Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

UP: To the student volunteers who spent a good part of this past Wednesday filling backpacks with back-to-school supplies. The program, sponsored by the United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley, will send more than 1,000 age-appropriate backpacks to school children in Calhoun, Jackson, Ritchie, Roane, Tyler, Doddridge, Wirt and Wood counties, Belpre and Little Hocking. This annual program goes a long way to help many deserving children in the area. This is the sixth year the United Way Alliance has done the program, taking over from the GE Elfun Society.

UP: To Mountwood Park for offering a movie night at the park. The drive-in style movie – complete with a concession stand – will debut at 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3. The $5 admission brings a drink, popcorn and family friendly movie. With this, the annual Volcano Days festival and the recent archaeological dig, Mountwod Park is continuing to forge its identity as more than just a place to take a hike or ride bikes.

UP: To Wood County Habitat for Humanity volunteer Marlin Buckmaster who was presented the Ray of Light Award on Thursday afternoon. Buckmaster, of Vienna, has helped with the construction of more than 30 homes with the local organization since he began volunteering following his retirement from DuPont in 1997. Appropriately, Buckmaster received his recognition in the construction zone of what will be the 66th local Habitat house, at Dillaway Street near 13th Street. Buckmaster and his wife Barbara will be moving to Indiana in the upcoming week, where he will continue his volunteering with Habitat.

DOWN: To the graffiti problem that continues to plague Parkersburg. However, the police may have taken a big bite out of this problem with the arrest of Roger L. Riffle, 33, of Parkersburg, after detectives and agents with the Parkersburg Narcotics Task Force executed a search warrant on his Market Street apartment. According to the criminal complaint filed in Wood County Magistrate Court by police detective Matt Eichhorn, between June and July of this year, Riffle defaced the property at 1122 Market St. by painting graffiti on the buildings. Riffle is facing a felony destruction of property charge. Police expect more arrests will be coming.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

DOWN: To U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., for turning his back on his state by voting for President Barack Obama’s appointment to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy. Rockefeller voted with 58 other senators to approve McCarthy’s appointment to head the agency that is attempting to regulate the coal industry out of business. McCarthy is expected to continue the policies of her predecessor Lisa Jackson. A thumbs up to the state’s junior Sen. Joe Manchin for voting against this stroke against the state.

UP: To all of the people who have braved the extremely hot and humid conditions this past week to attend the 41st annual West Virginia Interstate Fair and Exposition. Attendees have enjoyed the music, rides and all the events in spite of the heat.

UP: To Wood County Schools Executive Secretary Sharon Buzzard, who is retiring after 48 years with the school system. Buzzard was 17 when she started the first – and only – job of her career: working for Wood County Schools. She worked a co-op as a senior at Parkersburg High School and was hired full time July 1, 1965, to work in library services. In 1988, she became executive secretary for then-Superintendent Bill Staats and remained for the next 25 years and four superintendents. Buzzard’s last official day was June 30, but she has been helping train her replacement. Congratulations to Buzzard on her long career and we wish her the best on her retirement.

UP: To longtime Wood County Deputy Clerk Mark Rhodes for being named to head the office. The Wood County commissioners this past week named Rhodes as the replacement for longtime clerk Jamie Six, who resigned earlier in the summer. With 28 years experience in the office, Rhodes was a logical choice as Six’s replacement.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

UP: To Parkersburg native Justin Raber, who was recently installed as the youngest president of the West Virginia PTA. Raber, a 2008 graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan College, currently attends the West Virginia University College of Law. Raber will serve as West Virginia PTA president for the next two years.

UP: To the Castle’s annual weeklong summer history camp, which gives younger students hands-on experience with local history. The camp, which concluded Friday, is open to students entering third through fifth grades. This year’s theme was “River Days’ and included two river-related field trips. Congratulations to the Castle for continuing this program that helps instill a love of history to students at an early age.

UP: To the Marietta College students who participated in the school’s Alternative Spring Break to South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, one of the poorest areas in the country. The students continued their help to residents of the reservation even when they returned to Marietta by collecting 86 mattresses being taken out of service at the college and collected 14 boxes of sheets, towels and blankets to send to the reservation. Congratulations to the students donating their time for this worthy cause.

DOWN: To the high levels of E. coli in Goose Run in Marietta. The levels of bacteria are nearly 50 times higher than the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s accepted standard. The Ohio EPA suspects the problem is coming from a faulty pipe, and was inspecting the creek this week in an attempt to find the source.

UP: To the area Boy Scouts who will be participating in this coming week’s Boy Scout Jamboree at the recently opened High Adventure Camp at the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in Mount Hope, W.Va., near the New River Gorge.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

UP: To the Wood County Sheriff’s Department for the arrest of three men suspected of receiving a shipment of bath salts. Chad Christopher True, 33, 17 Ash Circle, Davisville; Dwayne Mark Karr Jr., 23, 1901 Seventh Ave., Parkersburg, and Brian Duane Shann, 38, 1009 E. 12th St., Parkersburg, were arrested by officers Wednesday morning after picking up a package of suspected bath salts delivered to the Davisville Post Office at 6362 Staunton Ave.

DOWN: To the Wood County Board of Education for evaluating Wood County Schools Superintendent Pat Law’s job performance without putting the item on the BOE agenda. Board members went into a 70-minute unscheduled executive session Monday to discuss Law’s contract. They came out with a prepared statement announcing Law’s continued employment. This item should have been announced before the meeting to give any citizen the ability to comment on Law’s performance.

UP: To the Belpre in Bloom program, now in its second year. Belpre in Bloom includes local master gardeners and volunteers, individuals and organizations including the Belpre Woman’s Club and the city garden club. For its second year, the program worked on projects that included the community garden on Blennerhassett Avenue near the city’s water treatment plant; the planting of 50 American chestnut trees and creation of a memorial tree park; cleaning and painting the city’s fire hydrants; and creating planting beds from old vehicle tires. The work received praise from the two master gardeners who judged the city this week for the umbrella program America in Bloom. Congratulations to the people involved in this wonderful program.

UP: To the Mountain State Art and Craft Festival, which wraps up its 50th event today at the Cedar Lakes Conference Center, in Ripley. Congratulations to organizers who put on possibly the best arts and crafts festival in the nation.

UP: Thumbs up to the residents of Parkersburg, Vienna, Belpre, Williamstown, Marietta, North Hills, Ripley and everywhere else for celebrating Independence Day and showing that patriotism is alive and well in the Mid-Ohio Valley.