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A little history of the local health department

by Bob Stealey

Editor

My friend Freddie Layman of Gore, who has a regular treasure trove of historical information at his residence and who has spent considerable time in the Harrison County Courthouse, sent me a letter this past week including his knowledge of the local health department.

He commented in his letter that he has enjoyed reading the articles pertaining to the health department written by Exponent & Telegram staff writer Jennifer Biller.

Freddie said he has heard the department's receptionist twice say, "The health department has been here since 1942."

"This is definitely the wrong date," he wrote. "The first county health department started in business in January 1924. Clarksburg Health Department was formed earlier in 1921. Dr. V.A. Selby was the first county health officer.

"When Dr. Selby died in 1931, the county court appointed Dr. A.J. Kemper from Lost Creek. Dr. Kemper was the health officer when the new courthouse opened in November 1932. He had one secretary, Loraline Bland, and one nurse, Bess Hair. The department was located on the ground floor (of the courthouse) in Room G-8."

Layman continued, "When Dr. Kemper retired in 1952, C.O. Snider, senior sanitarian, served as administrator of the department until September 1953. Dr. B.S. Brake then became the new health officer.

"The Clarksburg Health Department in July 1953 merged with the county health department. It then became known as the Harrison-Clarksburg Health Depart-ment. The department, then needing more space, moved some of the workers to the second floor -- Room 202 -- which was vacated by the American Red Cross.

"Dr. Lawrence Mills became health director when Dr. Brake retired. The current health director is Dr. Paul Gordon."

Freddie pointed out that the Harrison-Clarksburg Health Department moved into the then-new Harrison County Correctional Center in December 1977. He said it contained a large reception area, public restrooms, two examination rooms, and an X-ray and lab room, along with 16 office rooms.

I certainly wish the department equally well in its new quarters in the Policano Professional Building on Third Street, just a half-block away.

n n n

Dinah Mills, director of the Lewis County Senior Citizens Center, located at 171 W. Second St. in downtown Weston, has stated that the annual Open House will be held at the center between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Wednesday (May 3).

The Open House is held each year to kick off a month-long celebration at the center in recognition of National Older Americans Month.

"This also provides us an opportunity to thank the community for its support of the senior center. Services and activities provided by the center will be highlighted, as well as special achievements for the year."

Thanks, Mrs. Mills, for the "heads up."

n n n

As I was pondering the plight of Mr. Jack Sandy Anderson, who was locked inside a downtown Clarksburg business at midday this past Wednesday, an article in a Weston newspaper caught my eye. The article stated that four persons were trapped inside an elevator last Monday night at an apartment complex for the elderly just outside Weston before being rescued.

In contrast to the circumstances in Clarksburg surrounding Mr. Anderson, who was subjected to considerable embarrassment and humiliation before departing the business, in Lewis County a unit from the Weston Volunteer Fire Department freed the individuals who were inside the elevator at Weston Arbors. The four were caught between the second and third floors when the elevator experienced some mechanical problems, Assistant Fire Chief Bill Rowan was quoted in the article as saying.

While their elevator "stay" had to have been an uncomfortable ordeal, I'm pleased that they were not humiliated by their liberators.

n n n

Just a thought for the day before I go: For every action, there is an equal and opposite government program. Have a great week!

Exponent-Telegram Editor Bob Stealey can be reached at (304) 626-1438.

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