AUGUST 6, 2004

Letter to Brother Bill
Short Shorts $1.8 Million Needed
What is Probation?
School Board Meeting
BOB CLARKE Curmudgeon’ Corner
Magistrate Report

        Money is tight in this county. Courthouse employees and the services offered have been cut back. Telephone lines have been removed. Our assistant prosecutor position has been eliminated. Predictions for the current year’ budget look gloomy. If an elected leader would do something that further reduces our treasury, that would be news. Harald Fields says that’ exactly what’ happening.
         According to Sheriff Fields, Commissioner Jimmy Sams’election year promise, hanging of a plastic Ten Commandments plaque during the 2000 election year cycle, has cost this county over $8000.00. Fields was referring to use of the Commission room by the Supreme Court and the Family Law Master Court system and loss of rental income. Additionally, because Sams refuses to remove the plaque and meet Supreme Court specifications, the county will have to shell out upwards of $20,000 to remodel an upstairs storage area for the Family Law Master’ use.
         The mixing of church and state is always a hot button issue here and across the nation. At the heart of the debate are these few words: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." - First Amendment, U.S. Constitution
         Last summer Chief Justice Judge Roy S. Moore brought separation of church and state to the front page as he defied the law of the land and continued to display a monument of the Ten Commandments in the Alabama Supreme Court building.
          Oh, the news was hot and heavy as he refused to abide by the law. From the Reclaiming America web site: Six days before a court-imposed deadline, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore declared his decision. “ have no intention of removing the monument of the Ten Commandments and the moral foundation of our law,”he told media and cheering supporters. To do so, he said, would be to “eny the God that created us and endowed us with certain inalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Moore’ announcement came as he faced a federal order to take a 2 ½ ton granite monument depicting the Ten Commandments out of Alabama’ Judicial Building by August 20 or face fines, levied against the state of Alabama, starting at $5,000 daily, and possibly doubling each week.
The US Supreme Court has ruled over and over, public buildings shall be open to all and without religious adornment; that no one religion shall receive preferential treatment. Now it appears that one local politico’ decision is costing Clay County thousands of dollars according to the Sheriff.
         During his successful bid for re-election in 2000, Commissioner Jimmy Sams purchased a 12 by 18 inch black plastic Ten Commandments plaque and hung it in the County Commission room. Many in the county felt the religious piece was hung publicly to shore up his waning support as challengers signed up for the $25,000 a year elected position. To firm up that observation on election year tactics, during the November 2000 election night ballot counting, Shayne Sams, wife of the Commissioner, pointed to the wall-hanging and yelled out, “hat’ what got him elected.”
                 With news of the “Ten”hung on the wall, regional media outlets descended upon the county. At first Commission Matthew Bragg was opposed to the display and said the Clay County Commission (CCC) should NOT do anything illegal. Sensing the will of the majority in the county, and after a CCC meeting with over 100 people in attendance supportive of his fellow Commissioner, Bragg soon lost his backbone and stood arm in arm with Sams. During subsequent meetings, a few in the peanut gallery asked for the removal Sams plaque. Very few. Lawsuit threats filled the county. Newspapers once again depicted us as, well, not in a good light.
                 With the pressure on Sams, up-for-reelection himself Prosecutor Jeff Davis advised the CCC to hang some other “istoric”items close by and then call the entire wall a “istoric display” At one point Commissioner Sams, during a public meeting and after critics once again asked for the removal of the religious display, said, “here’ nothing religious in the Ten Commandments!” The threats of a costly lawsuit seeking the removal of the election year tactic never materialized. That was four years ago. Since then little has been said about the act of defiance, until now.
                 We spoke with Harald Fields about the loss of income to the county Thursday, August 5th and again on August 8th. The following are excerpts from that discussion.
                 Why is the county not receiving rent from the Supreme Court for the use of the CCC room by the Family Law Master? Fields, “ecause the [CCC room] doesn’ meet approval…. Whether we like the law or not, the Supreme Court and that Justice in Alabama proved it. Having the Ten Commandments and various religious symbols in the courthouses or public buildings …. He told them [Judge Timothy Ruckman], if they would cover those or take them down…. And gone ahead and put in another door and then a little bit of security for his equipment, it would have been a very little bit of money…. Now they are going to have to lay out the money themselves, the money [grant] is not available to remodel that place upstairs. That money was available in a grant to start with and now the way I understand it, they are going to have to do it themselves, out of the county pocket. It was $18,000 or $20,000, something like that….”        Nearly 18 months ago the CCC voted to allow the Family Law Master use of the commission room and receive rent for the one day a week court sessions. Some time later, and without mention of the Ten Commandment controversy, the decision was made to push Judge Ruckman upstairs into a small storage area used by county deputies for storage and office. At the time, Commission President Sams said the Judge was happy with the new digs and life was good.
                 Since loosing two deputies in July because of budget cutbacks and now loosing storage and office space, Sheriff Fields is irked. Fields said because of the Ten Commandments display, the courts have refused to pay up to $700 a month in rent. Adding the months up, the loss of revenue amounts to over $8000. Deputy County Clerk Connie Workman confirmed that no rent has been received for the Law Master’ use of the room.
                 Fields, “hat’ what has stalled the rent money. It was stalled over the County Commission… there are things that I’ like to say but you would print it. That has held up the whole thing! They would have been able to get money for the upstairs to start with but they [CCC] agreed on the downstairs. When the County Commission refused to cover those or take them down for the day he was in court, one day a week, then it was not an approved area.
         They won’ take them down for that one day a week, they are going to go upstairs and take the only office that I had for the deputies to work in and all the storage for the entire courthouse.”
The Sheriff said the decision was made by the three commissioners.
                 Fields spoke on how much the county has lost so far. “ don’ how much it is per foot.. it comes to between $600 and $700 a month. They could have been drawing it for over a year. I am saying that the ruling nation wide that certain symbols and religious whatever can NOT be displayed in public buildings. Judge Ruckman is just trying to follow the law. It would have made $8400 difference in this county.”
As for the county money situation, county Treasurer and Sheriff Fields, “Last year we had a balance of $387,000. This year we had $365,000.00 We only dropped 20 some thousand dollars. There is a dramatic drop in assessments next year….The county itself is only going to loose about $80,000.00. They are going into the year with a $365,000 nest egg for starter and supposedly going to loose about $90,000. They took $60 or $70,000 from me alone. They also took a $100 a month on the employees insurance which drops several more thousands off that…. The county is not going to bed down over $60,0000 if that much. They cut the prosecutor $40,000, cut me sixty some thousand dollars…to build a nest egg. I think that is in violation of the law. On a taxable year you spend the current year’ taxes. They can only role over about 3%…”
Fields raised questions on the budgeting skills of the Commission. He said he spent 11 years doing budgets for the DNR and knows a little bit about such matters. “ don’ know what their motive is. They’e cut everybody far more than the projected loss of revenue…. Me and the prosecutor took the main point of the wrath.” With cutbacks in place the Sheriff’ office hasn’ worked any night time shifts since July 1, 2004, “The public is being chiseled out of the protection they should have. They should have someone out there to respond. The people are paying for it. I am convinced that money is there and will be there for it. I doubt that they have ever looked at the budget. I doubt they could explain it to you without Judy!”
Money or keeping an election promise pleasing to the majority of Clayonians?
         The question of whether or not the government should endorse and promote the message of the Ten Commandments is creating a bit of a rift within the ranks of Evangelical Christians. It's not that they disagree on whether the government should do such a thing - most all of them like the idea of state-approved religious beliefs. The division comes from whether they should obey court orders to remove such displays. Some think such obedience is important while others preach civil disobedience or even insurrection. The September 24, 2003 Detroit News: Several leading voices on the religious Right -- including Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson, Southern Baptist minister Richard Land, legal strategist Jay Sekulow and Free Congress Foundation chairman Paul Weyrich -- have criticized Moore for undermining "the rule of law." Other figures with a nationwide Christian following -- including Focus on the Family founder James Dobson and Coral Ridge Ministries evangelist D. James Kennedy -- have praised him for placing "God's law" above the changing judgments of human beings.
         People on both sides of the debate predicted that it will continue because conservative Christians are growing increasingly frustrated with federal court decisions and more inclined to civil disobedience.
                 Although we commonly hear from Christians who want to use the government to promote and endorse the Ten Commandments, there are many Christians who want no part of such efforts. On the contrary, even though they devoutly follow and teach the Ten Commandments, they don't want the government to get involved. A good example can be found in Amy Bjorge's letter to the Salt Lake Tribune on Sept 8 2003: What I cannot understand is why people think that having Judeo-Christian scripture posted on government property is essential to teaching these values. I can't understand why some people believe that atheists have a hard time refraining from killing, stealing, committing adultery, being truthful, etc. Why do some of us feel that we have a monopoly on decent behavior? Could it be that the reason we kick and scream when the Constitution is upheld is not because we fear the youth of tomorrow will not learn decent human values, but rather because we are trying to make a point? The point would be that America is a Judeo-Christian nation. Sorry, the country cannot be proclaimed Christian, Judeo-Christian, Buddhist, Muslim or anything of the like.
                 Dennis Prager wrote earlier this year: I was raised to believe that unless the majority is engaged in evil, one honors the majority's will. If a religious, racial or atheist minority member can't abide the name "Christmas," it is entirely his or her problem, not the majority's. Demanding that the vast majority of one's fellow workers deny the holiday they all celebrate just to make a few people more comfortable (especially when their discomfort is only a sign of narcissism) is morally indefensible.
                 With $8400 already gone from our county’ tax chest, is the Sheriff certain the “0”is the root of the dollar woes? Fields, “hey agreed about a year ago to fix that [CCC room] to. We all went through the whole building and we decided to put it in the Commission room which is the logical place to hold it. County Commission uses that room one day a week. That room is just setting there and could be drawing rent for use one day a week….. They could have drawn off that room and drawn rent from it all this time.”
                  This paper confirmed with Commissioner Triplett that during rent and court room discussions, the Ten Commandments issue did come up.
         When Commissioner Sams took office he proudly commented the “0”would ‘stay there until I’ gone!’ Fields replied to that four year statement, “hat’ good to keep a promise. However, sometimes you can promise things that are in conflict with the law.”
         The turf war over Christian symbols being the only religious items allowed on public walls will of course go on for years. Unfortunately for this tiny 342 square miles of Appalachian mountainside, the actions of our County Commission have cost county coffers over $8000. With the need to spend another $18,000 to satisfy the Court’ demand for proper court room space, the only question may be: when will the Nation of Clay ever learn to live within the laws of the nation?                                        
         ??? DID YOU KNOW ???
    1.        It is far more impressive when others discover your good qualities without your help.
2.        Thirty five percent of companies use credit checks in pre-employment screenings, up from 19 percent in 1996.
3.        West Virginia has 14 species of frogs and toads.
4.        About 21,000 West Virginians age 12 and older have stopped smoking or significantly reduced smoking since the state cigarette tax was increased in 2003.
5.        Toxic emissions to West Virginia’s air and water increased by more than 17 percent in 2002.
6.        The number of cancer survivors in the United States has more than tripled to almost 10 million over the past 3 decades because of advances in detection and treatment.
7.        The number of people working outside of their home counties has increased from 43 percent in 1990 to 49 percent in 2000, according to US Census data.
8.        The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration released a report for the third straight year that says 15 passenger vans have a high risk of rollovers in traffic accidents.
9.        Americans spend 18 billion yearly on veterinary expenses, more than 71 million households own a dog or cat.
10.         Nationwide about 250 children under the age of 5 drown each year.
11.         There are only 27 veterinary schools in the United States.
12.         Adoring fans spent $2.1 billion last year on NASCAR licensed products.
13.         In the Unites States, 3.9 million people have hepatitis C according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
14.         About 900 Americans die each year and another 250 are hurt by fires started by cigarettes left unattended.
15.         The average American eats three hamburgers each week, according to government studies.
16.         More than 20 million people have died from AIDs since the disease was first diagnosed in 1981.
17.         In 2003, the United States imported $157.2 million worth of fireworks from China says the US Census.
18.         In 2001, just 82,207 bankruptcy petitioners or 5.6 percent of the total 1.8 million were 65 or older.
19.         The United States Department of Agriculture says fresh spinach consumption has jumped 66 percent in the last 10 years.
20.         In 1992, 72.6 million adults in the United States did not read a book. By 2002 that figure had increased to 89.9 million according to the NEA.

                 Just reading the news or even listening to the endless stream of TV news is about enough to blow a person’ mind. Here are some little tidbits that have recently set my poor old head a-spinning.
                 When a picture of “ing George”posing with the Taliban leaders in Texas during the 90s was exposed, the spin went to work quickly. Why it wasn't Georgie-boy that had brought them to Texas, it was the oil companies!
                 Then when Michael Moore exposed the fact that the bin Laden family was on the first plane out of the U.S. after September 11, the spin kicked in overtime. This time loyal old Richard Clarke stepped up to take the fall for that one.
                 From the other side of things came the concept that the U.S. equals bloodshed and terror in many countries worldwide. It's just a matter of semantics. One man’ fight for freedom is another’ act of terror.
                 The roar that criticizing or disliking Bush is unpatriotic and equals wanting to see the U.S. defeated and humiliated just rubs me raw. If we used that theory in 1776 we would be British citizens today. The founding fathers knew that dissent and criticism were the essence of freedom.
                 The continued refusal to admit that we are engaged in guerrilla wars on at least two fronts is almost sad. They don't want to use that term because the last guerrilla war we got mixed up in ended up in a mass retreat from Vietnam.
                 The whizzing and whining over whether Bush is stupid or not…well he did manage to graduate from college. More importantly, he does what he is told, when he is told to and is played like a fiddle by, at least, Cheney, Rumsfield, Ashcroft, Rice and who-knows-how-many corporate kings.
                 Do you know what the most humiliating thing I've seen lately was? Seeing our Secretary of State, the once highly regarded Colin Powell, trying to lip-synch and dance to the gay-as-a-three-dollar-bill song "Y.M.C.A."
                 I read that we Americans suffer from enforced ignorance. Think they're wrong? Take a look around at all of our elected and appointed officials that have to be sued to get them to obey the law. Or take a look at the multitudes of tax-paid bureaucrats that simply don't do the job we are paying them to do and not a word ever said about any of it. Then there is the whole school system mess where a school that maintains a C average is considered a school of excellence.
                 Hey, I only got through a few of them, so I guess I'll have to finish blowing your minds next time. This is Radio-Free Leon signing off, your favorite old redneck radical.
         Letter to Brother Bill By Evelyne McLaughlin
          Hello Brother Bill: I wrote you a nice long letter and somewhere along the line it has come up missing. Perhaps the dog "et" it. Those lonesome fall bugs are singing outside. We had a nice rain this evening. Sylvia took me out to Steve Townsend’ to get my car. It had a hole in the brake line and that isn't good if you want to drive anywhere. She tells me that someone in her family had a terrible fight. The husband got up one morning and he wanted two eggs, one fried and one boiled. The wife boiled the wrong one. What a shame.
          Belated birthday wishes to Jack Samples, Roland Eagle and Mike Schoonover. Hope they have many, many more. Also, Sugar Baby, our Dobie, was eleven last Monday. You didn't even send her a card. But she loves you anyway.
          Those on the recent sick list are: Ella Davis, Dovie Starcher, Melissa McLaughlin and Helen King. Hope these nice ladies begin feeling better real soon. Laura Starcher Cristy underwent surgery not long ago. She is recovering at home. Dovie told me that our long ago friend, James Cash, has had some major health problems. I think he lives near the eastern panhandle. Sylvia Shreves, of Terra Alta, says they are getting along fine. She did break her ankle several weeks ago but is recovering.
          I visited Alyce Faye Bragg, of Ovapa, this week. She had called to tell me she had some garden goodies for me. She also gave me the gift she had purchased for me (Christmas 2003). I was glad to get all the items she gave me. I noted a sign in the Ovapa area that read: BRAGG AND SONS CUSTOM SAWMILLING, You should see our studs. That is a rather catchy advertisement. I have an eye appointment soon. I have been trying to kill spots in the paneling and to step on knots in the flooring. Well, they looked like bugs to me.
          A benefit concert was held last Saturday for Alan Ramsey. The benefit was held at the Clay Park located at Maysel. You should see this place. It certainly is a wonderful addition to Clay County. The concert was very nice despite the rainy weather. Shonette McLaughlin Shearer and her daughter, Sherry, of Phoenix, Arizonia, have returned home. They visited with Don and I, also Nell and Joe Foreman. Sherry is a lawyer in Phoenix. Melissa Weese and her son Cody have gone to Maine. She will be helping her mother do some work up there. Jill and Tony Keiffer, of Cut Off, have completed their new home. She is the daughter of the late Hook Samples.
          There was a baptizing at the county line last Sunday. Brother Bob Walker baptized four folks. Church services at the Blessed Hope Church have been changed to Sunday night at 7:00 o'clock. Everyone is welcome to attend. The Blue Knob Church still has services at ten each Sunday Morning.
          Since I last wrote you, our dear Aunt Maycle Eagle Samples has passed away. She was the daughter of Spencer Eagle (Daddy's first cousin) and she married Mom's youngest brother, Eugene Samples. Their home was on Twistabout. Aunt Maycle has been an important person in my life for as long as I can remember. She was with Mom when you were born. She was with me the evening Mom passed away. Aunt Maycle was a very special woman and she will surely be missed by all who knew her. I shall treasure the memories I have of her.
          When Don and I lived down South, I asked Mom and Aunt Eva Samples King to write me some notes about their early life on the waters of Big Laurel Creek. For my next letter to you I will share some of the stories they wrote me. I heard your sister-in-law Pat Boggs (?) of Barberton, Ohio, was visiting with you and Allie. James Smith, of Sedalia, Mo., will be visiting with his aunt this week. He is coming to West Virginia to attend his 50th CCHS Class reunion. Time surely goes fast. My 50th reunion is next summer. You know you are getting old when you bend down to pull the wrinkles out of your panty hose and then realize you do not have any on.
          Help Us All to be Brave. Love and Prayers, Sis.
         just celebrated July 4th not to long ago.Celebrating freedom and voting rights are just some of our freedoms.We don't have freedom, the 4th of July is just a day off for most, going to the pool, having picnics, cook outs, etc. That's what the 4th of July is anymore.Most citizens, do not even know what the 4th of July really is. For one thing, we were supposed to have the right to vote on our laws.We don't!only thing we voted on was people who said they believe the way we did and would fight for us.This is a laugh.They vote for who can pay them the most money.We don't get votes like we should on big issues like same sex marriages, gun laws.I have said it once, and I will say it again, man's law will change, but God's Law never will.We have a lot of people who want to get rid of our fire arms, but these people are the ones who are rich and their mommy and daddy sent them to college to get them out of the draft.These are the people who are running our country and are against guns! Terrorists would be tickled to death if the citizens were disarmed, which makes you think, I wonder where the money is now and where it's going to and what it will buy.Will it buy your freedom or will it buy your slavery?Freedom to bear arms has stopped countries from invading us, and believe me everyone in the world wants to even though we have rebuilt this world. Without weapons islands smaller than Cuba, that are well armed, will be able to take over our nation and do what they wish with our wives and daughters.This sounds a little like Iraq doesn't it?Crooks, crooks, everywhere and not a honest person to be found.I hope people remember about two cities in the Bible, who turned their back on God so bad that he destroyed them both.So when it comes time to vote, you had better be sure of who you are voting for, not a republican or democrat, but someone who will help us keep our rights, so we can celebrate the 4th of July for many years to come.OR WAS THIS THE LAST ONE?
          Clendenin, WV
         CHATTER 2
         Hello Clayberry am writing to you in hopes that those in Clay will try their best to save this bridge. My grandfather is the late Ira Mullins and being that I was born in New York I have always enjoyed "going home" as my mom Irene Mullins Drennen puts it. One of the best attractions is the Elkhurst Swinging Bridge. As a child I always found it difficult to cross the bridge in a vehicle but on foot I would walk out to the middle and look at the view. When my mom was a child they fell through the bridge. My mom's Uncle Charlie saved her life because she had lost a portion of her thigh and was bleeding profusely. So obviously my mom couldn't bring herself to go across the bridge and she would yell at us kids for going out to the middle. That was in the 30's or 40's. But that is not the only attraction Clayberry has. Spread Park where Grandpa Ira and Lee Triplett and others played music. The historic Henry Clay, The Devil's Tea Table. The beauty of Clay may sound like a romantic notion from my childhood but it beats the heck out of flat boring landscapes of Albion New York. Another attraction Clay has is it's people. I haven't "gone home" in 15 years and I miss it terribly. So c'mon Clayberry let's protect that bridge.
          Sincerely missing Clayberry,
                                 Patty Drennen Andrews
         QUEEN SHOALS WATER Water customers of the Queen Shoals PSD purchase water from Clay Roane PSD. In months past, our southern end of the county residents have expressed a desire to get away from Clay Roane and find another source for water. The PSD approached Clendenin Water Co but were told, the municipal plant didn’ have the reserves to supply QSPSD.
                 It was reported in the Clendenin Herald, WV Water Co of Charleston may take nearly 500 of the Clendenin Water Co customers when they install a new service line which by passes the town. With 500 customers gone, Clendenin may be more interested in supplying QSPSD with water. Or, it may be, with a new service line in place, WV Water may provide the much needed water service. In either case, both provide wholesale water cheaper than Clay Roane PSD. Clay Roane has the 6th highest water rates in the state. WV Water sells 4500 gallons for around $36 which is 30% cheaper than any PSD in Clay County.
         POLICE BLOTTER Thugs and lack of police services continued in Clayberry. Last weekend vandals tried to steal a 1991 Chevy from Telford’ Chevrolet. They were able to gain access to the ignition but it wouldn’ go anywhere. The vehicle was at the dealer for transmission repairs and would move under it’ own power.
                 On Aug 4th a lady parked her van at the Christian Service Center and went inside. Poof!!!!!! Her vehicle disappeared in broad daylight.
                 Right after lunch on Aug 5th , a big time ball bat fight broke out in the IGA store on Main Street as Bubba & Brother Blankenship, Earl Walls, Dennis Kotch etc. Danny Sizemore threw the brawling bunch out the front door where the fight continued on Main Street. With punching and gouging left and right, a big crowd gathered to watch. Deputies Slack and Rider were called to respond but backed up traffic hampered their response time. As of August 6th, no charges had been filed in the matter. Both Danny and Laura Jane were reaaaaaaaaal peed about lack of police in the county. Laura Jane commented later in the day that such fighting and rough stuff wa driving customers from the IGA store.
                 Friday night Aug 6th, we understand the Fitness Center was the target of vandalism and destruction.
                 Hey Prosecutor Grindo won one. A jury found Michael Haynes guilty of possession with intent to deliver. As for Roger Dale Rogers, the guy that shot at his Mother, Dimples Rogers…..after telling the judge he had mental problems, was on several Rx medications, and that often his skin felt like it was crawling off his arms and head, Judge Alsop ordered a psychological evaluation before accepting a plea deal.
         BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY Leonard Williams took over the reigns of the BDA Aug 5th. Before the group was a decision on whether to bill the School System for stealing dirt from the Valley Fork ( Filcon , but don’ say it out loud readers) Industrial Site. Decision made for Don Jarvis to remove the balance of the dirt for the Maysel Park ball field and let the school system off the hook. As for the stolen tin from the same site, no word.
                 It appears that the partially completed Filcon building will have to be torn down. BDA will find some one to give an estimate on the dismantling project. There’ another problem at the site. Appalachian Power wants to remove the power line that crosses over the partially completed structure and charge the BDA for the removal. With Appalachian Power a little huffy over Elk Power installing 3 phase power there, don’ look for any discounts when Appalachian takes out the overhead line.
                 Secret time readers. Williams said that no decisions were made during the members only meeting. Later he responded to: Is Barbara Schamberger still you attorney. Answer from Mr W.: No, we have no legal counsel.
                 Private citizen Tommy Fitzwater attended the assembly and asked about the CAEZ inspired Firewood Co op and distribution center now funded with a $75,000 loan. BDA Boardster and CAEZ Director explained that a meeting was set for August 10th and full details and organize would take place then.
                 And finally from the BDA meeting… CAEZ has been our Lead Economic Development Agent for at least four years. With the LED designation comes an annual $30,000 grant from the Charleston. That’ changed. Beginning Jul 1 2004, the BDA assumed that LED role.
         CAEZ It was life as usual in CAEZ land when the Board met August 3rd at 6pm. Worth mentioning: CAEZ is looking for a suitable site for a boat launch along the Elk River; a letter of support for a water line project along Rt 39 in Nicholas County was Oked. According to Boardster Red Derring, the new line COULD ( hear that Mr Happy?) provide water into Clay County up to Lizemores ( hear that Lizemores?); the CAEZ loan committee turned down two loan applications. When it was learned that no one from Clay County was on the loan committee, Ben Murphy was appointed. The guess is the turned down loans were for the local restaurant on Main Street and a new adventure in the Lizemores section of the county;
                 And then And then, some juice….. Fred Sampson stood and reminded the Board that the public was often left out of the grass roots organization, the annual meeting was coming in Sept and he wanted the public be given a chance to voice their views during that Sept dinner/meeting. Immediately CAEZ Chair Michael Martin’ face turned red and big frowny lines popped out. Martin, “Why do I feel like those remarks are directed at me Fred?????” Fred continued to work the dander up for Martin with words along the lines of: we’e been here nearly 10 years, the CAEZ tenure runs out real soon, the public continues to ask questions about what has been accomplished, and the public wanted something different from this organization and now I look around the table, and politicians are on the Board! And even more testy Martin came back with a real winner, “That’ interesting, reaaaaaaaaal interesting Fred, As a Mayor I don’ feel like I am a politician!” An even more barmy Michael Martin continued, “ased on their participation, does the public give a damn??????????”
                 Sampson was drawing out the long standing feud between Clay County Reps and those from the other four CAEZ counties, he continued with: the public lost confidence with CAEZ and now the last county to use CAEZ as a Lead Economic Development Agent ( That’ us readers) bailed out took with it, the $30,000.00. Sampson, “hat’ a direct slap to the face of this organization!”
                 One final CAEZ note. During discussion on the Sept Annual meeting, questions came on who to get as a key note speaker. Director Sizemore mentioned those that had turned down the offer to attend but made no mention of the already found guest speaker. Sounds like the Board was kept in the dark to this reporter.                                                        AW
         $1.8 Million Needed
         No $ But Pay Raises Given & Full Timer Hired
                 If you are one of many folks needing water service from Clay Roane PSD, please take a Rolaid before reading this latest accounting. Clay Roane PSD met August 5th. Chair Postelwait was at the helm with Boardsters Gary Whaling, Susan Beard, Dave Salisgiver, and Glen Sutton in attendance. Here’ the highlights.
                 Two months into the new year and the Board still doesn’ have a budget for the new year. After hearing that last year’ budget was $338,519.00 and the 2004-2005 budget was estimated at $303,720.00, Boardster Susan Beard, “ am uncomfortable with it…. We are still in a deficit … the object is to break even… You can’ run a railroad this way… if anything breaks, we can’ pay the bill..”The PSD will revisit the Budget during the next meeting. No decision.
                 Motion made and passed to change future meetings to the second Thursday of each month at 7pm.
                 During discussions to pay 100% of employee hospitalization insurance for Bobby Burdette and Jennifer Traub, one time Roane County Commissioner and PSD Boardster, Larry White tried hard to shed sanity on the plan. White felt the PSD couldn’ afford such a luxury and had implemented a policy last summer ( while he was on the Board) to cover just 80% of the insurance. Postelwait insisted that the two employees be given 100% coverage. No decision and the topic will be revisited during budget talks.
                 With PJ’ Contracting raising hourly rates for water tap installations, the PSD will advertise for a new contractor. During the discussions, the Board considered rehiring Dale Deems to install water taps. Here’ an interesting note from service man Thomas Coon, “some don’ want Dale back in the water business, at all.”
                 Here’ an Uh Oh. The IRS folks are after Lefty Summers and Garret Samples. Both were Boardsters of the old Procious PSD which was merged with Clay Roane two years ago. A lien was filed in July against Clay Roane over the back taxes owed by Procious. Seems Procious didn’ pay employee withholding taxes and they want the now out of office Summers and Garrett to pay $7979.47 out of their own pockets. Summers, “We’e bonded aren’ we?”Office Manager Crystal McKinney said she thought the mix up was an accounting one and that she had checks documenting the payments of the taxes. None the less, Summers and Garrett have to attend a Charleston IRS hearing on the matter in 7 days.
                 What time is it readers? It’ secret time again. It lasted about 35 minutes. After the time away from the public, motion made and passed to hire Thomas Coon as a full time employee at $7.50 per hour and raise Crystal’ pay to $8.50 per hour. Yes, that’ the same PSD that doesn’ have $ to clean out the storage tanks and Yes they just hired and gave a raise. Take a Rolaid.
                 With Jim Hildruth present, discussion turned to the recently bid 33 mile long Amma Left Hand Water Line project. The bids came in significantly higher ( $1.8 million) than expected and with only $3.4 million available, something has to give. Of the $1.8m , $370,550.00 has been secured in additional grant dollars. Hildurth has been doing some talking and felt the Infrastructure Council in Charleston could loan the PSD $1 m for the project. Hildruth: the loan would have to be paid back; If the PSD wants to try and get the loan, they have to work fast, deadline for the additional funding is mid August; and, with the $1 m loan and the $370,550 grant, another $500,000 has to be found.
                 How do you pay the additional cost? Maybe a rate increase? No so according to engineer Hildruth! Now read this next part real close.
                 Hildruth made it clear, he was basing that no rate increase part on the numbers provided by the PSD’ accountant, Teed and Associates. Hildruth raised issues with the methods used by the number cruncher. According to the CPA, this year, the PSD will operate CHEAPER than last year. Cheaper? With lower expenses , the PSD can end the new year in the black and with a 15% surplus. That 15% reserve ( surplus) is needed before funders give the thumbs up to more $ and the green light to the Amma project, Hildruth on the 15% reserve thang, “It is Critical!”
                 Hildruth has been through the media mill before and made it clear, he had reservations about the project , the abilty to come up with more $, and whether the PSD could prove themselves financially solid. With a decision to rebid part of the project in an attempt to get lower prices, the vote came as to whether the PSD wanted to forget the extension or go after it with a much higher debt load. Four Ayes and one Nay came from around the table. Chairperson Melissa Postelwait provided the Nay vote.
                 Take that second Rolaid now…. One other note on the Amma project, all the Right of Ways have NOT been signed and according to Larry White, some property owners will have to be taken to Court for the easements. As of meeting time, 16 more are needed in Roane County and 9 in Clayberry.
                 So where are we now? We should know within three weeks if the new bidding will result in lower prices. Based on the Chair voting Nay on the project and Hildruth’ carefully chosen words, you may be thirsty for many more months or years.                                AW
         What is Probation?
         One of the misconceptions that many people have about probation is that it is the same thing as parole. However, a parolee is someone who has been discharged from prison prior and is supervised by the West Virginia Department of Corrections for a specified period of time.
         So, what is probation? Probation is a type of “court-ordered supervision”that a court orders in lieu of sentencing a person convicted of a crime to prison. Probation is a second chance.
         When a judge enters a probation order, the judge refers the probationer to the Probation Office. The Court order contains many provisions that require the probationer to not only keep the laws that every citizen has to obey, but further to obey several special terms, conditions and behaviors ordered by the Court that are tailored to the individual offender.
         If a probationer violates any of the terms of the probation order, which is like a contract ordered by the Court, the judge can revoke the probation and sentence the probationer to the sentence he would have received if he had not received probation. When you are on probation, you have to live an exemplary life and carry out all of the terms of the probation order, else you will face revocation of your probation and will be sentenced to jail.
         One of the first terms of any probation is reporting to the Probation Office on a regular and periodic basis. Other terms might include getting and keeping a job; not consuming alcoholic beverages or other drugs; not going into establishments that sell alcoholic beverages; not spending any time in the company of another convicted criminal; not leaving the jurisdiction of the court; making restitution (paying back the value of stolen or destroyed property, for example); doing community service; and other such requirements, in addition to obeying all Federal, State and local laws, rules and ordinances.
         The purpose of probation is to give a law-breaker a second change, an opportunity to redeem oneself and become a contributing member of society instead of a burden on society. Jail is very costly and a harsh punishment, reserved for the most hardened criminals or those who have committed a very serious crime. Probation is an opportunity to prove to the Court, for a specified period of time that you can live without breaking the law.
         School Board Meeting
          The Clay County Board of Education members met Monday, August 2 at their administrative office in Clay for their regular meeting. All were present: R.B. Legg, Jr., Gene King, David Pierson, Kim Sams and Beth Cercone. After the call to order and approving the agenda, it was announced that the superintendent, Jerry Linkinoggor had been made the new chairman of RESA III.
          Business conducted by the board included: payment of current bills; accepted resignations from Vickie Gency as a substitute teacher’ aide, bus driver Allen Legg effective immediately, and Barbara Hubbard as substitute cook effective immediately; transfers for Nancy Preast from Cook III to cafeteria manager at Clay Middle School (CMS) and Jan Nelson from Cook II at Clay County High School (CCHS) to Cook III at CMS, both successful bids; approved substitute teachers for 2004-2005. Assistant Superintendent Larry Gillespie said there were 34 names on the list provided the board members and that they would be adding more as they got them certified.
          Revisions to the policy dealing with substitute service personnel attendance requirements on call-outs, GVRK, were approved. Although the policy had been discussed during the past two meetings of the board, the actual changes being made were not announced at this meeting. The board members were given a copy of the revisions to look over before approving them, and from the short discussion on them it sounded like substitutes would be required to respond to at least 33% of their call-outs or face removal of their name from the substitute list. Also, some sort of exemption for this was included, but not explained. When Legg asked a question of service personnel rep Dave Mullins regarding the policy, Mullins responded, “’e never seen that, R.B. There was no input from the service personnel.” Mullins had been told at a previous meeting that he would get to look over the proposed revisions before the board took action on them. Cercone asked if service personnel would be receiving a copy of the revised policy. Linkinoggor said it would be explained to them during inservice.
          A resolution supporting the proposed levy for the ambulance service and fire departments, written by Superintendent Linkinoggor at the board’ request, was adopted and signed by all the members. The letter will be sent to George Jones, chairman of the group proposing the levy be placed on the November ballot.
          All motions passed unanimously.
         $9000 Penalty to be Paid
                 It’ been quiet in Clay. Little controversy and even less juicy entries worthy of much attention. That all changed Aug 3rd during the monthly Town Council meeting. With Mayor Arthur Jarrett at the helm and Sally Legg, Betty Murphy, Billie Zegeer, Phil Morris, and Frank Childers around the long Formica topped conference table, two interesting items surfaced.
                 Beauty shop owner Linda Jarvis asked the town about discrepancies in municipal business license fees. Some local operations like attorneys pay just $5 per year while beauty shops pay $25 per chair. Some food stores pay $15 while some flower shops pay just $5. Town Recorder Dwana Murphy told the town that fee schedules come from the State House in Charleston. Jarvis wasn’ satisfied. She asked why local licenses were more expensive than state business permits. Jarvis asked that local licenses be lowered and be equal for all. Zegeer, “It doesn’ seem fair.”So why do attorney’ have the lowest fee? Betty Murphy had an answer, “The lawyers made the laws. That’ why theirs is so low!”
                 Emergency Service Excess Levy Chair George Jones asked Council to support plans to pass the extra tax burden during the Nov General Election. Council made no decision on the matter.
                 And then the big news from the gathering. Larry Robertson from the Dept of Environmental Protection moved to the big table and addressed the elected ones. From Robertson’ spiel: the Town of Clay was fined $55,000 for dumping poo poo into the Elk River; that “ssessment”was reduced to $9000 after King Arthur negotiated with folks in Charleston; his enforcement division has been to Clay four times; during earlier visits, workers and elected officials were hostile toward him; there has been a lack of response by the Town; and, the same problems are repeating. Robertson, “this seems expensive, it’ meant to make a point…. You have some problems …You have to believe you have a problem ….There have been some hostilities …..You aren’ maintaining the sewer plant.”
                 Here’ the skinny readers. Our high dollar 6 year old log factory is being overwhelmed each time it rains. Instead of the rain water going into storm drains, the wa wa is diverted into the sewer system. During each down pour, the rain water head straight for the poop factory and washes out into the Elk along with all the bio mass which is used to treat the stuff. The Town got caught with a 150 wide plum of poo floating out from the plant and got caught.
                 Rain water in the sewer plant as well as grease from Ginos is nothing new for the Town. When the new plant opened in 1998, the first operator said the rain water has to go! Although Town voted in an ordinance forcing municipal residents to disconnect gutters and down spouts, nothing much changed.
                  Robertson left no room to wiggle. The Town must set up a Sanitation Board to go to each home and see that local down spouts are disconnected from the sewer system. Mr tan shirt and green pants said that the Town MUST comply or the next step would be a lawsuit. Robertson, “You have to agree to do something… This has to be done.”
                 The Sewer plant has been a sore spot for the elected ones from the get go. At one point, Council voted to sue the engineer and contractor for not building the agreed upon plant. On Aug 3rd when Betty Murphy raised similar concerns, “It’ a brand new plant. We shouldn’ have these problems!” Mr tan shirt and green pants provided some support for those earlier contentions. Although he said the plant was OK, he commented: the plant was a very poor decision; the bad decision was based on money limitations; and, the sewer plant is an odd plant, “hey just wanted to sell you a plant” This $9000 fine will be paid in monthly $715.00 payments.        
                 Council made no motions on the matter but rather agreed to advertise the need for residents to remove downspouts from the sewer system. As for the main offender to grease in the system, Ginos, Mayor Jarrett reported that with the opening of the new restaurant in Sept., the problem should be solved. After an hour, the group adjourned for another month.
         BOB CLARKE Curmudgeon’ Corner
                 Economics has understandably been called the “ismal science,”perhaps because the would-be experts who discuss the subject in weighty books and drone on in TV programs on the subject are so often capable of raising boredom to the level of an art form. The topic is, no doubt, essential in our lives, but in the talk shows the usual experience out there among the rabble is to find ourselves more mystified after the program than before it began. This reaction is caused by first hearing a convincing and well-presented argument by guest “”who has conceived a plan to solve all our economic woes. The viewer, providing he has understood the sometimes confusing and often exotic language may think, “es. That’ what we should do.” That firm conviction, however, is shattered by the brilliant plan of guest “,”whose solution is the polar opposite of his opponent. The impatient viewer may conclude that neither party has the foggiest idea of what he’ talking about. The exception to this irreverent opinion is, of course, Alan Greenspan: whenever he makes a decision, it is received as if the famous economist had just brought down the tablets from Mount Sinai. Perhaps the widespread impression that Adam Smith, John Maynard Keynes, and God speak directly to Greenspan will someday be dispelled. As a sort of postscript to this session, it must be observed what a wonderful name “reenspan”is, considering his profession: Green=money/span=large breadth.
                 On the twin subjects of money and confusion there are the continuing doomsday predictions of the future threats to the Social Security System. The most optimistic prediction is that the fund will be bankrupt in 2005. Conflicting opinions assert an earlier date. One of the oblique figures on the edge of this drama is Karl Rove, Bush II’ political guru. It is Rove who is given the credit for Bush’ victory over Ann Richards in his first run in Texas. That Rove managed to get Bush elected for a second term despite the fact that under his tenures as Governor the state has become an environmental and financial disaster area is a tribute to his political genius. If true, however, it must be added that even genius has its limitations. One of the campaign issues Rove got his boss to push was the near-future insolvency of the Social Security Fund. The Bush-Rove plan is partial private investment by the taxpayers, an idea that doubtlessly has Wall Street brokers drooling in anticipation at the prospect of getting their hands on the money squirreled away by the famous little old lady in Peoria and the rest of us. This dubious scheme is in perfect concert with Bush’ short term at this date – to help the privileged few. The worm in this plan, or perhaps a can of them, is the timing involved. With the triumph of Bush’ tax cut already a done deal, the question arises: where is the money to save Social Security, Medicare, and the staggering cost of medical prescriptions, especially for the elderly? It is too easy to suggest that Bush, Rove, and his other advisors are mathematically-challenged, but they know what they’e doing. The all-too-obvious letter sent out to taxpayers with the congratulations on juicy (for some) tax rebates was nothing less than Chapter 1 of the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign.
                 For historians, current and future who are always searching for memorable and pithy terms to describe a leader’ accomplishments here is, in Jonathan Swift’ words, a “odest proposal.” Let us call George W. Bush’ efforts abroad the “ohammed Ali foreign policy.” You may remember that the former Cassius Clay roared throughout his memorable career: “ am the greatest.” Is that not what the current administration has been doing on such matters as international accords? The United States does not have a particularly noble record in its adherence to treaties anyway. Just ask the Indians.
         Editor’ note: Bob has taken a little time for himself to watch the ice melt, so we are reprinting, with Bob’ permission, this column which originally was printed in the Buckhannon newspaper.
         UP, UP, UP, AND AWAY WE GO – AGAIN!
         By Jim Chafin
                 As we seek to make rhyme or reason out of these ever-escalating consumer prices in the marketplace, our minds are drawn backwards to a point in time when this nation’ economy was perking along at virtually full speed, everyone who wanted a job could have one, people’ needs were being met, and at a cost that the country could afford. But that was before this society embarked upon the road of massive human dislocation via the technology trip. Back then, while we did have technological improvements (and we cherished many of those devices that helped us escape mind-numbing and back-breaking drudgery), the process was touted to be in the best interests of this nation, and , indeed, the savior of the whole world. Savior, indeed!
                 Harking back to the early years of coal mining, we found whole communities, towns, whole counties, that showed a prosperity unequalled before or since. And the business owner? Well, billions in profits have fattened the bank accounts of Wall Street America – but were they satisfied? NOOO!! With the cooperation of organized labor, the coal business owners embarked on a journey that would see hundreds of thousands of coal mining positions blown away “s the chaff of the threshing floor.” As high-tech increasingly held sway, communities were deserted and blight overcame the towns. In the meanwhile, more coal is produced and profits for corporate coal continue to climb. ONLY THE PEOPLE LOSE. And, thus, it is so across this broad land of the techno-slaves, our destiny increasingly dictated by a pompous, cigar-chewing, unpatriotic, uncaring, corporate-type who makes his living off the backs of the poor of this nation. These folks don’ give a big rat’ tail about this great land and the promises made by our forefathers through the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and our Bill of Rights. Their concerns center around their hip-pocket, and little else. But, history has a way of exacting its own retribution, and we may yet see judgment come to those who abuse their communities simply for greed’ sake.
                 The motis operandi of big business appears to be the same everywhere with the resultant inflation that comes form the constant upward pressures of price adjustments (sometimes, even monthly). EVERY TIME one visits the grocery store, one must carry more money. No one, it seems, is making any effort to curb what can only be described as run-away prices. And government, that once thought of benevolent beast, has joined with those corporations in a unified effort to fleece the sheep. And, in so doing, had become part of the problem. Legislators and others sitting in positions of authority to decide such matters have, it would appear, joined the fray on the side of crass commercialism and against the consumer. So, this is where we find ourselves in the 21st century – paying more and receiving less in terms of quality and value for our money.
                 To try and sum up our thoughts in this series, let us try to deal with the issue (s) of our day by looking at what is being presented to us in the form of media handouts, most of which having very little to do with good decision making on the part of the consumer. However, the public can make a difference, if it so chooses, by taking the time to find out those with whom we do business. For example: If we want to cut expenses for the things we buy (say, for the car we drive) we can be more discriminating about all those gadgets that the salesman pushes upon us because many more are of no intrinsic value whatsoever, having no practical value for the customer at all; providing nothing in the way of added value for the product, but an awful lot for the profit margin of the automobile industry. Here’ a short list of things to look for whenever the hip-pocket begins to feel a little anemic:
1.        Demand high quality products freely translated, that means we will not accept shoddy or high-maintenance products of whatever the source. And, whenever we must use dealer repair facilities, we insist that any repairs are done right the first time – no more going back day after day to replace that zizz wheel or a wobbling shaft.
2.        Be highly skeptical anytime and every time someone says he/she is doing us a favor; experience teaching that we should be aware of wolves bearing gifts. The auto industry has loaded its products with meaningless toys, all designed to part the unsuspecting customer from his money.
3.        Increasing the cost of our transportation is the decreasing utilitarian nature of the vehicles we buy: a) Console in the front seat that takes up space for one passenger, brought on by that tom-foolery gadget called ‘ront wheel drive’ a fundamental change in the drive line of our auto’ that has added several thousand dollars to the basic costs, as well as increasing maintenance costs for practically every other under-the-hood repair many times over. This one design change has sky-rocketed the practical side of the vehicle. b) Computerized Engine Controls (CEC): This conglomeration of computerized wizardry, together with what the industry calls ‘ensors,’(sniffers) are a challenge to even the best trained mechanics around anywhere. “esterday, the thing ran fine, but today it won’ start at all.” And when this happens, a tow to the dealer is a must; and sometimes, that trusty ‘ngine analyzer’will not suffice to get the ornery thing going. Seemingly, the sensors are as apt to malfunction as the part they were designed to control. c) Vehicle wiring: Miles of tiny circuits criss-cross and run back and forth throughout the body of today’ modern automobile; many of which are bundled together in ways that even trained mechanics cannot ascertain which is which. Even little schematics and wiring designs, individual circuits are hard to distinguish and must be replaced separately, resulting in inordinately large time charges. d) Insurance: This cost is relative to the increased ‘ndependability’of the vehicle itself. More gadgets equals less dependability; less dependability equals more labor costs; more labor expenses and complicated parts equals an unwillingness of insurance to repair such vehicles – more and more they are totaling out cars with otherwise superficial damages. This means another junked car on the landscape, another order for the factory, and higher insurance premiums.
Who wins? The corporation does. Who loses? We do!


        Hello, folks! We hope that you have remained safe and happy since the last time. Our hopes and prayers are that you will always be in God’ caring hands.
        Thanks to everyone for the help and support they gave for the Allen Ramsey Benefit Sing and Hot Dog Sale last weekend. The benefit was held by Clay Development and raised over $2,000 to help with Allen’ hospital and medical bills. He was seriously injured in a wreck several weeks ago and has a long road to full recovery facing him. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family
        Thanks to Mr. Larry Boyce, from Kentucky, who brought a large truck load of good clothing and other items to the Christian Service Center, Inc., this weekend. The donation came from CAPS. There were lots of nice things in this donation, and it came just in time for school shopping! An added bonus is that with so much to choose from, if you can find enough to fill one bag for a dollar, you can get and extra bag free for a limited time. You just can’ beat that price.
        Our executive director, Mrs. Freda Auxier, went for an MRI finally today, and while we know that she has a back problem, we are all hoping and praying that it isn’ serious or permanent. Get well, Freda. We love you.
        We would like to say hello to Cathy Reuion; we hope that she is feeling better and to tell her our love prayers go out to her. We would like to send a speedy recovery out to Alice Pritt of Maysel; she is the sister of Terri Pritt, on of our volunteers.
        We would like to share a recipe from our files with you and hope that you enjoy it. If you have a recipe that you would like to share with us, please bring it in while you shop.

Scalloped Ham and Cabbage:
1 lb. cubed cooked ham
2 cp. milk
¼ cp. flour
¼ cp. butter/margarine
¾ cp. shredded cheese
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 medium head of cabbage, cooked and shredded
½ cp. buttered bread crumbs
        Cook milk, butter, flour, and sugar, making a white sauce. Add cheese, cook until melted. Brown bread crumbs in butter. Butter baking dish, and top with bread crumbs. Bake at 350* until bubbly (about 20 minutes).
Until next time, take care and God bless.

        Braxton County native and resident Daniel Grindo was appointed to fill the un-expired term of Prosecutor Jeff Davis. After interviewing the candidates and a controversial meeting with a sitting judge, at the insistence of then-commissioner, Tim “o Show”Butcher and the support of Commissioner Sams, Grindo got the nod. Controversy surrounded the decision and a lawsuit followed. The suit went nowhere but cost the taxpayers $16,000.00. With little experience, he went to work January 1, 2003.
        Since entering public life Grindo has been the object of media spotlight, most often in an unflattering way. This paper has published various court room disasters and snafus and the many cases dismissed by the Prosecutor.
        Here’ our latest offering on Prosecutor Daniel Grindo from the State vs. Tonya Salisbury murder trial.
        Tonya Salisbury stood charged with the murder of her husband Chad. On September 23, 2002, Mr. Salisbury was blasted with a 20 gauge shotgun at close range. A grand jury found enough evidence to indict the young mother, but the case lingered and stalled. Nothing happened.
         Finally, wanting justice served, earlier this year the parents of the deceased paid $10,000 for a private prosecutor to handle the work. New to the job Prosecutor Grindo agreed to such an arrangement and agreed to assist Special Prosecutor Dan Dotson from Braxton County. The case made it to the courtroom in the third week of July. A jury pool was selected. The screening process got under way. Most from the pool either knew the family, knew the deceased or had read or heard about the death. After two days of selection, another pool had to be called into action. After two more days of selection, and with just one alternate left in the pews, the jury was seated.
         Up front, seated at the table on the left, was the thin, dark haired, 30 something year old Tonya Salisbury clad in tan shirt and brown pants. She was quiet and without much movement. Her hands were in her lap. To her left was attorney Bernard Lane. Lead attorney John R. Mitchell, Sr. was to her right. The aging and portly Mitchell had his glasses riding on the edge of his nose and long frizzy hair streaming over his collar. On the right was Prosecutor Grindo and lead Prosecutor Dotson. Dotson agreed to have Grindo do the opening statements. Usually a simple chore, opening statements are not mandatory in court but usually done just the same. The well dressed Grindo stood and looked at the jury. His remarks included: It’ time to get to work; this is a very serious matter, you’e already been here 2 days; I plan to guide you through a web of deceit; this is difficult, there is so much to tell; you’e going to hear about drugs, a party, the nature of the party, you are going to hear that the deceased had drugs in his system, we’re not going to hide that; witnesses will testify they saw Chad ready to leave , he had jugs under his arm going after some water; we’e going to tell you that he received a gunshot blast to the chest at close range there in Widen; that weapon was not found for three days, the police didn’ find it, the defendant found it!; the experts will testify to….; others will testify.
         For ten minutes Grindo paced back and forth. He looked good. He had eye contact with the jurors. He used hand motions and looked solid, convincing. From the peanut gallery, it looked like Mr. G had been well coached and prepared. Looks can be deceiving, readers. With a look of success in his eye, Grindo seated himself.
         Before the seat could wrinkle his suit, Mitchell was on his feet and went ballistic! Mitchell told Judge Alsop that he wanted the case dismissed right now. Mitchell explained: The opening statement tells what they plan to prove and there’ NOT ONE SOLITARY act of my client’s involvement! Nothing involves my client; There’ NO info on my client killing her husband; IT’ NOT EVEN ALLEDGED!; If it’ not alleged, I have a right to a directed verdict!
         The place got quiet. Judge Alsop asked for the case law that supported his claim. Boom! Mitchell produced a sheet of yellow paper with something like State vs. Smith on it from 1987. As Alsop was calling for a brief recess, he had already made it nearly to the exit door. Grindo’ ears turned red. Dotson’ mouth gapped open. Around the courtroom there was a look of ‘What Just Happened?’
         What did happen? After talking with a couple of attorneys, here’ our speculation. Grindo had neglected to even mention Salisbury in his opening statement. He never pointed a finger at her nor said “he did it” Grindo did not connect the death with the defendant. He blew it! Why did the Judge call for a recess? Our guess is, he ran to case law books and opened to the Smith case. He may have even called one of his bench buddies for confirmation of Mitchell’ request to toss the case.
         A few minutes later, Judge Alsop returned to the bench, gave the Prosecutor some time to file a brief in the matter, and said he would take the matter under advisement.
         Big Mitch provided the jury with his assessment of the case against Tonya. As he moved about the room, his amble girth and strong voice provided a contrast to young Grindo. Mitchell advanced: she is charged with murdering her husband; you just heard the other opening statement, did you hear one thing about my client?; there is not ONE single thing that implicates her; they cannot prove one iota; they can prove Chad died of a gunshot wound to his chest; that shotgun was a junker and was sawed off to 18 ¼ inches; there is evidence that Chad had it in his hands when it went off; see if any witness says she shot her husband; Continued on the next page
         the evidence is non existent; the shotgun disappeared and my client found the gun; the gun was under the porch at the house next door; there is no proof that it was that gun that killed Chad!
          There was silence in the room. It appeared that Mitch had the jury thinking. Ms Salisbury didn’ move. She watched Mitchell’ every move, as did the jury.
          The rotund one continued: The gun went off because Chad was buzzed out of his head, he was bonged out of his mind; there was all kinds of drugs in his system; he had just cut some pot from behind his Dad’ house and he thought someone had stole it, he said, “I am going to get that SOB”; Tonya tried to stop him, they both went down and the gun went off; that’ what happened, she held him in her arms; he went out the door holding his chest; she never left his side; when the ambulance arrived she went back in the house to get her shoes and then went to the hospital; she gave the police a statement, it was accidental shooting only; there was drugs involved that put crazy ideas in Chad’ head; Tonya didn’ take the gun, she was with her husband!; she is accused but there is no proof; the case is in your 12 pairs of hands; the job is for you to listen; remember, she is innocent until proven guilty, you have to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, that’ just NOT here; suspicion is not enough; the state has no evidence; I trust her into your hands.
         Mitchell finished up around 2:53pm. Outside a school bus waited to take all parties to the crime scene in Widen.
         Wednesday morning July 28th, the court room was packed. The squeaky door opened and closed repeatedly. Both sides were seated up front. The was no mumbling in the peanut gallery. The next few minutes were serious.
         After the Widen trip a plea deal had been worked out. The felony charge of murder in the second degree had been dropped to a misdemeanor charge of involuntary manslaughter. Tears came to the eyes of Chad’ mother. She knew the misdemeanor would get Tonya a fine and up to one year in jail.
         Alsop read off a big long list of rights to Tonya. Grindo looked down. The lady beside the mother offered a comforting arm around the shoulders.
         Tonya stood as Alsop continued. During questioning Tonya admitted that she had a drug problem. Tonya wiped away tears with a tissue as she plead no contest to involuntary manslaughter. Not even the air conditioning was humming. The entry door was not squeaking. Mitchell said he had advised his client, the plea was in her best interest.
         Dan Dotson told the Judge that he had spoken with Chad’ father, Jimmy, yesterday evening and he had agreed to the plea deal.
         For those that think something else could be the reason the murder charges were dropped…. Judge Jack Alsop looked Tonya Salisbury in the eye and said : she understands her rights, she waves all pretrial defects, she has waved her rights and because of the opening statements made, you are hereby found guilty… sentencing will be September 20th at 1pm. Tonya cried.
         Mitch asked that his client receive bond. Nothing doing from the bench, no bond this time, Mr. Mitchell.
         With court in recess, Chad’ grandmother walked up to Grindo and asked if he had a child. With a “Yes” response, the elderly lady nailed him with: If he gets killed I hope you get a better lawyer than you!. Outside the courtroom the 4 foot 5inch tall white headed senior citizen walked up to Big Mitch and said, “I think you are a dirty dog!”She repeated her sentiments to Bernard Lane.
         In 8 minutes it was all over. Tonya Salisbury had escaped the charge of murder and with a maximum sentence of one year, and 8 months already under her belt, look for her to walk free when she is sentenced next month.
         It was over. Dotson had been hired to do what our prosecutor couldn’ or wouldn’ do. Grindo’ one duty, opening statement, killed the whole case. Although Tonya must feel relieved the murder part is over, for the rest of her life she will be the talk of the town, how she got off easy. For the parents, there is bitterness and disbelief. Their son is gone and no one was found guilty of murder.
         Prosecutor Grindo remains in office until December 31st. For many in the county, that’ too long!
         Magistrate Report
         07/21/04: Elswick – Bradley Joe Stone, warrants issued for petit larceny 2nd offense X 2, arrested 08/02/04; Elswick – Malena Gayle Stone, warrants issued for accessory after the fact X 2, arrested 08/01/04, ROB.
         07/26/04: Sizemore – Charles M. Stowers, Jr., DUIA 3rd offense (05/03/04), pre-trial dismissal: dismissed by Court without prejudice, defense attorney has not appeared for a hearing and officer failed to appear; Stephenson – Nathan L. Brown, DUI 3rd offense (06/05/04), pre-trial dismissal: dismissed by State pursuant to plea agreement.
         08/01/04: Stephenson – Robert Weese, Jr., unlawful possession of firearm, arrested.
         08/05/04: Belt – Larry Allen Duffield, warrant issued for receiving or transferring stolen property.
         07/21/04: Elswick – Bradley Joe Stone, warrant issued for entering without breaking of a vehicle, arrested 08/02.
         07/23/04: Bailey – Douglas H. Drennen, permitting driving suspended, appeared, ROB; Simms – Geary Wayne Bishop, illegal possession of wildlife, bear law violation and stream litter, appeared, ROB.
         07/26/04: Slack – Teria Carte, cruelty to animals, summons; Stephenson – Nathan L. Brown, driving under the influence 2nd offense, appeared, defendant pled no contest, sentenced to 6 months jail, to be served on home confinement, assessed costs; Clay Supermarket – Beverly Hughes, warrant issued for worthless check complaint, defendant paid check and costs 08/03; IGA – Lemon B. Waugh, warrant issued for worthless check complaints X 2; IGA – Tom F. Ratliff, warrant issued for worthless check complaint; Lisa Schoonover Lewis – Robert Weese, Jr., peace bond, summons.
         08/01/03: Stephenson – Robert Weese, Jr., trespassing, arrested.
         08/03/04: Wiles – David O. Sizemore, domestic Battery, warrant issued.
         07/21/04: Queen Shoals PSD – Brian Wiseman, money due.
         07/22/04: Jack Mullins – Wayne King, money due, subpoena; Clyde Myers – Alicia Adkins, wrongful occupation, subpoena.
         07/28/04: Queen Shoals PSD – Freda Taylor, Henry Jarrell, Barbara Harmon Schamberger, all for money due.
         07/29/04: Nichols Furniture and Appliance – Brian M. Welch, Carline Sue Bird, Norma Wallace, David L. Lane, all for money due.
         07/30/04: Cynthia Cottrell – Janice Young, money due.
         08/02/04: Unifound Car Partners – Cheryl Hamrick, money due.
         08/03/04: Edith Ryan – Jeremy Cummings, money due.
         Worthless Checks Notices issued –
         07/21/04: IGA – Nancy A. Brown (paid 07/29).
         07/23/04: Dawson’ Service Center – Johnny D. Taylor (paid 08/02).
         07/26/04: Bullards Exxon and Quick Stop – Michael D. Hill; Marsha K. Eagle X 2; Loretta L. Stewart (paid 07/30); Tom F. Ratliff; Ronnie D. Beasley; Tanya L. Hinzman; Marilynn A. Taylor; Margaret Hensley (paid 08/04); Terri J. Bass; Clay Supermarket – Roger B. Carper X 2.
         07/28/04: Bullards Exxon and Quick Stop – Melissa Weese X 2 (paid 08/02); David M. Hanshaw; Doris Coulter (paid 08/03); Clay Supermarket – Doris Coulter (paid 08/03); Leslie Gray X 8.
         08/04/04: Clay County High School – Ellen M. Bailey; Tresea Truman; House’ Market – Carlos D. Duncan.
         Citation Register
         07/01/04: State Police – Larry Dean Holcomb, MVI.
         07/02/04: DNR – Chad Lee Bishop, conspire to commit Chapter 20 violation; Geary Wayne Bishop, illegal possession of wildlife, bear law violation and stream litter; Carol E. Hager, conspiring and committing Chapter 20 violation; Sheriff’ Dept. – James L. Frame, no POI; State Police – Donnie Friend, ATV on highway.
         07/04/04: State Police – Aileen Kaye Kidd, failure to stop/yield; Christopher E. Vance, driving suspended/revoked non-DUI.
         07/10/04: State Police – Billy Joe Duffield, MVI and registration violation.
         07/11/04: State Police – Joseph A. Cummings, MVI.
         07/12/04: State Police – Jason Dale Frame, operator’.
         07/13/04: State Police – Regina Carpenter, defective equipment and driving suspended/revoked non-DUI; Richard A Grose, speeding and MVI.
         07/16/04: DOH – Garry Ray Williams, 12,600 lbs. over reg; James S. Woods, overweight, over width, over length.
         07/17/04: State Police – Alicia Dawn Adkins, DUI; Richard A. Grose, operator’; Lorna Truman, no POI and operator’; James L. Woodrum, no POI and registration violation.
         07/18/04: State Police – Elizabeth D. Holcomb, defective equipment and no POI.
         07/19/04: State Police – Adron H. Claypool, Jr., registration violation, no POI and MVI; DOH – Ronald Gene Mullins, overweight.
         07/20/04: State Police – James T. Cottrell, no POI; Charles E. Moore, MVI and operator’; Joyce Marie Walls, MVI and registration violation; Sheriff’ Dept. – Mark William Griffin, speeding and driving suspended/revoked non-DUI; Jeremiah C. Ramsey, MVI; Sarah R. Sabitch, registration violation; DOH – Bobby G. Williams, 10,800 lbs. overweight and registration violation.
         07/21/04: State Police – Adam Lee Arnold, driving suspended/revoked non-DUI, no POI and failure to yield half of roadway; Frank A. Dillard, driving suspended/revoked non-DUI and seat belt violation; Jeffrey C. Morris, no POI; John Clinton Rogers, MVI; Misty D. Winbrenner, MVI.
         07/23/04: State Police – Wesley A. Adkins, no POI; Christopher Linville, MVI; Philip A. Whaling, no POI.
         07/24/04: State Police – Amie K. Coleman, MVI; Timothy L. Ferrebee, MVI and no POI.
         07/25/04: State Police – Rickey L. Holstein, failure to stop; Elizabeth L. Trovata, speeding; Sheriff’ Dept. – William L. Shamblin, registration violation; Robert Charles Veau, speeding.
         07/26/04: Sheriff’ Dept. – Larry Travis Copen, speeding and MVI; Bernie E. Johnson, keeping a vicious dog.
         07/27/04: Municipal Police – Eric Daniel Delimon, disorderly conduct; State Police – Joseph L. Moore, no POI and registration violation.
         07/29/04: DOH – Walter C. Adkins, Jr., overweight, over width, over length.
         07/30/04: Sheriff’ Dept. – Mark A. Stone, failure to maintain control.