News for Monday, July 12, 1999
FBI gets to know militia groups
by C. Bryson Hull
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
DEW, Texas -- Born out of the destruction of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal
Building in Oklahoma City, a little-noticed program has made strange bedfellows
of FBI agents and militia members.
On the orders of FBI Director Louis Freeh and Attorney General Janet
Reno, agents in the 56 FBI field offices around the country have been finding
ways to reach out to members of militia groups in their local areas.
The program, established just weeks after the April 19, 1995, bombing
that killed 168 people, has been an open secret with positive consequences
for the nation's top police agency and the militia movement.
"I think you're seeing it throughout the communities, law enforcement
trying to reach out and say, 'We're human beings, too,"' said FBI spokesman
Bill Crowley, who is an agent in the Pittsburgh, Pa., office. "The idea
we're pushing is that it's not a crime to be a member of the militia, or
to be an FBI agent, for that matter."
The FBI has been pleased that many members of the nation's militias
are in agreement.
"They are our FBI. We needed to get a face on them," said Raymond Smith,
a commander with the Texas Freedom Fighters and a member of the National
Militia Advisory Board. "Our government can't be our enemy. If it is, we're
The outreach program takes many forms.
In Texas, several meetings have taken place in hinterland burgs like
Dew, a community of 71 people located some 100 miles south of Dallas.
Crowley said the No. 2 agent in the Pittsburgh office, which includes
the militia hotbed of West Virginia in its territory, was a guest on a
shortwave radio show highlighting militia topics.
In early 1996, the head of the FBI's Kansas City office spoke to about
100 members of the Missouri 51st Militia at the group's annual meeting.
The meetings give militia members a chance to meet people like FBI
Special Agent-in-Charge Danny Defenbaugh, who has been the subject of dozens
of Internet newsgroups because of his role in leading the Oklahoma City
The sit-downs also help the FBI set the record straight on its motives.
Last year, Defenbaugh requested a meeting in Dew to dispel rumors that
he was charged with disbanding the groups.
"They get to realize you have integrity, and that you're a human being,"
said Defenbaugh, who heads the FBI's Dallas office.
The militia movement aims to protect Constitutional rights and provide
for the nation's defense in times of war or emergency. Generally, the groups
believe in state's rights and a limited federal government.
The FBI and some militia groups are at loggerheads largely because
of a 1992 incident at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and the 1993 Waco standoff with
the Branch Davidians that ended with the death of about 80 people.
At Ruby Ridge, an FBI sniper shot and killed the unarmed wife of white
separatist Randy Weaver, the day after Weaver's 14-year-old son and a deputy
U.S. marshal were killed in a firefight.
Smith and other like-minded militia members said they believe they
are fighting the same enemy as the FBI: people who want to undermine the
Constitution and the American way of life.
"What we believe and what they think are not that far different," said
Lynn Van Huizen, a commander with the Michigan Militia Corps-Wolverines.
"We're all concerned Americans. We all have to raise our kids here."
Federal agents and militia members say the outreach program helps distinguish
true Constitutional militia members from hate groups and changes the public
perception that militias are "anti-government."
"Christian Identity groups, Ku Klux Klan, Nazi groups, they claim to
be a militia. The media gets a hold of it, and that group is a militia,"
Smith said. "Once you break the law, you are no longer militia. We don't
want Americans killing Americans."
Some militia experts argue the quiet program is hypocritical, as the
FBI and other federal agencies have publicly painted militia members as
domestic terrorists in the past.
"I think it is more than a little ridiculous to meet with these people
a year after having met with local law enforcement and telling them they
are the real terrorists in America," said former FBI agent and militia
advocate Ted Gunderson.
Although FBI officials refuse to classify the militia members they
meet with as informants, the agents acknowledge that the meetings serve
as an important portal into the clannish world of citizen militias and
have helped establish an early warning system to prevent attacks and violence.
"Part of this effort has been to engage militia representatives in
an ongoing dialogue. In doing so, we have been able to, in some instances,
avert acts of violence," FBI Director Freeh said. "In other instances we
have conveyed to these representatives a better understanding of federal
law enforcement responsibilities."
In West Virginia, seven men with militia ties were indicted in 1996
on charges including stockpiling weapons and obtaining copies of blueprints
of the FBI's complex in Clarksburg.
The alleged plot by the Mountaineer Militia and its leader Floyd "Ray"
Looker followed shortly after the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma
Prayers said for council, Margaret Bailey
by Gail Marsh
With his pastor now serving as the mayor of the city of Clarksburg,
Lawrence Griffin said a prayer service was a terrific idea.
Griffin, who serves as a deacon at the Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist
Church, was one of a number of Clarksburg residents who came out to support
Pastor David A. Kates and city council members during the Call to Celebration
with Prayer service on Sunday afternoon.
"I think this is definitely needed. A lot of people may believe that
religion and politics don't mix, but I think there's been a mistake in
the way it's been defined. Many of our founding fathers were religious
people," Griffin said.
A near-capacity crowd at the church on E.B. Saunders Way was treated
to a number of musical selections and were asked to participate in prayers
for the council members, led by several local pastors. Dr. Eric Faust,
senior minister at the First Presbyterian Church, noted that Kates may
possibly hold two distinctions.
"Pastor Kates is not only the city's first mayor to be a man of color,
but he is possibly the city's first mayor who is a man of the cloth," Faust
Charlene Marshall of Morgantown, the first black woman to be elected
mayor in the state and who currently serves in the House of Delegates,
was the keynote speaker for the service.
"I'm delighted Pastor Kates has been elected the city's mayor and I'm
sure he'll do a fine job. He has a way of telling you off, putting you
in your place and setting you on the right path and you still appreciate
his words," she said.
Council members in attendance included James Hunt, Kathy Folio and
Becky Lake. Council member Terry Greaver was not available to attend and
newly elected member Margaret Bailey remains hospitalized following a suicide
attempt earlier in the week.
Bailey's pastor, the Rev. Kurt Busiek of Clarksburg Baptist Church,
told the congregation that Bailey was recovering and asked them to pray
that she would have the courage to return to serve the city after facing
a difficult time in her life.
Council members joined Kates on the platform during the closing moments
of the service to receive prayer as they face the task of overseeing the
business of the city.
"I think this is a wonderful way to begin with our new mayor and council
members," said Folio.
"I look forward to working with Pastor Kates, to hear his ideas and
his plans for the future. We want to place the factions in the past, get
them behind us and move forward to service the city," she said.
Becky Lake agreed.
"I think this gives us the opportunity to start things out on the right
foot. I agree that there is a fine line between the separation of church
and state, but that fine line can be covered with prayer and good things
can be done," she said.
Newlyweds return from nightmare trip
by Gail Marsh
GRAFTON -- Sam and Sorina DeWolfe are back in Grafton, safe after a
struggle to return to the United States following their month-long detention
But it will be some time before the couple returns to normal after
the harrowing ordeal that began as a business and sightseeing trip and
ended with the DeWolfes unable to come home from the former Communist country.
"I still have nightmares and I'm sure I will for a long time. It will
take us a while to get back to where we don't wake up worrying about the
police or the border patrol," said Sam DeWolfe.
The couple arrived in New York on Friday evening from Romania on a
flight that first touched down in Montreal. Sam said he recognized how
traumatized they were when they started through customs at JFK Airport.
"We actually found ourselves afraid that they wouldn't let us back
in the country, but we forgot that this was America.
"And we were used to being detained for hours at customs. When they
stamped us right through, we just stood there, waiting for something to
happen. When they told us we were done and could go on, it was hard for
us to believe it," he said.
The DeWolfe's ordeal began June 4 after the couple decided to travel
to Sorina's homeland to start a business venture to introduce her former
village to the world of computers. The couple met while attending Alderson-Broaddus
College and married in January.
Sorina's parents, who had immigrated to the United States six years
ago, did not approve of the marriage and came and took their daughter,
who was 19, back to their California home. Sam had to travel to the West
Coast and enlist the help of the police in getting his wife safely back
Sorina said she was assured by relatives in Romania that there would
be no further problems, and the couple went on the trip as planned, arriving
in the country on June 5. They planned to visit Bucharest and the area
of Medias, about 250 miles northwest of the capital.
Sam said he felt they were well prepared for the trip abroad. They
had spent time researching the country on the Internet to learn about local
customs, currency and food and had checked to see if there were any travel
warnings listed on the area.
"We felt we were pretty prepared to go over and spend about a week
to learn more about the area and to see if there was a possibility of a
business venture. We had no idea that our lives would be in danger," he
While visiting Medias, Sorina's aunt, a judge, had the couple's passports
and other necessary documents seized, which left them at the mercy of the
local police and border patrol.
"Her aunt held a powerful position so it was hard to get the help we
needed. There are no juries in that county, so judges can make the decisions
and basically do whatever they want. Even the U.S. Embassy could offer
very little help at first," Sam said.
Though the couple was free to move about as they worked to get their
papers back, they were constantly followed and even harassed by the local
authorities. Though he would give few details, Sam did say they remained
on the run for days, often not even taking time to eat while they attempted
to get their papers in order and to get back home.
"I've not had time to talk with the U.S. Embassy here, so I'm not really
sure how much I can say about what we experienced. But I can say that it
is almost impossible to describe how horrible the situation was," he said.
Though they are now safely home, the DeWolfes said it would be some
time before the long nightmare is finally over.
Their plans have been altered by their long stay abroad.
"It was very expensive to stay over there and it was very expensive
to get out. Our lives here have been devastated by the expense and by our
long absence," Sorina said.
Would they ever consider returning overseas?
"No. Big-time no," Sorina said. "We'll never leave this country again."
Harry Powers starred in real-life horror movie
by Shawn Gainer
A noose, a hammer, and five bodies buried in a ditch -- the chilling
Harry Powers murders that rocked Harrison County in the late summer of
1931 had all the ingredients of a sensational horror film.
It really happened.
Harry Powers was the best-known alias of Herman Drenth, who was born
in the Netherlands in 1892 and settled in Harrison County in 1927. Drenth
purchased a house at 111 Quincy St., sold Electrolux vacuum cleaners and
operated a nearby grocery store with his wife, Luella. He also purchased
a farm near Quiet Dell, the place where his dark deeds were finally revealed.
Following an inquiry that summer by police in Park Ridge, Ill. concerning
the disappearance of Mrs. Eta Eicher, a widow, and her three children Gretha,
14, Harry 12, and Annabele, 9, police in Harrison County began searching
around the Quiet Dell farm, said Robert Cain, who is conducting research
in order to write a book about the murders.
"The case broke because the Park Ridge police found that the Eicher
woman had been writing letters to a man named Cornelius Pierson," Cain
said. "They were addressed to Drenth's residence."
Cain said Park Ridge police had earlier questioned Drenth in Illinois.
After bringing Mrs. Eicher to Quiet Dell, then returning to retrieve her
children and close her bank account, he made a third trip to "settle her
affairs." Police saw him moving furniture around the Eicher residence and
"Drenth identified himself as Cornelius Peirson and said he was settling
Mrs. Eicher's affairs. They asked him to talk to them at the police station
later but he disappeared," Cain said.
Police initially found nothing at the farm, but Charles Jenkins, an
embalmer at the Romine Funeral Home, accompanied Sheriff Wilford Grimm
there after neighbors complained of foul odors in the area and advised
him it smelled like decomposing human flesh, Jenkins said in an interview
with the Clarksburg Telegram.
On August 27, police, aided by Jenkins and jail trustees, discovered
the bodies of Mrs. Eicher and her children in what appeared to be a 45-foot-long
drainage ditch running from a garage cellar. They also found an iron hammer
that was initially believed to be the murder weapon.
One day later, they discovered the body of another widow, Mrs. Dorothy
Lemke of Northboro, Mass. Autopsies later revealed the widows, Gretha and
Annabele, were killed by strangulation, while Harry Eicher had been struck
twice in the head with a hammer, Cain said.
"Drenth kept the children in cages and starved them. The autopsies
revealed that they had little to no food content in their stomachs," Cain
According to a Telegram article published on August 29, police also
found a noose in the garage basement that appeared to have been used.
Jenkins said Drenth put Mrs. Eicher in the noose in front of her children,
let her hang repeatedly then let her down before she died. In one such
instance Harry Eicher managed to struggle with Drenth but was done in with
One can only speculate why Drenth lured the women and children to the
farm in order to commit the grisly murders. Cain offered a theory of his
"My understanding is that Drenth grew up on a farm and his father made
him work extremely hard," he said. "I think that when he came to America,
he felt he shouldn't have to work hard anymore. Killing people and taking
their money was a way of getting around that."
Police also recovered letters that Drenth had written to women all
over the country. Drenth had considerable language ability and he used
it to lure women into his confidence, Cain said.
"His basic mode of operation was to advertise himself to matrimonial
agencies as a wealthy businessman who did not have time to pursue marriage
through normal means," he said. "His letters built them up to a romantic
frenzy before he went to see them."
An advertisement Drenth posted with the matrimonial agency, The American
Friendship Society, was published by the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph on August
29. Drenth described himself as a civil engineer with an salary of $400
a month plus a larger income from oil and gas royalties.
He further wrote, "My wife can have anything within reason, that money
can buy, but above all, I expect to give her the true love and devotion
for which every one of us craves so much.
"Death has taken my previous wife from me, leaving me quite alone and
very lonely. I am longing for someone to take her place. To fill the empty
space in my heart."
Though criminal psychological profiles were nonexistent then, Drenth
might be categorized as a psychopath, one without conscience. One of the
most striking things about the case is that from the time of his arrest
to his execution, Drenth never displayed a hint of remorse.
"The police chief actually took Drenth to the Romine Funeral Home and
made him view the bodies of the Eichers," Cain said. "His exact quote when
he saw the bodies laid out in the coffins was, 'Isn't that awful.' It was
a detached reaction with no indication of him taking responsibility."
Drenth was arrested Aug 27, the day the bodies of the Eichers were
found. He confessed to murdering the Eichers two days later, under extreme
duress. Even then he showed no remorse.
"They actually tortured him for a confession. By the time they found
Lemke, he was a broken man," Cain said. "They used sleep deprivation, beat
him severely and burned his armpits with boiled eggs."
Al Gouch of the Sun-Telegraph reported that when Drenth confessed,
he was "worn out after hours of grilling but still unmoved and unworried
over his predicament."
Gouch quoted Drenth making his confession.
"I did it -- for God's sake let me alone. I'll tell you all about it
after I have rested and talked with my attorney."
The sensational news rocked the City of Clarksburg. Reporters from
newspapers around the nation, including the New York Times, descended upon
the city and mayhem ensued, Cain said.
"Today we are exposed to shows like COPS and Real TV and murders barely
make a dent," he said. "Clarksburg was a much different city then. It left
a bleeding gash on the community."
Gouch also reported that on the day of Drenth's confession, word spread
through Clarksburg and an angry mob of an estimated 5,000 people surrounded
the Harrison County Jail, demanding his life. Police and firefighters struggled
to keep the crowd at bay for hours before State Police officers arrived
at midnight and began firing tear gas canisters into the mob. People picked
up the canisters and threw them back at police along with bricks and other
"They were really determined to lynch Drenth," Cain said. "When they
brought in firefighters to repel the crowd with water, people in the mob
had the foresight to cut the hoses. The State Police finally used a three
car, armed escort to whisk him away to Moundsville penitentiary. Drenth
was relieved and very grateful to the State Police because he was in fear
for his life."
Drenth did not escape the noose, however. He was tried for the murder
of Lemke at Moore's Opera House on Dec. 7. After a brief, 3-day trial that
included testimony from the county coroner, people from Northboro, Mass.,
who knew Lemke, and employees at a bank where Drenth had tried to draw
money from her account, the jury returned a guilty verdict. Judge John
Southern sentenced Drenth to death.
Drenth was executed by hanging at Moundsville State Penitentiary on
March, 18 1932. According to a "Pictorial History of Early Clarksburg and
Harrison County," Drenth was calm and walked "the 13 unlucky steps" to
the gallows with little assistance.
Was it all resolved? Cain said he doesn't think so.
"There are a bunch of suspicious deaths surrounding Drenth between
the time he came to America and the time he came to Clarksburg. One of
his business partners in selling vacuum cleaners came up missing and a
lot of vacuum cleaners were found in Drenth's home after that. He said
he was holding them for the company.
"A Greek man who held a large bond and used to associate with Drenth
also disappeared. I think what happened to Lemke and the Eichers was part
of a larger pattern of behavior," he said.
As for Cain's book, he said he is keeping it on hold while he tackles
the difficult task of trying to portray the "flavor of the times" in which
the Powers murders occurred.
Students to study computer networking
by Shawn Gainer
High school students in Harrison County will have an opportunity to
train for high-wage technology sector jobs starting in September when instruction
in computer networking begins at Robert C. Byrd High School.
Robert C. Byrd High School has been designated one of two regional
training academies in North Central West Virginia for Cisco Systems Inc.,
a company that commands a large share of America's computer networking
market. Students with sufficient math and reading skills will be able to
begin a specialized, four-semester curriculum at the beginning of their
junior year of high school.
Participating students will receive high school credit as well as certification
of their computer skills, said Lynn Bennett, a grant writer at the Regional
Education Service Agency Region VII office in Fairmont.
The other regional academy will be at West Virginia University, Bennett
"Students can complete the program and get a $35,000 a year job right
out of high school," she said. "Right now they would have to leave West
Virginia to get a job but the hope is that we can eventually attract high-technology
employers to the area if we can show we have the skilled work force they
Forty-four students from four county high schools are currently enrolled
in the program at RCB and enrollment may reach 60 when RCB students register
for the course, Robert Kittle, Harrison County superintendent of schools,
said Friday. Kittle added that school officials are working on making the
program available at United Technical Center and South Harrison High School.
He added that the United Technical Center program would also serve students
from Taylor and Doddridge counties.
"This is just the beginning," Kittle said. "Our goal is to have the
program at all of our high schools, and I think we're on course to get
that. The future for young people in networking is very bright. All they
have to do is take the opportunity."
Bennett also said all of Harrison County's high schools would eventually
house local Cisco Academies.
Funding for the training centers in North Central West Virginia was
provided by Cisco Systems, Inc. and a federal block grant that Gov. Cecil
Underwood divided among competing local applicants through the Technology
Literacy Challenge Fund, she said.
Other sites for planned local training programs include: Fairmont Senior
High School, Monongalia County Technical Center, Fred Eberle Vocational
Center in Buckhannon and Tucker County High School.
County school systems provided funding for facilities and entered into
contracts binding them to execute the program, she added.
"School to work used to be so misinterpreted," Bennett said. "These
will be bright students. Many of them will go on to college and multiply
their skills in fields like computer science and electrical engineering."
Cleans hands may help fight student absenteeism
by Brian Farkas
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Clean hands may be the key to keeping a child in school.
After Wood County elementary students were encouraged to wash their
hands, absenteeism fell by 1 percent -- meaning 125 more kids a day were
in the classroom.
"We're not talking about washing their hands once a day. Our expectation
was they would wash ... at least four times a day," said Janis McGinnis,
the county's coordinator for health services.
Health professionals say hand washing is the "best preventive medicine"
for children and adults. Ailments like diarrhea, colds or infections are
easily transmitted by hands.
"If we could just teach children to wash their hands after they go
to the bathroom or before they eat, it would do a world of good," said
Ester Brannon, a registered nurse epidemiologist with the Bureau for Public
Wood County's hand washing experiment is in its second year. The project,
started with the help of St. Joseph's Hospital in Parkersburg, was tested
in two schools and then expanded to the county's 20 elementary schools.
Plans are to take it to middle and high schools.
Yet, changing behavior takes more than leading children to a sink and
encouraging them to use soap, said Ray Alvarez. He has been promoting clean
hands since 1997 as part of Fairmont General Hospital's outreach efforts.
The hospital has created a Web site on the subject that includes a hand
"What makes the experiment come alive for these kids is they see there
is bacteria on their hands and it reinforces hand washing," Alvarez said.
But, many children and adults do not know how to properly wash their
"It's the friction of rubbing your hands together that is the most
important," Brannon said. Rubbing soapy hands for at least 20 seconds is
necessary. Warm water is not required and any soap will do.
McGinnis said students are taught to sing songs while washing to ensure
they scrub for the correct length of time. "Yankee Doodle" is popular.
Schools also need to make adjustments when adopting hand washing promotions.
Alvarez said the biggest surprise was to find that bathroom faucets
were relatively germ free, but drinking fountains weren't. Also, liquid
soap dispensers have to be installed to prevent the spread of germs. And,
paper towel use goes up.
Wood County Superintendent Dan Curry said hand washing requires extra
effort, but the payoff is worth it. The county may adopt hand washing requirements
under its proposed wellness program for faculty and staff.
"When you read the literature on hand washing, there's no doubt in
my mind. It will improve student attendance and adult attendance as well,"
Fairmont General Hospital's hand washing Web site can be reached through
the hospital's Web site: www.fghi.com
Front Porch Concert Series showcases W.Va.'s culture
by James Fisher
As the musical strains of the guitar, fiddle and autoharp wafted across
the cool, still summer evening at Fort New Salem Saturday night, eyes closed,
heads nodded and toes tapped to the traditional West Virginia folk music
of 1937 Flood.
The group kicked off the ninth year of the fort's Front Porch Concert
Series Saturday and concert-goers could almost imagine themselves back
in the early part of the century when times were simpler and people gathered
for friendship, food and good music.
"We've always enjoyed this kind of music," said Jack Diceglie, who
traveled from Center Point in Doddridge County for the concert.
Diceglie's wife, Sheila, volunteers at the fort on Wednesdays and the
couple decided to attend the show.
They had never been to one of the concerts, he said, but enjoyed themselves
so much they may attend the other two.
United Voices, a gospel choir, will perform this Saturday and The Appalachian
Brass Quintet will appear July 24.
Carol Schweiker, director of Fort New Salem, said the concert series
follows the fort's mission of highlighting the best of West Virginia culture.
"We've had some of the best of West Virginia's traditional musicians
in here over the years," she said. "This is the only place outside Morgantown
that has a sustained concert series like this."
About 30 people gathered Saturday for the show, which Schweiker said
was about average. Except when the Davis & Elkins Highlander Bagpipe
Band makes an appearance.
"I think every Scot in North Central West Virginia came out to see
them last year," Schweiker said. "We had more than 100 people for that
show -- some of them were even wearing their plaid."
Wilma Frazier of West Union said she enjoys coming to Fort New Salem,
whether it's for the Front Porch Concert Series or the Christmastime events.
"We come up at least once a year," she said. "I really enjoy the traditional
But the music isn't the only draw.
"The whole atmosphere is what we come here for," said Ethan Jerrett
of New Milton, who admitted he wasn't crazy about the music itself. "It's
really nice to come up and just sit out here."
Jerrett, a West Virginia University student, also volunteers at the
fort in the summer and on school breaks.
Admission to the concerts is $5 for adults, $4.50 for seniors, $3.50
for students and $1.50 for children 6-12. The staff of volunteers at the
fort offers coffee, sweets and homemade ice cream.
In addition to the concert series, the fort is having an Old-time Summertime
Social from 1-5 p.m. each of the next two Saturdays.
Admission is free and attendees can enjoy the traditional music of
Betty Perry and Cleo Rollins. This Saturday at 3 p.m. Fort New Salem is
hosting a special performance by the Chanticleer Children's Chorus.
For more information on the Summertime Socials, Front Porch Concert
Series or any other events at the fort, call 782-5245.
Area news briefs
Upshur County man convicted of 2nd-degree murder
WESTON (AP) -- An Upshur County man who shot his lover's husband to death
last summer has been found guilty of second-degree murder.
John Marple, 42, of Buckhannon was accused in the shooting death of
Rick Hawkins, 42, in Hawkins' barn in Jane Lew June 6, 1998.
A Lewis County jury took two hours Friday to reach the verdict. When
it was read, the courtroom was silent -- even Marple showed no reaction.
During trial, state prosecutors had argued the shooting last summer
was sparked as a result of an affair between Marple and the victim's wife.
But Marple's defense attorney argued Hawkins had launched two near-death
attacks on Marple earlier on the day of the shooting.
$4 million dollar hospice to be opened at WVU
MORGANTOWN (AP) -- A $4 million hospice for families of Ruby Memorial Hospital
patients is scheduled to open this week.
The facility, to be called Rosenbaum Family House, is for family members
of adult patients and for people who need extended outpatient treatment
but do not live near Morgantown.
The house has been named in honor of the family of Morgantown businesswoman
Hilda Rosenbaum, who is donating $1 million toward construction costs,
according to a West Virginia University news release.
The facility is located on the university campus adjacent to the hospital.
Rosenbaum and her late husband, Richard, were the owners of Richards,
Inc., a children's and ladies' clothing store in Morgantown.
Human error blamed in coaster wreck
WEST MIFFLIN, Pa. (AP) -- The operator of a 75-year-old wooden roller coaster
failed to put on the brakes when a train of cars pulled into the loading
platform and rear-ended another train, injuring 30 people, an amusement
park official said Saturday.
Pete McAneny, the general manager at Kennywood Park, blamed human error
for Thursday night's wreck on the Thunderbolt, formerly known as the Pippin.
He said the ride is mechanically sound.
The ride was closed Thursday and reopened Saturday night with only
one train, not the usual two.
Committee pledges to propose a bill on gray machines
CHARLESTON (AP) -- Leaders of a legislative interim committee studying
gray machines said Sunday that this time they are serious.
The panel, which has done similar studies the past two years without
making a recommendation, pledged this time to present a bill to the full
Legislature in January.
But panel members don't yet know yet what that bill will be.
Gray machines, as they are commonly called, are video poker machines
found in bars and convenience stores. Playing them is legal, but they are
supposed to be for amusement, not gambling.
Cash prizes are illegal.
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Copyright © Clarksburg Publishing Company 1999