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The Indy Issue from Friday March 12, 2021

 

 

Visions of the Development of Salem

By Kevin Zorn

An oil on canvas mural is displayed in the post office in Salem, West Virginia. It was painted by an artist named Berni Glasgow and its production was funded
through the Treasury Department’s Section of Painting and Sculpture. It is titled “Visions of the Development of Salem” and depicts a group of people
receiving mail, in the background is a village and cattle.

 

Berni Glasgow was one of more than 800 artists commissioned to paint 1371 murals, the majority of which are featured in post offices.
Often mistaken as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) initiative, these Treasury funded murals were created with the intent of fostering i
nspiration in the American people who were still feeling the devastating economic and social effects of the Great Depression.

 

It is a testament to the shift in the ideological landscape today that I cannot believe the US Government, in tandem with local governments,
was capable of doing what the WPA accomplished. Yet, here are just some of the facts: from 1935 to 1943 8.5 million unemployed men and
women were hired by the government to build over 10,000 bridges, 620,000 miles of streets and roads, 40,000 new and 85,000 renovated
buildings including thousands of schools, gymnasiums, auditoriums, playgrounds, parks, libraries, college dormitories, tennis courts, and skating rinks.

 

The WPA employed artists, writers, historians, and musicians whose work directly affected the lives of millions of Americans during some of the
country’s most painful years. Musicians hired under the Federal Music Project taught free lessons to 132,000 children and adults every week.
Those hired in the Federal Writers’ Project, in addition to their popular state tourism guidebooks, recorded over 2,300 slave narratives -
an invaluable collection for scholars and historians. Under the Federal Theatre Project 1,000 plays were performed across the country every month.
Incalculable is the number of children and adults inspired by this work.

 

Through the colossal endeavors of the WPA in both its pre-war effort and its public projects America achieved full employment by 1942,
the same year “Visions” was painted in Salem.

 

It is clear that the America many of us grew up in, the structures that supported our lives, the parks we enjoyed, the schools we attended,
the infrastructure we relied upon for travel, even the art classes that inspired the next generation of creators was largely built under the
auspices of the WPA and the New Deal.

 

This is a salient reminder that capital “H” History is not simply a collection of memorized facts and figures, dates and obscure names.
No, History is alive in the communities in which we live. It not only teaches us, it haunts us as well. It haunts us with what was
possible before and what is possible tomorrow.

 

Perhaps that is the greatest battle waged in the spectacle of media and politics today - the question of what is possible.
Our expectations are managed lower and lower. We learn that the climate crisis is inevitable, that homelesness is natural,
that workers are essential until they ask for a living wage. All to say that change is impossible. Visions of better futures recede from view.

But history haunts us with an alternative. By the time Berni Glasgow painted the mural in the Salem post office, the American
government had provided millions of meaningful jobs improving, with concrete and paintbrushes, nearly every community across the nation.

 

Nick Taylor, the author of “American Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA”, writes this: 

 

“These ordinary men and women proved to be extraordinary beyond all expectation.
They were golden threads woven in the national fabric. In this, they shamed the political philosophy
that discounted their value and rewarded the one that placed its faith in them,
thus fulfilling the founding vision of a government by and for its people. All its people.” 

 

This weeks front page:

 

 

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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.


NOTICE TO THE PUBLIC

A Public Hearing for annexation to the corporate limits of the Town of West Union by minor boundary line adjustment will take place before the Doddridge County Commission on:   JANUARY 7, 2014 in the Commissioner’s Meeting Room in the Doddridge County Courthouse at 9:00 A.M.  The area to be annexed is the surface and rights-of-way of U.S. Route 50 consisting of all roadways:  1.) from the Doe Run Exit to the Smithburg Exit; 2.) Route 50/30 “Old Route 50” (known as Doe Run) to the four (4) lane; 3.) Route 50/30 “Old route 50” (known as Monkey Row) to the Smithburg Exit and 4.) Route 18 South from the Boundary of the Town of West Union to the caution light, as shown on the Map at Exhibit A.