A dominate piece of history in an inconspicuous place.
by Bob Stealey

    While walking through the Harrison County Courthouse recently, Clarksburg City Council member Kathryn Folio (she was selling daffodils for a charity organization) stopped me and asked if I had ever seen a tablet hanging inconspicuously on the east wall near the Third Street entrance.
    I looked at it and replied that no, I had not noticed the plaque-like historical tablet, but would attempt to copy down the words as soon as possible.
    Well, she offered to write down on paper the words for me, and I had them in-hand within an hour. My thanks to Kathy for that kind gesture.
The tablet reads as follows:
    "This tablet is erected to keep before future generations the virtues and courage of the people of Harrison County who, at a time of great civil commotion, assembled in mass, meeting on the 22nd day of April, 1861, in the courthouse then occupying this spot and took action in the adoption of resolutions, calling on the people of northwestern Virginia to appoint delegates to meet in convention at Wheeling on the 13th day of May, following, to consult and determine what action should be taken in the emergency confronting them.
    This proceeding was the initial movement that finally resulted in the creation of the State of West Virginia from the territory of the State of Virginia. "The meeting was presided over by John Hursey, with John W. Harris as secretary.
    "The following delegates were appointed to the Wheeling Convention: John S. Carlile, Waldo P. Goff, John J. Davis, Thomas L. Moore, Solomon S. Fleming, Lot Bowen, William Dunkin, William E. Lyon, Felix S. Sturm, Benjamin F. Shuttleworth (and) James Lynch."
At the bottom of the tablet was the date, "1914."
    My only question (and the question that Kathy Folio had ) was: Why is this historically important "document" displayed in such an inconspicuous spot? I feel it is something that should be in a much more dominant spot on that ground floor of the courthouse.

    Another area resident, Mrs. Margaret Pokrzywa of 1722 N. 22nd St. in North View, was gracious enough to answer a question I had posed in the caption under a "Look Back in Time" photograph in the Telegram.
    In the caption under the picture, which showed a streetcar with two conductors standing alongside, reference was made to a poster on the front of the coach advertising that the Barnum & Bailey Circus was coming to Clarksburg.
    Mrs. Pokrzywa brought in a special commemorative china plate with the calendar of 1911 and 1912 printed on it. It mentioned the circus would take place on Thursday, July 12. We checked the month of July 1912 and, lo and behold, there it was. July 12 fell on Thursday that year. Strange, isn't it, how our questions are answered.
    This was confirmed in a note from Ron Webster, of the Cardinal Insurance Agency, who said he had a perpetual calendar on a software program that showed all the July 11 Thursdays from 1900 to 1950. The possible years, he said, included 1901, 1907, 1912, 1918, 1929, 1935, 1940 and 1946.
    I'm sold that it was indeed 1912.
Have a terrific week.

Clarksburg parking problems need to be resolved.

Build it and they will come?  Well, not necessarily. In fact, they might just go out of their way to avoid the darned thing.
    Such seems to be the case with the Ampco System Parking lots on Washington Avenue in downtown Clarksburg. The lots, which were sold by the city for $360,001 last October, have become the source of confusion and frustration among many motorists who attempt to use them.
    The problem lies within the lots' payment plan; apparently just how to pay for one's parking is none-too-clear. Those wanting to use the lots don't pay an attendant. Rather, they put coins into a computerized machine. The process involves punching in one's parking space number and feeding money into the slot.
    As noted recently, during a 20-minute span on a workday, four customers were confused about how they were to pay and ended up dropping in too much money.
Parking (or lack thereof) is a problem that has plagued Clarksburg for years. A city trying encourage more visitors to its downtown businesses needs all the incentives it can offer, not discouraging situations like this one.
    And city officials, who have been getting their fair of complaints about the lots, apparently realize this. When the lots were initially sold, the city wanted the new owner to install more parking spaces or construct a new parking deck. However, an official agreement was never made for either of the aforementioned.
    In the meantime, a petition is being circulated to have the lots improved. John Coyne, owner of the lots, is planning to construct a booth for parking attendants to answer any question that may arise. And city officials are reviewing the operation of the lots.
Those who decide to visit Clarksburg shouldn't have to worry about circling the block just to find a parking place. And once they've found one, they shouldn't be left scratching their heads over how to pay for it.
    This seems like an easily resolvable problem, and we hope that a resolution comes relatively soon.

This editorial reflects the opinion of the Exponent editorial board, which includes William J. Sedivy, John G. Miller, Julie R. Cryser, James Logue, Kevin Courtney and Cecil Jarvis.

U.S. must continue commitment toward missile defense plan

    America's diplomatic corps would do well to step up foreign relations efforts with such nations as North Korea and Iran. It is especially they who could acquire the capability to strike the United States with ballistic missiles within five years of making a decision to do so.
    This was the conclusion of a commission chaired by former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld last year. Thus now we are seeing signs that Pentagon officials are more serious about the need for deployment of a national missile defense.
    It is about time, we say. But the Associated Press reported Friday that House and Senate negotiators are faced with producing compromise legislation to commit the United States to a national defense against a limited ballistic missile attack. The House on Thursday approved its version 317-105, a day after the Senate passed similar legislation 97-3.
    We feel the importance of an effective defense against a missile attack cannot be stressed enough. One of the catalysts of this wake-up call was last summer's flight test by North Korea of a three-stage missile. While it was not a perfect test, it did suggest that North Korea could plausibly develop an intercontinental-range missile in the next several years.
    Just this past January, Defense Secretary William Cohen announced that the deployment date would likely be delayed from 2003 until 2005, even though a decision on deployment is still scheduled for 2000.
    We realize that an enemy or terrorist nation's decision to launch a missile attack on the United States would actually take a few years. This is in contrast to the relatively short time it took to plant bombs in public buildings such as the World Trade Center in New York and the federal building in Oklahoma City.
    The Union of Concerned Scientists last month reported that it would require North Korea and Iran approximately five years to be able to launch a ballistic missile against the U.S., and 10 years for Iraq. Lest any American believe that this gives our nation enough time to take pre-emptive steps to repel such attacks, it is crucial to remember that a 2005 deployment date for the U.S. gives us no edge at all.
    Combine with this the fact that no change has been made to America's fiscal 1999 or 2000 budgets for missile defense $1.1 and $1.3 billion, respectively. This is despite the Pentagon's increase in the overall budget for fiscal years 1999-2005.
    President Clinton announced that a stronger message was sent to Russia in January that the U.S. will seek to renegotiate the ABM Treaty to permit deployment of an NMD system. And Cohen strongly suggested that this nation would withdraw from the treaty if Russia did not agree to the modifications.
    Tests of the new booster and kill vehicle ( two of the "most critical tests") are not scheduled to take place until fiscal 2001 and FY 2003, respectively. There is a real problem with this. If a deployment decision is made in mid-2000, it will be based on incomplete and inadequate information about the maturity of the technology.
How is that for a plan that is filled with holes?
    When the Clinton administration made its announcements, they were intended to give credibility to the NMD program, according to UCS. But we agree with those congressional Republicans who back legislation to mandate deployment of a national missile defense as soon as it is technologically possible to do so.
    This could be a while. So we question Democrats who would stall the process any further. Deployment is by no means a "panic" reaction. After all, what could be more vital to every American (Democrat as well as Republican) than the preservation of our very existence?
Robert F. Stealey
Telegram Editorial Board chairman


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Copyright Clarksburg Publishing Company 1999