It’s good to see  cooperative effort between citizens and police officers

    It’s good to see the police department and residents of Clarksburg working together.
And it’s even better to know the police department’s first Citizens Police Academy has been successful.
At 6:30 p.m. today, about two dozen people will graduate from the academy, held for the past 15 weeks to help open the lines of communication between average citizens and the police.
    Academy participants took field trips to jails and law enforcement facilities. They talked about everything from hiring officers to firearms safety. “We kind of expected a classroom-type situation, but the discussions have really opened up,’’ said academy participant Mike Kozakewich.
    For the police department, the academy has helped make friends. “We’re looking for people to become leaders in problem solving, along with the police, in the neighborhoods,’’ said Clarksburg Police Chief Raymond Mazza.
    Participants said that they now know who to call when they see a problem in their neighborhood. And police have been able to make several arrests from the information that has been shared in just the past 15 weeks, Mazza said.
    But just because the academy’s 15-week program is finished, it doesn’t mean it’s over. Class members will have alumni meetings once a month for citizens and police to interact and talk about problems in their communities and the solutions to those problems.
    That’s good to know. Only through knowing the community and knowing where the problems are can police help communities become a better place to live.

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.



Convenient, safe and affordable parking a must for downtown

    Parking — or, rather, the lack of it — is the biggest problem that downtowns face. Parking is a key reason why shopping plazas and malls replaced downtowns as the place to shop.
    Shopping plazas and malls can offer patrons acres of free parking. Downtowns cannot. Shopping plazas and malls can offer patrons convenient parking right in front of or beside the store where they want to shop. Downtowns cannot.
    So, the biggest thing downtowns can do to survive and perhaps even prosper is to make parking as available, as convenient and as safe as possible. Clarksburg is doing that by upgrading the Hewes Avenue  parking garage.
    The city has hired contractors to repair the garage’s stairwell and overhaul its elevator. Other work will include sealing cracks in the garage’s concrete and applying a coat of sealant, pressure-washing the building and putting in more drains for better water runoff.
    The city will also make the garage safer for patrons. New lights will be brighter than the current orangish ones. Security cameras will let garage employees keep an eye on parked cars, reducing the risk of theft or vandalism or worse.
All the improvements won’t come cheap. They will cost the city of Clarksburg more than $900,000. That’s a lot of money, but it’s money wisely spent.
    The city is reinvesting revenue garnered from last July’s parking fee increases to protect one of its biggest capital investments. The Hewes Avenue parking garage is two decades old, and work such as applying concrete sealant and installing new water drains is aimed at keeping the garage structurally sound for 20 more years.
    The city is also protecting the future of its downtown. The glorious days when everyone came there to shop may be gone, but downtown Clarksburg does have a retail market. Every workday, hundred of employees of downtown businesses — from bank tellers to law office clerks to government workers — eat and shop downtown.
    Parking — convenient, affordable, safe parking — is key to keeping businesses and their employees downtown, as well as drawing in new ones.
 
Tim Langer
Telegram editorial board member



Ginger proves even dogs cannot have everything
by Gail Marsh

My dog is smart. Ugly, but smart.
    Ginger is a 9-year-old terrier  mix who has been with my family since we adopted her, sight unseen, through the Taylor County Humane Society when she was just a few weeks old. We’ve never regretted it.
She came from a litter of 12 puppies. The family who owned her mother said the pup was the runt and the “most interesting looking one.” They got that right.
    We were told Ginger’s dad was a wirehaired terrier and her mother looked like Benji, so she stayed under 25 pounds and has had a bad-hair day for the last 9 years. She has beautiful chocolate eyes and a big brown nose, but her brownish hair sticks out all over her body like she’s in a constant state of alarm. Except when she sheds a few times during the year and gets numerous bald spots — then  she just looks scary. The vet said it’s just her nature and recommended we keep her coat brushed, but it’s hard to brush your dog when the rest of the family — and the neighbors — are laughing at the way she looks.
    Ginger does have white markings on her chest and on each foot, but her only good feature  is balanced out by an out-of-control tail that doesn’t seem to know that it’s attached to the rest of her body. If one more person asks if she’s a pet rat or tells me, “Aw, she’s so ugly she’s almost cute,” I’ll scream.
    Back to the smart part. Well, she didn’t start out very smart, but she developed rather quickly. Ginger has come a long way from the days when she was afraid of linoleum.
    She would tromp carefree through the carpeted house, but when she got to the kitchen linoleum, she would stop dead in her tracks and back up, whining.  We thought maybe her mother was hit by a loose piece of floor tile.
    Anyway, once she figured out that the only way she was going to eat was to cross the kitchen floor and make her way to her dish in the corner, she was able to overcome her shiny-floor-a-phobia.
    Ginger was smart when it came to house training, but she was a bit of a problem when it came to walking on a leash.
Ever try to drag a small, homely dog who refuses to walk on a leash through the park without making a spectacle of yourself and raising the ire of other pet lovers? She never really mastered a leash, so it’s a good thing she’s learned to heel and walk by my side whenever I need her to. I don’t take her out many places.
    Ginger has quite an extensive vocabulary, with barks that mean everything from “I’m out of water here” to “The UPS man is blocking the driveway again.”
    She understands so much of  what we say that we took to spelling out words years ago — something that’s hard to explain  to visitors who notice that our daughter is almost 23.
    Since we moved to the country a few years ago, Ginger has  had a number of new experiences that she’ll probably never try again. Rolling in fresh cow or deer manure used to be her idea of a good time, but after being locked out of the house a number of times, followed by three screaming family members trying to decide whose job it was to wash the dog this time, it sort of took the fun out of it for her.
    I told you she was smart. You can ask our visitors. Ginger seems to have a knack for picking out the family member or guest who most needs her attention.
    She can definitely tell when someone has had a long day or an upsetting incident and will gravitate to that person’s side.
She’ll stay by them, offering to let them pet her, pick her up and even share their food with her. There’s no limit to her hospitality, and she’s endeared enough people so that lately she actually gets e-mail from friends, asking how she’s doing and what she’s been up to.
    Now that my daughter is married and off on her own, Ginger likes to spend her days sunning on the best piece of furniture in any room she chooses. Age is catching up with her, but she still loves car rides, popcorn and keeping the yard safe from the belligerent bunny or squirrel that happens to wander through.
    As long as she has a daily run to the mail box, sans leash, a full food dish and a warm lap to curl up on occasionally, she seems quite content. See, I told you she was smart.



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Copyright Clarksburg Publishing Company 1999