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Movie, dinner help kids program

How about watching a murder mystery while eating a meal from Outback Steakhouse — all to benefit neglected and abused children.

That is what Voices for Children Foundation-CASA Program Director Margaret Burdette has planned for the 15th annual Mystery Dinner from 6-9 p.m. Oct. 17 at American Legion Post 15 in Parkersburg.

CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate. Burdette and her volunteers provide a voice for children in the courtroom in cases of abuse and neglect. The Parkersburg CASA office now has a caseload of over 300 children “being represented and advocated for to ensure a safe, stable and secure home environment,” Burdette said.

The “evening of mystery” begins with a social time at 6 p.m.

Participants can win a prize if they correctly guess the murderer in the whodunit mystery being shown on a big screen at the American Legion that night.

Burdette selects a black-and-white movie from the 1930s or ’40s to project on the screen. She is careful not to select a more current murder mystery that many people may have seen.

The movie begins at 6:30 p.m. once the salads have been served. Participants watch the movie until the crime is committed, then the movie is stopped and the Outback Steakhouse dinner of steak or chicken, baked potato and rolls is served. The food is cooked right outside the American Legion building at 2505 Ohio Ave.

The movie resumes when everyone has their meal. About 150-200 people — “usually a packed house” — typically attend the murder mystery dinner, Burdette said.

The movie is again stopped, after the investigative part is shown, to allow attendees to vote on who they believe committed the crime. Ballots with the names of the movie characters and the corresponding actors names are distributed.

Cheesecake is served for dessert while the audience watches the end of the movie.

All correct answers from the ballots are placed in a basket to be drawn for prizes. This year’s prizes include an overnight stay with dinner at the Blennerhassett Hotel, jewelry and spa treatment.

Proceeds from the dinner provide “direct services for children that have been removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect,” Burdette said.

For reservations or information about becoming a CASA volunteer call 304-422-3390.

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Danny Wilfong of Wood County is looking forward to seeing his former teammates and legendary football coach Bobby Bowden at this weekend’s reunion of the West Virginia University football team that won the 1969 Peach Bowl and finished with a 10-1 record.

Wilfong was a walk-on football player without an athletic scholarship when he entered WVU in 1967 from Parsons High School in Tucker County. Through his determination and hard work, Wilfong received room and board his sophomore year and a full scholarship as a junior at WVU.

Wilfong played defensive tackle at 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighing 210 pounds. He graduated from WVU in 1971 and is the owner of Foamcoat Roofing and Coating.

Wilfong said Bowden — “a good Christian man” — was like a dad to him. “He (Bowden) is the same guy today as when I met him in 1967. He doesn’t forget a name. Everybody liked him … his heart,” Wilfong, of Dutch Ridge, said.

Bowden, who celebrates his 90th birthday next month, was scheduled to speak at Friday’s reunion dinner in Morgantown and at this morning’s breakfast with the 1969 WVU team. The team will be honored at today’s Mountaineer football game against Texas.

Jim Carlen was Wilfong’s head coach his first three years at WVU, with Bowden as an assistant coach. Bowden became head coach of the Mountaineers after the 1969 season when Carlen left to become the Texas Tech head coach.

Wilfong said this weekend’s reunion will bring back memories “close to my heart.”

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The staff at the Blennerhassett Hotel is happy with the new owners, Wayne Waldeck and Lee Rector, and the owners are happy with the staff, Waldeck said Thursday. Waldeck and Rector officially became owners of the Blennerhassett Hotel on Tuesday after purchasing it from Sam Ross and family.

The employees have been awesome with several being longtime employees at the Blennerhassett Hotel, Waldeck said. Waldeck said his longtime experience in accounting and food service is blending well with hotel staff in those departments.

“Everyone is excited about the new future of the Blennerhassett,” Waldeck said.

Waldeck said his McHappy’s Bake Shoppe at 28th Street and Grand Central Avenue in Vienna, featuring a new company prototype design and bakery, will break ground in late summer or early fall of 2020. Construction will begin first in a month at a McHappy’s in Point Pleasant.

Contact Paul LaPann at plapann@newsandsentinel.com

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