There are two types of news.
Stories you know are coming such as ball games and public meetings and those that catch you by surprise, known in the business as breaking news.
When you've been around the Parkersburg sports community as long I have, you don't get surprised too often.
Friday, we got -to use a sports term -blind-sided.
The news that the bleachers at Stadium Field are so unsafe they have been immediately shut down hit like a ton of bricks.
Stadium Field is a community icon. It's our biggest gathering place, not just for sporting events, but for celebrations such as TitleTown and political rallies such as President George W. Bush's appearance there.
It serves as the home for Parkersburg High sports, Parkersburg Catholic football and middle school and elementary school sports. It is the site of football, soccer and track events.
Plus, underneath those very walls are the practice facilities for baseball and softball, facilities that have become part of the community.
Stadium Field is worth preserving. But the cost likely will be staggering.
Plus, this couldn't have come at a worse time. School finances are tight. It's hard to justify cutting positions while fixing sports facilities. Plus, Parkersburg South and Williamstown also have ongoing stadium projects that could use financial help.
This may well have to be a community effort. Or at least a combination of public and private organizations uniting behind a common cause.
Obviously, there are more questions than answers at this early point in the story.
School officials will have to determine what it will take to make the stadium safe again.
They'll have to figure out a timetable.
They may even -let's hope not -have to schedule events elsewhere if that timetable stretches into the next school year.
This is going to require leadership. From both school and community leaders. It's going to require a team effort.
It's going to test our community spirit, our resolve, our sense of pride.
I have no doubt we will come through. We always do.
Like every other community, we have our divisions. We're politically divided. We have a long-standing North-South division based upon which side of the Little Kanawha River we are from. But those things, while some make them a lifelong crusade, are really petty.
We are Parkersburg, the most successful athletic city in West Virginia.
The city to which others cite as an example.
The city which can get 3,000 volunteers to give up an August weekend to put on one of the best and longest-running road races in America.
We've previously faced major challenges and met them head on. It's time to do so again.
Contact Dave Poe at firstname.lastname@example.org