Giving back to the community

Ron Lucas of Lubeck has set up stages for entertainers and speakers in 25 countries over the past 20-plus years.

Lucas was happy to provide free stage work at Parkersburg’s City Park last Saturday. The occasion was a groundbreaking ceremony for the monument honoring local armed forces members who died in Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan, including Parkersburg native Nicholas H. Null, who died in 2011 in Afghanistan.

Lucas, owner of Lucas Stage Productions for 23 years, said many of his family members served in the military, and the U.S. armed forces have helped to make America the best country in the world. “I wanted to give back,” Lucas said of his efforts.

Lucas, whose company is based in Coolville, does stage construction in about 30 states a year for corporate meetings and entertainers. His local work includes the Mid-Ohio Valley Multicultural Festival, Belpre Homecoming and Athens Halloween Block Party.

Lucas has worked at the Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City and at venues in Nashville, California, Las Vegas and along the East Coast.

He was set carpenter, stage manager and production manager for rapper Vanilla Ice for 4.5 years and still keeps in touch with the singer whose birth name is Robert Van Winkle. “He is a great guy. He treated us good,” Lucas said of Vanilla Ice.

Other highlights of Lucas’ career include stage crew member for Billy Ray Cyrus and working on stage construction for performances by Rod Stewart, Charlie Daniels, Hank Williams Jr., Alabama at its June Jam, Reba McEntire, Guns N’ Roses and 38 Special. He said he helped build the Mel Tillis Theater in Branson, Mo.

And Lucas can’t forget working the ground rigging and lights at a Frank Sinatra/Liza Minnelli concert in Charlotte.

He said most of the big-name entertainers he has met are nice people.

“We have some great musicians in the Mid-Ohio Valley,” Lucas said. “They just need to get the breaks” to move onto bigger stages.

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Charlie Taylor has a special interest in the renovations at Parkersburg High School’s Stadium Field. Taylor, an engineer with Pickering Associates, was an All-State football player at PHS in 2006, the year the Big Reds won a state championship. Taylor said he, along with other engineers at Pickering Associates, became involved with renovating Stadium Field after the bleachers were condemned in November. There has been a lot of interest from companies surrounding the demolition and rebuilding of the bleachers, said Taylor, who graduated from West Virginia University in 2011 with a degree in civil engineering. “Contractors think it is a neat job,” which involves specialized work, said Taylor, a 2007 graduate of PHS. Taylor noted that the concrete treads and risers in the stadium must be replaced, along with miscellaneous concrete repairs and other work. “Parkersburg High School means a lot to me,” Taylor said.

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Kristina Snider wants everyone to know Elizabeth Michaels boutique in Vienna is open and she and her mother, Donna McKinniss, are the new owners. Jane Engelke, founder/owner of the bridal/prom/pageant store, recently sold the business to the mother/daughter team, said Snider, 23, who lives in Mineral Wells. Snider started working at Elizabeth Michaels, 1505 Grand Central Ave., when she was 15 years old and “fell in love with the business of special occasions.” Competing in pageants, Snider has won the titles of Oil and Gas Festival Queen 2006, Miss Parkersburg Homecoming 2007, Miss West Virginia Interstate Fair Queen 2008, Miss West Virginia Three Rivers Festival Queen 2012, and was first runner-up to Miss West Virginia USA this past year. Snider graduated from West Virginia University with a degree in public relations and has been working at the Bureau of the Public Debt. McKinniss of Mineral Wells has worked for New York & Company and Belk as a Clinique consultant and is a licensed beautician. “We want to provide a special experience to all who walk in the door while providing excellent service and efficiency,” Snider said.

Contact Paul LaPann at plapann@newsandsentinel.com