Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

UP: To the partnership between the Washington-Morgan Community Action and the U.S. Forest Service that has given nine Washington County teenagers summer jobs working in the Wayne National Forest. The high school students and two teens from Puerto Rico, have been working with the Youth Conservation Corps on forest projects, including making fire pits, mowing, replacing bridges, basic maintenance and upkeep of the parks/campgrounds in the forest. This is a wonderful first-job opportunity for these students that not only will give them an opportunity to earn money through hard work, but also will help them learn to work with others, and, hopefully, give them an appreciation for the outdoor opportunities in their own backyard.

UP: To a West Virginia Solid Waste Management agency grant totaling $20,000 that will help pay for recycling equipment at Hamilton and Jackson middle schools. The money will help pay for recycling bins and poppers – larger recycling containers – for the two middle schools. The total cost for the project is $24,000, with the remaining funds coming from the local solid waste authority board. The same program has already provided Parkersburg Catholic High School with recycling equipment. The goal is to eventually have this program in all Wood County schools.

UP: To the Parkersburg Downtown Facade Committee’s approval of the external plans for the former Uptowner Inn building on Seventh Street. The building has been purchased by Marriott, which plans a $7.5 million remodeling project that will eventually convert the building into an 84-room extended-stay hotel called the TownePlace Suites by Marriott. Approval by Marriott and the city is still required for many aspects of the project, but some work inside has already begun. Marriott hopes to have the facility open by March 31, 2015.

UP: To River City Farmers Market officials for allowing area food pantries to set up a table free of charge when the market is operating. People shopping at the farmers market can now, if they wish, donate items or cash to the pantries.

DOWN: To the serious problems meth labs have caused not only for law enforcement, but for neighborhood residents as well. On July 23, several Wood County residents vented their frustrations about this issue during a Wood County Commission meeting. At the meeting, Brandon Lewis, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Clandestine Drug Lab Remediation Program Coordinator explained the procedures related to meth lab cleanup cleanups. We don’t blame the residents for their frustrations and hope something can be done to slow this stain that is growing not only here, but in nearly every community in the state.

UP: To the volunteers who are repairing the damaged sections of brick at the Stepping Stones of Honor Veterans Memorial at City Park. Many of the bricks have been allegedly damaged by careless skateboarders and bicyclists, as well as by normal wear.

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UP: To the 42nd West Virginia Interstate Fair and Exposition which concludes its run tonight at the Wood County 4-H Fairgrounds on Butcher Bend Road, in Mineral Wells. The fair, which opened Tuesday, has been blessed this year with excellent weather, to go along with the usual fun and family activities and music that make this event so special. Today’s highlights include the always-popular ATV and truck pulls and entertainment by Cole Swindell on the main stage.

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UP: To the July 16 ribbon-cutting at the Children’s Listening Place Inc., where abused children under the age of 18 are able to talk about their abuse in a relaxed atmosphere. The center is temporarily located next to Rusen & Auvil law offices, at 1206 Market St., Parkersburg. The child advocate center project here was spearheaded by the efforts of former Wood County Prosecutor Michele Rusen, who now is in private practice. The center’s executive director is Lisa Sutton, an applied behavior analyst, who has specialized training in working with children with disabilities.

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UP: To the Jackson County Junior Fair, which opens Monday and runs through Friday in Cottageville. As many who have attended this event in the past know, it is a wonderful week of fun for the whole family. As always, it offers a great mixture of local and national talent-including bluegrass legend Dr. Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys, who will perform at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

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UP: To the dozen or so volunteers who gave up part of their Saturday on July 12 to help spruce up downtown Parkersburg. The volunteers at the event, organized by Downtown PKB, cleaned and replanted the decorative flower beds in the area around the Downtown Farmers’ Marketplace. Among those volunteering were high school students from Williamstown High School and Parkersburg High School. Congratulations to these community-spirited folks who helped out at this event.

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UP: To all the emergency responders and good neighbors who spent much of this week cleaning up following the massive storm that moved through the area Tuesday afternoon. High winds accompanying the storm brought down several trees and powerlines, causing power outages and other serious problems for residents. The crews responded immediately and have done a great job with the cleanup.

UP: To neighbors of a 20th Street family whose home was destroyed by a fire Wednesday afternoon. The family, a single mother with three children, had been in the home for only a couple of months. They were of town at the time of the fire. Neighbor Jennie McAtee, who lives across the street, immediately began a Facebook campaign to collect clothing for the family.

UP: To the Castle for its annual history camp for young students, which was held this past week. This year, 10 third-through-fifth graders participated in the camp, which offers a heavy emphasis on Marietta’s history, but also incorporates American history. We salute the Castle for its efforts to help instill an appreciation of history in young people. Hopefully, many of these students will take that appreciation into their futures.

DOWN: To the growing popularity of smoking with a hookah among teens and young adults. A hookah is a water pipe of Middle Eastern origin in which the smoker uses a hose with a mouthpiece to inhale specially made tobacco passed through a water bowl. Many businesses now cater to people who use a hookah. While many of the users think smoking in this manner is safer, studies have found that it not only poses the same risk as other tobacco products, but can heighten those risks.

UP: To the Austrian-based Miba Sinter USA, LLC, for its official opening on Thursday of new production facilities in McConnelsville that add more than 42,000 square feet. The expansion will eventually allow for the increase of more than 100 new high-tech manufacturing jobs in the next few years. The company, a subsidiary of the Austrian Miba group, produces high quality precision auto parts. Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Austrian ambassador Hanz Peter Manz were at the plant to announce the expansion.

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DOWN: To the recent spate of burglaries at several area churches. Whether these were cases of attempted burglary or just acts of mindless vandalism, we hope the people responsible are identified and arrested.

UP: To Marietta Main Street’s “I Wish This Was” campaign that placed posters at 10 empty storefronts with room for residents to write comments about what they would like to see in the building. The information will be compiled by the organization with the hope of making at least some of those suggestions a reality. This innovative campaign gives residents a voice in what businesses they would like to see downtown, and may give a potential entrepreneur the confidence to take a chance on opening a business.

UP: To Parkersburg South High School teacher and coach Tim McCartney, who retired this past week after 32 years of service at the school. During his career, McCartney taught math and science, and coached football, wrestling and track. He was involved in Fellowship of Christian Athletics at the school and worked to help with the Erickson All Sports Facility over the years. The Gilmer County native’s retirement plans possibly include getting a doctorate, teaching at the college level and writing. We wish him well in his future.

UP: To Vienna Parks and Recreation, who recently combined two disused soccer goals, some rope and a tarp to create a shelter for the weekly Amtgard group at Jackson Park. The free-to-play live-action foam combat group meets every Sunday at 1 p.m. beside the Vienna Recreation Center, and is always accepting new players. Thanks to Vienna Parks and Recreation, they can now retreat to a shaded spot to cool down between rounds.

DOWN: To the so-called Green Dot money scams, which in recent weeks have taken several Mid-Ohio Valley residents for more than $130,000 – including an elderly Marietta man who lost $120,000. According to those who have lost money, these are fairly sophisticated scams in which people are told to go to a store and purchase Green Dot money packs to avoid having their power turned off, being arrested, etc. The best advice to avoid being taken in by these unscrupulous individuals comes from MonPower spokesman Todd Meyers, who said, “Anytime someone calls and says pay now or else, it’s baloney.”