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Exponent view -- Monday, Feb. 8, 1999
School board needs to make sure kids get to compete

One of the most important lessons children can learn is to always give their best when given the opportunity.
On Saturday, Liberty wrestler Drake Jenkins and his teammates had planned on doing just that in the Big 10 Conference wrestling championships.
Unfortunately, Jenkins and his teammates never got the chance.
An illness sidelined Coach Tom Hilton. And two factors combined to pin Liberty’s wrestlers before they ever reached the mat:
— The Liberty wrestling team has no assistant coach.
— The administration wasn’t made aware of Hilton’s illness until after the event.
Some undoubtedly will blame the coach; others the principal; still others will fault the Harrison County Board of Education.
The underlying problem is one of apathy toward sports that don’t generate revenue.
This would never happen to a football team in Harrison or surrounding counties. Nor would it happen to a basketball team.
But, in the pecking order of high school athletics, this could easily happen to athletes who participate in wrestling, swimming, tennis, track, volleyball, baseball, golf and softball.
Most of those sports have just one coach per team. And apparently there’s nothing in place to ensure a suitable replacement is found in a coach’s absence.
We know there isn’t enough money to have assistant coaches for every sport. But there needs to be a way to ensure that student-athletes aren’t left on the bench just because the coach is ill.
The Harrison County Board of Educaton and its administrative staff need to pay more attention to these so-called minor sports that oftentimes have as many, if not more, student-athletes participating than football and basketball.
The Liberty wrestling team worked many long hours preparing for the Big 10 wrestling championship. With only a handful of wrestlers, it wasn’t going to win the team title. But it should have been given the chance.

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 -- Monday, Feb. 8, 1999
Fairmont General contract agreement is a healthy outcome
Residents of Marion County can now breathe a collective sigh of relief as a result of the agreement worked out between Fairmont General Hospital and union workers in such critical positions as nurses, lab workers and technicians. The contract was accepted by union members who voted Saturday.
“Both sides are satisfied that the new contract meets their needs and will help preserve the long-term financial health of the hospital,” officials said in a joint statement.
The settlement averted a strike which would have forced the hospital to cease operations as of today or until a settlement was reached.
Such a disruption in providing health care to Marion County resident’s would be catastrophic. Fairmont and all of Marion County have dealt with numerous setbacks in recent years pertaining to its economic base. A shutdown at Fairmont General, the county’s third largest employer, would certainly create a ripple effect in the region’s economy and have a negative impact on us all.
These are difficult times in the health care industry. As a result of managed care and HMO’s negotiating lower rates and fewer covered services, smaller hospitals such as Fairmont General have a difficult time making it on their own. Other health care providers, such as United Hospital Center inClarksburg, have opted to affiliate into networks in order to reduce costs and improve efficiencies, as well as negotiate contracts with HMO’s.
Both sides should be commended for averting a strike. The federal mediator obviously was successful in renewing talks which broke off in December. Others in the community, such as county commissioners, city officials and local clergy — who held a prayer vigil, deserve credit for rallying the community around both parties to ensure a compromise was reached.
Marion County needs to ensure the long-term health of Fairmont General. A strong health care provider helps make a community an attractive place to invest and create new business. The agreement between the hospital and the union is a healthy outcome for everyone.
Andy Knicely
Telegram Editorial Board member
Some notes on old West Union High School, but first ...
Today I want to relate just a little history from the town of West Union in Doddridge County. But first, if you’ll allow me, I’ll crawl up on my soapbox and say a few words on behalf of a man I don’t even know, Phil Hudok, who was an Elkins High School chemistry and physics teacher until he was fired this past Thursday night by the Randolph County Board of Education.
The reason for Mr. Hudok’s firing was that he refused to enforce the school’s identification tag policy that had previously enacted by the school board.
That means, I take it, that he didn’t make his students wear numbered school identification tags. He refused to wear one himself, citing his religious beliefs that the bar codes on the tags are a sign of the “mark of the beast,” as mentioned in the book of the Revelation to John in the Bible.
I agree with Mr. Hudok in his refusal to wear the bar code and his choice to not enforce it among his students. In my opinion, if there’s one thing he is not, it’s a hypocrite.
I respect the fact that policies must be made, whether in schools or for the protection and betterment of society — otherwise there’d be anarchy. I have no qualms with the fact that policies are needed. I just don’t happen to believe for a minute that requiring bar codes on ID tags is a good policy.
Bar codes are fine at the department store or at the supermarket. They make the hectic job of checkout cashiers much easier in most cases. But people — including students — aren’t cans of vegetables or slabs of meat, they’re people, for crying out loud! If God meant for us to all be the same except for a different number, He’d have seen to it that it would have come to pass.
Now, the subject of West Union. Anne Mish of Center Point, whom I’ve mentioned before as the author of a set of booklets, wrote “West Union, Doddridge County, W.V., Book 2.” On its pale green, paperback cover was a picture of the West Union High School building before 1900.
On one of its pages was a story by the late Alton Childers, a prominent Doddridge County historian, which appeared in the Herald-Record, West Union’s local weekly paper. Mr. Childers cited two different articles in that newspaper about the old West Union High School reunion.
“Both were excellent explanatory accounts of the planning being done for the Oct. 16 reunion, to be held at the Doddridge County Park. The first story was in the Herald-Record for June 30, 1992 (Page 1); the most recent was in last week’s paper, July 21 (1992, Page 3). These were written by Edgar Elder, publicity chairman for the WUHS Planning Committee.
“In 1984, I placed in the Herald-Record a picture of the ‘Old Red Brick’ West Union High School. Louise Thorndell Varner, a graduate of the WUHS Class of 1926, let me use the picture. I had a 5-by-7 enlargement made before returning it. This is the above picture. I’m sharing it again for two reasons. 1. This year’s reunion will be soon. 2. Many of you may not have seen the original ‘Old Brick Building.’
“More than 80 people are in the picture. I doubt that anyone is still living. But many of us knew them or know about them. Just reading their names awakens memories of them, their families, their businesses and how important they were and are in the history of our county.
“We need to keep in mind that the ... picture is of the original building which was under construction in 1891. Records show that on Dec. 13, 1889, Mrs. Mary A. Stuart deeded 4 1/2 acres to the West Union Independent School District for school purposes. At first, it was an elementary school for all children in the town. The picture probably was taken in the school year 1892-93 when only grades first through eighth were in attendance. West Union High School began in this building in 1900.”
That was the one, I believe, that was on the cover of Mrs. Mish’s booklet.
I’ll have more history about Doddridge County in upcoming Bob’n’Along columns. ‘Just thought this little piece of the past was interesting.
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