Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

UP: To Parkersburg High School graduate and Ohio State University swimmer Tim Phillips for placing third in the champion heat of the 50 meter butterfly at the National Championships and World Championships Trials.

UP: To West Virginia seeing a drop in unemployment rates in May, the most recent figures available. Unemployment in the state stood at 6.2 percent.

DOWN: To President Barack Obama’s declared war on coal, which will adversely affect tens of thousands of workers and hundreds of thousands of energy consumers.

DOWN: To the Wood County Board of Education for rejecting a federal program that would have provided free meals to all students in up to 11 county schools. The program, adopted by 35 counties in West Virginia, is aimed at helping the “working poor.”

DOWN: To the scum who broke into the Gospel Mission Food Pantry and stole all the supplies Wednesday night.

UP: To the Parkersburg Utility Board for getting another residential water report indicating city water was within federal and state guidelines. C-8 and other contaminants were again found to fall below the health advisory levels established by the EPA.

UP: To Wood County Circuit Court Judge Jeff Reed for telling the affected parties that he will be making a decision in the case of fired Parkersburg Police Officer Floyd Holliday II who has been on paid suspension for nearly three years after the Civil Service Commission reversed his firng and the city appealed to circuit court.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

UP: To all of the celebrations commemorating West Virginia’s 150th birthday this past Thursday. The concerts and lectures were both fun and enlightening. A special salute needs to go to Oil and Gas director Dave McKain for his columns published in the newspaper the past several months detailing the county’s part in the march to statehood. Hopefully, this event will help more West Virginians, especially younger ones, to take an interest in the state’s history.

UP: To the approximately 450 volunteers from across the country participating in the annual Mid-Ohio Valley Work Camp this past week. The mostly young volunteers spent the week painting 40 houses belonging to elderly, disabled and low-income homeowners.

UP: To renaming a bridge over Interstate 77 in Mineral Wells to honor a Parkersburg soldier who received a Medal of Honor during the Civil War. Union Army Sgt. Richard Bowry received the medal for capturing a Confederate battle flag during the Battle of Charlottesville, Va., on March 8, 1865. He was severely wounded in the battle. In attendance at the ceremony were several local politicians and Bowry’s great-great-grandson of Mineral Wells. The keynote speaker at the ceremony was Huntington resident, Hershel “Woody” Williams, a Medal of Honor recipient from World War II.

UP: To members of Girl Scouts Troop 1063 in Vienna for collecting more than 300 bears for the long-term care unit patients at Camden Clark Medical Center. While the girls may have been working to earn the Bronze Award, the highest achievement Junior Girl Scouts can receive, the bears made the hospital stay of many patients just a little better.

DOWN: To the West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education for not voting on a plan that would give West Virginia University at Parkersburg property downtown. The property at Seventh and Juliana streets was given to WVU-Parkersburg in April by the Erickson Foundation. The property would be paved and turned into a metered parking lot used by WVU-P students taking classes downtown and by visitors. However, the transfer agreement must be approved by the state agency before any work can be done. For some reason, the CTC did not vote on the plan at its meeting last week. The next meeting isn’t until August. This would push work back into the fall.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

DOWN: To the Wood County Board of Education for once again proving a budget is no impediment for approving new raises. This week, the board, on a 4-1 vote, approved more than $56,000 in supplemental pay raises for the eight central office employees. The time to discuss this matter was during the budget hearings. A thumbs up to John Marlow for recognizing this and voting against the raises.

DOWN: To Safariland Group from Jacksonville, Fla., for the decision to close the Elizabeth Mustang Survival plant and consolidate operations in Spencer. While the move might make business sense, it is a serious blow to Elizabeth’s economy and tax base.

UP: To the Parkersburg Art Center for its annual arts program, Camp Creativity. The art camp program – which began this past Monday and runs for nine weeks with different age groups offered each week – helps children develop an early appreciation for the arts.

UP: To Wood County Habitat for Humanity’s 67th house being built locally. A groundbreaking ceremony was scheduled to be held this past Thursday, but was postponed because of the rain until Friday. The home is being built at 13th and Dillaway. Habitat uses volunteer labor, donations and donated materials and land to keep homes affordable for those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to own their own homes. Homebuyers are required to attend homebuyer education classes and complete “sweat equity” hours in working on local Habitat projects as well as their own. The homeowners pay a zero percent interest mortgage to buy the house from Habitat.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

UP: To Ritchie County residents Brian Morton and Anthony Farr for raising $2,500 for the Parkersburg chapter of the American Red Cross. The pair, known to friends as “Morty” and “Ant”, raised nearly $1,864 of the money during a three-hour fundraiser for Oklahoma tornado victims at the Harrisville Pizza Hut restaurant, while the rest came in from donations raised through the pair’s Facebook page. The two men have held other fundraising events for good causes, and will hold another at the end of the month, with the money also going to help out victims of the recent Oklahoma tornadoes. Congratulations to these two men for helping others in need.

UP: To Bill Neal. who recently purchased Woodridge Golf Club in Mineral Wells, ensuring the golf course will stay in local hands. It is good to know Neal, who retired from General Electric in 2001, will be providing a steady, local hand to running the course.

UP: To the organizers of the Valley Classic tennis tournament, held recently in Vienna. The event, held by the Wood County Rotary Club and the Mid-Ohio Valley Tennis Association, and sponsored by 15 area businesses, raised $15,000 which will go to local charities.

UP: To Robert Stephens Jr., who was awarded the 2013 Edwin L.D. Dils Heart of Our Community Award at the Parkersburg YMCA’s 2013 Heart of Our Community Award Dinner at the Parkersburg Country Club Thursday evening. Stephens, president of the Bernard McDonough Foundation and former president of Ohio Valley University, received the award that recognizes the recipient’s selfless concern and care for the community. As is typical of his deferential nature, Stephens paid tribute to the award’s namesake Edwin Dils, and last year’s winner, Ann Bailey. Congratulations to Stephens for receiving this honor.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

UP: To longtime Wood County educator and administrator Sue Woodward who is retiring later in June after a 40-year career in education. Woodward, an assistant superintendent and Wood County native, is a true professional and will be missed. We wish her well in her retirement.

UP: To the U.S. Postal Service’s new stamp honoring West Virginia’s 150th birthday. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin introduced the new stamp Thursday in Charleston. It will be dedicated on June 20 during the official Sesquicentennial Ceremony. The stamp will be offered for sale following the 1:30 p.m. dedication. The stamp features a photograph taken in October 2008 by Roger Spencer, a lifelong West Virginian, as he traveled the Highland Scenic Highway in the Monongahela National Forest in Pocahontas County.

DOWN: To the Wood County Board of Education for considering supplemental raises for eight central office administrators that would cost taxpayers $56,000 a year. Supplements are paid by the county on top of the base salary. Board members say the raises are needed because some school principals are now making more than administrators. However this seems to send a message that administrators are more important to the school system than front-line educators in the classroom.

UP: To those residents who received their GED diplomas this week during a graduation ceremony at West Virginia University at Parkersburg. It is never easy to return to school, but these people, whose ages ranged from 16 to 72, took the time, and put in the effort to better their lives. Congratulations to all of the graduates, and good luck in the future.