Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

UP: To all the people who volunteered their time out of their own holiday to help serve Thanksgiving meals at the various locations in our area. This caring and giving attitude makes our area a good place to live. And a special thanks should go to Salvation Army co-officers Lt. Erik Henry and Lt. Mechelle Henry for coordinating these efforts.

UP: To all of the highway crews who have since Tuesday been out treating area highways to help the thousands of holiday travelers have a safe trip home for Thanksgiving.

UP: To the passage of the Wood County Schools excess levy, which was on the ballot Nov. 23. The levy, which has helped fund the schools since 1945, overwhelmingly passed by a vote of 4,343 for the levy and 1,137 against. If there was any bad news in the vote, it was that only 10 percent of the eligible voters turned out.

UP: To Parkersburg Police Officers John Cumpston and Wendy Cox who recently received their promotion to sergeant. The move is historic because Cox is the first female sergeant to serve in the department. The pair actually became eligible following the November 2011 sergeants exam, but because of the recent upheaval of the three-member Police Civil Service Commission, did not receive their stripes until Nov. 22 when the new members of the board signed off on the test results. Congratulations to both Sgt. Cumpston and Sgt. Cox.

UP: To Parkersburg native Megan Gyongyosi who has spent several weeks helping Philippine residents in the aftermath of Typhoon Hiayan. Gyongyosi, a 2008 Parkersburg High School graduate and 2012 graduate of Davis & Elkins College with a degree in envionmental engineering, is a member of the Peace Corps. She was in the Philippines helping residents with sustainable fishing when the typhoon, one of the largest storms in recorded history, hit, leveling villages and leaving more than 5,000 people dead. Gyongyosi and other Peace Corps members helped with relief efforts. She since has traveled back to Parkersburg on a 45-day furlough to be with her very-relieved parents for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

UP: To the Salvation Army and all of the volunteers who will cook and then serve thousands of Thanksgiving dinners on Thursday.

DOWN: To Meigs County Municipal Judge Steven Story for releasing a captured escapee on a personal recognizance bond. Jason Lee Caplinger, 28, escaped from home confinement in Parkersburg on Oct. 17. Caplinger was arrested this past Saturday in Meigs County for being a fugitive from West Virginia. He was taken before Story, who was asked to hold Caplinger pending extradition to Wood County. For some unexplained reason, Story refused and released a fugitive from justice on a personal recognizance bond. Fortunately Caplinger was recaptured in Wood County late Thursday in Parkersburg – no thanks to Judge Story.

UP: To Texas-based Carbonyx Inc., which announced plans Thursday it will invest tens of millions of dollars in a new steel plant in Millwood, in Jackson County. The company, which could employ at least 60 people, will produce a key ingredient for steelmaking and rely on coal as the main input for its manufacturing process, making it an important new customer for regional coal producers.

DOWN: To the “teenage drama” that caused two lockdowns Wednesday at Parkersburg High School. Parkersburg police Sgt. Greg Collins said officials were called to Parkersburg High School in response to a report of a person on campus with a gun. Collins said through the investigation it was determined there was never a gun on campus. Jonathan Michael Loncala, 18, was charged by police on misdemeanor charges for texting a picture of a gun to another male at the school, prompting concerns. Loncala, a former PHS student, was detained by police and released into the custody of his father. However, he then walked away from his parent and texted another threat to the student, prompting his arrest.

DOWN: To CSX for closing three crossings in Marietta this past Monday – without any advance notice. The three crossings – in Marietta’s Harmar district – were closed as CSX crews began work on replacing railroad ties and resurfacing the crossings. Keeping the crossings upgraded and safe is an important task, and CSX does a good job at doing that. However, drivers should have been given some advance notice before heading out to work so they could have made plans to take an alternate route. Even Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews said he did not realize the work was being done Monday.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

UP: To Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s announcement Thursday of the proposed development of a new petrochemical complex – the ethane cracker plant – that has been discussed for so many years. While not a certainty, Tomblin’s enthusiasm and the confidence of Odebrecht officials, the company that will be undertaking the project, give the area reason to believe the plant will be, in Tomblin’s words, “a game changer.”

UP: To the 18 states that have seen firefighters or firefighting resources to help battle a wildfire burning in the Monongahela National Forest in Pendleton County. The Forest Service says 150 people are expected at the site Thursday to fight the fire, which has burned an area of two square miles of forest land and is approximately 20 percent contained.

DOWN: To scammers who prey on senior citizens. State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has warned seniors to be wary of scammers calling their home posing to be members of the family in distress and asking them to send money. Morrisey warns seniors to be sure to check on this information before sending any money of giving out personal financial information.

UP: To news the expansion project at Belpre’s Farmers Castle Museum should be completed by January 2014. The new Collections Preservation addition will provide additional space for artifacts, memorabilia, exhibits and educational displays similar to those in the current building, which will remain in full use.

UP: To members of Girl Scouts Troop 3249 for their efforts to help the Humane Society of the Ohio Valley in Marietta. The girls are collecting cat litter, dog and cat food, cleaning products and newspapers at three locations through Nov. 18. Boxes are set up at the Belpre City Building on Park Avenue, the Belpre Senior Center on Washington Boulevard, Fingertips and Toes on Washington Boulevard and Christ Mission Baptist Church in Parkersburg.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

UP: To Veterans Day on Monday. While veterans should be acknowledged and honored every day for their service and sacrifice, Veterans Day is a way for everyone to say thank you.

UP: To Steve Marsh and Mary Ann McClain who after three years building a houseboat are ready to take it down the Ohio River on its maiden voyage. The couple’s project began in 2008, in Port Royal, Va., and finished it here. The boat, the Turtleback, will be launched on Monday. The couple has no definite destination in mind, but will be heading for the Tennessee River.

UP: To the Sisters of St. Joseph Charitable Fund which approved $326,800 in fall grants to groups helping people in need. The fund has for many years provided these grants that have helped area agencies do their valuable work.

UP: To the U.S. Postal Service for issuing a set of stamps honoring Medal of Honor winners and including West Virginia resident Hershel “Woody” Williams, a Marine Corps veteran of World War II who received the medal for gallantry on Iwo Jima, on the commemorative stamp sheet. The stamps will be issued on Monday, Veterans Day. A ceremony will be held 9 a.m. Monday at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.

UP: To St. Mary Catholic Church in Marietta for its designation as a minor basilica, one of only 76 throughout the U.S. The Inaugural Mass for the Basilica of St. Mary of the Assumption was held this past Tuesday. A minor basilica is an honorific title bestowed by the pope on certain Catholic churches that are considered to be a religious center of notable importance.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

UP: To remembering to turn clocks back Saturday evening as the “fall back” part of the “spring forward, fall back” equation kicks in and we return to Eastern Standard Time. Get ready for long, dark evenings.

DOWN: To Belpre resident Carrie R. Strahler, 41, who was arrested Wednesday night after her SUV got stuck on the railroad bridge spanning the Ohio River. Strahler was charged with DUI and trespassing after somehow driving her SUV onto the span. She made it nearly halfway across before high centering on the tracks. She was escorted off the bridge by officers. CSX workers were forced to remove the vehicle by crane. This may seem like a joke, but it put many lives in danger, including Strahler’s. If she is found guilty, we hope that fact is emphasized during her sentencing.

UP: To volunteers from Home Depot for their participation in service projects in honor of local veterans. Approximately15 people from the Vienna and Bridgeport Home Depot stores were at the Veterans Museum of the Mid-Ohio Valley on Seventh Street as well as the Vienna residence of World War II Marine Corps veteran Glen Henson to do maintenance and painting at both locations. Between Sept. 11 and Nov. 11’s Veterans Day, thousands of Home Depot volunteers complete more than 1,300 service projects across the country to support the needs of veterans and their families, said Kathy Parsons, Vienna Home Depot store manager.

UP: To Maryann Hollis, who is leaving her job as the director of the Humane Society of Parkersburg to become the new career center director for National College. Hollis spent nearly five years as the director, and during her tenure she supervised the work on the long-planned S.P.O.T. (Stopping Pet Overpopulation Together) spay and neuter clinic. Hollis also has been instrumental in the fundraising efforts of the society during her tenure. She will be missed. We wish her luck in her new job.