The 55 West Virginias an important mini-history
by Bob Stealey
The following is a BobnAlong column reprinted from September
As a columnist, many interesting things come to my
attention, including publications that pertain to the Mountain State. Not
so long ago, I received a copy of a paperback publication titled The 55
West Virginias A Guide to the States Counties.
It was written by F. Lee North and this year is its second edition,
containing updates from the first edition as well as the latest census
On the front and back covers is a beautiful, panoramic
color photograph of downtown Parsons, nestled in the mountains of Tucker
County. On the inside front cover is a picture of the Capitol and a number
of other buildings in Charleston. Historic Harpers Ferry is captured in
a color photo on the inside back cover.
And, of course, on the inside pages are brief histories
of each of the states 55 counties, as well as black and white photos.
E. Lee North is also the author of Redcoats, Redskins and Red-Eyed
Monsters, which is a human interest history of West Virginia published
by A.S. Barnes, Inc. He also wrote She Produces All-Americans, a history
of football at his alma mater, Washington & Jefferson College, and
a novel, For This One Hour, which was set in Poland and Russia
during World War II.
In addition, he was editor of the W &
J undergraduate weekly, The Red and Black, for two years and a member of
the History ad Journalism national honor societies. And after serving as
sports editor of the Washington (Pa.) Reporter and publicity director at
W & J, North worked as editor and proposal manager at Grumman Aerospace
for 37 years. He retired in 1989.
Two years later, North completed a history of the
schools century of football (1890-1990), Battling the Indians, Panthers
and Nittany Lions, which includes much about West Virginia schools and
players, as WVU was one of W & Js top opponents from the 1890s into
He co-authored two books Chris, the Rhode Island
Wonder Dog, with Jane Wyman, and The History of Bay Shore (Long Island)
High School Athletics, with Arthur Dromerhauser.
One feature of the publication was an authors tribute
to the late Jim Comstock, long-time editor of the Hillbilly. In letter
form to Comstocks widow, it was also undersigned by Norths wife, Florence.
In it, he said:
My heart grieves. West Virginia and the nation have lost a great man,
a wonderful writer, and an accomplished historian. More, we have
all lost a dear friend.
Florence and I extend our sincere sympathies to all of you who knew
Jim so well, and of course mostly to you, Ola so often referred
to in Jims loving way as the poor wretch who had to put up with him
and his antics. And, of course, to all those of your and Jims wonderful
The tribute continued: When I started work on a
West Virginia history in the 1960s, Jim was right there with copies of
the Hillbilly sent dozens of them to me and never asked for a cent. And
what a source of history they were! Nothing can compare, not even the WV
Historical Society bulletins, which seemed to come out whenever someone
felt like it. Jim also offered any personal help he could give, and he
was the one primarily responsible for our work that was published b A.S.
Barnes Redcoats, Redskins, and Red-Eyed Monsters some 15 years ago.
After a few more paragraphs, North closed his tribute
with these words: Id not be surprised to see Jims byline popping up
again I dont see how Heaven will be able to slow him down.
Is higher education in W.Va. getting out of reach?
Its almost a rite of spring. Along with the daffodils
and robins comes the annual hike in tuition and fees at West Virginias
two universities. At what point, we wonder, does higher education in this
state become an unattainable goal for working families?
The University System Board of Trustees voted on
Friday to increase tuition at WVU and Marshall by 3 percent and to increase
a variety of fees at both schools.
Board member Joe Powell raised some pertinent questions
during the meeting. He pointed out that West Virginia ranks 49th in the
nation in per capita income. I am concerned about access, he said. Sooner
or later it eats away at that.
We should not price anyone out of a college education.
In a state where we are finally turning the corner
in encouraging more and more high school graduates to go to college, we
seem to be shooting ourselves in our collective foot by making it increasingly
more expensive to attend college.
Most in-state undergrads at WVU will now have to
pay $1,374 per semester. Their counterparts at Marshall will have to pay
$1,228. Plus, many students will have to pay even more fees depending on
the classes they take.
That isnt all. The State College System Board of
Directors, which oversees the four-year colleges in West Virginia, meets
next week and is likely to vote to raise tuition and fees as well.
We understand that running colleges and universities
is an expensive proposition, but 3 percent increases in tuition are much,
much more than the rate of inflation.
Yes, were benefitting somewhat from the thriving
national economy, but the fact remains that this is a poor state. One in
three children live in poverty in West Virginia. Were not doing them any
favors by jacking up tuition year after year.
Todays 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.
Dont say military chiefs, CIA didnt warn Clinton
blunder in Kosovo
If President Clinton finds that, like the people
of Kosovo, he is isolated and under attack, it serves him right. He should
have paid more attention when military and intelligence experts expressed
caution about ordering air strikes on Yugoslavia.
Notwithstanding the fact that Clinton was a draft-dodger during
the Vietnam era, his credibility as commander in chief is more in question
now than it has ever been during his term as president. Never has there
been a foreign policy disaster as serious as Kosovo during his career.
One thing should be made clear at the outset:
Nobody can blame the Joint Chiefs of Staff or the Central Intelligence
Agency for the presidents ineffective actions.
Some staunch Clinton supporters may term as bravado their heros
decision nearly three weeks ago to send fighter-bombers to the Baltic region.
But to us, it is reminiscent of the words to an old standard: Fools rush
in where wise men never go.
Before his re-election to a second term as
president in 1996 and before his Democrat cronies in Congress were up for
election this past fall, Clinton was a regular opinion poll watcher. Now
that he is a lame duck president and the off-year elections are over,
the polls hardly seem to interest him.
In our view, he should have been heeding something
much more important than public opinion polls.
Last Mondays Washington Post reported that the Joint Chiefs
of Staff had expressed deep reservations about the Clinton administrations
approach to Kosovo and warned that bombing alone likely would not achieve
its political aims.
A few weeks before the air strikes began, the military
chiefs allegedly argued for tougher economic sanctions and questioned whether
the interests of the U.S. were really that much at stake.
The CIAs reservations were also put on the
record in the Post two weeks ago. CIA Director George Tenet was quoted
as saying he had been forecasting that Serb-led Yugoslav forces might
respond by accelerating their campaign of ethnic cleansing in the province
of Kosovo precisely the outcome that has unfolded.
Also quoted in last weeks Post article was
former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, who has served as an envoy to the
region for the White House. But in an opinion piece, Dole wrote at that
point that after nearly two weeks of bombing, the U.S. administration
still has not clearly articulated its political and military objectives.
It is therefore little wonder that the results thus far have been less
than a complete success.
Even the media has been questioning why Clinton remains committed
to a policy that many experts say is failing.
We do not believe that NATO especially the United States
should be in the current fix in which it finds itself. Not if Clinton
and some other NATO member leaders would have trusted Russian diplomats
to negotiate with Yugoslav dictator Slobodan Milosevic to come up with
a settlement to curb the ethnic cleansing and ethnic slaughter that has
left the blood of many thousands of Kosovars and Albanians on that despots
Instead, NATO and Clinton have angered Russia with the initial
and continued air strikes. The U.S. would be very unwise to count Russia
out as a world power now.
Michael Beschloss is one of the foremost historians of foreign
policy, having written such books as Kennedy vs. Krushchev The Crisis
Years. He claims that Clinton is now finding himself isolated because
he has not done very much to build his reputation as a foreign policy
or military leader.
Maybe Clinton is still not concerned about the critics. Maybe
he ought to be.
Robert F. Stealey
Telegram Editorial Page chairman