Easter — A day of a reflection for Christians around the world
    “He is risen!” is the jubilant cry that was heard nearly 2000 years ago and is repeated most every Easter Sunday by Christians all over the world. After all, we are referring to the most holy day of the Christian year. It’s when Christianity shines its very finest.
    “Faith and spirituality are of paramount importance to Americans.” That’s what Bill Broadway of The Washington Post said in quoting David Kinnaman, research director at the California-based Barna Research Group. He said that the level of a person’s spirituality is “very important” in determining how he or she acts on a day-to-day basis.
    For pastors and priests, the occasion of Easter Sunday allows them to minister to members who attend services only once or twice a year, and also to potential members. But for those who are scholars of American religion, it offers a chance to observe the moral character of individuals and determine the nation’s spiritual identity.
    For the first time, next week the Barna Research Group will hold a post-Easter survey, as Broadway again quoted Kinnaman, “to quantify the number of people (who attend) and the huge uptick” over other Sundays throughout the year.
Barna hopes that the results will help indicate the “reality of where Americans are spiritually and to what extent they may be expressed at Easter.”
    Can anyone really say for sure how many people attend Easter services? The Princeton Religion Research Center took a Gallup poll 13 years ago, estimating Easter attendance at 49 percent of adults nationwide.
    Best estimates suggest that a majority of the nation’s adults and their children — this means 120 million people — will be attending an Easter service today.
    Barna’s Easter survey comes at a point in time when several studies have questioned conventional wisdom that 40 percent of all American adults attend church or synagogue weekly.
    Tom W. Smith is a social analyst and survey director at the Chicago-based National Opinion Research Center. He says church attendance is the single best predictor of how a person’s religious beliefs will affect the behaviors of others.
    I don’t dispute that going to church is important. It is, whether it’s once or twice a year or, more desirably, if it’s 52 Sundays a year.
    I happen to believe that the way a Christian sees what Easter represents is between himself and the Godhead, or Holy Trinity. What the Cross and the Resurrection mean to the follower of Christ is, I feel, THE most important matter of all.

    On a much different note, as promised here are the answers to the 20 “Baby Boomers music  trivia” quiz that was in this past Wednesday’s column.
    I guess I made the questions tougher than I had originally intended. However, due to space limitations, I’m unable to repeat the questions here, so please refer to Wednesday’s Bob’n’Along.
1. Vic Dana; 2. Carole King; 3. “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”; 4. Gene Pitney; 5. Tom & Jerry; 6. Philadelphia; 7. “Surfin’ Safari”; 8. Wee Five (The Youngbloods had a hit with it in 1969, not 1973 as previously indicated in my column); 9. “Touch Me” (because the last four notes of the song were the same as the then-popular Ajax detergent, which said “Strong-er Than Dirt!”); 10. Jim Yester, Terry Kirkman, Gary Alexander, Ted Bluechel Jr., Russ Giguere and Brian Cole; (Larry Ramos replaced Alexander in 1967, but Alexander later returned and it was a seven-man group); 11. Dennis Yost and the Classics Four; 12. The Ronettes; 13. Joan Baez; 14. Bobby Rydell; 15. “Punish Her”; 16. Perry Como; 17. Little Jimmy Brown; 18. David Seville; 19. “Last Train to Clarksville” and “I’m a Believer”; 20. Bobbie Gentry.

    James Clavier of Ann Arbor,  Mich., sent me an e-mail asking if anyone can remember a fire that destroyed a glass factory in Salem in about 1920. He said  the factory was owned by his great-grandfather, Samuel Clavier.
James Clavier left his e-mail address as jclavier@mediaone.net.



West Virginians need
to be extra careful
during fire season
    This is a dangerous time for West Virginians. With the warm, dry weather of the past week, conditions are ripe for brush and forest fires. It is up to all of us to exercise caution when burning outdoors.
    It can happen very quickly and have devastating results. A family in Hedgesville was burning a pile of leaves in the backyard last week when it got out of control and spread to the deck. From there the house burned down and there was nothing the family could do to stop it. The fire also scorched 2.5 acres of nearby woods. This past Tuesday alone there were 23 fires reported across the state.
    We are right in the middle of fire season in West Virginia. Strict regulations are in effect until May 31. You can only burn outdoors from 4 p.m. until dusk. It is recommended that you have a hose nearby in case things get out of hand.
We all know, however, that many homeowners violate those rules. They feel that it’s their property, they can do as they darn well please.
    Fine. But they should also know that they can be held liable if their little fires turn into big ones. They can also be obligated to pay the costs of fighting the fire.
    We can all help to minimize the risks this fire season by simply using some common sense. We have to remember that fire, fueled by dry, highly combustible leaves and brush, can wreak havoc on our homes and our environment.
    Before you strike that match, you have to ask yourself: “Is it really worth it?”


Letters to the Editor

Local Lions Club members have impact both here and abroad
    When some people read a news item in our local papers about a Lions club in Harrison County, they think the Lions are just a small group getting together for an evening meal. Not so. Lions International is world-wide with more than 42,000 clubs in 181 countries. Our motto is “We Serve.”
    In Harrison County, we have 19 Lions clubs and two Leo clubs — only a fraction of our world-wide membership. The clubs in Harrison County are very active and support many club projects, such as our Little League baseball teams, our Seeing-Eye Dog Program, the local arts at our high schools, our School Quest programs, diabetes groups, Leo clubs at high schools, summer youth camps, the Ski Program for the visually handicapped, drug programs, Flag Day for all first- graders, flower programs, eyeglasses for those in need, West Virginia Sight Foundation, LCIF, Lions International Program and many more.
    We also have an interest in the Robert C. Byrd Eye Center in Morgantown and a Lions’ sight mobile unit that is run by Lions and is available to all West Virginia communities and schools for the purpose of eye screening. There are nearly 10 million people of all ages who are blind or severely visually impaired in the U.S. today and almost 100,000 are children. So the Lions are recognized world-wide as leaders in the Sight for the Blind Program.
    During the month of April, you will see members of our local Lions clubs at the entrance to many stores collecting donations to be used in our sight programs. There are many reasons for the loss of sight — cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma being the top three. Most all three can be corrected with surgery and glasses, if diagnosed, by your eye doctor or the West Virginia Lions’ Mobile Unit.
    The local Lions have just received word that Lions International has awarded a grant of $341,000 to the Lions clubs in District 403-A in the South African nation of Ghana, to be used in stabilizing the spread of blindness in that country.
So, being Lions members in Harrison County, we are proud to support many local projects and, at the same time, know that a small part of our success goes to help those in need, such as Ghana, South Africa.
Corbet Phares
Craigmoor
 

Clarksburg Fire Department to be
congratulated for certification
    Recently, there was an article in your paper about all the officers of the Clarksburg Fire Department receiving national certification as fire officers. This is quite an achievement for any fire department, and something they should be proud of.
    This is something that the citizens of Clarksburg should take notice of. What this means to them is that their fire department is working very hard to improve and sharpen their skills to protect lives and property.
    I have been teaching firefighting classes through the West Virginia University Fire Service Extension for 15 years.
To the best of my knowledge, the Clarksburg Fire Department is the first in the state to have all of its officers trained to this high level.
    My congratulations to the Clarksburg Fire Department for setting such high standards.
Steven A. Strait
Instructor
WVU Fire Service Extension
Shinnston
 

Unfair method used to estimate gas bill
     feel I need to point out the unfair method the gas company is using since it started the every-two-months of gas readings. The word “estimate” means approximate, but they are using it as any high figure they choose, telling us it will make next month’s reading lower.
    That is correct, but to illustrate my point, on my bills it shows an estimate of $187.05, then an actual reading of $51.57 — a more than 300 percent difference. They have the higher amount earlier and longer to earn interest for them, and we, the customers, have that inflated amount less, so we earn less interest on our money.
    This, multiplied by a few times a year, multiplied by the amount of customers they have, will make the gas company lots of interest money at our — the customers’ — expense.
    Also, the gas company notifies the customers each year that we can contribute to a fund to help the poor people with their winter gas bills. The company indicates that it contributes to it.
    I think the company contributes very little, if any. In running the business, they put this down as operating expenses and, therefore, our gas rates are higher with this contribution in their expense column.
Hertzel Johnston
Clarksburg



Easter should be
a calming time for
Eastern Europe crisis
    Today is not just another one of the 52 Sundays in 1999. The Easter Sunday holiday is a very special day in the hearts of millions of Americans and millions of others around the world.
    For those who practice Christianity, the Easter holiday celebrates the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This day is a symbol of hope of an afterlife for those who live a  good and just life on this earth.
    We hope the holiday can serve as a calming time in Eastern Europe. It is alleged that Serb military actions are leading to the deaths and the mass expulsions of tens of thousands of ethnic Albanians.
    American and NATO warships have been firing missiles and planes have been dropping bombs into the region during the past week in an attempt to bring an end to alleged Serb atrocities being committed on the ground. The targets are military in nature, but it is apparent that innocent civilians are sometimes casualties.
    Right now, NATO and President Clinton have ruled out the use of ground troops. No American relishes the thought of American boys dying on foreign soil. This is especially true when it involves a civil war in another nation.
    Easter is about peace. An emissary for Pope John Paul II has called on NATO attacks to halt during Easter. We hope NATO listens. And we hope Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic’s army will cease its violence against Serbs.
    This holiday is also about new beginnings as spring begins to bloom around us. Let us hope that President Clinton can find a new way to stop the ethnic violence in Kosovo other than the bombing. The current action is dangerous for the entire world. The Balkans have already served as a stage for the beginning of one world war.
    We hope that the leaders of NATO will keep in perspective the possible danger to the rest of the world that is connected to the activities in the Balkans. It may not be possible for outsiders to solve the ethnic problems of a country. We hope NATO leaders will be wise enough to recognize whether that is the case in Kosovo.
    We wish peace for you and your family on this holiday.  And we pray for the safety of American service men and women in Eastern Europe.
Terry Horne
Telegram editorial board member


White-collar crime is just that — a crime
    Our judicial system needs a wake-up call when it comes to so-called white-collar crime. The concept of lady justice being blind while holding scales just doesn’t hold water.
    We can’t call it justice when an 18-year-old kid from an unthinkable background commits a desperate act to get money for a drug addiction and ends up in prison for five to 10 years. Kids like this need love, counseling, teaching and second chances. They don’t need prison terms that assure a lifetime of criminal activity.
    Compare that circumstance to a supposed pillar of the community who is caught doing a truly despicable act and walks away with a fine and just a few months in prison. The latest example comes to us from Atlanta, Ga., where a former professional baseball player had parlayed his athletic fame to gain public office.
    Former Atlanta Braves pitcher Pat Jarvis served as DeKalb County sheriff. Federal prosecutors contend Jarvis pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars from people who conducted business with DeKalb County. In some cases, prosecutors said, rolled-up bills were passed to Jarvis in plastic foam cups at a restaurant.
    The federal investigation didn’t occur until 1996 after he had left office and had been appointed by then-Gov. Zell Miller to be executive director of the Peace Officers Standards and Training Council, which certifies the state’s police officers and establishes training programs. The federal charges forced him to give up that position.
    In January Jarvis pleaded guilty to a federal mail fraud charge in connection with the investigation of his “shake down” activities for payoffs. A federal judge sentenced him this past week to 15 months in prison. He was also ordered to pay a $40,000 fine. The judge recommended that Jarvis serve his sentence at the minimum-security prison camp adjacent to the Atlanta federal penitentiary.
    This is ludicrous. The man betrayed the public trust and profited by hundreds of thousands of dollars and is fined $40,000 and ordered to serve 15 months in a country club prison. Who says crime doesn’t pay?
    Jarvis led a charmed life as a professional athlete. He was elected to office to serve taxpayers. He had every advantage in his life and he blew it. He is 57 years old and knew exactly what he was doing.
    Now, think again of that typical black 18-year-old inner-city youth who possibly came from a broken home with little parental guidance and little encouragement in school. He is surrounded by gangs, drugs and violence. He sees no way out.
    This typical youth has a few minor brushes with the law and then one night in a panic to get money to buy drugs he breaks into a convenience store and is caught. Because he has a record he goes to prison. He is sentenced to a lot longer than 15 months and doesn’t go to any cushy minimum-security facility. He does hard time and turns into a hard man who is doomed to resentment and fighting society the rest of his life. And doomed to come back to prison again and again.
    This isn’t necessarily all at the foot of judges. For example, the federal judge in the Jarvis case ordered the maximum fine and jail sentence allowed under the law.
    It is up to legislators at the state level to revisit criminal codes. It is time to get tougher on white-collar crime, particularly in cases involving elected officials who should be able to be trusted by the public.
    It makes sense to punish white-collar criminals severely. No, they probably didn’t use a gun or threaten anyone physically. But they are the most guilty criminals of all because they know right from wrong and have made the choice to cheat, lie and steal. They are the hardened criminals who should be serving hard time.
    Those young angry men who commit violent acts must be punished. But often they face tough lives, tough choices and have little help in seeing alternatives to the paths they are on. Can’t our society see that some way other than hard-time prison sentences must be an alternative for judges who think some of these kids can be saved? Can’t we devise programs that give new choices to such young men?
    Lawmakers are to blame for this injustice. They can fix it. Give the judge the opportunity to put public officials away for a very long time when they cheat the public trust.

Terry Horne is the publisher of the Clarksburg Exponent and the Clarksburg Telegram. 
His column appears every Sunday.

 



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Copyright Clarksburg Publishing Company 1999