An execution that would change people’s lives forever

    With minimal revisions, I would like to use in Bob’n’Along today the contents of a column that I used on Good Friday, April 10, 1998.
    Much has been written about this Easter season besides bunnies and colored eggs. None is intended to be offensive to those of other faiths — only to hopefully be of assistance to someone reading it.
The column follows:
    Approximately 20 centuries ago, an execution took place. It was an unusual execution. “A lethal injection was not used. Nor was an electric chair or a gas chamber the means of death. The condemned man wasn’t put before a firing squad, nor was he hanged.”
    This execution was probably the most agonizing ever to occur. In this day and age, one who is facing execution is generally given his choice of food for his final meal.
    He is also allowed visits from family up until the day of the execution. And he is given the opportunity to make a final statement before sentence is carried out.
    The man was perfectly innocent. He hadn’t killed nor injured anyone else. Instead, he helped all in His presence who needed help. He hadn’t sold secret government information to the enemy — but freely gave information to benefit others.
His words have been documented and made available to all who would seek it. He hadn’t kidnapped or raped anyone. All who followed him did so by their own choosing.
        Just the same, he was forced to trudge over very hot, rocky terrain, carrying on his back the very instrument that would  soon bear his dead body.
 All along the way he listened to crowds jeering and taunting him. When he finally reached the site of his execution, the old  cross he was carrying was thrust upright by soldiers. Two others were also to be crucified that day.
Then his accusers drove spikes through the palms of his hands and into the horizontal bar of the cross. Likewise, spikes were driven through his feet into the vertical shaft near the bottom. Thorns were crafted into a makeshift “crown” and heavily pressed onto the top of his head.
    And while the man was suffering and bleeding, upright and prone on the cross, one of the soldiers drew his sword and pierced it into the man’s side.
    When he said, “I thirst,” a sponge-like material soaked in vinegar and placed at the end of a pole was mockingly pressed to his lips.
    Needless to say, it wasn’t an instant death, but a slow process of suffering before the end finally came. The jeering of the crowds drowned out the quiet weeping of those who were there to mourn the death. There was no candlelight vigil. No placards criticizing the execution could be seen.
    As I stated earlier, it was quite a unique execution. And today, we observe that most solemn occasion. We call it Good Friday. The “condemned man” was Jesus Christ. The only “crime” He committed was to have a number of people follow him to watch as He performed miracle after miracle and healing after healing.
        But why have we come to know it as Good Friday? How could we have considered such a horrid execution as “good” in any way?
Because on the third day, we celebrate Easter — the Resurrection of Christ from the grave to sit at the right hand of God in His Kingdom.
T    hat transformation was far more than anything else that has ever been done to change man’s despair into great hope.
Other events of history have long been commemorated on or near the anniversary of the day they occurred. I am simply writing about Good Friday (and Easter).
    To each and all, have a great Easter weekend. Don’t forget to turn your clocks and watches ahead one hour at 2 a.m. Sunday. And remember to check the batteries in your smoke detectors.

Local officials still have time to pass
gun ordinances

    As expected, the Legislature passed a bill this year that prohibits cities and counties from passing ordinances limiting the sale of handguns. The Senate approved the measure 30-1 and the House OK’d it 86-11. The governor signed the bill into law on Wednesday. For cities and counties that had been contemplating such restrictions on gun sales, there is still time.
    The law does not go into effect until June 1. It will grandfather any ordinances on the books before that date. We strongly urge officials in cities and towns and counties anywhere in West Virginia to act quickly and pass ordinances that limit the sale of guns.
    The City of Charleston already has such an ordinance. It limits the sale of handguns to one per month. A modest law at best, but at least the city has tried to staunch the flow of guns out of this state. Hundreds of guns purchased each year in West Virginia are used in crimes all across the United States. We shouldn’t be the nation’s clearing house for handguns.
    Gov. Underwood said he signed the bill into law this week in order to create a statewide standard for gun sales. We have to respectfully disagree with that assessment. It does nothing to create any standard except to prohibit cities from enacting any gun-control measures whatsoever.
    Local officials still have an opportunity to do their part in reducing the flow of guns out of West Virginia. But they have to act quickly.

Today’s editorial reflects the opinion of the Exponent editorial board, which includes William J. Sedivy, John G. Miller, Julie R. Cryser, James Logue, Kevin Courtney and Cecil Jarvis.

Battling child poverty
in West Virginia calls
for action, not talk

    Nearly one of every three children in West Virginia is not where he or she is supposed to be. More than 128,500 of them should certainly not be living in poverty. Yet that is exactly where they are, a new study shows.
    It is alarming indeed, but the West Virginia Kids Count Fund study has shown an increase in the number of state children living in poverty — from 115,073 in 1990 to 128,,673 in a more recent count. In 1980, the total was 101,909. That is an increase of about 13 percent from 1980 to 1990, and a jump of nearly 12 percent from 1990 to 1996.
This is totally unacceptable.
    West Virginia first lady Hovah Underwood knows this and has challenged others to take a look at the statistics. Then she wants everyone to “think about what they mean and how to do something about it.”
Only Mississippi and Louisiana have more poor children than we do, which is certainly nothing for West Virginia to be proud of, one official said.
    It is really no surprise. The Kids Count report said the increase in child poverty is largely related to the lack of improvement of income for workers in the state. And the report cites at least two trends among working families: first, that more women are working to offset declines in their husbands’ incomes, and second, there is a growing gap between rich and poor families. This is according to Margie Hale, executive director of the West Virginia Kids Count Fund.
    We knew the poverty rates in the Mountain State were above the national average. But we were startled to learn that 41 of the state’s 55 counties have poverty rates above the national average. Most of those counties are in the central and southern parts of the state.
     In this region, those counties include: Barbour, up from 25.1 percent to 37.3 percent; Braxton, up from 27.5 to 36.5 percent; Doddridge, from 27.1 percent to 32 percent; Gilmer, 20.5 to 44.9 percent; Harrison, 17.9 to 30 percent; Lewis, 19.8 to 37.1 percent; Randolph, 15.8 to 32.9 percent; Ritchie, 22 to 34.9 percent; Taylor, 19.5 to 34 percent; Tucker, 20.4 to 26.4 percent, and Upshur, from 19.7 percent up to 35.8 percent. These are not just increases. These are significant increases.
    Kids Count officials maintain that the solutions to child poverty in West Virginia hinge on education, the tax system and programs that benefit poor families, especially the working poor who are moving off of the welfare rolls.
    We have a hunch that Mrs. Underwood has more in mind in fighting the problem than what is too often the standard response: simply naming a committee and then hearing nothing more about any effective method to solve the specific problem.
    She has said her husband, Governor Cecil Underwood, is planning to combat child poverty through funding for training in especially poor counties and through various education initiatives.
    We hope these and other weapons in the fight will at least partially do the trick.
 Robert F. Stealey
Telegram Editorial Board chairman


Clarksburg Publishing Company, P.O. Box 2000, Clarksburg, WV 26302 USA
Copyright Clarksburg Publishing Company 1999