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Newspaper Carrier’s Attack Angers Community

May 10, 2008
By Wayne Sheets, Contributing Business Writer
Last Saturday morning, I was having breakfast at the Seneca Mall Cafe and couldn’t help but overhear a conversation between a group of patrons concerning the mugging and robbery of John Zirbs. They unanimously agreed that those involved in the incident had to be a desperate group of derelicts to inflict such an act on someone as non-threatening and non-violent as he.

Some suggested that this should be a learning event. Apparently, the incident occurred at approximately 5:45 a.m., about the same time the midnight shift of the Elkins police force was preparing for a shift change at 6 a.m. It was suggested that the incident might have occurred with total disregard of the situation at the police station. Some, however, suspect the perpetrators knew the city would be without patrols at that time and took advantage of the situation. Who knows? Perhaps John just happened to appear as an easy target and the low-lifes that attacked him simply responded to the opportunity.

The idea that emerged from the conversation might be worth considering by the police department: staggering shift changes for the officers so that there is continuity in police surveillance.

Everyone realizes the challenges faced by the city’s police force, most of which are experienced by all police forces. Anyone who has a scanner knows where the police are and what they are doing. This makes it harder for them to do their job and gives criminals some degree of latitude for committing acts of violence without being detected. Perhaps the idea of staggering the time when the officers change shifts might close one of these opportunities for the criminal. It is also recognized that no matter the size of a police force, they cannot be everywhere all the time.

It is, I’m sure, the wish of every law-abiding citizen in the community that those who harmed John be caught and suffer the maximum penalty.


The annual West Virginia Free Enterprise/Entrepreneurship Summit for high school students will be June 8-14 at YMCA Camp Horseshoe. Every public and private high school in West Virginia is invited to send two students. Chamber members have three ways to help: Recruit students to attend; assist with a program session during the summit; or provide funds to help sponsor students.

Contributions may be made payable to YMCA Camp Horseshoe and are tax deductible. Students pay $30 of the $350 fee, with the balance provided by sponsors.

The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce co-sponsors this program with the Ohio-West Virginia YMCA and program partners are the department of education, the Appalachian Regional Commission and the development office.

For more information, e-mail


According to the Federal Election Commission, the predicted $105 million more in donations and the record $1 billion mark for the presidential election will soon become actual fact. The total now stands at $895 million and includes those currently in the races and those that have dropped out.

In a hurried search for statistics regarding recent elections, I could only find figures for the 1992 campaign. In that year, according to the political scientist who pioneered the study of campaign finance Herbert E. Alexander, the cost of electing a president was about $550 million spent on behalf of the two major political party candidates in the general election. It also includes funds spent by all the candidates who sought their parties’ nominations — by the nominating conventions of the parties, and by third-party and independent campaigns. The cost of electing a president — about $550 million — represented about one-sixth of the nation’s $3.2 billion political campaign bill in that year. The remaining funds were spent to nominate and elect candidates for Congress as well as hundreds of thousands of state and local officials, to pay the costs of state and local ballot issues campaigns, and administrative, fundraising and other expenses of party and non-party political committees.

It’s obvious that election costs have far exceeded the $1 billion mark, but if forecasts hold true, this year will be the first time the cost of electing just the president will exceed that unbelievable mark.

Sen. Barack Obama leads the “big three.” He’s raised a total of $240.2 million, spent $189.1 million and has $51.1 million in reserves. Sen. Clinton has raised a total of $194.8 million, has given $5 million of her personal wealth to her campaign, has spent $163.1 million and has $31.7 million remaining in her election coffers.

By the numbers of the Democratic candidates, Sen. John McCain is a true conservative. He has raised a total of $81.9 million, has spent only $70.3 million and has $11.6 million in reserves.

To put these numbers in perspective, consider that according to Alexander, Abraham Lincoln’s winning election campaign cost him and his supporters about $100,000 to attain the presidency in 1860. Lincoln’s opponent, Stephen Douglas’ campaign cost about $50,000.


Here are some quick notes from the April 29 Downtown Merchants meeting.

— The Memorial Day service will be at the All Veterans Memorial on May 26 at 2 p.m. Refreshments will be served at the conclusion.

— The Farmers Market will be open from 9 a.m. to noon at the town square. It will continue during these hours each Saturday through Nov. 1. From July 9 through Oct. 29, the market will also be open in Elkins City Park each Wednesday from 7 a.m. until 10 a.m. For information, call Joel Wolpert at 823-2960.

— The Kissel Stop is now offering entertainment on Fridays and Saturdays.


Those restored street machines and antique cars will be rolling into Elkins for the state’s largest car show in about seven weeks. Plans are under way for this year’s event, and as always, volunteers are needed. To volunteer, call the chamber at 636-2717.


To submit ideas or suggestions, e-mail



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