Exponent View, Saturday, Feb. 20, 1999
Valley Head adults helping point young people in right
Last Monday, in the Exponent and Telegram, we introduced
you to a semi-retired fishing enthusiast who found a second home in the
Randolph County town of Valley Head. David Mace could have been content
just casting his line, but he has also taken on a more important task:
To find constructive and fun activities for the area's young people.
Working with United Methodist pastor Charlene Hamrick,
Mace has been busy in recent months organizing Easter egg hunts, pizza
parties and trips to the movies. Later this month he'll be taking a group
of young people snow tubing at Snowshoe.
Mace was struck by the contrast between the youth
in Valley Head and his own grandchildren in North Carolina. His grand kids
had plenty of activities in which to participate. The Valley Head kids
didnt have much of anything to do.
He decided something needed to be done, especially after the deaths
of three local young people last year. Together, Mace and Hamrick formed
a youth fellowship and began training other adults to counsel and mentor
the area's youth.
Now, Mace, Hamrick and others are hoping to develop
a community center where young people can gather. That won't be an easy
task because the money just isn't there. And there are no businesses in
the area to help finance such a project.
But they press on, and continue to keep young folk busy and pointed
in a positive direction.
Not only are they positive role models for the kids,
but they certainly can set an example for adults anywhere. They have taken
on the monumental task of seeing to the needs of young people. We're certain
the fruits of their labors will be evident for years to come.
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.
Telegram View, Saturday, Feb. 20, 1999
Dragging death trial should pull death penalty bill
off the shelf
Another death penalty bill designed to punish convicted
first-degree murderers was introduced in the House Judiciary Committee
of the West Virginia Legislature on January 13. Statehouse sources say
that is where the measure remains. That is a sad state of affairs indeed.
Death penalty legislation, each session for the
last several years, has had to wait on its own "death row" in the Legislature
before dying a slow death. This is no way to bring about a major deterrent
to the premeditated killing of other human beings.
We were reminded of the horrendous effect a murder can have on a community
early this week. Trial began Monday in Jasper, Texas, for the first of
three white men charged in the heinous killing of James Byrd Jr., a 49-year-old
black man who was dragged to death behind a pickup truck.
The suspect, 24-year-old John William King, has
claimed allegiance to a white supremacist group. He supposedly was the
ringleader of the trio who picked up the victim, then beat him, chained
him to the back of the truck and dragged him down a country road.
If convicted, King faces life in prison or death
by lethal injection. Texas has shown that it is not a bit bashful about
executing convicted murderers.
West Virginians should never be so complacent as
to believe such a terrible act could not, or would not, be committed in
the Mountain State. If an individual knows the death penalty is possible
if he or she is convicted of first-degree murder, yet follows through
with it anyway, think what the possibilities would be in a state where
there is no death penalty.
Granted, condemning a person to death should never be taken lightly
to the point of putting another notch in the IV pole that holds the lethal
Still it is a shame when juries fail to convict
those guilty of planning the deaths of others. It is equally as bad if
they do convict and the judges fail to hand down a penalty strong enough
to prevent other such acts because their hands are tied by the law.
First-degree murder verdicts in West Virginia
have shown no significant indications of decreasing. That is why the death
penalty bill must be retrieved from the House Judiciary Committee and be
allowed to pass through the various channels, and then, for a change, be
approved by the full Legislature.
Robert F. Stealey
Telegram editorial board chairman
Rediscovering my racing roots
During my college days, I had a friend who would
drag me off every once in a while to some remote dirt track or county fairground
in Ohio to watch him race sprint cars.
And in the 1980s, while working as a reporter for
The Indianapolis Star, I actually attended five straight Indianapolis 500
races at the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
In 1986, in fact, I was on the track, right in front
of pole-sitter Bobby Rahal, when the starter gave the command, "Gentlemen,
start your engines!" And Rahal, whose pit I was assigned to cover that
day, went on to win that year's race.
Pretty exciting stuff, huh?
Since leaving Indy in 1987, however, I must confess
that I've pretty much lost interest in all types of auto racing. And yes,
I've even turned down numerous invitations to travel back to Indianapolis
for the 500 and for the popular NASCAR race held there now, the Brickyard
Auto racing, I decided at some point after 1987,
is dumb. Think about it.
Why would anyone spend lots of perfectly good money
on race tickets knowing they were going to have to fight traffic for two
hours just to get close to the race track? Why would anyone choose to fight
through a bunch of drunks to get close to the men's room, sit on uncomfortable
bleachers all day, eat bad food and leave town with a bad case of sunburn
and a splitting headache?
Or worse, why would anyone waste a perfectly good
Saturday or Sunday afternoon sitting in front of the boob tube, watching
a bunch of cars go around in circles?
Wouldn't you rather be running rapids on a river,
golfing or even bird-watching? Sorry sports fans, racing just ceased to
turn this boy on.
So it was that I had a pretty tough time coping
with life in Clarksburg, W.Va., during the week leading up to last Sunday's
Daytona 500. It seemed to me that the upcoming race was all anyone in town
really wanted to talk about.
Are you going? Where are you going to watch it? Gordon or Earnhardt?
Ford or Chevy?
I felt so alone.
Then, on Sunday, my world really came crashing down on me.
My good friend Scuzzy Miller, a man for whom I have
tremendous respect, a man whose intellect I'd compare with that of Alan
Greenspan, announced on Sunday morning that he wanted to plan his day around
Ñ the race.
My wife, Maryl, and I were stunned.
Scuz? Car racing? No way!
But it was true. At high noon, Scuzzy flipped on
the TV and settled down into the couch for a day of NASCAR racing.
Reluctantly, and mainly because we didn't want to be anti-social, Maryl
and I sat down with him.
Immediately, we identified with the Lowe's car Ñ we've been
spending a lot of money there lately trying to wrap up a few home improvement
Five laps turned into 10. Ten laps became 25. The
lead changed hands. We yelled for the Lowe's car. Dale Earnhardt looked
like his was trying to run other drivers into the wall!
Twenty-five laps turned into 180.
I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat. The
strategy! The jockeying! To pit or not to pit? This was exciting stuff!
Now, don't worry. Just because I enjoyed that one race doesn't mean
I'll give up boating, or bird watching, to go follow the NASCAR circuit.
And please, don't even think about inviting me to Darlington, S.C. in early
September. It'll be too hot then, and besides, I'll be getting in shape
for Gauley season.
But, sitting there with Scuz last Sunday did make
me remember how exciting auto racing can be. For a while, at least, I won't
be thinking, or saying, that auto racing is dumb. And maybe, just maybe,
I'll see if I can get one of my old buddies in Indianapolis to offer up
some tickets for this year's Brickyard 400.
Executive Editor Bill Sedivy's column appears every Saturday.