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UP: To Senior State Trooper Brad Lowe for earning the Superintendent Award, the West Virginia State Police’s highest honor. Lowe, a Williamstown native and son of Wood County 911 Director Randy Lowe, is stationed at the Logan detachment. During 2012, Lowe completed 177 criminal investigations, made 86 felony arrests, 225 misdemeanour arrests and confiscated $994,000 worth of illegal drugs. Congratulations to Senior Trooper Lowe for his service to the citizens of West Virginia.

UP: To Tom Knopp, director of Good Samaritan Center in Kenova, who is participating in a one-man attempt to “walk out hunger in West Virginia.” During the next 67 days, Knopp hopes to raise $10,000 in each of West Virginia’s 55 counties to benefit food pantries. Knopp, who was in Wood County this past Thursday, hopes his walks – generally 25 miles – will draw awareness and raise money for hunger in West Virginia. The money he raised in Wood County will go to the Mountaineer Food Bank.

UP: To all of the volunteers who give their time to help make this area a better place to live. These many volunteers were honored this past Monday evening in Vienna at the United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley’s 2013 Volunteer Recognition Dinner. Congratulations to these special people.

UP: To the students at Edison Middle School who are taking part in the F.O.R. Club (Friends of Rachel). The club is an anti-bullying program named for Rachel Scott, the first person killed in the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado on April 20, 1999. The Edison students are spreading kindness through several targeted acts, such as making new students feel welcome at the school, talking with students who are sitting alone and even baking cookies for area firefighters and law enforcement officers.

DOWN: To the continuing congressional stalemate that is adversely affecting government operations and citizens. Republicans, Democrats and the president need to stop the politicking and come to a reasonable compromise.

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UP: To Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., for having the political courage to risk the wrath of the National Rifle Association and offer a common-sense compromise on the gun bill. The bill, which failed to receive the 60 votes neccesary in the Senate, would have required background checks for gun buyers at gun shows and on the Internet. The NRA’s misleading statements helped defeat the bill, and Manchin and Toomey will undoubtedly take heat for their efforts. However, they should be congratulated for trying to do the right thing.

UP: To West Virginia University at Parkersburg for having former history and philosophy professor Bernard Allen speak as part of the college’s West Virginia sesquicentennial celebration. Allen, who is now teaching at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, S.C., also spoke on West Virginia history to several middle school students. It was nice to have Allen back in town to share his knowledge.

UP: To the participants in the Super Teens Achieving Regional Success (STARS) program, in which students from area middle schools completed service projects in their communities. Participating students, in grades 6-12, were from Blennerhassett Middle School, Calhoun County Middle/High School, Edison Middle School, Ripley High School, Ritchie County Middle/High School, Parkersburg High School, Parkersburg South High School, Tyler Consolidated Middle School, Tyler Consolidated High School and Williamstown High School. The students gathered at Parkersburg City Park for a luncheon and awards program to honor the work they have done and planting the possibility for more in the future.

UP: To the Wood County teachers who earned their National Board Certified Teachers certification in 2012. Wood County educators Ernest Wayne Clark, Tracy C. Fauber, Whitny Margaret Gesell, Joanna Theresa Mulligan, Jaime Seltzer and Brenda Lee Twyman were among the 61 teachers statewide who earned the NBCT certification this year. Former Gov. Bob Wise, now chairman of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, was the featured speaker Wednesday at the recognition dinner for the county’s newest certified teachers.

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UP: To Belpre Volunteer Fire Department chief Bob Frank, who announced this week he will be retiring on May 31. During this past week at the Belpre City Council meeting, council president Will Neff announced the 40-year veteran of the fire department had turned in his resignation letter. Frank was named to take over for former chief Wesley Walker in October 2009.

UP: To Wood County resident Bob Enoch and other members of the Wood County Historic and Preservation Society for their tireless efforts to identify-and restore-the area’s rural cemeteries. Many of these cemeteries have been long forgotten and obscured by brush and time. Enoch and fellow historic society member Paul Bibbee attended this past Monday’s meeting of the Wood County Commission to detail the group’s efforts and to ask for May to be recognized as Visit A Rural Cemetery Month to raise awareness and increase efforts to identify and clean up these rural, sometimes neglected gravesites, which was granted.

DOWN: To Kanawha County Republican Delegate Patrick Lane’s attempt to add an amendment to the Home Rule bill to include barring any participating municipality from seeking to restrict the carrying of a firearm. A similar bill had passed earlier in the House but was not taken up by the Senate. Lane’s attempt to bring this measure in through a back door failed-as it should have. It has nothing to do with the Home Rule bill and forced lawmakers into a needless debate over an issue that had no chance to become law when other important business needed their attention. This attempt to pack bills with amendments that have no chance of passing is used too often and keeps needed measures from being considered. Fortunately, this amendment was removed and passed by the House by a vote of 95-3.

DOWN: To the traffic problems that will be caused next week in both Parkersburg and Belpre when CSX Transportation replaces lines and track. While the work may be necessary, it certainly will be inconvenient for motorists, who should allow for more time to get to their destinations or find alternative routes. The work should be completed by 5 p.m. Friday.

UP: To the groundbreaking at the Belpre Historical Society’s Farmers Castle Museum Education Center at 509 Ridge St. The work will eventually add a 50-foot by 50-foot Collections Preservation building which will house a larger meeting room, restrooms and provide additional space for artifacts, memorabilia, exhibits and educational displays. The groundbreaking on the new $236,000 addition is a fitting way to help Belpre celebrate its 224th anniversary.

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UP: To Sen. Joe Manchin and others here who are working to keep the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport’s air traffic control tower open. The tower was one of 149 across the country ordered closed because of automatic sequestration cuts. Airport officials say the closing creates a danger because the tower controls more than 36,000 air operations a year, which averages 106 a day. Airport traffic would be handled by an air tower in Indianapolis, Ind., not an optimal situation.

UP: To four Parkersburg South High School graduates and current West Virginia University students for spending their spring break in helping residents in Honduras. The four, part of a group of 40 WVU students, were participating in the Global Bridges effort. Global Brigades is the world’s largest student-led global health and sustainable development organization. Students from PSHS on the mission were: Taylor Bush, Brooke Bertus, Alan Rejonis and Tyler Calkins.

UP: To longtime WestBanco executive Larry Johnson who will retire after 40 years working for the bank. Johnson, the market president for the Parkersburg region for WesBanco, has been a familiar and friendly presence at the bank’s Market Street location for many years. Johnson said he reached “the magic number” after reaching his 65th birthday in January. His last day will be April 30. Congratulations to Johnson, and we wish him well on his future endeavors.

UP: To the Wood County sheriff and several of his deputies and members of the Parkersburg Police Department who will travel to Mingo County Sunday for the funeral of slain Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum. Crum was shot and killed this past Wednesday while sitting in his cruiser eating lunch. Delbarton resident Tennis Melvin Maynard, 37, was later arrested for the sheriff’s murder. He was shot after a car chase and was recovering at a Huntington hospital.