Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

UP: To lifelong Marietta resident and World War II veteran Randall Hunter for receiving the Legion of Honor medal-France’s highest distinction for extraordinary contributions to that country. The 88-year-old Hunter also received two Bronze Stars during the war. Hunter was recognized by the French government for his action in the Battle of the Colmar Pocket in the Alsace-Lorraine region of France. The casualty rate in this action was high for both American forces and the French. It was the last action of the war fought on French soil.

UP: To Start Talking!, an Ohio youth drug abuse prevention initiative, that held its regional launch Tuesday at Marietta High School. The program, which began in the state on Jan. 8, is an attempt to get children, parents and educators talking about substance abuse. Start Talking! is comprised of four programs to educate and create programming for drug abuse and prevention.

UP: To Wood County Technical Center welding student Tori Baker for winning a gold medal as the best student welder in the state at the West Virginia SkillsUSA Conference in late March at Winfield High School. The 18-year-old second-year welding student is now expected to compete at the SkillsUSA National Conference in Kansas City, Mo., in June.

DOWN: To the city of Vienna’s proposed six-page Freedom of Information Act ordinance that passed its first reading at Thursday’s Vienna City Council meeting. Because of the increased number of FOI requests being made not only in Vienna but to all government entities, the mayor and council are not wrong in wanting a structured way to handle them. And asking reasonable fees for paper and printing costs is also understandable. However, requiring citizens to wade through six pages of rules, and charging them for time over 10 minutes it may take to gather the information, Vienna officials seem more interested in discouraging people from making a request than getting them the information they seek.

DOWN: To the two men who are believed to have stolen nearly $100 in donations from the Oil and Gas Museum on Monday. It is believed that one of the men distracted a greeter and assistant curator while the other stole the donations. The men also are suspected of stealing money from the museum last week. Parkersburg Police are investigating and have suspects in the case.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

UP: To Parkersburg taking another step toward becoming the low-budget horror film capital of the universe. On April 26, an open casting call will be held for the movie, “The Axeman of Henderson County,” which will star former West Virginia University quarterback Major Harris. The casting call for 25 to 30 speaking parts will be held at the Hillbilly Sandwich Shack at 47 Staunton Ave.

UP: To Parkersburg South High School sophomore Kenzie Pigott who was awarded the West Virginia Jr. Bowhunter of the Year Award for 2013 on March 15 at the annual W.Va. Bowhunters Association Banquet in Flatwoods. Pigott, the daughter of Kevin and Bridget Pigott, took up archery at the age of 6. She is an avid bowhunter and has written several essays for Bowhunter magazine and has won numerous prizes for those essays.

DOWN: To President Barack Obama’s foreign policy – or lack of one – that has allowed Russian President Vladimir Putin to move unchecked in the Crimea and now the Ukraine, threatening to bring instability to the whole region. While Obama has threatened – as he did with Syria – the world has watched helplessly while Putin continues his brinksmanship. The sad fact is Americans needing hospital care have more to fear from Obama’s policies than does Putin.

UP: To the city of Williamstown for being named a National Arbor Day Foundation Tree City USA for the 30th year. The designation makes Williamstown the longest-running Tree City USA member in West Virginia. A ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. Friday at Tomlinson Park to mark the occasion.

UP: To Wood County Sheriff’s Department deputies P.L. Allen and D.D. Matheny for their successful pursuit Monday of an escaped pet emu. The emu, a large ostrich-like bird native to Australia, got out of its pen in Waverly and caused a stir with traffic in the area. After the owner’s unsuccessful attempts to lasso the bird it became agitated and took off with deputies and the bird’s owner following on foot south on W.Va. 2 and onto Old St. Marys Pike, Wood County 16/7, for almost 10 minutes. Deputies finally were able to tackle the bird and it was returned home.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

UP: To four West Virginia elected officials-Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, Auditor Glen Gainer, and Treasurer John Perdue – for taking part in a discussion about how residents can avoid becoming victims of a scam. The event, sponsored by the local AARP chapter, was needed because, as Morissey said, his office “literally see(s) a new scam in the state of West Virginia every day.” People who think they have been either a target or a victim of a scam, should contact the attorney general’s office at, or call the state Consumer Protection Anti-Trust Division at 800-368-8808.

UP: To Marietta College for its plan to install more than 100 additional solar panels on two buildings, the Pioneer House, which is also known as the Sustainable Lifestyle House, and 100 panels on the McCoy Athletic Facility. This project is related to last year’s solar panel installation when the college utilized a grant through the Dominion Foundation to install photovoltaic solar panels and a solar hot water system in the Pioneer House. It is anticipated the project will be completed by early summer.

DOWN: To the 8 percent tuition increase approved this past Wednesday by the West Virginia University at Parkersburg Board of Governors. Yes, the state’s budget cuts and a decrease in employment have hurt, but no matter how outgoing WVU-P President Marie Foster Gnage tries to downplay the increase, it will hurt students who are attending the school.

UP: To area groups’ and businesses’ participation in the pinwheel garden program, a way to mark Child Abuse Prevention Month in April. More than three million pinwheels have been distributed nationwide since April 2008 when the national program started. Locally, employees of United Bank, who have been volunteering time and concrete support to families served by Children’s Home Society of West Virginia, are maintaining a pinwheel garden at the park at Fifth and Market streets, in downtown Parkersburg. To learn more about child abuse prevention activities in West Virginia, visit

DOWN: To the recent discovery of three counterfeit $100 bills at both the Parkersburg and Vienna Kmarts. Police suspect the passing of these bills is part of a larger counterfeit operation coming to the Mid-Ohio Valley. Anyone suspecting they have received counterfeit bills should immediately call local police department. The Parkersburg Police can be reached at 304-424-8444 and the Vienna Police can be reached at 304-295-8563.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

UP: To today’s presentations of “Pinocchio,” at the Smoot Theatre. The shows, at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m., are presented by the Missoula Children’s Theatre, and feature an all-local cast of children from kindergarten through 12th grade. The 60 students, many of whom had no experience in theater before this, have been practicing all week for today’s shows. This is the Missoula Children’s Theatre’s 17th year coming to the Smoot.

UP: To Elder-Beerman associates who for the past six weeks have donated money to help purchase plush teddy bears from the corporate office, which will then be donated to area children in crisis or emergency situations. Through a partnership with United Way Alliance, 52 bears were donated to two United Way agencies, the Family Crisis Intervention Center, a domestic violence shelter, and to the Mid-Ohio Valley Fellowship Home, a facility for individuals recovering from addictions.

DOWN: To the mindless individual or individuals who were responsible for the vandalism to eight vehicles last weekend in the Parkersburg area. Nothing was reported as stolen from any of the vehicles, but all had their windshields or back windows smashed by either a brick or a block. Parkersburg Police Chief Joe Martin said the vandalism appeared to be just for fun.

UP: To the approximately 14 volunteers working with the Belpre Tree Commission and the Belpre in Bloom project who planted around 50 chestnut trees at Memorial Park in Belpre near the entrance to the Memorial Bridge. A fungal blight in the early 1900s devastated the American Chestnut trees in the eastern United States. In the past several years, various groups have been attempting to bring this important tree back through work combining aspects of the American Chestnut with a Chinese Chestnut that is resistant to the blight to, hopefully, one day restore this magnificent tree to the eastern forests.

DOWN: To Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin for signing into a law the new minimum wage bill and then calling the Legislature back for a special session to fix several flaws in the measure. No one is objecting to raising the minimum wage, which under this bill will raise from its current $7.25 to $8.75 in 2016. However, many businesses and government organizations object to several provisions in the bill that they say will raise costs beyond the increase in wages. Tomblin and many lawmakers agree with those objections. However, if Tomblin agrees with the objections, he should have vetoed the bill in its current form and let the Legislature fix the problems before signing it into law. Even though legislative leaders say these corrections will be made, it was premature for the governor to sign the bill before they have been made.