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During Tuesdays commission meeting, the Doddridge County Library Board of Director requested their second Executive Session to discuss a new library facility.  It was announced after the session expired and regular session was called that Mr. Richard McMillan made the announcement that the county commission and the library board had negotiated a building rental that will be a lease to own contract in conjunction with Triple H Enterprises.  Triple H is owned by Mr. Stanley Webb who’s growing company needs to expand their office spaces.  The proposal begins with a new building site located diagonally across from the Shop n’ Save Express and the old Sunoco Station.  Several dilapidated houses in the area had been purchased by Triple H to build a new office complex for their business.  A connection was made with the DC Library and plans were underway to expand the project to a two story masonry structure that would house both Triple H and the new DC Library.

 

Speaking with Mr. Webb the morning after the meeting, he had indicated that the area was pretty well blighted and he wanted to help revitalize that area of West Union.  “We are in several negotiations with adjacent land owners to buy out their property and possibly provide more office or retail space.” he said.  “We feel that when this phase of construction is completed, other businesses will want to move into that area.”  

Triple H employs almost forty people from the area…from skilled laborers to engineers and others professionals.  Currently they have outgrown their Joy Cabin Run facility and want to move into town to have a more centralized operation.  Their clientele include Antero Resources, EQT, Dominion and many other gas and oil related companies.  The services they offer include Engineering, Surveying, Fencing, Oilfield Services and any related service to the industry.

 

According to their website “At Triple H, we strive for excellence! Our company name, Triple H stands for High standards, High quality, and High performance. Started in 2008, Triple H has performed numerous different contracting jobs including well pad engineering and surveying, county road upgrade projects, pipeline engineering and surveying, NACE certified painting, gravel hauling and spreading, fencing, and small excavating jobs for several different companies.”  “Our mission is to provide our employees and customers with the highest amount of professionalism and quality workmanship, while creating and maintaining a long-lasting, positive relationship.”

 

Details of the proposal

The details of this building proposal and lease have yet to be ironed out with the county commissions attorney and Triple H, but they proposal is close to what follows.  Triple H will build and maintain the facility for the term of the lease agreement.  The lease agreement will last (projected) twenty-five years.  The county commission will pay Triple H $9,500 a month for twenty-five years.  At the end of the twenty five year lease, the building will be handed over to the county commission upon completion of the terms set.  Mr. Robinson requested at the meeting the option of buying out early.  The total cost for the county will not exceed $2.85 million.  The total square footage of the entire building is 120,000 square feet.

The lower portion of the two story structure will house Triple H with several offices, a reception area, work area, and engineering and survey office, a print room, equipment storage for surveying, and a break room for employees.

 

The space assigned for the library includes, a conference area with seating and tables for 120, A kitchen and reception area, a story time room with supply closets and restrooms  While the upper floor, still accessible from street level will house the main library, a teen area, children’s area, a genealogy room, kitchen, offices as well as reading nooks and computer spaces throughout the floor.  The game of the lot will allow for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility to both floors.

While the cost may seem somewhat daunting, the overall price per square foot of the building will be in line with similar structures recently built.  With the 1899 Silas P. Smith Opera House being used for the current library, it will now be turned over to the county commission for what ever purpose it sees fit.  The valuation of the Opera House was estimated at $200,000 and has been maintained well for the past few decades.  Updating the technology in the building has become challenging to say the least as the structure is on the National Register of Historic Places and requires special care when remodeling or updating.

Several previous efforts were made by the Library Board to obtain a new or newer facility, but all had fallen through.  Mr. McMillan noted that they hoped this would come to fruition unlike the other failed attempts.

This is the first phase of the building process, approval of plans and contract negotiation.  As with any project, things will change, but the basics remain the same.

 

“Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.” 

Groucho Marx, The Essential Groucho: Writings For By And About Groucho Marx

 

I spent three days a week for 10 years educating myself in the public library, and it's better than college. People should educate themselves - you can get a complete education for no money. At the end of 10 years, I had read every book in the library and I'd written a thousand stories.

Ray Bradbury

 

When they were first built, before the negative connotations of shock therapy and trans-orbital lobotomies, mental asylums were a place of refuge. They were a place of safety. They were a society’s attempt at doing the right thing, providing a home and care for those who could do neither for themselves. Most of the grand asylums we think of today were built in the late 1800s. Work on the asylum in Weston began in Virginia and was completed in West Virginia, that should give you a clue to its age. Before the asylum system was created in America the mentally ill were typically placed in one of four categories. If they were connected to a family of wealth, they stayed in a hospital. If they had a very patient and capable family, they were cared for by loved ones. If neither of those were options, they ended up in jails or homeless on the streets. In the jails they were often separated in an outdoor cage or killed by other inmates. Their lives on the street were equally bitter and short.

Dorothea Dix, a god fearing, unmarried school-teacher, became aware of the circumstances of the mentally ill after a visit to a prison in her home state of Massachusetts. She was appalled by their conditions and quickly jumped to action. She travelled the state documenting their lives and lobbying for a place of refuge for the mentally ill. She spoke with congressmen and senators, fighting for the care of those who couldn’t care for themselves. She was immediately successful. An expansion of the prison in Worcester was built specifically for the mentally ill. Soon she travelled across the east coast, lobbying in each state on the way, all the while providing examples of the terrible conditions to leadership. Below is the first paragraph of Dorothea Dix’ plea to the General Assembly in North Carolina.

 

I admit that public peace and security are seriously endangered by the non-restraint of the maniacal insane. I consider it in the highest degree improper that they should be allowed to range the towns and country without care or guidance; but this does not justify the public in any State or community, under any circumstances or conditions, in committing the insane to prisons; in a majority of cases the rich may be, or are sent to Hospitals; the poor under the pressure of this calamity, have the same just claim upon the public treasury, as the rich have upon the private purse of their family as they have the need, so have they the right to share the benefits of Hospital treatment. Urgent cases at all times, demand, unusual and ready expenditures in every community… If County Jails must be resorted to for security against the dangerous propensities of madmen, let such use of prison-rooms and dungeons be but temporary. It is not long since I noticed in a Newspaper, published near the borders or this State, the following paragraph: ‘It is our fate,’ writes the Editor, ‘to be located opposite the County Jail, in which are now confined four miserable creatures bereft of the God-like attribute of reason: two of them females; and our feelings are daily excited by sounds of woe, that would harrow up the hardest soul. It is horrible that for the sake of a few thousand dollars the wailings of the wretched should be suffered to issue from the gloomy walls of our jails without pity and without relief.’”

 

Dorothea Lynde Dix, 1848

 

Some time after Dorothea’s address the Broughton Hospital for the Insane was created in North Carolina.

His story is taught in every classroom. His image fills our television screens every year. His voice has been played on every radio and radio station across the United States. Even his words, that towering statement built on four unbreakable blocks, each a single syllable I… Have… A… Dream... we’ve all read them. The man we know as Martin Luther King Jr. has become so great a hero, a herculean figure in our society that we quickly forget that he was a mortal man. He wrote letters and letters were written to him. He was a real tangible figure to which people were able to reach out. He had a mailbox that bursted with hate-mail and praise all at the same time. A letter of praise is what I offer today, not from some major figure in history, not from a politician, not even from a dear friend of Dr. King. I present a letter from Mr. and Mrs. Crosby of Newton Massachusetts…

 

“Dear Dr. King,

We enclose a check for $100.00 to be used in any way you need it for your cause. We are whites who have always been sympathetic to the Negro, but who felt for a long time that our best way to help was in our own small sphere of influence, as opportunities came, My husband was the first one to hire a Negro teacher on the faculty of Boston University, for instance. And in other ways we felt we did help, although we have also known it was not enough.

Nor do we pretend even to ourselves that this check in any way fulfills our obligation. But the stories and pictures in the newspapers this morning have at last stirred us this far, with their effect heightened by the movie we saw on TV last night, “Judgement at Nuremberg”. --I wonder whether additional showings of this picture, with its emphasis on individual responsibility and on the fact that injustice is just as wrong when it affects one person as it is when it affects thousands. It might be useful in your work. I know it had an effect on me…

...We shall try to send more from time to time if we can. May God protect you, your family, and your people in your struggle, and bless you with real success by opening the eyes and hearts of the rest of us. Sincerely yours,

Mr. and Mrs. Harry H. Crosby”

 

(This week’s letter was found in the archives of The King Center at www.thekingcenter.org)

 

In May 1815, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley arrived with her husband, Percy Shelley, at a lakeside estate on the border of Switzerland and France. They had been invited by the famous writer and poet, Lord Byron, to stay for the summer on Lake Geneva. Among them were many other artists, writers, and poets who spent their time sailing on the lake, creating in their respective fields, and talking into the night. On one particular night, their host Lord Byron read to them a ghost story then suggested that the others create their own before the summer’s end. Each took to writing. Mary Shelley worried herself over what to write about, she read collections of other ghost stories but found no inspiration until she remembered a conversation the writers had about a famous philosopher Erasmus Darwin, who was said to have reanimated dead creatures. Her letter continues with the origin of Frankenstein:

 

June 1815

 

“I busied myself to think of a story,—a story to rival those which had excited us to this task. One that would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature, and awaken thrilling horror—one to make the reader dread to look round, to curdle the blood and quicken the beatings of the heart. If I did not accomplish these things my ghost story would be[Pg 141] unworthy of its name. I thought and wondered—vainly. I felt that blank incapability of invention which is the greatest misery of authorship, when dull Nothing replies to our anxious invocations. “Have you thought of a story?” I was asked each morning, and each morning I was forced to reply with a mortifying negative...

 

Many and long were the conversations between Lord Byron and Shelley, to which I was a devout but nearly silent listener. During one of these various philosophical doctrines were discussed, and, among others, the nature of the principle of life, and whether there was any probability of its ever being discovered and communicated. They talked of the experiments of Dr. Darwin (I speak not of what the doctor really did, or said that he did, but, as more to my purpose, of what was then spoken of as having been done by him), who preserved a piece of vermicelli in a glass case till by some extraordinary means it began to move with voluntary motion. Not thus, after all, would life be given. Perhaps a corpse would be reanimated; galvanism had given token of such things; perhaps the component parts of a creature might be manufactured, brought together, and endued with vital warmth...

 

At first I thought of but a few pages—of a short tale; but Shelley urged me to develop the idea at greater length. I certainly did not owe the suggestion of one incident, nor scarcely of one train of feeling, to my husband, and yet, but for his incitement, it would never have taken the form in which it was presented to the world. From this declaration I must except the preface. As far as I can recollect, it was entirely written by him.”

 

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

This week’s letter is a Letter to the Editor with the intended audience being the readers of the newspaper to which it was written. Abraham Lincoln was the author and the year in which it was written was 1836, twenty five years before he was inaugurated President. What’s interesting about this Letter to the Editor is how Lincoln explains his early political views. Especially interesting is his call for women’s right to vote, a statement that was made nearly one hundred years before the 19th Amendment was passed allowing the right to vote without a basis on gender.

 

“TO THE EDITOR OF THE "JOURNAL"—In your paper of last Saturday I see a communication, over the signature of "Many Voters," in which the candidates who are announced in the Journal are called upon to "show their hands." Agreed. Here's mine.

I go for all sharing the privileges of the government who assist in bearing its burdens. Consequently, I go for admitting all whites to the right of suffrage who pay taxes or bear arms (by no means excluding females).

If elected, I shall consider the whole people of Sangamon my constituents, as well those that oppose as those that support me.

While acting as their representative, I shall be governed by their will on all subjects upon which I have the means of knowing what their will is; and upon all others I shall do what my own judgment teaches me will best advance their interests. Whether elected or not, I go for distributing the proceeds of the sales of the public lands to the several States, to enable our State, in common with others, to dig canals and construct railroads without borrowing money and paying the interest on it. If alive on the first Monday in November, I shall vote for Hugh L. White for President.

Very respectfully, A. LINCOLN.”

The Scottish novelist, Robert Louis Stevenson, was born in 1850 in Edinburgh. He was the son of Margaret Balfour and Thomas Stevenson who was a prominent lighthouse engineer. R. L. Stevenson is currently among the twenty-six most translated authors in the world. Among his plethora of literature, he is most known for writing Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Stevenson was a member of the small group of authors who happened to be famous for their work within their lifetime. Those who looked up to him include Rudyard Kipling, Ernest Hemingway, and Vladimir Nabokov. Sadly, Stevenson’s life was cut short by what was most likely a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of forty-four. In the letter I’ve chosen below, Stevenson is in correspondence with his father. He talks a little about his recently re-published Treasure Island and laments not writing to his father more often. It’s also interesting to keep in mind that this letter is written one year before publishing The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

[SKERRYVORE, BOURNEMOUTH,] OCTOBER 28, 1885.

MY DEAREST FATHER, - Get the November number of TIME, and you will see a review of me by a very clever fellow, who is quite furious at bottom because I am too orthodox, just as Purcell was savage because I am not orthodox enough. I fall between two stools. It is odd, too, to see how this man thinks me a full-blooded fox- hunter, and tells me my philosophy would fail if I lost my health or had to give up exercise!

An illustrated TREASURE ISLAND will be out next month. I have had an early copy, and the French pictures are admirable. The artist has got his types up in Hogarth; he is full of fire and spirit, can draw and can compose, and has understood the book as I meant it, all but one or two little accidents, such as making the HISPANIOLA a brig. I would send you my copy, BUT I CANNOT; it is my new toy, and I cannot divorce myself from this enjoyment.

I am keeping really better, and have been out about every second day, though the weather is cold and very wild.

I was delighted to hear you were keeping better; you and Archer would agree, more shame to you! (Archer is my pessimist critic.) Good-bye to all of you, with my best love. We had a dreadful overhauling of my conduct as a son the other night; and my wife stripped me of my illusions and made me admit I had been a detestable bad one. Of one thing in particular she convicted me in my own eyes: I mean, a most unkind reticence, which hung on me then, and I confess still hangs on me now, when I try to assure you that I do love you. - Ever your bad son,

 

ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.

The eighteenth President of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant, earned his popularity with the North through his leadership in the Civil War. He was the general who met with Robert E. Lee at Appomattox and accepted the Confederate’s surrender. There are many interesting stories about Grant’s life before the Civil War. In one account, he showed his ingenuity by placing artillery in the bell-tower of a church during the Mexican-American War. From the elevated position, Grant’s troops were able to assail targets that were much further away, thereby providing cover for his men who had until then, been the recipients of the artillery fire.

 

It is clear that Grant attempted to maintain stability for his family between his service in both the Mexican-American and Civil Wars. He worked on a farm for a period of time selling oats and corn. Having grown tired of the farm life, he partnered with his father running a leather shop just before entering the Civil War. The letter below reveals Grant’s political and moral leanings in the tumultuous year of 1861. South Carolina had recently seceded along with other southern states, Fort Sumter was fired upon, Lincoln was inaugurated President, and Grant, looking to make a difference, wrote this to his father…

 

“April 21st, 1861

DEAR FATHER:

We are now in the midst of trying times when every one must be for or against his country, and show his colors too, by his every act. Having been educated for such an emergency, at the expense of the Government, I feel that it has upon me superior claims, such claims as no ordinary motives of self-interest can surmount. I do not wish to act hastily or unadvisedly in the matter, and as there are more than enough to respond to the first call of the President, I have not yet offered myself. I have promised, and am giving all the assistance I can in organizing the company whose services have been accepted from this place. I have promised further to go with them to the State capital, and if I can be of service to the Governor in organizing his state troops to do so. What I ask now is your approval of the course I am taking, or advice in the matter. A letter written this week will reach me in Springfield. I have not time to write to you but a hasty line, for, though Sunday as it is, we are all busy here. In a few minutes I shall be engaged in directing tailors in the style and trim of uniform for our men.

Whatever may have been my political opinions before, I have but one sentiment now. That is, we have a Government, and laws and a flag, and they must all be sustained. There are but two parties now, traitors and patriots and I want hereafter to be ranked with the latter, and I trust, the stronger party. I do not know but you may be placed in an awkward position, and a dangerous one pecuniarily, but costs cannot now be counted. My advice would be to leave where you are if you are not safe with the views you entertain. I would never stultify my opinion for the sake of a little security.

I will say nothing about our business. Orvil and Lank will keep you posted as to that.

Write soon and direct as above.

Yours truly,

U.S. GRANT.”

It seems that the most interesting facets of Robert E. Lee’s personality appear in his letters to his children. If you may recall, in my second featured article I examined a letter Robert E. Lee wrote to his daughter, Mildred, in 1861. In writing it, Lee was able to take himself away from the cold and dreary surroundings in order to enjoy a quiet moment on the front writing to someone he loved. In this week’s paper I present a letter Lee wrote to Mildred after the war in 1866. In it Lee dispenses life advice and reminds his daughter how much the family misses her while she’s away visiting cousins. In an unexpected turn, he then describes to her the behavior of the cats at home.

 

“"Lexington, Virginia, December 21, 1866.

"My Precious Life (Lee’s nickname for Mildred): I was very glad to receive your letter of the 15th inst., and to learn that you were well and happy. May you be always as much so as is consistent with your welfare here and hereafter, is my daily prayer. I was much pleased, too, that, while enjoying the kindness of your friends, we were not forgotten. Experience will teach you that, notwithstanding all appearances to the contrary, you will never receive such a love as is felt for you by your father and mother. That lives through absence, difficulties, and times. Your own feelings will teach you how it should be returned and appreciated. I want to see you very much, and miss you at every turn, yet am glad of this opportunity for you to be with those who, I know, will do all in their power to give you pleasure. I hope you will also find time to read and improve your mind. Read history, works of truth, not novels and romances. Get correct views of life, and learn to see the world in its true light. It will enable you to live pleasantly, to do good, and, when summoned away, to leave without regret. Your friends here inquire constantly after you, and wish for your return. Mrs. White and Mrs. McElwee particularly regret your absence, and the former sends especial thanks for your letter of remembrance. We get on in our usual way…”

 

“Our feline companions are flourishing. Young Baxter is growing in gracefulness and favour, and gives cat-like evidences of future worth. He possesses the fashionable colour of 'moonlight on the water,' apparently a dingy hue of the kitchen, and is strictly aristocratic in appearance and conduct. Tom, surnamed 'The Nipper,' from the manner in which he slaughters our enemies, the rats and the mice, is admired for his gravity and sobriety, as well as for his strict attention to the pursuits of his race. They both feel your absence sorely. Traveller and Custis are both well, and pursue their usual dignified gait and habits, and are not led away by the frivolous entertainments of lectures and concerts. All send united love, and all wish for your return. Remember me most kindly to Cousins Eleanor and George, John, Mary, Ida, and all at 'Myrtle Grove,' and to other kind friends when you meet them. Mrs. Grady carried yesterday to Mr. Charles Kerr, in Baltimore, a small package for you. Be careful of your health, and do not eat more than half the plum-puddings Cousin Eleanor has prepared for Xmas. I am glad to hear that you are fattening, and I hope you will reach 125 lbs. Think always of your father, who loves you dearly.

R. E. Lee.”

 

This letter was made available by Project Gutenberg at gutenberg.org.

This week I have selected two letters that arrive in succession to the mother of the famous American poet and writer, Walt Whitman. Today, his writing is mostly recognized for its soft and playful language often evoking images of dancing in fields and watching butterflies. What is often overlooked is Whitman’s time spent healing the wounded soldiers as a volunteer nurse during the American Civil War.

After reading an obituary listing for a G.W. Whitmore, Walt was worried that his brother might have been killed while fighting for the North. He immediately travelled from New York to Washington where he found his brother, alive and well. Though during his journey, the images of wounded soldiers all around him affected Walt so much that he decided to stay and help as a nurse on the front line. Walt worked for two years before the toll it took on his health impeded his ability to continue.

“Washington, June 14, 1864.Dearest Mother. I am not feeling very well these days—the doctors have told me not to come inside the hospitals for the present. I send there by a friend every day; I send things and aid to some cases I know, and hear from there also, but I do not go myself at present. It is probable that the hospital poison has affected my system, and I find it worse than I calculated. I have spells of faintness and very bad feeling in my head, fullness and pain—and besides sore throat. My boarding place, 502 Pennsylvania av., is a miserable place, very bad air. But I shall feel better soon, I know—the doctors say it will pass over—they have long told me I was going in too strong. Some days I think it has all gone and I feel well again, but in a few hours I have a spell again. Mother, I have not heard anything of the 51st. I sent George’s letter to Han. I have written to George since. I shall write again to him in a day or two. If Mary comes home, tell her I sent her my love. If I don’t feel better before the end of this week or beginning of next, I may come home for a week or[Pg 198] fortnight for a change. The rumor is very strong here that Grant is over the James river on south side—but it is not in the papers. We are having quite cool weather here. Mother, I want to see you and Jeff so much. I have been working a little at copying, but have stopt it lately.

Walt.”

“Washington, June 17, 1864.Dearest Mother. I got your letter this morning. This place and the hospitals seem to have got the better of me. I do not feel so badly this forenoon—but I have bad nights and bad days too. Some of the spells are pretty bad—still I am up some and around every day. The doctors have told me for a fortnight I must leave; that I need an entire change of air, etc.

I think I shall come home for a short time, and pretty soon. (I will try it two or three days yet though, and if I find my illness goes over I will stay here yet awhile. All I think about is to be here if any thing should happen to George).

We don’t hear anything more of the army than you do there in the papers.

 

Walt.”

Known for both the separation of the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church and his six marriages, the life of Henry VIII still has a large presence in our society today. He’s been the subject of many books, movies, and television dramas. The famous King of England was born in 1491, was crowned in 1509 and was king until he died in 1547. The most famous of his wives, many consider, was Anne Boleyn. The two of them met when Anne joined Henry’s court in England, the precise details of their first meeting are unknown but, luckily, Henry’s love letters have been collected and saved. The letter I present this week is the very first letter Henry sent to Anne. It is in response to a letter from her and in it we can see Henry’s passion for Anne, despite having known her for only a short period of time.

 

“On turning over in my mind the contents of your last letters, I have put myself into great agony, not knowing how to interpret them, whether to my disadvantage, as you show in some places, or to my advantage, as I understand them in some others, beseeching you earnestly to let me know expressly your whole mind as to the love between us two. It is absolutely necessary for me to obtain this answer, having been for above a whole year stricken with the dart of love, and not yet sure whether I shall fail of finding a place in your heart and affection, which last point has prevented me for some time past from calling you my mistress; because, if you only love me with an ordinary love, that name is not suitable for you, because it denotes a singular love, which is far from common. But if you please to do the office of a true loyal mistress and friend, and to give up yourself body and heart to me, who will be, and have been, your most loyal servant, (if your rigour does not forbid me) I promise you that not only the name shall be given you, but also that I will take you for my only mistress, casting off all others besides you out of my thoughts and affections, and serve you only. I beseech you to give an entire answer to this my rude letter, that I may know on what and how far I may depend. And if it does not please you to answer me in writing, appoint some place where I may have it by word of mouth, and I will go thither with all my heart. No more, for fear of tiring you. Written by the hand of him who would willingly remain yours,

H. R.”

West Union, WV - At ten minutes after one o'clock on Wednesday, January 15, Joseph Spencer was led into the Doddridge County Courtroom to stand before Doddridge County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Sweeney.  Spencer was shackled at his hands and feet and wearing the bright orange jump suit issued by the correction facility.  He was accompanied by defense attorneys Rodney Windom and Scott Wolfe.  Brooke Fitzgerald, Doddridge County Prosecuting Attorney was accompanied by Phillip Morrison, II from the WV Prosecuting Attorneys Institute and by April D. Conner, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for Doddridge County and Adult Probation Officer Kristen Layfield .  Mr. Morrison was available during the entire investigation to provide training, service, support and resources to the DC prosecutors and staff.  The goal of the Institute is to enhance and improve the quality of all prosecution throughout the State.  they specialize in assisting smaller counties where specialized prosecutions are few and far between.  This service allows the county prosecutors to continue with their caseloads and receive special assistance for unusual cases like this one.

Judge Sweeney entered the courtroom and all were told to rise by acting bailiff Tammy Satterfield.  The Judge addressed the court with the case number, addressed all the defense and prosecution by name and noted that this was a change of plea hearing.  The judge requested the plaintiff be sworn in and Clerk of Courts, Dwight Moore approached Joseph Spencer and swore him in to tell the truth.

Mr. Windom requested to approach the court to have the plea documents signed by the respective parties and the plaintiff in view of the Judge who granted the request.  The defense team and Mr. Spencer approached the bench and standing before Mr. Moore, signed each of the three pleas under oath.  Prosecutor Fitzgerald approved the signatures and the judge accepted all of the affidavits into the court record.

Ms. Fitzgerald addressed the judge to clarify the acceptance of the pleas.  Both parties agreed that the sentences for counts one and two run concurrently (together) with one another and the sentence for count three run consecutively (following) with counts one and two.  She further stated that her office holds letters of agreement with this action from members of the Spencer Family on behalf of the surviving members.  Elizabeth Spenser asked to read a letter addressing the court in this matter.  Judge Sweeney acknowledge the request and permitted her to read the letter aloud.  She stated “We, the family…have worked with the Prosecutor Brooke Fitzgerald to come to this plea agreement.  We support this plea and we believe it is in everyones best interest and it will bring some closure to a very difficult time.  We believe justice will be served.  The family included in this process includes myself, my brother Ian, my aunts Christy and Cathy, my uncles Denny and Eddie.  Thank you.”

The judge then addressed Joseph Spencer and asked for him to tell in his own words the understanding of this plea agreement.  Joseph replied, “Your honor, from what I understand I will be pleading guilty to counts one two and three of the indictment…” he paused to look at a paper on the desk where he had notes… He continued restating the sentences running concurrently and consecutively. “We ask the state would grant mercy on all three counts.”

Judge Sweeney, by law, had to ask several questions to insure that the plaintiff understood the plea agreement.  Mr. Spencer reiterated and understood the sentences would run “thirty years to life before a chance of parole.”

Judge Sweeney asked Mr. Spencer to stand and addressed the court “Mr. Spencer in regards to the offense of murder in the first degree in regards to Fredrick Arthur Spencer III in the first count of this indictment, a felony, how do you plead?”  Spencer replied “Guilty.”  Sweeney continued, “In regards to the offense of murder in the first degree in regards to Dixie Lee Spencer in the second count of this indictment, a felony, how do you plead?”  Spencer replied “Guilty, you honor.”  Sweeney continued, “In regards to the offense of murder in the first degree in regards to Patience J. Spencer that is contained in the third count of this indictment, a felony, how do you plead?” Spencer replied “Guilty, your honor.”

Judge Sweeney asked Joseph Spencer directly “Are you pleading guilty because you intact believe yourself to be guilty?”  he replied “Yes, your honor.” I did willfully, maliciously, intentionally, deliberately, pre meditatively did kill Fredrick A Spencer III, Dixie L. Spencer and Patience J Spencer.”

At this point in the plea hearing, the Judge addressed both prosecution and defense to see if both believed there is evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that Joseph Spencer did commit these murders.  Both agreed.

Mr. Morrison, assisting the Prosecuting Attorney requested he read a statement that would remove any doubt as to the actions taken by Joseph Spencer on that day.  He read “On the third of September, 2012, Mr. Spencer either found a loaded 9mm handgun or found the handgun and loaded it, depending on which version of the statement he made.  He then went into the room where his father was sleeping on his stomach and he shot him in the back of his head, mortally wounding him.  He then walked out of that room to the head of the exterior stairs of the building.  His mother came, presumably running to see what was going on and he shot her at the foot of the stairs, mortally wounding her.  He then proceeded down the stairs, stepped over her body, wedged open the door to the room with not much other chance of exit, and shot his nine year old sister.  They all three died from their wounds.  He later called 911 and was compliant when they told him to get in the yard, get on his knees, put the gun down and stay there until police arrived.  Deputy Modesitt arrived, took him into custody, checked the scene.  All three were passed at that point, they were all dead.  And that is the facts we would prove had we gone to trial.”  We have this from statements he made and Deputy Modesitt made.”

Judge Sweeney checked with Mr. Spencer as to whether he believed that the defense has provided him with every possible chance to defend himself.

At that point Mr. Spencer was informed that he had willingly and knowingly waived his constitutional rights.

Judge Sweeney scheduled the sentencing portion of the plea agreement for February 10, 2014.

Mr. Spencer was escorted immediately from the courtroom by detention officials to a waiting vehicle, leaving Courthouse Square area shorty after.

Follow-up:  At a follow-up in Ms. Fitzgerald’s office, both she and Mr. Morrison answered questions by the media.  They were asked if there was a motive in this case, Mr. Morrison stated that Joseph claimed he was abused, but the prosecution failed to see how that would be by a smaller, younger nine year old sister so we didn’t give that a lot of credibility.  He explained that sometimes you just never find a motive.  The plea agreement came from a lot of discussions with the family and they wanted this finished.  The family did not want to comment and left the courtroom shortly after the proceedings.  The prosecution team said that justice will be reached as Mr. Spencer will serve two consecutive life sentences in an adult prison.  He will have to wait thirty years before he can even apply for parole.  This sentence will never leave his life as if he were some day to be paroled, he will be under tight supervision the rest of his life.  Life sentences cannot be discharged.  His demeanor hasn’t changed from day one.

Joseph Spencer has pled guilty to three counts of first degree murder. The first two are to run concurrently and the third consecutively. Each carries 10 to 30 years. 

Spencer is charged with first degree murder in the deaths of his parents, Frederick and Dixie, and his sister Patience. 

Spencer was 16-years-old at the time of the alleged crimes and was charged as an adult.

In this week’s letter we take a look at another type of artist, a famous Impressionist painter. Vincent Van Gogh was born in 1853 in a small village named Groot-Zundert in Holland. He became an art dealer, just like his two uncles, and worked in London and Paris. Soon he grew tired of his work and became a schoolmaster in the English countryside but this did not satisfy him either. After studying theology in Amsterdam, Van Gogh worked in the Belgian coal mines as an evangelist and it was there that he began to sketch. The joy he found in sketching among the miners finally sparked his desire to create. After intense studying and meeting with other painters as he attended school at The Hague, Van Gogh’s art dealing brother, Theodore, introduced Vincent to Impressionism. It was this introduction that brought Van Gogh to create some of his most well-known works such as The Starry Night, The Red Vineyard, and The Potato Eaters. What follows is a letter that Van Gogh wrote to his brother explaining the joy that painting brings him. He is clearly giddy with excitement.

 “DEAR BROTHER,

You must not take it amiss if I write to you again so soon. I do so only in order to tell you how extraordinarily happy painting makes me feel.

 Last Sunday I began something which I had had in mind for many a day: It is the view of a flat green meadow, dotted with haycocks. A cinder path running alongside of a ditch crosses it diagonally. And on the horizon, in the middle of the picture, there stands the sun. The whole thing is a blend of colour and tone—a vibration of the whole scale of colours in the air. First of all there is a mauve tinted mist through which the sun peers, half concealed by a dark violet bank of clouds with a thin brilliant red lining. The sun contains some vermilion, and above it there is a strip of yellow which shades into green and, higher up, into a bluish tint that becomes the most delicate azure. Here and there I have put in a light purple or gray cloud gilded with the sun’s livery. The ground is a strong carpet-like texture of green, gray and brown, full of light and shade and life. The water in the ditch sparkles on the clay soil. It is in the style of one of Emile Breton’s paintings. I have also painted a large stretch of dunes. I put the colour on thick and treated it broadly. I feel quite certain that, on looking at these two pictures, no one will ever believe that they are the first studies I have ever painted. Truth to tell, I am surprised myself. I thought my first things would be worthless; but even at the risk of singing my own praises, I must say that they really are not at all bad. And that is what surprises me so much.”

 

In my weekly search for new material I often see, and pass over, the letters of Abraham Lincoln thinking, “Oh, what’s possibly left to talk about that hasn’t been covered in the various blockbuster films and tv series’ that have seemingly covered his life thoroughly?” This week I found something but the length of the letter, written by he, precludes me from entering placing it in my section in its entirety. So I’ll judiciously paraphrase and quote the letter in an attempt to convey the humorous story it tells.

 

Abraham Lincoln starts this letter, penned on April 1, 1838, by explaining to Mrs. O. H. Browning a predicament he ended up in after agreeing to marry the sister of a friend even though he had not seen the woman he agreed to marry in over three years.

 

I had seen the said sister some three years before, thought her intelligent and agreeable, and saw no good objection to plodding life through hand-in-hand with her.”

 

Yet, when his friend arrives with her sister, with whom he had previously agreed to marry, she looks nothing like what he remembered.

 

In a few days we had an interview, and, although I had seen her before, she did not look as my imagination had pictured her. I knew she was over-size, but she now appeared a fair match for Falstaff (A large character in appearing in three of Shakespeare’s plays). I knew she was called an "old maid," and I felt no doubt of the truth of at least half of the appellation, but now, when I beheld her, I could not for my life avoid thinking of my mother; and this, not from withered features,—for her skin was too full of fat to permit of its contracting into wrinkles—but from her want of teeth, weather-beaten appearance in general, and from a kind of notion that ran in my head that nothing could have commenced at the size of infancy and reached her present bulk in less than thirty-five or forty years; and, in short, I was not at all pleased with her. But what could I do?”

 

Lincoln clearly regrets having agreed to marry this woman, though on the positive side, he finds her quick-witted and funny. Bound by honor to his previous agreement, Lincoln visits the lady and planned to formally propose to her but the arrangement was ended by a twist of fate.

 

“...I mustered my resolution and made the proposal to her direct; but, shocking to relate, she answered, No. At first I supposed she did it through an affectation of modesty, which I thought but ill became her under the peculiar circumstances of the case, but on my renewal of the charge I found she repelled it with greater firmness than before. I tried it again and again, but with the same success, or rather with the same want of success.”

 

Lincoln is shocked by her response, he admits that in all his thoughts of marriage and about her appearance he had begun to feel the pangs of love for her but she, at once, cut him off.

 

“My vanity was deeply wounded by the reflection that I had so long been too stupid to discover her intentions, and at the same time never doubting that I understood them perfectly; and also that she, whom I had taught myself to believe nobody else would have, had actually rejected me with all my fancied greatness. And, to cap the whole, I then for the first time began to suspect that I was really a little in love with her. But let it all go! I'll try and outlive it. Others have been made fools of by the girls, but this can never in truth be said of me. I most emphatically, in this instance, made a fool of myself.”

BUCKHANNON -- A single-engine plane crashed on Brushy Fork Road near Buckhannon. Thirty year-old James Meadows of Hendersonville, Tennessee, was getting ready to land at the Upshur County Regional Airport around 5:30 PM when the motor apparently quit on his plane. The accident was reported about 6 p.m. Saturday by witnesses who saw the plane, a Cirrus SR 22, go down.

The crime shocked all of Doddridge County and there is a possibility it will end with a plea agreement and not go to trial. Joseph Spencer’s attorney, Rod Windom, confirmed the plea agreement had been presented to the court. Doddridge County Prosecuting Attorney Brooke Fitzgerald says “no charges are being dropped, dismissed or disposed of”. Fitzgerald goes on to say that “the (Spencer) family has been involved in every stage of this”. Prosecution and defense attorneys informed Judge Tim Sweeney of the pending agreement at a

hearing originally scheduled to hear motions in the case of Joseph Spencer.

The Doddridge County teenager is accused of killing his father, mother and sister at the family’s West Union home on Labor Day weekend of 2012.

Spencer is expected to plead guilty to his three original murder charges, with other details to be worked out. Spencer’s plea hearing has been set for January 15 at 9 a.m. He is expected to plead guilty to his three original murder charges, with other details to be worked out at a later date.

Regardless of what lies ahead in Joseph Spencer’s future, let us hope that at some point, he is able to fully understand what he did and feel remorse.

First-class postage stamps could rise to 49 cents starting January 26, 2014. This is due to the combination $15.9 billion dollar net loss last fiscal year and the $6 billion dollar net loss for the current fiscal year by the United States Postal Service. The Postal Service estimates that the increase would raise about $2 billion in additional revenue each year it is implemented. Under the suggested plan, the first-class postage will rise 3 cents, or 6.5% as well as pricing for other forms of mail such as packages and postcards. Because of the steep percentage of increase, the rate hike will require approval from the Postal Regulatory Commission because rates cannot be raised over the rate of inflation, which is about 2% currently. The rate increase is supposedly temporary, likely to end in less than two years. A book of first-class stamps will cost $9.80, however, any and all Forever Stamps purchased before the rate increase will still be valid for all one-ounce letters.

An audit and Ethics Opinion  has caused the Doddridge County Clerk’s Office to alter practices when it comes to extended hours and overtime pay for county employees.. 

Doddridge County Clerk’s Office has recently changed the way it does business during the extended hours for the use of the Records Room.

The audit revealed the clerk’s office extended hours to provide access to public documents to certain representatives of oil-and-gas companies.

Announcing auditions for the upcoming Mountaineer Creative Arts Council, Inc. production:

The Little Mermaid

Directed by Laura J. Meese

When: Thursday, January 23rd at 6:00 P.M.

Saturday, January 25th at 10:00 A.M.

You will only need to attend one audition.

Please bring a prepared piece of music to sing (sheet music or acapella), and bring a prepared monologue, poem, or nursery rhyme to read.

Where: Doddridge County High School Auditorium

Open to grades 2 through 12

Questions: Call Laura at 304-613-7424 or email wantingmemories@gmail.com

 

A ban on tap water has been lifted in part of West Virginia that was hit by a chemical that spilled into a river and tainted the water supply.

Gov. Earl Tomblin made the announcement at a news conference Monday, five days after about 300,000 people were told not to drink, wash or use the water in any way other than to flush their toilets.

Officials are lifting the ban in a strict, methodical manner to help ensure the water system is not overwhelmed by excessive demand, which could cause more water quality and service issues.

The water crisis started Thursday when the chemical used in coal processing leaked from a Freedom Industries plant into the nearby Elk River. It's still not clear exactly what caused a tank to start leaking the chemical.

Doddridge County Lion's Pancake Dinner

CANCELLED DUE TO COLD WEATHER

 

Friday, January 10, 2014 12:00 AM