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UP: To Campus Martius Museum for its recent archaeology-related event, “Digging the Past.” On display were items ranging from prehistoric through the Civil War – all found in the Mid-Ohio Valley. Congratulations to the people who are interested enough in local history to take the time to hunt for items that allow us to keep our connection with the past.
UP: To longtime barber Emanuel F. Robinson Jr., who was feted by family and friends on Jan. 19 at The Rock Full Gospel Church in Parkersburg. Robinson, 77, closed his Avery Street shop in December after cutting hair for 57 years. Amazingly, Robinson is deaf, but it never got in the way of his business. Many people will miss him, but we wish him well in his retirement.
DOWN: To West Virginia’s “F” grade from the American Lung Association in its “State of Tobacco Control 2013” report. In the 11th annual report West Virginia received failing grades from the association across the board – F in funding for tobacco prevention and control programs; “F” in smokefree air; “F” in cigarette taxes; and “F” in cessation coverage. Although West Virginia receives $231 million in tobacco-related revenue annually, it only invests 28 percent in programs recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on tobacco prevention and cessation programs. Tobacco causes an estimated 3,821 deaths in West Virginia annually and costs the state’s economy $1.7 billion in health care costs and lost productivity.
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UP: Looking back on 2012, I believe I will have to give Mayor Newell and all those who made it possible a high five for getting Point Park on the river rehabilitated. It looks great and provides residents with a clean, enjoyable and attractive recreational place on the river to walk, fish or just ride your bike.
(Submitted by Hal Casey of Parkersburg)
UP: To the movie projects that have been filmed here and in Ritchie County. “Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies” has been filming in various locations in Parkersburg this week, using several locals in the “zombie” roles. The film features real-life wrestling stars and actors, including “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, WWE wrestler Matt Hardy, former Olympian Kurt Angle, 2009 Penthouse Pet and VH1 reality star Taya Parker, ECW champion Shane Douglas and Howard Stern Woman of the Year Reby Sky. The other movie, “Hollow Creek”, wrapped up filming this week in Ritchie and Wyoming counties. Donna Linsell, a Parkersburg resident and in-line producer for the film, said the story centers on a best-selling author, Blake Blackman, who was seeking inspiration for his overdue horror novel and retreats to a remote cabin in the Appalachian Mountains accompanied by his girlfriend. After a child abduction, the author becomes the prime suspect.
UP: To the Belpre Area Chamber of Commerce’s decision to honor longtime businesswoman Marie Gustke for her service to the community. Gustke, 86, who owned four Belpre businesses during her 66 years in business, will be feted Jan. 26 at the Rockland United Methodist Church. This is a worthy honor for a resident who did so much for Belpre.
DOWN: To the people who for whatever reason feel compelled to call in bomb threats to schools. This has happened at schools all over the state and, unfortunately, in the Mid-Ohio Valley. The only way to combat this stupidity is to punish those who are caught. A Wirt County High School student was recently expelled for a year after confessing to calling in a bomb threat there last month. The student remains in custody pending a circuit court hearing next week. This student needs to receive a stiff sentence, not necessarily to set an example, but because of the disruption this lawless act caused.
Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down
UP: To Vienna teacher and writer Don Stansberry who was named the winner of the Wild Card category of the London Book Festival for his recent thriller, “Secret Blood,” in which Jesus was cloned by the CIA. Stansberry said he hasn’t decided if he will attend the Jan. 24 ceremony in London where winners and honorable mentions will be honored. He has been in the school system for 23 years and coached PHS girls basketball for 17 seasons before retiring in 2011. He led the Big Red girls to 263 wins and four state championships (1989,’91,’94 and ’96).
DOWN: To the Parkersburg High School social studies teacher for disciplining an unruly student with Asperger’s Syndrome by putting a box around his seat and writing “bad kid fort” on the outside of the box. Even taking into consideration how distracting the student may have been in class and how it may have affected the other students in the class, how this teacher could have believed this was a smart thing to do is beyond belief.
UP: To Carter Taylor, 12, of Ripley who played the lead role in the short film “Miracle Boy,” which premiered at the Venice (Italy) Film Festival in September. The film, shot in Greenbrier County, is about a boy who is injured in a farming accident and is a victim of bullying. Carter, a sixth-grader at Ripley Middle School, attended the December premier of the film in Lewisburg with his mother, Gina, who is a Jackson County extension agent.
UP: To outgoing Wood County Executive Committee Chairman Harold Brown. On Thursday, Brown announced he is stepping down as chairman but will remain on the executive committee. Brown, a retiree who took over the chairmanship in March 2011, has been an excellent advocate for area Democrats and has done this without resorting to mean-spirited partisanship so common in today’s politics. We wish him well in the future and will miss seeing him – and his Hawaiian shirt collection – in the newsroom.
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UP: To the New Year arrivals in the Mid-Ohio Valley, Isabella Jolea Dickel of Parkersburg and Casen Amos of Marietta. Both were the first babies born in the new year, with Isabella arriving at 3:49 a.m., while Casen was born at 4:40 a.m., both at the Memorial Campus of Camden Clark Medical Center. Isabella is the daughter of Kayla Brock and Tommy Dickel of Parkersburg and joins sister Addison, 5. Casen is the son of Brianna and Justin Amos, of Marietta. He has a sister Kinley, 2, and brother Brayden, 10. Congratulations to the families on their New Year’s bundle of joy.
DOWN: To the increasing number of DUI arrests in Parkersburg. On New Year’s Eve, four people were arrested by police, bringing the total for the year to approximately 190, the highest in five years. Despite the number of deaths and serious injuries caused by drunken drivers, some people continue to get behind the wheel after drinking, thinking it will be fine. It’s not. And if people continue to drive in this condition, we hope the arrests will continue.
UP: To members of the Moose Riders, a philanthropic motorcycle organization within the Moose Lodge family, who gave $3,100 to U.S. Army Pfc. Kyle Hockenberry to help with the construction of his “smart” home in Reno. The group’s donation will go with the many other donations to help Hockenberry, who lost both legs and his left arm in the blast of an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in June 2011, move into his own home to help him live more independently. Congratulations to the organization for helping with this worthy cause.
DOWN: To Wood County commissioners Wayne Dunn and Steve Gainer for voting to eliminate several of the commission’s Thursday meetings, thus limiting the time residents have to air concerns with their elected county officials. The commission will meet Mondays from 9 a.m. until noon, and the first Thursday of the month for agenda items and planning, and the third Thursday for probate. The second and fourth Thursday will only be used if necessary. Dunn said changes should be made if they benefit the government and the community. However, it seems these changes benefit the commissioners much more than the community.