News for September 13, 1999

'Sunday in the Park' kicks off annual United Way campaign

by Gail Marsh
Staff Writer
The weather on Sunday was accommodating and the crowds turned out to make the kickoff for the 1999-2000 Harrison County United Way campaign one of its best starts ever.
"This is something that the whole community can enjoy while showing their support for the United Way," said Ken Moslander, director for the Harrison County United Way.
"Sunday in the Park," held at Clarksburg City Park in Nutter Fort, was filled with activities from start to finish, from a softball tournament and 5K run to entertainment, food and a dunking booth.
Several of the organizations who are supported by the United Way had informational booths and fund-raising activities set up in the park's grassy areas. Roland Kniceley of Salem, assistant scout master of Troop 7 Boy Scouts of Clarksburg, was helping to grill and sell steak sandwiches. He said he's been involved in scouting most of his life.
"My father was a scout master so I got hooked on scouting at an early age. And I still believe that if a child gets involved and applies what he learns, it's something that will help him to deal fairly and honestly in every area of his life," Kniceley said.
Hope, Inc., a domestic violence shelter, once again sponsored the West Virginia Clothesline Project, a visual aid to bring awareness to the problem of domestic violence.
A few hundred T-shirts decorated by survivors of domestic abuse and others decorated in memorial to the victims hung on a clothesline strung among the trees.   Lorena Pennell, who manages the Doddridge County office of Hope, Inc., said the clothesline display is a good way to bring attention to the problem of domestic violence.
"This can help people to see that the problem doesn't happen just somewhere else, but it can be your next-door neighbor or a relative who is suffering from abuse. It's a learned behavior and children who come from an abusive home tend to carry the problem with them," she said.
Pennell said the support of the United Way allows Hope, Inc., to offer shelter, counseling, court advocacy, relocation assistance and other needed services to domestic abuse victims and their children.
"We are also able to go out into the community and do public speaking to help educate the community about the seriousness of the problem. Without the United Way's support, we wouldn't be able to do this," Pennell said.
Moslander said the "Sunday in the Park" activity is not meant to be a fund-raiser, but rather a way to celebrate all the good things that the United Way does. But he noted that most people who come still want to contribute.
"We made the miniature golf free last year, but we had to come up with a bucket because so many people wanted to make a donation to the United Way. The people of this area have been very supportive," he said.

'Concert in the Park' benefits scholarship fund

by Gail Marsh
Staff Writer
Capt. Mike Freeman of the Bridgeport Fire Department stood in the grassy area of the Bridgeport City Park and faced the stage where the band, Second Street, was performing.
"The weather is good, the bands are great and everyone seems to be having a great time. I'd say it's going well," Freeman said.
Freeman and several hundred Bridgeport residents turned out for "Concert in the Park '99," sponsored by the fire department to raise funds for the J.T. Honce Scholarship Fund.
John Thomas Honce was a long-time member of the fire department who became a full-time fire-fighter/paramedic for the city of Bridgeport in 1997. He was killed on June 5, 1999, and the department has started a scholarship fund in his honor.
"All the proceeds from the concert today go to help a student from Bridgeport or from Harrison County who wants to attend Fairmont State in the field of fire or emergency medical training," Freeman said.
The concert lasted more than eight hours and featured Second Street, Now and Then, Standing Room Only, Stiff Kitty, Last Generation, Stepping Stones and Rock Bottom Band. Their sounds ranged from country to rock and roll, but nothing too head-banging, according to Amanda Harbert, secretary for the volunteer fire department.
"We really wanted this to be a family-type event where everyone would be comfortable, and the bands have been very supportive. We hope to make this a yearly event," she said.
Harbert said people were generous all day at the concert, with many people giving more than the requested $5 fee to attend the day-long event. Many people gave $20 and a few gave $50 and $100 to benefit the scholarship fund.
"Businesses in the area and the people have really rallied together to help us with this cause. It lets you know that there are still a lot of good people out there," she said.
Future events are being planned for the scholarship fund, including a golf tournament at the Bridgeport Country Club. The J.T. Honce Memorial Scholarship Fund Golf Tournament will take place on Monday, Oct. 4, starting at noon, with registration slated for 10 a.m.
For more information on the tournament, people can contact Freeman at 842-8252 or Chief Kelly Blackwell at 842-8251.

New security measures make Taylor Co. Courthouse a safer place to work, visit

by Gail Marsh
Staff Writer
The judicial offices at the Taylor County Courthouse are a little more secure after workers spent the last two weeks installing a number of security measures in the downtown Grafton facility.
"The steps that were taken will create a safer environment for those people who work in the magistrate offices and in the court system," said Bob Weaver, president of the Taylor County Commission.
Weaver said the project was possible after the state Supreme Court encouraged the Legislature to make money available for courthouses in all 55 counties to have some type of security in place.
"We applied for a state grant and got $40,000 to do the work. For right now it just covers the judicial area, but that's where it's needed most," he said.
The security work was done at the courthouse by Advanced Alarm Technologies, a Parkersburg firm owned by Robert Hill.
Hill said installing the new system was not difficult because all the judicial offices are located on one floor -- the underground first floor of the courthouse. These include the circuit court, prosecutor, magistrate, family and divorce law and probation offices
 The new system consists of several video surveillance cameras placed strategically throughout the area. Activities can be monitored by magistrates, bailiffs and also the county dispatch center.
The system includes a keypad entry system with electric door locks, an intercom at each door and a series of duress or "panic" buttons that allow court officials to notify law enforcement if an emergency arises.
"This is a pretty extensive system that should allow them to be able to know just who is coming and going and what is taking place in any judicial room at any time," Hill said.
Hill said his company has now installed security systems in 13 county courthouses, including work done last year at the Harrison County Courthouse on Main Street.
That work in Harrison County involved making the elevator the only available entrance to the third floor that houses the two courtrooms and the circuit clerk's offices.
Donnie Kopp, circuit clerk, said people can still use the stairs to leave the third floor, but they must come up on the elevator and go through the metal detectors in order to come on the floor. Three bailiffs are stationed on the floor, one in each courtroom and one at the elevator entrance, he said.
"It does give you a greater measure of security to know that everyone who comes on the floor must first pass by the bailiff and through the metal detectors," Kopp said.
Weaver said the work done at the Taylor County Courthouse is a good beginning, but more work needs to be done to secure the rest of the building.
"It's kind of a shame that we have to do this. I used to be a magistrate and never worried about any harm. Now, with so many family issues, it's a good idea to be concerned about safety," Weaver said.

Local residents' contributions make Black Heritage Festival a success

by Gail Marsh
Staff Writer
Beverly North and her husband, Otto, have had a busy weekend.
The couple from North View have been one of the most popular food vendors at the Black Heritage Festival for a number of years. With good reason.
"We must have sold 100 rib dinners and about one hundred pies on Saturday. And today we're back with more ribs and chicken and steak sandwiches," she said.
The barbecued ribs, prepared by Otto North on his homemade grill, are accompanied by string beans, potato salad and corn bread. But all the pie was gone by late Saturday at the ninth annual festival.
"I start making those pies two to three days ahead, and I thought I had plenty, but every year the demand is greater," Otto North said.
The Norths say they begin ordering their supplies for the festival months in advance, and really don't mind all the preparation. They do it because they enjoy serving people and offering a quality product.
"It's really all about coming here and getting to see the people and all the families that come from far away to take part in the festival. And I enjoy making sure that what we sell is the best quality," Beverly North said.
 Frank Starks of Clarksburg, along with several nieces and nephews, has been selling fried fish sandwiches at the festival for the last four years. Starks, who learned to cook from his mother, said his endeavor is not really about making money but about helping the kids in his family.
"My main motivation is the kids. I try to instill in them that with some work and dedication they can do something on their own, to encourage them to do something better," Starks said.
Attendance for the two-day festival in downtown Clarksburg was steady, with crowds lasting till 10 p.m. on Saturday. The day ended following a gospel sing by the Mt. Zion Church choir.
"It's a good thing to come together like this. It's good for the people and good for the community," Starks said.

Local and area news in brief

Blaze destroys mobile home in Sardis

A double-wide mobile home in Sardis was declared a total loss following a fire early Saturday morning at the structure in the Katylick community, fire officials said.
According to Ken McNemar Jr., captain with the Reynoldsville Volunteer Fire Department, the department was called on scene at about 3 a.m. and found the 1978 double-wide mobile home in flames. The Wallace and Lumberport volunteer departments also responded, he said.
"The damage was contained to the home, which has been declared a total loss. As we understand it, the house had been vacant for at least two weeks while some remodeling was taking place," McNemar said.
McNemar did not release the name of the owner of the double-wide, but did say the incident remains under investigation. The state fire marshal may be called in to the investigate, but that has not yet been determined, McNemar said.

Rabid bat forces Wetzel school  to close again

CHARLESTON (AP) -- A Wetzel County school was closed for two days last week after officials found a rabid bat.
Short Line School officials in Reader shut the school Tuesday and Wednesday. A piece of metal on the roof came loose and bats entered the building by poking through the ceiling.
"It was a scary situation, especially with all the kids around," said Raymond Ebert, a maintenance supervisor.
Ebert said a bat, tested by state Health Department representatives, was found to be rabid.
School officials hired an exterminator to rid the school of the bats and classes resumed Thursday.

Putnam County resident seeks to alter highway route

TEAYS VALLEY (AP) -- A Putnam County resident is working to generate a letter-writing campaign to persuade state highways officials to change the proposed direction of U.S. 35.
Public comment will be accepted until Sept. 23. But highways officials say they won't change their plans for the $408 million, four-lane highway that would link Point Pleasant in Mason County with Interstate 64.
Ellen Mills Pauley of Crooked Creek is urging neighbors to bombard the state Highways Division with letters. "You can bet I will go up a day or two after the public comment period ends to count the comments," she said.
Pauley says highways officials should move the proposed route further west, which she says would save money. The alternative also would avoid bulldozing her community.
Highway officials say their proposed route is sensible because most of the traffic on U.S. 35 heads east. And linking I-64 with state Route 34 would provide relief for commuters from growing Winfield subdivisions, highway engineer Dave Clevenger said.
If a letter-writing campaign fails, Pauley says she'll seek a court injunction against the state highway department.

Man suspected in deaths of four family members

ST. CLAIRSVILLE, Ohio (AP) -- A man suspected in the deaths of his estranged wife and three of her family members was being held in New York City Saturday night, according to the Belmont County Sheriff's office.
Nawaz Ahmed, 44, is a suspect in the death of his estranged wife, Lubaina Bhatti Ahmed; her father, Abdul Majid Bhatti of Canada; his sister-in-law, Rubie Ahmed of California; and a niece, Nasira Ahmed of California. Ahmed and the victims are not American citizens.
The bodies were found Saturday afternoon by a deputy at Ahmed's home south of this city along the Ohio-West Virginia border about 110 miles east of Columbus. The victims' relatives had contacted the sheriff's department after being unable to reach the victims by telephone, according to a statement from the sheriff's office.
The statement said Nawaz became a suspect based on evidence found at the scene. He was being held by customs officials at Kennedy Airport, who captured him while awaiting for a Pakistan International Airline flight.
They were unsure of where he was headed.
The Times-Leader of Martins Ferry reported for a story Sunday that the couple were scheduled for a divorce hearing in Belmont County Common Pleas Court Monday and that Ahmed has had previous arrests for domestic violence.
"We knew he has violent tendencies," Sheriff Tom McCort told the newspaper.
He said a determination of when the victims were killed has not been made.
The newspaper said Ahmed has been living in Columbus.
The bodies have been taken to the Franklin County Coroner's office in Columbus.
No other details were released.

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