Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

UP: To news that Antero Resources signed an agreement to become the primary ethane supplier for the cracker facility Brazil-based Odebrecht hopes to build in Wood County. Under the agreement, Antero would provide 30,000 barrels of ethane a day to Ascent, which stands for Appalachian Shale Cracker Enterprise.

UP: To former St. Marys Mayor Art Olds for his nearly lifelong commitment to the American Red Cross. Olds, 92, was honored March 25 at an open house at The Greenhouse Inc. in St. Marys. He served as a job director at more than 40 disasters in the United States and in Puerto Rico during his 40 years of volunteer service with the Red Cross. This honor could not be given to a more deserving person.

DOWN: To the careless people who have been responsible for nearly 12 brush fires in Wood County during the past 10 days. According to Capt. Tim Flinn with the Parkersburg Fire Department, most of the county’s brush fires are caused by people throwing burning cigarette butts out of their car windows, or by not properly extinguishing camp fires. With the dry and windy days of spring, any fire can quickly spread and become a dangerous situation.

UP: To two area high school students whose artistic talents have been recognized by their respective states. Caroline Bantug, a senior from Tyler Consolidated High School, has been named the winner of the 2014 Science in the Arts competition. The 2014 Science in the Arts competition is part of the West Virginia Department of Education’s Arts Alive celebration, and was created to encourage high school students to research and present information about relationships between seemingly different subjects. The exhibit will be on display April 4, at the Clay Center in Charleston. In addition, Belpre High School senior Ashley Carte will have one of her works exhibited in the James A. Rhodes State Office Tower from April 13 through May 15. Her painting was one of 300 pieces picked for the exhibit out of 12,000 submissions by Ohio high school students.

UP: To Dr. Srini Vasan of Vienna for his and his family’s gift of $1 million to the Memorial Health Foundation last week. Dr. Vasan, a radiation oncologist for the Memorial Health System, presented $1 million to the foundation to dedicate the Radiation Medicine and Radiosurgery Institute in memory of Peggy Ann Cawley, mother of Vasan’s colleague and friend Dr. Kelli Cawley, and to dedicate the Vasan Family Robotic Surgery Center. In addition to Dr. Vassan’s generous gift, Dr. Rajendra Bhati pledged an additional $1 million to the Memorial Health System to be used for future equipment and advancement.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

DOWN: To Russell T. Farr, 50, and wife Angela J. Farr, 32, for their alleged treatment of his developmentally disabled brother and sister. Farr is accused of encouraging his brother to assault his sister, along with other abuse and neglect. His wife is accused of supervising the abusive treatment. This is one of the worse cases of abuse by a caretaker we have heard of, and the Farrs, if convicted, deserve the fullest punishment the law allows.

UP: To students in Edison Middle School’s F.O.R. Club who spent several weeks making locker shamrocks for more than 80 of their classmates. Club members wrote something positive on every shamrock posted on the lockers. In addition the students made several St. Patrick’s Day wreaths that were delivered to Cedar Grove Assisted Living to surprise some of the residents. The F.O.R. Club stands for Friends of Rachel, part of Rachel’s Challenge, a national anti-bullying program. It is named for Rachel Scott, the first person killed in the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado on April 20, 1999.

UP: To Smoot Theatre Executive Director Felice Jorgeson who recently received a Community Advocate of the Arts award from the Ohio River Valley Chapter of the National Society of Arts and Letters club. According to club president Jeanne Tasse, Jorgeson was honored for her work transforming the Smoot Theatre into a center for the arts and learning for the entire area. Congratulations to Jorgeson for an honor well earned.

DOWN: To a recent spate of home burglaries in the Parkersburg area. According to Parkersburg Police, 20 homes have been burglarized in the last five weeks. The homes targeted are in upscale neighborhoods with the occupants either not at home or elderly. Police say the culprits are using their ill-gotten gains to pay for drug habits. Hopefully, arrests will be made soon.

UP: To the United States Department of Transportation’s order that Silver Airways flights from the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport to Cleveland continue until a new service can begin. In February, Silver Airways, which provides four flights per day between the two facilities, announced it will end service within its Cleveland network no later than May 15. Under the DOT’s order, however, the flights will continue at least until June 14, at which time a new server should be chosen.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

UP: To Wood County Habitat for Humanity’s 68th home dedication, which was held on March 9. The home, on Summers Street, was dedicated for the Dotson family; Melissa, Sam, Ozzy, Gunnar, Kelta and Matthew. 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 through conventional means. Habitat homebuyers are required to attend homebuyer education classes and complete “sweat equity” hours in working on a number of local Habitat projects as well as their own.

UP: To the annual Very Spectacular Arts Festival scheduled for Wednesday at West Virginia University at Parkersburg. The festival, with a theme this year of “The Arts Lift Us UP!” runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and is sponsored by Artsbridge and WVU-P for students with special needs from school systems in seven counties in West Virginia and two in Ohio. More than 330 students are expected to attend this year’s event, and we are confident every one of them will have a good time.

UP: To the Parkersburg Art Center for hosting its annual “Art-o-Rama,” a free day for kids and parents, today at the art center in downtown Parkersburg. Art center director Abby Hayhurst said the event is an opportunity for kids to learn about the arts and see they are fun and interesting.

UP: To Marie Foster Gnage for her 10 years of groundbreaking service as president of West Virginia University at Parkersburg. Gnage not only was the first African-American to hold the presidency of the university, but also the first woman to hold that position. On March 11, she told the WVU-P Board of Governors that she would not renew her contract with the school when it expires June 30. Under Gnage, WVU-Parkersburg expanded its main campus and added the Downtown Center in Parkersburg. She also increased the number of bachelor degree programs from two to 12, and increased enrollment numbers to their highest level ever. We wish her well in the future.

UP: To the security safeguards in place that allowed state officials to discover and arrest a Parkersburg man for downloading pornography at the Parkersburg and Wood County Library. Matthew John Wiggins, 41, of Parkersburg, was arrested on Jan. 17 at one of the library’s computers. It was discovered that he had downloaded more than 50 images of child pornography on the computer. Wiggins was convicted on Thursday in the U.S. District Court in Huntington, and faces a minimum mandatory 10 years’ and up to 40 years’ imprisonment, as well as a lifetime of supervised release.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

UP: To grants totaling more than $400,000 for maintenance projects on the North Bend Rail Trail. The money, $300,000 from the West Virginia Division of Highways through its non-traditional grant programs and $100,000 the rail trail was previously awarded, will fix a longstanding water runoff problem in Doddridge County. And because of the additional funding from the WVDOT, the scope of the project has been expanded to include Harrison County and a small portion of the trail in Ritchie County.

UP: To tonight’s “A Night of Dancing With the Stars” at the Parkersburg Art Center. The seven teams, each featuring a local “celebrity” and a local “professional” will compete to raise money for the Actors Guild of Parkersburg. Admission is $25 for singles and $40 for couples. The event will feature an open dance floor, exhibition dancing and live music by The Onion Brothers Band. The doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the dancing begins at 7 p.m.

DOWN: To the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, for ruling not only that “upskirting,” the practice of secretly photographing underneath a person’s clothing, is legal, but that a woman riding public transportation has no right to expect that someone will not attempt to take such a photograph. Apparently, in Massachusetts, one is guaranteed privacy from peeping photographers only if one is riding the trolley or train “nude or partially nude.” This is one of the worst examples of a lack of common sense and decency in the judiciary to come along in some time.

DOWN: To the 43 shake-and-bake style vessels for cooking methamphetamines found during an investigation in the Coolidge Street area of Parkersburg. The vessels were found at two locations, one of which was an abandoned house in the area, the other an empty lot on Dry Run Road. The investigation was conducted because of concerns of neighbors who noticed a lot of unusual activity at the lot. The people who called in this tip should be congratulated for their diligence. Police have suspects and, hopefully, arrests will soon be made.

UP: To the Economic Roundtable of the Ohio Valley for bringing in Bob Tyler, director of finance and chief financial officer for the Steelers, to speak during a Thursday luncheon at the Parkersburg Country Club. Tyler gave those in attendance an entertaining glimpse of the business side of the National Football League.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

UP: To Eastwood Volunteer Fire Department firefighters Kevin Harris and Chad Lynch for their efforts in saving two dogs that were trapped in a burning home this past Tuesday. The dogs are two of five belonging to Melina Huddy, whose home near the West Virginia Interstate Fair and Exposition fairgrounds in Mineral Wells caught on fire Tuesday evening. Three of the dogs left on their own, but two remained inside. Harris and Lynch coaxed one out, but the other, large dog had to be led out by the collar.

DOWN: To Delegate Dan Poling, D-Wood, for his vote in favor of putting restrictions on how the state attorney general can conduct his business. No matter how the Attorney General Ethics and Accountability Act is worded, its goal is to tie the hands of the current Attorney General-Republican Patrick Morrisey. We wonder how readily Poling, Wood County’s only elected Democrat, and the only delegate from our area to vote for this measure, would have supported this bill if former Attorney General Darrell McGraw was still in office?

UP: To news that Technology Plastics LLC, a Jackson County company that plans to manufacture plastic lids for commercial-sized metal waste bins, plans to be operational by the fall. The plant is expected to initially employ 15 workers and is being started by Doug Ritchie, who founded Star Plastics in 1988. The company will use recycled plastic, purchased from Star Plastics, and will be located in unused space at Star Plastics facility. The company eventually hopes to expand into its own facility.

UP: To the work that will begin March 10 on the final 3,400-foot segment of the Little Kanawha Connector bicycle and multi-use recreational trail. The trail, a 15-year project, begins at Point Park, and once the work is completed later this summer, will end at the city limits at Corning Park. This is the city’s final stage of a project that is hoped will eventually connect the city trail to the72-mile North Bend Rail Trail’s terminus at Happy Valley Road, near West Virginia University at Parkersburg.