APRIL 1, 2005

Money Coming to Clay
School Board Meets
No Cost Cutting Approved
Legislative News
Life Advice about... Selling A Home
Don't Throw out the Baby
Bank Robber Caught
Letter to Brother Bill
Pursuing Freedom
Christian Service Center News

        Freshly elected and new to the Courtroom scene, Prosecutor Jim Samples has his work cut out for himself. With arrests coming left and right, the next few months will tell the tale on Clay County’ Chief Law enforcement official. Having worked around the Courthouse in other capacities earlier in life, we know the home grown Samples but never in such an important capacity. With drugs and drug related crime ever growing, the strong performance of Prosecutor Samples is critical for the success of stepped up law enforcement activities in the county of Clay.
        The Prosecutor’ office presented 14 cases to the Spring Grand Jury march 22nd. 14 true bills were returned. The pleas will be heard April 5th in Circuit Court. Indictments include: Joseph Larch, escaping custody; George F Adkins, operating a drug lab; Charles Bass, manufacturing a controlled substance; Larry G Thomas, first degree murder; David Stone, breaking and entering; Gerold M Thompson, possession with intent to deliver; Adam Jones, receiving and transferring stolen goods; Billy Jones, receiving and transferring stolen goods; Richard Cummings, wanton endangerment with firearm; Nancy Collins, fraudulently obtaining welfare assistance; Jason Triplett, breaking and entering other than a dwelling; Christopher Dwier, daytime burglary; and Bruce Bird Jr., wanton endangerment with a firearm.
        Pretty good mix don’ you think? Samples went for the whole enchilada on the first degree murder charge on Larry Thomas. Thomas is charged with murdering Nancy Nelson. Certainly the Murder Mountain case will be an interesting one to watch. Back last Sept when the bullets were flying on Murder Mountain , officially known as Oil Field Road in Ovapa, Cummings and Tommy Young Sr became the talk of the county. This paper filled its pages with pictures and coverage of the tense time in the county as locals began to lock their doors and windows for the first time in memory.
        Samples has some help as he wades through the cases. Clay County Commission funded Asst Prosecutor TJ Drake to help with the work load. During their last meeting, the CCC funded an additional secretary and office equipment to aid in the successful prosecution of our local thugery.
        From the crime.org web site we extracted some interesting reading.
Laws are designed to protect us and ensure our safety in all aspects of our lives: physical, financial, psychological and social.Yet not a day does go by that we don’ hear of crimes taking place in our city or state.When a crime is committed, public safety becomes endangered and specific individuals or groups may feel violated.While we would like to avoid such events, they take place all too often.Everytwo minutes, somewhere in America, someone is sexually assaulted. In 2002, there were a total of 4,854 cases of aggravated assault in Washington DC. On a daily basis, this computes to 13.2 aggravated assaults a day. In, there were 3,228 cases of larceny and thefts per 100,000 people in 2002.This is one-third higher than the national average rate of 2,445.8 cases per 100,000. In, there were 41.79 murders per 100,000 people in 2002.This is alarmingly way above the national average rate of 5.6 for the same year.
        Here in Clayberry we have felt secure and away from big city stats. Over the last two years, that has changed. Local law enforcement officials blame the increases on a number of things including: introduction of home made meth in the county; increased unemployment rates, non parenting of minors; and candidly, plea agreements, cases being dropped, and poor prosecution.
        Building on that passage, from the crime.org web site, Our social and economic problems are often a direct result of crime.In a vicious circle, these problems can fuel crime even more.For example, those who commit theft and burglaries often do so because of their need for money.These individuals may be unemployed, incapable of finding work, homeless, sick or impoverished.These crimes become a tempting way to quickly acquire money.Unfortunately, when left unpunished, these individuals get the misconception that crime pays.It is this thinking that encourages some individuals to continue their criminal ways, discouraging them from finding other activities that would give them some normality and stability in their lives.This way of thinking reinforces crime.
         In order to eradicate crime, we need to address the root causes. These include, but are not limited to, greed, poverty, lack of education, homelessness, drug addiction, racial hatred, and lax gun laws.Education is one of the biggest factors that plays a role in what becomes of an individual in their adulthood.Those who have an education possess the training and skills needed to make them marketable to potential employers.Indeed, even for jobs that pay only a minimum wage, employers likely will prefer interviewing candidates with a decent education over those without.Thus, many of the uneducated may find themselves unemployed, living in sub-standard housing and in impoverished conditions.And as money becomes scarce, many of them might be tempted to engage in criminal activities ….Poverty often pushes children to drop out of school.Those children who do not attend school may end up roaming the streets, exposing themselves to criminal elements and activities.This is why it is imperative that communities provide safe places where children can gather inside, away from street life.These include school clubs, youth clubs, and sports and recreational centers where children and youth are given support and supervision through educational and developmental programs.Without alternatives to schools, children can easily get involved in petty crimes such as shoplifting, residential break-ins, car theft and vandalism.After the petty crimes, these children may graduate into the more serious crimes of drug trafficking, sexual offences and gang violence.
         Here in Clayberry, drugs, drug use, illegal meth labs, and the thievery associated with such underworld activities make up much of the casual conversation. Who would have thought a senior citizen coming out of a Dollar Store would have her purse snatched? How many of us have left our homes unlocked? How many went for years without even a front door key? How many run into a local store and leave their key in the ignition?
        For many of us , those days are gone. With the help of a strong Prosecutor’ office, maybe some of the life we use to know can return. In the mean time, Jim Samples with 14 true bills before him, and many more cases before him “n the pipeline” has his hands full.

??? DID YOU KNOW ???

    1.        We will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. Martin Luther King Jr.
2.        Nationwide, peanut and nut allergies cause about 200 deaths each year nationwide.
3.        More than 80 deaths have occurred in the United States and Canada among people shot with police tasers [stun gun] since 1999.
4.        Motorcycle sales have topped a million units the past two years in a row.
5.        The states prison population will grow from a little more than 5,000 today to nearly 7,000 in 2014.
6.        Just 6 percent of American workers earn more than $90,000 per year.
7.        According to an annual report from the state auditors office, West Virginia had a total of 45,430 employees, fulltime, part time and temporary on the state payroll as of December 31 2004.
8.        Each year in the US, more than 200,000 are victims of family abductions. There are also 58,000 non-family abductions.
9.        According to the Motorcycle Industry Council, women buy more than 24 percent of scooters sold in the United States.
10.         As of the middle of last year, about 69 percent of all broadband lines were cable while 31 percent were DSL.
11.         Cell phone subscribers in the United States number more than 170 million, up from 34 million in 1995 according to census figures in 1995.
12.         Meth users account for 607,000 of the country’ 19.5 million drug users in 2003, according to statistics from the office of National Drug Control Policy.
13.         Mental and neurological disorders account for more than 13 percent of total worldwide disability.
14.         Sixty five million Americans live with chronic lower back pain. The American Association of Neurological Surgeons says.
15.         Nationally 8.7 percent of older Americans live in poverty. About 1 in 12.
16.         Auto deaths involving 16-year old drivers, fell 26 percent between 1993 and 2003.
17.         An average of 20 people a year commit suicide by pitching themselves off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
18.         More than 145 West Virginians are on a waiting list for a Kidney transplant.
19.         An estimated 13.4 million Americans practice Yoga or other mind-body exercises such an Tai Chi.
20.         A national Institute of Health study suggests that the region of the brain that inhibits risky behavior is not fully formed until age 25.
Money Coming to Clay CCC Meets
         Back in Jan, the County Commission voted to have one evening meeting a month to accommodate the day job workers in Clayberry. Even in the grips of winter, record crows came out to see the elected ply their trade for the good of the county. During the March 28th gathering, the peanut gallery was thin. Ten or less filled the pews.
         Those in attendance heard news of grants coming to the poverty capitol of West Virginia. Here’ our coverage from the 6pm March 28th Clay County Commission meeting.
         With all three Commissioners on the bench and the clock ready to ding 6pm, Poof they were gone. Peter Triplett, Fran King, and Jimmy Sams headed to side door with local gas company owner John Habjan. From the peanut gallery came, “Secret Meeting!!!”and “Caught again!! Breaking the law!!”Laughter ensued. Based on conversations during the last CCC meeting concerning two big gas meters at the old Courthouse costing taxpayers hundreds of dollars per month, here’ what we think was going on. Habjan was questioned on why two meters from the same service line were in place for a building that doesn’ even have a furnace? The March gas bill was $386.00 on each meter.
         With the crew back up front and Habjan nowhere to be seen, the meeting opened 10 minutes late with prayer and a salute to the red , white, and blue.
         Ambulance Service Director Bev King reported a need to outfit ambulance services employees with uniforms. With 6 full time and 9 part time workers cost for each would be less than $100. Bev King, “hey’e now buying uniforms themselves.”No decision made on the uniform request. Commissioner King questioned Bev on using having two crews on duty.
         Conversation switched to in county coal producers NOT paying a mandatory ambulance fee. Years ago, the Commission “rdinanced in”a fee of $5 per coal company employee per month, to cover ambulance service on mine sites. Later Fola Coal was allowed to pay just $3 per employee per month. Commissioner King said she talked to Keith Barclay, “He won’ pay the fee to Clay Ambulance.. Fola is not contributing… In 2002, they only paid four months… The safety director said we’e not providing them service… They have called JanCare..”Sounding a little more than irked, senior Commissioner Sams, “t’ simple, we won’ be their main service!!.. If they don’ want to help out ambulance service, let em use someone else!” After more chit chat, Sams, came down a little with, “We’l have to sit down and talk to them.”
         Would Fran King let them off the ambulance fee? King, “Here’ one cookie that won’ sign off!”
         CCC gave the thumbs up to allowing self contained RVs to park over night at Spread Park if a proposed “et Away to Clay”tourism promotion gets off the ground.
         County Commission got the green light on a $17,500 RDA grant to purchase a new ambulance. Their vote was to agree to follow all the Federal red tape and jumpin thru hoops. With four already in service and one more coming, the ambulance fleet will be the largest in recent memory.
         More money coming readers! The county is applying for money to fund a $30,000 per year Community Corrections Officer and additional funds for a secretary. Total grant amount ( if approved), $67,000.00 with the county coughing up a $17,000 co pay. If approved, a new job will be created/funded to supervise community service workers from Central Regional Jail. Currently the Probation Office handles community service workers on a limited basis. With the new badge coming, inmate trustees from CRJ will be seen working in Clayberry. There seemed to be a consensus in the crowd to see those behind air conditioned bars out and about working their time off. According to the Sheriff, each day they work in the program , a extra day is removed from their sentence.
         Money Money Money.. But wait there’ More! CCC put the pen to a $10,000 Budget Digest grant for a handy man program through Multi Cap on Main Street.
          What’ in the Commission coffers? At the end of Feb 2005, there was $360,000 in the General Fund, $260,000 in the Coal Severance Fund, and $270,000 in the voluntary, $2 per month on your telephone bill, 911 fee.
         Sarah Bragg was named as the current Clay County History Hero by the Landmarks Commission.
         Have you ever listened to your scanner and heard the many missed worded, poorly worded, often confusing scanner traffic? That’ about to change. The County Commission is hosting : Communications 101, How to Talk on a Radio and Not Sound Dumb in the near future. Fire Departments will be the first to under go the transformation. Sheriff Holcomb, “We’e got to get some points and policies set down….”
         The county of Clay is readying for new 911 complaint road signs. Funds for the first batch of 200 signs will come from the county 911 fund. One fellow suggested that each ugly green and white metal sign and pole will cost around $41. The successful bidder ( local bids will be accepted) has to meet the Federal reflective guidelines. That $41 figure did not include installing the 7 foot above roadway signage.
         As is the case whenever 911 mapping, street naming, and addressing comes up, discussion turned to what a screwed up mess it has become. Holcomb, “911 doesn’ know where to send me..”Commissioner Fran, “Punkin Lane is not on Punkin Ridge.”Big Otter FD rep Marlyn Starcher asked about getting maps with the new street/road names. The reply: maybe sometime next year. 7 years ago, the county was told, all emergency service crews would be outfitted with correct maps.
         Continued on the next page
         Jumping back and forth, motion made and passed to require ALL coal companies in the county to pay the $5 per employee, per month ambulance fee beginning April 1st. Contractors are NOT required to pay the fee.
          Note: According to Fran, last month, Fola Coal has 430 employees on the job. Caaaa Ching!
         Prosecutor Samples came out on top during this meeting! The Prosecutor was budgeted $5000 to hire a new secretary and an additional $2200 for a spiffy new puter with bells and whistles.
         The county has had a Local Emergency Preparedness Committee since 9/11. With little participation by the appointed members and even fewer duties and responsibilities to perform, the CCC hyped up the importance of being prepared for terrorist attacks on our 342 square miles. When the snickering slowed, new more active members were appointed to the group. In reality, the county has to have an active LEPC in order to receive Federal grants.
         Here’ a cutey. Someone suggested calling Superintendent Jerry Linkinoooger and encouraging him to attend meetings. Commissioner Sams, “Oh, I’l call him up tonight!”Laughter was heard. For newbee readers, Link is running against Sams in the 2006 County Commission race for District B.
         Meandering back and forth from the agenda structure, minds went back to using inmate trustees from the prisons in the county and community service workers. Litter Control Cop Dawn Whitley was given the go ahead to supervise existing in the courts community service workers. As Magistrate Mike King ( too darn many Kings at this meeting!) commented on the need for an officer to supervise such workers, Sheriff Randy Holcomb, “I’l put ‘m to work!! I’l watch ‘m!”Holcomb said the Courthouse needed a bunch of cleaning. Others said courts allow workers to stream clean up work. Questions came on if workers would be covered by WV Workers Comp if they break a leg. Holcomb came back with, “Most of ‘m have a [welfare] card anyway!… It’ the truth.”
                 More comments came: Judy Moore, “You’e talking about convicts.”Holcomb,”They have it better than we do, with TVs and laying up there..”From someone to the Sheriff, “What if you’e supervising them and a call comes in, who watches them then?.. Some might disappear.”Holcomb, “f they escape, that adds a year to their sentence.”
                 Back to the agenda. Remember reading about our 911 Director not living in the county and sometimes not available for duty? Nicholas County’ Dave King resigned from duty during this meeting. The full time position will be advertised later this month with a Clay County residency required. Prior to Dave King, the county used volunteers 911 Directors. It looks like when we hire our own replacement for King, additional duties will be tacked on and the pay will be substantially reduced from King’ peak pay of $1500 per month a couple years back.
         School Board Meets at Clay Elementary
          The Clay County Board of Education met Monday, March 21 for their regular meeting at Clay Elementary School and conducted the following business: approved placement of professional and service personnel on the preferred recall list for the 2005-2006 school year; transferred Technology teacher Addie Cole from Clay Elementary to Valley Fork Elementary (Garland Tenney’ former position,) successful bid, effective at the beginning of the school year; transferred LD teacher Sherry Ramsey from Ivydale and H.E. White Elementary Schools to just H.E. White (Suzanne Cumming’ former position,) successful bid, effective at the beginning of the school year; employed Brandi McKinney as Special Education teacher at Clay Elementary effective November 1; approved a budget allocation, amount not announced but reported as about $125 different from last year, for the Clay County Extension Office 4-H for 2005-2006; accepted the resignation-retirement of Clay Elementary teacher aide Barbara Tenney effective at the end of the school year; transferred $1,500 previously allocated for the Clay High Dance Team, which was turned down, to the Clay High School auditorium restroom project; employed Kristen Carnahan as a substitute teacher for K-6; approved the CCHS and CMS TSA team to travel to Cedar Lakes in Ripley March 31-April 2 for the annual spring conference; and approved submitting the proposed levy estimates, for the regular and excess levies, to the State Tax Commissioner. All items passed unanimously with little, if any, discussion.
          Superintendent Jerry Linkinoggor suggested the Board might want to help pay for uniforms for the CCHS track teams. Member David Pierson asked him to get the dollar amount requested for the next meeting.
          The Board then met with the Local School Improvement Council. Vice Principal Joe Paxton gave them an update on a State Board policy which goes into effect July 1. The policy requires students to receive 225 minutes of daily instruction in core classes, which he said they were OK on, and 90 minutes daily instruction in English/Language Arts. He reported that students were now getting between 70 and 110 minutes of English/Language Arts, and he discussed changes they are proposing in the bell schedule to ensure all the students meet the new requirements.
          Principal Joan Haynie discussed the technology upgrades and new security system installed at the school this year. She reported that they have 1 computer for every 1.6 students. The security system has digital cameras, motion sensors outside, and is hooked in with the fire alarm system. She said their only request of the Board was their continued support.
          The Board recessed this meeting until the third Tuesday in April (April 19.) Next regular meeting of the board will be Monday, April 4, at their administrative office in Clay. They will conduct a school closure hearing on Tuesday, April 5, at Valley Elementary School. TK
         No Cost Cutting Approved Bankruptcy Bound: Clay Roane Meets
         They just can’ quite get their act together! We’e talking about Clay Roane PSD. During the last four meetings or more, Chair Postelwait has pressed to reduce costs, told the assembled, the PSD is broke, and increasing water rates is not solution with out of control spending keeping them in the muck.
         The norm is for the crew to start bickering either in public or scurry away behind a closed door to argue in private. The end result is the same, little is accomplished and rate increases come on a regular basis.
         For those of us that have watched from the peanut gallery for years on end, history is repeating itself. Now gone from service Boardsters proclaimed, “WE DON” WANT A RATE INCREASE!!!’and then followed up with motions to seek a “ule 42” They were cleaver in the beginning since few knew what a Rule 42 meant. Oh they went through the usual, how can we cut more, where can we trim the fat discussions, but in the end, they approved rate increase after rate increase and wasted more $.
         Just a few years ago, the WV Public Service Commission told the Clay Roane Board, to justify another rate increase, go deeper indebt by borrowing $50,000 from the Clay County Bank and then ask for an increase. They did just that! Today the PSD is still paying on that loan and where the money actually went, they said they were going to use it to purchase more accurate & quicker to use meters and meter reading equipment, well, no one knows for sure.
         Somewhere in their dim history, the 579 customer PSD voted and bought the old Newton FD building for $30,000.00 which they never used except to store a weed eater. They later sold the metal building for just $10,000.
         More recently, a former employee was accused of not reading the meters for months and months, years in some cases while over charging some customers and under charging others.
         A tradition of dismal leadership and fiscal control has become the norm. It’ about here that most newspapers would say, in all fairness, those early examples have been corrected and the PSD is now on firmer footing. We can’, it wouldn’ be true.
         Now that we’e got your attention and set the mood, here’ our coverage of the March 25th Clay Roane PSD meeting held in the CCC room after being locked out of the normal meeting place, the Clay Development Corp building across the street.
         With all kinds of financial paperwork passed out, woes popped up quickly. Of the $26,000 + billed in Feb 2005, only $16,003 has come in. Second notices have been mailed many customers. Late fees are being paid to the CC bank. Office Manager Crystal, “We don’ have the money to do it.. I’ trying to pay the outstanding bills..”With the Board intently reading the expanded financial packets, it took Chair Postelwait four tries to get a motion to OK the financials. Their Procious Water Plant is operating inefficiently due to one of their raw water pumps broke and no money to replace the costly unit. Repairs are under way. A fire hydrant was removed from service months ago out Wallback way and the PSD doesn’ have the money to replace the unit.
         With more information available to the Board, more findings surface. Like, in Jan 2005, the PSD had outstanding invoices of just $1049.00. One month later, in Feb, those outstanding bills totaled $4500.00. About that new information…. As they try to get a handle on their bills and spending, they realized, their financial reports contained errors and oversights. Once again, the PSD will try to reinvent accounting standards and come up with a way to see what the H is going on!
         Last meeting, meeting before and this meeting, Chair Postelwait tried to get her fellow Boardsters to cut the biggest expense ticket item, salaries. Didn’ happen. Post asked employee work weeks be cut to 35 hours per week, “e’e running tight on money now…. This [would be] on a temporary basis until we can get caught up….. we need to cut expenses somewhere!”Snapping back after a stormy meeting two weeks earlier, Boardster Susan Beard quipped, cutting board meetings would save more money.
         Maintenance man Davey Deems and Office Manager Crystal McHenry spoke out against cutting hours. Melissa Postelwait added she wanted to cut operator hours as well. No decision made on cutting the PSD’ biggest expense, wages.
         For over a year the PSD has bickered over buying $2.61 per 1000 gallon water from the Town of Clay of making their water at $4.60 per 1000 gallons. The argument continued this March 24th. With the Board split down the middle, the best Postelwait could muster…. Clay Roane PSD will do a two month test where they buy all the water they can from the town followed by a two month period where they make their own water and then compare the two periods. Even with that compromise agreed on, the rift among Board members was apparent.
         During a meeting break, several little groups formed around hand held calculators as gray matter was put to use. With the figuring showing a benefit to purchasing wa wa, at one point, Susan Beard yelled out something along these lines: get all the costs!! That’ dollars we have to pay out, it’ called OVERTIME!”
         Glen Sutton summed it all up with, “Ask the Governor for $50,000 or file for bankruptcy.. They’e got money for us.”In response, Postelwait, “That won’ help! We’ be right back here in 2 months!’For once, Chair Melissa Postelwait was dead on the money. She was right.
         For those that aren’ regular readers of The Communicator, Clay Roane PSD customers will receive a 14% rate increase this month followed by another increase this summer. With that increase, your water rates will be in the top 5 highest rates in WV.
         We could go on with the meeting blah blah blah but here it is in a nutshell. The PSD is out of control and insolvent. The only way the state regulators (WV PSC) have to deal with this mismanagement is to raise rates. They’e done it repeatedly in Clay County. In each case, it only makes matters worse. In each case, when the rates goes up, the number of paying customers goes down. It’ the domino affect.
         Those dominos are ready to tumble again leaving the customers of Clay Roane PSD without the one thing the PSD is charged with providing, clean, safe, affordable, wa wa.                                        AW
          Law enforcement activities and meth busts in particular have been center stage during the last three months. For at least three of our readers, that’ too much! We received a letter last week from a subscriber who was not going to renew his prescription (as we call ‘m). He wrote: we devoted too much space to law enforcement topics. The writer said he knew of two other ‘rescribers’who were doing likewise.
          To the unsigned, no return address envelope, we understand that “ittle”newspaper is still in business over in Clay and covers the stuff you most likely like, spaghetti dinners, anniversary topics, and life as it was years ago.
                 Raise your hand if Green Shirt Sgt Wiles has given you some kind of petty little ticket. Yelp, we see a bunch of hands going up. Ticket writing is what Mr Wiles does best. Last July, our guess is, Wiles issued almost 400 tickets for very serous stuff like, a broken mirror, a license plate light not burning and tickets for the ever serious, loud muffler!
                 The award winning, got a new cruiser a couple years back for writing a record number of tickets, Sgt Wiles is leaving the Clay Detachment. Boy are we going to miss him! Hate to see him go
          SPECIAL TOWN MEETING Two weeks ago, Judge Alsop dropped the Town vs Tammy Duffield court case. During that hearing Town hearing, Town attorney Barbara Schamberger was a no show. Based on court room discussions, it sounded like Schamberger had done little in the way of preparing for the case. 24 hours after the Court dropped the Duffield case, Clay Town Council met in Emergency Session and hired attorney Kevin Duffy to pick up the charges of “ticky fingeritus”and get it back in court. During the same emergency meeting, Ms Schamberger was fired from service. Council person Betty Murphy, “I am really upset with her, she didn’ bother to show up… she should get in trouble for that.”
          MORE TOWN 2005-2006 Town Budget, Income: property tax, $61,533; Oil & Gas Severance Tax, $250; Utility tax, $14,000; Liquor Tax, $5000; Business Licenses, $1500; Interstate Reg Pal fees, $5000; Parking meters, $500; Earned interest, $100; Video lottery, $2000. Total income: $95,883.00
          Expenses 05 – 06: Mayor $6000; Council $6000; Recorder $4500; Treasurer $12,000; City Clerk $3000; City Hall account $28,383; Cost of Audit $2500; Contingency Fund $500, Police Dept $2000; Streets $20,000; and Street Lights $15,000.
          SPECIAL HEALTH BD MEETING the search is on for a Karen Dawson replacement. Dawson resigned her Directorship last month. After the Board appointed Linda Klotzbach as interim director, the in-house job postings got underway. On March 30th, the Board was ready to hire one of the two applicants, Linda or Jay Carper and called a special meeting. The meeting happened but the hiring didn’. Turns out the Top Slot is a civil service position and the folks in Charleston have a say in who is qualified to apply, and how much the successful applicant will receive.
                 A hacked off Herman Rogers spoke up, “I have one major question. What the H are we doing here?????… THIS BOARD HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE HIRING!!”He might be right. After the Charleston Gang gets done, both local candidates could be out and hiring may have to come from outside the agency and county for that matter!
                 Here’ two nuggets readers. During this Special meeting, it came to light that the Board had meet earlier in the week and did so without the state code mandated posting of an agenda. Interim Director Klotzbach confirmed the earlier in the week meeting and the lack of an agenda. How important is following rules and meeting etiquette? Here’ nuggets. First, during the meeting the public knew about, Joe Morris brought to light a problem the Braxton County Health Dept got them into as they peed off the county and implemented a thoughtless unfair ban on smoking. Continued on page
          According to Morris, when the Braxton group met and voted in their smoking ban, they went against Robert’ Rules of Order, voted and passed a motion while a motion to adjourn was already on the table. When the dust settled, rules of engagement held tight, and the vote will have to be done over.
                 Finally on our Health Bd… back in 1996 when they first voted in a modest smoking ban, before any vote was taken, the issue was brought to the County Commission’ attention for discussion and a public hearing was held.
                 Avoiding the rift raft of the public, this time around, the Board decided to do away with any public hearing and greatly limit ANY public comment .
                 Expect another public Special meeting of the Clay County Health Board this week as well as a secret meeting or two.
          NEW BRIDGE COMING the aging cement bridge beside the old Courthouse will be replaced this year. Survey crews were on site Friday April 1st and are expected to return this week to complete their work. County Demorat of the year Gene King was telling, Fran King was behind getting the replacement bridge, that in just three months, she had already done more than other Commissioners dreamed of accomplishing.
                 When we talked to Ms King, she said she would be happy to take credit for the new bridge but truthfully, she had nothing to do with it getting replaced.
          SCHOOL CLOSURE HEARINGS Two weeks ago, a school closure hearing was held at Ivydale Elem School. This week is the Valley Fork hearing. During the Ivydale hearing, the Board said they had not decided on closing the two schools despite the school’ official web site giving details on how nice the new Big Otter Consolidated School will be, how site prep work is under way and such. Few people showed for the hearing. One, Fred Sampson, asked why a new $4.5 million school was being built when both community schools could be renovated for about $2 million.
                 What was the answer provided Mr Sampson? Superintendent Link, in not exactly these words: It’ all a big game we have to play and community schooling, the worth of community schooling, and the value of having a neighborhood school is not in the game plan. Sorry parents, sorry kids.
                 For those attending the Valley Fork Closure Hearing this week, expect nice, liquid smooth, stats filled with “his is the best thing for the county since canned soup” For those worried about longer bus rides, less parental involvement, less oversight of the distant school, and wonder: What about all this distant learning stuff that is suppose to keep community schools in the community, they will have nice answers. that so called reporter,
         Legislative News From Senator C. Randy White
          With only one week left in the Legislature’ 2005 Regular Session, emotions are running high and the tension is building. Controversial legislation will soon have its day on the auction block. There are a few measures which I think you should be aware of that the Senate has passed
          Senate Bill 245 seeks to limit the amount to which a person could influence an election. During the previous election, the American people were bombarded with advertisements from both sides either advocating for a candidate or attacking the opposition. This is part of our political landscape, the essence of democracy. But, sometimes the ads go to far. These so-called “essages”are not cheap. Each time one is played it could cost the sponsor in the upwards of $300. That’ a lot of money for most people. But, to some it’ just pocket change. For the wealthy it’ not hard to express their position on an issue or a candidate. Their influence through media is disconcerting. If you see the same message over and over maybe five to eight times a day you may not believe it, but you will remember it. We cannot let those with an abundance of wealth determine the outcome of our elections. Senate Bill 245 would add provisions to existing code which governs the reporting of money spent on candidates running for public office. If it becomes law, any person who spends $1,000 or more for any statewide, legislative or multi-county judicial candidate or $500 or more for any county office or single-county judicial candidate after the 11th day of an election period but at least 12 hours before the actual election, would have to report their expenditures to the Secretary of State within 24 hours of the payment. If it is a private expenditure, the benefactor would have to disclose his or her name and it would be public information. Also, any person who spends at least $5,000 for the costs of producing or airing electioneering communications anytime during a year would have to file a disclosure of expenditures with the Secretary of State. If a business, partnership, committee, association, corporation, organization or group makes the expenditure, it would have to disclose its name as well. It would require people to identify who they are so a blindfold is not pulled over our eyes by some made-up name for political purposes. We have to hold everyone accountable when the outcome affects each and everyone of us. The other bill, Senate Bill 287, would transfer the authority for determining water quality standards from the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) to the Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The Secretary would enforce the water purity and quality standards for the groundwater of the state. The standards can exceed those set forth by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in areas where the Secretary determines it is in the best interest for the quality of drinking water and the health of citizens. However, the DEP has been doing a spectacular job up to now. There is no need to change what already works. Senate Bill 12 would make English the official language of the state. No state agency or political subdivision would be required to provide written materials or documents in any language other than English. The Legislature does not need to pass a bill like this. It discriminates against persons who have immigrated to this state from another country who may have not had the chance to learn English. It sends a message of intolerance to people from other countries and cultures. We are wasting our time just to discriminate. I guess we’e only open for business to those who can speak English. Multinational corporations need not apply without an interpreter. It’ a frivolous bill that could do more harm than good.
         Life Advice about... Selling A Home
          Strong curb appeal will lure potential buyers inside, where you have to live up to their expectations. Fortunately, there are plenty of easy improvements you can make to your home's interior without spending a lot of money. Cleaning is Number 1. Your windows, floors, bathroom tiles should sparkle. Make sure you have clean heating and air conditioning filters. Shampoo dirty carpets, clean tubs and showers, repair dripping faucets, and oil squeaky doors. Keep your home neat, clean, and picked up at all times. It may not seem fair, but a peek in the oven may be the hallmark by which a buyer judges how well you have kept up your home.
         Remove unnecessary clutter from the garage, basement, attic, closets, and straighten stored items. Also remove any items that might make a statement that would be offensive to others who may not share your same views, beliefs or sense of humor. If a room needs a fresh coat of paint, use a neutral off-white. Think, too, about how your home smells. You may be used to the smell of pets or cigarettes, but such odors can be a strong turn-off to others. Be certain to remove valuables such as jewelry and other items from view. It might be wise to put these items in a safe deposit box before showing your home. Finally, set a mood for the buyer. Make your house homey with live flowers and fresh guest towels in the bathroom. Place scented potpourri around the house or on the day you're expecting a potential buyer, pop a batch of frozen cookies or cinnamon rolls into the oven for a welcoming aroma.
          Remember, cosmetic changes do not have to be expensive. In fact, costly home improvements do not necessarily offer a good return on your investment when you sell. It's attention to the basics, anything that says this home has been carefully maintained that will help you get the price you want.
          Next time see the story of “o It Alone or Choose a Real Estate Agent."
         This series is brought to you by Dave Derby,
         Greenlee Properties Inc., Clay Office

         Don't Throw out the Baby
          Years ago I heard the saying "Don't throw out the baby with the wash water." This saying might apply to many of the policies and procedures that the Democratic party have tried in the last few years or are considering in the future. Republicans' biggest victory has been to convince many Democrats that we can only win by abandoning our values and doing what they say.
          It's one of their favorite tactics; just watch how right-wing pundits talk endlessly about the internal politics of our party. They try to divide Democrats by ideology just as they divide all Americans by race, or gender, or faith.
          But there is no crisis of ideology in the Democratic Party, only a crisis of confidence. Bill Clinton once described the Democratic Party's problems in the era of George W. Bush, saying that in uncertain times people would rather have a leader who is strong and wrong that weak and right. He's exactly right. And we become both weak and wrong when we abandon our core values for short-term political gain. But when we Democrats talk straight and stand up for ourselves, we have a huge advantage. We are both strong and right.
          We will only turn the advantage into victory if we make a comprehensive plan and work hard to execute it. Declare your support and offer feedback now on the plan to build an organization that will help us win everywhere and win with pride.
          Millions of Americans became Democrats last year. They sensed that they live in a society where ordinary people's problems and interests don't matter to our government. They chose the Democratic Party because we represent commonsense reform. And millions more will become Democrats this year as we protect the Democratic Party's greatest achievement. We will not allow George Bush to phase out Social Security - a Democratic policy that cured an epidemic of poverty among seniors and provides the guarantee of retirement with dignity.
          My mom depended upon Social Security for years after my dad died. She wouldhave had any income and would have been required to move out of her home if Social Security hadn't provided the income for her. She existed in dignity.
          The stakes are too high to wait for others to lead. Everyone of us has a personal responsibility for the future of our party and the future of our country. Let all of us make our voice known. Don't let the Republican party throw out the baby with the wash water. Listen to the daily news coming from our government. Yell at the top of your lungs when you hear about policies, changes, laws , etc., that will change our way of life. Don't let them lie to you about Social Security changes, judicial appointments, personal liberties, government financial mismanagement, etc. Truth must be brought back in government!
          We Democrats have a strong history of helping the little people. We believe in social programs and social security for the elderly, etc. help make our country greater. Keep what works and only change things when they don't!
                 A True Blue Clay County Democratic,
                                         Dave Derby
         Bank Robber Caught
          Sheriff Holcomb should have taken the rest of the day off March 22nd. By 10 am Holcomb had a bank robber arrested and did so with just one hand! Scanner listeners heard the 911 call around 8:50 am, “e On the Look Out (BOLO) for a white male with facial hair and a blue shirt in a dark Camry with front end damage… Just robbed City bank at Glasgow and may be heading your way.”TFC Bailey called for Holcomb’ assistance and the two headed toward bell Creek in the Southern end of Clayberry.
                 After downing several cups of gogo juice before leaving the Courthouse and after arriving at the road block area, Mother Nature called our Badge Holcomb. With business in hand and heeding the call, the dark colored car came into sight. Bailey drew his weapon and with a puddle at his feet and one hand still busy, the right handed Holcomb drew his weapon and apprehended the bad guy without incident. By 10 am, the ambidextrous Randy Holcomb had nabbed a bank robber.
                 Turns out the Duane Eaves admitted to robbing other banks in PA and Virginia before getting caught in WV.
                 With the FBI taking Eaves into custody, Sheriff Holcomb went on about his business, just another morning in Clayberry .
         03/21/05: Belt – James Michael Morris, operation of clandestine drug lab (03/15/05), ROB, preliminary hearing 03/22, probable cause found, bound to Circuit Court.
         03/22/05: Elswick – Donald Alan Bishop, fugitive from justice (State of PA), arrested, sent to Circuit Court for disposition.
         03/28/05: Stephenson – Gerald W. Naylor, grand larceny, summons; Stephenson – Strevie Truman, delivery controlled substance, summons.
         03/17/05: Simms – Anthony Gerald Ferrebee, stream litter, warrant issued.
         03/18/05: Sizemore – Joshua Adam Vance, possession of controlled substance, appeared, ROB; Sizemore – Daniel B. Grose, domestic battery X 2, warrants issued.
         03/19/05: Wickline – Terry Lee Taylor, driving under the influence, leaving scene of accident with property damage, and obstructing and officer, arrested, ROB 03/21.
         03/21/05: Bullard’ Exxon & Quick Stop – April McVey, warrant issued for worthless check complaint; Bullard’ Exxon – Donald Bishop, worthless check complaint, case dismissed with prejudice upon motion of prosecuting attorney, defendant paid WC under notice before warrant was signed; Bullard’ Exxon – Gary L. Cummings, worthless check complaints X 2, warrants issued; Belt – Russell Kessler, trespassing, warrant issued, arrested 03/22, ROB.
         03/22/05: Belt – James Michael Morris, seat belt violation, defective equipment, and possession of loaded firearm, arrested, ROB.
         03/24/05: Elswick – Randy Lee Runion, destruction of property, summons; Bailey – Ronald P. Rhodes II, possession of marijuana less 15 grams, appeared, ROB; Bonazzo – Bruce A. Nichols, possession of marijuana less 15 grams and possession of opium, appeared, ROB.
         03/25/05: J & S Grocery – Roger D. McCutcheon, worthless check complaint, warrant issued; Belt – Ronald Pritt, fleeing from an officer and obstructing an officer, arrested, ROB 03/28; Stephenson – Charles R. Crum, possession marijuana less 15 grams, appeared, ROB; Stephenson – Crystal Lynn Naayers, possession controlled substance, appeared, ROB; Slack – Tonia Wayne, obstructing an officer, arrested, ROB 03/29.
         03/26/05: Wickline – Thomas Russell Chapman, DWR/DUIA, arrested, ROB.
         03/27/05: Wickline – Denzil Ray Fender, driving under the influence 2nd offense and providing false info to officer, arrested, ROB.
         03/28/05: Simms – Sandra May Brown, possession less 15 grams, appeared, ROB; Belt – Phillip Allen Burnside, no operator’ 2nd offense and fleeing, arrested, ROB.
         03/29/05: Holcomb – Varis Canfield Jr., brandishing, arrested, ROB; Clay Supermarket – Bessie Braley, worthless check complaint, warrant issued; Clay Supermarket – Eric Thorpe, worthless check complaint, warrant issued; Murphy – Mark E. Cain, Owner, overweight 9,900 lbs., appeared.
         03/16/05: Capital One Bank – Jodie L. Roat, money due.
         03/18/05: Margaret Bowman – Ernie Pat Dawson, money due, possession of property awarded to plaintiff, defendant to vacate.
         03/21/05: Charles Shaffer Sr. – Sandra Sears, wrongful occupation, subpoena.
         03/30/05: GE Money Bank/Lowe’ – Joey D. Baughman, money due, subpoena.
         Worthless Checks Notices Issued
         03/17/05: School Food Services – Tresea Truman X 2, paid 03/28.
         Citation Register
         03/05/05: State Police – James L. Woodrum, no POI.
         03/06/05: Sheriff’ Dept. – Gary M. Cook, no POI; James David Stewart, MVI; James W. Stone, driving suspended/revoked non-DUI, no POI, registration violation, and MVI.
         03/07/05: State Police – Joseph Brown, failure to dim headlights and operator’; DNR – Vickie T. Neeley, littering.
         03/08/05: State Police – Randall K. Woods, MVI.
         03/09/05: State Police – Steven Anthony Gill, speeding; DOH – Nathaniel J. Putnam, registration violation and no POI.
         03/10/05: Sheriff’ Dept. – Edward Earl Hughes, driving suspended/revoked non-DUI; Sherri L. Moore, no POI.
         03/11/05: State Police – Kelly M. Conrad, speeding.
         03/13/05: Sheriff’ Dept. – Billy Joe Keen Jr., speeding.
         03/14/05: Sheriff’ Dept. – Adam Wayne Fields, speeding.
         03/15/05: State Police – Ronald R. Rhodes II, possession marijuana less 15 grams.
         03/17/05: State Police – Steven R. Campbell, no POI; Charles R. Crum, possession marijuana less 15 grams; Crystal Lynn Naayers, registration violation, operator’, possession of controlled substance, and no POI.
         03/18/05: DNR – Carl Hissam Douglas, operator’ and registration violation; State Police – Bruce Allen Nichols, marijuana and opium; Terry Lee Taylor, leaving scene of property damage crash and driving under the influence.
         03/19/05: Sheriff’ Dept. – Shawn Danie Jackson, reckless driving.
         03/20/05: Sheriff’ Dept. – Delmer Ray Shamblin, speeding.
         03/21/05: State Police – Jack Lloyd Davison, speeding; Patrick S. Geraghty, speeding; Robert E. Lockhart, speeding and no POI; Shelby Jean Tucker, speeding.
         03/22/05: Sheriff’ Dept. – Jody Lee Miller, driving with no headlights; State Police – Mikel Monroe Neal II, registration violation and no POI; Leslie Y. Salisbury, operator’.
         03/25/05: State Police – Joshua T. Paxton, speeding.
         03/26/05: State Police – Anthony C. Duffield, MVI.
         03/27/05: Sheriff’ Dept. – Mindy M. Carper, driving suspended/revoked non-DUI and no POI.
         03/30/05: DOH – Wilbert, overweight, over width, over length; Franklin R. Fox, overweight, over width, over length; John D. Martin, overweight, over width, over length.
          Think your safe in the outback. The Sheriff’ Dept nabbed William Howard Reed out on Pisgah Ridge 10 days ago. Reed was wanted by the FBI for manufacturing a controlled substance. Sheriff Holcomb took the cuffed roughion down to Kanawha County where the big boys took charge.
          Lets get some of the grunt work out of the way. Over in Magistrate Court land and before Mitchel King, April 12th: Candy Adkins; Shonda Tanner ( sentencing and a second charge, pretrial hearing); David Pyatt, bench trial; Michael Chennault Jr, pre trial; Jeffery Jumper, Jimmy Koch, Johnny Lane, Jason Padgett, Jeffrey Neal, Shannon Schoolcraft, Delbert McKenzie, and Jennifer Pierson all for bench trials.
                 Before Magistrate Boggs, April 4th: Edsel Westfall, Conrad Underwood, Randall Duncan, all bench trials.
         Mr Boggs has a full day April 14th with trials scheduled for: William Lanham, Chester Keen, Scott Barker, John Doss, Clarence Pauley, Daniel Grose, Russell Moore Sr, and Joshua Tanner in the am. A 11:15 am preliminary hearing set for James Mullins. After lunch and set for trial before Boggs: Dixie Helmick, Gary Gray, Thomas Lowery, Nannon Hurley, Bryan Myers and Timothy Joshua Beard. Gerald Thompson has a pre trial hearing at 2:30pm that day.
         Keep in mind that hearings get changed around about as often as the weather changes. Call the Magistrate’ office if in doubt.
                 If you’e wondering what ever happened in the James Morris meth lab arrest. Probable cause was found and the case was bound over to Circuit Court on March 23 2005.
                 Around the country, we hear of property seizures after drug arrests. Look for that to be coming to Clayberry reaaaaaaal soon. Money seizures are often put back into the law or prosecution budgets and vehicle ( or ATVs) are used by law enforcement agencies.
                 In the way of follow ups. Chrissy Neal plead no contest, DUI. Donald Bishop plead on his charge of obstructing, sentenced to jail, got a suspended sentence and 6 months probation. Here’ a twist. Bishop was wanted in PA on a fugitive from justice warrant and as soon as he was sentenced, he was arrested on the fugitive charge. Bye Bye Mr Bishop. Donald Pritt and Tonia Wayne both made bond as did Daniel Boone Grose.
                 If you’e wondering about school system drug busts, keep wondering. As juveniles, those court dates and info is kept away from the public.
                 OK, how about some court time. Jackie Ruth White got in some trouble 2 months ago and was sentenced on two charges, obstructing and possession. On the possession charge she could have had up to 6 months behind bars but got 6 months probation. On obstructing an officer, Mag King gave her 30 days home confinement. Both required weekly drug testing.
                 White was picked up after failing a drug test and lodged in CRJ. On March 31st Magistrate Mike King held the revocation of bond hearing. Here’ what we saw. Carson Bryant represented White with Asst Prosecutor TJ Drake working the state’ side. Probation officer Lucy Cruickshanks told the court, White tested positive March 2 when she was sentenced. During a March 7th pee test, the lab reported “the sample did contain properties consistent with human urine. OK Readers, one big Hmmmmmmmmm…
                 On the 16th, a third test showed pot and meth in White’ system.
                 Defense attorney Bryant went to work. He asked that the whole thang get tossed out. He went after the need for the pee lab techy’ being here to testify. He cited some Crawford vs Washington Supreme Court case. He worked it hard. King wasn’ buying it. Bryant told the court, the pee test on the 16th showed much much lower drug levels than when she came into the system on the 2nd. He said different people metabolize drugs differently. The lower rate was consistent with drugs leaving the system.
                 On several occasions, Pros.Drake stopped Cruickshank from answering questioning with “he’ not qualified to answer those questions.”
                 Going back to that non human pee part. Drake said he didn’ know if that urine sample was tap water or Goat urine, but in any case, if a test comes back invalid, that’ automatic grounds for revoking bond.
                 Carson wasn’ done. No one had seen his client smoke any pot and with the lab not here to answer his metabolism questions, he asked for the court to dismiss the case. Back and forth they went. Ms White held her own, only whispering to Carson Bryant once or twice.
         Continued on the next page
         30 minutes into the hearing, Magistrate Mitchell King was ready with his answer. Condensed, it went something like: your destiny is in your own hands… if you test clean , then fine….. I feel she had drugs in her system …. Her life is in her control and she blew it!
          With tears swelling in her eyes, King revoked bond and Jackie Ruth White will spend 61 days in Central Regional Jail. Carson Bryant asked for a stay while he appealed the case. Nope came the response from the Court.
                 OK before you get the hanky out for Jackie, here’ a dab more. That hearing was on Thursday afternoon. On Friday morning something new turned up. Here’ Chapter II
                 Friday morning, the female employees at the old Courthouse found something in the ladies bathroom. Something dark colored and wrapped in cellophane, Deputy Chad Sizemore and Sheriff Holcomb responded. With plastic gloves in place, the Badges opened the cellophane wrapper which revealed a coin roll tube type item full of Copenhagen snuff. Here’ what we think happened.
          Someone put this cellophane wrapped snuff filled tube in the basket on the back of the commode tank for an inmate to find and take back to jail. Alert Correctional officers noticed the basket and without examining it, removed the basket from the rest room while their ward tinkled. Once done, the basket was returned to the can and in this case, the inmate did not get the contraband items.
                 Let see now, does anybody know any female that’ known to use Copenhagen? One more, since inmates don’ carry purses nor do they have pockets in their britches, with no purse or pockets, just wonder where the prisoner planned on stuffing the tube of snuff?                        AW
                 Hey friends and fiends, I have been thinking recently about how our language is used and abused so much any more. One case that really gets on my nerves is the application of the term "hero" to just about anyone, in any case. I saw a guy called a "hero" recently that actually died while sitting in his car, in traffic. He may have been listening to a self-help tape or picking his nose for all we know. Just what was so heroic about sitting in his car?
                 Then of course there is the constant stream of "heroes" that either do or do not get killed, maimed, burned, drowned, etc., in some case or the other. You know, if any of that happened to you while you were saving someone's life, or something like that, you would be a hero. I'm sorry, but to just happen to be involved in any of that really doesn't seem very heroic to me. I feel the term should be used for people that actually take a chance, put themselves in harm's way or risk something. People like the Communicator staff, the man of the year Sampson and the other little people that put their necks on the line for the benefit of everyone are the real heroes in my jaundiced eyes.
         I'm still mulling over Governor Joe's high expectations for "new, good paying jobs" for West Virginia. I've heard that old song so many times that it's about to lose it's charm. What is a good-paying job? To a single mother with no job, five-fifty an hour might sound good, but to a displaced plant worker or miner it would take over twenty an hour plus benefits to sound good. I honestly don't see a lot of the latter coming this way any time soon. I do, however, see a lot of low-paying jobs headed for WV. There will be thousands of new minimum wage clerks and such, living from hand to mouth in the years to come; no matter how many jobs our government claims to have created.
         Which brings up another point, the sad but seldom mentioned fact that in truth there has been little if any growth in employment in the last four years except in the government. So much for the veracity of the "little-government Republicans." I've said for years that anyone ought to understand that government bureaucrats can't pay enough taxes to pay their salaries. It shouldn't take more than basic math skills to understand that.
         You all may have noticed that I drift off subject most of the time. Hey, it's my column and I get to do whatever I choose, don't I?
                 Anyway, a hero should be someone that does something heroic. A good-paying job should actually be good paying. Finally, the government ought to actually own up to creating few new jobs anywhere except within government. Maybe next time I'll tell you how Mason County wasn't interested in a 1,000 acre lake for the same size dam that you all are building. It's so surreal that you will barely believe it. Peace, folks.
         Letter to Brother Bill By Evelyne McLaughlin
          Dear Brother Bill: Hope this note finds you feeling better. The frogs and daffodils think spring is here, and I do hope they are right. Spring is such a beautiful time of the year.
          Several folks in our neighborhood have had the flu. Carmen Samples has been in the hospital. Tommy Hamrick recently underwent surgery. Bill Hanshaw is a patient in a hospital in Pittsburgh. Phyllis Cruickshank Lambert is quite ill, and the last I heard from her she was hospitalized. Dovie Parks Starcher's husband, Junior, has been hospitalized since early January, and Robin Shamblin, of Reed Fork is experiencing some health problems. Nikki O'Brien underwent minor surgery this week as did Irene Burdette Truman, of Hansford Fork. We surely wish all these folks a quick recovery - and you, too, Bro. Please remember each of these folks in your prayers. Mrs. Sears called to tell me that her mother, Linda Deems, is getting along very well. She wanted to thank everyone for their prayers. Susie O'Dell Loomis, of Given, has returned home from the hospital.
          Dixie and John Hill, of Texas, have returned to their home. They were in WV following the death of his sister, Anna Morris. We were sorry to learn of the death of Orville Brown. Also, Patrick Burdette passed away last week. I know he will be greatly missed. Patrick was the son of the late James and Annie Burdette, of Twistabout. I have always felt very close to that family. Our condolences to each of these families.
          Alyce Faye Bragg, of Ovapa, was recently bitten by her son's dog. Someone has suggested we just shoot her and get her out of her misery (first broken ankle, then gall stones, and now this!) And then, yes, she shut the car door on her head and ended up with a black eye. Jason Davis, son of Glen and Delores Love Davis, of Summersville, is in Kuwait, awaiting deployment to Iraq. Please remember him in your daily prayers, as well as all of our troops overseas. Kevin and Sarah Bragg, of Ovapa, were recently vacationing in Las Vegas. Charlotte and Robert Smith, of Nevada, were visiting family and friends in the Sacarmento, California, area over the weekend. I think I placed Robert in Nebraska during my last writing -he lives in Nevada (sorry Robert.) Chester Summers, of Marlington, was visiting family during the Easter holidays.
          Happy Birthday wishes to Marge Thomas, of Arkansas, Mary Allen of Big Otter, Doug Adkins, Jr. and Andrew Coad of Procious. Hope each of you have many, many more. I received several nice Easter cards and gifts. A big thank you to Don and Avis Moore, of Clay, for the beautiful flowers and basket of goodies they sent me. They have always been very good to my family.
          A married man left work early on Friday afternoon. However, instead of going home, he squandered the weekend (and his paycheck) partying with the boys. When he finally returned home on Sunday night, he ran into a barrage of epithets from his furious wife. After a couple of hours of nagging and berating, his wife asked, "How would you like it if you didn't see me for a couple of days!?" "That would suit me just fine!!" Monday went by, and the man didn't see his wife. Tuesday and Wednesday came and went with the same result. Come Thursday, the swelling went down a bit and he could see her a little, just out of the corner of his left eye.
          Mary Hensley, of Wallback, called to chat awhile. Mary and I worked together for 13 years at the Valley Fork School. We had a wonderful working relationship. Mary has given me several different flowers over the years. The miniature daffodils she gave me last fall are blooming. Champ got after Bo last week and just about got him. I had forgot to close the gate and had turned the sheep into my yard. Champ does not like chickens, cats or sheep. Rod and I put collars on the babies last week and docked their tails. They are so cute. Scott, the physical therapist that comes to our house, is originally from Vermont. He had never seen a live turkey until he saw mine a few days ago. I noticed that the yard sales are popping up again. That is a real treat for me to go to them, but I already have enough "stuff" and am running out of room.
          The creek in front of our house is usually pretty. Lately, it has been full of soap suds, nearly everyday I see lots of suds going down the stream. Someone must have some pull with the "big wigs" to get by with dumping that stuff into our stream.
          As a senior citizen was driving down the freeway, his car phone rang. Answering, he heard his wife's voice urgently warning him, "Herman, I just heard on the news that there's a car going the wrong way on 280 Interstate. Please be careful!" "It's not just one car," said Herman. "It's hundreds of them!" I think the moral to this story is: When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.
          A big hello to Charles and Shandra Douglas, of Bethel, Ohio. Also, thanks for the nice package you sent me. Hello also to Lenora Hardman, Jeannie Davis, Delbert Davis and all of you faithful readers. A few words from the wise "ole" bird: It's the second mouse that gets the cheese. Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them. We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are rather dull. Some have weird names, and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box. I guess that is it for this time, Brother Bill, have an awesome day and know that someone has thought about you today - I did. Love and prayers, Sis
         P. S. Help Us All to Be Brave
         Pursuing Freedom By Jim Chafin
          We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness…
          The founders of this nation, not all of whom were Christian, exhibited an innate ability to separate fact from fiction insofar as realities of life were concerned. Although most were astutely political in their own right and accustomed to the finer things of their day, these gentlemen were products of a time when the harshness of a kind that modern day Americans are want to ponder. If, for example, the life and times of Abraham Lincoln could be taught in our schools, I have no doubt but that the lives of our children could be changed for a much more sober and circumspect view of reality and its effects upon people. Those who quite literally carved this country out of a vast wilderness with nothing but broadaxes and saws, did so under the harshest of weather conditions conceivable. Yet these conditions conspired to produce a spirit of compassion that they strived mightily to pass onto future generations. If one reads the Declaration of Independence with an open mind, and then follows up with a deep study of our Constitution, I feel that hearts and minds will undergo radical change from what we see as normal for this day and time. The spirit of brotherly love would, I believe, be again kindled within our breasts.
          Within our history poverty has been an ever-present phenomenon that looms large in every generation. There are man-made reasons for this. I know of no record in antiquity where man has any God-given rights to lord over his fellows. All governments – from Nabob to the 21st century A.D. – rule by force, meaning that those outside the power circle looking inward are servile to those in the throne room. Contrary to what politicians would have us believe, citizen participation is designed to provide an illusion; that of providing “ocal”color and thereby swelling voter rolls. But the net result remains the same: the people labor and pay their taxes while those at the pinnacle of power spend our sustenance pretty much as they darn well please. Some say that the Oval Office belongs to us. How long has it been since anyone you know has slept there? Public monies pay for all their luxuries, but is John Q. included?
          Years ago, just out of school and in my first job, I heard about a family who was “n starvation.” Growing up in the coalfields, I had heard about such things but was not in a position to do much about it. But as a young man with my first automobile, I was free to follow my heart. So, I set out to solicit all my neighbors for anything and everything they would provide and I piled the back seat of my car high with food and other necessities. Away I went, driving about ten miles over roads that were very little better than sled roads. I drove to the very end of the trail, right up to the foot of the hill, and up on the side of that mountain stood what looked like a one room shack. There was no porch, only steps that led up to a single door. I parked my car and walked up to the house and knocked on the door. The door opened and there stood a lady with a young child tugging at her left leg. I identified myself and told her my mission, then went back to my car and carried all the items I had collected up to the house and set them in the doorway. Upon seeing the food this young lady began to cry and tears flowed down her face. She thanked me profusely and my heart was overjoyed with thankfulness that I had been allowed to be a part of God’ process for providing a small measure of comfort for that family. I have never forgotten that incident long ago, and it has set the tone for my activities since then. Never in a million years could I ever conceive of the possibility of turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the needs of a neighbor, in the fashion of what we are hearing about each day in this state. As I have said earlier, poverty is a man made condition born in the boardrooms and legislative halls of corporate America. Our wealth goes into Wall Street bank accounts that do very little good for those living on the land.
          John F. Kennedy, while campaigning in West Virginia, made the statement that he never knew that such deplorable living conditions existed in this country. He visited some of the homes in Southern West Virginia and was astonished at the depth of poverty in this region. Then, as now, it was all uncalled for.
          America has a large percentage of people who, when provided with names and factual information, will step up to the plate and lend a helping hand to those in need. The problem is, however, that folks have a tendency to forget once the crisis is past. As a group we tend to see needs at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but fail to see that there are 365 days in the year and that people need subsistence every day. We also tend to think that Health and Human Resources will take care of those down and out, but sadly, that is only partially true. West Virginia is one of those states that subscribe to a policy of toughness regarding its neediest citizens – remember “est Virginia Works?” This was our answer to welfare program changes put into effect by the federal government during Bill Clinton’ term of office, “hanging welfare as we know it.” Limiting the length of time people could get assistance from welfare, neither Clinton or Congress made any provisions in the law to provide for jobs that would be needed as those folks moved from welfare to work. This nation has been losing “ood paying jobs”for at least 30 years, and Bill Clinton accelerated that process with his support of NAFTA and other foreign entanglements, saying this nation would benefit by increased exports of our goods and services, thereby creating more jobs. But we’e been jolted back to reality in 2005 as we see jobs disappearing at a horrendous rate. Remember Ross Perot and “hat giant sucking sound?” Not that Clinton wasn’ warned, he was. By just about everybody involved in the labor movement. What was not talked about at the time was Clinton’ world view and his agreement with Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and now George W. Bush, that exporting good paying jobs to off-shore locations is good for this country. This is creating poverty here at home and making America a weaker nation.
          I do believe that America must share its wealth with poor nations around the globe, but we must do it in an orderly and well thought out fashion. We cannot allow the views of a handful of well placed individuals to dictate policy based upon whims of the moment. And this nation should put a halt to its waste, from the White House to the county court house. Spending sixty million dollars to coronate an over-stuffed, overpaid president or other bureaucrat is a good place to start turning down the screws.
          Whether it be the likes of that family I aided many years ago, or any of those currently in the news, this nation can do much better. And if it wants some favorable press in future history books, it will face up to its obligations to serve the needy – here at home and around the world.
         Christian Service Center News
          Well, Easter has come and gone, and it seems winter is behind us. I don’ know about you, but I think this was the mildest winter I’e seen in a lot of years. And I just can’ wait to see the spring flowers bloom again and be able to hang out my humming bird feeders. Spring is my favorite time of year. It’ the promise of rebirth; even the air smells so fresh and sweet. Time for gardening and planting, for spring cleaning, and putting out your yard sales. Don’ forget to donate all those items you didn’ sell to the Christian Center. We are always so grateful for your generous donations to us. We depend on your support to help meet the needs of people less fortunate.
          Since we opened our second store in Lizemores we have been able to reach out and help so many more families than ever before. Our Christian Center in Lizemores has a Senior Discount Day each Wednesday and a special drawing every Friday. Our spring line is coming in and Little Tykes toys. We have a local carpenter making beautiful cabinetry, for sale at very affordable prices. He also does custom orders, so stop in and check it out.
          We are still planning to start a youth center. It’ a dream we’e had for a lot of years. There is simply no place for kids to go and have fun. We really want to make this dream a reality, but we can’ do it without your help. We need your support, so please do what you can to help.
          There have been a lot of changes at the Clay Christian Center – new volunteers and some remodeling. With both stores you have two places to go to shop, donate, and receive help. We have a good food pantry at both locations. This has enabled people, especially our seniors, to receive help when it is hard for them to get transportation.
          Freda’ Restaurant is doing quite well. For those who don’ know, the restaurant was opened not only to give everyone a place to go for good food at a reasonable price and to meet friends, but also to help fund both Christian Service Centers. The restaurant now has booths installed, which, by the way, could not have been afforded without the generosity of the landlord, Ben Murphy. Thanks, Ben. And Nancy Murphy baked a lovely apple angel food cake which the customers really enjoyed. Thank you, Nina, it was delicious! Soon the restaurant will be serving ice cream and plans to have outdoor tables for dining as soon as the weather permits. We are expanding the hours of operation and hope you will come soon to eat with us.
          We’e offering our prayers for many people. Imogene Stone has been in the hospital, and Georgia Holcomb has been ill. Jerry Fugate is recovering from surgery quite nicely, but is facing more surgery in the near future. His wife Marylee, our co-director, has been ill for a very long time. We miss you and the Center needs you. Jerry’ mother, Cora Fugate, who is recovering following surgery, had a surprise visit from Pastor Carl Burrows Sunday. Pastor Burrows is also recovering from surgery due to a bad fall last year, but we are pleased to say he is doing very well, back behind the pulpit going about the Lord’ work. God bless you, Pastor.
          Audrey Rogers is back from Duke University, accompanied by her son, John Humphrey, and daughters Darlene Ramsey and Linda Stewart. She is recovering from surgery, and doing so well she is back in church. She’ such a blessing to all around her. March 25th was Irene Vance’ birthday. Her son Tom took her out in style as they arrived at Freda’ for her birthday dinner in Tom’ service truck. Irene said that was her favorite form of transportation. Happy belated birthday, Irene.
          The Lizemore Lionettes are planning a fund raiser April 16th from noon to 6:00 p.m. at the Lizemore Elementary School. There will be a pinto bean dinner, gospel singing, carnival, and areas to rent for anyone wanting to set up sales or arts and crafts. There will be plenty for everyone to do, so be sure to plan to attend.
         E-Mail From Where!
         Please be extremely careful when addressing your e-mail, for one small typo error can cause extreme grief for some unsuspecting soul. For example, consider the case of a Chicago man who had left the snowy climate of Chicago for an annual vacation in Florida. Since his wife was on a business trip and planned to join him in Florida the following day, he decided to send her a quick e-mail from his hotel room. He couldn’ find the scrap piece of paper on which he had written her e-mail address, so he winged it from memory. Unfortunately, he mistyped one little “”and his e-mail went instead to an elderly preacher’ wife whose beloved had passed away just the day before. When the grieving widow checked the e-mail, expecting some message of condolence, she saw on her monitor screen a message that brought forth a horrible scream and she fell to the floor in a dead faint. Her two daughters, hearing the scream, rushed to her side and managed to revive her. Asking what had happened, all the mother could do was point to the monitor screen and the brief message there:
          Dearest Wife,
          Just checked in. Everything prepared for your
          arrival tomorrow.
          P.S. – Sure is hot down here.