News for Sunday, June 27, 1999

Air travelers seek improved service

by Troy Graham
Staff Writer
Like many business travelers, Joyce Morris likes to be cautious with her baggage. It simply wouldn't do to show up for a meeting while her briefcase catches a flight to Hackensack, N.J.
Instead of even tempting fate, the Fairmont resident carries her essentials on the airplane.
"One way or another, I lose a bag," she said. "I usually have things that will tie me over for a business meeting."
It was complaints like Morris' that prompted Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., to seek a way to improve airline service. As the senior member of a subcommittee on aviation, he had the clout.
But passing a bill may have hurt the folks back home, said Rockefeller Spokesman Don Marshall. If airlines were forced into making costly changes, they may have cut flights from smaller, rural hubs, such as Bridgeport's Benedum Airport, to make up the difference, he said.
So the senator reached an agreement with the airlines in which they will voluntarily improve service.
"This commitment from airlines will help provide the best quality air service to West Virginians," Rockefeller said in a statement.
However, it was an incident at one of the country's largest and busiest airports, Chicago's O'Hare, that prompted congressional intervention. Several months ago, a plane full of passengers was forced to sit on the tarmac for eight hours. Bumped from the line to take off, the plane was also unable to return to a congested terminal.
While problems like lost baggage are universal issues for air travelers, it is unlikely that local travelers will face the same issues as passengers in Chicago.
There are a unique set of issues local travelers would like to see addressed. Chief among those issues is the availability of flights.
Morris said she hates to leave her car in Pittsburgh or ask friends to drive her and pick her up. Instead, she gets a connecting flight out of Bridgeport.
"And I don't mind the small flights," she said.
Although she made her reservations six weeks ago, her only options were 5 a.m. or 10 a.m. Morris said she would have liked to have a third option in between.
Ann Orlando of Fairmont made a reservation recently for the winter holidays near the end of this year and got the last seat.
But flight availability is a matter of supply and demand, said U.S. Airways Spokesman Rick Weintraub. U.S. Airways has three daily flights to Pittsburgh from Benedum, he said.
"Your flights into Pittsburgh tie you into the entire U.S. Airways system," he said.
When Rockefeller announced in February that he would be sitting on the aviation subcommittee, he promised to fight for funding for small airports and "develop new ways to attract more and better air service to West Virginia."
"Aviation and air service play a vital role in economic development in West Virginia," he said.

All aboard--

New Tygart Flyer hopes to bring back the romance of rails

by Troy Graham
Staff Writer
ABOARD THE NEW TYGART FLYER -- There's just something about the black smoke billowing out of the engine, the churning wheels of the locomotive, the click-clack of the rails.
But Ken Miller wonders if that something -- he calls it "the lore of the railroad" -- has been lost in a society that values expedience over romance.
While the railroad as a mode of transportation will probably never regain its pre-World War II prominence, the romance can be preserved, Miller said.
His organization, the National Railway Historical Society, and a local company have teamed up to offer those glory days to local residents.
The New Tygart Flyer, with a restored 40-year-old engine and vintage cars, embarked on its inaugural run from Belington to Elkins Saturday.
The flyer is an excursion train operated by the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad and staffed by volunteers from the historical society.
"The biggest part of the people doing this never worked for the railroads," said Bill Sherman, a car host. "They just like doing it."
Sherman, however, worked in the 1950s on a train that ran from Norfolk, Va., to Williamson. His son later became a conductor.
A love of the railroad also runs in Miller's family. His father was an engineer and Miller caught his first train ride when he was just a baby. Now his mission with the historical society is to preserve the past that he has known since birth.
"This is one of the prettiest and nicest trains in excursion service anywhere," he said, surveying the flyer. "I find it hard for anyone to be phenomenally enthused about airline travel."
The New Tygart Flyer started with John Smith, the owner of the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad. A former owner and operator of a trucking company, he traded asphalt for rails when the town of Durbin proposed tearing up a section of track destroyed by floods.
He and his wife, joined by some railroad enthusiasts, restored the track and bought a tiny 208-horsepower 1936 Whitcomb engine, "put it on the tracks and started a company."
"It's a real contraption," Smith said. "But when it runs right the thing burns three gallons of gas on an 8-mile trip."
Smith hauled 1,700 passengers in three months in 1996 on that tiny excursion train. Now his company has seven employees, hauls freight and has a Cheat Mountain excursion trip.
The Cheat Mountain trip uses what Smith described as "a bus built for the railroad."
His newest venture started when the state bought the abandoned track running from Belington to Elkins. The state then solicited proposals on what to do with the track.
"I haven't figured out yet how we won that contest," Smith said. "We're truck drivers for God's sake."
With tourists seeking out West Virginia history, and nearby Cass Scenic Railroad drawing railroad buffs, local officials also hope the lore will translate into dollars.
"I'm not a railroad buff, I'm a believer that the railroad will help make us a tourist destination," said Elkins Mayor Jim Hammond.

Ham radio operators lend a hand in times of disaster

by Troy Graham
Staff Writer
In 1985, amateur radio operator Dick Bumgardner found himself in the basement of a church in the flood-ravaged town of Parsons. With telephones lines and conventional radios rendered useless, Bumgardner and other "ham" radio operators were the only source of communication.
"It was heart-wrenching, but you got a lot of satisfaction being able to get a lot of health and welfare information out to the families," he said.
In many disasters, federal, state and local emergency professionals turn to these amateurs, whose everyday hobby can be the difference between life and death in disastrous times.
Ham operators have been used by the professionals in earthquakes and hurricanes, during the recent tornados in the Midwest and even the Columbine High School shootings.
This weekend, the amateur radio buffs gathered over the airwaves for their annual field day. On Friday, they have a certain amount of time to set up their operations, and on Saturday and Sunday they have a competition to see how many contacts they can make in the U.S. and Canada. To simulate a real emergency, they power their radios with generators.
During the field day last year, ham operators in Charleston were called out and rode in with the National Guard to a flood in Clendenin.
"The Charleston club had to shut down their field day and go into real life," said Rick Brake, who hosted the Clarksburg field day at his home this weekend.
Brake and others erected four antennas at his home this weekend to compliment his seven permanent towers.
Although few hobbies have such practical and meaningful applications, this is first and foremost a hobby.
"It's always good to see what you can do in an emergency, but it's fun too," said Brake, who got interested in radios trying to catch foreign broadcasts during the Gulf War.
"I thought, I want to get into the action too," he said.
Bumgardner, who was Brake's neighbor at the time, encouraged him to continue the hobby. An amateur can get started on the radios for about $500 worth of equipment.
"If you get into it it's like anything else, like cars or boats," Brake said.
Bumgardner became interested in the radios while stationed at an Air Force base in Fairbanks, Alaska. A friend of his once contacted Jordan's recently deceased King Hussein, who was also a ham operator.
It's possible to contact every continent in the world, and Bumgardner even once talked to an astronaut in orbit on the space shuttle. After 20 years of toying with more and more sophisticated equipment, he can acquire and bounce signals off satellites.
"A lot of times in the summer I'll end up bouncing signals off meteors and making contacts," he said.
Amateur radio is appealing because it combines technical skill with the romance of connecting with satellites and astronauts, Bumgardner said.
And, unlike more modern forms of communication like the Internet, there's still the personal contact of hearing someone's voice.
"It's still the thrill of international communication at your fingertips," Brake said.

Doddridge man commands U.S. troops in Kosovo

by Paul Leakan
Staff Writer
Jennifer Craddock can't help but be proud of her brother, someone she jokingly says she "used to harass."
Craddock, a Morgantown resident, is reminded about how proud she is nearly every time she picks up a newspaper. Or watches television. Or listens to the radio. Or talks to her family, friends and co-workers.
Her brother, Army Brig. Gen. Bantz Johnson "John" Craddock, may make more than a few West Virginians proud. Especially those in Doddridge County.
Bantz Craddock, who grew up in West Union, is the commander of the U.S. forces in Kosovo. He is the leader of a group of about 7,000 U.S. troops charged with keeping the peace in an area that has been anything but peaceful lately.
"You don't think of him as a general," Jennifer Craddock said. "You think of him as your brother."
Jennifer says her brother has always been driven to succeed, both in his family life and his career.
"He's probably one of the hardest working men I've ever known," she said. "My family's kind of in awe and are proud of him. We send each other links (on the Internet) and news about him."
She says that much of her brother's success came from growing up in West Union, a small town with equally small schools.
"We're from a little town," she said. "Obviously, his education was good enough to propel him to where he is."
For several years, Bantz Craddock delivered newspapers for the Clarksburg Exponent and Telegram.
He also hit the books, graduating from Doddridge County High School with honors, as well as earning a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University and master's of military arts and science from a military school in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Craddock began to climb in military rank after his service in the Gulf War. He fought on the front line against the "elite guard," the most-highly trained force in Iraq President Saddam Hussein's military.
His heroism in fighting off the force, taking prisoners and avoiding casualties earned him several military honors and recognition -- including the Silver Star.
Craddock, 49, is now at the pinnacle of his career as a brigadier general and a crucial part of NATO's massive peacekeeping mission in Kosovo.
With the ongoing crisis in Kosovo and his family stationed in Bamberg, Germany, Jennifer Craddock said she doesn't get to talk with her brother very often.
His face and his voice, however, are easily kept fresh in her mind. CNN or any evening newscast is always a good place to jolt her memory.
When she does, she can not only be proud of her brother, she can be proud of her state.
"I don't think a lot of people realize that we have probably much more than John who are in the news," she said. "West Virginia has a lot to be proud of."

City native is spokesperson for G.W. Bush

by Shawn Gainer
Staff Writer
A 28-year-old Clarksburg native has plunged into the whirlwind of presidential politics and says she wouldn't have it any other way.
Janna Nuzum works as a press secretary for Texas Gov. George W. Bush, helping to lay the groundwork for his path to the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary. The primary, scheduled for Feb. 8, 2000, has traditionally been the first of the primaries and is the political equivalent of the starting gun in the 40-yard dash.
The process determining the Republican party's presidential candidate will essentially be over by May 7, known as "Super Tuesday," when primary elections are conducted through the entire South and much of New England and the Midwest, as well. Candidates who do not make strong showings early are almost always doomed to failure. This is the environment in which Nuzum thrives.
"You work around the clock and there's not much sleep," Nuzum said, in a phone interview from New Hampshire. "He (Bush) was up here on the 14th and 15th and we had 200 media people with us. Moving everyone around takes a lot of coordination.
"The days become crazy because the primary process is so front-loaded. States keep moving up their primaries because they want to be relevant. It's hard but it's a great job."
Nuzum is in charge of coordinating press contacts for the Bush campaign in New Hampshire and New England. She said the unique importance and pressure of the New Hampshire Primary are the reasons she loves working there.
"It's unique because you have all these people running for the most important office in the Western Hemisphere and they have to go to New Hampshire and meet people one-on-one and talk to them about what's in their hearts," she said.
This is far from Nuzum's first foray into high-powered politics. She has served as press secretary to two congressmen before joining Bob Dole's unsuccessful 1996 presidential campaign as a deputy press secretary.
"I always work for candidates I believe in," Nuzum said. "Defeat in a campaign is tough because you put your heart and soul into it. You have to go into it with high hopes but keep your feet on the ground."
Nuzum, an alumnus of Washington Irving High School, said she developed an interest in politics while attending West Virginia University. After obtaining a bachelor's degree in 1992, she moved straight to Washington, D.C., eventually landing a job as a production assistant on conservative commentator Mary Matalin's CNBC television show "Equal Time." She is currently on a leave of absence from law school at Western New England College.
"As a little girl from West Virginia with no contacts, I had to do everything on my own," Nuzum said. "I worked at it until I got a break, and I've never regretted the decision."
 Like any good campaign staffer, Nuzum can defend her candidate. She readily fields questions that insinuate Gov. Bush's concept "compassionate conservatism" is just an empty catch phrase.
"I think Gov. Bush has explained compassionate conservatism very well," she said. "For example, it's conservative to cut taxes but compassionate to help people save and build."
Nor has the pressure of Presidential politics taken away her sense of humor.
"How many Republicans are there in West Virginia now that I've left," she asked. "Two?"

Maker of homemade soda pop shares recipes in new book

by Gaile Marsh
Staff Writer
HODGESVILLE -- There's something brewing in the backwoods of Hodgesville in Upshur County.
It's probably root beer soda, or lemon-lime, or maybe even a pumpkin ale.
Stephen Cresswell, a West Virginia Wesleyan history professor, has spent countless hours in the last few years concocting and brewing up batches of homemade soda pop, something he enjoyed doing as a youth in Alexandria, Va.
Cresswell's hobby eventually led to the publication of a book on the subject, "Homemade Root Beer Soda & Pop," published last year by Storey Books of Pownal, Vt.
"I think those of us who are baby boomers are trying to get back to some of the childhood things we enjoyed, whether coin collecting or making homemade drinks," he said from his country home off Hacker's Creek Road on the outskirts of Hodgesville.
When he moved to West Virginia to teach, Cresswell noticed the large number of sassafras trees growing wild in the state. He wondered if he could recapture some of the fun he had trying to make root beer in his basement when he was 12.
"Root beer is basically sassafras tea that has been sweetened and allowed to ferment. The old cookbooks written by farmers' wives 100 years ago told how to make root beer and ginger ale and Birch beer using bark and roots for the ingredients," he said.
True to his background in history, Cresswell did research on the origins of soda making, looking into old cookbooks and manuscripts dating back to the early 1600s. He found a good selection of information at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, but did not find any definitive work on the nearly lost art of soda making.
"After I got a collection of 20 or 30 favorite recipes, I thought it would be nice to share them in book form," he said.
Cresswell said one of the first things he had to do when he began his research was to change the way he thought about soft drinks and alcoholic beverages.
"Farm families in the 1800s had more of a continuum from heavy alcoholic drinks to moderate amounts to almost no alcohol, and often the English today still have it that way. Many of the drinks we would consider soft drinks had trace amounts of alcohol back then because of the action of the yeast and sugar," he said.
Along with some history on the origins of soda making, Cresswell's book contains a number of root beer and other flavorful recipes. His personal favorite is cherry soda.
"It was hard to come up with a recipe to get a cherry flavor that tasted natural, like real cherries. I settled on using Juicy Juice as a base and it worked well. You can add vanilla bean, cinnamon or lemon juice to give it a more exotic taste," he said.
Cresswell said the colors of the homemade sodas are another reason he enjoys the natural brews. The homemade root beer is actually a light yellow color, while soda made from fresh oranges is not as dark as the commercial variety.
"American soft drink makers add caramel color to make pop the brown shade that people expect, but homemade sodas come in a variety of shades," he said.
What would Cresswell recommend for the beginning brewer?
"I would start with ginger ale. It's just ginger root you buy at the market, along with sugar, lemon, water and yeast. It takes a little time, but the process makes a nice product," he said.
What about the strong yeast taste so common to homemade beverages? Cresswell said there are a number of ways to avoid or lessen the bitter taste.
"Using brewer's yeast instead of bread yeast makes the taste less strong, and chilling the soda in the refrigerator for a few days lets the yeast sink to the bottom and lessens that flavor."
The recipes in Cresswell's book make small batches of the sodas, and most ingredients are easy to come by. He recommends the hobby to anyone who enjoys working in the kitchen and enjoys experimentation.
"It's a chance to do something satisfying and at the same time make a product that is much more healthful and enjoyable than what can be purchased commercially," he said.
The book "Homemade Root Beer Soda & Pop" can be purchased through Storey Books in Pownal, Vt., by calling 1-800-441-5700 or from its website at

Century of change

State's depression began before the Crash of 1929

by Shawn Gainer
Staff Writer
While many associate the beginning of the great depression with the catastrophic stock market crash of Oct 29, 1929, economic decline in West Virginia began early in the 1920s.
"The state had been pretty well cut out of timber by 1920 and sawmills were shut down," said Marvin Carr, a professor of history and Appalachian studies at West Virginia Wesleyan College. "The coal market had slipped in 1927 and a lot of miners were out of work."
Carr added that conditions in the Mountain State reflected national economic trends, where an economic slide was caused by the inability of many Americans to buy goods.
"Goods had stopped moving in 1927 and it continued through 1929," he said. "A lot of scholars think the stock market crash was a signal of the Great Depression, not a cause, and I agree."
If the stock market crash was just an indicator of the depression that ravaged American economic life for 10 years, it was a big one.
Despite signs of distress in the economy, many people of average means purchased stocks on easy credit terms offered by brokerage firms, according to "American History, A Survey" by Current, Williams, Freidel and Brinkley.
This "speculative mania" kept stock prices spiraling upward until Oct. 21, when overvalued shares dropped sharply. Large bankers such as J.P. Morgan and Co. purchased heavily in an attempt to restore confidence in the market. However, stocks bottomed out on the 29th, when the industrial index lost 43 points.
Thomas J. Koon, president of the Marion County Historical Society, said in a May interview that local coal barons lost their fortunes when the market failed.
"They had invested heavily on credit in mines in Logan and McDowell Counties. When the market crashed, loans were called in," Koon said. "Many of them were worth millions on paper but could only scrounge $500 cash. They had put up their holdings as security for the loans and their fortunes were wiped out."
Few average West Virginians owned stock but were already struggling because of a declining coal industry and labor strife, Carr said.
"After the 1921 coal mine wars in Logan County, everything shut down and 50,000 miners were evicted from company towns. From 1924 to 1928, three coal mines were blown up in labor strife in the Monongahela Valley. Those were mean times," he said.
"In 1933 and 1934, Eleanor Roosevelt went to Osage, (Monongalia County) where there were people living in coal camps. They didn't have places to grow gardens and she saw children with distended stomachs," he said.
In North Central West Virginia, the declining demand for natural resources led to a shutdown of oil and natural gas wells from Weston to Parkersburg. West Virginians survived by moving back to their family farms, Carr said.
"Herbert Hoover tried to get people to go to local charities for help. Churches stepped in but soon they were overwhelmed," he said. "A lot of folks moved back to the home place to be with the family and got by on subsistence farming."
Because of the "back to the farm" movement, West Virginia did not lose population during the Great Depression. New Deal public works projects such as road paving helped put people to work. Beginning in 1939, mobilization for World War II caused an huge increase in demand for coal and the state's economy began recovering, he said.
In fact, Carr contends the Great Depression may not have been the worst episode in the state's economic history.
"The 1950's coal depression was when we really lost people," he said. "The coal industry collapsed again and one-third of the miners, 200,000 to 300,000 people, left the state between 1950 and 1960. That was seven percent of the state's population.
"In some ways 1950 was worse than 1930."

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