News for Monday, July 12, 1999

FBI gets to know militia groups

by C. Bryson Hull
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 in trouble."
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 bombing investigation.
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 City.

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 said.
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 in Romania.
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 home.
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 said.
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 approached him.
"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 said.
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 the hammer.
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 own.
"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 objects.
"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 said.
"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 need."
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
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 Health.
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 washing experiment.
"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 hands.
"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," Curry said.
Fairmont General Hospital's hand washing Web site can be reached through the hospital's Web site:

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 folk music."
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.

Clarksburg Publishing Company, P.O. Box 2000, Clarksburg, WV 26302 USA
Copyright © Clarksburg Publishing Company 1999