The Pocahontas Times readers' letters
Letters to the Editor
It is with dismay that I read your account of the meeting with public officials and our local organizations, councils and individuals regarding the signage issue in Marlinton. Shame on all those who find it more agreeable to “make a deal,” rather than stand up to “make a change” to unfair and oppressive sign regulations.
Individuals like me are being crushed because the groups are making deals and the politicians who are making deals just happen to get elected.
God help this country.
Lois J. Mamak
Former Grandpa’s Pantry
Open letter to Ken Caplinger, West Virginia DNR:
Dear Mr. Caplinger:
Yesterday my wife and I finished riding the Greenbrier River Trail, Cass to Caldwell, on bicycles. It took us five days with jaunts of varying lengths. The weather was fantastic, temps in the mid-70s, a hint of a breeze most days, under a gauzy summer sky dotted with puffy clouds, alongisde a wide, ancient, murmuring, gurgling river. The experience was sublime.
One reason it was so great was the condition of the trail. Supervisor Jodie Spencer and the four seasonal maintenance workers—Bill Sheets, Larry Dean, Jerry Cutlip and Eugene Strader—had the trail cleaned and ready after the June derecho that closed it down for awhile. There was toilet paper in the facilities and I didn’t see a speck of trash. The weeds were mowed and the trail remarkably free of mudholes.
This trail is a jewel in West Virginia’s state park system. As a West Virginia native long gone to Colorado and other places, I find it an absolute delight to return to the Mountain State and find a recreational facility such as this. Ionly wish more West Virginians and out-of-state visitors knew of and used this trail.
Thanks to Mr. Spencer and his workers, and you and the other dedicated employees of the Parks and Recreation Division, for doing such a wonderful job maintaining the heritage of all West Virginians.
Colorado Springs, CO
Letters to the Editor
Since the devastation of the storm at the end of June, Pocahontas County has changed its looks somewhat.
Where once were stately beautiful trees are now wide open spaces. For example at the GreenBank Elementary Middle School, there is no shade for those young students.
I think it would be a wonderful idea that the school board allow the forestry students to replant the trees. This should be part of the forestry class anyway. The Hanger Plantation on the Old Pike was planted by students, so why not Pocahontas County’s finest forestry classes of this year as well as the following? It would give these students pride in themselves, their school and their community by doing this service.
I understand that the Hises the Varner Construction Company have done a wonderful job in what they have done. Now let the students have the credit for some Pride and Community Service.
Francine C. Lambert
The Times published my paid advertisement on August 16. I had seen at the time of preparing the ad a document (also in the Times’ possession) prepared by or for the Pocahontas County PSD dated June 11, 2012, which indicated a price of $435,000 per acre for Mr. Galford’s property, as reflected in my ad.
On August 14, mid-afternoon, the Times brought to my attention that on June 12 the PSD and Mr. Galford had entered into an option agreement under which the PSD would pay Mr. Galford a per acre price of $267,800. There is no copy of this agreement on the PSD’s website in its June 12 or June 19 meeting minutes. As I have shown the Times, the June 12 meeting minutes discuss this agreement, but conspicuously make no mention of any per acre price, which I do not understand.
I confirmed after I first spoke with the Times on the afternoon of August 14 that the option agreement was among the 2,271 pages of the Facilities Plan (still not completed or approved) submitted by the PSD in mid-July to the Public Service Commission (PSC), along with the document reciting the $435,000 per acre price. Of course, either of those prices far exceeds the $0 per acre price for two other sites offered to the PSD by Snowshoe Mountain, Inc.
The $435,000 per acre was also included in materials prepared by Rigby and handed out on 6-12-12, the night Shipley and Litsey voted for the site behind the Inn at Snowshoe instead of 7-A they had voted for and submitted to the PSC months earlier as their choice. Why wasn’t the $267,800 acknowledged then instead of the $435,000? Why wasn’t it acknowledged in the 6-12-12 or 6-19-12 minutes? Why did they change from site 7-A?
I submit the $435,000 vs $267,800 obfuscation is the same modus operandi that was employed to switch 7-A to the Inn at Snowshoe without the knowledge of Frank DeBerry, the Public Service Commission, or anyone else except unknown insiders.
I still choose to “defend the number” and I immediately after the Times’ inquiry did further research and acknowledged another number and will continue to acknowledge other numbers as they continue to be changed by an opaque, furtive and clandestine “Public” Service District board.
I would have preferred that my ad include all of this information so that the public can be fully and accurately informed. However, the Times told me shortly after 4 p.m. on August 14 that my ad had gone to print within the short time between my two conversations with the Times, and that it could not be changed. The Times also told me on August 15 that my version of this letter submitted on August 14 could not be published on August 16, either.
After reading the article about the July 31 PSD meeting in your August 9, 2012, issue, I was outraged over the vicious comments made by Russell Holt to, and about, member Thomas Shipley with regard to the planned sewer system.
As a Snowshoe homeowner I have attended numerous meetings concerning the sewer system both in Pocahontas County and Charleston. I am familiar with the facts, issues and personalities involved in this matter. I have been acquainted with Mr. Shipley for over 10 years, well before he assumed his position as PSD chair. My exposure to Mr. Holt has been limited to meetings I attended at which he was present.
I have always found Mr. Shipley to be a gentleman, a willing listener and sensitive to the concerns of others. When he took his PSD position, I was pleased that there was finally someone there who would represent all the stakeholders, not just the local “developers.” Here was a member who had no hidden agenda. The local residents, business owners, environmentalists and Snowshoe homeowners that I know believe that he has conducted himself and the affairs of the PSD ethically and with integrity. He always maintained his composure in the face of Holt’s personal attacks against him. A lesser person might not have. So whatever the outcome, I am happy with his performance and thankful for his service.
Concerning Mr. Holt I can only say that, based on my experience, and in my opinion, he is a person with such an uncommon collection of disagreeable qualities that the only way he can improve a meeting is to leave it. His usual tactic is to bellow out his position, distort facts and impugn the character and motives of those who don’t agree with him. For some insight into the man’s behavior readers can visit the PCC’s website and view the video (part 1 of 2) that was recorded at its August 9 meeting. He disrupted the meeting when it didn’t go his way, called the Commissioners “dictators” and had to be removed from the room by a sheriff’s deputy (thus improving the meeting, in my opinion).
I believe Mr. Holt is loose with facts and often distorts them to his advantage – especially when presenting his case to people unfamiliar with the details. An example is his commentary on PSC’s Fowler and DEP’s Coontz testimony at the meeting on July 13 in Charleston. They said they “preferred” the centralized system, but they also said that the de-centralized system was “appropriate and reasonable” for the task. They said, therefore, it was their policy to defer to the decision of the local PSD. So, they support both options! What Mr. Holt counts on is that most people wouldn’t know the details and take his distortions as fact.
Your readers should understand: the only people with something to gain from this project are the developers/landowners. (Ratepayers gain nothing except a much higher bill for the same service). Yet for as much as they have complained and dragged the PSD through expensive legal battles, the developers, when asked, refused to provide a single plan describing what they would do once the sewer is built. They aren’t required to do or risk anything. What they do get is instant land value appreciation without moving an ounce of soil or pounding a single nail. Whether Pocahontas County will benefit is debatable.
I urge people who have read or heard Mr. Holt’s comments to consider the source. And I also ask them to consider: “If both plans are equivalent as confirmed by the PSC and DEP, what do the developers have to gain by continuing to fight?”
Michael C. Pancione, Jr.
Snowshoe Property Owner (since 1974)
This letter is prompted by your last two issues dated August 9 and August 16 regarding meetings held by the Pocahontas Public Service District and the Pocahontas County Commission. I did not attend either meeting.
As you are aware, in the past, I was very active in opposing the placement of the sewage treatment plant on the Sharp farm because I was against using eminent domain. Petitions were circulated and we received very favorable results (at least 90% of the people I solicited, signed the petitions). In addition, the following county elections were a demonstration that the people of Pocahontas County were opposed to the plant being placed on the Sharp farm as can be seen from the current make up of the county commission.
Thus, I retired from my brief career as an active “protester.” Unfortunately and against the wishes of the people of the county, the Sharp farm location keeps popping up in meetings/conversation and I am not only upset, but I question the motive(s) of some people involved. I will not expand on this because I do not have solid facts nor do I wish to deal in innuendo.
Your August 9 issue dealt with the PSD and included a person who has been very vocal, especially against one member of the PSD who happens to own the Sharp farm. The litany of charges made against the PSD member is astounding and could be considered to border on a personal vendetta, in my opinion.
Additionally, I object to the tone of the article in which the writer tends to interject negative words against the PSD; eg, “Pocahontas County Public Service District board members maintained their poker faces as...” Really, at first I thought I was reading a tabloid instead of a newspaper or a short story by Bret Harte.
I was so upset after reading this so called article that I was ready to cancel my subscription to your newspaper. However, I decided to wait for the next issue (August 16) which would have the county commission meeting story. I am glad I waited the week because the meeting story was presented in a very professional and concise manner. What a difference a week makes.
The letter to the editor contained in this issue was very lucid and had hard data to support the PSD.
I felt much better about the situation until I turned to page 10 which contained a “paid” open letter to the commissioners by the same person who made the charges in your August 9 issue.
This letter is essentially a “rerun” of the previous charges. I am not sure if your paper checked the validity of the charges made, if so, please advise how this was accomplished.
Letter to the Editor
I attended the county commission meeting on Thursday during Russell Holt’s “explosion.” While it was satisfying to be there when he was dragged out of the meeting by a sheriff’s deputy, it was a little disappointing to those of us who were there that we did not get a chance to refute his comments. Holt has been making unfounded, vitriolic and personal attacks on Tom Shipley (Pocahontas Public Service District president) and David Litsey (PSD member), whose sole transgression has been to listen to and respond to the 1,800 homeowner/ratepayers who are funding the entire project. He is attempting to demonize first, the PSD, and then, on Thursday, the county commission.
Several of Holt’s tantrums have made various distortions of fact resulting in erroneous conclusions. Holt has said that the PSD’s engineer, Dr. David Rigby, has not fulfilled his three-year-old promise to save $10 million over the then-current single-plant “Thrasher 7-12” plan recommended by the previous PSD board. The current PSD-recommended “Option 2-S” two-plant plan has a capital cost estimate of $19.9 million for a savings of more than $10.5 million. Clearly, Rigby has delivered on his savings prediction.
The 7-12 plan includes pumping all of he sewage from the 1,800 households and the commercial establishments currently located at the top of Snowshoe Mountain to a single, oversized treatment plant in the valley. Holt has said that all engineers he has spoken with, including Rigby, have stated that the 7-12 plan can be designed and constructed to work adequately. Only Rigby, however, has commented on the risks associated with moving all that sewage through a buried pipe some two miles in length and 1,500 feet in vertical down the side of the mountain. His concern is erosion: water coursing down the mountain will undercut the pipe, causing it to fracture.
In the winter of 1997, runoff down the mountain over a period of 12 hours cut a channel in Snowshoe Road to a depth of 20 feet and a width of 20 feet, cutting off the entire resort from the rest of the world for some 36 hours, while the Department of Highways repaired it. This happened again in the summer of 2007, although by that time, the new back road to Snowshoe provided a second access route. Twice in the last 16 years.
Now a cut sewage line will, in addition to doing substantial environmental damage, cause the resort to shut down at a cost of millions of dollars to the homeowner/ratepayers the resort and the surrounding community. Over the next 20-to-50 years, it is not a matter of whether the line will be cut, it is a matter of when. Repair of the line will require a specialized tracked equipment, expert construction people and, particularly in the winter, will take many days and probably weeks to complete.
Neither Holt nor his co-complainants have commented on the two-tier fee system currently on the books for this project: one tier for ratepayers on top of the mountain, and another lower tier for ratepayers in the valley. For example, anyone in the valley would be charged 40 percent lower monthly fees than I for my four-bedroom house, even if they have a four-, six-, 10-bedroom, or larger, house.
I do not understand why Holt and his five co-complainants, including Snowshoe, continue to pursue the single-plant approach. The current PSD two-plant plan provides the valley everything: a separate plant, oversized to accommodate more than double the 100-some potential ratepayers and also the commercial establishments currently in the valley. At this time there exists no actual plan, either public or private, for development in the valley. The plant is further expandable to be able to triple its capacity, should development warrant it.
At the PSC meeting in Charleston last month, the complainants’ lawyer threatened lawsuits against the PSC should any plan except the 7-12 be recommended, further delaying this project and increasing the cost o the current homeowner/ratepayers for legal fees.
I am disappointed in all six of the complainants that they would seek to delay this project by doing so.
Robert T. Forrest, PE (retired)
Letter to the Editor
Now that we have mostly recovered from the crisis of the great windstorm of June 29, I would like to make a couple of suggestions to the citizens and the controlling powers of Pocahontas County.
We were hit very suddenly by the storm, and really, that could not be helped as none of us had any prior warning. Thunderstorms were looming on the horizon, but that is not uncommon for the hot days of summer.
We all found ourselves in a precarious position as we immediately lost electrical power and telephone service; however, we were mostly left to fend for ourselves in trying to protect our frozen and refrigerated food supplies. It is amazing how the county residents tried their best in helping neighbors and friends in any way possible by sharing generators, water and helping each other to clear roadways from fallen trees and limbs.
Since, thank God, we are very fortunate not to have many crisis situations in Pocahontas County, I feel that we have been lax in preparing for a major emergency such as this. According to the reports on WVMR, our neighbors in Highland County, Virginia, fared much better than we did through the situation and they had exactly the same problems we had, simply because they had emergency plans in place beforehand to deal with the problems.
I ask that our county commission, emergency services coordinator, fire department chiefs, town mayors or anyone who is in control of Pocahontas County, set up a series of town hall meetings in each magisterial district and try to formulate a plan of action. Sure, there will be some rock throwing and blame, but we have enough blame to go around. What we need is input and suggestions from county residents. One might just be surprised in what can be learned by asking for opinions and thoughts.
Pocahontas County Senior Citizens Programs tried its best to help out with the crisis by preparing food for everyone of all ages, especially at Green Bank, doubling up on the cooking at Marlinton so that the seniors in the northern and southern ends of the county could have meals delivered, hauling ice and water all over the county with our hot/cold delivery trucks and offering the centers as a place of refuge as best we could.
We need to get together to make plans for the next time, and it will happen again—maybe in a different form, but it will happen. I personally look for more ice storms here with the changing weather patterns and a heavy ice storm as they have in the south could do much more damage to our utilities than this storm did. Plus, there would be new concerns with residents keeping warm, frozen water lines and more.
Plans need to be put in place to have emergency generators on hand, maybe stored at the eight firehouses in the county, so that they could be deployed to our gas stations so that fuel could be pumped. One of the biggest problems we faced was no fuel for generators or required travel.
Thank God we didn’t suffer any loss of life or known major injuries, but the next time, we may not be so lucky. Let’s get ready, as we will be faced again with the same—or worse—emergency situation. There are surely better ways to operate than we just did.
Pocahontas County Senior Programs Director
Letters to the Editor
I've been called worse.
It has come to my attention that Norman Alderman has called me a whore. Well, I'm here to say I've been called worse.
The fact is, I've worked hard to be where I am and Bob Martin has done me a great favor by giving me a place to live. What people may not know is that Mr. Martin knew me when I was a young girl. He was my father's lawyer.
What most people don't know is how hard I am trying to be better at succeeding in life.
What Mr. Alderman does is hurt people's feelings on a daily basis. I believe he has his own mission, constantly slandering, embarrassing and driving others into the ground. There was a time when I somewhat believed in him. Being a preacher and a teacher, he was a productive member of our community. But now, all he does is hate on everything he can find or dig up in his own head.
It's wrong of him to be in my mother's house and then drive to town and call her daughter a whore.
It's not just me he's hurting. He does it to so many men, women and children. He's full of hate and I feel sorry for him.
Mr. Martin helped out a poor girl when she needed it. I like it here. I've worked and done it all by myself. Bob Martin's been good to me, and I greatly appreciate it.
Eugene Carden received the following letter from the U. S. Postal Service concerning the discontinuance of mail delivery to his home. Carden notes that the mail was delivered on this route for 60 years.
Dear Mr. Carden:
This responds to your February 22 letter to President Barack Obama regarding mail delivery service. Your letter was recently forwarded to this office for a response.
We understand and appreciate your concerns regarding the suspension of mail delivery to your residence. The U. S. Postal Service is committed to providing our customers with quality service at reasonable prices. To accomplish these goals, the location of approved mail receptacles and the method of delivery must support the efficient and safe distribution of mail. Local postal managers are responsible for ensuring that service in their areas is consistent with our national delivery policies. It is important to clarify that delivery service will only be suspended under unusual circumstances that pose an imminent safety hazard to our employees or require a substantial deviation from our operating procedures.
We contacted Marlinton Postmaster Donna Cooke who oversees delivery operations at the Buckeye Post Office. She reports that during a 2008 evaluation of your delivery route, she found what she believed to be substantial safety concerns. Postmaster Cooke requested an inspection of the area by Appalachian District safety officials, who determined the area to be unsuitable for delivery because it places the carrier at excessive risk of injury from oncoming traffic.
On March 5, 2008, Postmaster Cooke notified you that you were eligible for a no-fee Post Office box at the Buckeye Post Office. You were also given the option of relocating your mailbox to a fork in the road on the rural carrier's line of travel or receiving delivery to a locking cluster box unit (CBU) provided and installed by the Postal Service. I understand that you currently use a no-fee Post Office box in Buckeye. Should you be interested in using one of the other proposed options, Buckeye Postmaster Nanette Beckwith would be pleased to assist you and can be reached at 304-799-4646.
While the Postal Service's goal is to provide the best delivery service possible to all our customers, we also must be mindful of the welfare and safety of our employees. Postmaster Cooke reports that she recently reevaluated your delivery area and determined that the road conditions remain unsuitable for delivery. Should you have any additional questions regarding this mater, Postmaster Cooke would be in the best position to assist and can be reached at 304-799-6108.
Thank you for writing.
Government Relations Analyst, Sr.
Letters to the Editor
It was scary and sad to see how the recent storm crippled our lives. It showed again how dependent we are on electricity, gasoline, coal and oil. Fortunately for me, my husband recently had solar panels and storage batteries installed in our home by PIMBY (Power in My Back Yard), from Thomas. I was supportive, but not real enthusiastic. After all, we tried to conserve our power use and had a gasoline generator for power outages. Besides, it was expensive, although we did get a tax break.
When the power went off, our solar storage batteries took over powering us through the night, recharging by day. We did not lose refrigerated and frozen food, our fans continued to cool us, our lights, radio and television still worked and our water still pumped without a noisy, smelly, polluting generator.
I wish everyone had solar power. If we all speak up and encourage our government leaders to support subsidies for solar power, just as they do oil and other industries, them maybe affordable solar panels could be seen on all houses, businesses, hospitals, clinics and government buildings, and life could be more comfortable for everyone, not only in times of crisis, but every day.
Think of all the jobs that would create.
The June 29 storm created widespread property damage and resulted in enormous discomfort and inconvenience for hundreds of thousands of West Virginians. The storm also led to some confusion about telephone service during an extended power outage.
Shortly after the storm, more than half of Frontier Communications' 230 Central offices in West Virginia did not have commercial power. During that emergency situation, Frontier personnel provided electric power through generators and batteries to Central Offices and other critical communications facilities that lost commercial power.
As a result of that work the vast majority of Frontier customers had phone service even if they had lost power. Those customers needed only to plug an inexpensive corded telephone into our network to maintain telephone service during the lengthy power outage. The Suddenlinks and Comcasts of the world cannot match our phone service reliability during extended power outages.
I would like to make one additional point about our network: Frontier has invested more than $200 million in West Virginia during the past two years to strengthen our network and make it more resistant to severe weather. Our investments have paid off. The vast majority of our customers had access to telephone service following one of the most severe storms we have seen.
We encourage our customers to have corded telephones in their homes of places of business or employment. They can provide critical connections during emergency situations.
Finally, I publicly want to thank our employees for their commitment to strengthen and maintain our network the past two years and also express my sincere gratitude to our customers for their loyalty.
I am dedicated to working with the management of the Monongahela National Forest for opening existing forest service roads to ATV access. To my knowledge all of the other national forests have done so, even establishing dedicated trails for ATVs.
I have recently purchased an older Jeep Wrangler with big, knobby tires so that I can legally access open Forest Service roads. In all practicality, it is an all-terrain vehicle. The last time I was on a Forest Service road, seven trail bikes passed me. They were totally legal because they had a highway license. It makes no common sense to ban an ATV from the same road.
In the last meeting with Clyde Thompson, the Mon Forest Supervisor, he stated that they cannot do anything until another Monongahela Forest Land and Resource Management Plan is drafted with public input. This statement is not correct. In the cover letter that comes with the Forest Plan, it states that they will "continue to update the plan as needed through corrections, amendments, or even revisions."
After reading the management plan, I have found nothing that prohibits off-highway vehicles from using existing Forest Service roads. This ruling is apparently something adopted by Clyde Thompson without public input.
I have contacted the offices of Senator Joe Manchin and talked with Keith Macintosh, an aide to the Senator. I have not gotten a response as to whether Senator Manchin is willing to persuade Monongahela National Forest management to be reasonable in their decision making.
Please contact Macintosh, 304-264-4626, and ask him to brief Senator Manchin on this topic.
Letters to the Editor
Wow, what a community, what a county, what a dreadful yet at the same time a wonderful experience! There are no words to describe the blessings we received during this storm. Faith, family, friends and fortitude are words that this community lives by daily. Kudos to everyone who helped so much. Bill Radcliff, Leroy Webb and Mark Jonese who were our saving grace with the generators. Sheriff David Jonese and family, Harold Crist and family, Lisa and John Wayne, Valerie Lambert and all the volunteers who came by deserve a star in their crowns.
To try to list everyone who helped us would result in too long an article and we could leave someone out, so thanks to all who cared and worked so hard.
Diane, George, and Lisa Liptak and Brenda Williams
Letters to the Editor
The storm on the night of June 29 was an eye-opener for many people-it certainly was for me. Being in the dark without any way to communicate via telephone, cell phone or Internet was a lonely and scary feeling. I truly feel that kudos need to go out to all the folks who worked really hard to keep our little community going.
ﾕThe employees at Mon Power. With four employees working on repairing the lines, they worked a miracle getting power restored so quickly. I know it was longer for some areas than others, but to get some power up by Sunday morning was just inspiring after we were told it would be seven-to-10 days.
ﾕThe employees at Frontier Communications. These employees worked to remove trees from phone lines and had the 9-1-1 line back up and operational very quickly, and then continued to work to get all phone service back in order.
ﾕThe owners and employees of all the businesses that opened without any power to provide the folks of the county with food, ice, propane, batteries, lamps, coolers, gas and other items they needed to get through until things got back to normal.
ﾕAll the fire departments and emergency personnel who worked to make sure that all emergency calls were taken care of and looked out for the safety of the community.
ﾕI'm sure there are plenty more folks who helped out neighbors, friends and families that we don't even hear about. Kudos to them, also.
I have a couple of suggestions for the next time around.
The first is a way to communicate what is going on so that folks don't feel isolated. I know the radio station wasn't able to operate without power and that the radio station in Bath County was on the air for awhile, but I could only get it to come in in my vehicle.
What procedures do the phone company and power company use to get service back online? What is the main priority ? What comes on first and what comes next and after that?
Folks might not get so frustrated and angry if their neighbors at the end of the road have power and phone and they have nothing.
How do we get emergency help with no phones? How long does the backup battery at the cell phone tower last?
The second suggestion is to use government or grant funding and municipal buildings with air conditioning and items needed to take care of folks during an emergency situation. That way, people will know where to go to get cool, get water and meals and get information. Right now, we have nowhere to go.
I'm sure everyone learned from this experience.
Again, I'd like to say thanks to the people who did the hard work. It made me proud to live in this community and to know that my neighbors, friends, family and even strangers were there to help out in our time of need.
I continue to be amazed and disappointed in the Marlinton Town Council. Do any of you on the council know that while you jabber aimlessly in the town council chambers about little blue signs at intersections pointing to shopping and restaurants, drugs are bought and sold, without any worry, at the town mini-park, at the corner of Second Avenue and Seventh Street, and at the corner of Third Avenue and Ninth Street? Do you know that in your town there are children that sleep in cars because their parents have no home?
Why did members of the town council attend meetings and support the small blue directional signs during March 2011 just before they were installed and now disapprove of them? The question that really needs to be answered, though, is if the state has ignored the signs for 18 months why did the town recorder volunteer at Monday's meeting to call them to specifically ask them for a letter to take down the signs? Is it because she didn't think of the idea or is it that she wants her supporters on Rt 219 north of town to benefit from visitors traffic and not the old, downtown part of Marlinton?
If a group of town council members converse on the phone, and recite the same excuses at the council meeting, they have broken the law - having a meeting without giving due process of the meeting to the public. In short, it means you connived to get others to say the same thing as you. Next time have them use varying words so you don't all utter the same cry. Good council members are ones who can stand up and be counted, not ones who merely parrot as if they have no sense of their own.
As strange as it may seem, I support Mayor Smith's effort to have a committee to review and find an alternative to what some deem an improper sign. It was under my direction that the small blue directional blue signs were placed at two intersections in town. What is all the fuss? Why hasn't the town objected to the illegal signs announcing Dr Mallow's office, or the First Citizens Bank on Rt 39? The CVB had two huge signs that faced the sacrosanct Rt 39 - why weren't those directional signs challenged? Was it that a town council family was benefiting $500 a month as a direct result of the signage?
Marlinton Town Council - it's time you worry about real problems that plague our community. If you have nothing else to worry about, then perhaps it's time you actually get out into the community, ask citizens what there problems are, and how can you help them. The little blue signs help get visitors into Marlinton to have fun, make memories and spend their money. Your personal insistence they be removed truly shows how far removed from the real community you truly are. Shame on each of you!
Dennis C. Driscoll, Sr.
Former Mayor of Marlinton
Friday, June 29, and following. The storm of the century: fallen trees, roads blocked, property damage, loss of electricity and telephone.
Here in Pocahontas County, we should all be forever grateful to the local highway department crews, the 9-1-1 emergency agencies and volunteers, Mon Power, Frontier Communications, McCoy's Market for gasoline and ice, and Blair Campbell's Pretty Penny restaurant for food and fellowship.
We are indeed fortunate to live in wild, wonderful West Virginia, where friends, neighbors and the entire community step up to the plate in times of need.
I looked into the tired faces of the members of the Hillsboro Volunteer Fire Department on Day 7 of our recent power outage and I saw smiles, dedication to a community of people, and personal sacrifice on their part. These people have worked ﾑround the clock for days and are continuing to do so.
They have provided water, ice, a cooling room, food, shower and laundry facilities, home delivery to the elderly and shut-ins, medical help and moral support to a community in need. I doubt they have any idea how grateful I am for their work.
I am suggesting that each household that was helped by the Hillsboro Fire Department during this crisis send a $20 donation to them, more if you can afford it. Their efforts are priceless and cannot be repaid, but we can help them with the financial burden of helping all of us. Here's the address: Hillsboro Volunteer Fire Department; Firehouse Rd; Hillsboro WV 24946.
If you were assisted by another fire department in your area, I urge you to send your donation to them.
Lois J. Mamak
The derecho, or straight-lined windstorm, that passed through West Virginia and Pocahontas County on Friday June 29 was unexpected and caught us all by surprise. The storm did much damage in our state and surrounding states, leaving hundreds of thousands of us without power for more than a week. The full scope of the damage and the implications took a couple of days to sink in, yet in Pocahontas County our neighbors and volunteers began to assist one another immediately. The Pocahontas County Sheriff's Department and Pocahontas County 9-1-1 reacted quickly, taking steps to get generators, ice, water and meals to our residents.
I am very grateful and proud of the manner in which our county emergency services responded to this disaster. Our local fire departments served as water and ice distribution hubs. FEMA and the National Guard assisted us greatly with ice and transportation, and going door-to-door. Red Cross provided thousands of meals, which were assembled and distributed throughout the county by an army of volunteers. Additionally, The Pretty Penny restaurant along with the wonderful assistance of the High Rocks volunteers provided meals to many residents in the Hillsboro area.
Thank you to the power companies and repair crews. Thank you to the National Guard and Red Cross. Thank you to all of you who came together during this crisis to help one another. In the days ahead, we will meet and talk as your county government on what we have learned from this; on ways we can improve and be even more prepared to respond the next time we are faced with such a disaster. Because of the incredible outpouring of community support, Pocahontas County endured this disaster well. Let us do all we can to learn and improve from this experience in order that we will be better prepared for the next time.
David M. Fleming, President
Pocahontas County Commission
Disclaimer: Letters to the Editor express the opinion of the writer and are not necessarily the opinion of this newspaper's ownership, management or staff. 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 pepritt@pocahon tastimes.com
Letters to the Editor
Locals. Part-timers. Vacationers. Three different types of people in Pocahontas County, yet we are all here for the same reason. We love this amazing place. It is unique in more ways than one - but now there is a serious problem.
A few years back my family and I were in the Market near Snowshoe. On the bread shelf was a pile of money. A few days later, the money was still there in the open for anyone to grab. My son asked the cashier why the money was there. She plainly stated that the locals put it there to see if anyone would take it. When asked how long the money had been there, she proudly replied "about a year."
Do you mean to tell me that not only is Pocahontas County beautiful, but the people are honest as well?
We felt like we took a step back to a time that once existed when people were kind, honest and had true integrity - something that is missing in this generation.
Pocahontas County was truly unique.
However, since the beginning of this year, there have been multiple thefts and burglaries in Snowshoe and the surrounding communities.
A few pathetic souls feel it is their job to break into homes and take what others have worked hard for. They steal. What cowards! They are stealing from locals. They are pillaging the homes of part-timers. They are robbing unsuspecting vacationers.
Why are they doing this? Economy - hard times - drug addiction?
Sorry, no excuse.
These dirty rotten scoundrels are working hard to destroy the peace of mind that everyone in our community has not only enjoyed for many years but has worked so hard to create.
Should Pocahontas County become a statistic like so many other places in America? Or are we different? I say we are different. As a community we cannot let these thugs take what is rightfully ours and destroy our sense of security. We must come together, protect what is ours, and become vigilant. Speak up! Do not protect these cowards! Do not fear them either. If you see suspicious activity, check it out! Patrol your neighborhoods. Take ownership of your community and let's make these thieves fear us.
The Snowshoe area is made up of wonderful people. We all know it is a few individuals who are capable of this kind of malice. In fact, some of you know exactly who they are. Let's not let a couple of sour grapes ruin the whole batch. Let's catch these thieves and put them away so we can return to our peace of mind and get back to putting money on the bread shelf.
There are people in Pocahontas County who base all their arguments on whether you are "from here."
If they come up with an idea, they accuse anyone against it of being "outsiders" who are against everything. If they don't like an idea, they accuse the people who come up with it of being "outsiders" who want to change everything. They want it both ways so they can have their way. This just pushes people's buttons, and we don't get to have a rational discussion of whether or why something is a good idea. Maybe that's the idea. Maybe the people who use this argument don't want to have a rational discussion. They just want to win.
The truth is that there are people who were born here of fourth generation families who disagree with each other and people who moved here recently who disagree with each other. There are always going to be disagreements, but the county will be better off if we can listen to each other with respect and stick to the facts.
The West Virginia Council of Trout Unlimited is dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring the coldwater fisheries of this state. A large portion of our 1,600 plus members make Pocahontas County and the area surrounding the proposed Birthplace of Rivers National Monument their second home. West Virginians who value the incredible beauty and sporting opportunity that exists in these places understand the importance of preserving them for the future.
We are convinced that Monument designation would not expand any wilderness designation in this area. We are also strong partners of the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources and the citizens of Pocahontas County and surrounding areas that enjoy catching non-native stocked trout in these rivers. WVTU works as a partner organization with the USFS whenever possible and value that relationship. We made sure that our support for the Monument was contingent that the management continues under US Forest Service, that no additional wilderness be added and that trout stocking continue where appropriate, at the discretion of the DNR - not dictated by Monument statute.
WV Trout Unlimited and our Chapters assist the WVDNR in the limestone treatment of miles of native brook trout waters including streams within the proposed Monument. A National Monument designation would not impede our restoration activity. In fact, Monument designation could potentially enhance many restoration opportunities.
Economically, the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation released a report in 2007 that stated that West Virginia's 364,000 hunters and anglers spend more than $1.5 billion a year on fishing and hunting. Spending by hunters and anglers supports more than 25,000 jobs, which puts $491 million worth of paychecks into pockets of residents around the state. Spending by sportsmen in pursuit of outdoor activities generates $172 million in state and local taxes. Because we enjoy hunting and fishing in small groups we are often overlooked as a substantial economic force. Annual spending by West Virginia Sportsmen equals 40 percent of the state's mining Gross State Product ($1.5 billion vs. $3.7 billion) and is more than three times greater than the combined cash receipts from all agricultural commodities. Hunting and fishing is vital to our economy and the heritage of sportsmen would be a cornerstone value of this Monument.
The Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture report reveals that wild stream populations of brook trout (our state fish) have vanished or are greatly reduced in nearly half of subwatersheds. We must not overlook the importance of our most precious natural resource - clean water. Human influences on our headwaters have had unnecessary impact on the resource that all West Virginians would like to see preserved. We believe that industry can occur responsibly without negatively impacting this resource while still maintaining a profit. Our industrial and angling economy can be improved simultaneously, but we believe some areas should be preserved from additional damage that could occur from activities such as gas drilling within the Monongahela National Forest. Last year the areas including the North Fork of Cherry and surrounding streams were surveyed for drilling purposes. Monument designation may provide some additional protection to ensure that any development would occur in a manner that minimized impacts to the area's surface and water resources. Trout Unlimited has numerous staff members that are collecting and interpreting data concerning the impacts from drilling near trout waters. We remain concerned about the potential impacts that come particularly from water withdrawals, siltation from roads and pipelines, and runoff from the drilling pads themselves.
Trout Unlimited in West Virginia is made up of volunteers who give tens of thousands of hours annually to improving our state coldwater resources. These headwater streams are an important part of not only our sporting heritage, but our cultural heritage, as well.
Chair, West Virginia Council of Trout Unlimited
Letters to the Editor
A letter to the editor by Doug Cooper, of Valley Head, was published in last week's Times. Its tone was alarmist and its basis for inciting action was inaccurate.
In southern Pocahontas, the area of the Proposed Birthplace of Rivers National Monument, there has been significant citizen input and support in multiple public meetings for the preservation of the Monongahela's wild treasures, including the areas currently under consideration. Local citizens were strong advocates for additional Wilderness designation during the campaign leading up to the Wild Monongahela Act, which, despite this local support, ultimately protected very little land in Pocahontas County. The Monument concept is even championed by former Wilderness opponents The International Mountain Biking Association and West Virginia Trout Unlimited.
The land contained in the Birthplace of Rivers National Monument is owned by the US Forest Service, and would remain so under the proposal. Perhaps Mr. Cooper is confusing our citizen backed proposal, Birthplace of Rivers National Monument, with the National Park proposal for the Blackwater Canyon area?
The Birthplace of Rivers National Monument seeks to celebrate and preserve our cultural and natural heritage not so much for ourselves, but for future generations. Additionally, studies done in the areas of other National Monuments consistently document real, solid economic benefits to nearby communities. As many business owners in West Virginia will tell you, we could use solid economic benefits, and promoting our public lands gives us a significant opportunity to enhance local economies.
Please know that if the Birthplace of Rivers National Monument becomes a reality, there will always be a place there for outdoorsmen of all stripes, including hunters and those who manage our wildlife resources. In fact, the management prescriptions for the area within the National Monument will remain mostly consistent with current management emphasis on backcountry preservation and ecological restoration. Monument designation simply ensures that these areas are not subject to future bureaucratic changes, which may someday threaten their unique natural character.
I urge everyone to get their facts straight before raising a public alarm, particularly over a proposal that is potentially highly beneficial to our area and the children of future generations.
I am pleased that we are having an intelligent discussion about making the Cranberry area a National Monument. I believe that we all want the best for the area. In my previous letter I stated that this had the support from Congressman Rahall. In talking with his office, I was told that he did not have a hand in this right now.
I am hearing two main reasons for having a National Monument designation. The Wilderness Coalition wants added protection for the area. I am not clear what restrictions will be enforced. I am also hearing from some local residents that they want to bring more people into the area because it will help economic development.
My concern is that the two reasons may not be compatible. More people visiting the Cranberry area may degrade a very fragile area. My other concern is that even though we are being told that the Forest Service will remain in management of the area and no changes will be made, this may not be the case.
It is likely that the National Park service would be given the area to manage. The increase in public visitation to a National Monument will require more amenities such as lodging, snack bars, souvenir shops, etc. Visit other National Monuments and you will see what my concerns are.
I have dealt with the National Park Service along the New River National River, have found that management to be excessively controlling, and my advice is to leave the Cranberry area as it is - protected and managed by the National Forest Service.