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DOWN: To news it will be at least four years until the West Virginia Army National Guard will be able to provide the $4 million in funding for Phase I of the proposed readiness center slated to be built at West Virginia University at Parkersburg. The $4 million – plus $1 million of federal funding – was the guard’s share of Phase I of a project that will eventually be a multiple-use center for the college, hosting athletic events, banquets and trade shows. WVU-P Board of Governors were told that because of tight federal budgets, the money will not be available until 2018-20. While it was hoped the money would be available sooner, it does give WVU-P a longer window to raise the remaining $8 million of its $13 million share of the Phase I part of the project.
UP: To Parkersburg and Wood County being considered as a possible destination for a future event aimed at expanding bicycle trails in the region. On Wednesday, representatives of the national Rails to Trails Conservancy met with Kim Coram, a Parkersburg City Council member and coordinator for the Wood County Alternative Transportation Council, to discuss Parkersburg as a potential destination in the conservancy’s annual Greenway Sojourn, a multi-day ride involving some 300 bicyclists. The event, which attempts to encourage communities to expand bicycle trails, lasts between four and eight days with overnight stops and entertainment options at the different stops during the tour. We support Coram in encouraging the members to include Parkersburg as a destination for a future Sojourn.
DOWN: To the temper tantrum that turned into something resembling a riot at the Lorrie Yeager Jr. Juvenile Center, in Parkersburg, on Tuesday evening. Six juveniles who were angry with a disciplinary measure taken by center officials began a protest that got out of control and required involvement of the Parkersburg Police Department. There was extensive damage to the commons area where the juveniles were holding their revolt at approximately 7 p.m. Center officials say there was no threat to the public during the incident, and the center was secured by 9 p.m.. The six involved are no longer at the center.
UP: To Mattress Warehouse for dontating five new mattress sets to the Latrobe Street Mission this week. The five mattress sets were awarded as part of a December Facebook campaign, the Gift of Sleep, by Mattress Warehouse and its parent company, Innovative Mattress Solutions. To celebrate the company’s 30th anniversary, Mattress Warehouse gave away a queen mattress set each week for 30 weeks in its Sleep Stakes promotion. The 30 winners nominated charities and the top six based on Facebook likes received the five mattress sets. The Latrobe Street Mission was nominated by Tracy Browning of Mineral Wells, who was the week 29 Sleep Stakes winner. Also receiving five mattresses was the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Marietta, nominated by week 18 winner Theresa Clift of Marietta.
UP: To Parkersburg High School teacher Jamie Kupfner, one of only three West Virginia teachers invited this school year to participate in the National Science Teachers Association’s New Science Teacher Academy fellowship program.
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UP: To West Virginia State Police Cpl. C.J. Weekley of the Parkersburg detachment whose quick action Tuesday prevented a Wood County resident from hanging himself. Weekley was called to a domestic incident in Walker about 11 p.m. According to Weekely’s report, when he arrived at the home, he found two women with visible injuries and in a near state of panic. One of the women told Weekley that her son was in a back bedroom and needed help. Weekley forced himself into the room and found a man hanging from a rod in a closet and near death. Weekley cut the two-inch wide military-style belt the man was using and was eventually able to revive the victim. Congratulations to Cpl. Weekley for his quick action and letting his training and professionalism pay off to save this man’s life.
DOWN: To a West Virginia State Police report showing that Wood County trails only Kanawha County in the number of meth lab seizures in 2013. The report says there were 36 meth lab busts last year, but Parkersburg Police Chief Joe Martin said the number is actually higher. Overall, the number of lab seizures in the state jumped 85 percent last year, with busts made in 45 of the 55 counties. Meth lab seizures have grown at such a high rate in the state that state lawmakers are considering requiring a prescription for the sale of medications containing pseudoephedrine, a key meth-making ingredient.
UP: To Marietta resident “Cobbler John” Bolen, for his longtime work in helping make the annual River City Blues Competition such a success. The blues festival, in its 22nd year and sponsored by the Mid-Ohio Valley Blues, Jazz & Folk Music Society, concludes today at the Lafayette Hotel. Bolen, unfortunately, has been unable to take part in this year’s festival because of health issues. While his presence is missed, we are sure it also is felt in all he has helped accomplish.
UP: To Olivia Smith and Peter Welcker, two Wood County students who received recognition from a nationwide program that honors young people for their service projects in their communities. Smith, 14, an eighth-grader at Blennerhassett Middle School, was one of two West Virginia students earning The Prudential Spirit of Community Award, which recognizes her as one of the top two youth volunteers in the state. Smith is an advocate for youth and adults with disabilities. She volunteers much of her time helping them participate in various activities. Welcker, 17, a senior at Parkersburg South High School, was one of the two state students receiving a Distinguished Finalists award. Welcker received his honor for his research into finding a way to remove the chemical bisphenol (BPA) from food and water. Welcker now has a patent pending for his process. Both students come to their selflessness naturally. Smith’s mother is the director of The Arc of the Mid-Ohio Valley, her sister has Down syndrome, and an aunt uses a wheelchair. Welcker’s nephew was born with health complications doctors think were linked to BPA exposure during pregnancy. Congratulations to both of these students.
UP: To Betsy Utt, sixth-grade language arts teacher at Jackson Middle School, for giving area students and adults a glimpse of history. Utt was instrumental in bringing in Holocaust survivor Marion Blumenthal Lazan for a series of highly inspirational and emotional talks in the Parkersburg area earlier this week. Lazan’s talk drew large crowds at Utt’s school and others and allowed many students the chance to hear from someone who experienced the horror of one of history’s darkest episodes. Utt is to be congratulated for her work in making this event possible.
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DOWN: To the Wood County Commission for backtracking on its position on the need for an overnight shelter to house people arrested for public intoxication. When Westbrook Health Services announced recently it was not renewing its lease with the county to operate the agency’s Amity Center, the commissioners approached Latrobe Street Mission representatives about taking over the operation. Latrobe Street officials agreed, but would need $60,000 from the county to fund the shelter because a deadline for applying for the grant Westbrook used to fund the shelter had passed. This past Monday, the commissioners rejected the request and advised Latrobe Street officials to apply for a grant later this year. However, this puts Latrobe Street Mission officials in a difficult position. Board members must now decided whether to lease the space – which may not be available if the county changes its mind. While we understand the county’s reluctance to use $60,000 for funding, if the shelter was such a need when Westbrook ended its affiliation, why is it not a need now?
UP: To Division of Highway workers who once again spent a busy week clearing roads following Monday’s heavy snow. These workers were out on the roads during the most dangerous times of the day and night trying to make the roads as safe as possible for people making their commute to work. Under the circumstances they faced this week, they did a good job.
UP: To phase two of a study to determine the feasibility of bringing a Frontier League professional baseball franchise to Parkersburg. The first phase of the study, completed late last year, found that Mid-Ohio Valley residents would attend games if a team was located here. The latest phase will determine the best location for a stadium if the city eventually gets a franchise. While no final decision has been made about a team locating here, these studies will give potential investors the information necessary to decide whether to put money in the project if it does move forward.
UP: To Marietta resident Valerie Winchell whose Project Bravo has provided Bibles and other care package items to more than 10,000 soldiers and veterans in 2013. Winchell began Project Bravo eight years ago as a way to send care packages to soldiers and let them know their sacrifices were appreciated back home. In the ensuing years, the effort has grown so much that Project Bravo now has its own website for people who wish to help, and has 62 places across the U.S. that serve as distribution points for the items.
DOWN: To the uncertainty caused at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport because of United Continental airline’s decision to drop Cleveland Hopkins International Airport as a hub. The MOV airport offers four flights daily to and from Cleveland with service provided by Silver Airways through a codeshare contract with United. Even though airport officials were aware this could happen, it is unsettling for both the airport and the people who fly commercially from here.
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UP: To Criss Elementary fifth-graders Rylee Harner and Madison Spears, who were recently recognized by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin for their “Bracelets for a Cure” campaign which raised money for a local breast cancer program. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, the two 11-year-olds made several hundred rubber-band bracelets and sold them to teachers, parents, friends and others for $2 each. Some people gave as much as $50 and $100. At the end of the month the girls had raised $820 which was given to the “Pink Mammogram Fund” at Camden Clark Medical Center. The money provided life-saving breast cancer screenings to eight individuals. Congratulations to these two caring young girls whose willingness to get involved may have saved someone’s life. Their recognition by the governor was well deserved.
UP: To the Our Community’s Foundation which recently launched its 51st year of community service. Our Community’s Foundation, the collective name for the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation and its regional affiliate organizations in Doddridge, Jackson, Little Kanawha Area, Mason and Ritchie counties, has provided grants and donations to many groups to do the type of work that makes the Mid-Ohio Valley a special place.
UP: To Judith Winans, a chemistry teacher at Parkersburg High School, for her opportunity to witness President Barack Obama’s State of the Union message this past Tuesday. Winans, who has been an educator for 26 years and was a Wood County Teacher of the Year, was the guest of First District U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va.
UP: To Assistant Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park Superintendent Miles Evenson and his wife, Lindsey, who have been stuck on the island since Jan. 24 because of the frozen Ohio River. The Evensons say they and their two dogs are fine and have plenty of food. With the coming warmer temperatures, hopefully the Evensons can make it to Parkersburg for what will probably be a welcome escape.
DOWN: To the fact that area students will not be able to attend school for the number of days required by the state. While the weather has made the situation out of anyone’s control, this is something area boards of education will have to take in consideration when discussing the school calendar for the coming year.
UP: To Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Dustin Payne who was named the Jackson District Trooper of the Year in December and is now up for the State Trooper of the Year Award, which will be announced on Tuesday. Payne, a Waterford High School graduate who now resides in Beverly, has been a trooper since 2009.