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Exponent editorial

Powerball warnings make lottery

officials look responsible

You know those cigarette warning labels that no one pays attention to? Now there's something of the same for the lottery.

States where Powerball tickets are sold have been airing commercials urging ticket buyers to use restraint. "Play responsibly and within your budget," says one TV commercial.

The reason for the warning ads is the record Powerball jackpot. It was $113 million for Saturday's drawing, the highest in the game's history. It has climbed to an estimated $150 million -- the highest lottery jackpot in U.S. history -- for tonight's drawing.

It seems state lottery officials want it both ways. They want to entice people to spend their money -- most of it hard-earned and hard to come by, especially in a poor state like West Virginia -- on lottery tickets. They advertise; they ballyhoo lottery winners as the luckiest people on the planet; they even make the Powerball jackpot harder to win so the big prize will climb higher and more people will get the itch to play.

But lottery officials also want to appear responsible. So now they're warning people about the dangers of losing their self-control -- and their money -- on a dream of winning $150 million. Never mind that the record jackpot is just what Powerball officials wanted and planned for when they made their calculated game changes last fall.

Do the warning ads work? Probably not. Indiana lottery officials did a survey last year that found less than half, 41 percent, of respondents had heard of such ads or read warning messages on lottery tickets.

The warnings may not make lottery players any more responsible, but they do make lottery officials look more responsible. And that, we believe, is just what they're intended to do.

-- Tim Langer

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Telegram editorial

Kudos to students who said "show must go on" about dangers of AIDS

Our hats are off to 13 area high school students for their display of guts and determination to perform in a controversial play about the AIDS virus. It was a play that local high school officials wouldn't permit the students to put on this spring due to its content.

We were glad to learn that two performances of the play, "Going Toward the Light," were presented last Friday evening at the West Virginia Center for the Choral Arts on East Pike Street.

The students included 12 from Robert C. Byrd High School in Clarksburg and one from Doddridge County High in West Union.

A sophomore at RCB, Alisha Heimbuch, was instrumental in receiving permission from the Choral Arts Foundation to use the building for the performances. It was she who was part of the original group of students who were discouraged from putting on the play.

We believe, as does Miss Heimbuch, that censorship is wrong. And although AIDS has long been one of the more controversial topics of the Õ90s, there have been many people who believe it was important to get the message out.

It was earlier this year that RCB students sought to perform the play as a high school production, but ran into opposition from faculty.

This brings us to ask, "How can students be adequately educated if the serious issues of life are held back from them by the educators?"

Isn't this very much like having the results of a scientific experiment withheld from them because school officials are afraid the students won't be able to handle those results?

The students agreed to tone down some of the dialogue in the original script. But there continued to be questions from school administrators about the appropriateness of the production.

RCB drama teacher Lisa Mosca had believed the play was valid and had an extremely important message. However, earlier in the year she decided to drop the play, saying her department already had a full schedule and students were concentrating on other things. Yet she agreed to direct the production on her own time.

A senior acting group at a high school in Lynchburg, Va., wrote the play in 1991. Although no props or sets are involved, the play used various characters to warn students about the dangers of AIDS.

We're encouraged that the students who persevered to make "the show go on" were adult enough to exercise their First Amendment rights to convey the message that was so important to them.

We should all have this kind of fortitude.

-- Robert F. Stealey

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Bob 'n' Along

Area man risked life twice trying to save accident victims

by Bob Stealey

Last Friday night must have seemed like "deja vu all over again" for 21-year-old Thomas Casto of Fairmont, who was one of two men who jumped into the Tygart River in an attempt to rescue the occupants of a car that went into the water just off U.S. Route 250 near Woods' Boat House.

Casto and another passing motorist, identified as Tony Cutrone of Shinnston, reportedly saw the car leave the roadway in an apparent attempt to pull into a gravel parking area near the boat house. But instead, the vehicle went down an embankment and into the river.

Casto and Cutrone entered the water. A male occupant of the car was able to free himself from the car, which was fully submerged. The two men pulled a woman from the car, described as upside down in the river. As of this writing, it had not been officially determined whether the man or the woman had been driving the car.

Unfortunately, the woman was pronounced dead approximately an hour after the accident at Fairmont General Hospital, despite the valiant attempt by Casto and Cutrone to rescue the victim.

And here's an interesting note. It was approximately five years ago that Casto had another attempted rescue experience, according to his uncle, Jack Casto of Clarksburg, a truck driver who once worked at Clarksburg Publishing Company during my earlier years here.

While delivering Sunday Exponent-Telegrams with his father, the two encountered a wrecked dump truck that had apparently gone out of control while descending a hill on U.S. Route 250 near Belington.

Jack Casto told me his nephew noticed that the driver of the truck, which was believed to have been carrying lime, was bleeding profusely. His nephew, Tom, climbed on top of the truck's cab and was somehow able to rescue the trucker from the wreckage. He apparently did so despite the possibility the vehicle could have burst into flames any second.

It was also unfortunate that the truck driver was unable to survive the accident.

Young Casto was just a teen-ager then. But already he has risked his young life twice in an attempt to save complete strangers. He was instrumental in freeing two people from wreckage, although the injuries sustained in the accidents proved fatal.

I don't know Tom Casto myself. But having heard about his encounters, it is evident he's just as much a hero, regardless of the outcome of each accident, over which he had no control.

-- ¨ --

While on the subject of traffic hazards, I was told by a fellow-worker that on Sunday, he was exiting I-79 southbound and intended to make a left-turn onto U.S. Route 50 heading for Eastpointe.

As he approached the four-lane, he noticed that both red lights -- Yes, I'm back on that subject again! -- were burned out. Meanwhile, east-west traffic was whizzing past. After all, those vehicles had the green lights.

Had an out-of-towner approached the burned-out lights believing it to be OK to enter the highway, a terrible crash could have occurred.

Fortunately I heard of no accidents resulting from the lack of working traffic signals. But judging by reports of many collisions at the scene over the past weeks and months, it's no small wonder.

-- ¨ --

Did you hear the one about the man who wrote an unauthorized autobiography?

On that note, I'll sign off until Friday. Cheers!

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