. This is misleading to the public and we wish our position to be known.
In conclusion, we are not opposed to the WWTP which is needed for long term development and environmental health of the area; we are simply opposed to mandatory hook-up per the foregoing reasons.
W. Michael Frazier
President, Slatyfork Farm