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CURRENT STORIES


letters for the web

Our civil

liberties lost?

People, wake up and see what is happening to our rights as citizens of Harrison County. Slowly but surely, we are losing -- or have already lost -- many of our rights. Children are not even allowed to say the Pledge of Allegiance because of those who object to the "under God" phrase.

From city to county to state and federal governments, laws are being passed that curb our right to the pursuit of happiness, right to bear arms and free speech.

The passage of the proposed ban on smoking in restaurants and other businesses is a primary example of government seeking to restrict the rights of business owners and paying customers alike. There are plenty of restaurants with "smoking" as well as "non-smoking" areas. A casual observer could not overlook the fact that the smoking areas fill up faster.

Now the government wants to tell area businessmen how to run their business! Shouldn't a businessman/owner be free to decide how he wants to deal with the issue of smoking in his/her own establishment?

Pat Swiger

Clarksburg

Politicians need to practice

accountability

Accountability! Accountability! Accountability! Here is a word that Mr. Gore, Mr. Bush, Mr. Underwood, Mr. Wise and most other politicians are using very freely at this time of year. They want to hold school boards, administrators and, especially, teachers accountable for the low test scores and the deplorable conditions in our schools.

My question is this: Why have they not included in this list moms, dads and guardians? Would it be that they are afraid to point a finger in this direction for fear of upsetting those who vote? Only with the continued great support of this wonderful group can education as we know it today survive.

I recently retired from the Harrison County Board of Education after 35 years of working with and teaching the most wonderful students on the face of the Earth -- those in Harrison County -- and I resent the insinuation that I or my fellow teachers were not always ready, willing and able to face the problem of being held accountable.

The administrators and teachers in this county -- whether they be from Bridgeport, Liberty, Lincoln, Robert C. Byrd, South Harrison or Notre Dame -- are truly dedicated to the important job of preparing Harrison County's young people for the future. They are truly meeting the challenge of a thing called "accountability." Any politician or anyone else who doesn't believe this has only to visit a school or a classroom and see for themselves.

When was the last time that Mr. Gore, Mr. Bush, Mr. Underwood or Mr. Wise was in a high school classroom to observe the conditions that exist and not for political purposes? When was the last time they were in a high school to see a principal in his office dealing with discipline problems -- fighting impossible odds and, all along, having his hands tied -- and at the same time trying to maintain a safe environment for our sons and daughters? When were they ever in a classroom or the hallway of a school and observe a teacher being assaulted by a student?

As said before, Harrison County's Board of Education, administrators and the teachers are meeting the challenge of accountability as best they can. But this thing called accountability must truly start at home! I would like to take this time to thank all of the moms, dads and guardians who sent their sons and daughters into my classroom. I would not have liked to have spent the last 35 years doing anything else other than that of teaching the wonderful young people of Harrison County.

Willie E. McClain

Clarksburg

Coffee hardly the same as smoking

To compare coffee drinking to smoking is ludicrous! Coffee, either decaffeinated or regular, can affect only the individual who chooses to drink it. Smoking, on the other hand, affects not only the smoker but all who are forced to breathe the smoke merely by being in the vicinity.

Some people are actually allergic to smoke and others just detest the stench that hangs in the air and clings to the smoker, to clothing, to furniture and the smoker's breath.

Using the comparison of smoking to coffee drinking is specious and totally without merit. To promote harmful smoking in public places -- you need a better argument than this!

Charleen Muncy

Clarksburg

Cleaner workplaces a goal we

can reach

I chose to quit a two- to three-pack-a-day cigarette smoking habit more than two decades ago. I still suffer from my addiction. I have provided the Internet links to the National Institute for Environmental Health Services for two recent reports on ETS (Environmental Tobacco Smoke) and Tobacco Smoking. These articles were first listed on the Ninth Report on Carcinogens which was published this spring:

n ETS: http://ehis.niehs.nih.gov/roc/ninth/known/ets.pdf

n Tobacco Smoking: http://ehis.niehs.nih.gov/roc/ninth/known/tobaccosmoke.pdf

This organization is responsible for research on environment-related diseases. Our environment -- in air, water and the ground -- is their concern. The findings and reports are used by our elected officials to make decisions about our country. Many industries and companies closely follow and adhere to the findings of NIEHS.

I do not often eat in restaurants of the Clarksburg area because I cannot inhale much smoke without serious health consequences. I assure you, I would eat out in the area if I could. I am not alone in this concern. Children should be given the opportunity to make an informed choice.

Sometimes, doing the right thing is not a popular choice. Safer, cleaner workplaces would be a goal all can achieve -- for the benefit of the whole community. This clean air choice nevertheless remains the proper choice for the community -- young and old alike -- and for the businesses of the community. A healthier workforce misses fewer days, has children who are not ill as often, and most importantly, healthier people translate to healthier appetites.

I thank you for printing many articles which give the community the opportunity to read, think and reflect on the issues.

Patrick Leggett

West Union

Clean indoor air is the right thing

to do!

Our days are filled with many little opportunities that can make profound changes in our lives. These opportunities present themselves to all of us in unique and unusual ways. We have all experienced being in the "right" or, perhaps, "wrong" place at the "right" or "wrong" time.

As vice president of the Harrison County Medical Society Alliance, I personally feel the dedicated and hard-working members of the Alliance, namely Delia Naranjo and Joyce Rabanal, are in the right place at the right time. They are leading the bandwagon in the change for cleaner indoor air. Many changes within the past 50 years have been rejected at first by the general public because change is sometimes hard to accept.

When I think of some of the changes that have happened in recent history, I am amazed that most of them have been "for our own good." Take, for instance, the use of a few square inches of blaze orange that all hunters will be wearing on their hunting clothes this fall. I'm sure blaze orange isn't anyone's favorite color, but it saves lives.

Not so long ago, parents put their babies in a cute little "car seat" with a steering wheel just like Daddy's and a little horn that was supposed to keep them occupied and happy. The little seat of yesterday was casually hooked over the front seat, right between Mommy and Daddy, where Baby would be "safe." I haven't seen many of those lately, but I still see moms and grandmas putting little children in the car without a proper seat belt. But the new regulations have saved many lives. And speaking of babies and children, aren't we glad we have flame-retardant sleepwear now? And where would our children be without proper immunizations?

We all drive on the right-hand side of the road and keep our speed within the posted limits, don't we? Ever wonder what would happen if everyone drove wherever and however fast they wanted?

Change is happening all around us -- to expedite everyday business, to improve the quality of life and to please the majority of the people. With our ever-increasing population, we must be more aware of the little things we've always done in the past and how these things may affect those around us. We have adjusted to change very well over the years and more change can probably be expected in the future.

It's the basic, everyday human courtesies -- the one-act-at-a-time things like saying "thank you" and "please" -- that can make all the difference in our lives. Now, restaurant owners and managers, please lead the way! You can make a difference! Give clean indoor air to the majority of the people! Clean indoor air is just the right thing to do.

Phyllis Brown

Clarksburg

Vote for the Unified Family Court Amendment

Even if they are not excited about all the candidates near the top of the ballot, West Virginians should go to the polls to vote for the Unified Family Court Amendment (UFCA), a proposed constitutional amendment that is at or near the bottom of the ballot.

The UFCA would replace the appointed family law masters who we now have with family court judges elected by -- and accountable to -- the people. The Legislature would, by statute, establish the term of office of family court judges, which could not exceed eight years.

The present system is costly, confusing and time-consuming for individuals who are caught up in divorce, child-support and child-custody cases. Normally, following months or years of litigation, an appointed family law master makes a decision that is not final until it is approved or modified by an elected circuit judge. The circuit judge's decision is then appealable to our elected state Supreme Court.

If voters ratify (approve) the UFCA, the probable result will be that the elected family court judge will make a final decision that is directly appealable to the state Supreme Court. This change should save time and money for litigants.

Ratification of the UFCA would also permit the Legislature to empower one family court judge -- as opposed to one or more magistrates, one family law master and one circuit judge -- to hear several related matters involving the same family, such as cases of domestic violence during a divorce.

Thornton Cooper

South Charleston

Speed trap hardly legitimate

enforcement!

I sincerely believe that the Summersville Police Department is finally completely out of control in its efforts to enforce the speed limit on U.S. Route 19.

My son and his wife were returning to Georgia after visiting West Virginia -- home state to both -- to attend a family reunion. Being very much aware of the zealous enforcement of the speed limit on Route 19 through Summersville, the subject of extreme caution was discussed prior to their departure. We even made mention that the new, bright red SUV that they were driving would stick out like a "sore thumb."

On Tuesday, Oct. 25, about noon, as he approached the "reduce speed ahead" sign, my son lowered his speed to the 50 mph that he knew was ahead. Guess what! He was stopped and cited anyway -- for traveling 63 mph. No way, officer!

I believe that the expensive vehicle with a Georgia registration was the sole reason for this citation. In an effort to fill the town's coffers -- and everyone is very much aware that they do it well -- legitimate enforcement of the speed limit no longer seems to be enough.

My son, of course, could choose to contest the citation. He could take time off from work -- he's a veterinarian -- to appear before a municipal judge and plead his case. It would be basically his word vs. the officer's. Yeah, right! The officers know that people just aren't going to do that.

I'm all for strict enforcement of the speed laws in West Virginia. But this type of flagrant abuse gives the entire state a "black eye."

C. Ronald Sandy

Clarksburg

WVU scholarships should go to

our own

I would be interested in knowing how many West Virginia student athletes who are named to all-state teams in their respective sports have never received a letter from West Virginia University, "the Pride of West Virginia."

It is evident that many out-of-state "all-state" athletes are heartily recruited by WVU.

I often hear concern expressed about our children leaving the state to pursue their education and careers, yet our state university will not even offer scholarships to seemingly qualified athletes from this state. Is that right?

If WVU scholarships are offered to children from this state, certainly this would provide the incentive for student athletes to work hard to secure the privilege of representing their home state.

Speaking as a West Virginia parent, our children shouldn't be asked to be walk-ons with only the hope of receiving a scholarship.

Tony Shade

Clarksburg

Spreading credit for 911 center

I appreciated the kind words you had in your editorial (Oct. 23) about the way in which Ritchie County and my own Doddridge County had worked together to join in a common 911 call center. We are proud and excited about this project.

But I think that we must not forget the third -- and perhaps most important -- ingredient to make this center a reality: Steve Canterbury of the Regional Jail Authority.

A great appointment was made in choosing Canterbury to run the Regional Jail Authority. He is imaginative, innovative and hard-working. Without his willingness to listen to what both counties needed and to combine our 911 needs with Governor Underwood's wish to build a new state police barracks at the site of the North Central Regional Jail, our two counties would not have had the resources to get this project off the ground.

We county officials of Doddridge and Ritchie counties will take all the praise and good will you folks in Clarksburg want to dish our way! But in all fairness, we need to share it with Steve Canterbury and the Regional Jail Authority.

Lewis E. Knight

Doddridge County

commissioner

West Union

Health board needs leadership

If the "democratic" process followed at the Thursday (Nov. 2) special meeting on the smoking ban by the Harrison County Board of Health is any example of democracy, we as citizens are in trouble. The rules of the meeting were so violated that members of the gallery, as well as health board members, walked out.

The Harrison health board is in need of leadership. In recent months, there have been all too many instances of questionable judgment displayed across the board in this organization, and it is time for the board to clean up its own house before trying to run everybody else's house.

Charlene Everett

Clarksburg

Unwarranted

police reaction

On our way to Fairmont on Saturday, Oct. 14, around 11:45 a.m., we decided to stop at the Meadowbrook Mall to make a purchase.

After leaving the mall, we proceeded to take the northbound ramp to Fairmont.

We noticed there was new blacktop on the ramp. There was no machinery nor were there trucks around, and no traffic cones across the area that we entered. If there had been, we would not have entered.

We went about 30 yards when a man stopped us and said the ramp was closed. After I said "bull," my husband backed up and started to turn around. Just then, a Bridgeport police person came up, yelling and out of control.

I have never seen or heard anyone as rude, crude and belligerent as this Bridgeport police person. We tried to tell him there were no traffic cones, but to no avail.

Finally, this Bridgeport police person just turned and stalked off.

I just wanted to let the people of Bridgeport know they should feel "safe and secure" with police protection like this, especially for any 75-year-old senior citizen who drives through and unknowingly makes an unintentional traffic mistake.

Our only crime was trying to get to Fairmont to pick up our son and family to go to play miniature golf and then go to dinner.

Thank you, police person of Bridgeport, for making our day so "complete."

Eloise P. Jurick

Clarksburg