"Monica's Story" is difficult to find in local bookstores
by Paul Leakan

    Just when you thought the story would finally die, that people would want to forget about the beret and the dress, some people just want to know: Where's Monica?
    Bookstores around the country are getting blitzed with requests for copies of "Monica's Story," a book that gives Monica Lewinsky's account of her affair with President Clinton and other private details of her life.
    Most area bookstores, however, have been unable to get their hands on the book, especially the smaller stores.
For many, shipments of the book just haven't arrived yet. But for those that have copies, sales have been booming and the next order is already in the mail.
    The book, written by Princess Diana biographer Andrew Morton, has been gobbled up at Waldenbooks in the Middletown Mall in Fairmont since the store stocked its shelves Friday morning.
    The store sold about seven books in two hours Friday, said Jason Stalnaker, assistant manager. Some books were reserved weeks ago. The Amazon.com online bookstore sold 4.8 copies per minute on Thursday, according to a store spokesman.
    Several of the smaller bookstores, however, have been shut out of the Lewinsky book craze, said Geoff George, owner of the Stilwell Book Shop in Morgantown.
    "We don't have the buying power of the big chains," George said. "The little guys get their copies two or three weeks later. It's a sad situation, but that's the way it is."
    The Heritage Square BookCafe and the James & Law bookstore in Clarksburg also haven't been able to get the book. Shipments for both have been ordered and are on the way.
    Waldenbooks in the Meadowbrook Mall in Bridgeport does not have the book yet but expects a shipment to come in within the next few days.
    George said he felt obligated to order it, despite the fact that he would hope most people would want to forget about the whole ordeal.
    "I felt like I had to have it on the shelf because there might be that one or two people who just have to have it."
Tamera Cienawski, manager and sales coordinator at the Heritage Square BookCafe, can't understand the attraction.
    Barbara Walter's interview of Lewinsky Wednesday on ABC made Lewinsky look like a "giggling, little school girl," she said.
    Actually, the recent interview could be one of the major reasons why people are buying the book, Stalnaker said.
"Anything that gets a lot of media sells really well. Honestly, that's the way the business works. Talk about the book, people want to buy the book."
But could that really be the only reason?
    "Everybody has a little bit of sick curiosity in them, I guess," Stalnaker said.
Still, are we talking "best seller" material?
    "I think after the first week, everyone that wanted it will have gotten it," Stalnaker said. "It won't last beyond that."
So long to the beret, the dress and all the rumors.
    Then again, George knows that if anything can be learned from the scandal, it's this: "It never ends."

School board settles property dispute for $20K
by Gail Marsh

    The Harrison County Board of Education now holds the deed to the $100,000 Adamston parking lot property after paying $20,000 to the limited liability company that also held claim to the land.
    "We feel this is a fair settlement. Because of the judge's ruling, we expected to have to pay something, and we agreed that this was reasonable," said Peter J. Conley, former school board president and the attorney who handled the case.
Conley said the limited liability company, Allegheny Title Services, listed its expenses as $15,000. Rather than go through with a possible appeal to the state Supreme Court, the company settled on $20,000.
    "To save us the expense of possibly continuing the case, we felt this was a good settlement," Conley said.
Robert Rouch, owner of Allegheny Title Services in Greenbrier County, also said he believed the settlement was fair for both sides.
    "We were prepared to appeal this to the Supreme Court and had a pretty good chance of winning. But we felt it was better for all parties to get things settled," Rouch said.
    The school board originally filed a civil lawsuit in August 1998 to determine ownership of the land on the south side of Adams Avenue, which is used as a parking lot for Adamston Elementary staff. The board lease-purchased the property from Community Bank & Trust Inc. in 1993 and received the deed in November 1995.
    The suit contended that the board was not notified that any back taxes were due at the time of the purchase. The lot was eventually sold by the Harrison County Sheriff's Department, and the property was purchased by Allegheny Title Services for $715.
    The board ran into ownership problems because the deed it received in 1995 was not recorded until July 1998. Allegheny received a property deed on April 29, 1998.
    The lawsuit asked that Allegheny's deed be set aside and the property returned to the school board. Property owned by a school board cannot be subject to liens, including liens for back taxes, according to state law.
    In early January Judge John Lewis Marks ruled that the school board did own the land, and later ruled that the board was liable for expenses incurred by Allegheny Title Services because of the sale.
    Superintendent Robert Kittle said the money has already been paid to Allegheny Title Services from the general fund, but said the board may try to recoup some of the money.
    "The judge ruled in our favor as far as the parking lot was concerned, and we are pleased with that. But the board is talking about looking at all the parties involved in the sale to see if something can be done," Kittle said.


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Copyright Clarksburg Publishing Company 1999