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
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 Ñ 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
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
"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
His column appears every week in the Sunday Exponent-Telegram.
Telegram View, Sunday, March 7, 1999
A family court measure is needed-
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