Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

UP: To the volunteers who prepared and served the 400 meals at the First Presbyterian Church’s 20th annual Christmas Day Dinner. More than 30 volunteers assisted the Rev. Mike Seely with the dinner held in the church’s fellowship hall. The food served was donated by area stores. Volunteers served 200 walk-ins and prepared 200 dinners to go. Congratulations to Seely and the volunteers who helped continue this thoughtful Christmas tradition.

UP: To the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5108 in Marietta for its first Operation Give a Veteran a Car program. On Christmas, the VFW presented a Toyota to veteran William R. Hagy. Hagy enlisted in the military at 21 and served for 22 years with the Army, the Naval Reserves and the West Virginia National Guard. He commuted on his bike daily to the Humane Society of the Ohio Valley where he works.

UP: To seven activists from around West Virginia who were recently honored as heroes for fighting child poverty. The individuals and organizations were presented framed certificates and bright red hero capes by the Our Children, Our Future Campaign to End Child Poverty coalition during its annual meeting in Parkersburg. Those receiving recognition were Rick Hodges, Karen Williams, the Lubeck United Methodist Church in Wood County, the Taylor County Collaborative Family Resource Network and Executive Director Walesca Marrer, Rick Wilson, Rick Goff and state Sen. John Unger.

UP: To 13-year-old Skylar Bogan who distributed 150 shoeboxes filled with donated items to help those in need this past Monday at the House To Home day shelter in Parkersburg. The young Wirt County resident has been collecting items and distributing the shoeboxes since she was 10. She decided she wanted to do something after she and her mother were driving over the Fifth Street Bridge and saw tents underneath.

DOWN: To a scam claiming to be with Publishers Clearing House. A caller informs the would-be victim they won the $800 million jackpot prize and $7,000 a week for the rest of their lives, but all the winner has to do to claim their money is to mail a cashier’s check for $499 to a Texas address in a certified overnight envelope, said officials. It goes without saying that something too good to be true usually isn’t. Anyone getting these calls should call the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office in Charleston at 1-800-368-8808.

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UP: To all residents who became Secret Santas to help children who otherwise would not have received Christmas gifts. As always, your generosity will put smiles on many faces on Christmas morning. In addition, a thumbs up to all those who have generously put money in the Salvation Army kettles and donated in other ways to helping others this season.

UP: To the Wood County Historical and Preservation Society for the group’s work in securing a grant for 41 headstones on gravesites of those interred in the newer section of the Wood County Poor Farm Cemetery. The county-owned cemetery, next to West Virginia University at Parkersburg, has been a place for burial of the indigent since the 1860s. The headstone project was completed with the aid of a $1,000 grant from the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation. Kudos to the historical and preservation society and the foundation for getting involved in this project to help us all remember an important part of the county’s past.

UP: To the Wood County Commission for issuing a 30-day cease-and-desist order for the Sundowner Gun Range. Homeowners who live near the gun range on Gihon Road have long complained about the closeness of the range to their homes, which, in some cases involved homes being hit by bullets. County commissions have authority under state code to implement provisions when it is determined there is a need to eliminate “hazards to public health and safety.” Until a permanent solution can be found, this was the right move for the commissioners to make.

UP: To outgoing Belpre Board of Education member Rod Hineman, who will step down at the end of December. Hineman, a member of the board for 14 years, was honored this past Monday for his years of service with many of his family, friends and colleagues in attendance.

DOWN: To an apparent phone scam by crooks claiming to be the Internal Revenue Service collecting back taxes via pre-paid card or wire transfer. These scammers threaten customers will lose their driver’s license through the West Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles if they do not meet them somewhere with a pre-paid card or wire the money directly. These scammers may appear legitimate by having the last 4 digits of the victim’s Social Security number, having caller ID show DMV, a DMV phone number, or an IRS phone number, or sending emails that have the IRS logo in them. The IRS contacts people by mail, not phone calls, and never asks for payment using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfers. Anyone receiving these type calls should call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 and also report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484.

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UP: To the PM Co.’s sixth annual Spirit of Giving fundraising event that raised $33,660. The money, $16,830 donations from guests matched 1-1 by the PM Co., will be split by eight charities in the Mid-Ohio Valley. In six years, the Spirit of Giving event has raised more than $130,000 for donations to the Mid-Ohio Valley, said Pat Minnite Sr., founder and president of the PM Co.

UP: To Greta Mooney of Parkersburg who recently won a Kohl’s Dream Receipt in which her entire tab, $134.58, was picked up at the Kohl’s department store in Parkersburg during a recent shopping trip. Mooney, a dog groomer at Pet Supplies Plus in Vienna, is scheduled to donate a kidney to her friend John Wiley of Cleveland on Jan. 8 at the Cleveland Clinic. Mooney was shopping at the time for an outfit to wear to a fundraiser in her honor to help pay her expenses while she recovers from her surgery. We wish her the best and a quick recovery for this selfless act to help her friend. An account has been established at Huntington Bank locations for anyone wanting to donate money to the “Greta Mooney Pay It Forward Benefit Fund” to help her pay bills while off from work.

UP: To Fraternal Order of Police Blennerhassett Lodge 79’s Shop With a Cop event which gives area children the opportunity to purchase Christmas gifts for themselves and their families. This year, 103 children, accompanied by a police officer shopped at the Vienna and south Parkersburg Wal-Mart stores. Lodge President Chris Morehead said the FOP collects donations each year for the program, with support coming from Wal-Mart, along with individuals, organizations and businesses making donations. The program allows at-need children to receive a $100 gift card which they used Sunday to go shopping with the help of a local officer.

UP: To the Marietta Police Department, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the Ohio State Highway Patrol for their work in containing a standoff at a Spring Street home Thursday morning. Officers were called to the home of 53-year-old William Bruce Ransom Jr., who threatened to hurt himself with a gun. Ransom had barricaded himself on the second floor of the home with a shotgun and fired at officers when they attempted to get him to surrender. Police retreated outside and called in the Special Response Team. Ransom fired shots at the officers outside before being overcome by tear gas fired into the home. Taking place in a crowded neighborhood, this could have had tragic consequences. Law enforcement officers did a good job in containing this.

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UP: To the people who will take a few moments today to remember this is the 72nd anniversary of the attack on the U.S. Naval base at Pearl Harbor. The attack, in the early hours of a Sunday morning, nearly crippled the U.S. Pacific fleet and left 2,402 killed and 1,247 wounded. Today fewer and fewer survivors of that fateful day are around to help us remember it, so we need to make sure on our own this day is never forgotten.

UP: To the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation for its Fall Community Action Grants program. This past week, through its Our Community’s Foundation, a total of $200,913 was awarded to organizations within the foundation’s 11-county service region of Wood, Wirt, Ritchie, Doddridge, Mason, Calhoun, Gilmer, Roane, Pleasants and Jackson counties in West Virginia and Washington County, Ohio.

UP: To members of the Warren High School bass chorus for performing the national anthem this past Wednesday in Cleveland before the Cleveland Cavaliers-Denver Nuggets NBA game at Quicken Loans Arena. The 22-member, all-male a cappella chorus has performed the national anthem at many athletic events in the area, but Wednesday was the first professional game for the group. Congratulations to the students.

UP: To all of the area communities and schools helping to bring about the feel of Christmas with their holiday lighting ceremonies. The beautiful lights and decorations give the evenings a Yuletide feel and make evening drives a feast for the eyes.

UP: To the Carry On Campaign’s stop in Parkersburg on Thursday at the Children’s Home Society of West Virginia at the Easton Center at 1717 St. Marys Ave. The Carry On Campaign began in October 2010 and supports children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect by providing them with essential personal items upon their transition to the foster care system. The campaign seeks donations of gently used luggage and other sundry items such toothpaste, toothbrushes, stuffed animals, coloring books, journals, as well as non-perishable snacks. People can make donations at the Children’s Home Society of West Virginia at the Easton Center at 1717 St. Marys Ave., or by calling 866-CALL-MWV.