The Pocahontas Times readers' letters
Letters to the Editor: June 17, 2010
Although well written, the Lawrence Cameron anti-planning letter (June 10) is just another libertarian lament.ﾠ Had there been a comprehensive county plan in effect several years ago, we might not have wasted so much time deciding if/where to deal with the excrement!ﾠ A plan is a road map; no plan is lost in the wilderness.ﾠ
When there is an anti-government majority in control of the county commission, they can repeal the plan.ﾠ That's the way majority rule works in a democracy.ﾠ
Letters to the Editor: June 10, 2010
Jay Millerﾒs arguments in favor of developing a ﾓcomprehensiveﾔ plan for the county have, in this writerﾒs opinion, practically no merit. His major justification is that we mayﾗnot willﾗmay lose access to funds and opportunities which require that such a plan exists. He then goes on to inform us that virtually no government or private entity actually does require one.
One day Congress or the State Legislature may require some sort of plan. Then weﾒll have to spend scarce money and time to hire a semi-competent plan-making outfit to come in and start a whole dispute which will drag on for years and get everybody tea-party mad. Next, Miller proposes that we ﾓplan to plan.ﾔ Oh boyﾗwe get to waste even more time and energy.
As I see it, the relationship a plan bears to actual reality is largely determined by three characteristics: its time on the horizon, the number of factors it must consider and the number and strength of exogenous factorsﾗi.e. stuff happening which we canﾒt foresee or have no control over or both.
The shorter the time horizon, the more likely things will turn out as we expect. If I make a list of things to do tomorrow, thereﾒs a pretty good chance Iﾒll get most of them done. If Greenbrier County had erected a land-use plan in 2004, what bearing would that plan have had on wind turbines or waste coal plants? So time horizons in excess of two or three years must assume increasingly unlikely futures.
Millerﾒs list of factors, activities and issues to be considered in the ﾓcomprehensiveﾔ plan he espouses is fearfully long: it contains 13 ﾓrequiredﾔ topics for which we must forecast goals, objectives, schedules and budgets plus six additional ﾓmay coverﾔ topics. The expectation that we can predict, analyze, agree upon and control such a list seems utterly delusional. Look whatﾒs gone on with the sewage treatment issue in Slaty Fork. And thatﾒs just one part of the issue.
Is Miller saying that what cannot be resolved within the political process can be tied up and neatly packaged ahead of time simply with the right plan? In that case the commissioners should just appoint a planning commission and all resign and save us holding elections.
As for exogenous factors, letﾒs bear in mind that more than two-thirds of the land in Pocahontas County is under the ownership and control of the U. S. Forest Service and of state parks and forests. Now, thatﾒs a couple of elephants in the room for you. And letﾒs face it: so-called comprehensive plans focus largely on land use; the rest is just eyewash and hubris.
Miller makes the valid point that a plan is only as good as its assumptions. Well, his major underlying assumption seems to be that a centralized planning commission is a better way to anticipate and deal with issues and problems than just muddling through an uncertain future and dealing with things as they arise using the existing formal and informal political and social processes.
Personally, Iﾒll take uncertainty, the very quality that makes life interesting, over the hubris of those who would impose their ﾓvisionﾔ on those of us who prefer just to row our boats ﾓgently down the stream.ﾔ By all means bring college courses to the county; figure out how to get along on lower tax collections. Address the real issue. Forget the grand plan.
Upon the death of Cathleen Hoover in 2009 I was the beneficiary of one of her family Bibles.ﾠ Tucked within the pages of that holy writ was a clipping from the October 6, 1932ﾠedition of The Pocahontas Times.ﾠ The editor, Calvin Price, was commenting on automobile tours out of Elkins as part of the Forest Festival.ﾠ The tours had been organized by the Monongahela National Forest and the one for which Mr. Price and Dr. Fred Allen were the narrators was "from Elkins to Marlinton by way of the Seneca Trail, thence east over the Nancy Hanks Highway to Bartow, thence west across Cheat Mountain and back to the Seneca Trail at Huttonsville: some 140 odd miles to travel.ﾔ
Mr. Price gives an interesting insight to the geology of the landscape and historical accounts of features along the way.ﾠ What has tickled my curiosity, however, is why the road from Marlinton to Bartow was referred to as the Nancy Hanks Highway.ﾠ There is some suggestion that Nancy Hanks, who will be remembered as Abe Lincoln's mother, was born or lived for a short while somewhere in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, but what has that to do with the Marlinton to Bartow road being called the "Nancy Hanks Highway?"ﾠ Any insight to this ignominy would be greatly appreciated.
Letters to the Editor: May 27, 2010
In the last two elections we changed two county commissioners. The upcoming will change the third.
The three once-popular commissioners we had two elections ago supported the seizure of a single man's private property. I believe that Pocahontas County has spoken clearly and correctly that the job of government is to protect the rights and property of the individual, not violate them.
Although our two new commissioners ran against that violation, it now seems that they do not understand the principle. They are moving headlong toward anointing a cabal of cronies, oh, excuse me, this is supposed to be called ﾓappointing a Planning Commission,ﾔ to dictate how our private property may and may not be used, and how we will live our lives in many other respects.
Commissioner Saffer and county coordinator Jay Miller have both said that they do not want to discuss if ﾓplanningﾔ is a good idea, or if the people want it, they simply intend begin the process. They would not waste time and energy on a plan if they did not intend to use force (yes, that is what government is) to make us follow it.
Let us remind them of the principle that got them elected. Let this yearﾒs commission candidates speak very clearly on this issue.
Protect us, do not push us around. We can push back.
I was a guest at the Carriage House Inn in Huntersville on a recent Saturday evening and the guests were all enjoying a late evening meal when somebody came to the door.ﾠ I kick myself for not getting her name and that of her companion ﾖ their compassion surely saved a horseﾒs life that night, and quite possibly the lives of an unsuspecting motorist traveling along Highway 39. ﾠIn any event, these two local (Marlinton, I believe) residents stopped by to see if the innkeeper, Jeannie Dunham, might know of any neighbors who keep horses on their property.ﾠ ﾠ
The young woman and her companion were on their way home when they rounded a turn on the highway to find a horse wandering along the side of the road.ﾠ Fearing for the immediate safety of the horse, ﾠthe two local folks abandoned their immediate plans for the evening with the hope of reuniting the horse with its owner. ﾠ
While the woman stayed to speak with Jeannie about the possible ownership of the horse, I accompanied the young man and we walked down the dark highway to retrieve the horse using the innkeeperﾒs dog leash.
I was dismayed to find the horse in poor physical condition but pleased that she was gentle in spirit. ﾠﾠ
While we encouraged the bony mare to walk toward The Carriage House Inn, we were passed by cars from both directions and I was touched when several motorists offered to help ﾖ one car offered to turn around and use their headlights to illuminate the dark highway, while yet another offered to slow down to keep oncoming traffic from rounding the turn and hitting us.ﾠﾠ Other guests from the Carriage House Inn walked down the road waving flashlights to alert oncoming traffic.ﾠ ﾠ
The mare was seemingly oblivious to the commotion raised by her escape ﾖ her attention was on the tender grass along the side of the road and she continued to reach for each passing blade as we walked along. ﾠﾠHaving few options so late at night, we left the mare in a pasture with several other horses.
The details of all our helpers are not as sharp today, as I was focused on the poor condition of the mare and my curiosity piqued by the fact that she has a BLM freeze brand on her neck, identifying her as a mustang.ﾠ
I could not help but wonder about the circumstances of this malnourished, diminutive mare.ﾠ How long ago was she roaming freely on government land, and how had she come to the rolling hills of Huntersville?ﾠ Had I been carrying a camera, I would have photographed her brand to see if I could decipher the markings and track down her original capture date and location.ﾠ ﾠ
Although I am now back home in Idaho, the image of that scrawny little mare is still in my mind and I continue to wonder if her future is any brighter than the odds of her survival on that dark night along Highway 39.
I did not mean for this to be a rant about the plight of the American mustang.ﾠ I just wanted to let somebody know that I, a visitor to rural West Virginia, was extremely touched by the humanity of a bunch of strangers and their concerted efforts to bring that scrawny mare to safety. ﾠ
One can only hope that if the mare is united with her owner that something will be done to ensure that adequate care is provided to that horse and any others under his/her ownership.
Bottom line:ﾠ Kudos to the residents of Huntersville and Marlinton for their compassion and concerted efforts to bring that horse to safety.
Letters to the Editor: May 13, 2010
Iﾠ had a great experience and would strongly urge anyone who is looking for a loving, healthy pet to check out Pocahontas County'sﾠselection of wonderful dogs and cats.ﾠ I found the perfect little dog last week through the Humane Society of Pocahontas County, and she was spayed and up to date on her shots.
Of course, everyone has toﾠ fill out an application, but it is worth a little red tape to make sure the pet and new family are compatible.There areﾠplenty of pets at the shelter to choose from, so help save a life andﾠadopt a pet.
Letters to the Editor: May 6, 2010
I decided to end my term as a member of the Pocahontas County Board of Education due to some health concerns. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all who have supported me in the past. There is nothing in Pocahontas County that is any more important than the quality of our schools and the students that they nurture. I have enjoyed working with all the schools and have learned more than I ever dreamed about the magnitude of work that is required to keep them running as smoothly as possible.
I would like to take this opportunity to encourage all voters in the county to give great consideration to those you elect to the BOE. This person(s) should be there for the students and the greater good of the county. The BOE must follow many state and national regulations and mandates and there is little room to make the changes that many believe should take place. The BOE is responsible for hiring the superintendent and overseeing a balanced budget (little wiggle room here as well). The only employee that answers to the BOE is the superintendent. Everyone else follows a chain of command.
Pocahontas County is blessed with many dedicated and caring teachers and support staff who do their best to follow the many mandates and still be there for the students. BOE members are not micro-managers of the schools.
As we proceed to hire a new superintendent, it is my hope that the people of the county will support our decision and be there to assist and support the new team.
Again, I encourage all to get out to vote for the candidates who are most concerned for the students and the future leaders of our county.
Retiring Board Vice President,
One of the side pleasures of caring for animals occurs when I take them to schools. Kids are fascinated to see our wildlife in real life. They are excited and love to ask questions and tell their own stories.
I have been doing this for years as well as have the folks from Three Rivers Avian Center in Hintonﾠ and Roy Moose from Richwood who brings rattlesnakes for kids to see.
We all take precautions to make sure the kids are in no danger.
This spring I had the rare opportunity to have a baby, black bear cub I named Rose. She was growing so quickly that there was only a small time span for me to show her to the kids.
Fortunately, the schools in Hillsboro, Green Bank and Frankford saw the value of my bringing Rose for the kids to see.
I was amazed to find out that even here in Pocahontas County a large percentage of the kids had never seen a live bear. And their faces and exuberance demonstrated this. Even the parents and teachers who attended were wide-eyed.
One principal not only thanked me for bringing the cub, but remarked that the kids would remember seeing Rose long after they forgot other things they had learned this year.
I can partially confirm this because when I was 8-years-old my mother took me to see the first public presentation at the Washington, D.C., zoo of Smokey the Bear, a cub rescued from a forest fire in 1951. I cannot remember any other thing from that year.
But, with this letter I am also saddened that two of our school principals, along with Superintendent of Schools Dr. Patrick Law, forbade me to bring Rose to the Marlinton schools. None of these men could give me any reason other than they wanted to ﾓprotect themselves.ﾔﾠ
I am saddened for all those kids who did not get to see first hand a real live example of the West Virginia state animal, the black bear.
Letters to the Editor: April 1, 2010
As you and many of your readers are aware, I volunteer for Operation Shoebox a military support group for our men and women serving in war zones.
It was with a saddened heart that I came home from OSB yesterday.ﾠ We packaged 3,000 care packages and had to put them in storage because we do not have the funds to ship them.ﾠ
Now your readers have been very generous in sending me their Christmas card fronts to put in our Christmas stockings, but now I'm here begging for a little bit of financial help so we can ship our packages.ﾠ If everyone who reads this letter or hears about it from someone else, would simply send a dollar or two, we would have enough to send several months worth of packages.ﾠ I'll also be sending this request via email to the several blogs in the county and one in Randolph county, as well as to the Elkins newspaper.
If your readers can help us out I'd like them to make a check or money order out to: Operation Shoebox and send it to me at: Linda Gibb (OSB); 1277 Pageland Way; The Villages, FL 32162-8685..
On behalf of OSB and the men and women serving our country in the war zones, I'm thanking you in advance.
The Villages, FL
I have learned that the sheriffﾒs department has what it calls an ﾓauxiliary force.ﾔ I do not recall any authorization and funding for this activity being discussed publicly. Perhaps I am mistaken, but such a hand-picked force, not only causes me much consternation, it begs an answer to many questions.
I would appreciate it if the answers to the questions below be provided to all of our citizens by our County Commission, the sheriff and anyone else who can give factual answers.
What is the justification for such a force?
How was the sheriff authorized to have such a force?
Who decides how many will be on this force?
Were federal and state guidelines followed for bringing these people into our county government whether they are paid or not?
How has this activity been budgeted?
And what do they make in payments, if anything?
Do they receive any benefits?
Why werenﾒt the jobs advertised and open to the public?
Did these people have to fill out an application form?
Did they have to take a test to demonstrate any mental or physical competence?
Was hiring done solely by the sheriff, by the commission or by a panel of citizens?
What vetting was done on each person?
Is the sheriffﾒs budget for them unlimited?
Is his use of this ﾓforceﾔ unlimited and does he alone decide when and how to use them?
What review is there if a complaint arises?
Are there any guidelines for their use?
Can they act on their own when casually in the community?
Can they make arrests?
Do they have uniforms?
How are they trained?
Do they carry weapons and why?
Are they periodically drug tested?
Where can a citizen find information on all the officers of the sheriffﾒs department?
What is the countyﾒs liability, medical or civil, in regards to their actions?
What are the rights of our citizens in regards to their actions?
I believe all of our citizens should know the answers to these questions.
Letters to the Editor: March 25, 2010
Marlinton has a new friend in a small group called GoMarlinton. Developed in December 2009, the group is made up of business owners, and local citizens. Their objective, as stated in a recent presentation to the Marlinton Town Council, is to focus on the positive things that Marlinton offers.
We all know there have been many groups over the years that have attempted similar goals but what makes this group different is at their first meeting they declared, ﾓWe're not about fixing anything in Marlinton, we're all about focusing the spotlight on all of the good and positive things the Town has to offer.ﾔ The Greenbrier River, Greenbrier River Trail, the Opera House and other historic buildings in town, as well as the town's place in area history and genealogyﾠare paramount to the group.
But GoMarlinton is much more than its objectives. It consists of people who are passionate about Marlinton. Many are locally born, while others traveled here via other cities and states. The first action of the team, as we call ourselves, is a state Division of Tourism grant to develop a website and eventually point traffic to that site by advertising on recreational websites in and around the region.
The group approached the town council recently to be a partner and administrator of the grant. It's important that officials are on board for the grant and future action. We're all in this together and together we can achieve so much more. Town council understood the helping hand GoMarlinton extended and voted unanimously to support the group. We thank them profusely for trusting us enough with their vote of confidence.
The group is using private contributions to purchase new flags for the downtown area as well as large maps strategically placed so visitors can easily find coffee shops, places to have breakfast, places to shop for souvenirs, where to rent canoes, find the library, the courthouse and other areas of interest. Merchants, restaurants, lodging facilities and others will receive a decal for their window indicating they are part of the team. Again, the goal is to be inclusive.
An Open House will be held at the Pocahontas County Opera House on Tuesday, April 13, from 5 to 7 p.m. We hope you will join us and share any ideas you might have for promoting Marlinton. The group already has a Facebook page, and has an outline developed for the website.
The group has chosen three slogans from a dozen or so and is asking the public and their Facebook fans to vote on the slogan. To vote, go to this link and vote only once http://www.zoomerang.com/Survey/WEB22ADJ7C3DYW. The winning slogan will be announced at the Open House.
We want people who have a stake in Marlinton to be involved in one way or another. We understand everyone is time-deprived with jobs, civic, social events and after-school activities. But we're not asking you for the world...just an idea, a suggestion, an hour or two to help out. What will you get? In the end we want your pay-off to be pride in your community.
A personal note ﾖ this effort would go nowhere if it weren't for the business leaders in this community. All that they have done will make GoMarlinton make a difference.
Letters to the Editor: March 18, 2010
Open Letter to: Senators Byrd, Rockefeller & Representative Rahall
Subject: Obama Care
Now that the Federal Government has mismanaged: the Post Office, AmTrak, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and about everything else it has taken over, what makes a perfectly intelligent voter think the Feds will succeed in this much more important issue that impacts our lives?
Ifﾠ Obama Care passes whereby it extracts $500 billion from Medicare to fund a program that uses this money for medical insurance for illegal immigrants and pay for abortion, those members of Congress who vote for this should resign in disgrace. They will be responsible for destroying the best health care system in the world all in the name of more government control over our lives.
I find it interesting that the elite in Congress will be exempt from this Socialistic Program.
Recently the ratepayers (mainly Snowshoe homeowners) who will pay for the proposed regional sewage treatment plant at Linwood received another slap in the face from the Pocahontas County PSD.
As a ratepayer who has followed this project closely, I believe that no one on the PSD board has a better understanding of the issues involved than Mr. Shipley. When he asked his fellow board members to reconsider Site 9 at Silver Creek, we homeowners were thrilled to finally have someone who cared what we thought.
Since this project began we have asked that serious consideration be given to not building an expensive regional plant, but to first upgrade existing facilities and then build cluster systems in the valley. Our concerns:
1ﾗOne spill from a regional plant would have disastrous and permanent effects on the pristine waterways, caves and drinking water in the county.
2--Snowshoe homeownersﾒ monthly bills will have increased by six-to-10 times when the plant is finished, making us the highest ratepayers in the state.
3ﾗLocal homeowners should not foot the bill for future developers. Slatyfork Farms and Slatyridge residents have made it clear they do NOT want to tie into a system. Snowshoe property owners opposed the transfer that put this in motion. I havenﾒt seen any homeowners in Big Spring at meetings clamoring for a plant. Itﾒs developers who want a big plant--without having to pay for it.
Board member Amon Tracey said he wants to protect the ratepayers and do the right thing. He encouraged us to speak out at PSD meetings and call him at home. We all said the same things:
1--Wait until the environmental studies are completed by the Elk Headwaters Watershed Association.
2ﾗAsk the DEP to extend discharge allowances until a regional solution can be formulated.
3--Consider a smaller plant at Site 9 and cluster systems in the valley.
Mr. Tracey agreed to have the board send a letter to the DEP and wait for a response. Mr. Shipley composed the letter and read it at the last PSD meeting. Mr. Tracey then invited everyone to express their opinions again. He led us to believe he was actually listening. Obviously he wasnﾒt. Then he and Mr. Smith voted with a small minority to proceed with a regional plant at Site 7.
Before the transfer of the Snowshoe plants to the PSD, Snowshoe president Bill Rock said the resort would donate the land at Site 7 to the PSD. Last month he indicated that there might be a charge for the land, adding more than $500,000 to the cost of the plant. At the last PSD meeting he made it clear that donating the Site 7 land was back on the table with a six-month time limit, but not so with resort-owned land at Site 9.
Mr. Tracey caved in to pressure from the resort and those who will benefit financially from a regional plant. He disregarded comments by knowledgeable ratepayers. He ignored the fact that most homeowners in the valley have not expressed a desire for a plantﾗand that it will cost a small fortune to run pipe to one farm--which will no doubt be developed.
I applaud Mr. Shipley for trying to do the right thing by the ratepayers. We are sorely disappointed that Mr. Smith and Mr. Tracey once again ignored those most affected by their decisions. It would have taken guts to stand up to Thrasher Engineering and resort management. Two-thirds of the board obviously didnﾒt have any!
Editorﾒs Note: Our newspaper does not, according to policy, print letters to the editor concerning candidates for public office; however, this letter addresses Mr. Tracey in his Public District office, not as a candidate. Mr. Tracey will be allowed to respond to only the issues brought up in this letter.
Letters to the Editor: March 11, 2010
The helicopter crash in the north county reminds us of the valuable services of our fire, emergency and search and rescue volunteers. They are county heroes.
But even the best trained emergency workers canﾒt help if they are unable to get to the people who need their help. Thatﾒs the job of the department of highways. Especially in a winter like this one, simply getting from one place to another would be all but impossible were it not for the tough crews who drive the plows, graders, bucket loaders and salt trucks. We donﾒt often think of highway department employees as heroes, but they are.
Clearing snow from our highways and back roads is hard work. Especially when the equipment used may be older than the operators themselves. And it is dangerous. In a blizzard, constant focus and skill are required to keep people from getting hurt or killed. Driving heavy equipment long hours with no break is exhausting. And if youﾒve ever busted a hydraulic hose at night in the middle of nowhere in an ice storm, you know how difficult it is to just keep going.
The next time you meet County Highway Superintendent Jim McCoy or one of his workers, you might want to thank them for doing a great job under terrible conditions. They, too, are county heroes without whom nobody could get anywhere.
Letters to the Editor: February 25, 2010
I wanted to thankﾠ David Fleming, Reta Griffith and Martin Saffer who were on WVRM on February 13th.ﾠ I felt like I was listening to democracy in action --ﾠ people with different viewpoints, not afraid to say so.ﾠ I had read Ms. Pritt's editorial and knew she was stirring up a hornet's nest and was surprised and delighted to hear the commissioners take on the important questions she raised in the editorial, in which she called some of the commissioners to task.ﾠ I also wanted to thank WVRM and Heather Nyday for their hosting of the Commissioners' Corner and bringing so many important issues to our attention. Good work, Heather!ﾠ I don't know how you stay so calm!!
I was on the Town Council in our town of Manzanita in San Diego County, California and have some idea of the tough questions that come up at local government level.ﾠ We worked with our county government and we in on all issues related to the county and made the decisions that pertained to our town and the outlying areas, such as; roads, placements of dumps, new housing developments, ordinances, etc.ﾠ Of course, somne projects demanded an Environmental Impact Statement at the state level.
I was disappointed to hear Mr. Saffer say he didn't believe in Create Pocahontas.ﾠ Private and public organizations do have to come together if we're to have any comprehensive plan for our county.ﾠ Perhaps the people involved in Create Pocahontas could become kind of an arm of the County Commission?ﾠ They would be people knowledgeable on such issues as water and land use, but volunteers?ﾠ I don't know, but I wished after the show I could've voted on some conclusion and the democracy model would be complete!
I believe that local is where the real political action occurs and I could hear that Saturday.ﾠ I wanted to call in, but didn't want to miss what was being discussed.ﾠ It seemed that everyone had a good point to make.ﾠ As citizens of our area, we do have to be responsible with our neighbors, especially with modernﾠtechnology, which can be so lethal.ﾠ We are involved in what our neighbors do with their land, like it or not.ﾠ It can be scary sometimes, such as removing the tops of mountains and having the mountain end up in your yard; shattering the land and using millions of gallons of our ground water for gas deposits; or dumping lethal material such as chemicals and sewage into our water sources.ﾠ The stuff doesn't recognize boundary fences or other peoples' wells.
At any rate, thanks to all of you for your courage in taking the issues on and for your willingness to do the best you can and taking our flak.ﾠ By the way, Ms. Pritt, in the tradition of the Pocahontas Times, does what a goodﾠeditor of a newspaperﾠshould; reveal the important issues and express clearly how she feels and thinks about the issue.
Zendik Arts Foundation
Jay V. Miller (Pocahontas Times February 4) just wrote a $10,000 community development analysis. His annual salaryﾗ$1. What a bargain. Keep this man.