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Please be patient - we will be bringing you a new website soon! If you have any questions call Mike at (304) 844-8040.

Visit the Doddridge County EDA website to learn some interesting statistics regarding our county.

May Publication List of Property Taxes for 2015:












Get it while it lasts!

This week I have chosen a letter sent to one of the greats of American literature, Ernest Hemingway. However, this may not be the type of letter you’d expect. It is a rejection letter from a publisher who appears to have hated Hemingway’s submission titled The Sun Also Rises. Rejection is a common occurrence in artistic fields, especially in literature but few rejection letters are as notorious as this which calls his manuscript “tedious and offensive.” Hemingway’s novel was eventually published in 1926 and became one of the most translated novels in the world.

“June 14th, 1925.

Dear Mr. Hemingway:


If I may be frank, Mr. Hemingway — you certainly are in your prose — I found your efforts to be both tedious and offensive. You really are a man’s man, aren’t you? I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that you had penned this entire story locked up at the club, ink in one hand, brandy in the other. Your bombastic, dipsomaniac, where-to-now characters had me reaching for my own glass of brandy — something to liven up 250 pages of men who are constantly stopping to sleep off the drink. What Peacock & Peacock is looking for, in a manuscript, is innovation and heart. I’m afraid that what you have produced here does not fit that description.

A great story, Mr. Hemingway, is built on a foundation of great characters. I had trouble telling yours apart. Remind me, which is the broken-hearted bachelor who travels aimlessly across Europe? Ah, yes! They all do!...

...Of course, I doubt it’s possible to create a three-dimensional character with such two-dimensional language. Have you never heard of crafted prose? Style? Complexity of diction? It’s hard to believe an entire novel’s worth of pages could be filled up with the sort of short, stunted sentences you employ here. Let me be specific: at the start of the novel, you sum up a key character, Robert Cohn, with just five short words, “I was his tennis friend.” This tells us nothing. Later, when Jake is looking out on the Seine — the beautiful, historic, poetic Sein — you write, “the river looked nice.” Nice? The river looked nice? I dare say my young son could do better!

In short, your efforts have saddened me, Mr. Hemingway. I was hopeful that by 1925, the brutes would have stopped sending me their offerings. We at Peacock & Peacock, are looking to publish novels that will inspire. God knows, it’s what people need at this time. Certainly, what is not needed are treatises about bullfights and underemployed men who drink too much.



In 1905 an advertisement for a fake, cure-all, medicine was sent to Mark Twain by the salesman, J.H. Todd. The salesman claimed that the medicine could cure meningitis and diphtheria which happened to be ailments that took the lives of Twain’s daughter and nineteen month old son. Furious at the salesman’s attempt to peddle false cures, Twain dictated this letter in reply.


1212 Webster St.San Francisco, Cal.

Your letter is an insoluble puzzle to me. The handwriting is good and exhibits considerable character, and there are even traces of intelligence in what you say, yet the letter and the accompanying advertisements profess to be the work of the same hand. The person who wrote the advertisements is without doubt the most ignorant person now alive on the planet; also without doubt he is an idiot, an idiot of the 33rd degree, and scion of an ancestral procession of idiots stretching back to the Missing Link. It puzzles me to make out how the same hand could have constructed your letter and your advertisements. Puzzles fret me, puzzles annoy me, puzzles exasperate me; and always, for a moment, they arouse in me an unkind state of mind toward the person who has puzzled me. A few moments from now my resentment will have faded and passed and I shall probably even be praying for you; but while there is yet time I hasten to wish that you may take a dose of your own poison by mistake, and enter swiftly into the damnation which you and all other patent medicine assassins have so remorselessly earned and do so richly deserve.


Adieu, adieu, adieu!

Mark Twain”


The Statue of Liberty, as we know, was a gift from France that celebrated the United States’ centennial anniversary of independence. It also was a symbol of both countries’ commitment to liberty and freedom. Because it was a gift from France, most people assume that the majority of the work rested on the shoulders of the French people. Considering the $250,000 base on which the statue stood, that assumption would be incorrect. In 1884 President Ulysses S. Grant wrote to then owners of Tiffany and Company in New York asking a donation for the direly underfunded base. Grant worried that the American’s inability to fund the base on which the statue stood would draw negative comments from the world about their poor “patriotism and public spirit.”

Eventually with the help of the solicited owners and from a generous donation from the poet Emma Lazarus, the base was completed in time for the statue’s arrival. Below is Grant’s letter to the owners of Tiffany and Company.

“171 Broadway New York January  1884

Dear Sirs;   

You will no doubt deplore with us the marked indifference of the citizens of New York to the munificent gift of the French People to the People of the United States – A colossal Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World.     It was presented on the one hundredth anniversary of our National Independence, in commemoration of the ancient alliance and present friendship of the two Republics. The Statue is artistically admirable, and will prove an ornament of the harbor of New York of unequalled majesty and impressiveness. Out of $250,000 needed to erect a suitable pedestal less than half has been raised, after many and strenuous exertions. The threatened stoppage of work upon the Pedestal in consequence of this neglect would produce the most unfavorable comments upon our patriotism and public spirit, not only in our own country, but throughout the civilized world.     It has therefore been suggested that twenty of the most prominent of our citizens could be named who would gladly contribute to avert so discreditable a result, and your name has been presented as one of the twenty. Will you be kind enough therefore to inform us if you will agree to pay $5000 towards the object, provided the others do; any previous subscription to be counted as part of the sum, and no publication of the list to be made until it shall be completed. We know that this is hardly a time to make an appeal for money, but the necessity is imperative. U. S. Grant to Mr. M. Evarts and Jos. W. Drexel of Tiffany and Company”

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CLARKSBURG W. Va. - On Tuesday of last week, two members of the West Union American Legion

Post 25 made the trip to the West Virginia Nursing Facility in Clarksburg. They braved the weather to

pay a special visit to a very special veteran, William McQuaid. What was the reason for their visit?

They came to honor McQuaid for his 72 years as a member of their American Legion Post.

Adjutant Terry Grim and Commander Richard Cross brought with them two beautifully framed

certificates commemorating this occasion. “We’re pretty proud of this man here,” Commander Cross

said. Speaking to McQuaid, Cross said that “We’re proud to have you as one of our members. We

appreciate you and all of the time you’ve been a member of the American Legion.” Cross and Grim presented McQuaid with a signed

card from Legion Members, A commemorative coin minted by the United States Army as well as the

two certificates. Th ese certificates commemorated his 70th and 71st year as a member of the Legion. Adjutant Grim noted that the group had missed a

year, so that was the reason for the two certificates at one time.

“It’s a special recognition as far as I’m concerned,” Cross stated. “I don’t think anybody has been

around that long in the American Legion.” McQuaid joined the service in 1943 when he entered the 20th Armor Division basic training. After two

month, he joined up with the Air Cadets in the United States Air Force. Unfortunately, McQuaid

became disabled and was discharged. Upon his discharge, McQuaid joined the American Legion and has been a member since.

McQuaid noted that it’s the veterans that help him and his friends that deserve the credit. “I’m just sitting back taking what you do for me.” Cross said that McQuaid deserves the honors as “he is the one who has served so long in this

organization. We’re proud to have you as one of our members.” Rex Zickefoose came with Cross and Grim

to note the occasion to honor McQuaid. “I hope we bring some awareness of people who may be behind the scenes.” After leaving the military, McQuaid ran

a bowling alley in Salem, WV for three years and went on to open an insurance company there as well.

McQuaid said that “If it wasn’t for organizations like the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, some folks

may not even know how to spell ‘veteran.”

Zickefoose commented that although it’s

important to recognize those young folks

serving now, it’s equally important to

remember those who have already served

their country.

Th e take away from this event was that we

should remember all who serve this great


Cross noted that “It’s important to

recognize these veterans, which is what

we did here today. We need to thank them



What once was considered by the forefathers of Doddridge County as prominent place for your final rest had been almost lost to time.  Few in the county even know the rich history buried on that hillside in what once was a straight line of sight to the County Courthouse.

I’m sure many people have heard tell of the Blockhouse Hill Cemetery, but how many have actually been there?  Sadly, very few have made the short trip up the hill behind the Cline Stansberry Stadium.  

Back in the early 1800’s, it was quite the spot.  Overlooking the Old Northwestern Turnpike, the Middle Island Creek and a beautiful view of the Courthouse Hill in town, this was a picturesque spot of land chosen for its view.  If you look back in time and imagine the modern trappings of West Union and think back to when this area was basically farm, devoid of trees with lush green hillsides, it speaks of a simpler time.

We paid a visit to the cemetery on Monday as teens and young adults along side members of the Doddridge County Historical Society as they put in a full day of community service.  The work was hard, the rewards, greater.  We made it to the site just after 1pm as the crew was being treated to lunch.  We were met by Jennifer Wilt of the Historical Society.  Ms. Wilt gave us a quick tour of the huge area the crews were clearing.  “When we got here, you would never even know that this half of the cemetery existed” she said “You couldn’t even see some of the tombstones and large markers…it was a sad sight.”

She continued to give us the history of some of the most prominent people buried in Blockhouse.  It was as if she was reading a “who’s-who” of West Virginia history.  We highlighted a few of the people that shaped the great State of West Virginia, Doddridge County and the Town of West Union.

Here’s a little known fact: Lewisport was on the Blockhouse side of Middle Island Creek and Union was on the other.  It was decided to dissolve Lewisport and merge it into Union.  One problem stood in the way, there was already a town named Union, being west of Union, West Union was adopted as the name of the newly merged town!


What is Blockhouse Hill Cemetery?

Recently, Earl Daugherty wrote on the West Union website: “Blockhouse Hill Historical Cemetery is a historical landmark.  It stands as an impressive and everlasting symbol of our country's history, not just West Union's.

On Blockhouse Hill lived the early settlers; it was our first town (Lewisport); it had the first church; the first cemetery.

On that tract of land there are three cemeteries in one.  In 1824, Joseph Davis (a brother of Nathan, who once owned 20,000 acres here) deeded the lower portion for a church and cemetery.  Peggy Etheburt was the first person buried in the section.  In 1853, Ephraim Bee deeded to Bishop Richard of Wheeling the section for the Catholic Cemetery, midway down the hill.  Then in 1899, L.L. Davis (who is buried in the cemetery) laid the next section off into lots.  Harry Ringer was the first person buried in this section.

This beautiful spot can have an enduring appeal for all future generations.  It is a legacy of great value and meaning to our country.  It will help preserve the bond between the past and the present.  We will be a stronger community by having cared for this memorial honor to our ancestors.”

The historic value of this cemetery goes beyond words.  It is a rich history of our country literally etched in stone.

Lewis Maxwell

Lewis Maxwell was a member of Congress from 1827 to 1833. A wealthy man for his time, he was a surveyor who entered large tracts of land all over his region of the state. Childless, he left no heirs, so much of his fortune fell to his nephew, Franklin Maxwell. Specifically, his will “gave his widow her dower, and divided the residue of the estate equally between the sons of his nephew Franklin one-half, and the other one-half equally among the sons of his brothers and half-brothers; Franklin Maxwell, under the Will, received $2,000 for settling the estate, and Judge Edwin Maxwell and the Judge's brother Rufus Maxwell received his Library." 1,4

"MAXWELL, Lewis, (1790 - 1862) MAXWELL, Lewis, a Representative from Virginia; born in

Chester County, Pa., April 17, 1790; moved with his mother to Virginia about 1800; completed a

preparatory course; studied law; was admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Weston, Va. (now West Virginia); member of the State house of delegates 1821-1824; elected to the Twentieth Congress; reelected to the Twenty-first Congress and reelected as an Anti-Jacksonian to the Twenty-second Congress (March 4, 1827-March 3, 1833); chairman, Committee on Expenditures in the Department of War (Twenty-first Congress), Committee on Expenditures in the Department of the Navy (Twenty-second Congress); was not a candidate for renomination in 1832; resumed the practice of law and was also engaged as a surveyor and land patentee; died in West Union, Doddridge County, Va. (now West Virginia), February 13, 1862; interment in Odd Fellows Cemetery." 

Lewis Maxwell was born either in Colrain Township of Lancaster County or in Chester County, Pennsylvania on April 17, 1790, and was the son of Thomas Maxwell and Jane Lewis. As a child, he moved with his mother to Lewis County, Virginia. He studied law, was admitted to the bar and became a member of the State House of Delegates 1821-1824. He was served in Congress from 1827 to 1833, after which he resumed the practice of law, was a surveyor and land speculator. He married Sophronia Wilson in 1844, and later, in 1859, Jane Pritchard, who survived him. He was one of the largest landholders in the region, a founder of Weston, (West) Virginia and the founder of Jane Lew, a town named after his mother. He died in West Union, Doddridge County, (West) Virginia on February 13, 1862 and was buried in His monument is located in the nearby Old Seventh Day Baptist section of what is now known as Blockhouse Hill Cemetery. The other two Blockhouse Hill Cemetery sections are the former IOOF

Cemetery and the Catholic section. 

Childless, his fortune ultimately descended to his nephew Franklin Maxwell, son of his older brother Abner.


Joseph Cheuvront

Joseph Cheuvront, according to the 1850 census: “…received his primary education in his native county and when fifteen years of age moved with his parents to West Virginia, and settled in Harrison County, near Clarksburg, when that city was but a village of few houses. He early became familiar with carpenter tools and worked with his father for many years. Later he went to Clarksburg and followed carpentering and cabinet-making and continued there until the organization of Doddridge County, when he came to West Union. This was in 1845, and here he has continued to make his home since, a period of over half a century. At that time he had few tools to work with, but he soon opened a cabinet shop -- a friend assisting him in this undertaking -- and carried that on with carpentering for some time.

Later he engaged in the undertaking business in connection and has followed that for forty-five years, although now retired from the active duties of life. About 1861 he began merchandising and carried this on until 1888, when he closed this out, but continued in the furniture business a few more years. He has been engaged in various enterprises and has met with fair success in all.

For some time he was in the saw mill business, blacksmithing, hotel business and farming. He owns a large farm in this county, another one in Harrison County, and owns the Grant House in West Union. Although practically retired from active business life, he still superintends his business affairs and is one of the most enterprising and successful men in this part of the State.

During the Rebellion, his was the only store in this place and he sold about $200,000 worth of goods per year for two years then. ... Our subject is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, a non-affiliating member of the Masonic fraternity, and a Republican in politics. He served as Deputy Sheriff of the county one term, also held the office of Magistrate a number of years and was overseer of the poor one term. He was a delegate to the convention at Wheeling for the formation of West Virginia, and is a prominent and influential citizen.”


Chapman Johnson Stuart

Chapman J. Stuart served as Doddridge County prosecutor from 1852 to 1861. An opponent of secession, he sat as a member of the First Wheeling Convention of 1861, was a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1862, and in 1863 was elected judge of the Circuit Court and was on the bench for ten years, until 1873. His public service to the state continued after leaving the bench, and in 1874-75 and again in 1878-79 he represented Doddridge County in the Legislature.

During the Civil War he did some valuable work as a lieutenant of the 14th West Virginia Infantry in recruiting Union soldiers, raising Company A of that regiment.

He has also been credited with naming the state of West Virginia. A June 1913 article which appeared in the Wheeling Intelligencer credits him for suggesting the name West Virginia as opposed to the other proposed names of "New Virginia" and “Allegheny."

West Union’s most prominent residence in Historic Courthouse Square district of town is where Mr. Stuart called home, The Stuart Mansion.  The large three story structure has undergone recent renovations to help preserve this architectural treasure.


A tale of great tragedy

One of the most heart-sickening recitals in the history of Western Virginia, is that of the burning of the Dawson family, on the night of the 25th of September, 1856. The facts as gleaned by the writer are as follows: At the time, Jackson Dawson, his wife, five children of their own and a little girl of the name of Luvena Mires, resided in a frame house of a story and a half in height, which was located in the western part of the town, on the spot on which the residence of John Dye now stands. It was dark, chilly night at the hour of 1 AM when the alarm was given. The fire had started from the kitchen in the rear of the house, and the building, being constructed of the most inflammable material, the flames spread with frightful rapidity. Every member of the family was soundly sleeping, and when the alarm was given the father and mother rushed in a semi conscious condition from the building, but no sooner out than the father, crazed to frenzy at the perilous condition of his children, rushed into the burning building and lost his life in an attempt to rescue the helpless ones. Oh, the terrible scene; who, when at this late day, can bear to think of it? Six little helpless girls enwrapped in hissing flames, from which come their cries for help, but soon the last murmur is hushed in death and the awful scene is past. When daylight came Joseph Cheuvront, the undertaker, repaired to the fatal spot, and from the ruins collected the charred remains of half a dozen human beings, placed all in ·a box, which was then deposited in the cemetery, where they now repose. If the traveler who visits the town of West Union will stroll into the cemetery there, he will discover an ivy-covered mound, at the head of which stands a broad marble slab, from which he may read the following inscription:

Sarah A., aged 7 years and 7 months.

Mary M.F., aged 6 years, 1 month, 15 days.

Charlotte S. aged 4 years, 6 months, and five days.

Luvena B., aged 2 years,. 7 months, and 28 days.

Elizabeth R., aged 2 months and 17 days.

Children of Jackson & Charlotte Jackson and

Luvena Mires, aged 11 years, 7 months and 23 days.

Perished by fire September 25th, 1856.


Mr. Daugherty writes “What a wealth of interesting information this old cemetery contains.  Not all of the inscriptions on the tombstones can be read, but with care, they can be deciphered, I believe.

Many of the people buried here came to help in the building of the Old Northwestern Turnpike (completed 1838); or the building of the railroad (01850's); or to work in the glass factories (after 1900).  Then they remained and built their homes here.  From the inscriptions, you can see that the homelands of many were from Germany and Ireland.

A relatively small number of the grave-sites are being taken care of by relatives or by persons paid by relatives.  I imagine these people would want to continue doing this and I hope that they can.  But many people lying on this hill have no living relatives; no provision has been made to care for their burial sites.”  


The Doddridge County Historical Society has been appointed as the overseer for this historic gem by the Doddridge County Commission.  With help from private individuals and the county commission, coupled with volunteer efforts, these historic figures can rest knowing that their grave-sites will be cared for well into the future.


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


A decision by a federal bankruptcy court in Kentucky this week gives regulators a strong hand in enforcing environmental laws against bankrupt coal companies. As part of Thursday’s decision, the court awarded the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection more than $2.7 million to address reclamation of an abandoned coal mine in Fayette County.

Thursday morning fire broke out in the area of the electrical box on Stanley and Kathy Warners house on Doe Run in West Union. Stanley told us that they lost everything in the blaze.

“I even lost my dog...The fireman said he didn’t suffer at all, but it’s hard losing a pet like that.” Stanley asked us to say thank you to a gentleman from Texas who is working in the area.

“He bought us a generator and he even put gas in it so we can have power.  We asked what we owed him and he said nothing... People can be so nice.” The family lives below in a trailer due to Kathy’s health and not being able to climb the stairs.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (November 07, 2014) - Gov. Earl Ray

Tomblin today unveiled the third and final license plate in a three-part series, celebrating West Virginia’s native wildlife. Through a collaborative eff ort between the Division of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), West Virginia is now offering the new license plate as an alternative standard issuance plate option to West Virginia passenger vehicle owners. The license plate features the image of a black bear and her cub looking over Dolly Sods in Tucker County.

On Wednesday October 29th we received an invitation from Doddridge County native Paul Daugherty, President & CEO of Philanthropy West Virginia, Inc. It stated “U. S. Senator Joe Manchin along with Philanthropy West Virginia and the WV Nonprofit Association are hosting over two dozen nonprofit and foundation leaders for a roundtable this Friday, October 31, 2014 from 10:15 to 11:30 AM in West Union, WV.” When a United States Senator visits, you must attend! We rearranged our schedule to accommodate the visit.

This is a presentation given by Steve Garvin at a Doddridge County Commissioners meeting. In it, he expressed concerns about the oil and gas industry in West Virginia and pushed for better identification systems of chemicals used by the gas and oil industry for the safety of the public and public officials.

Mr. William Goodwin, Superintendent

Clarksburg Sanitary Board

222 West Main Street

Clarksburg, WV 26301

Re: WV/NPDES Permit No. WV0023302 Accepting Oil and Gas Wastewater


Dear Mr. Goodwin:

This correspondence shall serve as the agency's formal response to your e-mail dated May 10, 2009 in which the Clarksburg Sanitary Board (CSB) requested information as to the requirements that would be imposed upon the CSB as a result of accepting oil and gas related wastewaters.

This morning, during routine loading of natural gas liquids (NGLs) to a tractor-trailer at what's called a "load-out facility," a leak occurred. The load-out facility was immediately shut-in and local first responders were notified. Two employees at the facility were evaluated by medical professionals, however no one was injured.

Out of an abundance of caution, and in consultation with local first responders, a portion of Route 50 was temporarily closed as a small amount of NGLs accumulated around the load-out facility, which is located approximately 200 feet from the highway.

Both MarkWest safety personal and the first responders instituted their response plans to ensure public safety and after it was confirmed all possible NGL product had dissipated, Route 50 was reopened.

MarkWest would like to thank the Smithburg Volunteer Fire Department, Doddridge County EMS and other agencies that were on location for their professionalism and apologize to the motorists who were inconvenienced by this matter.

MarkWest Liberty Midstream & Resources, LLC

Two of the newest employees of the Doddridge County Sheriff’s office work for kibble.  Literally.  We had the pleasure of meeting them along with their handlers last Friday morning.  We were greeted by Sheriff Mike Headley early in his office where we briefly discussed these employees.  We were waiting on their escorted arrival by Deputy Garner and Deputy Miller.

“We have never had K-9 Units in Doddridge County before.  So this will be a learning experience for all of us” Sheriff Headley said.  “These are very special dogs with very special training.”  Just then I heard the loud barking from the garage area of the Sheriff’s office.  One had arrived and we were about to meet Ekko.  After a brief morning orientation of last nights activities, the second Deputy arrived with Blacky, the younger of the two dogs.

August 12, 2014—Columbia Pipeline Group (CPG), a unit of NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI), today announced a total of $1.75 billion in new investment in infrastructure that will enable it to transport up to 1.5 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/D) of natural gas from Marcellus and Utica production areas to markets served by its Columbia Gas Transmission (Columbia Transmission) and Columbia Gulf Transmission (Columbia Gulf) pipeline systems.


The new investments include two significant projects, one of which involves construction by Columbia Transmission of a new natural gas pipeline in Ohio and West Virginia that will enhance its existing infrastructure and support natural gas supply development in western Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia and eastern Ohio. 

U.S. News again recognizes 12 specialities at Ruby Memorial as High Performing

 MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – For the third consecutive year, “U.S. News & World Report” has named WVU Hospitals, with its flagship hospital Ruby Memorial, the number one hospital in West Virginia.

It’s not very often that someone special rides into town, even more rare when they actually ride into town on a pair of horses.  About 4 o’clock on Wednesday afternoon, Henrietta from the Beehive came into the office followed by several teenagers, all talking and gabbing about something.  I was on the phone and couldn’t attend to them right away, so they left a message with Travis and walked back down into town.  After finishing my phone call, Travis informed me that there is a guy with horses stopping for something to eat in town.  I packed up a recorder and the camera and went to investigate.

On the street in front of the Beehive stood two horses, one with a pack strapped onto its saddle area, the other with a saddle and a large american flag secured to the saddle waving in the breeze.  At a table sat what you can describe as a cowboy.  Vest, holster, chaps, boots and a leather hat, decorated with pins, feathers and other items.

He stood up and introduced himself…”Hello, I’m Sam Hopkins-Hubbard and I’m riding across our great nation.”  He invited me to set down and talk as “it’s easier to just set and talk to someone.”  He left Milton-Freewater, Oregon on April 5th and is carrying the American Flag across country in an attempt to bring a message of unity all across the country.  “We’re trying to drop all the labels, drop everything that has us fighting…We’ve got a country to restore and we can’t do that if we are fighting with each other.  We’ve got to stand united, we’ve got to stand together, that’s how we’ve always been the strongest.”  

He feels strongly that what has happened to the country is because of inaction toward restoring what the founders have given us.  He stated that we are the authority in this country, the citizens were given this government by the founders and we have been “like the owners that have forgotten to show up for work and the employees have taken it over and now it’s time for the owners to get back to work.”  “The employees think they are the owners, they’ve never been the owners… Washington D.C, Congress, the President… they are not the owners, they are our employees.”

It swooped over their heads, below the stone arches and across the stained glass windows of the cathedral. Some in the congregation stared ahead, actively ignoring the disruptful winged creature. Children laughed and pointed as it flew closer to their parent’s heads, they squealed as it soared between the pews. A dexterous church-goer swung his missal, knocking the creature to the ground. It lay there on its stomach, brown, furry, with little claws at the ends of its wings. Fifteen year-old animal lover, Jeanna Giese, knelt over the bat. Determined to save it, she grabbed the brown creature by its wing and, despite its horrendous screams, took it outside. Under the blinding sunlight the bat grew more agitated, writhing and twisting. It curled up to Jeanna’s finger and bit down, hard. Jeanna gasped and threw the bat up into the trees. Rubbing her aching finger, Jeanna returned to the service and thought nothing more of the bite.


The volleyball was set, hanging in the air at its apex. Jeanna placed her feet and jumped ready to catch the ball at its sweet spot. There was only one problem, she saw two volleyballs. With blurry vision she swung for one and missed. Immediately a sharp pain developed in her shoulder, a sort of uncontrollable spasm. After a couple days with no reprieve, Jeanna’s parents took her to a doctor. He sent her to another doctor. Jeanna’s condition slowly deteriorated while doctor after doctor was unable determine her sickness. It wasn’t meningitis and although she had a fever it wasn’t the flu. Her brain scans were appeared normal despite her now slurred speech. The situation had quickly become grim. Then her parents mentioned the bat incident. Jeanna’s pediatrician, Dr. Dhoneau, became pale as he listened to the story of the bat bite. He walked out of the room and immediately called for a test to determine whether Jeanna Giese had rabies. Rabies is a virus, carried in the saliva, that has a 100% mortality rate in humans if left untreated for over a week. Jeanna had been showing symptoms for over a month.


The rabies virus attaches to the victim’s nervous system at the point of the bite. From there it slowly climbs toward the brain. Before it reaches the brain, rabies can be effectively treated with a vaccine and a brief hospital stay. Once the virus reaches the brain, the chances of survival plummet to almost zero. Patients affected by rabies show extreme aggression, produce infected saliva, and develop a fear of drinking water. The fear of water, or hydrophobia, is a result of the virus telling the brain to keep anything that may dilute the host’s potent saliva away. Jeanna was rushed to the children’s hospital diagnosed with rabies virus. At this stage the normal protocol in 2004 was to either bed the patient until they passed in the hospital or send them home expecting the same result. With Jeanna’s death only several hours away, her new doctor, Rodney Willoughby, suggested to Jeanna’s parents an experiment. He would induce a coma in Jeanna and maintain her vitals through IVs and intensive care hoping that a coma would buy Jeanna’s immune system precious extra time to fight the rabies virus. Her parents agreed to what would soon be called the ‘Milwaukee Protocol.’ The battle was intense. After seven days in a coma, Jeanna was slowly woken. Only able to move her eyes, Dr. Willoughby asked her to look at her mother. Jeanna fixed her gaze directly on her mother’s face. She had survived. In all, Jeanna spent three months in the hospital learning to walk again. Physical therapists trained her to use her arms and legs, and how to speak. Now Jeanna has completely recovered and the ‘Milwaukee Protocol’ has been refined and used in forty other cases. Of those cases, four others have survived. While those numbers may not appear hopeful for those who’ve passed the vaccination stage, the previous alternative was 100% mortality. Jeanna’s case has provided hope and insight into a virus that has plagued mankind for over four-thousand years.

This year's Doddridge County Fair is sure to be a blast! Special performances from award-winning entertainment such as the Davisson Brothers band, Mark Bishop, Beatlemania Magic, and Bucky Covington will be held, along with award-winning food vendors, Gambill Amusements, and other great shows! Come on down and join the fun!

Gate Fee - $8 on Tuesday thru Thursday, $10 on Friday and Saturday. For more information, visit

Eating fresh produce from the garden is truly one of the pleasures of the season. Fresh salads, tomatoes, peppers and onions highlight the summer table. Sunday dinner with a table full of nothing but corn on the

cob, green beans cooked with new potatoes, onions and cucumbers in vinegar, fresh tomatoes. No main course is needed, just the bounty of the garden. Another important part of the garden was planning ahead to grow enough produce to “put food by” for the winter. Canning was always an important part of summer and fall life at home and on the farm. Aside from more traditional Appalachian families, canning and other preserving methods had been in decline over the past few decades. The convenience of the grocery store and a lack of connection to the farm or to food led to fewer and fewer home canners. 


However, that trend has reversed. Not only is home food gardening at the highest level it has been in years, home food preservation is also. People of all ages are starting to can, whether they did it years ago and are finding their way back to home preservation or are learning for the first time. Fermenting and drying are also becoming popular means of preservation. Some people are even planning out their home preservation to reduce or eliminate the need to purchase certain produce items from the grocery store year-round. Home gardeners have a leg up when it comes to fresh ingredients, since they get to grow their own. Sure, you can buy fresh produce at the farmers market for canning. Learn how to successfully and safely use a pressure canner for low acid foods. This hands on learning class is being offered by the WVU Doddridge County Extension Service. The same class is being offered in the morning at 10 am and again at 6 pm at the Extension Office, Thursday, July 10. Please call the office to register for the time that works best for you. (304) 873-1801.

CHARLESTON, WV—A 44-year old Fayette County woman faces up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty today to mail fraud, United States Attorney Booth Goodwin announced. Cheryl Gray of Hilltop, West Virginia, entered a guilty plea before United States District Court Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr. in Charleston. Gray is a former employee of the Fayette County Sheriff ‘s Department. While at the Sheriff ’s Department, Gray was charged with collecting application fees for concealed weapon permits, recording fees paid, and transmitting a list to the West Virginia State Police of permits issued each month. For over six months, from October of 2012 through June of 2013, Gray kept cash payments for permits and failed to record the names of persons who paid cash on the State Police report. To disguise her theft, Gray created a false set of receipt books. The fraud resulted in losses to the State Police and Fayette County Sheriff ‘s Department of approximately $40,000. Gray is scheduled to be sentenced on September 23, 2014 in Charleston.



The West Virginia State Police, Fayette County Sheriff‘s Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Blaire L. Malkin is in charge of the prosecution.

The Internet is free. By American, and even world standards, it’s an incredibly level playing field where agile small businesses can supplant large established companies. On the Internet, the value of a business is not judged by how many lawyers it has protecting it or how much capital it has to start with, the value of a business is based on its merit. That’s how a company like Facebook beat out MySpace, and how MySpace beat out Friendster. If a product is attractive, useful, and works, it has a genuine chance at popularity. The large websites we see today like YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon were all borne of this completely free and level playing field. Currently this freedom is protected by a 1996 piece of legislation called Net Neutrality which essentially decrees that all data must be treated equally. Right now the Federal Communications Commission wants to change this.

                            net neutrality logo

Under the weight of cable companies like Comcast, the FCC has proposed a two-tiered system in which users will need to pay more for fast service or be stuck with a slow internet connection. What’s more, cable companies have begun charging content providers in order to continue streaming videos to users. In 2013 when Comcast was in negotiations with Netflix about the cost of streaming videos, the cable provider purposefully diminished the speed of video streaming to a crawl in a successful attempt to coax Netflix into accepting the new costs. This practice, reminiscent of a mob-shakedown, isn’t only toxic for established companies, it’s dangerous for start-ups as well. Potentially, cable providers could quash new companies by “negotiating” higher rates, rates a start-up may not be able to afford. The FCC is the government arm tasked with protecting the free internet, so why is it caving to the demands of cable providers? One needs to look no further than the FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler. Prior to his appointment to Chairman by President Obama in November 2013, Mr. Wheeler was a lobbyist for the cable and wireless industry. As John Oliver so eloquently put it on his show, Last Week Tonight, that’s like needing a babysitter for your young child and hiring a dingo. A man whose former job was spent lobbying the FCC for the harmful changes desired by cable providers, is now the Chairman of the FCC.


It’s not just internet savvy twenty-somethings like myself who recognize the hazardous path we’re on, large companies fear the changes as well. In May of 2014 over 100 companies including Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Ebay, and Facebook, signed a letter addressed to the FCC that expressed their strong opposition to the proposed changes to the free Internet. As of May 15th, the proposed “fast-lane bill” passed voting 3/2 and is now open for public discussion until July. If you care about a free Internet, not just for yourself but for future generations, I strongly urge you to comment on the open platform provided on the FCC website at Better yet, contact the offices of Senators Rockefeller, Manchin, and Representative McKinley. For years the Internet has been an incredible source of free news, entertainment, and information. It’s in our best interest to keep it that way.


This letter was written by a native West Virginian, Arlen Richard Baldridge, to his mother, Helen, in 1943. Baldridge trained to become a fighter pilot in WWII at an airbase in Massachusetts for several weeks. In this letter he explains to his mother a near death experience with the levity you may expect from a pilot in training.

Baldridge later graduated from the training school and flew several missions overseas. In 1944 he was captured and killed after his plane crashed in Germany. A poem written to him by his father contains the following verses:


“Upon my porch I sit at night

At the end of day,

While you fly among the stars

Along the Milky Way.”


“Westover Field Massachusetts

May 5, 1943

Dear Mom,

You must forgive me for not writing but you know how busy I have been. We have enough planes now so that each of us will probably be given our personal plane and it takes time to care for them. Maybe I will be able to fly home one of these day but don't count on it because gasoline is extremely scarce.

Quite a bit has happened since I last wrote and as far as my own personal safety is concerned the closest call came today. My engine cut out at a low altitude and I was unable to keep it running. As a result I was forced to bail out just before the plane exploded. I got out OK except for a few minor cuts on my face. I consider myself lucky because a fellow bailed out a few days ago, and is not expected to live. I certainly am glad I have developed that don't give a darn attitude or I would probably be scared to death. Anyway, I am now eligible for the caterpiller club, made up of people who have jumped out of planes.

How are conditions at home and how is Grandma Baldridge? Both well I hope. Spring is just around the corner, and the days are lovely and warm. This is the most beautiful country I have ever seen. I wish all of you could come up this summer and spend a week or so. You would love it. Our training is getting down to a fine point now and if the gasoline shortage keeps up it may be cut short. The shorter the better because I can't wait to get into combat.

I'd better close now and get some rest. We get up at 4:30. Write soon.

Love, Dick”


He stood at the base of the mountain, shielding his eyes from the unhindered sun. Squeezing the increment borer, a sturdy metal tube for sampling trees, Don Curry leaned forward and continued his hike. Halfway up he could make out the jagged edges of his destination, a small copse of ancient trees. Their white bark reflected the sun, shimmering like piles of gold in El Dorado. At the edge of the grove, Don admired the twisting knotty wrinkles that cut through the base of each tree. After strolling between the old growths and running his hand along their bark like a man choosing a car to test drive at a dealership, Don found his tree. It was no different from the others. An old, white, gnarled thing it resembled more a root system than a tree itself but to Don the strange appearance was what mattered the most. He needed a sample of the Bristlecone pine for his research involving climate change in the past. Reviewing the rings of an ancient tree provided him an informative snapshot into the history of the earth.


With the permission of the local forest service, Don pressed the increment borer against the stone-solid tree. Over and over he twisted the handle, pushing with all of his weight trying to get a bite on the ironlike bark. The tool continued to slide from its mark again and again. The tree would not give. If sampling the tree with a bore would not work, he thought, then it was time for Plan B. Don unpacked the chainsaw from his back and in a sputtering cough that smelled of exhaust and gasoline, the chainsaw started. In Don’s mind there was no problem with cutting down a Bristlecone Pine. On the hilltop they were plentiful and he only needed one for a sample. So he sliced into the white wood. The tree fell to the earth and Don continued to cut several sample discs. Exhausted from the hike and drained by the sun, Don returned from the mountain, samples in hand.


Counting the rings of the tree under the flourescent light of his lab, Don noticed something was wrong. Each ring equaled one year of growth and there were an incredible number of rings in his sample. After counting the first thousand, he was surprised to find that he’d barely gotten a quarter of the way through. At two thousand rings he was now counting through the time of Jesus and ancient Rome. Don wasn’t even halfway. He thought he might have been counting wrong, so he started again. But at two thousand four-hundred rings he was halfway again. So he continued well into four thousand rings. Four thousand six-hundred years passed, four thousand seven-hundred years as well. At four thousand eight-hundred and forty-four years he was finished. Resting in front of him were the severed remnants of the oldest tree in human history. Not only was it the oldest tree, it was also the oldest living organism in human history. It was older than the oldest sea sponge, older than the oldest clam, the tree before him had lived through the emergence of civilization itself. It saw the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, the creation of Christianity, and the Renaissance. Don was horrified.


Articles were published maligning his decision to cut the tree. The man who named the tree Prometheus, (he named the others nearby as well) called Don a murderer. News of the event travelled across the country erupting in what seemed like a wildfire of anger and outrage. Don left the field, opting instead to study salt-flats - desolate, barren wastelands without a hint of vegetation. There were certainly no Bristlecone pines nearby.

Don Curry led a successful career in his new area of geological study and was awarded honors upon his death in 2004. Recent developments, however, have added to the story of Don Curry. In 2013 theRocky Mountain Tree Ring Research Group found another tree even older than the Prometheus. The newly found tree is currently alive and well at 5,061 years old. Its location is hidden from the general public. Don Curry can now rest in peace.


Japan, 1954 - Born from the radiation of a nuclear blast, a strange creature emerged from the water off the coast of a rural prefecture in Japan. The people who witnessed the aquatic emergence of the beast could only describe it as a cross between a whale and a gorilla. While they did not know its origin or motive one thing was clear, the gargantuan reptile was not friendly. It terrorized cities by felling skyscrapers and destroyed squadrons of fighters with its atomic breath. There was no stopping the dark monster, Godzilla.


With the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki still fresh in the minds of the Japanese people a special film emerged in movie theaters throughout the country. It was a tale of an unknown beast who unexpectedly appears from the ocean with one goal - to destroy all of Japan. The monster was originally conceived as a representation of the destruction caused by the use of nuclear weapons. The beast could not be destroyed by any conventional methods of warfare, the audience merely watched as the beast tore through Tokyo time after time leaving behind a trail of mayhem. It has starred in more than twenty-eight films and is due to appear on Friday in America alongside Bryan Cranston and Aaron Taylor-Johnson. 2014 marks sixty years of Godzilla.


As time wore on Godzilla’s popularity skewed toward a younger demographic and new monsters were added. Godzilla fought against the three headed dragon King Ghidorah, the hook-armed Gigan, the metallic doppelganger Mechagodzilla including several others. While his focus shifted from primarily destroying humanity to battling other strange beasts, the Japanese people portrayed in the movies were never truly safe. In one famous scene from Godzilla vs King Ghidorah a tall white building is battered and eventually destroyed by the two fighting monsters. In the initial viewing of this scene the audience cheered when the building fell because it was the main center for tax collection in Japan.


While the introduction of enemies for Godzilla to battle might appeal to a younger demographic, the monster’s representation remains true to the 1954 original. It is a symbol of destruction. When asked whether Godzilla was good or bad, producer Shogo Tomiyama compared it to a God of Destruction, “He totally destroys everything and then there is a rebirth. Something new and fresh can begin.”


Today the threat of nuclear war has dwindled. We do not live with the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the backs of our minds. Yet Godzilla’s popularity continues to command strong audiences. Can the aquatic monster still be considered a representation of the horrors of nuclear war? I’m sure something less ominous pulls us toward the theater in order to watch two hours of buildings being toppled. Perhaps it’s the chance that Godzilla might visit 12th St Pennsylvania Ave, home of the IRS.



Fall wind in the middle of spring tugged at our jackets as my fiancée and I walked across the gravel lot adjacent the restored white storefront. “Blue Moon Antiques” read a dark stylized banner draped below the building’s second floor window. Immediately inside we were greeted with a healthy collection of dolls, knives, tin toys, cameras, glassware, and rugs. Carefully labeled and displayed with clean precision, every trinket enjoyed its own space locked behind glass windows under bright fluorescent lights. They were all stars on the painted white stage but one in particular caught my eye.


A silver plated mechanical pencil with an embossed twisting flourish at the cap rested in the corner of the second display case. I’d never seen a vintage mechanical pencil and until that moment hadn’t thought much of their existence. Like anyone else I enjoyed using modern lead holders but also accepted their plastic impermanence. Eventually they’d be lost on a bus ride, fall between the sofa cushions, snapped at the bottom of a bookbag, or generally forgotten in some bin at the edge of the kitchen countertop. This one was different.


The shining pencil before me reflected a time when a writing utensil was built to last. And last it did because after purchasing the three-inch Wahl Company Eversharp mechanical pencil I learned about its origins in 1913. An Illinois inventor and business man, Charles Keeran created the now ubiquitous two-piece vacuum seal for Mason jars, a standard for home canning. Ever restless, Keeran sold his jar company and followed his true passion, the mechanical pencil. Tinkering in his shop he perfected the spinning mechanism that propelled the graphite through the nib and immediately trademarked his “Eversharp” name. The pencil was immediately popular and Keeran had difficulty keeping up with demand. In 1915 Wahl Adding Machine Company invested in Keeran’s idea and mass produced the product. The pencil’s popularity exploded and the Wahl Company eventually forced Keeran out of the picture. Wahl continued its lead in the industry for many years until several missteps in implementing the ballpoint pen damaged the company’s image beyond repair.

More interesting to me, though, is the unknowable history of this exact pencil. Did it belong to a flapper in the 20’s, an accountant in the 30’s, a soldier in the 40’s? Or did it sit in a desk waiting to be used for eighty years before being sold to an antique store? This pencil has survived the Great Depression and two world wars. It outlasted both the man who patented it and the company who bought the man’s ideas. We’ll never know the details of its long and winding story but one thing is for sure, this pencil has many years left to live, as long as I don’t lose it in the couch.


Reprinted From

Law enforcement agencies in both Doddridge and Ritchie Counties were busy Sunday morning, after they say two men went on quite the crime spree.

Troopers said Sunrack Spencer and another man took things from a home on Holbrook Road in Doddridge County, and then set it on fire before they left. That's when they apparently went to another home on the road and started looking for items to take there.

Officers said their plans got messed up when a woman driving by spotted the burning home and tried to call for help. The two men supposedly started talking to her, and then jumped into her car and stole it. Troopers said the crime spree then spread into Ritchie County, where the two men crashed the car on an impassable road.

They apparently received minor injuries, and were able to continue on, but not before troopers think they set the car on fire. The pair then supposedly came across another home, kicked in the door, and found guns and jewelry to take. A DNR officer driving by saw the open door, and went to check things out.

That officer said he found muddy footprints and heard people talking. That's when he said he spotted Spencer behind a car in the driveway. Spencer was arrested, and taken to Camden Clark Medical Center in Parkersburg for treatment.

The other man fled the scene, but officers have issued warrants for his arrest. Both are facing a slew of charges out of both counties.

Stay with 5 News for more on this story.

The Doddridge County Commission just voted 2-1 to KEEP the Doddridge County Ambulance Authority.


These “Kings of the Forest” once stood tall among our timber.

The earliest known written reference to the giant Morels in West Virginia was made in 1823 by an expedition of game hunters. This was written in the diary of the explorer C. I. Foundem; the reference does not mention any locality, but his planned route would have taken him through what is now Doddridge and Ritchie Counties. This discovery was not publicized. In 1850, surveyor, William Thomas Flannagan claimed that he had carved his initials in the trunk of a mushroom along the South Fork of the Hughes River, but again, this received no publicity.

The first certain and widely documented sighting of a giant Morel took place in the spring of 1852. A hunter who was tracking a bear in the Appalachian mountains, entered the woods, an area now known as ‘Oxford’ in Doddridge County. The famed tracker, Oscar M. Goodfried, could not believe his eyes.  Once he arrived at a nearby logging camp, no one would believe him before seeing the enormous mushrooms themselves. The gigantic mushrooms gained instant popularity and became well known by the general public. Roads were constructed into these remote locations and a lot of harvesters got dollar signs in their eyes.

In the following years, more and larger giant morel groves were discovered, although it needs to be said that these forest were known for centuries by the local Indian tribes. They called the mushrooms Mee-Oow-Wa, an onomatopoeia that imitates the sound of the Northern Bobcat, which was believed by the Chunkee Indians to be the guardian of the forest. The tribes who lived along the Hughes River called the mushroom Moo-rell-chuk-saw.  Local tribes knew of the light, delicious flavor of the giant fungi.  Many would carve out a small piece from the cap area to serve with venison, rabbit and other meats.  Often lightly breaded in corn flour and fried in deer butter, these meals were truly a treat in early spring.

After withstanding storms and forest fires for many centuries, in 1902 a giant morel encountered a team of loggers who knew they could fell the mushroom and rush it to market in several cities on the newly established railroads. Without proper refrigeration, the giant morel wilted and dried out before it could get to market.

It took five men about twenty two days to chop the largest mushroom down. After counting the rings it appeared that this mushroom was 300 years old. The remaining stump was used as a dance floor until it too rotted away.   

It tells us a lot about the mentality of the time. The felling of the largest giant morels sounds like a sad and disrespectful waste, but is understandable in the zeitgeist of the Industrial Age.

Almost everywhere in the remote mountain valleys of West Virginia, small and large culinary mills and farms sprouted up along the railroads. While the first were felling numerous old growth morels that were many centuries old, the latter brought the harvesting of smaller mushrooms.

The giant morels yield was minimal: because of the lack of refrigeration.  Most of the huge fungi was wasted in transit.  Several were left on the side of the railways when the mushroom would become to soft and slippery to stay chained onto the flatbed cars.

In many of these places you can barely see these harvested remains after more than 100 years: due to its high demand early on and successive yields, recent satellite searches and analysis conducted by West Virginia University have shown that none of the giant Morels have survived to date.  Dr. Reginald Morchella stated “We had some idea that the devastation of the last harvests in 1920’s had pretty well wiped out any morel that stood over four feet high.  This is why we search, to find answers to these culinary questions.”

With all of the giant morels gone, it is still possible to hunt these delightful wild treats in several areas of the county today.  Although most never reach more than a few inches in height, some mycologists believe it is a survival mechanism that the mushrooms have adopted.  The massive underground root systems are believed to harbor the small morel mushrooms we know today.  

Typically they are found in moist areas, around dying or dead Elm trees, Sycamore and Ash trees, old apple orchards and maybe even in your own back yard. Ground cover varies and it is very likely that each patch of mushrooms you come across may be growing in totally different conditions. It is a common practice of mushroom hunters to hit their favorite spots year after year.


Photos courtesy of the Doddridge County Hysterical Society.

Tuesday, April 1, the County Commission will be deciding whether or not they will continue providing the citizens of their county the level of care they are currently receiving in the form of the Doddridge County Ambulance Authority. “Should this vote dissolve the AA, it would be a tragic loss of forward progress that has been made towards providing a very high quality and safe emergency medical service“ said Commissioner Shirley Williams.

In the event of a shutdown, the responsibility of care would be placed squarely on the shoulders of Doddridge EMS. 

AA Executive director, Cole Crim, took over just about a month ago following the termination of Randy Flinn. Crim tells the Independent that the AA has a staff of over 30. 14 of those staff members are paramedics and EMT-Intermediates which can provide advanced life support care. Crim says he keeps an ALS provider on staff 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. He believes that would most certainly not be the case should Doddridge EMS be responding to emergencies as they only have two paramedics total on their staff. This would leave citizens with very basic care until the crew was able to make it to a paramedic intercept coming from either Harrison or Ritchie County.

Crim tells the Independent, “Our relationship with Commission has never been better.” “In a very short time we have been able to make huge strides of progress in bettering the organization.” “We’ve been able to drastically cut our cost of operation while keeping the same standard of care, if not better. “We’ve got a good start down the path to upgrading and improving our equipment and vehicles, and also getting employee morale out of the gutters.” “Everyone is working together and it’s really starting to pay off.” 

Crim said that he would like to have as many citizens as possible at the meeting on Tuesday to show their support for the AA. He also says he has an open door policy and is more than willing to answer any questions that you may have. He just asks that you call before stopping by to schedule an appointment with him to make sure you have time dedicated to you for your questions.


We called Commissioner Robinson for comment but he was unable to return our call before deadline.


Energy Express is an award-winning, 8-week, summer reading and nutrition program for children living in West Virginia’s rural and low-income communities.  This year’s site will be held at the Doddridge County Middle School.   This AmeriCorps program is funded, in part, by grants from the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts and Volunteer West Virginia. 

Two type of AmeriCorps positions are available in Doddridge County, Mentors and Community Coordinators.  Mentors make learning fun for small groups of school-age children by creating a safe, enriching environment focused on reading, writing, art and drama.  In addition to the learning activities, mentors eat nutritious, family-style meals with children, make family visits and complete a community service project.

Community Coordinator serves directly with volunteers.  Community Coordinators raise awareness and involve parents and the community with children’s learning. Community coordinators recruit, train, and supervise volunteers to read with children and engage in other activities at the site.

Each AmeriCorps position will receive a living allowance of $1,850 which is subject to all state and federal taxes and a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award in the form of a voucher for $1,175 (available October 2014) for their 8 weeks of service during the summer.  In addition, they have an opportunity to earn college credit (arrangements made individually).

Energy Express is a program under the leadership of WVU Extension Service’s 4-H Youth Development program.  For more information about becoming a mentor or community coordinator with Energy Express, download  at the application at  or you may pick up an application at the Doddridge County Extension Office.  Deadline for applying has been extended to March 31.  For more information regarding our site, call our office at 303-873-1801.  

I had to dig deep to find this week’s letter. Really deep. It was tucked in the “Doddridge County” section of the WV Culture online archives. In that section I found a group of letters marked “Adjutant General’s papers of the Union Militia”. Within that file there were three letters, written in 1863, ‘64, and ‘65. They were not transcribed. After fumbling through the splotched swoops and inky swirls of Floyd Neely’s quill pen I emerged with a militia man’s request for more ammunition in order to combat a gang of Doddridge county horse thieves. Neely writes to his Adjutant General of the Butter Nut Tribe, a group of people living on the North Fork of the Hughes River who, Neely believes, aided and abetted the horse thieves. This week’s letter is one of intrigue and local defense. It’s also a letter never before published or even typed out.


(The letter was transcribed by Kelly Froeder and Kevin Zorn.)

“West Union, W.Va.

May 30th 1864

F.P. Pierpoint Esq.

Adjutant Gen.


Dear Sir,

I have caused a very considerable amount of gard duty performed by the militia of this County during the last three weeks since the last gang of Horse Thieves were discovered. We have garded up to this time all the important papers leading South from this County. We are using every effort in our power to capture the banditties if they make their appearance again. We have run short of Ammunitions especially Caps. We have some cartridges yet. I would like to have 500 or 1000 caps and one box of Cartridges for Austin Muskets 69 in cal. The safety of our property in this County requires consent of action on the part of its Citizens in the absence of regular soldiers. A portion of the militia South of the Railroad have been very prompt in the discharge of any duty required of them. While there are an other portion allmost uncontrollable. That portion are of the Butter Nut Tribe. These are a few persons residing on the waters of the North fork of Hughes River in Ritchie County and One in this County County near the Ritchie line all in the same section of County. Who from from recent developments I satisfied are aiders and abetters in the horse stealing business so far as harbouring and giving them information and think the County would be well rid of them. Hoping to hear from ___


I am your able soul -


Floyd Neely ___ 180 ___


W.Va. Militia”


This letter was written by a native West Virginian, Arlen Richard Baldridge, to his mother, Helen, in 1943. Baldridge trained to become a fighter pilot in WWII at an airbase in Massachusetts for several weeks. In this letter he explains to his mother a near death experience with the levity you may expect from a pilot in training. Baldridge later graduated from the training school and flew several missions overseas. In 1944 he was captured and killed after his plane crashed in Germany. A poem written to him by his father contains the following verses:

“Upon my porch I sit at night

At the end of day,

While you fly among the stars

Along the Milky Way.”

Westover Field

MassachusettsMay 5, 1943

Dear Mom,

You must forgive me for not writing but you know how busy I have been. We have enough planes now so that each of us will probably be given our personal plane and it takes time to care for them. Maybe I will be able to fly home one of these day but don't count on it because gasoline is extremely scarce.

Quite a bit has happened since I last wrote and as far as my own personal safety is concerned the closest call came today.

My engine cut out at a low altitude and I was unable to keep it running. As a result I was forced to bail out just before the plane exploded. I got out OK except for a few minor cuts on my face. I consider myself lucky because a fellow bailed out a few days ago, and is not expected to live. I certainly am glad I have developed that don't give a darn attitude or I would probably be scared to death.

Anyway, I am now eligible for the caterpiller club, made up of people who have jumped out of planes.

How are conditions at home and how is Grandma Baldridge? Both well I hope. Spring is just around the corner, and the days are lovely and warm. This is the most beautiful country I have ever seen.

I wish all of you could come up this summer and spend a week or so. You would love it. Our training is getting down to a fine point now and if the gasoline shortage keeps up it may be cut short. The shorter the better because I can't wait to get into combat. I'd better close now and get some rest. We get up at 4:30. Write soon.

Love, Dick”


It only seemed natural that this week’s letter happened to be a love letter. Even more fitting is how well it ties in with a letter from a previous publication. Several weeks ago I wrote of a man, Alfred Russel Wallace, who collaborated extensively with Charles Darwin in collecting specimens for and writing about natural selection. After Darwin published his findings, including the hypothesis of evolution, he was involved in a major confrontation with the British clergy who claimed his work was heresy. This confrontation affected Darwin greatly. In 1861, after seeing the toll that the publicity had taken on her husband, Charles’ wife Emma wrote him this love letter with the intent of calming him.


I cannot tell you the compassion I have felt for all your sufferings for these weeks past that you have had so many drawbacks. Nor the gratitude I have felt for the cheerful & affectionate looks you have given me when I know you have been miserably uncomfortable.

My heart has often been too full to speak or take any notice I am sure you know I love you well enough to believe that I mind your sufferings nearly as much as I should my own & I find the only relief to my own mind is to take it as from God’s hand, & to try to believe that all suffering & illness is meant to help us to exalt our minds & to look forward with hope to a future state. When I see your patience, deep compassion for others self command & above all gratitude for the smallest thing done to help you I cannot help longing that these precious feelings should be offered to Heaven for the sake of your daily happiness. But I find it difficult enough in my own case. I often think of the words “Thou shalt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.” It is feeling & not reasoning that drives one to prayer. I feel presumptuous in writing thus to you.

I feel in my inmost heart your admirable qualities & feelings & all I would hope is that you might direct them upwards, as well as to one who values them above every thing in the world. I shall keep this by me till I feel cheerful & comfortable again about you but it has passed through my mind often lately so I thought I would write it partly to relieve my own mind.


-Emma Darwin”


Alan Mathison Turing was a brilliant mathematician whose machine, the Turing Machine, is often considered a model for the first computer. On the 23rd of June, 1912, Turing was born in Paddington, London. His genius was immediately apparent to his first school teachers. He grasped Einstein’s theories at age 16 and even began to question Newton’s laws of motion without the knowledge that Einstein himself also doubted their validity. During World War II Turing was a leading codebreaker who developed several methods for breaking German ciphers. In 1950 he developed a chess playing computer program for a computer that hadn’t yet been built.

Also being the grandfather of artificial intelligence, Turing proposed a test to tell whether a machine could “think.” Called the Turing Test, it aimed to determine whether a computer could think based on its ability to converse with a human. If the human was unable to tell whether the  conversation partner was human or machine, the computer passed the test.

In 1952 Turing plead guilty in court to being homosexual and agreed to receive hormonal treatments instead of incarceration. In 1954 he committed suicide by ingesting cyanide. Though his work has been incredibly relevant in our daily lives, Turing’s name has recently been in the news for reasons other than his computing genius. He was recently officially pardoned by Queen Elizabeth II. Below is a letter written to a friend of his, Norman Routledge, before going to trial.


“My dear Norman,

I don't think I really do know much about jobs, except the one I had during the war, and that certainly did not involve any travelling. I think they do take on conscripts. It certainly involved a good deal of hard thinking, but whether you'd be interested I don't know. Philip Hall was in the same racket and on the whole, I should say, he didn't care for it. However I am not at present in a state in which I am able to concentrate well, for reasons explained in the next paragraph.

I've now got myself into the kind of trouble that I have always considered to be quite a possibility for me, though I have usually rated it at about 10:1 against. I shall shortly be pleading guilty to a charge of sexual offences with a young man. The story of how it all came to be found out is a long and fascinating one, which I shall have to make into a short story one day, but haven't the time to tell you now. No doubt I shall emerge from it all a different man, but quite who I've not found out.


Glad you enjoyed broadcast. Jefferson certainly was rather disappointing though. I'm afraid that the following syllogism may be used by some in the future.


Turing believes machines think

Turing lies with men

Therefore machines do not think


Yours in distress,



Samuel Dashiell Hammett was a fiction writer who became famous for his hard-boiled detective novels which include The Thin Man and The Maltese Falcon. As you may know, Humphrey Bogart brought The Maltese Falcon to life by portraying Sam Spade in the Oscar nominated film. Dashiell Hammett worked for the Pinkerton National Detective Agency before joining World War I. He did not leave the mainland, rather, he served in the Motor Ambulance Corps before contracting the Spanish flu and tuberculosis. During his recovery at Cushman Hospital in Tacoma Washington, Hammett fell in love with a nurse named Josephine Dolan. When he was stationed at a different hospital they continued their correspondence through letters. Hammett and Dolan would eventually have a two children together and marry. Although his constant sickness drove them apart literally, Hammett was advised by doctors to stay away from his second child and wife, he continued to support them even as the marriage disintegrated. During those troubling years, Hammett became the famous writer that we remember today. Below is a letter written by Hammett to Josephine after they moved the injured soldier away from her hospital.


To Josephine Dolan


9 March 1921 [Camp Kearney, California]


Dear Dear—

Your letter of the fourth got here this afternoon—so you see it does take nearly a week.

I was tickled pink to get your letter. I wasn't at all sure you'd write till some tiresome, draggy evening when you couldn't find anything else to do. But the letter came and so I feel as if I had the world by the tail—it was better than a shot of hooch. I'm still a long way from finding anyone to take part of your place. (I don't expect to find any one who could completely fill it.) All the nurses here are impossible. A few with fair ankles but, My God! the faces—like cartoons! But, seriously, I am being remarkably faithful to you. Some day I may partially forget you, and be able to enjoy another woman, but there's nothing to show that it'll be soon. If anything, I'm a damnder fool over you now than I ever was.

Mr. Brown is one fine ass, isn't he? I wonder where he got all his information. Dream Book? Or Ouija board? But I reckon it was half quesswork and half based on information furnished by Jacobs. Now you can paste the following in your hat: I may have done a lot of things that weren't according to scripture, but I love Josephine Anna Dolan—and have since about the sixth of January—more than anything in Christ's world. I know you don't expect or want me to deny Mr. Brown's news, so I won't bother you with it.

Meldner and Goodhue were kicked out a couple days ago for putting on a booze-party. I think they are at Alpine now—a san[i]torium about 30 miles out of San Diego. You can't be missing me any more than I'm missing you, Sweet. It's pretty tough on these lonesome nights. I'll have to cut this off now and fall in bed. Yes'um, I deserve all the love you can spare me! And I want a lot more than I deserve.







A Doddridge County woman has died after an accident in Ritchie County over the weekend.

Amber McClain, 37, was apparently driving on Old Route 50, near River Road, at around 6:45 Sunday night, when she lost control. Her car went across the road, down an embankment, and ended up hitting a tree.

McClain wasn't wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. She was partially ejected from the car and pronounced dead on the scene.

The Ritchie County Sheriff's Office is handling the investigation.


At about noon today a DCEMS Company 5 ambulance was traveling on Route 50 east in Ritchie County, near Ace Hardware, when the driver lost control and flipped.

2 occupants were taken for observation but the injuries don't appear to be serious.

There were no patients being transported at the time.

Check this weeks newspaper for more details.

Jessy Moore scored 25 points to lead St. Marys to an 80-68 win over Doddridge County on Monday.  Colby Brode added 17 points and Adam Bills scored 10 for the Blue Devils, who improved to 10-10.  Ashton Hinzman led the Bulldogs with 20 points, while Jesse Lackey and Drew Lett added 10 points each.  DCHS fell to 7-13.

February 18, 2014

Brandon Smith scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead Doddridge County to a 67-59 win over Tyler Consolidated on Tuesday.  David Lipscomb added 10 for the Bulldogs, who improved to 5-12.  The Knights were led by 16 points from Jace Reed, while Dylan Reynolds added 10.  TCHS fell to 4-15.


Josh Seehorn, Envirothon, and the American Discovery Trail

WAVERLY, OH -­‐ January 19, 2014 -­‐ Josh Seehorn is currently running and hiking across America from Point Reyes, California to Cape Henlopen, Delaware over 4,800 miles along the American Discovery Trail. He has partnered with North America's largest high school natural resource education competition (The North American Envirothon 501c3) in an effort to raise awareness and funds for the competition. Josh began his trip on March 21, 2013 and as of January 19, 2014; Josh is in Waverly, Ohio. He has traveled on foot approximately 4,000 miles.


Josh competed in the Envirothon program when he was in high school and went on to complete his Bachelors degree in Wildlife Biology and Masters degree in Fisheries Biology from the University of Georgia. He currently serves as the Vice-­‐Chair of the Georgia Envirothon and is the Coordinator for the 2014 North American Envirothon to be held in Athens, GA from July 20 – 24, 2014. Envirothon is an educational competition where high school students form teams of five and compete in areas of wildlife, forestry, soils, aquatics, and a current issue (sustainable agriculture). More information can be found at


In 2011, Josh thru-­‐hiked the Appalachian Trail 2,181 miles from Maine to Georgia.  This was a direct influence for his decision to attempt the American Discovery Trail (ADT), which is a new breed of national trail. It guides its users through big cities, small towns, forests, mountains, and deserts. It is 4,800 miles of continuous multi-­‐use trail, which makes it the first coast-­‐to-­‐coast non-­‐motorized trail. The ADT provides trail users the opportunity to journey into the heart of all that is uniquely American including its culture, heritage, landscape, and spirit. Memberships for the American Discovery Trail Society and information about HR3022 can be found at


Please go to to donate, see videos, photos, and stories or to learn more about Envirothon or the American Discovery Trail.


Doddridge Lady Basketball Spaghetti Dinner

A Spaghetti Dinner for Doddridge High School Girls Basketball will be Sunday, February 16 from noon until 3 p.m. at Doddridge High School.


Jackson's Mill V.F.D. Country Breakfast Buffet

On Saturday February 15th  All You Can Eat. Adults: $9.50 Kids $7.50 

Time: 7:00 AM - 11:00 AM


Glenville: Gun Show This Weekend

FEB 15-16

Gilmer County Recreation Center on Saturday and Sunday 

9:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Saturday and 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Sunday.

Admission is $4 per person.


WVU-Harrison Co. Master Gardener Training Classes

February 25 THROUGH April 29, 2014 


304-624-8650 or

The Doddridge FFA Alumni is hosting a community Sweetheart Dance. This is the time to get out and visit with your neighbors and shake off some of that cabin fever! The dance is on Saturday, February 15th at 6:00pm in the building at the Doddridge County Park. There will be refreshments, door prizes, and a 50/50 drawing. The local chapter are making the decorations and there will be a DJ. Please come out, have some fun, and see what the FFA Alumni is all about! 

Health Officials confirmed that one active case of tuberculosis has been found in Doddridge County.  Doddridge County Health Department working in conjunction with the Harrison County Health Department are working to track the illness and any contacts made by the individual.

The Doddridge County Health Department have developed a list of those who may have had contact with the individual.  Those on the list have been notified they should be tested.

Some have been tested, but the Health Departments have found no other confirmed cases. The departments are working in conjunction with the state Division of Health and Human Resources’s Division of Tuberculosis Elimination.

There are chest and diagnostic X-ray procedures set up at the department. Some people may react to testing even if they don’t have it, that is why they do the X-ray.

If they happen to come across any additional case through the current investigation, a new contact list will be created and the process will start all over again with that individuals contacts.

Understanding TB

Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain. If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal.  

How TB Spreads

TB is spread through the air from one person to another. The TB bacteria are put into the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected.

TB is more prominent in China and other eastern countries.  Care should be taken when traveling abroad.  High concentration population areas are breeding grounds for TB and should be avoided.

TB is NOT spread by:

shaking someone’s hand

sharing food or drink

touching bed linens or toilet seats

sharing toothbrushes


Latent TB Infection and TB Disease

Not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. As a result, two TB-related conditions exist: latent TB infection and TB disease.

Latent TB Infection

TB bacteria can live in the body without making you sick. This is called latent TB infection. In most people who breathe in TB bacteria and become infected, the body is able to fight the bacteria to stop them from growing. People with latent TB infection do not feel sick and do not have any symptoms. People with latent TB infection are not infectious and cannot spread TB bacteria to others. However, if TB bacteria become active in the body and multiply, the person will go from having latent TB infection to being sick with TB disease.

TB Disease

TB bacteria become active if the immune system can’t stop them from growing. When TB bacteria are active (multiplying in your body), this is called TB disease. People with TB disease are sick. They may also be able to spread the bacteria to people they spend time with every day.

Many people who have latent TB infection never develop TB disease. Some people develop TB disease soon after becoming infected (within weeks) before their immune system can fight the TB bacteria. Other people may get sick years later when their immune system becomes weak for another reason.

For people whose immune systems are weak, especially those with HIV infection, the risk of developing TB disease is much higher than for people with normal immune systems.

Symptoms of TB disease include:

a bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer

pain in the chest

coughing up blood or sputum

weakness or fatigue

weight loss

no appetite



sweating at night

Testing for TB Infection

There are two kinds of tests that are used to detect TB bacteria in the body: the TB skin test (TST) and TB blood tests. These tests can be given by a health care provider or local health department. If you have a positive reaction to either of the tests, you will be given other tests to see if you have latent TB infection or TB disease.

Treatment for Latent TB Infection

If you have latent TB infection but not TB disease, your health care provider may want you be treated to keep you from developing TB disease. Treatment of latent TB infection reduces the risk that TB infection will progress to TB disease. Treatment of latent TB infection is essential to controlling and eliminating TB in the United States. The decision about taking treatment for latent TB infection will be based on your chances of developing TB disease.

Treatment for TB Disease

TB disease can be treated by taking several drugs, usually for 6 to 9 months. It is very important to finish the medicine, and take the drugs exactly as prescribed. If you stop taking the drugs too soon, you can become sick again. If you do not take the drugs correctly, the germs that are still alive may become resistant to those drugs. TB that is resistant to drugs is harder and more expensive to treat.

This case has come about during a recurrent tuberculin skin test shortage. Health departments are required to keep a stockpile of these tests for emergency situations such as this one.

Each state must have a TB control office in case of suspected infections, according to the Center for Disease Control.  Our state TB Control Office is: West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources, TB Control Program, Room 125, 350 Capitol Street, Charleston, WV 25301-1417.  They can be reached at 304-558-3669.  If you think you have been in contact with someone who has TB, contact you local Health Department or primary physician first.

The Doddridge County Health Department can be reached at 873-1531.

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


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.


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,



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


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,


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

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.


“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.



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.


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


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



Friday, January 10, 2014 12:00 AM



In a move to address safety concerns along Old Route 50 and WV Route 50, the Town of West Union is proposing annexation as a preventative measure to the increase in traffic to the area.   Several drilling companies have indicated that they will be quadrupling the amount of rigs and equipment coming through West Union and along the indicated corridors.  The town is looking at taking preventative measures when it comes to the size and weight of the vehicles.  Waterlines run all along the indicated routes and the town expressed concern over the possibility of crushing pipes.  These waterlines are older and they have shown problems in the past with heavy equipment and traffic issues.

Without the annexation, the Town of West Union cannot legally send a police officer to assist with any incidents that might arise at the three schools located along WV Route 50.  Annexation would permit an officer to respond or assist should the Sheriff’s department be tied up or need a back-up to a call at these locations.

Rumors have been generated that this is strictly for revenue generation by ticketing along the corridors indicated on the map.  Town officials have denied these rumors and are citing safety concerns as the primary reason for this move.

Postings are scheduled for the roadways this week.  The Public Hearing is scheduled for 9am, January 7, 2014 in the Commissioners Meeting Room at the Courthouse.  The public is encouraged to attend.

The recent special election held on December 7th was for the 2014-2019 School Levy.  The levy passed with a 74% approval margin.  This was NOT a new tax, only a continuation of a levy started in 1949.  What does that mean to our schools and the student it serves?  The school levy raises much needed revenue for important programs and services. These programs and services would not be possible with the amount of monies available through the state school funding formula. The levy provides: instructional materials, after school programs, facility maintenance, employee benefits, technology equipment and infrastructure not funded by the state.  “We can continue with some very important programs.” Superintendent Rick Coffman indicated in an interview.

“Arts and Drama, Music and Band as well as support for 4-H Programs can continue unabated.  So many programs that work within our school system depend on the financial support of taxpayers.  If these programs went away tomorrow, it would leave a huge gap in the county.” 

Mr. Coffman went on to say “Our School Levy passing with 74 percent of the vote was a very impressive show of support from the citizens of Doddridge County.”  “The levy results prove that education is still a top priority for our people and it allows us to continue some very important school programs in our county for the next 5 years.”

“Our School Levy has been continually approved since 1949 and we are very happy to see this tradition continue. The overall success of our students and school system rely heavily on money generated through this levy, so again...Thank You!”

Election results as follows: Early Voting 126 - 21, BOE 49-11, Lions Club 23-12, Smith 11-11, Buckeye 24-10, Bancs 30-26, Casscara 24-10, Oxford 16-11, McClelland 34-10, Smithburg 31-4, Big Isaac 36-6, Flint 35-9, Greenwood  55 - 26.

Totals show 504 FOR the Levy, 173 AGAINST the Levy.  the Levy officially passed with 74% of votes.  The next levy election will not be until 2019.

After a short nomination procedure at the “emergency” County Commissioners Meeting Wednesday, Commissioner Ralph Sandora appointed Mr. Robert “Bob” Beamer to the DCAA board of directors.  The appointment comes at a crucial time as the Commissioners eye the takeover of the DCAA by the DCEMS, Inc.  If anyone in the county had doubts on what the commissioners feelings are on the  called merger, that was all put to rest at this meeting.  

Ms. Darlene Taylor-Morgan broke the story of the “take-over” in an article from the Exponent-Telegram dated November 25, 2013.  This was the first public disclosure of the take-over and commissioners Sandora and Robinson vehemently denied that any decision had been made.  

Mr. Robinson had requested that Mr. Rick Rock consult the county commission with the problem of having two agencies duplicating efforts in a cost cutting measure.  Mr. Robinson denied having made up his mind regarding what to do about this “merger”, but during this meeting he made it very clear  by stating - 

“It’s no secret where Butch stands...I’ve stated where I stand many, many times and I haven’t wavered from that so the election has backed my assertion that public opinion is going to be in accordance with what we feel.  You’re more than welcome to your opinion...everybody is.  But my feeling is public opinion has already spoken.”  

Butch Sandora has stated several times that he wants the DCAA gone. Mr. Sandora was against the formation of the DCAA when it was first proposed while serving with Commissioners Jerry Evans and Shirley Williams in response to the wrongful death lawsuit brought against the DCEMS, Inc. by the Norris Family.  He has made no secret to this fact stating that he requested “zero funding for the DCAA.”  To date the DCEMS, Inc. has not complied fully to the judges ruling.

Bob Beamer, husband of Tammy Beamer and brother-in-law to Pat Heaster, was voted onto the board of directors.  Williams voted Nay, Robinson Aye, with a tie vote Sandora breaks the tie with Aye.  Motion carried.  Beamer appointed.

When questioned about their choice  Mr. Sandora said “no public comment”  Chris Arnold then asked if this was an open meeting.  Sandora “Yup.  There is no public comment on the agenda.”

Sandora left it up to Greg and Shirley to allow Chris Arnold to speak.

There were no objections and Mrs. Arnold said “My problem with that is that they are definitely against the Ambulance Authority. Everything that has been in the paper for years.  And why would you put somebody on the DCAA board that is definitely anti-ambulance authority? “ 

Tammy Beamer: May I answer that question?

Ralph Sandora: Wait a minute.

Tammy Beamer: You know people can live in the same household, people can sleep together and be family, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you share the exact same thought process.

Ralph Sandora: OK

Chris Arnold: Are you saying that he is pro DCAA?

Tammy Beamer: I’m not saying anything.  I don’t speak for him.  I speak for me and my opinion is my opinion only.  And if you speak to any of my family members, they will tell you that.

Chris Arnold: I still think that it is just not fair. We have enough to deal with now, and to put somebody on there who’s wife is definitely against the Ambulance Authority...It  just doesn’t make sense.

Shirley Williams: I think it’s pretty obvious.

Chris Arnold: It’s not right.

Ralph Sandora to Greg Robinson: Got anything to say?

Greg Robinson: I don’t have anything to say.

Ralph Sandora: Me either.

Shirley Williams: I think it’s pretty obvious... what is the point?

Ralph Sandora: I’ll say one thing...You’ve made up your mind what he is thinking about the AA, and she’s made her mind up about what he’s can you say what the man is thinking?

Deb Montoya: Can I say something?

Ralph Sandora: you can say anything you want....

Deb Montoya: I’m certainly surprised given the climate of what’s happening and that the commission would think that Tammy’s husband would be a good choice?  That surprises me... of all the people in the county you could not find somebody that didn’t have anything to do with anybody who has such volatile and vehement and strong opinions?  And surely there could have been a better choice.

Greg Robinson: Personally I’ve never heard Bob voice an opinion one way or another.

Ralph Sandora: I’ve never heard an opinion from him.

Deb Montoya:  Surely you could see that that nomination wasn’t in the wisest of decisions that you could make.  Surely you could see where there might be some problems with that decision.

Ralph Sandora: What kind of problem?

Deb Montoya: The problem with that nomination would be ridiculous... crazy... Why would you choose that person.  Especially if you want public opinion behind you.

Ralph Sandora: Well, everybody is entitled to their opinion.

Deb Montoya: Public opinion is probably going to be upset with that choice given that with his relationship to Tammy...Why not choose someone who doesn’t have that baggage with them?  

Greg Robinson: Let me make a comment here... You’re saying public actuality you really have nothing to back that up...Just a moment...I’m not finished.  Look at the last two elections.  What has public opinion said in the election process?

Deb Montoya: I don’t know... What have they said in the election process?

Greg pointed to Ralph and himself indicating that the public voted them in as opposition to the creation of the DCAA.

Greg Robinson: It’s no secret where Butch stands...I’ve stated where I stand many, many times and I haven’t wavered from that so the election has backed my assertion that public opinion is going to be in accordance with what we feel.  You’re more than welcome to your opinion...everybody is.  But my feeling is public opinion has already spoken.

Shirley Williams: I’m wondering why I was not asked to give a persons name to be on the board?

Greg Robinson: You knew what was going to be on the agenda.

Shirley Williams: I was not considered...

Greg Robinson: You were given the same opportunity. 

Ralph Sandora & Greg Robinson: We didn’t meet (to discuss the nomination)

Deb Montoya: I thought you’d be bending over backwards to find somebody who was so clearly unbiased?  This seems crazy. Why did you set yourself up for such negative opinion?  I’m upset and I know everybody else is too.  I don’t understand...Why you would appoint someone so controversial...why would you do that?  

Ralph Sandora: Everybody finished?  

The meeting was then adjourned.

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In the letter we examined last week General Robert E. Lee mentions that “The enemy is quiet after his conquest of Port Royal.” He was referring to Port Royal Harbor in South Carolina where Union troops had liberated ten-thousand slaves from Confederate control. The harbor town was abandoned; only overgrown cotton fields, run down plantations, and ten-thousand recently freed black men, women, and children remained. Leaders from several private charity organizations traveled from the North to Port Royal and attempted something peculiar. The town became home to the “Port Royal Experiment” where the charity workers attempted to coax the recently freed men and women to go back to work growing and picking cotton on the plantations they had so recently been liberated from, only now they were to be paid for their work.

The results were mixed. The experiment ran from 1861 to 1865 when it was officially shut down by President Andrew Johnson. In that four year span there were fights, droughts leading to poor crop yields, and countless arguments waged by the former slaves for more pay. Although many at the time believed the experiment was a failure, certain letters collected from the charity workers suggest the opposite. For example, a letter written by one of the charity workers with the initials  W. C. G. describes a very promising event late in the course of the “experiment.” In 1864 he writes, 

“May 19. We had a queer scene here on Tuesday. It is probably the first time that the slaves—contrabands—freedmen—have asserted themselves our fellow-countrymen by claiming the right of voting. A meeting was called in Beaufort to elect delegates to the Baltimore convention. It was assumed that we could stand for the sovereign state of South Carolina, and so we sent her full complement of sixteen representatives, and furnished each with an alternate. There are hardly thirty-two decent men in the Department, it is commonly believed. A large half of the meeting consisted of blacks, and four black delegates were chosen, Robert Small among them; the others I believe were sergeants in the South Carolina regiment. At one time there was considerable excitement, and white paired off against black,—but on the whole both colors behaved very well.

The whole affair will be laughed at by the North, and it is hardly probable that the delegates will be received. I hope they will.

W. C. G.”

None of the chosen delegates were received by the North and the “Port Royal Experiment” was ended by Andrew Johnson who returned the land to the previous white owners in 1865. Not until 1870, six years after the events chronicled by W. C. G., the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified and black men were officially provided the right to vote.

(Letters provided by Project Gutenberg)


When we hear familiar words such as: settlers, frontiersman, wagons, and natives, images of the American West come to mind. Beautiful landscapes with red rock or rolling plains will seem appropriate to associate with those words. What may not come to mind is the country of Canada. But much like our American West, Canada was also explored and inhabited by native tribes and, eventually, European explorers. The wife of an emigrant British officer, Catharine Parr Traill was one of these first European explorers. She chronicled her harrowing travel from the port of Greenock, Scotland to the large Canadian island of Newfoundland and from there to the established town of Peterborough. The entire trip and settlement lasted from July 18, 1832 to May 1, 1833. Her letters go into great detail about the various meetings with natives and methods of survival required to successfully settle the wild Canadian backwoods. Several events that exemplify Catharine Traill’s hardships include the loss of a yoke of cattle, learning to duck hunt, surviving a woods hurricane, dealing with the unbelievable number of insects, and, of course, the process of designing and building of a log home to house her family. She describes her journey with great detail and enthusiasm; she’s constantly enamored by the new methods of collecting food or interesting species of animal that lives in the forest. In this letter she encounters a furry creature that many of us are all too familiar with,


“THIS has been a busy spring with us. First, sugar-making on a larger scale than our first attempt was, and since that we had workmen making considerable addition to our house; we have built a large and convenient kitchen, taking the former one for a bedroom; the root-house and dairy are nearly completed. We have a well of excellent water close beside the door, and a fine frame-barn was finished this week, which includes a good granary and stable, with a place for my poultry, in which I take great delight.


Besides a fine brood of fowls, the produce of two hens and a cock, or rooster, as the Yankees term that bird, I have some ducks, and am to have turkeys and geese this summer. I lost several of my best fowls, not by the hawk but a horrid beast of the same nature as our polecat, called here a scunck; it is far more destructive in its nature than either fox or the hawk, for he comes like a thief in the night and invades the perch, leaving headless mementos of his barbarity and blood-thirsty propensities…”


This, being her final letter in the series, provides us with a glimpse of her completely settled and enjoyable farm life. She ends the letter to one of her friends with a description of the fantastic light show that is the Aurora Borealis,


“Coming home one night last Christmas from the house of a friend, I was struck by a splendid pillar of pale greenish light in the west: it rose to some height above the dark line of pines that crowned the opposite shores of the Otanabee, and illumined the heavens on either side with a chaste pure light, such as the moon gives in her rise and setting; it was not quite pyramidical, though much broader at the base than at its highest point; it gradually faded, till a faint white glimmering light alone marked where its place had been, and even that disappeared after some half-hour's time. It was so fair and lovely a vision I was grieved when it vanished into thin air, and could have cheated fancy into the belief that it was the robe of some bright visitor from another and a better world;—imagination apart, could it be a phosphoric exhalation from some of our many swamps or inland lakes, or was it at all connected with the aurora that is so frequently seen in our skies?


I must now close this epistle; I have many letters to prepare for friends, to whom I can only write when I have the opportunity of free conveyance, the inland postage being very high; and you must not only pay for all you receive but all you send to and from New York.


Adieu, my kindest and best of friends.


Douro, May 1st, 1833.”


(Transcribed by Project Gutenberg)

On the eleventh of October in the year 1492 after two months in the high seas, Christopher Columbus and his men anchored their ships off the coast of what they called the Lucayos Islands (known to us as the Bahamas). The men were relieved to see land after experiencing serious bouts of homesickness which caused many to threaten to return home. Columbus was relieved as well, this was his first journey and five weeks earlier he began with a rocky start. The rudder on his ship, the Pinta, broke and the ship’s owners were suspected of sabotage. The crew suspected them because their ship had been pressed into service against their will. But, after lashing the rudder together, the men were able to complete their journey and arrive at what Columbus thought, was their intended destination. The following letter contains the first thoughts of Columbus as his ship sat, anchored on the coast of a strange island. He speaks about the first meetings with the islanders.

"So that they may feel great friendship for us, and because I knew that they were a people who would be better delivered and converted to our Holy Faith by love than by force, I gave to some of them red caps and glass bells which they put round their necks, and many other things of little value, in which they took much pleasure, and they remained so friendly to us that it was wonderful.

"Afterwards they came swimming to the ship's boats where we were. And they brought us parrots and cotton-thread in skeins, and javelins and many other things. And they bartered them with us for other things, which we gave them, such as little glass beads and little bells. In short, they took everything, and gave of what they had with good will. But it seemed to me that they were a people very destitute of everything.

"They all went as naked as their mothers bore them, and the women as well, although I only saw one who was really young. And all the men I saw were young, for I saw none more than thirty years of age; very well made, with very handsome persons, and very good faces; their hair thick like the hairs of horses' tails, and cut short. They bring their hair above their eyebrows, except a little behind, which they wear long, and never cut. Some of them paint themselves blackish (and they are of the color of the inhabitants of the Canaries, neither black nor white), and some paint themselves white, and some red, and some with whatever they can get. And some of them paint their faces, and some all their bodies, and some only the eyes, and some only the nose.

"They do not bear arms nor do they know them, for I showed them swords and they took them by the edge, and they cut themselves through ignorance. They have no iron at all; their javelins are rods without iron, and some of them have a fish's tooth at the end, and some of them other things. They are all of good stature, and good graceful appearance, well made. I saw some who had scars of wounds in their bodies, and I made signs to them (to ask) what that was, and they showed me how people came there from other islands which lay around, and tried to take them captive and they defended themselves. And I believed, and I (still) believe, that they came there from the mainland to take them for captives.

"They would be good servants, and of good disposition, for I see that they repeat very quickly everything which is said to them. And I believe that they could easily be made Christians, for it seems to me that they have no belief. I, if it please our Lord, will take six of them to your Highnesses at the time of my departure, so that they may learn to talk. No wild creature of any sort have I seen, except parrots, in this island."


What name is more American than Michel-Guillaume-Jean de Crevecoeur? I guess the answer depends on your definition of an American sounding name but I am willing to bet that this man’s name is not what would first come to mind. And, indeed, de Crevecoeur was not born in America but in Caen, France in 1735. After travelling to England, de Crevecoeur made the journey to the New World at the age of nineteen. He immediately joined up and served in the French and Indian War and upon the end of that war, he found himself with a plot of land and a small home. Immediately he began to write about the spirit that enveloped the new land known as America. With great eloquence he describes the beats of hummingbirds’ wings, the festivities of the people of Nantucket, and even the battle between two snakes. Any reader would be hard-pressed to find a better collection of writings that expresses the American spirit in what must have been the most free and optimistic time in our history.


In this annotated section, I have selected several pieces of his writing that reveal a bit of his excitement to live in the new continent. This is the third of his letters and its title is “What is an American?”


“I wish I could be acquainted with the feelings and thoughts which must agitate the heart and present themselves to the mind of an enlightened Englishman, when he first lands on this continent… He is arrived on a new continent; a modern society offers itself to his contemplation, different from what he had hitherto seen. It is not composed, as in Europe, of great lords who possess everything, and of a herd of people who have nothing. Here are no aristocratical families, no courts, no kings, no bishops, no ecclesiastical dominion, no invisible power giving to a few a very visible one; no great manufacturers employing thousands, no great refinements of luxury. The rich and the poor are not so far removed from each other as they are in Europe. Some few towns excepted, we are all tillers of the earth, from Nova Scotia to West Florida. [We are] united by the silken bands of mild government, all respecting the laws, without dreading their power, because they are equitable. We are all animated with the spirit of an industry which is unfettered and unrestrained, because each person works for himself… We have no princes, for whom we toil, starve, and bleed: we are the most perfect society now existing in the world. Here man is free as he ought to be; nor is this pleasing equality so transitory as many others are… Who can tell how far it extends? Who can tell the millions of men whom it will feed and contain? for no European foot has as yet travelled half the extent of this mighty continent!”

(As a reminder, all of the featured letters are available for free to download and read at

In what will hopefully become an interesting and enlightening series, I will be showcasing letters of correspondence written by an assortment of characters from various periods in history. The letters will be edited and context will be provided by myself in order to give you, the reader, a sense of the setting and events that surround each piece of correspondence. What is most fascinating about this method of reading history is that the people are real, not only that they physically existed but that they lived like you and I. They faced similar problems and had familiar aspirations. In writing these private letters our ancestors have provided for us a first-hand account of the events that shaped our world.


The first is a letter written in 1776 by Thomas Jefferson. The Revolutionary War had just begun and British prisoners who had surrendered at the battle of Saratoga were being held in Albermarle, Virginia not far from Jefferson’s estate in Monticello. After only staying a few months, the governor of Virginia, Patrick Henry, urged the prisoners to be moved to some other part of the country because he felt their use of provisions would be better suited for his own forces. Writing about the well-being of British prisoners, Thomas Jefferson petitioned:


“Their health is also of importance. I would not endeavor to show that their lives are valuable to us, because it would suppose a possibility that humanity was kicked out of doors in America, and interest only attended to.... But is an enemy so execrable, that, though in captivity, his wishes and comforts are to be disregarded and even crossed? I think not. It is for the benefit of mankind to mitigate the horrors of war as much as possible. The practice, therefore, of modern nations, of treating captive enemies with politeness and generosity, is not only delightful in contemplation, but really interesting to all the world—friends, foes, and neutrals.”

Jefferson was successful in his petition and the troops were accommodated. One grateful British officer wrote to Jefferson, thanking him for maintaining their well-being. Jefferson replied with this, 

“The great cause which divides our countries is not to be decided by individual animosities. The harmony of private societies can not weaken national efforts. To contribute by neighborly intercourse and attention to make others happy, is the shortest and surest way of being happy ourselves. As these sentiments seem to have directed your conduct, we should be as unwise as illiberal, were we not to preserve the same temper of mind.”

These two entries exemplify Jefferson’s strong moral character. They reveal that he is a man who understands that the war being fought was a conflict of ideas, not individual animosities. And while the men he petitioned for had likely killed Jefferson’s fellow Americans, he understood that their humane treatment would be a powerful message not only to the American citizenry but to the world - a representation of America’s humanity in the midst of war.

-Kevin Zorn

(Letters supplied by the open source book, The Domestic Life of Thomas Jefferson compiled by Sarah N. Randolph)


County Commissioners held the scheduled meeting at 7pm on Wednesday to gather the two boards of the Ambulance Authority and the Emergency Squad to begin talks that they hope will lead to a merging of the two entities.  Harrison County EMS Executive Director Rick Rock was introduced and began by explaining why he wanted to help our county resolve this long standing problem.  Mr. Rock has family in Doddridge County and through those connections knows of the troubled past with ambulatory services in the county.  Mr. Rock was accompanied by Mr. Stephen McIntire, Assistant Chief of the Harrison County EMS.  Mr. McIntire was on hand as his role in the Harrison EMS is to ensure compliances with all federal regulations regarding the Drug Enforcement Agency rulings, it was explained that he complements Mr. Rock who is a CPA and handles the majority of the financial aspects of EMS and patient care.

County Commissioners have arranged a meeting between the two emergency medical service providers in Doddridge County in hopes of straddling a divide that has exsisted since 2008.  Commissioner Greg Robinson asked both parties to talk at a public meeting to be held at the WVU Extension Office Conference Room (the Old Saint Patricks Center) on Wednesday, September 25th at 7pm.  Both seemed open to the idea of blending the two entities to better serve the community.

At Tuesdays county commissioner meeting, several questions were asked regarding the proposed merger.  Some technical in nature regarding state issues certificates of need, others about having the books opened on both parties for review and questions on the standards to be set by the new merged board of directors.  

Not much can be said regarding the proposed merge.  Harrison County EMS Director Rick Rock has spoken before the commission and privately to the county commissioners.  Mr. Rock was retained to provide consulting services as the county moves toward the merge.  Mr. Rock stated that no fee would be charged for his services in this matter.

Commissioner Robinson cited the past attempts to consolidate services as missing one factor, asking everyone to sit down and talk.

Mr. Rock will make his presentation to the two boards and they will discuss the proposition placed on the table.    Mr. Robinson noted that this is not going to happen overnight and there will need to be compromise on both sides for this to work.  Understanding that neither party will get everything they want should be a big step toward finding common ground.

Commissioner Williams noted during the meeting that “I worry about the Ambulance Authority being destroyed.”  The task of creating an ambulance authority fell on previous commissioners shoulders and her concern comes from all of the hard work and effort put in by previous commission.  In an interview she said “I would hate to see that all destroyed.  A lot of people worked very hard to fix the problems we faced.”  

The public is encouraged to attend this meeting to ask questions and hopefully eleviate concerns they might see in the merge.

It’s not too late to start your fall garden. It’s always sad seeing the end of a summer garden. But have no fear! Fall gardening is upon us! Here are some good fall plants to keep your garden alive.

Spinach is a great fall garden plant. The shorter days and cool weather are better for spinach than spring. Plus, some spinach varieties can last well into winter, surviving in cold down to 20 degrees. Spinach likes fertile soil, so if your putting some in a former growing spot, make sure the soil is not totally tapped of nutrients. It takes about 45 to 50 days until mature meaning you’ll have fresh greens just in time for winter.  

Many varieties of lettuce are great for the colder season. Lettuce is a cool season crop, meaning it too thrives in fall. Lots of leaf lettuces are ready for harvest after about 40 to 50 days. They actually taste better if you harvest after the temperature drops as well! Butterhead varieties form in little rosettes with cup shaped leaves. They can take a little longer than the leaf varieties, about 55 to 70 days.  Crisphead lettuce, like Iceberg, should only be grown in fall. They grow into heads, leaves layer on top one another forming a ball. They take the longest at a rate of 80 to 100 day until fully mature. 

Radishes are one of the most popular fall veggies. They are quick and easy to grow and require little feedings. In fertile and well drained soil, seed your radishes evenly so you won’t have to thin them later.  They are quick to mature and can be harvested as soon as they are of edible size. The smaller varieties can take around 25 day to mature, but they don’t keep as well as some larger radishes. Some larger varieties can take up to 50 or 60 days to mature, but they keep better than smaller ones. 

Cauliflower is another favorite fall crop. It can be kind of trick to grow however. Consistent watering and rich soil are the basics, but cauliflower can be affected by temperature fluctuations. This can cause the heads to develop small and undersized.  A common recommendation is to tie the leaves over the heads when they reach about 2 or 3 inches across. This prevents the heads from turning green, bitter and nasty. 

Fall plantings can be hit or miss. One unexpected frost can wipe out a lot if not all of your hard work in a single day. Cold frames and plastic coverings can prevent losses. Now is the time to not only consider your fall plants, but your frost defenses as well.

 – Happy Planting!


Have you ever wondered if your land is a prime location for a Marcellus Well site?  How close to your home or land will a site be located?  Why not check for yourself if any of these permits that have been issued will effect your residence.

This site includes several layers of information and data that you may find interesting.  It not only provides new permitting information but includes Existing Horizontal Well Permits, Marcellus Wells, All Other Formations, Oil and Gas Permits by Permit Type, Other Types of Permits, Horizontal Wells, Horizontal 6A Well, Coal-bed Methane (all types), New Wells, Drilling deeper existing wells, Fracturing (all types), Re-Drill/Re-Work, Plugging Wells (all types), Horizontal laterals (simplified) and Other Oil and Gas Wells. 

Map indicates current Marcellus Permits and existing Marcellus & Horizontal Wells

Layers and data can be clicked off and on through the menu located on the top right portion of the site.  You can view the map as a Bing street map, a Bing aerial map, a topographical map or a simple hill- shade view.  These can help you visually in locating your property or seeing where and how close to creeks and streams.

Other options include aerial views from satellite photos from 1996, 2003, 2007, 2009 and 2011.  By default the view selected is the most current satellite picture.  Several other options views by permit type, by well status, well permits received in the past 60 days and other oil and gas wells.  You can view horizontal wells and laterals although the laterals will show up as a simplified drawing.

One of the most interesting views shows a colorized layer simulating the density of the Marcellus Shale Gas layer.  You will see the increase in drilling density around these “pockets” of shale gas.  Doddridge county sets on top of a very large pocket that almost encompasses the entire county.

The map to the left shows current Marcellus permits and Marcellus Wells with horizontal drilling (yellow lines).  The circular overlay indicated a high density Marcellus gas and oil pocket.  For a more accurate density map, visit the WVDEP website

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) makes Oil and gas permit information and production data available to the general public through their internet site free of charge.  This service is available at: 

These oil and gas related data are originated from the information reported to the Office of Oil and Gas at WVDEP by West Virginia oil and gas operators. This site is for general location and not to be used for any legal or engineering purposes.  The WVDEP does not guarantee accuracy, precision, or completeness.


When the Postal Service announced its plans to close several large mail sorting facilities across the country in a cost savings measure, few residents understood the impact of these closings. 

Right here in West Union, postal customers are starting to see their mail service change.  Mail trucks that once went to the sorting facility in Clarksburg are now taking mail all the way down to Charlestons sorting facility.  This is causing at least a full day delay in service and in some instances two days or more.  Periodical subscribers will get their news a little later than usual.  Some customers in out-of-county zip codes will see a delay in receiving newspapers and magazines

Add to that the Postal Reform Act of 2013 and you have a perfect storm brewing of unhappy customers and mail carriers.  But don’t take this out on your local carrier, this is a directive from Washington DC and the Federal Government.

Understanding the Reform Bill

Regular mail delivery could be cut to five days a week - or less - and door-to-door delivery would be studied under provisions of the U.S. Senate’s latest attempt at Postal Service reform. 

The Postal Reform Act of 2013, co-sponsored by Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Tom Carper, D-Del., has already drawn fire from postal employees who fear it will further degrade service standards and make the Postal Service less competitive by eliminating jobs and closing sorting stations. 

“It’s all about customer service,” said one postal employee “If we’re not taking care of their needs, it isn’t going to work.” 

Senator Coburn, ranking member of the Senate committee that oversees the Postal Service, said the bill, introduced this month, is likely to change substantially. 

“This proposal is a rough draft of an agreement, subject to change, that I hope will move us closer to a solution that will protect taxpayers and ensure the Postal Service can remain economically viable while providing vital services for the American people,” Coburn said in a written statement. 

Carper, chairman of the committee in charge of the Postal Service, sounded a similar note. 

“The bill that Dr. Coburn and I introduced ... presents a comprehensive and bipartisan solution to the Postal Service’s financial challenges,” Carper said. “This bill isn’t perfect and will certainly change as Dr. Coburn and I hear from colleagues and stakeholders, including postal employees and customers. But the time to act is now.” 

The national presidents of the four postal worker unions have asked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, to back a competing bill sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., but there is some optimism that the Carper-Coburn bill will move Congress closer to a resolution of the Postal Service’s deteriorating financial situation. 

The Postal Service lost $15 billion in 2012 and is expected to lose $6 billion this year, though postal unions point out that more than half of those deficits were because of pension funding requirements far in excess of what is needed to keep the system financially sound. 

Among the bill’s other provisions: 

  • Delivery would be allowed on five or fewer days per week no earlier than one year after enactment; package delivery would continue six days a week for at least two years, with seven-day-a-week package delivery where it is financially advantageous to USPS.
  • New addresses would not receive door-to-door service, and the Postal Service would be required to study the feasibility of alternate delivery for existing addresses. In towns and cities, this most likely would take the form of cluster boxes similar to those in apartment complexes.
  • Shipping of wine, beer and distilled spirits would be allowed.
  • Employee and spousal benefits would be reduced.
  • A three-year moratorium would be put on payments to over-funded pension plans.
  • Current first-class and periodical delivery standards would be lifted after two years.
  • A two-year moratorium would be placed on closing or consolidating mail-processing centers.
  • Current ban on new “non-postal” products and services would be lifted.

This past week the weather has given us a preview of beautiful, mild autumn days. But with the arrival of fall, comes frost. One of the best ways to protect your less than winter hardy plants is a cold frame. There are many ways to construct cold frames, wether permanent or mobile. Now is the time to start thinking where and what type of frame to build, so you aren’t scrambling around frost time. 

First lets figure out what a cold frame is. A cold frame is a protective structure using glass or plastic to protect plants from frosts or snow. Normally a cold frame sits upon the ground, rising just a few feet from above the surface. Think of it like a little greenhouse, but all your plants are in the ground instead of in pots. The glass or plastic allows the sun to reach the plants, while capturing heat, preventing your plants from freezing. They can be movable structures, placed over whatever beds need it, or permanent establishments in your landscape. Either way, the chances of you having fresh salad green on the Thanksgiving table without a cold frame are pretty slim. 

Lets talk about some construction ideas for your cold frame. We’ll start at the top. Many people use old windows as the top covering for their cold frames. The only concerns with this material are lead paint and the glass breaking. Make sure if you use windows to triple check the paint on them, especially if they come from older houses. Also, if we were to have a massive snow, the weight of said snow could possibly break the glass. As far as snow goes, you’ll have to sweep it off the top of the cold frame so the plants can still get light. A lot of gardeners use plexiglass, the same stuff used for greenhouse walls. It’s more costly than other plastics but it doesn’t yellow in prolonged sun and is pretty durable. Really any hard see through material can be used as a topper. Many people use hinges for windows and heavy plastic, to help keep the top in place while propping it open for ventilation. Others are cool with just laying the plastic over the walls and being able to completely remove the top. Whatever you prefer you can’t really go wrong. It just takes some experimenting to get what works best for you. But hey, that’s kinda what gardening is about.

Now let’s take a look at the walls. Just about the easiest, cheapest walls for a cold frame are hay bales. There are many benefits to using straw bales. First is the biodegradability. I just love how you can use the hay as mulch after you’re done with the cold frame. Second is movability. Hay bales are pretty lightweight compared to other building materials. Moving them around to find the right spot for your cold frame is super easy with hay bales. Third, they provide pretty good insulation, while allowing adequate breathability. You don’t want to smother your plants. Good ventilation is crucial. Cinderblocks are the next step up in durability, permanentness, and cost. Cinderblocks, although more costly than hay bales, will last a lot longer. They are movable but pretty heavy. They don’t cost an arm and a leg, and most people have a few lying around anyways. Just make sure if you are using cinderblock to put the holes facing upwards so the cold air doesn’t get through. An even more permenant solution is a cold frame out of wood. Avoid using pressure treated or chemically treated woods. These are toxic and will not help you out in any way. Cedar and cyprus are naturally rot resistant. This can be more costly but look a lot nicer than cinderblocks. 

There are some aspects of cold frames that you should keep in mind. When building your walls pay attention to the angle at which your top will sit. Angling your top about 25 to 30 percent from front to back is a good idea. This prevent water or snow from sitting on top of the frame. If possible have your angled side facing the south. If your putting it in a sunny spot, however, it should be fine regardless of what direction it’s facing. Ventilation is another factor when using a cold frame. If It gets too hot and muggy under your frame your plants could rot and die. The most basic is a sturdy stick to prop up the top. You can experiment with different ways to prop the top open for optimal ventilation. Another aspect of a cold frame is the temperature. It’s a good idea to have a maximum and minimum thermometer placed along an inside wall. A temperature above 90 degrees F can damage seedlings and cook your plants.  The minimum temperature will let you know if you need more insulation or mulch. 

You can always purchase a cold frame, but you might now find exactly the size or price range you desire. They are a great way to extend your growing season and a good weekend project. They can be extensively planned or thrown together from stuff you have lying around. One things for sure though, you won’t regret trying on out!                                            – Happy Planting!


With fall just around the corner, many gardeners are concerned about what’s going on outside. This means many houseplants are left to fend for themselves. However, now is a great time to think about repotting your houseplants. 

There are a few ways to tell if your houseplants need some attention. Many houseplants become root bound before you realize. This happens when the plant grows too big for its container and the roots get all matted and tangled. Some plants like being slightly root bound though, like a Peace Lily, so check before you replant. If your plant is looking particularly droopy or stops growing all together, it’s time to repot. If you’ve had a plant in the same container for a long time, chances are the soil needs changing. Old potting soil literally does nothing for plants because the nutrients are all tapped out. Remember, if you move a houseplant into a larger pot than it was in before, it will concentrate on root growth rather than growing big full leaves and stems. Just because the plant doesn’t immediately grow big and full to fill the pot, doesn’t mean it’s not growing somewhere.

So what is the best way to go about repotting your plant? Well, first you should water your plant a couple hours in advance. This will keep the plant happy during the big move. Plus its a lot easier to replant a lively plant than one that’s all droopy from lack of water. Once your soil is dryer, gently turn the pot upside-down or sideways and pull the pot from the rootball. Don’t try and yank the plant out by the stem. 

Now you should prepare the root ball for the new pot. Without causing massive root damage, loosen the roots from one another. You can use your fingers or a stick to separate tangled chucks of roots. This will ensure that the new potting soil will incorporate itself in between roots and encourage the roots to spread out. 

Next, you should concentrate on prepping your new pot or container. It’s said that you should only move up one pot size when repotting. So if you have a 12” pot your new pot should only be 14”. If you over pot it can slow growth, but eventually your plant will catch up. Many people choose to throw some gravel or pebbles into the bottom of their pots. This can help and hurt the plant. If your pot doesn’t have good drainage holes this can be a good practice. However, most of the time the gravel just takes up more room, reducing the amount the plant can grow.  If your pot has good drainage, there shouldn’t be any need for gravel. Throw a little bit of soil in the bottom few inches of your new pot before planting. 

One of the main problems folks run into when replanting, is planting too deep. The plant shouldn’t be covered any more than it was in the first pot. Planting too deep can cause your plant to collapse, which is heartbreaking to say the least. After you get your plant situated, give it a good drink, watering until you seem it leak from the bottom drainage holes. Don’t fertilized for a month or two because most potting mixes have some fertilizer incorporated in them already. If you fertilized too soon, you run the risk of burning the new root growth. 


                                           – Happy Planting!


With the colder weather coming in, most gardens are going away. It’s time to start thinking how your garden can best recover during the winter months. Fall and winter soil restoration are crucial when it comes to soil quality in the spring. If you start off with good soil, you’ll end up with great results. But if your soil is still tapped out from the previous growing season, chances are your fruits and veggies won’t be as pretty.  

So what’s the first step in fixing your soil for next year? Testing. Get your soil tested so you know exactly what cover crops and composting materials would benefit your soil most. The first place I would look for a soil test is at the local Extension Offices. Usually they will have options for soil tests at a small fee. Plus you have less of a chance at getting an incorrect reading as you might with a do it yourself kit. If the Extension Service aren’t testing then ask them where you can get an accurate test or what test you should look for. They will point you in the right direction. Home store and garden supply store usually have soil testing kits as well. 

So the first thing I would look at is your soil’s pH levels. A lot of veggies prefer slightly more acidic soils with a pH of 7.0 or below. Some like it especially acidic. Think about what plants are going where next year and adjust your pH accordingly. To make your soil more acidic, but you’d rather not add chemicals, try adding some sawdust, composted leaves, wood chips, or peat moss. If you want to get fancy, add some calcium sulfate or elemental sulfur. If your soil proves to be too acidic, try adding some limestone. Into more organic solutions? Bone meal, crushed oyster shells, or hardwood ash are some natural solutions for a more alkaline soil. 

If you have your pH all sorted out, the most general solution is to add compost. It is the best thing you can do for better soil quality regardless of season. It provides more food and nutrients for plants. It supports more microorganisms in your soil that digest organic matter and create better soil structure. Soil structure is very important when it comes to gardens. Sandy soils can be too dry and lose nutrients, while clay filled soils are tightly compact and hold water. Compost can provide something for nutrient and water to cling to in sandy soils, and provide dense clays with some breathing and drainage room. When adding compost though, you don’t have to mix it in. Adding a few inches of compost to the top of your soil will be just fine. See, the little organisms and worms will pull the compost downward, incorporating it into your soil. plus the nutrients from the compost will soak down through the top layer of soil through rain. You don’t want the good stuff percolating into the lower soil horizons because your plants are going to be on top. 

Let’s talk about manure. You can get manure in bags at the garden supply store, or if your lucky and know someone with horses or cows, you could get some fresh stuff off them. However, use caution with fresh manure as it can contain high level of salt. It isn’t recommended that you put fresh manure on your soil immediately before planting but adding into your soil now will be just fine and will give it some time to age over the winter. 

So now you know some good things to add to your soil. But let’s talk about what you shouldn’t do. Don’t go walking all over your future planting areas. Soil compacting is a big no no. Instead create pathways between beds and make sure your beds are narrow enough for you to reach across. Don’t mess around with your soil when it’s wet. Not only will you get filthy, but it will interrupt your soil structure. What will look like a nicely tilled piece of land, will dry into a solid brick.  And lastly do not add chemicals to your soil. Fertilizers and pesticides are hard on the important microorganisms. Synthetic nitrogen is also a big no. Adding blood meal, fish meal, and alfalfa meal can add nitrogen if you need it. 

                                           – Happy Planting!


On Thursday, August 29th the Doddridge County Commissioners were issued a letter from the West Virginia Division of Labor out of Charleston, West Virginia.  The letter is addressed to Ms. Beth Rogers, County Clerk as a default recipient of Certified mail for the County Commissioners.  The letter draws into question the recent renovations and restorations being conducted at the County Courthouse. It begins,”This agency is conducting a Prevailing Wage Investigation of RJ Krunkle (sp) dba The Traditions Group for work performed on several projects relating to the Doddrdige County Courthouse and the Old Jail Museum, both of which are located in Doddridge County, West Virginia.”

The letter continues “As you are the public authority responsible for this project, the West Virginia Division of Labor is issuing this notice of violation so your agency will assist in achieving compliance.  You may accomplish this by withholding final payment until compliance has been achieved.”

The County Commission has already issued final payment as of August 19, 2013.  We are waiting to hear back from the West Virginia Division of Labor as to what action will be taken next.

The Division of Labor cited three direct violations of the West Virginia Code Chapter 21-5A, et seq. providing as follows: 

21-5A-2 states that the hourly wage paid to all workmen employed by or on behalf of any public authority engaged in the construction of public improvements must be paid the prevailing wage.  The WV Division of Labor has set building construction wage rates.  These are known as the “prevailing wage” that standardizes all public works projects.  The County Commission failed to monitor this WV Code.

21-5A-7 is the second code violation cited in the letter.  It states that “Wages are to be kept posted.  A clearly legible statement of all fair minimum wage rates to be paid...”    

The third violation is in regards to Wage Records.  21-5A-8 states that “Wage records are to be kept by contractor, subcontractor, etc.; contents; open to inspection.  The contractor and each subcontractor or the officer of the public authority in charge of the construction of a public improvement shall keep an accurate record showing names and occupation of all such skilled laborers, workmen and mechanics employed by them, in connection with the construction on the public improvement and showing also the actual wages paid to each of the skilled laborers, workmen and mechanics, which record shall be open to all reasonable hours to the inspection of the department of labor and the public authority which let the contract, it’s officers, and agents.”

We contacted Ora Ash at the State Auditor’s Office to gain more insight as to how these projects are typically handled.  He informed us that normal protocol for projects of this size require a Project Manager, normally an licensed architect.  Any project over $25,000 and relating to a registered historical structure needs to have an architect who will also act as project manager. Projects of restoration are also typically approved by the West Virginia History and Archives, a division of WV Culture and History.  The West Virginia Division of Culture and History provides technical assistance to owners of historic properties and anyone else interested in preserving prehistoric or historic sites in West Virginia.

A project manager oversees the job in it’s entirety.  From scheduling to labor and materials costs, the project manager is there to make sure there is no overcharges taking place.  We asked the Deputy Chief Clerk for a record of the project manager for the restoration.  We were told that “Commissioner Sandora was appointed by the commission as the acting project manager for the restoration.”  

Part of a project manager’s job is to make certain all aspects of a project are in full compliance with the Division of Labor.  Monitoring the project on a daily basis and keeping track of invoices and materials used on a project is key to staying on budget.  The project manager or architect also certifies a “performance bond” on any public work project.  This bond is set up to protect the public authority from fraud and is designed to insure that all aspects of work have been completed to the satisfaction of the architect or project manager.  There is no record of a performance bond being posted on this project.  

Another aspect of this position falls into the budgetary side of the project.  An architect will specify materials used during restoration and will find pricing within the planned budget.  The contractor will purchase the materials specified by the architect or project manager and submit the invoices to the public entity commissioning the work.  When asked, told us there was no such check and balance with this project.  

“Whatever Mr. Kunkle submitted to the county commissioners, they paid without question.”  -Chief Deputy Clerk
We asked to view the file and saw no detailed invoices showing materials, labor, equipment rental...nothing specifying any type of work details.

Engaging an architect for restoration on an historical structure is standard protocol if the project exceeds $25,000, according to Ora Ash.   

Commissioner Ralph Sandora stated in a county commissioners meeting that this contractor was selected because “he was the only one who showed up.”  


The Traditions Group of Columbus Ohio is flagged by the Better Business Bureau as “No longer in business”.  There was no clarification or explanation to this listing.  We were also able to find in a quick search that this contractor is not registered to do business in the State of West Virginia.  

When County, State or Federal money is used for a public project, these checks and balances are put into place as not to abuse the public funds or the public trust.  Banks, corporations and governmental bodies will perform a background check or “due diligence” on a perspective contractor prior to signing a contract.

We could find no record of the repairs and restorations performed in any detail.  

Bills were submitted to the Deputy Chief Clerk through the county Commissioners and were paid upon approval of the commissioners.  Final payment was not withheld as suggested in the letter from the Division of Labor.  This was due in part to RJ Kunkle submitting the final bill prior to the county commissioners receiving the certified letter issued on August 29th.  Since there is no performance bond issued for this project and no means of withholding final payment, the Division of Labor must seek other means of securing funding for the three alleged violations.

As we go to press, we have received this email from the WV Department of Labor: 

“Mr. Zorn,  Following is the statement from Labor until the matter is closed:  This matter is an ongoing investigation and no information can be released at this time. State code requires that the information remain confidential until the investigation is complete.     – Catherine Zacchi, Communications Specialist, West Virginia Dept. of Commerce, Communications.”

We will follow this matter until the investigation is complete and a resolution is brought to light.









Our September 6th Issue:

Photos submitted to The Doddridge Independent from around the world.



The Doddridge Independent August 30th Edition.

Send us a picture of the newspaper with your favorite mug, we will post it and put your name in for an Independent prize pack!

Composting can be a very rewarding, but intimidating process. What temperature does it need to be? How much Nitrogen do I need? Should I buy worms to put in the pile? Do I need a fancy swivel barrel contraption? Don’t you just pile up yard waste and let it sit? It can all be very daunting. However the benefits of a compost pile can greatly outweigh the initial confusion. Not only does composting provide cheap, rich, nutrient-packed fertilizer for your garden or flowerbeds and reduce unnecessary, organic waste, it also  promotes a “greener” lifestyle practice and makes you rethink the waste we humans produce.


Agricultural astrology has been around since ancient times, but what does it truly entail? If you look on your calendar, chances are you’ll see the phases of the moon marked on certain days. To many it’s ignored, but some plan their whole harvest based around the waxing and waning of the moon. Some of the first evidence confirmed instances of Astrological Farming can be seen in the remnants and artifacts of the ancient peoples of the Euphrates and Nile River valleys. It is the oldest use of Lunar Cycles for gardening known.

The cold days are still around, but some plants need to go in the ground. It’s now time for some frost and cold hardy plants to be seeded or transplanted into your beds. 

Broccoli is a wonderfully, cold hardy crop and actually thrives in cooler temperatures. Plant or seed in an area that gets full sun and has sandy, more acidic soil. Normally planted two to three weeks before the last frost and with this indecisive weather we’ve been having lately, this is the perfect crop to get you started.  Seedlings should be planted 12 to 24 inches apart, whereas seeds can be disbursed three inches apart under one to one half inch of soil and will need to be thinned out once they are more mature.  Broccoli plants have very shallow roots, so weeding and hoeing are not recommended. The best option for weed control is mulch. Mulching not only smothers unwanted plants, but also aids in temperature regulation and water retention. There are many different breeds of broccoli, and many are suitable for the Zone 6 climate we live in. The “Cruiser” variety is very tolerant of drought and dry conditions while the “Green Comet” is a more heat resistant strain, for those hot West Virginia summers.  

Blackberries can be found growing wild in our hills, but for those of you who want fresh blackberries as part of your landscape, now is a good time to get started. Before you plan or plant, find a reputable nursery that carries virus free varieties. Make sure that your area is free from any wild blackberry bushes that could infect your virus free plants. Blackberries like full sun, and sandy, but rich, acidic soil.  Upright varieties require less work, but if you grab a vining strain make sure to have at least one or two trellis’ nearby. For planting depth, cover one inch more than the nursery depth. Uprights should be three feet apart, while trailers should be separated 5 to 8 feet, with rows being around 8 feet apart.  Thick mulch should cover the area around the tree by one to two feet, to cut down on weeds. An inch of water per week should be fine for most strains, thats about a five gallon bucket’s worth.

Fruit trees should be planned and planted once the ground thaws. When the soil doesn’t stick and clump off on your shovel you know the ground is ready for fruit trees. Staking is always a good idea for new trees insuring straighter trunk growth and prevents the saplings from toppling over due to wind. Every different type of tree requires special planting and care, so make sure to plan and research many varieties to get the best tree for your space. Apples are the most reliable fruit trees for Zone 6. “Gala” semi-dwarf trees are smaller and good eating; red “McIntosh” and “Liberty” are found to be tart, crunchy, and disease resistant. The “Lodi” variety are best used for sauces, apple butter, and pies. There are countless strains of Asian Pears that also work well in Zone 6. The flavorful “kosui”, sweet and reliable “shinsui”, and the juicy, sugary “atago” are all recommended for our Zone.  If you’re a cherry fan, look to the “Benton”, “Stella”, or “Sweetheart” for eating, and the “Danbe”, “Montmorency”, or “Northstar” for pies. 

Happy Planting!


Tiny little men donning pointy red hats and long white beards have been spotted napping and smoking in gardens for quite some time now. Their chubby cheeks are flushed and there little trousers have chips in the paint. Some people are really in to garden gnomes. Some people are entirely creeped out by them. One thing is certain; no one seems certain on where they came from.

From the July 12, 2013 Issue.

Sunday morning around 4am the Doddridge/Ritchie 911 Center received a call out for fire and a burn victim off Brushy Fork Road in New Milton. Responding were BANCS Fire Department and Doddridge County Ambulance Authority.  BANCS Volunteer Fire Chief Randy Trent was notified that his department needed to assist with a fire and a burn patient.  What they found en route was the situation was much worse than first conveyed.  

In what will hopefully become an interesting and enlightening series, I will be showcasing letters of correspondence written by an assortment of characters from various periods in history. The letters will be edited and context will be provided by myself in order to give you, the reader, a sense of the setting and events that surround each piece of correspondence. What is most fascinating about this method of reading history is that the people are real, not only that they physically existed but that they lived like you and I. They faced similar problems and had familiar aspirations. In writing these private letters our ancestors have provided for us a firsthand account of the events that shaped our world.

Be sure to pick up your copy today.

Show off your talents and hobbies at the Doddridge County Fair!  Community members are encouraged to exhibit items in the Home Economics Division at the fair.  You may check-in your exhibits at the County Park Main Building on Monday, August 19, 4:30-8:30 p.m. or Tuesday, 8:00 a.m. - Noon. A complete listing of categories is available at the Extension Office 873-1801.

Up to eight Best of Show awards will be made this year in the following categories:  Crafts, Canned & Dried Foods, Baked Goods & Candy, Flowers & Plants, Crochet, Knitting, Sewing & Misc. Needlework, and Quilting.
Also, one Best of Show award will be made from the total group of Youth Exhibits (under age 18), also sponsored by the DCCEOS.  Youth exhibits are encouraged, and will be judged separately.  It could be something you made at bible school, at camp, or your hobby. 
The category must, in the opinion of the judges, have an exhibit worthy of a best-of-show honor for the award to be made.  Best of Show exhibitors will receive a certificate, ribbon, and $10 which are all sponsored by the Doddridge County Community Educational Outreach Service (DCCEOS).

Do you want to be on the main stage at this year’s Doddridge County Fair? The Amateur Talent Show will be held on August 21st at 7:00pm. The pre-registration deadline has been extended to Sunday, August 18th. You do not have to be a Doddridge County resident to enter.  

It would be great for the audience to see you! This year Palmer Stephens, radio personality is our special guest emcee and will be leading the audience in a sing along at the end of the show. Entry forms are available at the Doddridge County Senior Citizens, Doddridge Family Medicine or on our website, You can also call 873-1604.  There are only 5 spots left so don't delay, enter now!

08/30/13 South Harrison - 7:30
09/06/13 @ Tyler Consolidated - 7:00pm

09/13/13 Calhoun Co. - 7:30pm

09/20/13 Wirt Co. (Homecoming) - 7:30
09/27/13 @ Ritchie Co. - 7:30pm

10/05/13 @ Parkersburg Cath. - 7:30pm

10/11/13 @ Gilmer Co. - 7:30pm

10/18/13 @Eastern OH - 7:30
10/25/13 Valley (Wetzel) - 7:30
11/01/13 OPEN

11/08/13 St. Marys - 7:30pm

Season Fair passes are now on sale for the 2013 Doddridge County Fair! This is by far the best deal for the Fair. Ride passes will sell for $30.00 each and Non-ride passes will sell for $25.00 each. There are a limited number of tickets available-so get yours while they last! Advanced ticket sales end on August 19th, 2013. Available at Fairview Shell, WV Extension Office, Michel's Pharmacy, Colonial Pharmacy (Salem), Doddridge County Senior Center, and Tease Me Hair Salon.

New galleries are posted: Galleries

Below are pictures from MCAC 2013 Production of Aladdin


Below are pictures from around the Independent office.


Photos from Memorial Day Services 2013


Center Point, WV – Just outside of the northern tip of Center Point, WV, two new bridges are under construction on WV Route 23.  Both bridges are replacing older ones that have fallen past their useful timeline. 

The WV DOH maintains and inspect bridges on a rotating schedule to ensure the public safety.  That is their prime concern, public safety.  But what happens when their concern for public safety hits a snag?

See more in this weeks paper.

Click here to view supporting documents.

On news stands now, BUY HERE.


• Brochures, Flyers, Direct Mail Pieces

• T-Shirts, printed novelties of all kinds.

• Color Copies, Black and White Copies

• An Art Gallery, original art for sale

• Coffee, come in and join us for a cup of coffee!

Pick up your newspaper here:

West Union

  • The Doddridge Independent Office

  • 7-Eleven

  • Shop N' Save

  • Michels Pharmacy

  • Cornerstone Bank

  • State Farm

  • Porter's Grinds N' Finds

  • The Beehive

  • Beckers, Route 18 South

  • Shell Station, Snowbird

  • Stoney's Sporting Goods, Sunnyside

  • Dotson's Corner Market, Sunnyside


  • Salem IGA

  • Biscuit's Bakery

  • GoMart

Pennsboro, Ellenboro, Harrisville

  • Ritchie Tobacco Outlet, Pennsboro

  • 7-Eleven, Pennsboro

  • GoMart, Ellenboro

  • Shop n' Save, Harrisville

  • EastView Video Store, Harrisville

Mike Zorn is a 1984 graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and has been employed in the field of graphic design, advertising and marketing since enrolling in 1982.

Mikes first job after graduation was an advertising agency whose clients included Monroeville Mall, Pool City and One Oxford Centre.

After several years of working in the retail market, Mr. Zorn left the agency to strike out on his own accompanied by his wife, Susan.  Together they built a thriving advertising studio with a client list that included The Pittsburgh Opera and 84 Lumber.

Mike, Susan and their 3 small children moved to West Virginia in 1996. Mike was offered and accepted the position of Creative Director in a growing technology company.

That company grew from a handful of employees to a $60M business headquartered in major cities across the United States, Canada and the UK. 

Mikes award winning work has appeared in many national and international magazines and trade publications. 

Our team would like to bring this experience to a new media outlet in West Union, The Doddridge Independent.  

We can offer any design service you may need to keep your business top-of-mind and your marketing budget performing at peak efficiency.

Senator Joe Manchin at his press conference said it best on Saturday “The Boy Scouts of America and the state of West Virginia are like peas and carrots. We’re a perfect fit -- an organization that builds character, inspires reverence and promotes old-fashioned family values and a state that lives them.”

And what an amazing fit it is.  The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve is a staggering 10,600 acre tract of forested mountains, flowing streams and green meadows adjacent to the 70,000 acre New River Gorge National River area.  This is truly the largest gem in the crown of West Virginia.

During his speech at the Stillwater Sustainability Treehouse Sen. Manchin said “We were a state of breathtaking beauty, world-class adventure and unbridled discovery, a state that believed in the same ideals and principles as the Boy Scouts, a state that would take great pride in being an important part of the Scouts’ second century.

This week in The Independent Gardener, we will be highlighting the bane of every gardener’s existence, weeds. Weed control is probably the worst part about having a garden. You plant your nice tomatoes and peppers in your freshly tilled beds and then BAM! A couple weeks later there are all these good for nothing weeds popping up, crowding your plants, taking the life right out from underneath them. Annoying. Well this week we will be looking at some easy ways to keep the weeds out with out breaking your back. 

Because of the exemplary work that Julie Todd turns out year after year with each of her job duties and responsibilities, Doddridge County proudly nominated her for the RESA 7 Exemplary Service Personnel Award for the 2012-2013 school year.  Any county employee would be quick to point out that it would be difficult to calculate the level of her worth to our overall school system. Every board of education needs a “go to person” to assign some of the most critical job duties. Certain employees are entrusted with these types of responsibilities because they have a very high level of competence to get a job done correctly, on time and with a great attitude . . . this is Julie Todd.

Outstanding Teacher Will Bring Innovative Learning Techniques into Local Science Classrooms

WILMINGTON, Del., July 22, 2013 – Shannon Boswell, high school agriscience teacher, Doddridge County High School, West Union, W.Va. successfully completed the 11th annual DuPont National AgriScience Teachers Ambassador Academy (NATAA) at the company’s Chesapeake Farms in Chestertown, Md.  Upon receiving the certificate of completion, Ms. Boswell became an “Ag Ambassador,” joining the 228 other outstanding teachers who, over the last decade, have attended NATAA and earned that designation.

Meet Dave Snively, he has been assigned by the WVU Extension Services as another Extension Agent for Doddridge County.  Currently residing in the Morgantown area with his wife and two daughters.  Their plans are to stay in Morgantown until his youngest daughter graduates as she will be a senior this year. During this transition period Mr. Snively noted that they plan on building a home in Pleasants County on their family land.  Mr. Snively’s oldest daughter is a recent graduate from WVU.

Test 2

Now see if you know where 

the previous light was installed?   

The West Virginia Department of Highways (WV DOH) announced that they will be installing a fully functional traffic light replacing the caution light currently in use on Route 50 and WV Route 18.

It's easy to get started creating your website. Knowing some of the basics will help.

What is a Content Management System?

A content management system is software that allows you to create and manage webpages easily by separating the creation of your content from the mechanics required to present it on the web.

In this site, the content is stored in a database. The look and feel are created by a template. The Joomla! software brings together the template and the content to create web pages.

Site and Administrator

Your site actually has two separate sites. The site (also called the front end) is what visitors to your site will see. The administrator (also called the back end) is only used by people managing your site. You can access the administrator by clicking the "Site Administrator" link on the "User Menu" menu (visible once you login) or by adding /administrator to the end of your domain name.

Log in to the administrator using the username and password created during the installation of Joomla.

Logging in

To login to the front end of your site use the login form. Use the user name and password that were created as part of the installation process. Once logged-in you will be able to create and edit articles.

In managing your site, you will be able to create content that only logged-in users are able to see.

Creating an article

Once you are logged-in, a new menu will be visible. To create a new article, click on the "Submit Article" link on that menu.

The new article interface gives you a lot of options, but all you need to do is add a title and put something in the content area. To make it easy to find, set the state to published.

You can edit an existing article by clicking on the edit icon (this only displays to users who have the right to edit).

Template and modules

The look and feel of your site is controlled by a template. You can change the site name, background colour, highlights colour and more by editing the template options. In the administrator go to the Template Styles and click on My Default Template (Protostar). Most changes will be made on the Options tab.

The boxes around the main content of the site are called modules. You can change the image at the top of the page by editing the Image Module module in the Module Manager.

Learn more

There is much more to learn about how to use Joomla! to create the web site you envision. You can learn much more at the Joomla! documentation site and on the Joomla! forums.