Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

UP: To the recent snow that has given ski bums another week of skiing at Snowshoe Ski Resort in Pocahontas County. Because of the recent snow – which most people are ready to see end – the Pocahontas County resort will remain open until April 7. The resort had planned to close after this weekend, but two additional feet of snow in the area this week have kept the trails covered and conditions optimal.

UP: To Parkersburg native Rob Liotti who is the screenwriter and lead actor for a planned movie “Bon Scott – The Legend of AC/DC.” The movie will chronicle the musical career of Australian rock ‘n’ roll icon Bon Scott, who died in 1980 at the age of 33, and the band AC/DC, Liotti said. Scott was the lead singer for the hard rock band. Liotti, who lives in Charleston, S.C., is a graduate of Parkersburg South High School. He has performed as Scott in the AC/DC tribute band TNT since 2004.

DOWN: To Wood County’s low health ranking on a study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institution. The study, which was released March 20, ranks West Virginia’s 55 counties from healthiest to least healthy using two factors: health outcomes and health factors. In this year’s study, Wood County ranked 32nd in the state, a far cry from last year’s listing of 18th in the overall outcomes, which is the mortality and morbidity. Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department Executive Director Dick Wittberg, who said he is unaware of how the data is collected or analyzed, said it proves the economic situation of many people and education levels all influence an area’s overall health.

UP: To restoration of a flag that belonged to the corps of men commanded by Civil War Brigadier General Benjamin Dana Fearing. Fearing, who was a Marietta resident, brought the flag back with him after the war. According to Campus Martius Museum historian Bill Reynolds, Civil War corps flags are extremely rare. The flag will be on display as part of the museum’s “Touched By Conflict: Southeastern Ohio and the Civil War” exhibit.

UP: To former Wood County commissioner Holmes “Butch” Shaver who along with his horse Lasso My Colors took top honors at the Amateur Finals of the National Cutting Horse Association Eastern National Championships earlier this month in Jackson, Miss. The contest involves a horse and rider going into a herd of cattle and separating a specific cow from the herd. Shaver, a longtime Parkersburg realtor, 24-year county commissioner and cancer survivor, took home a purse of $11,000 for his accomplishment.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

UP: To today’s Mid-Ohio Valley Easter parade, which kicks off at 2 p.m. on Market Street with Camden Clark Medical Center President/CEO Mike King as parade marshal. The parade is the brainchild of business owner Kiki Angelos. She said she hopes to have at least 100 floats and organizations participating today, up from 80 last year.

UP: And in keeping with Easter, a thumbs up to all of the Easter egg hunts and other Easter-related activities scheduled for the next two weekends. If a child can’t find a place to hunt Easter eggs, they are not trying very hard. For a comprehensive listing of all of the hunts in the area, check this past Friday’s Free Time entertainment guide that was published in the paper.

UP: To the Parkersburg Citizens Police Academy, which kicked off this past Thursday. The course, which will meet every Thursday for the next 10 weeks, is designed to give citizens a better understanding of how the police department works and situations officers face on a daily basis.

UP: To all of the area sportsmen and women who attended the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources public meeting to hear discussions of the agency’s proposed regulations and to voice their own suggestions. The DNR holds these annual meetings to receive feedback about any proposed changes to hunting and fishing regulations that are being considered. And sportsmen’s opinions are important. Comments and suggestions from the meetings are compiled and presented to DNR commissioners at their annual meeting to set rules for the upcoming hunting season.

DOWN: To Wood County Sheriff Ken Merritt and officials from his office for some of the budget requests made this past Monday. After taking office in January, Merritt generously raised the salaries of several employees, including Chief Tax Deputy Bob Tranquill, by more than $4,000, while cutting the pay for others. In addition, the sheriff transferred $32,000 from the deputies’ salary portion of the budget to purchase a new truck for his office use. Now, Merritt is seeking a $1,000 raise for sheriff’s department employees in the upcoming budget, while Tranquill says he needs more than $6,000 so his tax office can hire summer help to mail out tax statements. Only $1,500 was included in last year’s budget for this work, Tranquill said. There are excellent employees in the sheriff’s department, but money for that or any department does not grow on trees. The money spent by Merritt in January was money saved by former Sheriff Jeff Sandy. Is this an indication of how Merritt will treat his budget? The sherifff – and all elected officials – should remember this money is provided by the taxpayers of Wood County.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

UP: To the Actors Guild of Parkersburg’s production of “Tuesdays With Morrie” for being named co-winner for best community theater performance at the regional Southeastern Theatre Conference in Louisville, Ky., on March 6-10. The production, which features John Lee and Josh Martin in the lead roles, now advances to a national competition in Carmel, Ind., June 17-23. The Actors Guild in one of the real gems of the area and every production once again proves how much talent is in this area.

UP: To genealogist Jim Lockhart, his wife, Janet Lockhart, and area photographer and archivist Paul Borrelli for their efforts to preserve local history. The three, along with 48 other state residents, were honored in late February during the West Virginia Division of Culture and History’s 2013 History Day program in Charleston. The three were recognized for their efforts last weekend at the Blennerhassett Museum of Regional History.

UP: To Marietta Third Ward Councilman Steve Thomas for his efforts to become an emergency medical technician. Thomas, who is legally blind, is taking classes at Washington State Community College, and is accompanied by his service dog Artemus. Thomas hopes to become an EMT because of his need for medical attention last June when he suffered a stroke. Congratulations to the councilman for being such an inspiration.

UP: To the faculty and students from West Virginia University’s Landscape Architecture School for their joint effort with Parkersburg officials to work on a gateway and way-finding plan for downtown Parkersburg. The students will inventory downtown streets and identify points of interest. The information will be used to develop a gateway and way-finding plan for downtown. The plan will be presented to officials later this spring. This is a win-win situation for both the city and the students who will gain practical experience.

UP: To Dr. Alex De Souza of Spencer for his efforts to raise money and awareness about skin cancer. De Souza recently returned from a 20-day, 10,000-mile helicopter trip, called “Flying to Cure on the Sunshine Road,” to nine U.S. states, nine Brazilian states and 13 countries to discuss skin fitness. He hopes to raise $1 million for the American Cancer Society for research by the end of the year. De Souza, a plastic surgeon, was joined on the trip by Dr. Jaime Moraes, a dermatologist from Brazil, and pilot Libano Rezende of Los Angeles.

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UP: To remembering to set clocks ahead tonight as we “spring forward” into the new season. While we will lose an hour of sleep this weekend, the time change will lead to more daylight in the evening and is a harbinger of spring and the coming of warmer days.

UP: To Parkersburg resident Benjamin Seebaugh on his election as vice president of the West Virginia Student Government Association. Seebaugh, a senior political science, international studies and women and gender studies major, is a graduate of Parkersburg South High School. Seebaugh will serve with Ryan Campione, a senior industrial engineering major from Morgantown, who was elected president. Both are members of the school’s Revolution Party, which won election to every position.

UP: To all of the businesses and people who attended this week’s Business Expo at the E.L.I.T.E. Sports Center in south Parkersburg. About 76 businesses and organizations had booths set up to promote their products, services and facilities to the public and other businesses. Approximately 700 people took advantage of the opportunity to see just what the Mid-Ohio Valley has to offer.

UP: To the Belpre High School students whose work is being considered for awards this weekend in the 2013 Ohio Governor’s Youth Art Competition in Columbus. The 10 students’ work includes pottery, balsa and ink, acrylic, pen and ink, marker, watercolor and photography.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

UP: To Parkersburg’s Winter Market, which wraps up its second season today. Today, the market will be held in the front portion of the West Virginia University at Parkersburg Culinary School at 707 Market St., which is adjacent to where the market previously has been held this season. The Winter Market will be open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The market offers a variety of wares, including select cuts of meat, soaps, sundries and hand-knitted items.

UP: To Dr. Richard Newhart for offering free dental cleanings during February in observance of Gum Disease Awareness Month. The cleanings, which were offered on a first-come, first-served basis, proved popular, with 36 people showing up on Feb. 25. West Virginia is among 21 states observing Gum Disease Awareness Month. And Newhart said he will continue the free cleanings next year.

DOWN: To the inclusion of the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport’s air traffic control tower on a list of potential closures due to the automatic spending cuts scheduled to take effect. While airport manager Terry Moore said the airport would continue to function even if the tower is closed, safety would be compromised.

DOWN: To the Wood County Board of Education’s apparent belief the needs of Wood County’s public schools are not as great as the needs of Parkersburg High School’s Stadium Field. This week, the BOE authorized giving the PHS stadium committee $700,000 to help with repairs to the facility, which was closed in November. However, longstanding problems with leaky roofs and heating and cooling issues at many of the county’s schools have been ignored by board members. Once again, the board proves that athletics takes precedence over education.

UP: To Wood County Historical and Preservation Society board member Gerry Kohler’s balanced and interesting program about the fiery abolitionist John Brown. Brown, whose raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859 is credited with being the spark that started the American Civil War, is a revered figure in some history accounts. However, Kohler, a former high school history teacher, said it is important to remember Brown was a complex individual. Despite being on the right side of history on the slavery question, Brown was, himself, a cold-blooded killer of many innocents.