MAY 3, 2004

Clay County PSD
BOB CLARKE Curmudgeon’ Corner
ELECTION 2004 —The Final Stretch
Letter to Brother Bill
Wrong Headed: Left or Right

Child abuse is almost in epidemic proportions in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia. Locals involved in the fight to stop such abuse took time out to reward those making a difference in Clay County. With sun and weather cooperating, the event was held April 29th on the Courthouse plaza.
        Child abuse is considered a national tragedy taking the lives of three children daily and affecting millions of families every year. The ceremony was held to strengthen and show support for the workers and families. In 2001 and average of 2,475 children were found to be victims of child abuse each day. Each week Child Protective Service agencies receive more than 50,000 reports of suspected child abuse and neglect.
        During last Thursday’ ceremony, awards were given to the Clay County Sheriff’ Department and the WV State Police Detachment for their active involvement in combating this problem, so common in Clay County. Law enforcement assist in protecting the children as well as the workers.
         Those that take in and care for the victims were also honored. Foster parents receiving Awards of Merit included: Sandra Taylor (6 years of service); Valerie and Rick Ahart (6 years); Barry and Ruth Bass (6 years); and Chris and Trina Neff (2 years of service).
                 The Clay County Child Protective Services (CPS) office has received 54 referrals this year. They are required by law to investigate every allegation of every referral that constitutes child abuse. A referral is a concern that someone in the community has expressed that a child or children are being abused or neglected. Clay County has three CPS workers, Nancy Holcomb, Thanh Ashman, and Tammy Williams. Between the three, 105 families and 239 children are served. More referrals come daily. The four main types of child maltreatment are neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse.
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          The impact of abuse is far greater than its immediate visible signs. Abuse and neglect are associated with short and long term consequences that may include brain damage, development delays, learning disorders, problems forming relationships, aggressive behavior, and depression.
         Neglect is the failure to provide for a child's basic needs. Neglect can be physical or emotional. Physical abuse is inflicting a non-accidental physical injury upon a child. This may include burning, hitting, punching, shaking, kicking, beating, or otherwise harming a child. Sexual abuse is inappropriate adolescent or adult sexual behavior with a child. Other types of child abuse and neglect include emotional abuse and verbal abuse.
         Other recipients of awards included: Veronica Butcher from the Child Abuse Advocacy Center, Becky Pritt with the YWCA intervention office, and Clay County Probation Officer Lucy Cruickshanks.
                 To report child abuse call local law enforcement or a CPS worker at 587-4268 or toll free 1 800 352-6513. When calling to report abuse you will be asked for specific information such as the child’ name, suspected perpetrator, a description of what you have seen or heard, the names of any other people having knowledge of the abuse, your name and phone number. You may request to make your report anonymously.
                 What’ the impact of child abuse? From the Prevent Child Abuse web site some stats: it is estimated that there are 60 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse in America today; approximately 31% of women in prison state that they had been abused as children; approximately 95% of teenage prostitutes have been sexually abused; it is estimated that children with disabilities are 4 to 10 times more vulnerable to sexual abuse than their non-disabled peers.
                 Long term effects of child abuse include fear, anxiety, depression, anger, hostility, inappropriate sexual behavior, poor self esteem, tendency toward substance abuse and difficulty with close relationships
                 Clinical findings of adult victims of sexual abuse include problems in interpersonal relationships associated with an underlying mistrust. Generally, adult victims of incest have a severely strained relationship with their parents that is marked by feelings of mistrust, fear, ambivalence, hatred, and betrayal. These feelings may extend to all family members.
                         Sexual victimization may profoundly interfere with and alter the development of attitudes toward self, sexuality, and trusting relationships during the critical early years of development. If the child victim does not resolve the trauma, sexuality may become an area of adult conflict. There is the clinical assumption that children who feel compelled to keep sexual abuse a secret suffer greater psychic distress than victims who disclose the secret and receive assistance and support.
                 Early identification of sexual abuse victims appears to be crucial to the reduction of suffering of abused youth and to the establishment of support systems for assistance in pursuing appropriate psychological development and healthier adult functioning . As long as disclosure continues to be a problem for young victims, then fear, suffering, and psychological distress will, like the secret, remain with the victim. Adolescents with a history of sexual abuse are significantly more likely than their counterparts to engage in sexual behavior that puts them at risk for HIV infection, according to Dr. Larry K. Brown and Associates, from Rhode Island Hospital in Providence.
                 Young girls who are forced to have sex are three times more likely to develop psychiatric disorders or abuse alcohol and drugs in adulthood than girls who are not sexually abused. Sexual abuse was also more strongly linked with substance abuse than with psychiatric disorders. It was also suggested that sexual abuse may lead some girls to become sexually active at an earlier age and seek out older boyfriends who might, in turn, introduce them to drugs. Psychiatric disorders were from 2.6 to 3.3 times more common among women whose CSA included intercourse, and the risk of substance abuse was increased more than fourfold, according to the results. Family factors -- parental education, parenting behavior, family financial status, church attendance -- had little impact on the prevalence of psychiatric or substance abuse disorders among these women, the investigators observe. Similarly, parental psychopathology did not predict the association between CSA and later psychopathology.
                 Young girls who are sexually abused are more likely to develop eating disorders as adolescents. The findings also add to a growing body of research suggesting that trauma in childhood increases the risk of developing an eating disorder. Abused girls were more dissatisfied with their weight and more likely to diet and purge their food by vomiting or using laxatives and diuretics. Abused girls were also more likely to restrict their eating when they were bored or emotionally upset. Wonderlich suggests that abused girls might experience higher levels of emotional distress, possibly linked to their abuse, and have trouble coping. Food restriction and perhaps other eating disorder behaviors may (reflect) efforts to cope with such experiences. The report also indicates that while girls who were abused were less likely to exhibit perfectionist tendencies (such as making extreme efforts to avoid disappointing others and a need to be 'the best'), they tended to want thinner bodies than girls who had not been abused.
                 In Clay County West Virginia, the work continues.
         ??? DID YOU KNOW ???
    1.        People who live in glass houses might as well answer the doorbell.
2.        Almost all medications given in hospitals must bear a supermarket-style bar code that health workers will match to patients to help ensure they get the right drug at the right time.
3.        Today workers are losing 12.4 percent of their incomes to Social Security payroll tax.
4.        About 27.3 million U.S. consumers reported that someone misused their personal information to commit fraud at a cost of some $5 billion in the last five years.
5.        Seven years ago 307 physician assistants worked in West Virginia; today’ number is 58 percent higher.
6.        Today more than half of all women in the United States use some sort of birth control method according to a federal survey about family growth from the mid-1990.
7.        Only 51 percent of eligible young citizens are registered to vote, compared with 79 percent of older Americans.
8.        Americans spend about $30 billion a year on their pets, not counting the cost of food.
9.        In West Virginia, one in five deaths, about 12 each day, is smoking related according to the state chapter of the American Lung Association.
10.         Currently, health providers write about 10 million prescriptions each year for children with ear infections,
11.         New nickels honoring the 1803 Louisiana Purchase will soon be clinking in cash registers and jingling in pockets. It’ the first makeover for the five-cent piece in 66 years.
12.         Since 1993, the number of vehicle recalls has more than doubled.
13.         McDonald’ has phased out its super-size fries and drinks at its more than 13,000 U.S. restaurants and will stop selling them altogether by years end.
14.         The amount of scrap metal the United States has exported increased 19 percent between 2002 and 2003.
15.         Men who express their anger have a 10 percent greater risk than non-hostile men of developing an atria fibrillation, “ heart flutter,”that 2 million Americans have.
16.         There were 5,671 second and third-time DUI offenders sent to jail and prisons last year in West Virginia.
17.         West Virginia University has received $500,000 in federal funding to establish a center for wood utilization research.
18.         Fayette County Board of Education has banned camera cellular telephones from county schools. The ban goes into effect for 7,000 students.
19.         About 5 percent of the population 18 and older, 6.7 million women and 3.2 million men, suffer from major depressive disorder in any given year according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
20.         Right now about 7,900 children are enrolled in the state’s pre-school program. LMM

Clay County PSD

On Tuesday, April 13 the Clay County PSD Board of Directors held their monthly meeting in their office in Clay. All three members attended – President Keith King, Earl Long and Homer Triplett.
After approving the previous meeting minutes, with very little discussion they approved payment of the expenses for March and accepted the financial report – income 424,310.70, expenses $24,462.56, ending balance $655.90.
The field report for March was that there had been a brake in a 6 inch main in Hartland with an estimated water loss of 22,000 gallons, repairs done on the Rush Creek crossing, and a service line brake in Ivydale on the customer side with a loss of 439,050 gallons. The brake was between the line and the building, formerly Food Mart, now a bar, and a leak adjustment was done.
As a Phase 1 Update (Lizemore/Tucker Bottom project) Cindy (Office Manager) said she was meeting Greg Belcher later in the day to discuss permanent easements, whether they would do them or a Mr. N???. King said that they would only do dwellings.
The Board approved Safe Driving Standards, as their insurance company required. Next they considered the request from the Clay County Commission that they return $5,000 in funds they had been given for a feasibility study that no longer needed to be done. It was reported that Chapman Technical was owed $1,602.60 for work they had already done. King said they didn’ have much choice but to return the money. The Board approved returning the remainder of the funds to the Commission after subtracting what was owed Chapman Technical.
Reservations will be made for the board members wanting to attend the three day WVRWA Annual Conference in September at Canaan Valley, but will be canceled if they don’ have the money to pay for it.
A man attending the meeting asked if the Board had thought about putting something in the paper to let people know where it’ at (Lizemore/Tucker Bottom project). He said, “eople will be in here wanting their money back. I know what you’e up against, but most people don’.” King replied, “et’ try to come up with something. It might be wise…they do need an explanation.” Field worker Sam and office worker Beverly were appointed the task. Meeting adjourned after about 15 minutes.                                 TK

BOB CLARKE Curmudgeon’ Corner
In national politics, and certainly in the Bush administration, the unofficial motto may very well be: “on’ get mad, get even.” In recent months any person unwilling to illustrate anything less than mindless loyalty to the grand vision of the neoconservatives has been made to pay the price.
Consider the gripping saga and fall from grace of the following former members of the Bush-Cheney cabal: former ambassador Joe Wilson, C.I.A. agent Valerie Plame (Mrs. Joe Wilson), former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’eill, and arch-terror expert Richard Clarke. Wilson was sent to Niger to check on intelligence rumors of “ellow cake,”an element vital to the formation of nuclear construction. Several reports assert that Wilson was sent by Cheney, who was busily assembling his own intelligence agency at the time. The Vice President, whose hubris and ego is second only to Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld, refuses to have his convictions contradicted by mere facts, ignored or dismissed Wilson’ report that the documents indicating Niger’ purported sale of uranium to Iraq were bogus. Civilized country that we are, it would be too dangerous to follow the ancient custom of shooting the messenger, so the White House struck back by revealing the identity of Valerie Plame. Revealing, or “uting”a C.I.A. agent is a federal crime, a fact known by columnist Bob Novak, a man with the journalistic ethics of a hyena. But Novak, unfortunately, cannot be prosecuted because of the justifiable right of the press to conceal its sources. As of this date the White House source of this leak has not been revealed. But Plame’ career as an agent is over, and her connections here and abroad are imperiled.
Secretary Paul O’eill was once a respected member of the administration’ inner circle. A careful and thorough executive, he spent hours preparing for meetings with the President and his advisors. As his later detractors learned to their discomfort, O’eill had long observed the habit of keeping detailed notes of high level discussions. These notes, together with O’eill’ unflattering observations about Bush’ attention span (“fter five minutes of details his eyes glaze over” are included in Ron Suskind’ book The Price of Loyalty. An immensely successful CEO of Alcoa, O’eill’ financial acumen was praised by virtually everyone in the business community. His criticism of the Bush tax cut was one of the main reasons for his political demise. The administration, operating as always on the high moral plane so often proclaimed, had a curious way of giving O’eill the sack. Cheney called him with the news that the administration was making some changes, and that his services were no longer required. The Vice President added a touch that tells us volumes about his character. He asked O’eill to announce his resignation using the old chestnut: “n order to spend more time with my family.” O’eill refused, in his own words saying - “’ too old and too rich to lie.” Sam Rayburn’ famous maxim: “o get along, go along”was too bitter a pill for a blunt, honest man such as Paul O’eill to swallow. Only “es”men and women need apply.
Richard Clarke gleaned his unquestionable expertise on terrorism through three separate administrations. He has cried “olf”for at least a decade, and lo! A wolf appeared! During many hours of questioning by the 9/11 commission, and being subjected often to hostile, occasionally acrimonious attack, Clarke kept his cool. Clarke’ book, Against All Enemies, is currently No. 1 on the New York Times best seller list. One cannot always be sure of the importance of that fact, but it is fairly certain that his claims have caused some degree of alarm at the White House. In both the committee meetings and in his book, Clarke’ major charge seems to be that the administration was and is obsessed with Iraq to the extent that it has virtually ignored al Qaeda. The joke going around a few weeks ago was “sama bin Forgotten.” Predictably, the Bush loyalists began their counter attacks. One charge was that Clarke was seeking revenge because Condoleeza Rice had denied him the promotion he had expected. Clarke’ valued service through three administrations may render that accusation debatable. With the presidential election coming up, a further charge was that Clarke did it for money. Perhaps that approach can be questioned, because, if true, Clarke’ timing is faulty. For maximum effect he should have had the book released in October. On Chris Matthew’ “ardball”program last week Clarke pulled the rug out from under his accusers by announcing that the profits from his book and potential movie offers would be donated to charity. It is worthy of note here that the profit motive has not been ascribed to books written by Bush cheerleaders such as Karen Hughes and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. The old double standard is alive and well. One can only hope that Oscar Levant may have gone too far when he described a politician (any politician?) observing: “e’l double-cross that bridge when he comes to it.”
One more comment about Richard Clarke should have been included in the last section. When he apologized to America for the failure to prevent the September 11 attacks, a firestorm of criticism arose, accusing him of hypocrisy. It may be that the degree of enmity came from those who wish they had thought of it first. In any case, the gratitude that came from the widows of 9/11 should put that cynical view to rest. The gesture has drawn the charge of showboating, but it is time someone did it.
It is a continuing mystery that, in the light of probably the worst intelligence failure in U.S. history no heads have rolled. It is unclear whether George W. Bush acts in unquestioning loyalty to his appointees, or whether he is incapable of admitting mistakes. The second possibility seems more plausible in view of Bush’ lame performance in this week’ press conference.

        I know what I believe
        I will continue to articulate what I believe
        And I believe what I believe is right.
                      -        George W. Bush –

         We already know that an administration that perceived Iraq as a greater threat than North Korea has a lot of dim bulbs to begin with.
                      -        Charlie Reese –

         He’ in the White House because God put him there for such a time as this.
                      -        Lt. General William Boykin –
                  (Can a fourth star be long in coming?)

        We fear things in proportion to our ignorance of
- Livy, Roman Historian (59 B.C.-17 A.D.)

         And so, if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up.
                      -        Rush Limbaugh -

         If Rush goes, so does the biggest megaphone in the GOP’ elephant echo chamber.
                      -        Jonathan Alter -

         “e have met the enemy, and it is us.” (Pogo)
The little alligator may have had it right.

                Yours etc., Cur

Not under the rug…
        Magistrate Court action is open to the public with a few exceptions. Last week we took the time to watch the people’ court in action. The following is what we saw April 29th and on the 30th.
        April 29, 2004 in the Courtroom of Magistrate Mike King. Before the court was State vs. Sam Murphy, a preliminary hearing to determine probable cause in case number 04-F-11. Representing the state was Asst. Prosecutor Barry Koerber. To the left was Sam Murphy represented by Kevin Duffy. Murphy was charged with malicious assault in the shooting of Thomas Holcomb.
        With the tape recorder, Koerber called 9 year veteran Green Shirt TFC M.L. Bailey to testify. Here’ how Bailey described the action of late Friday night, March 6, 2004... Basically: 12:30 a.m., a call came in “hots fired” Thomas Holcomb had been shot; Bailey was off duty but responded; by the time he arrived on the Main Street, Clay crime scene, Thomas had already been transported to a hospital; Bailey inspected two big puddles of blood, a bullet hole through the couch, through the wall, and an impact on the ground outside the trailer.
        At the scene were Missy Carte, David Nottingham and Tara Keener. Bailey was informed that Sam Murphy shot Holcomb with an SKS assault rifle. The officer took some pictures, recovered a shell casing, took some brief statements, and then headed to the hospital to interview Holcomb.
        Defense attorney Kevin Duffy went to work. Taking each statement made by Bailey, one by one, the nimble attorney tried to pick the case apart. No SKS analysis? Bailey: “No.” You made no attempt to link the shell casing to the SKS rifle or Murphy? Bailey: “No. Nottingham told me it was an SKS.” Duffy, “hat else did you not write down?”In a very laid back style, Bailey answered with down home, matter-of-fact, responses. Bailey explained that he was the only one on the case, he took brief statements, inspected the scene, looked for the victim, etc.
         Duffy worked it hard to split hairs. Why did you not do this? Are you a gun expert? Duffy “the nasty” was at work. To his side, Mr. Murphy kept his eyes down and his hands clasped. Duffy read from the officer’s statement. Each sentence was challenged. Duffy was working an angle, an angle that malicious assault was the wrong charge to apply in this case. Something about “ntent” readers.
         This requires intent….you can’ say it was malicious….. what were Murphy’ emotions at the time? No finger prints, Bailey?….no weapon? Are you a forensics expert? Are you an expert in weapons? No hair samples? Duffy hammered on. Why is there no statement from Holcomb? Why no other statements either? He pushed hard on stuff Bailey had failed to follow up on. At one point, Duffy had Bailey drawing pictures on a yellow legal pad of the crime scenes. Maybe Murphy didn’ shoot Holcomb, maybe the rifle just went off. That Murphy had been so upset he couldn’ have formed the intent to kill.
          Bailey didn’ appear to get rattled. Each response came slow and easy. Nothing fancy just plain English responses. Ever so slowly the defense was laying it’ argument out. Over on the left, Koerber listened and took notes.
         From the testimony of Bailey, young Murphy has no prior history of arrests while Holcomb has shown aggressive behavior, prior arrest including threats to attack Bailey.
         Bailey explained what he thought happened: Murphy entered the trailer with the rifle and found Holcomb on the couch. Murphy had just learned that Holcomb had raped his girlfriend. Murphy told Holcomb to get his f** shoes on. While Holcomb was complying, Murphy kicked Holcomb in the head and later gut shot the getting ready to stand up Thomas Holcomb.
         After an hour and 10 minutes, Bailey was done and left. The neatly dressed, sandy headed Thomas Holcomb took the stand. Koerber guided Holcomb through the testimony. In a nutshell, from Holcomb: Sam came through the door, he pointed the gun at Holcomb’ head from a close distance; he told Holcomb he was going to kill him and said, “OU KNOW WHAT YOU’E DONE!”Twice Holcomb brushed the rifle aside and then told Murphy they should take this outside of the friend’ trailer. As Holcomb was putting on his boot, Murphy kicked him hard in the temple; pulled the trigger as Holcomb went to stand up.          Continued on the next page The single blast knocked Holcomb back against the wall.
         Holcomb raised his shirt to reveal a healed scar about the size of a belly button on his right side. Holcomb, “ told him, you shot me for no reason!…. If you’e going to shoot me, be a man, kill me, shoot me in the head!!!”Holcomb’ testimony went on: “f she tells you I raped her, then shoot me between the eyes! …. You dirty SOB you shouldn’ have done that… Just as my A*** left the couch… I was looking right at him when he pulled the trigger… He blowed me to the other end of the couch….. I asked him why he was going to kill me, he said I had raped his ole lady.. I said, ‘Which one?’”
         All the time Duffy was taking notes and fidgeting. Once again Duffy plied his trade. Picking here and there.
                 Missy Carte testified last. She pretty much confirmed what Holcomb has said earlier. As for the part when Murphy brought the “le lady”into the trailer to face Holcomb, according to Ms Carte, Jackie Ruth told Holcomb he had NOT raped her.
                 Closing statements began at around 5pm. Koerber went first. Magistrate King heard: there is probable cause here, statements from Bailey, Holcomb, and Carte verify the shooting, and this matter must be sent to the grand jury. He finished in less than 5 minutes. Job done.
                 For the defense Duffy rose to the occasion. He explained details of how this could have been just an unfortunate accident. That the gun just went off, that Holcomb and Murphy had “ust collided”and the thing fired. Duffy, “t was an accident, it’ a terrible accident but its not malicious.”He asked that the case be dismissed.
                 Koerber got in the last word, “Sam Murphy came in saying he was going to kill Mr. Holcomb.”
                 It’ no doubt that attorney Duffy earned his keep, but Magistrate King wasn’ buying it. Probable cause found. With the ruling in hand, Mr. Koerber asked that bond be revised to include mandatory drug testing for Murphy. Duffy fired back that the case was out of Magistrate Court jurisdiction as soon as the Magistrate ruled. King agreed and two hours after getting started, Duffy and defendant were done for the day. Duffy had earned his keep. NOTE: This was the last case for Asst Prosecutor Koerber as he heads off to Elkview for new employment before county dollars run out that fund his part time position.
                 APRIL 30, 2004 Scanner listeners will remember April 13th chatter when a meth lab was found on Reed Fork Road and the state clean up crew was called in to clean up the site. The fellow charged with manufacturing pot and having a meth lab was Gerald Mark Thompson.
                 On April 30, 1pm, Magistrate Jeff Boggs held the preliminary hearing to determine probable cause. Boggs’courtroom is set up a little different from the one across the hall in the old courthouse. With the peanut gallery in the far end of the room, both defense and prosecution tables set side by side and facing the Magistrate’ desk. Thompson sat beside attorney Jerome Novobilski closest to the spectators. In a nicely starched white shirt, Grindo had his green state code book laid out along side his notes. Beside Grindo, new man on the block, Trooper Richard E Stephenson, sat quietly.
         Boggs called the thing to order.
                 Newbee Stephenson began to explain: On April 13th , a call came in “hots fired”at a Marty Thompson residence on Reed Fork Road. He, along with TFC Bailey and Deputy Delk were at the scene; they attempted to locate Thompson; the boy’ mother showed up, she was scared that Marty may be there and with a gun.
                 Almost immediately Jerome started objecting stuff. Grindo was too vague, Grindo had not laid a foundation, Grindo this, Grindo that.
                                 Continued on the next page
         Continued from page 18
                 Stephenson continued: they went to the house cellar building where Thompson lived; the door was ajar about 10 inches; Bailey was first to the second floor area; they hollered for Thompson and got no response; and they saw mason jars, hoses, liquids in the jars, Coleman fuel cans, rock salt, acid …. Thompson was sat quietly beside Novobilski.
          In the peanut gallery, two women nodded their heads in disagreement.
         Here, there, and in between, the defense went to work on the young green shirt. Object and then object some more. Something about the Trooper can refresh his memory from the court documents but not read directly from them and, “tuff owned by who? …. Objection, are they plants or seeds???…. What’ this ‘it’ a matter of court record’?”He was working hard to rattle the new badge.
         Stephenson went on with: he had been trained to identify meth labs and pot seeds in the academy, experts had been called in to do lab results, pots, growing soil, miracle grow plant food had been noted….. An arrest warrant had been issued, Thompson had been picked up and later interviewed.
         As Stephenson referred to a document not in the court room, Novo objected some more to some Miranda Rights form not before the court. Grindo came back with: this is just a preliminary hearing and the form didn’ need to be here. Jerome wasn’ putting up with that stuff, “It’ not difficult to carry a piece of paper here!! One comes to a hearing PREPARED!... If they want to reschedule I want object.” Time out was called as the green shirt went for the paperwork.         

         Twenty minutes later action started up again.
         It was defense time. When did you graduate from the Academy? Four days before the arrest, sir. Who taught you about meth labs? Classes in making, identifying, what to look for, the ingredients, type of containers used…. And on.
         Jerome kept knocking questions around. He worked hard to rattle Stephenson. Didn’ work. The green recruit answered the question and added nothing more. Each response was ended with “sir.” The newbee looked as a cool as a cucumber and the veteran defense lawyer couldn’ get the guy to stumble out on any limb.
         Question after question came. Each time green shirt R.E. Stephenson referred anything he didn’ know (or wanted to guess at) to someone else, he just didn’ know that answer, sir…. He wouldn’ know that, sir….. I don’ know that, sir…. Please refer that to the expert, sir……. I don’ recall, sir... Darn good job from the first time-on-the-stand green shirt.
         With the answers came heads nodding in disagreement from the ladies in the peanut gallery.
         Basically from Stephenson: Thompson was no where to be found, what looked like a meth lab had been discovered; 17 small white containers with potting soil had been discovered, the meth lab had not been used for about a month, and one small container downstairs in a window sill had one small pot plant growing about an inch above the soil line.
         The inquiry continued for another 15 minutes. In the end, Magistrate Boggs found probable cause and Mr. Thompson is headed over to the Circuit Court for grand jury proceedings.
         If you get a chance to sit in on courtroom action, do so. Always fun to watch the sides go at it tooth and nail, watch the posturing of the defense, and for that matter, just to watch the accused and the peanut gallery.                                         AW
         J.D. MORRIS: My how time flies when you’e having fun. Long time pillar of the community J.D. Morris was released from Ashland Correctional Prison Monday, April 19, 2004. Morris was sentenced to prison after embezzling bank funds from the Clay County Bank while serving as bank president. The HurHerald web site offered the following.
                 A federal judge has reduced the prison sentence of former state school board President J.D. Morris of Clay. Prosecutors say Morris is being released early because he is assisting prosecutors with their investigation. Chief US District Judge David Faber reduced the sentence to time served at the federal prosecutors' request. Morris was sentenced last year to 18 months for embezzling more than $100,000 from the Clay County Bank. He was released from federal prison and began his three-year term of supervised release this Tuesday. Assistant US Attorney Susan Arnold says she can't reveal the targets of the investigation but says no one has been indicted so far. Morris was associated with the bank for many years, but was the bank's president and chief executive from 1997 until his retirement in April 2002. He resigned from the state school board in October 2002.
: Around the courthouse, Prosecutor Daniel Grindo’ performance has been well…less than wonderful. Grindo was appointed to the spot by Commissioners Sams and Butcher in Dec 2002 after Jeff Davis resigned from office. An example of his substandard performance came to light April 16th when
         Grindo failed to show up for a hearing. Shortly after that no show, another costly mistake became public.
                 When going to the big house, the Prosecutor is required to write the formal court order allowing the move from Central Regional Jail (CRJ) to the pen. While in CRJ, the county is billed $48 per day. Since Jan 8th, the county has been paying the bill due to Grindo’ slow poke approach to writing the order. Through mid April 20th when we last checked on the case (98-F-33) that adds up to $5700.00. That’ $5700.00 that could have been spent keeping deputies on the job.
                 Sheriff Fields commented in mid April that he had encouraged the young Grindo to take some action. Fields also said this wasn’ the first time he had seen such orders go unwritten. Some time back, $9000.00 was spent in CRJ bills unnecessarily. Circuit Clerk staff commented in mid April, Grindo had made an attempt to transfer Taylor to the penitentiary but the order was so poorly worded , it was not accepted.

: School system leaders have said for years we have the best school system in the world. Many in the community have come to believe such broad statements. The goal of public education is to prepare the youth for college or technical schools and to enter the job market ready to compete with the rest of the world.
                 According to the WV Higher Education Policy Commission, Clay County and nearly the entire state have some real short comings. Found in their 2002 Performance of High School Students enrolled in Public Colleges Report released in Oct 2003: Only 45% of the 2002 Clay County high School graduates went on to college or 52 kids. Other counties did much better, like: Fayette 51.6%; Gilmer 53.6%, Boone 52.7%, and Harrison County 82%.
                 Of those going to college from CCHS in the fall of 2002, they only managed a grade point average of 2.28 while attempting an average of just 14 ½ credit hours per semester. Even with the low course hours taken, only 38% of the classes attempted were passed.
                 Ok, ok, so the kids ended up partying their butts off and that’ the reason for poor performance! Well, maybe not. 48% of our graduating seniors were required to take remedial college classes just to get into college. Those are the same kids that were given high grades while attending our local National School of Excellence. 44% of the new freshman have to start over in the math field in bonehead courses. Continued on the next page
                 Ok, ok, again. So we washed out the flunkies and those remaining will do good and prosper in college? Nope. From the 2003 WV Higher Ed. Commission report, making it back for the second year of college is also alarming. 30% of our 2002 CCHS seniors did NOT return to college studies.
                 Next time the high dollar school administrators start blowing smoke, ask them why the kids aren’ ready for college, for the rigors of competing on the college level and why weren’ not providing the needed educational foundation.                                
         NO REFUND BY PSD: Paul Dobbins wanted water service to his Procious area residence. A couple years back he signed up and paid the mandatory (except for J.D. Morris 2 ½ years ago) tap fees. Dobbins waited and waited. Water service never came.
                 After talking with Clay Roane PSD leadership to no avail, he filed a lawsuit to get his money returned. After many delays, Dobbins vs PSD was heard before Magistrate King Tuesday, April 27th. With Tom Whitier representing the PSD and Jerome Novobilski on Dobbins’ side, the court ruled no tap fee would be returned. Look for this one to be appealed to Circuit Court within 20 days.
                 Next time the appointed ones ask for a tap fee and water service is just around the corner, maybe you should sleep on it before opening your wallet. And by the way, last time the Punkin Ridge water line extension was mentioned during a contentious PSD meeting, it came to light, Chair Melissa Postelwait had NOT paid her own fee.                                                                                        AW
         ELECTION 2004 The Final Stretch—
                 No one in the county can complain this election cycle. There’ been something for everyone. Candidates came out in force. Eleven Democrats filed for the Sheriff’ race, twelve signed up to try and make a difference in school board land. Heck, we’e even got (had) four running for Prosecutor. Probably the juiciest race is between incumbent Assessor Suzie Legg and long time Deputy Assessor, Teresa Lane.
         And the money, it did flow. They spent money. They attended about every nonprofit fund raiser coming and going. With money in hand, we experienced the first full size outdoor signs 30 feet up in the air and radio ads in the sheriff race. We have entered the 20th century.
                 For those of us that like to watch a good mud fight, we’e had it. Almost as soon as the filing period opened, the mud slinging started between Matthew Bragg and Roger Hunt. Accusations and double accusations were passed. With budget cuts at the courthouse, those in the know are speculating, come May 12th, Teresa Lane won’ be employed as a Deputy Assessor. School board candidate Earnie Sirk raised a real stink over County Commission candidate Brian Holcomb handing out campaign materials during his work day as a Clay High teacher.
                 Democrat candidate Lloyd Jackson came to town three weeks ago and made the rounds, the school board, the courthouse…. Republican Dave Mullins provided the escort service for Jackson. The question is: who’ madder, democrats for being snubbed during the visit, or Republicans, seeing their only on-the-ballot candidate smoozing with the other side? Other snafu included newly appointed school boardsters Rick Tanner and Kim Sams saying they weren’ aware of any “ood ole boy”network in the school system.
                 Over the last 5 weeks, we’e promoted online surveys on From our absolutely unscientific survey, here goes.
                 In the Sheriff race, our online folks couldn’ pick a clear favorite. The top four vote getters in no certain order, Bragg, Holcomb, Triplett and a dead heat for the fourth best vote getter. Equal votes for Hunt and Paxton #4, that’ the older guy. That survey was compiled the last week of March. Then, as is the case now, no one appears to be the crowd favorite. In most people’ minds, the Sheriff’ race is too close to call and may depend on last minute slate making and trade offs. Republicat Dave Mullins will face off with the winner in November.
                 Completed three weeks ago, in the Assessor’ race poll, our respondents chose Teresa Lane over Suzie Legg 4 to 1. This poll raised eyebrows among local politicos. Non online predicators have said the Assessor’ race may be decided with less than 50 votes between the 2 candidates.
                 In the school board race, we received a ton of online responders. Most in the county have said little about consolidating Valley Fork and Ivydale Elem. into one new school in Big Otter. Maybe, taxpayers will make their voices heard May 11th. In the poll, Gene King finished way ahead of long time Board President R.B. Legg.
         The third and fourth place finishers were all very, very close together. Recently appointed Boardsters Sams and Tanner were NOT clear cut winners. Instead, Sams, Tanner, Sirk, Murphy, and Shamblin were all within a few votes of each other. Third place was a dead tie between Tanner and Sirk. Is Sirk our pick for fourth place? NO! They were all too close together. Clumped close together: Shamblin, Sams, and Murphy. This could be the year that we pick up two or three brand new board members. Our predictions? None, other than old timer Gene King and a tight grouping for 2nd, 3rd and 4th place. One note, Gene King has served District A on the school board for 30 years. This time, he will be running in District B. It’ the little things that may change his normal high voter count.
                 During our online survey we noticed something in the school board balloting. Single-shoting. The practice of voting for just one candidate instead of using up all four of the slots. There are those that feel voting for just one is like taking votes from other contenders. Fully 1/3 of our participants chose to single shot one candidate in the school board race.
                 We also asked our viewers to predict voter turn out May 11th. According to those cyber space folks, high guess- 4800, low guess- 1700 voters. Our lone prediction: 3600 coming out to vote. This past week we asked for www individuals to pick who they thought would win in the County Commission race. With Commissioner Bragg not seeking the spot, contenders for the opening are Harald Fields, Fran King, Brian Holcomb and Rodney Bullard. In the county, locals assert, Fran is ahead by a mile. Not so according to the 50 plus who responded online. Fields edged out Fran by one vote. Bullard and Holcomb trailed way back. But, since this poll was done right after Earnie Sirk made the front page in Charleston newspapers over Holcomb using high schoolers to campaign, and since Clay Countians have short memories, Holcomb may move up substantially with the help of fellow teachers and school service personnel. Our prediction: we’l stick with the poll, 600 year old Harald Fields by the smallest of margins. One other note, who ever wins the Demorat nod in May will be challenged during the November 2004 General election.
                 We haven’ done the polling in the Prosecutor’ race before press time. We do have some contentions for the voter. Local boy Jim Samples has the look, smile and family backing to win. With only a few months of practice under his belt, his top spot may be weakened. One time asst. prosecutor Barbara Schamberger certainly has the credentials, time on the job, and the smile, BUT, Schamb was slow to get started and that may be a problem. Many old timers decide who they’l vote for early in a race and will absolutely NOT change their minds. And then there’ Wayne King. King has been in business for years and done favors for many, many locals. By pulling in his favors, King may make this a real horse race to the finish.
                 NOTE: Prosecutor candidate Barry Keorber has pulled out of the race.
                 For most in Clay County, just trying to make ends meet takes most of the daylight hours. Spending a great deal of time worrying about politics just doesn’ happen. One thing is for sure, in every race, candidates have spent a great deal of time and money getting their message out and we have a selection this time around.
                 For the results of the primary, click on late Tuesday, May 11th . Results will be posted as soon as tallied. AW
                 At the request of the WV Public Service Commission, Queen Shoals PSD and Clay Roane PSD met in Special session April 22, 2004. The meeting was held at HE White Elem. With full participation by the Queen Shoals Board and only Gary Whaling from the Clay Roane group present, QSPSD Chair Jimmy Kearns opened the meeting at 7pm. He immediately turned the helm over to the WV PSC gang from Charleston.
                 Dave Accord gave a narrative. In a nutshell: currently there are four formal complaints against QSPSD; doing without water is always rough; in the past there have been serious “ssues”between the two water service providers. Translation: They hate each other and want nothing to do with one and other.
                 After saying “he rates are high without a doubt” Accord explained the need for QSPSD to enter into an agreement with Clay Roane for the larger PSD to do QS’ monthly water meter readings, monthly billing and routine monthly maintenance of the Queen Shoals system. For QS to set up their own office and books ( which they already have done) would be a duplication of service and costly. Instead Mr Accord suggested QSPSD invest their money into new lines and pumps to meet the needs of its customers.
                 In the near future, Accord suggested that the entire county consolidate under one PSD. Accord entertained no questions and asked for such inquiries to be held until later in the meeting.
                 Jim Weimer (heard that name before?) addressed the 30 + in attendance. Weimer acknowledges the many problems in this county and asked for a unified front. Weiner: there are still many deficiencies and QS is “xtremely fragile” originally there were to be two storage tanks and only one was put into service; the pumps are inadequate and the system is operating over capacity. As he looked around the room and spoke rather quietly, he came back to the Christmas 2003 fiasco where many QS customers went without water for nearly 2 weeks.
                 Using his best statesmanship ( and struggling not to get on a limb) Weiner worked to inform the water challenged folks in attendance. Weiner: during Christmas, the existing water pumps just couldn’ keep up; the management of the QS PSD switched to Clay Roane and because Clay Roane knew little about the system , they came across looking like a bunch of dumb bunnies; it took Clay Roane a while to figure out where and what to do. The crowd remained quiet. They were listening.
                 Mr W assured all, the best approach would be for all water providers to come together and form one large PSD. As for the balance of the $60,000 Budget Digest grant monies? Use the windfall to upgrade the system with more valves, pumps and lines. Weiner, “Invest in the system not personnel…. You need a quick way to identify leaks…”He reminded all that in Dec when Queen Shoals did without water, there was no one to find the leaks. As the mumbles began, the engineer reminded listeners the reason WV Water would not take over the system three months ago: There is NOT an adequate source of water for the existing customers. IE: the old Procious Water Plant was too small and costs too much to operate.
                 The last leg of the trio was PSC attorney Leslie Anderson, Anderson, “… I want to assure you we want to work with you. We need to work together. The operation and maintenance agreement is proper and reasonable.”
         What was that? Doesn’ that sound like : We’e from the government and we’e to help you?
                 The questions came. Questions on an earlier O and M agreement with Clay Roane PS that sucked. QS PSD Chair Jimmy Kearns showed resistance to any agreement with Clay Roane. Basically, why should we have to deal with those knuckle heads when we’e got our act together, have been fixing the leaks, have some money in the bank, and what could be the advantage to bowing to Clay Roane when they’e broke and ready to ask for another rate increase?
                 The locals came alive. One lady reminded all that up until a year ago, they maintained their own system, had cheaper water rates, and had fewer complaints. One gray headed man disputed those statements.
                 One senior citizen in the crowd wanted the big shots from Charleston to know, if they had waited on the PSC 15 years ago to provide water in the area, they STILL would be waiting for wa wa. “re you going to listen to what we say or are you like the Clay County Commission???”In response, Jim Weimer, “e’e not trying to take authority away from you but you can’ leave people without water… if you need to, go to a bank and borrow $50,000 if its needed.
                 Another lady in the crowd spoke of the mistrust in the community, how in the past locals have been sold down the road, how there has never been a solid plan to grow the system, and during every election cycle, politicians make promises that go unkept.
                 The discussions, civil for the most part, continued. TEAM PSC said the operation and maintenance agreement will be ready in June of this year for signing.
                 How about some notes readers! One week prior to this meeting, Clay Roane PSD voted to have nothing to do with Queen Shoals PSD and specifically to stay away from any O and M agreement. During earlier QS PSD meetings, it sure sounded like QS wanted nothing to do with Clay Roane. Now back to the meeting
                 Clay Roane attorney Tom Whittier went over many of the same issues again and reminded attendees that WV PSC has the authority to ram anything they want down your throat. An example did you say? For instance, it was last Feb 2003, when Nick Ciccerillo came to a meeting and said Clay Roane WILL sign an O and M agreement to take over QS PSD now, tonight, without thinking, and without consulting your attorney or else!
         Few in the crowd understood what Whittier, Weiner, Anderson, and Accord were all saying in their most pleasing tones. For all intents and purposes they said: Queen Shoals can NOT set up their own office and staff no matter how much cheaper it would be; Queen Shoals can NOT operate their own system no matter what; Clay Roane and Queen Shoals MUST consolidate into screwed up mess very soon and later, Clay Roane and Queen Shoals will be FORCED into consolidating with the rest of Clay County. As for PSD Boards, you’e there in name only, the WV Public Service Commission makes all decisions short term and long term.
         Is anything ever simple in Clayberry? Nope. Will Clay Roane and Queen Shoals PSD ever quit fighting like little kids? Doesn’ look like it any time soon.
         What else wasn’ said? Water rates have to go up to cover debt load, and the high cost of hiring trained professional maintenance personnel. Since we’e already have the 6th highest water rates in the state, under the directive of the WV PSC, Clay County may finally be at the head of the pack, the highest water rates in the state! Always something to look forward too readers.                                        AW
         Dear Editor:
          In a continuing effort to keep voters informed of the antics of the Fayette County legislators that represent them in Charleston, I again would like to bring the following information to the attention of Clay, Nicholas, and Fayette County voters!
          In latter February, Delegate David Perry (D-Fayette)
         passed out approximately 60 palm pilots to teachers at Collins Middle School at a cost of approximately $18,000. I asked Perry at the time who funded this give-a-way! He has steadfastly refused to answer my question, although he did tell me to ask the Fayette County Board of Education. Since he has the proclivity to be stubborn and act superior to everyone, and he still refuses to answer the question on funding, I can only assume there was hanky-panky involved in this transaction.
          Voters should know this!
          Delegate Perry voted FOR House Bill 4601 that for the school year beginning July 1, 2004, SHALL NOT include funding for the replacement of school buses! This vote was utter nonsense! Is it important to replace school buses that have 300,000 miles on them, to replace buses that need the floors replaced, to replace buses that are 10 to 15 years old? You betcha! Why would Perry vote to not fund those buses for the safety of our children? Our children deserve SAFE SCHOOL BUSES! Voters should know this!
          Incidentally, the only 29th Delegate District and/or Fayette County legislator to vote AGAINST this Bill to eliminate funding for school buses was Delegate Tom Louisos (D-Fayette). Delegate David Perry was instrumental in adding an amendment to an otherwise innocuous bill clarifying teachers' retirement laws, that would allow teachers to add legislative salary to teachers salary for purposes of retirement. This would have raised Perry's retirement by approximately $9,000 per year! This Bill was so bad that Perry's mentor, Senator Shirley Love, said of the Bill, "It's the most gross, unethical misuse of tax dollars in self interest I have ever witnessed."
          Voters should know this!
          The state Human Rights Commission and the state attorney general's office is presently investigating charges of verbal, mental, and physical abuse of an African-American student at Collins Middle School in Oak Hill. This is the school where Perry is supposedly the principal. The charges were made public at a meeting of the Fayette County Board of Education in Gauley Bridge on the evening of April 20, 2004! Family members revealed that their son and grandson had been suffering these abuses for the past three years! If Perry can't control the students and faculty at the school, then maybe he should spend more time at the school! His absences include the legislature, political meetings, campaigning, and meeting almost daily with his mentor at the Oak Hill Post Office for guidance!
          Voters should know this!
          Of all the incumbent members of the legislature running for reelection, Delegate David Perry is the least desirable one to return to Charleston! There is no independent thinking for Perry! He is beholden to the lawyers and bankers of our state as evidenced by perusing his campaign finance reports! The students at CMS need him more than the West Virginia
          Legislature! Voters should know this!
          I hope I have enlightened those outside of Fayette
         County who are unaware of the daily happenings of our politicians while outside of your sight!
          Please vote accordingly! But, please vote!
                          Harold D. Bragg
                          Glen Jean, WV
         CHATTER 2
I just signed off of your website and I agree with you completely.The fight at the high school, the reporters being fired for reporting the truth all explain a lot about our values and beliefs in this country.
                 My husband and I just buried our second eldest son last weekend.Kevin was a soldier—he served in Germany, Bosnia and Iraq.He was a good boy, a good man and father to his 1 and 3 year old little girls. He was a good son and a wonderful husband.was proud to serve his country, as his father and brothergrandfathers served before him.
                 Kevin made it through the engagements he fought without a scratch.He was honorably discharged last August and began training on the new Homeland Security Team.He was on his way to work and was killed by a drunk driver.This man had previous DUI's and was driving northbound on a southbound Interstate.He was driving 80 miles an hour--with his lights off and struck Kevin's car head on. The truck the man was driving split Kevin's car in half lengthwise and upon impact, Kevin's car exploded.son and the boy who was carpooling with him were burned beyond recognition.
         The two boys died immediately and the drunk driver survived with only a few broken bones and a few small burns.This is what our country has become.A place where people can hurt others without regard for honor, decency and compassion.
                 As you can tell from my tone, I am quite bitter for our loss.Justice will not be served, I am quite sure.The drunk driver is being charged with 2 counts of vehicular manslaughter (and slaughter it was), but we have our doubts that he will be sentenced with an appropriate sentence.(And what is an appropriate sentence for two deaths?)My only hope is that this man will remember what he's done and to whom he's done it for the rest of his miserable life.
                 I think my message here is that people do horrible things to themselves and to others.We have only a short time to live on this earth.If we put half as much energy into making it better as we do trying to destroy it--wouldn't it surely become a better place? Clay County is a perfect example of that.The cliques, the power struggles, the back-biting and back-stabbing that goes on there. For what?To sit on a board (or hold a position) of people hell-bent on destroying a beautiful county and the people in it that these chosen few dislike?What a!
         Those children at the High School should have known better.But how could they know better when they look at the adults who are just as bad?From what I have read, some of the CAEZ, PSD,CDC meetings are just as animalistic and vicious, aren't they?It is sad and it is frightening.In twenty years, most of the present leaders will have stepped aside and these children will be leading the county!God help us!We are going to need it.
                 Thank you,
                         Bill and Kate Whitteker
                         Amma, WV
         Chatter 3
         To the Communicator:
          My letter concerns the so called budget cuts at the Clay County Courthouse – Hogwash. If it’ to their advantage, or a favor to a friend or foe, they find the money. Now to the point. Patty Butcher Fugate is my daughter. Enclosed is a copy of the letter advising her of being laid off, saying they are making major cut backs. That’ not true. Patty and one other man was laid off as of April 30, 2004. Is that major? No.
          Folks, about two years ago major cut backs surfaced. One person in each office was to be laid off. Lo and behold, none left. Somewhere they found the money to keep all working.
          I have referred to “hey.” I’l name them – Clay County Commission and leader Judy Moore. We don’ need but one commissioner and Judy Moore. Whatever decision they make stands, truth or a lie. Folks, this will continue when these get on the ballot; someone needs to run against them whether they win or not.
          This is Patty’ first job with benefits, 8 to 4 daily, paid vacation days, personal days, and now nothing. You see, Patty has college hours; that’ more than some ladies who work in offices in the Clay courthouse. When Susie Legg was hiring Patty went to file an application or resume. Susie told her she could turn it in, but she already had in mind who she’ hire, so Trish Triplett was hired. No difference in all the offices. I understand your qualifications gets you your job – not so in Clayberry, WV. They aren’ thankful for very much. Patty does her work, bothers no one.
          Until we see these major cut backs, we can assume that these have a good ability to lie. We are in the process of finding out if the State Supreme Court ruled that the courthouse on the hill is to have a full time janitor. If so, the commissioners and Judy Moore better start looking for money to fund the janitor’ pay. They find money for other things. Also, any complaints of the Clay courthouse not being clean, I will contact the Health Department here, also Charleston, WV and in Washington, D.C. That should bring a response to Clayberry, WV before this is over.
          Some of us may believe honesty is better in the long run. Lies breed evil in our hearts and comes out in our daily lives. People say to me, “hat’ how the world is today.” It don’ need to be this way. We’e waiting for the major cut backs July 2004. It’ hard for me to believe it will come to pass.
                                    Thank you,
         Melba Butcher
         Letter to Brother Bill By Evelyne McLaughlin
         Dear Brother Bill:
          Long time, no see. Hope you can come this way before too long. The BIG ramp dinner will be this coming Sunday at the H. E. White School. This event always draws a huge crowd. You can see lots of folks and the meal is wonderful.
          The redbud trees have almost lost their color. I always recall what Mom said as I was taking her to the hospital eleven years ago "Oh, that beautiful redbud". My lettuce never did come up, it may have been Outdated long ago. Who cares I don't like lettuce that well anyway. Sister Charlotte and her husband Jim Steed, of Knollwood, have been visiting relatives in South Carolina. The Steed Reunion was held while they were down south. Dixie Samples Hill, and her daughter Ruth, of Texas, Norma Samples Johnson, of Tennessee, have been visiting in Hawaii. One of Ruth's friends was getting married over there. Ron Love of Bomont, and Dixie Love Jarvis were visiting with Glenn and Delores Love Davis, of Summersville, last Sunday. Happy belated birthday wishes to Delores. Harold and Thelma Lee, formerly of Clay, have purchased a home in Spencer. This is good, as they will be near their son, Charles and his family. I received a nice e-mail from Candie Davis, wife of Russell Davis, of Louisiana. She sent pictures of Russ's garden, looks like it is ready to harvest.
          Step-sister Donna Dawson Smyth, of Charleston, tells me they are planning another Dawson Reunion sometime this summer. Cousin Judy Grose Sexton, of Columbus, Ohio, called this week. She is getting along as well as can be expected since the loss of her son. I saw Paul and Kay Deems Dobbins recently at the Foodland. Kay told me she will be having another stress test soon. Paul's sister, Myrtle Dobbins (I don't know her married name), was with them. Bill Hanshaw, son of Hazel Braley, of Ovapa, has undergone surgery recently. Hugh Boggs is in the nursing home at Big Otter. Please remember the sick in prayer. Our recent visitors were Sue Whiteley, Susie Legg
         , Sylvia Summers and Mike Shamblin. Mike came by to sheer the sheep. And sheer them he did. Bobby Simmons brought me a couple of hens and a "domie" rooster
         the other day. That bloomin' rooster flogged me. I should put him with the turkey and see if they would flog each other. As I was shopping at the K-Mart a few days ago one of my former students and I literally ran into each other. It was Stella Gill. She was amazed that I remembered her, she is still as beautiful as ever. She told me that she worked at the State Capitol.
          Several folks are in the process of starting services back at The Blessed Hope Church. It is located on the hill above Camp Creek. Services will be at two o'clock this coming Sunday. Everyone is welcome.
          Sorry to learn of the death of Hattie Smith's daughter, Jean. Our sympathy goes out to that family. I guess by the time the next letter to you comes out the BIG election will be over and some olks will be floating up Salt River. We need to stress voting for the HONEST candidates. Some folks we have had dealings with and know their "platform". Keep campaigning for Ernie Sirk And Fran King would like a few of those PA votes also. I see Dave Mullins around "politickin". Dave always has a smile on his face. Bet it will be a bigger smile if he wins the fall election. We hope the best man/woman wins but they don't always win.
          Don't forget the Ramp Dinner at HEW. Until then
         -Help us all to be brave. Love, Sis
                 I finally broke down and attended a “eet the Candidates”last Sunday. I did enjoy seeing so many long-time friends, a couple of bags of skin that hold local offices and either the state-wide candidates or their representatives. A few things struck me while listening to their spiels. For some reason, likely the declining job market in our quickly becoming Wally-World economy, everyone was promising to bring "new, good paying" jobs to West Virginia. It just ain't going to happen folks. Those jobs are going outside the country quicker than a politician will stick out his hand. West Virginia is past the point of hoping and waiting for those jobs to come here. Our governor-to-be and all the others need to wake up and smell the darn coffee. We have to move on to something realistic, something that might actually happen and I don't mean more bureaucrats, patronage buddies and such sucking down tax dollars or more cashiers, clerks and stock-boys. We have to begin developing an economic base that is not government-oriented, locally based and not only sustainable but able to grow. Like I have said before, I think that economy is in tourism of all kinds, not just the skiing and white-water rafting that is aimed at the rapidly disappearing yuppie class of people.
                 Another thing that I was thinking about is how in the name of Hades did West Virginia go from a predicted $120 million to having enough to stuff every delegate and senator's stocking with the deceptively named Budget Digest money? Did we cut needed services to create the surplus? More likely, did we raise taxes, not just enough to balance the budget but enough to assure that the addictive Digest funds were there, just in case those elected ones that might have a hard time winning purely on merit would have some slush funds to toss around? I will guarantee that no time or effort went into figuring out how to make our state, district and county governments work more efficiently, so they could reduce or at least stay within their budgets.
                 I did take the opportunity to talk to most of the district and state candidates. I'm sure that every one of them is sincere to the core but in my opinion they are reading from an out-dated script. The future is staring West Virginia in the face. We must move past the idea of being owned by and dependent upon the coal-chemical-electric-banking-insurance-medical-government conglomeration and develop an economy that is based on, by and for the people of this state, their talents, skills and abilities. A tourism economy would not only do this but also encourage it. A tourism economy would spur the growth of small, locally owned and operated businesses of the people, for the people and by the people. Power to the people! We'll find it in tourism!
         Wrong Headed: Left or Right By Jim Chafin
          In the ten days since being sworn in as Secretary of Treasury, Paul O’eill’ main concern about the new administration was its constant gravitation to Saddam Hussein as the focal point of the National Security meetings. But as he left this second meeting, he was getting a clearer image about the new President’ view of himself as leader of the most powerful nation on this globe and the role this country would play in world affairs under his leadership. The comments of Powell, Tenet, Rumsfeld and others – especially the memo from Rumsfeld, which he had read before coming to this second meeting – all these bits of information were coming together to form a consensus: POTUS 43 and his advisers were zeroing in on Iraq as the key to solving what they conceived as the world’ problems. Suddenly, Rumsfeld’ focus on a need to “issuade others”from creating asymmetric threats made sense. “rom the start, we were building the case against Saddam Hussein and looking at how we could take him out and change Iraq into a new country. And if we could do that, it would solve everything.” It was all about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it. And the President said, “ine. Go find me a way to do this.”
          Of course, Mr. O’eill had no way of knowing the content of discussions between Bush and his other advisors, so, naturally, there were still blank spots in the records as to many of the underlying reasons why Saddam was, suddenly, the pivot upon which world peace turned. He had no way of knowing just how much influence Vice President Cheney, Rumsfeld, Tenet, Powell, Condoleeza Rice, or any of the others had, or could, exert on the passive occupant of the Oval Office. At this point in time, he knew little about Cheney’ purported energy policies – such was the secrecy within this elite group of heavy-hitters, probably the most experienced assemblage of business and industry leaders to ever occupy staff positions in any administration. That, coupled with their extensive experience in government under previous administrations, made this group of people able to strongly influence, or even dictate, the policies flowing from the President. And given Bush’ relative lack of knowledge in foreign policy would make him especially vulnerable to the hidden agendas and whims of strong-willed staff members. As it turns out however, Bush has his own agenda, and this group of experienced department heads were his ticket to putting his plans into operation.
          But for the arrogance of power, given these same circumstances, lesser folks would have to suffer a thousand deaths. But, no, our august legislators chose instead to follow “oss politics”allowing a one-party government to run amuck in the house that is owned by the American people. Oh, yes, they closed their eyes, ears, and hearts against Bush’ massive abuse of power and are allowing, even now, both American and Iraqi lives to be snuffed out in a war this nation cannot win.
          The lies spread by the Bush administration as to the reason America must invade Iraq are too numerous, and far too complicated, to be enumerated here. But more folks are waking up to the fact that this White House exaggerated every pretense it could come up with to convince this nation that an immediate invasion of the tiny nation of Iraq was necessary – even as U.N. inspectors were not able to find any of those weapons of mass destruction claimed by Bush. We remember those infamous words of a so called “hristian”George W. Bush who wandered into the office of Condoleeza Rice (long before the war) who was meeting with three senators: “*** Saddam, we’e taking him out.”
          This administration is filled with men who found ways to avoid combat duty when it was their turn to serve. The President himself now stands accused of being AWOL for about a year while serving as a pilot for the Alabama National Guard. He had asked for, and received, a transfer from the Texas National Guard to, now hear this, work in a Republican political campaign. How many veterans out there have ever been accorded such lavish “etail” The New Hampshire Gazette posts a chicken hawk list on the internet: Newt Gingrich, Dan Quale, Trent Lott, Tom DeLay, William Bennett, Elliott Abrams, George Will, Rush Limbaugh, Kenneth Starr, Bob Barr, Ari Fleischer, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Bill O’eilly, Phil Gramm, Jeb Bush, Steve Forbes, Jerry Falwell, and many others. Columnist Jan Russell notes that Vice President Dick Cheney, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, advisor Karl Rove, Attorney General John Ashcroft, war advisor Richard Pearle and many more Republican war advocates assumed the chicken hawk position by personally arranging to avoid military service. Novelist John LeCarre, in his book Absolute Friends, says, “he Iraq war was a criminal and immoral conspiracy. It was an old colonial war dressed up as a crusade for Western life and liberty, and it was launched by a cliché of war-hungry Judeo-Christian geopolitical fantasists who hijacked the media and exploited America’ post 9/11 psychopathy.” It’ an old, old story – power feeding on the weakest among us!
         04/14/04: Stephenson – Gerold M. Thompson, Jr., warrants issued for manufacturing methamphetamine and manufacturing marijuana, arrested 04/21.
         04/20/04: Light – Bradley J. Stone, warrants for burglary and petit larceny 2nd offense issued 03/22/04, arrested, preliminary hearing 04/28.
         04/22/04: Light – Ricky Junior Bishop, DUI-3rd offense and fleeing from officer while DUI (03/24/04), preliminary hearing: probable cause found; bound to Grand Jury in the Circuit Court of Clay County; Delk – Clifford Jennings Kincaid, possession with intent to deliver (04/12/04), preliminary hearing: probable cause found; bound to Grand Jury in the Circuit Court of Clay County.
         04/23/04: Wiles – Roger Brandon Smith, delivery of a controlled substance (03/01/04), preliminary hearing: case dismissed by State; Delk – Harry Miller, wanton endangerment X 2 (03/24/04), preliminary hearing continued by Defense to ??.
         04/14/04: Delk – Eric Justin Hamrick, domestic battery and destruction of property, arrested, ROB 04/24, trial 05/06.
         04/22/04: Light – Ricky J. Bishop, no POI, arrested, ROB; Misty Winebrenner – Bruce E. Bird, Jr., peace bond, summons.
         04/23/04: Slack – Tara B. Taylor, violation of home incarceration X 11, arrested, ROB, case sent to Circuit Court.
         04/24/04: Stephenson – Russell D. Swindler, driving under the influence-2nd offense, arrested, ROB.
         04/26/04: Belt – Michael Brandon Jarvis, no POI, warrant issued.
         04/15/04: Clay County Emergency Ambulance – Randall Samples, money due, subpoena; Carol Brown, money due, subpoena; James Miller, money due, subpoena; Michelle Dozer, money due, subpoena.
         04/23/04: Frank Kerr, Jr. – Wayne Hill and Teresa Hill, wrongful occupation, subpoena; Frank Kerr, Jr. – Rhonda Nichols, money due, subpoena; Wayne Cummings, money due, subpoena; Jeremiah Jones, money due.
         Worthless Checks
         Notices issued –
         04/23/04: Clay Supermarket – Angela Woods; Alan Rhodes; Melissa Hill; Kristi English; Billy Deems; Robert Boggs.
         Citation Register
         04/06/04: State Police – David Ruediger, MVI and no POI.
         04/08/04: Sheriff’ Dept. – Michael Haines – speeding X 2.
         04/10/04: Sheriff’ Dept. – Jeremy W. Holcomb, no POI and registration violation.
         04/16/04: State Police – Anissa J. Ball, speeding; Joshua F. Bullard, speeding and no POI; Renae Marie Gamble, speeding.
         04/22/04: State Police – Chris J. Dwier, driving suspended/revoked non-DUI; Adam A. Jarrett, seat belt violation.
         ___________Buckshot Quits and Much More__________
         Clay Town Council convened a special meeting April 20th to OK the new year’ budget and discuss the new cable TV provider for the municipality. Mayor ‘King” Arthur Jarrett was up front with Recorder Dwana Murphy, Betty Murphy, Billie Zegeer, and Sally Legg gathered around the conference room.
                 Before things got underway, things got underway. Town Chief of Police Buckshot Butcher was present and carrying a big thick bundle of papers. Dressed in plain clothes, Butcher made it public he had quit the volunteer position April 17th. Buckshot was pretty fired up over recently printed pieces on him leaving the town without police protection as he traveled about the county with other law enforcement agencies. He directed most of his comments to councilperson Betty Murphy. Butcher, “he Town has NO police protection [now]!”When asked if had gone out of municipal limits, Butcher, “es and Gene [King] did it for years! It took his own garden hose with him..”
                 Big Murph fired back that while the Chief of Police had been out riding around recently, the Dollar Store’ glass door had been broken into and he was “orking during the wrong hours of the day”to catch the bad guys! Butcher, “ou don’ know what you’e talking about!”With both of them saying they weren’ going to argue the matter, the argument ended almost as quick as it started. Butcher left the room. That big thick packet of paperwork was the cases he had worked on while volunteering his time to the town. Mayor Arthur Jarrett said he would assume the duties of town cop.
                 Blah, blah, blah, the new budget (levy) passed without fanfare.
                 Before Council was the decision to sign an agreement with Cequil cable TV provider. CeQuill is a newly formed company and has already purchased the service-challenged Thompson Cable Service. Thompson provided TV service to the county for nearly 17 years. Jarrett said he wanted the Town’ attorney (Jeff Davis) present before voting on any contract.
                 Cequill rep Dave Bach pushed to transfer the existing franchise agreement from Thompson to Cequill, which doesn’ expire for three more years. Under that old agreement little is mandated the cable provider in the way of: minimum number of channels, minimum service requirements, minimum levels for response times, nor is there any mention of the town being able to get out of the deal for breach of contract by the cable provider.
                 Using their best statesmanship, the boys in the ties asked for the needed signatures and THEN the town could later negotiate a better deal for its constituents.
                 One short little fat guy asked Council to hold off any decision and negotiate with the new folks to get the best deal. Suggestions offered by the rotund one included: forcing the cable company to open a local access channel for local TV programming, compel CeQuill to provide the cable service to improve radio reception in the town, and put in writing minimum standards acceptable for resident service.
                 Mayor Jarrett, “e’l let the lawyer look at it.. He said he would be here one half hour ago.”
                 Shortly after adjournment, attorney Jeff Davis entered the water plant, AKA Town Hall.
                 So much for the special meeting. Now for something interesting. Remember two years ago when then Recorder Betty Murphy informed Council that money had turned up missing? That the money missing and who took it “as as plain as the nose on your face” Town clerk Tammy Duffield was called into a secret time meeting and within days, resigned from employment.
                 Murphy later commented that she could easily identify over $5000 taken from town accounts. After a vote of council, a fraud audit was completed. Since then, attorney Barbara Schamberger was hired to settle the matter and get the money returned.
                 For the last 18 months nothing has been heard on the matter. Word on the street now has it that a civil suit will soon be filed on behalf of the Town in an attempt to retrieve the wayward funds.                                                        AW
                 ELVIS: We give special attention to elected and appointed leaders getting in trouble. It happened again during Judge Jack Alsop’ Motion Day April 19th. The court was postured to sentence Elvis Dawson for shooting Dave Starcher. A jury of his peers found him guilty of battery and all that was left to do was decide how much jail time was do.
                 With Alsop up front on the bench, the sentencing could not be done because Prosecutor Daniel Grindo had not executed the proper paperwork. Alsop had that look on his face you don’ want to see very often. None the less, Grindo had screwed up. Always ready to rally at a moments notice and rub salt into a wound, defense attorney Kevin Duffy stood and said something along the lines of: Judge I can prepare that order in about 10 minutes if the Prosecutor can’ get around to it. Ouch!
                 With paperwork in hand (it took about 27 minutes including travel time) the proceedings could get underway.
                 Duffy put his best oratory skills to work. He asked that the Judge give Dawson home confinement and probation. He said that under such constraints, Elvis could be monitored for a longer period of time. That if the Court sentences him to 1 year in prison, when he gets out, the same family/neighborhood feud would just start over again.
                 Alsop didn’ buy it as he mentioned that Dawson had tested positive for pot in February 2004. Alsop went on to say how serious the use of a firearm is and both sides were lucky nothing more serious happened in the long standing feud. Alsop sentenced Elvis Dawson to one year in the slammer.
                 Duffy went through the paces again. Please, please, please leave him on bond while we appeal the case; would you consider home confinement away from the neighborhood, maybe Dawson could live with his sister, move his trailer elsewhere… please?
                 Duffy’ silver tongue either worked or Judge Alsop got tired of hearing the whining. Dawson was allowed to remain outside the steel bars while the case is appealed as long as he doesn’ violate alcohol and drug restrictions and he stays away from the Dave Starcher family.                                 AW
         COMMISSION REWARDS DAM MAN —-New Litter Control Officer—-
                 Other than Commissioner Bragg dragging in his recently killed turkey and stringing turkey blood all over the carpet, little juice surfaced April 26th during the Clay County Commission meeting. Here’ the highlights.
                 Community activist Fred Sampson received an award for outstanding volunteer service to the county and the struggle to get Fola Coal to build a mitigation fund paid for, 14 acre lake in the northern end of the county. After receiving the certificate of appreciation Mr. Sampson commented that if the state government boys get the required permits signed in June, the dam would be completed this year. Sampson, “e’l celebrate when this is done.”
                 Dawn Whiteley from the Clay County Solid Waste Authority asked to be the County Litter Control Officer. The county officer (provided for in Senate Bill 444) allows such an officer to issue citations for littering and dumps. Sheriff Fields expressed some reservation with such a person being hired untrained. Fields, “oes she get a badge and a gun?”Whiteley, “ don’ know about that.”Commissioner Sams, “ometimes you may be in harm’ way…” Motion passed for Dawn Whiteley to be our Litter Control Officer.
                 Commission announced that Dave King would continue to be the county’ emergency service director on a volunteer basis.
                 Michael Stricker’ claim for a lost calf was funded by the CCC in the amount of $175.00. In the future a policy will be developed to deal with stray dogs killing livestock.
                 CCC approved a grant request for $50,000 Budget Digest funding to purchase a new ambulance.
                 Twice during the last 90 days, cut phone lines have severed 911 communications with the outside world. During those down times, the Newton Fire Dept. has covered for Nicholas County 911 Dispatch Center which serves this county. According to EMS Director Dave King, Newton cannot continue to provide the service and this county should consider funding a backup 911 communications center. The county’ 911 account can be used to cover the cost of equipment. County Clerk Judy Moore wanted it made clear, the new center would be for emergency use. She received assurances from King that would be the case. Cost: $4000 to $5000. Triplett commented that the center would most likely be housed in the ambulance service and , “e ought to go ahead and do it.”Motion made and passed to fund the new center.
                 The Commission announced receipt of a $30,000 Homeland Security Grant that will be used to fund an emergency operations center in the county. Triplett said that the center will be used in the event of a terror strike against this county…. Or if someone tries to take control of the log factory. Just kidding about the log factory part readers.
                 Another $50,000 is coming into the Sheriff’ Dept. from the Homeland Security Administration. Sams, “hey want these dollars spent.”It appears the $50,000 will be spent to buy and erect a new 911 tower for the northern end of the county.
                 Through out the meeting, Commissioner Bragg remained quiet.
                 So, will residents along Maysel/Procious Road have the Petition to Change the Road Name honored? No decision during this meeting with Bragg saying he would do some investigation on the matter. Translation: Unless a bunch of people show up and voice their desires, the answer is NO.
                 From the back, Fred Sampson reminded the elected ones, back when 911 was being forced on the county and funded in part by CAEZ, promises were made that response times would improve. Sampson said there was a commitment to provide equipment that would generate an instant map emergency service crews could use to find house locations quicker. Sampson, “hen will that happen?”Side step, two step, another side step. Translation: One more promise remembered but broken!
                 Deloris Summers asked the CCC to do something about the often flooded Summers Fork road where she lives. Summers contends that since a culvert was installed 14 years ago, water backs up about every time there is a hard rain. Cars and houses have been damaged as a result of the stopped up culvert. Sams, “he drain just isn’ big enough..”Sensing the wrath of Summers, County Commission agreed to write a letter seeking improvements on the Summer Fork roadway.
                 Somewhere in the mix, Commissioner Bragg was asked if his father in law, Jerry Bird, was still employed as Asst. State Road Director. Bragg said Bird had been off on medical leave but remained employed by the DOH. NOTE: Not true. A call made to the Charleston State Road office revealed that Bird had left employment there April 16th and was taking the Asst. Director spot with the WV Public Service Commission.                                                         AW