News for September 23, 1999
City officials to discuss safety measures during Klan rally
by Paul Leakan
Clarksburg officials plan to meet with area residents at 10 a.m. today
in the Municipal Building to discuss possible plans and measures that may
be taken to ensure safety at a Ku Klux Klan rally planned for November.
In early September, a local chapter of the KKK sent a letter to city
council members and county commissioners saying it will gather from noon
to 2 p.m. on Nov. 6 at the Harrison County Courthouse.
Since then, the city has been contacting several area cities, gathering
information about what safety measures may be necessary.
During todayís meeting, Clarksburg Police Lt. John Walker and Det.
Robert Matheny plan to explain the types of situations that can happen
during a KKK rally.
City Manager Percy Ashcraft said the rally could create plenty of complications
depending on what the city will do to address it. The city likely would
have to coordinate its fire, police and public works departments along
with county law enforcement agencies, he said.
In some cases, cities have built special fences to keep the situation
"Itís far more complicated than when we prepared for the president,
if you can believe that," Ashcraft said.
Area church groups, school officials and law agencies were all invited
to todayís meeting.
"Itís just a good opportunity for everyone to understand the nature
of this KKK rally -- how severe it can be and how out of control it can
be," Ashcraft said.
Aside from preparing for the KKKís rally, city council members will
also discuss plans today for a possible unity rally proposed by Clarksburg
Mayor David Kates.
The "Letís Get Real" rally, as Kates has called it, seeks to bring
the people of the city together while showing that there are more people
who "desire diversity than there are who desire hatred."
Erroneous reports have set a date and time for the unity rally, even
though neither have been officially approved or set.
Several council members have said they support the idea of a separate
rally but are still concerned about when and where to hold it.
Councilwoman Margaret Bailey said that several people have voiced their
concerns over holding a unity rally on either the same day or the day after.
Bailey wondered on Wednesday whether the alternate rally may even be necessary.
"Clarksburg has always had a great degree of unity among its people.
I believe itís a given," she said. "I would be hesitant for us to make
decisions that could more create problems than we have to, given our unity."
Attorneys say Cox shot mom by accident
by James Fisher
When Linda Cox told her co-workers she had to go home shortly before
noon on Jan. 19, none of them realized she was never coming back.
Cox and Cheryl Honce, another nurse at the hospital, were having a
conversation that day when Cox received a telephone call. Cox took the
call in another room, and announced she would be back later that day.
Cox never showed up at the hospital for a scheduled appointment, and
about 12 hours later, she was found dead in her home.
Her son, Kristopher Cox, has been held without bond since January,
charged with first-degree murder. His trial started Wednesday and was expected
to conclude by the end of the week.
Prosecutors said Wednesday that her son, Kristopher Cox, shot her in
the face with a 9mm handgun, and then tried to conceal the crime by hiding
her body and cleaning the scene.
Kris Coxís defense attorneys paint a different picture of what happened
that crisp, cold day earlier this year.
They say Kris and his mother were arguing about whether he was going
back to college at a prestigious black university in Virginia. Kris, his
mother and his father, Raymond Cox, had been discussing Krisí future plans
since he returned to Clarksburg for Christmas break in December.
When Linda Cox came home from the hospital, attorney James Zimarowski
said, Kris had announced his intention to return to school. Linda wanted
him to stay and get a job, Zimarowski said.
The two fought, and Kris went to his room. When he came out, Linda
was waving the 9mm gun and taunting Kris, Zimarowski said. She had the
gun to protect herself from threats that had been made to VA hospital staff
during a restructuring project. Because she was living alone, she believed
she needed it, defense attorneys said.
Kris tried to push his motherís arm out of the way to get the gun away
from his face, and the gun fired, hitting Linda next to her right eye from
a distance of six inches.
Prosecutor Eric Kitzmiller called the incident a "deliberate, premeditated
intentional killing of a mother by her son."
Zimarowski said it was an accident.
After the shooting, prosecutors said Kris Cox called his best friend
in Maryland and told him he had killed her. The friend suggested calling
911 for help, but no such call was made, Kitzmiller said.
According to Kitzmiller, neighbors saw Kris several times that day
at his motherís house, and his friend came to Clarksburg, looking for him.
About 8 p.m., Kris called his friend again, and said he was coming
to Maryland. He arrived in Maryland with a blood-soaked towel, his motherís
gold sweater, a pair of his own blood stained basketball sneakers and the
Kris came back to Clarksburg about 12:30 a.m. Jan. 20, and went straight
to his fatherís home on Monticello Ave., Kitzmiller said.
"He made statements to his father that gave Raymond Cox some concerns
about Lindaís safety," Kitzmiller said.
About 1:30 a.m., Kris and Raymond were seen by a Clarksburg officer,
arguing behind Krisí car. Raymond approached the officer and said he was
concerned for Linda. They went to her house.
What greeted Raymond and Clarksburg Lt. Gary Keith when they entered
the house chilled them both, they said.
Lindaís body was lying in the living room, partially in a cardboard
box, with her shirt off and a plastic garbage bag on her head.
"There was also a carpet shampooer, vacuum cleaner, some rubber gloves
and other items in the house," Kitzmiller said. "These items were being
used to conceal the evidence of a murder."
Defense attorneys say Kris was not acting to conceal a crime. He was
distraught about his motherís death, panicked and blacked out.
"There is absolutely no motive whatsoever for Kris to commit this crime.
The stateís case is built on a circumstantial house of cards," Zimarowski
said. "There was no motive, no criminal intent. So simply, there was no
The trial continues today in Harrison County Circuit Court.
If convicted of first-degree murder, Kristopher Cox faces life in prison.
Developer strikes deal with state
by Julie R. Cryser
Assistant Managing Editor
The developer of a proposed $129 million horse-related theme park in
Lewis County has made a gentlemanís agreement with the state Securities
Division, agreeing not to sell any of the $500 memberships to his equine
"He has an agreement with this division that he will not sell memberships
until he seeks proper legal counsel," said Chester Thompson, deputy commission
of the state Securities Division. "It was a mutual agreement because he
didnít want to put himself in a position where he might violate state law."
Thompson said that Steven J. Garvin, the sole proprietor of Mountainbred
Equine Group, met with attorneys that specialize in securities last week,
but because the attorneys had a conflict, they could not represent him.
"He is being very aggressive in trying to find proper representation,"
Garvin did not return a telephone call to his Moutainbred Equine Group
office on Wednesday.
Thompson said any sale of the $500 memberships would be considered
a violation of the agreement. He said it is best for Garvin to wait until
an attorney can examine the membership sales, which Garvin offered to the
public during a press conference held earlier this month.
"We just simply want to know what the facts are," Thompson said Wednesday.
Garvin had proposed selling $500 lifetime memberships in his equine
club up to $500,000. The money would be used to help secure land, hire
an architect, secure permits and licenses and convert MEG into a publicly
traded corporation called MegaWorld.
Once Moutainbred incorporated MegaWorld, Garvin would offer the sale
of 10 million shares of stock at $20 per share to help pay for the project.
Garvin said in early September that he had issued seven memberships so
far, but as much as $100,000 has been tentatively committed to the $129
Garvin has refused to name any existing or potential members of his
club, which will eventually make up the board of MegaWorld. The project,
which he plans to break ground on in April or May 2000 and have completed
by June 2001, will include a 300-unit upscale hotel, an enclosed facility
for stables and specialty shops, a theme park, a veterinary center, a 1
1/2-mile horse race track and a 60,000 square-foot convention center.
The theme, horse and water park would be built on 820 acres of land
along Hackers Creek in Lewis County. The land is known as the J.C. Baker
farm or the Jane Lew Farm.
However, according to federal court documents, the deed for the land
is being disputed.
A lawsuit filed in July in Clarksburg alleges that the land was illegally
sold by the former president of J.C. Baker & Son to himself, his grandson
and two of his great-grandchildren.
The suit alleges that in November 1987, John Calvin Baker executed
a deed which gave the land to himself, his grandson John Chris Baker, and
two of his great-grandsons, John Chris Baker Jr. and Philip Baker.
The suit was filed by the executor of John Calvin Bakerís will, Michael
Baker. John Calvin Baker died Aug. 22, 1998.
The suit alleges that the land was sold for $10, but no money was ever
paid to the company. Additionally, the sale of the land was not authorized
by the company, either by a resolution of the board of directors or the
shareholders, according to the suit.
Although the deed transfer was recorded in the Lewis County Clerkís
office on Sept. 27, 1988, the transfer taxes and recording fees were paid
by the corporation. From 1987 to 1997, all real property taxes annually
assessed against the property were paid by the corporation and from 1987
to present, all expenses for operation of the land were paid by the corporation,
according to the suit.
Michael Baker is requesting that the deed be declared void and the
land be transferred back to ownership of the corporation free and clear
of any rights of the defendants.
However, if the court determines that the land does belong to the defendants,
Michael Baker is asking the court to order the defendants to pay all federal,
state and generation skipping taxes, as well as state estate taxes.
Michael Chaney, a Charleston attorney representing Michael Baker in
the suit, said he doesnít think the lawsuit would hold up any potential
sale of the property.
"I would anticipate that the parties involved in the lawsuit would
work together to convey the property to anybody who comes up with a reasonable
offer," Chaney said Wednesday evening.
Rick Wright, a Weston real estate agent handling the sale of the property,
also said he doesnít think the suit will stop the sale of the land to MegaWorld,
which plans to arrange a lease-purchase agreement.
"At this time, we have no indication that it will," Wright said.
Staff writer James Fisher contributed to this article.
Appointment may signal tougher smoking rules
by Julie R. Cryser
Assistant Managing Editor
When Joyce Rabanal takes the oath today and is sworn in as the newest
member of the Harrison County Board of Health, it will mark an important
moment for those who believe Harrison Countyís local tobacco policy is
Appointed by the Harrison County Commission, Rabanal replaces Dr. Herman
Fisher, a Republican whose term expired in July and who did not want to
Commission President Thomas Keeley said Rabanal will help the county
in its desire to appoint more women and minorities to boards. And sheís
a Republican. State law says that the board has to have an equal number
of Republicans and Democrats serving.
Rabanalís resume is extensive. She has a nursing degree from Salem
College and is a masterís candidate, has been active in the West Virginia
Nurses Association, the West Virginia State Medical Society Alliance, has
written four grants and has been active in other community and professional
Sheís received the most publicity, however, from her activities in
the Marion/Harrison Bi-County Tobacco Coalition. And she is a critic of
the countyís tobacco policy, adopted in 1997, because the local health
department cannot enforce the regulation.
"If (businesses) choose not to abide by the rules, they can smoke all
over the place," Rabanal said Wednesday.
And although she said she personally would like to see a ban on smoking
in businesses throughout the county, she canít say what she will do once
she takes her seat on the board. Itís too early, she said.
"I donít know anything about how the board functions," she said.
Delia Naranjo, with the Marion/Harrison Bi-County Tobacco Coalition,
said Rabanalís appointment is a positive step for those who support more
stringent smoking regulations in Harrison County.
"Hopefully, it will improve and strengthen our tobacco coalition issue,"
she said. "Hopefully, we will be able to make some changes so the whole
community can benefit from it."
Harrison Countyís tobacco policy is one of the weakest in the state,
according to officials with the state Bureau of Healthís state Tobacco
Prevention Program. Although it calls for only 25 percent seating in restaurants
for smokers, enforcement is basically voluntary.
"The language in the regulation looks very similar to other counties
around the state, but the thing that varies is the enforcement section,"
said Mike Harman, field director for the state Tobacco Prevention Program.
"Some people feel that it makes it a voluntary policy."
The Harrison County policy leaves enforcement up to the owner or operator
of the establishment.
Forty-one of the stateís 55 counties have adopted tobacco policies.
Most policies throughout the state allow for penalties enforceable by a
county magistrate. Some call for all restaurants to have separate ventilation
systems for non-smoking areas, while others ban smoking in any business
Harman said only a few cases have ever made it to the magistrate court
level in any West Virginia county, but he said the threat is enough to
force businesses to comply. Health departments usually make sure restaurants
are meeting the guidelines as a part of their annual health inspection.
And if someone complains that the regulations are being broken, local health
department officials visit the business and ask owners to voluntarily comply.
Harrison Countyís policy, however, "leaves the health department out
of the enforcement picture," Harman said.
It will be a while before Rabanal is able to take an active role in
the Harrison County Board of Healthís decision-making process. The board
meets Oct. 4, but Rabanal will be unable to attend the first meeting because
of a prior engagement.
But Rabanal said sheís ready to take on her newest role.
"In todayís times, changes in medicine and health care occur every
day and become challenges that we must address so that informed decisions
that will benefit the health of the people of Harrison County can be made,"
she said in a written statement. "This is the challenge to which I am committed."
CNG, Hope Gas employees getting the scoop on Y2K
by Shawn Gainer
Consolidated Natural Gas Transmission Corp. and Hope Gas employees
are getting a chance to find out how Y2K complications might affect their
lives at the companyís "What You Need to Know" exposition.
Personnel from CNGís Communications Planning and Information Technology
groups set up information stations at the companyís West Main Street office
building Wednesday and today so employees could get advice about personal
preparation and how the turnover to year 2000 might affect items they use
Much information that might interest the general public was available
concerning home computers. Tim McSwain worked a table where people named
the manufacturer and model of their home computers. He would either tell
them what they could do to make their PCs compliant or refer them to an
"As a general rule, if it was manufactured after 1997, it will probably
be compliant," McSwain said. "Anything that contains a Pentium processor
or above should be all right. With some brands it depends on the model,
so you should check the manufacturerís website. It doesnít cost anything."
McSwain added that there are several ways people can solve the problem
of a non-compliant computer.
"Some companies provide patches you can download and you can buy programs
that will take over your computerís operations during the roll over to
2000 and make it compliant," he said. "In some computers, you can set the
date after 2000 and it will stick --they just donít know how to make the
Testing templates were also available for employees who wished to test
individual programs and applications for possible complications by simulating
the turnover to 2000.
"As far as programs, ones that use dates for calculations are the most
likely to have problems," he said.
Cindy Welch, who headed the exposition project, said patches to make
the Windows 95 and Windows 98 operating systems Y2K compliant can be found
through Microsoft Corporationís website, www.Microsoft.com.
Company officials scheduled the exposition 100 days before the transition
to year 2000 in order to reassure the public that CNG will remain in business
and continue transmitting gas on Jan 1., said Sandy Stalnaker, lead information
"Anything that is critical, like process control equipment for pipeline
valves, has been tested," Stalnaker said. "Weíve looked into relationships
with suppliers, too. Weíll have generators for back-up power at critical
Scott Young said after visiting the information stations that he believes
the greatest Y2K problem could be panic among the general public.
"I think we will endure some inconveniences because of the hype but
weíll have gas and electric," Young said. "I can see problems at the gas
pump and in grocery stores if people decide to hoard."
GSC president says teacher training needs to be improved
by Shawn Gainer
Glenville State College President Thomas Powell said Wednesday that
colleges and universities must work harder to train good teachers for public
"I feel it is inappropriate to continue to criticize K-12 public schools
for the quality of students we get when the only guarantee for a good education
is a quality teacher," Powell said. "Colleges have a moral responsibility
to make teacher education a priority."
Powell added teacher training has become a priority for the federal
government. He was one of 75 college presidents from across the nation
to meet with Richard Riley, secretary of the U.S. Department of Education,
about the issue.
He added that he believes college administrators have access to plenty
of research which points to ways to improve teacher training. Specific
measures Powell said he wants to see include having more education colleges
nationally accredited, as well as greater cooperation with public schools
in internships and higher passing rates on licensing examinations.
"Only 40 percent of teacher education programs in America are accredited
by NCATE (the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education).
Itís shameful," he said. "I feel that is important because the NCATE standards
are very rigorous."
"Colleges need to work more closely with school systems in areas like
student teaching, rather than using a 'place and prayí method," he added.
West Virginia is ahead of many other states in accreditation, as state
regulations require all public college and university teacher education
programs to be accredited by NCATE, said Bruce Flagg of the University
System of West Virginia.
Powell said he feels the main obstacle to improving teacher education
might be expense because of the costs involved in gaining accreditation
and providing the kind of salaries that will keep good people in the field.
"Last year we had 32 teacher education graduates. We used to have graduating
classes of more than 100," he said. "If weíre going to require more qualifications
on top of the heavy responsibility they already have, there has to be a
corresponding increase in compensation. Otherwise good people will continue
to be lured into other professions."
FBI officials honor local man for his service to the community
Stephen Bakerís efforts for 'FBI Nightí gain recognition
by Paul Leakan
Officials at the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services Division
in Clarksburg honored a local man Wednesday for his efforts to help the
agency emerge from its workplace and reach out to the community.
Stephen Baker, co-owner of the Interstate 79 Speedway near Shinnston,
received the FBI Directorís Award for "exceptional service in the public
For the last three years, Baker and the local FBI centerís Community
Outreach Program have teamed up for "FBI Night."
FBI employees hand out coloring books and alcohol-free, anti-violence
and anti-drug literature during the event.
Employees fingerprinted around 140 children and young adults at the
event this year.
The event is one of many ways for the local FBI to move away from the
notion of being "stuffed shirts" tucked away in their workplace behind
the hills, said Bill Holley, manager of the community outreach program.
"Weíre really sincere about what we do in the community," Holley said.
"We live in this community. Our children go to school here. Weíre really
just regular people."
All of the efforts wouldnít be possible without people like Baker to
help support them, said Maria Fazalari, community outreach specialist.
"Community support is what makes our programs so successful. Without
that our programs would be meaningless," she said.
"We wouldnít have any audience and there would be no one to take advantage
Even so, Baker was just humbled by the award. He believes it should
go to all of his co-workers at the speedway.
"Iím just part of the puzzle," he said. "It takes all of us to make
this thing go."
Local FBI officials also plan to award two members of its police force
this Friday for meritorious achievement.
FBI police officers Robert C. Mason and Jeffrey L. Owens helped to
save a womanís life while on routine safety patrol in February 1998.
Mason and Owens helped to extinguish a fire, direct traffic and provided
comfort for a woman who was trapped inside her car.
The womanís car was crushed beneath a tractor trailer that had skidded
off Interstate 79 and caught fire.
Anniversary of playground construction to be marked
by Gail Marsh
It was just about one year ago that more than 300 volunteers came together
in Grafton to build the Castle Creek Playground at Fetterman Park.
And the Friends of Castle Creek are planning a celebration to mark
the anniversary of the construction of one of the most elaborate, hand-crafted,
wooden playgrounds in the area.
"This was really a grassroots effort that had amazing results. Not
only did we get a wonderful playground, but the project showed people what
they could accomplish when they worked toward a common goal," said Thea
Porter, chair of the Friends of Castle Creek.
The friends will celebrate with a community picnic on Oct. 10 at the
park. Everyone who worked on the project or who would like to see the finished
product is invited to attend.
"It was incredible to see so many people come out and volunteer, and
everyone had such a good time. Itís something the community can be really
proud of," she said.
Porter said the project actually began in 1997 when she was serving
as an AmeriCorps Vista volunteer for the North Central West Virginia Community
Action Association in Taylor County.
"My first project there was to plant some trees at Fetterman Park,
and while there I met Mary Tucker," Porter said.
Tucker, the family and consumer science teacher at the Taylor County
Technical Center, was on site with some of her students to try to make
improvements to the existing playground.
It took more than a year to raise funds, hire an architectural firm
to design the playground, round up volunteers and garner material donations
before work began.
"We had people who were in charge of shuttle parking and others who
were in charge of day care services or getting lunch and dinner for the
300 workers. It turned into a community wide effort," Porter said.
Actual construction started on Sept. 30, 1998 and lasted five days.
More than 300 people showed up to help on the first day.
"Once the tools and materials arrived, we needed 24-hour security at
the site. We got help from the boy scouts, the sheriffís department and
others who helped us out," Porter said.
The end result produced Castle Creek, a playground fashioned around
a castle, complete with dragon and dinosaur designs. There are swings,
slides, a trolley, a maze and a wiggle walk among the half-acre of equipment.
Porter said the Friends of Castle Creek continue to work at the park,
with plans to put in more picnic tables and benches. Members also work
with the city to help make general improvements to the whole park.
For more information on the anniversary celebration, people can contact
Porter at 265-5542.
Local and area news in brief
Drought deepens in central, western portions of state
CHARLESTON (AP) -- Storms that helped the Eastern Panhandle have done little
for the rest of the state as the drought of 1999 grows worse in central
and western West Virginia counties.
The National Weather Service reported Wednesday that rainfall deficits
in the state ranged from 3 inches to 15 inches. Wells are running dry,
streams are mere trickles and farmers in 27 counties are hauling water
to give their livestock a drink.
Thirty counties are following voluntary water conservation measures
and 14 public service districts have invoked mandatory measures.
The continued lack of rain has hurt hay production, cutting the average
annual production of 1 million tons by 54 percent. To get livestock through
the winter, farmers will need another 450,000 tons, said Bill Bissett,
a spokesman for the state Department of Agriculture.
School investigates allegations that teacher bit student
WELCH (AP) -- State and local officials are investigating an allegation
that a second grade teacher bit one of her pupils earlier this week.
The teacher has been taken out of the classroom and will not return
until the investigation is complete, Larry Lane, McDowell Countyís assistant
superintendent, said Wednesday.
The incident allegedly occurred Monday at Welch Elementary School,
Tina Bowen claims the teacher bit her 7-year-old daughterís shoulder
-- breaking the skin and causing it to bleed. Lane said he didnít know
the extent of the injury.
Distillerís legal moonshine hits the shelves
MORGANTOWN (AP) -- The bottle looks like it was meant to hold maple syrup,
but the crystal clear liquid inside is intoxicating.
The first 72 cases of Mountain Moonshine, made in a Granville garage
by West Virginia Distilling Co., have been shipped to the state Alcohol
Beverage Control Commissionís bonded warehouse, distiller Payton Fireman
"It took a month and a half ... to make enough whiskey to make these
cases," he said. "Itís going to take another month or so to make another
The Morgantown lawyer expects the first bottling to be gone by the
time the next is ready for sale. Every bottle is guaranteed to be less
than 30 days old.
State looks for contamination in state fish
CHARLESTON (AP) -- West Virginia is following the lead of other states
in trying to determine if the stateís waterways are contaminated by methyl
The research, being conducted by a West Virginia University graduate
student. The information will be used for future fish consumption advisories,
Pat Campbell, a watershed manager for the state Division of Environmental
Protection, said Wednesday.
Fish samples are being collected on the Monongahela River this week.
Other rivers targeted for sampling include the Kanawha, New, Cranberry
West Virginia routinely samples waterways for contaminates such as
dioxin, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), chlordanes, cadmium and lead.
Fish consumption advisories are than issued warning the public about the
risks associated with eating contaminated fish.
"Neighboring states have mercury advisories," Campbell said. "We knew
nationally that folks were going to a risk-based advisory. Those numbers
are more conservative and protective and itís the wave of the future."
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists mercury as a pollutant
of concern due to its persistence in the environment, its potential to
accumulate in the body over long periods of time, and its toxicity to humans.
Studies show mercury attacks the central nervous system and can lead to
Emissions from coal-burning boilers and power plants are considered
the leading cause of methyl mercury deposition in rivers and streams, Campbell
The sampling also is giving officials a better look at water quality
in the Monongahela River. Fisheries biologists are finding the river is
rebounding from earlier pollution.
"Back in the 1960s and early í70s, it was predominantly bullhead catfish
because it was an acid river at that time, and it was one of the few species
which could tolerate the low pH levels," said Frank Jernejcic, a fisheries
biologist with the state Division of Natural Resources.
No bullhead catfish were found Tuesday during the first of three fish
counts at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineersí Morgantown Lock and Dam on
the Monongahela River.
Since the water quality has improved, other fish species are now found
in the river. Fish sampled Tuesday included drum, channel catfish, flathead
catfish, white bass, smallmouth bass and spotted bass.
Clarksburg Publishing Company, P.O. Box 2000, Clarksburg,
WV 26302 USA
Copyright © Clarksburg Publishing Company 1999