The Pocahontas Times readers' letters
Letters to the Editor
If you wish to view something very similar to mountaintop removal coal mining, take a drive on the road between Williamsburg and Trout, two small towns in Greenbrier County.
You cannot miss the mountains that have been surface mined. These tall ridgelines have been scoured of their forests, blown up , shoved aside and reassembled using the sterile debris that was once a mountain. The forests are gone, the precious topsoil is buried, the once cool, clear water runs quick, warm and fouled.
You will never in your or your children's lifetime see the magnificent natural beauty that was once there. Much of this disastrous method of coal extraction is in the Monongahela Forest where there are still streams that contain native trout.
Cold Knob Fork, Laurel Creek and the Cherry River (along with many unnamed tributaries) will be discharged into from an almost sure-to-be-granted permit now pending for the "surface disturbance of approximately 852.06 acres."
Numerous other surface mining permit applications have recently appeared in The West Virginia Daily News, one of Greenbrier County's local papers.
I am ashamed and alarmed that virtually no one cries out against this ruination. Local governments are only interested in what they get to do with the money from coal in the form of coal severance tax.
Lewisburg, "America's Coolest Small Town" and the seat of Greenbrier County, remains silent as to the fate of its western-most mountains and the world-renowned Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs is resurrected with copious amounts of cash and heraldry, while the majestic mountains nearby are disregarded and obliterated.
It is 2011. How can we be so ignorant?
Dear Editor :
I would like to endorse my support for a newly formed group, the "Eight Rivers Council," in Pocahontas County. A petition to our county commissioners to pass some protection for our beautiful rivers is circulating, and I encourage every property owner to sign it. I grew up in Doddridge County where my family home goes back five generations. My husband and I have always loved Pocahontas County, have a place on the Greenbrier River and brought our three boys here in the summers since they were small. We plan to retire here.
In August of 2009, I was taking my oldest son, Luke, to college where he had been accepted into the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. We decided to spend the night in Doddridge County. That night, August 24, he headed down to the creek to fish, but came back up to the house saying, "There's something wrong with the water." We took flashlights down to the creek and confirmed there was indeed something very wrong. It was covered bank to bank with a red orange oily gel and backed up quite a ways upstream.
A Marcellus gas well had been drilled, just yards from the creek edge, upstream from my family property, going back about two miles. There are currently no setback distances for wells drilled near surface waters. So began my journey almost two years ago, dealing with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection's Oil and Gas Division. The many inspectors investigating this "spill" actually had no conclusion as to how it occurred. The drilling company was responsible for the clean up and there was an oily film on the water for months. We found ducks in the oily water that were unable to fly, and crayfish upside down on the silted bottom and I have documented this spill and the results with pictures.
I became acutely aware that the regulations in place now, are based on technology dated way back and in relation to shallow wells. There are few protections in existence regarding "hydraulic slick water shale gas fracturing." The erosion from (now) multiple well sites, washing soil into the creek has smothered the macro-invertebrates and compromised fish reproduction and quality. The creeks are being drained of millions of gallons of water by drilling company tankers, and the DNR has documented mussel strandings. Mussels and macro-invertebrates are important to the health and cleanliness of surface waters, filtering out many contaminants. Another spill occurred in early June, 2011, by the same drilling company. This was a crude oil spill, though initially the company downplayed it, first saying it was "produced" water of about one barrel, then we were told it was actually about 30 barrels (about 1,200 gallons). Now we are dealing with a second hit to my property, as it passed through Buckeye Creek, into Middle Island Creek, and down to the Town of West Union's drinking water supply, again.
After the first spill in 2009, I returned to our cabin on the Greenbrier River after taking my son to college. As I sat on the bank of the river, enjoying the clean air, the sparkling water, and watching a family of river otters play, I wondered if such an "industrialization" would ever come to Pocahontas County. I cringe to think of the day when there are tankers lined up with hoses in the Greenbrier River, dewatering it and compromising the county's reputation as a premier recreational destination.
In Doddridge County, we have seen wildlife habitat being stripped of vegetation and bulldozed out. Hunters and property owners have found there are less wild turkey and other game species, due to disruption of habitat. The companies set fire to brush piles way out in the forest, after cutting down trees, destroying bird nests. Keep in mind a Marcellus gas well site, is actually a gas field. There is no place too remote for them to bulldoze their way in and set up a drilling pad of several acres. A surface owner in Marion county who has a lawsuit pending, claims the gas company has taken more than 30 acres of his farm and this is not "reasonable" access. The gas companies counter that they can do anything they want to the surface in order to get to the gas once they have obtained a lease. I had never been against conventional gas well drilling before, but this slick water fracturing process is a whole different game, a game changer. Too much is at stake in this "game." You can't drink money, you can't drink gas. Water is life - we have to keep it clean.
About a week ago, my very good friends Harold and Bettie Winkelman, were beginning their vacation with some friends. They were on a little motorcycle excursion and were on Rt. 250 from Wheeling and then travelled on down through Marlinton. They hit a patch of loose gravel and wrecked their motorcycle.
Within minutes things began to happen. First, a volunteer paramedic named Dan, on his way home from work, stopped to offer assistance. The highway patrol came, along with ambulance volunteers and took them to Pocahontas Memorial Hospital. All of these people were extremely nice to them, as well as the doctor and staff of the hospital.
Bettie ended up with a broken wrist and bruises. Harold had a sprained ankle and two black eyes.
While they were being treated at the hospital, the volunteer firemen stored their motorcycle.
They began to wonder how they were going to get back home and were thinking about trying to get a U-Haul. But their nurse Yvette's husband, Justin Rider, said he had a trailer and volunteered to take them and the motorcycle home.
Bettie thanked him kindly, but told him they lived clear up by Cleveland, Ohio. He assured her that he would be happy to do it anyway, and he drove them right to their home. What a wonderful thing for him to do.
I wanted to write this letter because I felt so proud when I heard about these good Samaritans. You see, I spent a lot of time in Marlinton and Cass when I was a little girl. My uncle and aunt, Owen and May Curry, lived in Marlinton. They owned Curry's Supermarket and Uncle Owen was in the sheriff's department. They lived at the jail and Aunt May cooked for the inmates. I stayed with them every now and then and loved it.
Thanks to all of you who helped my dear friends in their time of need.
Ellen Geiger Gilkerson
This past weekend we had the pleasure to experience our first-ever Durbin Days Heritage Festival. We went to the festivities each day and were amused and entertained by a wide range of activities. We watched children attempting to catch a greased pig (too cute!), friends and neighbors singing karaoke, a group of talented musicians play Old-Time music and also enjoyed the Main Stage acts.
All the children had a great time on the carnival rides, getting faces painted, and winning prizes. We very much enjoyed the two parades- the Fireman's Parade on Friday night, organized by Buster Varner, was a whole lot of fun and the Feature Parade on Saturday was also outstanding. The one thing that would have completed the Feature Parade would have been the participation of the PCHS Marching Band and the Green Bank Middle School Band-hopefully next year. One event we really enjoyed was the 5K race organized by Mike Stennes. This year the run attracted a record number of participants age 3-70+, many of them visitors from out of state.
It is our opinion that Durbin Days shows off Durbin at its finest. Community spirit and pride were evident in the effective festival organization by Durbin Mayor Donald Peck and the volunteer efforts of so many residents. Everyone attending the festival was smiling and clearly enjoying themselves. The activities planned for Durbin Days were many and varied- there was truly something for everyone. This attention to detail is not achieved overnight, and we would like to commend the mayor for the all the hard work and time he put into making Durbin Days a success.
Durbin is often the subject of unfavorable press and we felt it was important point out one of the many positive aspects of the Town of Durbin. There are many good people in Durbin working hard to build a strong community and that is often overlooked.
Jenn and Peter Whiteis
Letters to the Editor
I was so surprised and pleased to find out that Linwood Library is open on the weekends! How cool is that?
Tammy, of the Visitor Center, and Cree, the librarian, have worked out a schedule that allows them both to have days off and keep the visitor center and the library open everyday.
Since this area is closer than the office at the Little Yellow House, I came over the mountain last Saturday in search of a WiFi spot. That ol' home computer did a ghastly wheeze and blue screened its way into oblivion.
I found out about the library from Ann over at the Why Not Shop. She suggested the library when I asked about a place to find a WiFi spot. I ended up there on both Saturday and Sunday to check email and Facebook and browse the books and videos (VCR and DVD).
I think having at least one library in the area open on Saturday and Sunday is a great idea. This seems to me a good local initiative that makes county resources more available to locals and visitors alike.
As I read the letter to the editor from one of the Durbin Town Council members, John Osborne, I think he drove the nail in the coffin as Durbin being the laughingstock of Pocahontas County and surrounding areas.
Would it be prudent for the town council to be honest and work with the people who reside in Durbin instead of acting like a bunch of Gestapos using scare tactics to get what they want? I would like to comment on several items in Mr. Osborne's letter.
Yes, there was a petition going around to have the town become unincorporated. By the election results, this should have told everyone something. The Town of Durbin is not going to dissolve, only its town government. Then what you call the "cash cow" for some would be lost. Other small, unincorporated towns do not have a mayor or a town council and they get along fine. They still have their festivals and events.
So, you see, Durbin can do the same thing.
In answering the "Town Residents will suffer the Consequences," I would like to give my opinions on those items.
ﾕProperty values will not drop on your home investments. As a matter of fact, they will probably go up due to more people in the big cities retiring and wanting to move to the country.
ﾕDurbin will not lose its street lights. This can be worked out with the power company. As far as street lights deterring crime, I don't think so. Our house was broken into on a Sunday morning in broad daylight by two local residents while we were in church.
ﾕGarbage Pickup. It's not going to cost any more to pay for green box fees than what the residents pay the Town of Durbin now. If you are going to the green boxes and you have a neighbor who is unable to get their garbage to the green boxes, give them a helping hand once in awhile.
ﾕPlowing the streets in the winter. You say, "how are the children going to get to school if the streets are not plowed?" Sorry, but every time there was enough snow to plow the streets, schools were closed anyway. The main highway through town is almost always plowed. There again, I've seen several teenagers and adults alike plowing streets and driveways with their four-wheelers. It's called helping your fellowman.
ﾕSewer costs increase. If the town government were dissolved, the state would take over the sewage lagoon and any monies involved would be taken by the state to help defray some of the costs. If there were to be an increase, it would be very minute. To bring you up to date, if the town were to get the sewer system repaired and up and running like it should be, the town would increase your sewer bills, likely more than the state would.
ﾕThe last Durbin Days. What a bunch of hooey. You can have a festival every year or even twice a year if you want. You don't have to have a town government. Look at your surrounding small unincorporated towns that do a great job with their festivals. The Town of Durbin was incorporated for many years without a festival of any kind. And it's a well-known fact that towns where local governments do not get involved in festivals have greater success with management of these events.
I could go on about the good things that could be done here in Durbin. We have a lot of good people here in this little town and they would like to see things prosper and grow. But that will never happen unless we all and I mean all, work together.
I can honestly speak for several residents who have lived here for years and many of those who were born and raised here will tell you the same thing.
This is a good community and we want to keep it that way.
July 11, 2011
I am writing to urge my neighbors to sign the petition now being circulated by members of the Eight Rivers Council (an association of Pocahontas County landowners and residents) asking the County Commission to declare hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of Marcellus shale to be a danger to our water supplies and therefore a public nuisance. I want to explain my position.
Two years ago, I retired to my family home place on Douthards Creek near Minnehaha Springs. This farm has been in my family for three generations and my mother and father, Reta and Clyde Bussard, took great pride in caring for it. When I was young, they leased to gas companies who were then doing shallow drilling. We got our few dollars an acre and the companies never drilled.
Just before I retired and moved back my voice mail and mail box were filled with offers to lease mineral rights for drilling into Marcellus shale. I was prepared to do it thinking this would just be like the older leasing. Some of my neighbors leased and were encouraging all of us to do so. Then the Pocahontas Times published a series of articles on the reality of this type of drilling. The pictures were alarming.
I decided that I needed to be better informed. And so I got on line and read. And I checked out the Penn State Extension web site because Pennsylvania was in the midst of much shale gas development. I was even more alarmed and decided not to lease.
The main reason is water. I depend on a well. So do all my neighbors. There are way too many stories of damaged wells from existing drilling. Then, too, fracking takes millions of gallons of water mixed with sand and chemicals to blast into the shale and release the gas. Douthards Creek just does not have that much water except for two or three times a year when we get a big rain. And the companies refuse to tell us what chemicals are used.
The problem with just acting alone is that my neighbors who have leased could allow wells to be located in fields that I view from the porches on all sides of my house. These are industrial sites in an agricultural valley and they, too, could affect my water supply and the water in the creek.
The state has refused to regulate the industry. Even though the Governor is now promising to take some action, I do not trust that the state will enforce any regulations it passes. That takes inspectors and a budget to pay them and a willingness to act. History says it won't happen.
Therefore I have joined with my neighbors to urge our County Commission to do what is within their authority. Declare this type of drilling to be a public nuisance, a danger to our water and health. I am unwilling to trust that these very different drilling operations will be like the drilling in the old days and never happen here.
People are surprised when I tell them that I'll be spending my summer break in Green Bank, as if living in Pocahontas County is the strangest thing for a 21 year-old college student to want to do. Like many of my classmates in high school, I wanted to leave West Virginia, but now that I've lived in Ohio and Kentucky for the past three years, few things seem more appealing than coming back. But it can be scary to figure out how to do this. I worry that if I do move back, my family, teachers, and friends, will see this as failure. Will I be able to find a job? Will I be able to find a supportive spouse? Will I have any friends?
I wish my story were unique, but it's not. For young Appalachians everywhere from Lewisburg to Knoxville, the story's pretty much the same. There's pressure to leave Appalachia, and not look back until we want to retire. But we don't always want to move, and it's unfair to our youth and our communities to assume that young people will always leave. It's time that young people from Appalachia get the support that they deserve to start businesses, take leadership positions and create lives for themselves as adults in their home communities. That's where the STAY Project comes into play. The STAY Project (Stay Together Appalachian Youth), is a network of young people throughout Central Appalachia who are working together to advocate for and actively participate in their home mountain communities. STAY is all about connecting young people with the skills, support, and resources that they need to be leaders, business owners, and active members of their home communities.
What can the STAY Project do for you and Pocahontas County? I'd love to hear your ideas, sit down and talk to you, and answer your questions. I can be reached at email@example.com. We'll be having a STAY Potluck on July 23 at 6 pm at the High Rocks campground. This will be an opportunity for young people to gather and discuss their ideas for the community, and what kinds of issues they could see the STAY Project addressing. This will all lead up to the STAY Summer Institute on August 9-12 at the Pine Mountain Settlement School in Harlan County Kentucky.
Natural gas, lumber, farmland and coal aren't Appalachia's most important resources, its youth are. Once we invest in our youth and support them, whether their dreams take them outside of the country, or across town, we will build the kind of inclusive, healthy communities that young people want to come home to.
The STAY Project
Letters to the Editor
In June I was blessed to be Director of a free youth retreat held at Ambassadors for Christ at Huntersville and sponsored by Pocahontas Cooperative Ministries,.ﾠﾠForty-four youth ranging from first through eighth grades enjoyed vacation bible school, supervised recreation, educational programs and good food for three days.ﾠ For some, it was the first time they had ever stayed overnight away from home.ﾠﾠThey did well, although some of the parents didn't fare as well as they were seen leaving camp crying.
With the theme, "Jesus Truth Seekers," all the youth were made Special Agents with a mission to find God's truth in everyday, real life situations.ﾠ Special Agentsﾠinvestigated the stream with Dave and Pam Sharpes.ﾠ They wereﾠfingerprinted and educated on Internet Safetyﾠby Sheriff David Jonese and his son and daughter.ﾠﾠWe noted the presence of a Sheriff's Deputy eachﾠnight checking on our safety.ﾠ Bear trapping with Conservation Officer Alan Shipley was a challenge asﾠcampers followed the beeps of a tracking box to a tracking collar and learnedﾠabout bear habits.ﾠ Cara Rose, Director of Pocahontas Convention and Visitors Bureau provided classroom instruction on local attractions andﾠassigned each Special Agent to visit at least two attactions in Pocahontas County this summer.ﾠﾠTim Watson demonstrated howﾠto learnﾠto juggle using plastic shopping bags.ﾠ Thereﾠwere also three presentationsﾠby chalk artist, Mollie Watson, during which all forty-fourﾠSpecial Agents sat spellbound.
The competent staff and counselorsﾠwho helped make the retreat successful were teachers Revs. Bob and Betty Shields, Ralph and Rose Hinkle, Lisa Thompson, Sally Rose, Becky Taylor; craft instructors Kenita Gravely, Kelly Barnett and Carol Swiger;ﾠnurses Melanie Gibson, Robin Taylor and Gayle Gibson; recreation leaders Sally Rose and Jim Gravely.ﾠ John and Pam Ford provided set up of the entertainment center and Kenneth Slagle prepared the fire pit forﾠthe council meetings.ﾠ There to help supervise outdoor activities which included playing in the creek were Bill and Linda Daniels.ﾠ Vesper Services were provided by Rev. Gary Phillips and Rev. Kerry Workman and women of Marlinton United Methodist Church came to serve a picnic luncheon on the last day of camp.
I say all of the above to say this.ﾠ One of theﾠforty-four Special Agents was an autistic teen.ﾠﾠAt the beginning of camp it was explained to all the youth that we had a very specialﾠteen in camp who would be participatingﾠin all of their activities and we asked everyone toﾠassist him if he needed help.ﾠ Pocahontas County, you can be very proud of yourﾠyouth because they included that teen in all their activities.ﾠ They respected him,ﾠhonored him, and entertained him and allowed him to entertain them.ﾠﾠOur hearts were warmed by the response ofﾠthe campers of all ages.ﾠ It was so very special.
Rev. Tommy Watson, who ownsﾠAmbassadors For Christ Retreat Center and who provided the free camp, made the statement that we had the most mannerly youth he had ever had the privilege of being around.ﾠﾠCompliments toﾠthe parents and guardians of thoseﾠcampers.ﾠ My Pocahontas Pride isﾠshining!
Charlotte Slagle, Camp Director
You need to ask yourselves why you need street lights when 95 percent of crimes in our town occur in daylight hours.
Why do we need seven people as our governing body when they will not read the minutes of a meeting, hold secret meetings, spend our money as they see fit to do with no regard for the people, charge some people for garbage and maintenance fees and some people pay double, while some debts are forgiven entirely.
The governing body wants you to attend council meetings, but it is a waste of time to do this. The finance report is not read. The building permits are not made public.
As for Durbin Days-why do we need a governing body 12 months of the year to do a one week festival? Dunmore, Cass and Huntersville put on community festivals with no governing body telling them they must do this or that.
In my 89 years as a Durbin resident, I have never seen as much turmoil, bickering, conflict and questionable practices in town government as I have in the last six years. I have worked in every capacity in the town's government from 1967-86 and again in 2009 when I was elected to the town council with 71 votes. I served my entire term and decided not to run again in 2011.
The difference in the number of voters in 2009 versus 2011 is staggering and speaks volumes about the dissatisfaction and lack of trust residents had with the candidates. In 2009, just fewer than 90 voters turned out for the town election; in 2011, only 19 voters cast their ballots.
We now have a council consisting of four members of one family dictating how we live and what we can and cannot do. With my past experience and knowledge of procedures and how the town government should conduct business, I felt I could do some good. I did not sit on the council for any self-serving purpose or personal gain. I served the people. I stood up for the best interests of the town and fair treatment of residents.
However, I stood against an appointed-not elected-council (including one member who was forced to resign his position as mayor because of malfeasance of office, but was appointed to the council), a council that does not have the best interest of the residents at heart, which works in opposition to the will of the people and in a repressive manner.
Their voting records show little evidence or concern for Durbin and its residents. My hope and the hope of all those concerned Durbin residents is to see the town once again become a peaceful place, neighbor helping neighbor, working for the good of all and a place to be proud of.
If it takes the town being unincorporated to gain back our freedom, to no longer be intimidated or harassed, to be free from rules and ordinances that are created to control rather than improve our lives and community, while exempting those wielding the gavel, the I am all in favor of Durbin becoming unincorporated. While the prospect of such action has many positive benefits and a great many residents favor it, it has created a firestorm among the officials and has launched a campaign of fear tactics and intimidation against residents.
It makes me wonder why the town officials are so afraid they resort to intimidation and fear. What is it they are afraid of losing?
All one has to do is look to other unincorporated communities in Pocahontas County-Green Bank, Arbovale, Bartow, Cass, Dunmore, Frost, Frank and Huntersville-to see how well they function. To all the negatives, Council member John Osborne cited, there are solutions that do not need the intervention of a controlling, self-serving town government. In the matter of street lights, doesn't Osborne remember that crime occurs just as often during daylight hours? If the town government continues as it is, property taxes will increase because of the way the town levy has been structured. If the levy increases, taxes increase. Residents have never had a say or vote in any rate increases, including sewer rate increases.
As for losing Durbin Days, another fear tactic, they should take a lesson from the other communities that provide many celebrations and do not need grants to put them on. Being unincorporated will free the residents from the Big Brother mentality and paranoia that is controlling Durbin.
Again, I say, look to other communities in Pocahontas County.
Last week the county commission approved a contract for a county-funded animal shelter.
Here are a few questions:
ﾕWhat is the definition of humane euthanasia (shooting dogs in the head; gassing kittens in an oven)?
ﾕHow long must an animal be sheltered before being euthanized?
ﾕWas the shelter of the approved contractor inspected by the county commission prior to the contract approval?
ﾕDoes the animal shelter meet the requirements of the West Virginia code concerning climate control and construction?
Letter to the Editor
Wouldn't it be prudent of the newspaper to inform the Town of Durbin residents what they will lose if the Town became unincorporated? Apparently those residents that are circulating a petition to dissolve the Town have failed to.
What needs to be explained to the residents is that in dissolving the Town of Durbin, they (the Town residents) will suffer many negative consequences in the outcome.
And what are those consequences you ask?
1) Well, how about for starters their property values will drop. So much for their home investment.
2) They will come home to dark streets due to the fact that the street lights will be out (Statistics show that well-lit areas deter crime).
3) How about the garbage pick-up? No more. It will be down to the green box with a higher cost for taking your own garbage. Nice!
4) Winter will be fun when the Town streets are not plowed. Remember these are orphan streets and they get plowed by the state last. Anyone think about how that will affect the residents needing to get to doctors or in need of emergency services? Or how about the children getting to school if the buses can not get to them due to the snow covered roads?
5) The sewer cost will increase, yes, increase and the residents will have no say about that. And do you think they will be a priority if the sewer is in need of repair? Not at all.
6) Durbin Days-enjoy the last one!
I could go on about what they will lose, but I think you get the point. It is a losing proposition for the residents of Durbin if the Town is unincorporated.
Letters to the Editor
I am writing to express my experience with smoking; I was in 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 a pack. If you smoke one pack a day, you're looking at $24.50 a week; $98 a month; $1,176 a 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 or chewing tobacco and smoked three packs a day.
Curiosity is another reason for youth to try tobacco. However, kids 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 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 cold turkey and was fortunate enough to not have any problems. There are, however, lots of people who do have problems quitting. For those struggling to quit West Virginia Tobacco Quitline is a great resource, the phone number is 877-966-8784.
"You can judge a community by how we take care of our animals..." I joined the Humane Society of Pocahontas County because I wanted to help give a voice to the voiceless and better our community. I am proud to serve alongside the members who devote so much time and energy for the sake of animals. Before joining the Humane Society I imagined how rewarding it must be to belong to such a selfless organization. Now, as the president of our local Humane Society, it is more rewarding than I ever imagined. Nevertheless, I am tremendously troubled by the lack of understanding we face, as to what it takes to properly operate a fully functioning animal shelter - one that focuses on the re-homing of animals that are abused and abandoned.
The County Commission is systematically removing a much needed oversight as it attempts to deal with our county's animal control issue. Care and disposition of stray and neglected animals should not go to the lowest bidder. The decision-making process regarding unwanted pets should not be left to those who would profit from early termination of animals, cutting corners and lower costs.
Some say "the Humane Society cares more about and thinks more money should be given to animals than to our children..." The Humane Society cares a great deal about animals, however it is unconscionable to think that any such organization would place an animal's well-being over any human. There are no government programs or agencies that provide assistance for the unwanted, unprotected, and neglected or abused animals in this county. And until about a year ago the Humane Society of Pocahontas County was the only animal welfare organization in Pocahontas.
Even if our county was to put forth a modest commitment of $85,000 per year towards the humane treatment, fostering, adopting and rescuing of unwanted and mistreated animals, that would be far less than what is spent per year through government agencies and programs such as the Department of Health and Human Resources, Senior Citizen Programs, Medicare, Medicaid, VA programs and so on. Don't forget the money spent each year to house our county's criminal inmates.
If the emphasis and mindset for sheltering neglected pets is "the cheaper the better," then the County Commission should withdraw completely. Such a shelter will cease to function as it should, citizens will avoid it and it will become a place where animals dropped off by an Officer, kept for a minimal period, then destroyed. This is the direction of the County Commission. A shelter cannot serve two ultimate goals; 1) profit/bottom line and 2) re-homing of pets. A non-profit, budget-minded humane organization needs to be in control of our county's animal shelter.
We as a civilization have the capacity to care for all of God's creations, unfortunately we do not; we as a community have the capacity to care for our pets; so join the Humane Society of Pocahontas County and help give a voice to the voiceless.
J L Clifton,
Copy to the Editor,
Dear Joe Smith,
What a wonderful dog ordinance the Marlinton City Council has enacted, demonstrating both concern for town residents and compassionate treatment of dogs.
Thank you for your humane enlightment toward "man's best friend."
Starting June 27, the One Room University in Marlinton will be holding Developmental English and Math classes in cooperation with New River Community and Technical College.
This is a great opportunity for those who need to take English 099 or Math 099 before starting college-level courses. These classes may be taken by students just starting at New River or those who will be attending WVU, Marshall, etc., and need to brush up on math or English skills before the fall semester.
Credit for taking these classes at New River can be transferred to any four-year state school.
Classes will be led by an on-site instructor. Tutors will be available to help students.
Classes will be held Monday through Thursday evenings for five weeks in the classroom on the second floor of the City National Bank building in Marlinton.
English 099 will begin at 4 p.m. each day; Math 099 will start at 6:45 p.m.
For more information, students, parents and others interested in these classes should contact Elaine Diller by calling 304-799-4950 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pocahontas County Coordinator
Letter to the Editor
The Marlinton Community Yard Sale was a huge success. People selling items in the Gazebo area said they sold much more than they expected. There were people walking around town with large and small packages, furniture, vases, dolls and anything you can imagine.
The first day of the farmers market was a great day also with music by Homer Hunter. Salt risen bread, pots of petunias, brown eggs and fresh herbal tea decorated the tables. Southern States was busy with people purchasing their garden seeds and fertilizer. Local merchants participated by offering special deals, too.
The best deal of the day however was seeing old friends, hugging our neighbors and celebrating what a great community Marlinton is. Everyone made this project a success - the sellers, buyers, helpers, packers and planners. Marlinton is our community and on days like Saturday we couldn't be prouder.
It's spring and things are looking up, especially in Marlinton!
Go Marlinton Team
Letters to the Editor
Within a few weeks the process of redistricting the House of Delegates for the next 10 years will begin.
There is a rising tide of sentiment across West Virginia to do away with multiple member districts and replace them with single member districts, the idea being that the delegate would then be in closer touch with the people he or she represents. In a single member district there would be a chance for a Pocahontas County resident to get elected. With our county stuck in a two member district with Randolph, a Pocahontas person has been elected to the House only once - for a single two year term - in the last 40 years.
In 1991 the House of Delegates redistricting committee proposed creating a single member district composed of Pocahontas County and the Western part of Randolph - but our County Commission sat on its hands while the Randolph people lobbied like crazy - and we ended up being the only small county in Eastern West Virginia stuck in a two member district with a larger county.
Will our current County Commissioners sit on their hands again? They have given lip service to the idea of a single member district, but evidence of any positive action to promote this outcome seems sadly lacking.
Lake Reed Road
Save Camp Allegheny.
There is a lesson to be learned from last week's County Commission debate about protecting the Camp Allegheny Battlefield: United we win, divided we fail.
Nobody has done more to protect Camp Allegheny than Ed Riley and his family. To say that their land suffers from "neglect" is unfair. If neglect is the issue, look at the site. The portion of the battlefield owned by the Forest Service is clearly more degraded than the portion held in private hands.
Under Forest Service management, the public land has eroded, it has been sprayed with herbicide, a family cemetery on the site was damaged, Civil War earthworks have all but disappeared and the hewn-stone foundations of pre-Civil-War buildings were looted and carried off.
The only evidence of damage to the Riley land is a yard-square patch where animals have pawed at the dirt in search of minerals.
Efforts to preserve historic ground for future generations ought to begin with the people who own the land. What do the owners want? How can the County Commission help them to protect the site? If the many folks who care about Camp Allegheny can work together, progress becomes possible.
Your editorial of March 24 was right on target. You stated clearly some of the reasons why we in Pocahontas County seem frequently to be taking one step forward and then two back.
All the hoopla over the proposed larger sewage storage tank in Green Bank seems excessive to me. Who knew that there has been a 10,000 gallon tank there for some time with no apparent complaints about odor or other environmental damage?
I fail to see any problem simply from a larger tank. Is the tank more of an environmental hazard or eyesore than open treatment sewage facilities which are in most towns and cities across the country? How does Marlinton cope with its problem?
Perhaps we should go back to the outhouses of yesteryear and have no need for septic tank pumping.
But, as I recall, that was inconvenient.
I'll vote for Jacob Meck, et. al., to expand their business and maintain those jobs.
Letter to the Editor
I was talking to my son last week about why he wasn't saying grace over his
lunch at school as much as he did. He said he is afraid he may get into trouble. He
also said they don't do the pledge anymore.
My husband and I were sickened at this as we said the pledge every morning at school and it sickened us to think he was scared to say grace over his meal. It made us both think really hard about things.
I pray that prayer and such is returned to schools. No one should have to be afraid to let
their faith shine through and I told him that. I believe that Jesus or God should not be denied
at any cost. We should let our love shine through every day as we go about life for Christ because children of Christ should have rights, as well as others who believe other things.
I think of Jesus the day they were persecuting him and putting him on that cross
and not a soul stood up for him in that crowd and it makes my heart cry. All the great miracles he did for people and he died for our sins that day so we all could be saved and our joy and love and faith could shine through each and every day of our lives. No one can take that away from you. As we get closer to Easter let's remember the sacrifice and love Jesus gave to us.
God bless you.
Letters to the Editor April 14, 2011
Where are our legislators in the State of West Virginia?
What a shame it is that they are not responding to the cry for help from Mom and Pop businesses that are being forced out of business because of the outdoor Advertising Regulations that they passed and revised in May 2010.
These regulations state that in order for a sign in a rural area to be legal it must be within 800 feet of an existing business on the same side of the road and the existing business must have a sign and be open to the public at least 25 hours per week.
Who wrote this regulation?
Our legislature passed this and the West Virginia Department of Transportation is adamant about enforcing it- with our tax money- on Mom and Pop businesses.
I will soon be the latest casualty, as my signs are adjacent to US Rt. 219 and are my front door. My business is located 7/10 mile from the road and my customers depend on the signs to let them know when I am open. According to this regulation, I cannot legally place signs within 660 feet of Rt. 219 since there is no business meeting the qualifications within 800 feet of my driveway.
I have been ordered by the WVDOT to remove my signs by May 6. This will shut down my business. Other Mom and Pop businesses have also been negatively affected by this regulation. Larger businesses seem to place signs wherever they like and the DOT is fine with it.
Making a living in rural Pocahontas County is not easy. In a county of fewer than 9,000 residents, a business must have tourist trade to survive. I have a very small store selling Amish-made cheeses and deli meats, bulk foods and some homemade specialty items and antiques. This store is on our farm.
We tried two other locations, but with the depressed economy, could not afford rent, so we moved home and built a 24x24 building for our kitchen and store. It was always our goal to provide a beautiful little place where people could come and find unique items to buy and to enjoy the hospitality of West Virginia people.
I wrote to several legislators asking that a "Stay" order be given so our signs could remain until the regulations are amended to allow us to have signage. We want to purchase permits, but the DOT will not allow it. I was also misled by DOT representatives who told me in February that they would return to discuss this with me. Instead, when they returned, they had an order for me to remove my signs in 30 days. Now that is some hospitality.
US Senators Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin have responded to me and are inquiring about the problem.
Where is our State Legislature which caused the problem in the first place?
They can fix it.
Letters to the Editor
We elect our leaders not only because we believe they will be responsive to our daily demands, but also because we believe them capable of taking a larger, longer view. We elect our leaders because we believe them courageous enough to address today's pressing issue while they anticipate tomorrow's.
Regarding industrial wind power, where does the Pocahontas County Commission stand?
There are currently industrial wind projects in some stage of development in eight West Virginia counties, including Greenbrier, Webster, Randolph and Pendleton. Highland New Wind Development is located in Highland County, Virginia, adjacent to the Pocahontas County line.
In other words, Pocahontas County is surrounded by industrial wind. Logic would dictate that, given the height of our ridgelines, it is only a matter of time before Big Wind comes here. For a preview of views to come: Drive to Elkins.
Science shows that locating industrial wind turbines on forested ridgetops far removed from urban markets makes no economic sense. Local rates go up, not down, when Big Wind arrives, because local rate-payers have to shoulder the costs of grid upgrades to ship the electrons to faraway markets. Common sense indicates that short-term construction jobs are not worth the long-term destruction of our natural heritage, community identity, and ultimate, ever-more-valuable drawing card: our natural beauty.
Theoretical property tax revenues, if collected, are not adequate compensation for the environmental and social costs. There is no place in the US where property values have increased when industrial wind has come to town. Want a real-world, local view? Talk to a real estate agent in Elkins.
Whether or not we agree on the short-term benefits of industrial wind, I bet we can agree on this: When Big Wind sets up shop, we want them to obey the law.
Aren't we, all of us, sick and tired of watching Big Business get away with murder? Don't we, all of us, want to prevent yet another extractive energy industry from getting a Free Pass in West Virginia where safety and environmental compliance is concerned?
Don't we, all of us, want our elected leaders to protect our interests, not just today, but for the benefit of our children and grandchildren?
When industrial wind comes calling, with their sponsored community events, ice cream cones and hot dogs, is the County Commission prepared to ask hard questions? And, more important, does the Commission have the will to demand hard answers?
Dawn Baldwin Barrett
Brightside Acres, Bartow
Sometimes when people live their individual lives they are so bombarded with daily challenges, they cannot "see the forest for the trees," cannot look objectively at what is going on around them. Even chaos can be overlooked, or at least attributed to factors that are not the true cause.
For many years now, Pocahontas County and the people who live here have been struggling collectively with adverse living conditions, addictions, drug related crime, unemployment, child abuse, domestic violence - the list goes on and on. No long term solutions have been found.
One thing that is evident, however, is that our county is truly a spiritually dark place. It would be foolish and dangerous to discount the role Satan is playing in these circumstances. More importantly, it would be to our continued detriment not to seek out God and humbly ask for His intercession.
Christians from throughout Pocahontas County have formed a group called United in Prayer. They are joined together in sustained prayer, unity, and humility and their sole purpose is to pray down all the spiritual barriers that are binding the very lives of the people in this county. This is not a new age religion - these are earnest, solid, Bible -based Christians who are asking God to rid Pocahontas County of all barriers preventing its residents from moving forward. On Ash Wednesday, 15 of us held a prayer service at the gazebo in Marlinton. We did not despair about the rainy and cold weather conditions for we were warmed by the very presence of God. He is bending an ear to our petitions and His works are becoming evident.
Our next prayer activity will take place at 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 16. That morning teams of two or more will go to each of the major highway entrance points in our county. In focused and united prayer to God, we will express our petitions in common cause; we will ask God to seal off our county and prevent any further encroachment of spiritual darkness; we will repent for past transgressions, from the time before the formation of the county to present day, and ask for corporate forgiveness; we will make heartfelt declarations to take back our land and we will ask God to provide us spiritual discernment and the knowledge of how and where we should present future petitions to Him. We will ask God to sharpen our swords and enter the spiritual battlefield with us.
Many of you reading this letter will feel uncomfortable with these words because most people in our educated world have been taught to discount the supernatural. The late writer Anais Nin once said, "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are."
We are praying to address the things "as they are." As Jesus tells us in John 15:7, "If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you." We ask those readers who want to join our efforts to participate in a Countywide Prayer Hour which has been set at the same time as the sealing off of the county, from 8 a.m. - 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 16. Our next meeting is planned for 6 p.m., Monday, April 18, in Green Bank; site to be announced in the church announcements section of the paper. If you would like more information, please email me at email@example.com.
Karen L. Bowers