Exponent View, Sunday, March 7, 1999

West Virginia is no place for hate groups

    A report released last week by the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center contained some very disturbing news- West Virginia is home to five Ku Klux Klan chapters and headquarters of an international neo-Nazi movement.
    The report, which said the number of hate groups nationwide grew in 1998, also noted that Taylor and Wood counties are home to new KKK chapters.
    Equally disturbing, perhaps, were comments in an Associated Press article on the study from a West Virginia State Police spokesman. The spokesman said law enforcement agencies are aware of most of the hate groups, but "don't really monitor them."
A few thoughts on these issues:
     It may go without saying, but we'll say it anyhow there is no place in our increasingly diverse society for groups of people, like members of the KKK, who hate and do violence to other groups of people because of the color of their skin, their ethnic origin, religious preferences or sexual preferences. Diversity is what makes America so special and so strong.
All West Virginians should feel ashamed that organizations like the Klan and William Pierce's neo-Nazi National Alliance feel safe here and call our state home.
    Law enforcement agencies should not ignore the presence of hate groups. Members of the Klan, National Alliance and other such organizations are the kinds of folks inclined to do very stupid things-like harass and do violence to members of minority groups, threaten federal agents and cause deep rifts in otherwise peaceful communities.
    Members of hate groups should not be able to breathe in West Virginia without local and state law enforcement agencies knowing about it. Groups like the five Klan chapters and Pierce's Alliance should be hounded and dogged to a point where they don't feel welcome here and are less inclined to do bad things.
    So, wake up West Virginians. Harboring haters is not good for our state. Regardless of their rhetoric and propaganda, groups like the KKK and the Alliance are hateful, evil groups that perform no social good and only serve to tarnish the image of our otherwise wonderful state.

Publisher's Col., March 7, 1999

This is the state to be for water

    Moses parted the water. Jesus walked on water. And priests and other holy men sanctify the water in the name of God.
Water is pretty important stuff. A place that has no water or bad drinking water isn't a place any of us would want to be for very long. And places with good water have been held in high regard throughout man's history.
    Did you know that West Virginia has been proclaimed "the capital of great water" by an internationally-known watermaster? That is why it is so appropriate that the so-called Olympics of water is in our state every year-the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting.
    The Berkeley Springs event is the largest and longest-running water tasting in the world, according to an article by Jeanne Mozier in February's Wonderful West Virginia magazine. The 1999 event concluded just a couple of weeks ago in this tiny tourist town nestled in the hills near the Maryland border north of Martinsburg, W.Va. It is a scenic and historic place that is a long way from just about anywhere else in West Virginia. But it is worth the drive.
    Fairmont, our sister city to the north in the I-79 Corridor market area, was a winner this year in the municipal category of the competition. Its water placed fourth behind Desert Hot Springs, Calif., Montpelier, Ohio, and South Huntington, N.Y. Eldorado Springs, Colo., was fifth.
    These winners beat out municipal water entered from cities in Iowa, Maryland, New Jersey, Alaska, North Carolina, Illinois and Tennessee as well as Washington, D.C., and other entries from their own states. There was also one lone international entry in the municipal division from Qunaitra, Syria.
    Other categories are bottled non-carbonated and bottled carbonated. The bottled non-carbonated is generally spring water. Entries in this category come from all over the world. Besides all the mountain states in our country, there are entries from France, Italy and Belgium.
    "Mountaineer Pure" of Charleston was second in this category behind "English Mountain" of Dandridge, Tenn. The third through fifth place winners were: "Vittel," France; "Whispering Springs," Pierceton, Ind., and "Acqua Panna," Italy.
Bottled carbonated winners this year were: "Harghita Naturally Sparkling Mineral Water," Romania; "San Pellegrino," Italy; "Poland Spring," Maine; "Mountain Valley Sparkling Spring Water," Hot Springs, Ark.; and "Quibell Sparkling Spring Water," Martinsville, Va.
    West Virginia waters have historically done very well in the competition. Bottled water from two companies in Monroe County ("Sweet Springs" and "Mountain Promise") have been bottled water winners in past years. And Charleston, Parkersburg and South Putnam have been among municipal winners in the past. You now know some good places to stop for water when traveling and also some bottled brands to consider.
    How did Clarksburg's water do in the competition? It wasn't entered which was probably a good decision because the local water doesn't rank anywhere in my personal top 10 for drinking water.
    My personal favorite is Bluefield, W.Va., which comes from natural springs. It is worth stopping on your way through just to drink tap water at a local restaurant.
    If you are looking for a unique festival to attend you might want to mark down Feb. 24-26 as the dates in the year 2000 for the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting. You can watch the judges swish water in their glasses and then sip carefully. You actually need to get there early because there is a large public audience for the judging.
    And the best part, according to the Wonderful West Virginia article by Mozier, is that at the conclusion of the competition the judges stand back and announce all the water on display is available for free to the onlookers. A mad scramble ensues.
Sounds like good clean fun.

Terry Horne is the publisher of The Clarksburg Exponent and Clarksburg Telegram. 
His column appears every week in the Sunday Exponent-Telegram.

Telegram View, Sunday, March 7, 1999

A family court measure is needed-
without cuts

    It finally appeared West Virginia's slow-turning wheels of justice were about to crank a little more smoothly with regard to family court. But another legislative committee has tossed a monkey wrench into the works and those wheels now seem to be grinding to a halt. This is totally unacceptable.
    The state Senate approved a measure Wednesday night that would expand the family court system's role. It initially appeared there would be a remedy for the current system of family law masters, which has been much criticized for being too slow and unfair to fathers.
    The new bill would replace the state's 14 full-time and 13 part-time law masters with 35 full-time family court judges. We have no argument with hiring additional people when it stands to alleviate the huge backlog of cases that have evolved.
Enter the House Finance Committee. Since Wednesday it endorsed a bill that would scale back proposed staffing and salaries for family court judges. The bill as passed last week by the Judiciary Committee would have given each judge a case coordinator to be paid $25,000. However, the finance panel decided to phase in eight case coordinators a year for three years and add the final 11 in the fourth year.
    We can appreciate it when those who regulate the state's purse strings exercise caution in spending. But we have seen taxpayer money spent for less important things. With the family law master system in the state at a virtual standstill, now is not the time to be rationing dollars over a four-year period that should be spent now to fix a problem that is screaming out to be solved.
    Divorce is a time when families are most vulnerable and need the help of the court system to make this most difficult life transition. Endless delays are the last things that parties in a divorce situation need during such trying times. That is, except on rare occasions when a delay might tend to change the minds of the wife, the husband or both about going through with it.
The House Finance Committee must rethink its position on preventing such long-awaited progress in the family court system from taking place. If it must scale back, let it scale back on the frivolous programs that have been all too easily enacted.
Robert F. Stealey
Telegram editorial board chairman


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