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Elaine Griesel — my choice for Elkins’ Female Volunteer of the Year

December 12, 2009
By Wayne Sheets Contributing Business Writer

Operating a business that serves the public is no place for one who is afraid to meet people. Elaine Griesel is a case in point. Part of Elaine's success is attributable to the fact that she has never met a stranger. Everyone who walks into her store, Ceramics with Class, for the first time is treated and made to feel as though she has known them their entire life. Once they've met her, they have a friend for life.

Another of her most notable attributes is her willingness to help others. No matter how busy she might be serving her customers' countless requests, she is never too busy to do a favor for anyone who asks. She is always ready to go out of her way to help do what ever she can to make Elkins a better and more pleasing place to live, work and play.

Elaine graduated from Elkins High School in June 1966. Having been hired through a high school recruitment program, she went to work that same month for the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, D.C. She started as a clerk/typist and worked her way up to administrative staff assistant to the secretary of HUD. In 1984, she was honored as the Mid-Level Employee of the Year and in 1988, she received the Secretary's Distinguished Service Award.

She left her government job in 1988 to come back home to Elkins when her husband, Ed, was transferred to the area with AT&T.

After moving back, she began volunteer work at Davis Memorial Hospital and at the Otterbein Food Pantry. As a hobby, she began working with ceramics and in 1990 purchased Ceramics with Class, which was then located in the Seneca Mall. After 10 years, her business had outgrown that location and she purchased the building at 203 Davis Ave., her current location, and moved. In addition to selling nearly any "raw" ceramic imaginable, she conducts weekly classes where ceramic enthusiasts learn to convert those raw clay models into beautiful and creative works of art.

To occupy her time on weekends when Ed was working, she volunteered to help and eventually worked for the Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Railroad, preparing and serving food on The New Tygart Flyer excursion train. Her culinary skills were soon noticed and for several years she prepared box lunches and dinners for touring bus groups under an additional and new business, Roundhouse Foods.

Along with ceramics and food preparation, Elaine discovered she harbored the love of gardening. She created and now maintains the large flowerbed at the south entrance to Elkins along U.S. 250/219. During the growing season, she can be seen tending her flowerbed as well as numerous others around the city. She is currently working with the Upshur County Commission to purchase more than 1,000 daffodil bulbs to be planted in Elkins' flowerboxes.

She is currently serving as treasurer of the Emma Scott Garden Club, is a member of the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce, the Elkins Downtown Merchants Association and the West Virginia Railroad Museum.

Elaine hosts the Downtown Merchants' Meeting every other Tuesday and, at the conclusion of the meeting, serves breakfast.

Elaine has also been known to babysit youngsters under the guise of teaching them the art of ceramics. I have visited her store on numerous occasions when she was in the company of a very young "student" of the art. The student would be busy trying to carry out Elaine's instructions of how the paint should be applied, or how to properly sand a model so that it would turn out to be a finished product of which the young student would be proud.

Visit Elaine's store and you will find her selling merchandise for the West Virginia Railroad Museum, preparing refreshments for the All Veterans Memorial ceremonies, making bows for area churches, selling items for several nonprofit organizations, taking reservations for seating along Davis Avenue during the annual Mountain State Forest Festival to benefit C-HOPE and the Elkins Historic Landmarks Commission - all in addition to running her business.

Thanks Elaine for being such a great volunteer, holding economic growth and esthetic values of Elkins dear to your heart, and always being ready to lend a helping hand whenever and wherever it is needed.


A very unfortunate and threatening situation became known Thursday at the Local Emergency Planning Committee's Long Range Planning meeting. The LEPC's Resource Manager Pam Johnson has been helping with crowd control at H1N1 flu clinics, and last week in Beverly she ran into a very confrontational and threatening situation.

She was working the entrance to the clinic admitting people into the area where the flu inoculations were being given. She was told by staff personnel inside the clinic not to admit any more people until they cleared some out of the area. She halted the line in front of a man who, when denied entrance, became belligerent and threatening because he did not want to wait outside the clinic any longer.

When denied access to the clinic, he not only became belligerent toward Johnson, but also began agitating the crowd against her. Johnson was alone and said, "I became frightened that the crowd would go out of control and that I and perhaps others at the clinic would suffer injuries."

Fortunately, nothing beyond threats developed, but the individual did continue to harass Johnson until he was admitted to the clinic and even after he received his inoculation. He even drove by where she was working a couple of times after getting into his vehicle to leave before he actually left the scene.

Johnson is asking for help from law enforcement agencies hoping to prevent such occurrences at future flu clinics. Let's hope that another despicable act such as this doesn't happen again.


Well, I pulled another boner in Tuesday's paper. I wrote a story about the Lucky Enough show band performing its Christmas show at the Elks Club and got the dates wrong. I stated that they would be performing their last two shows today, Dec. 12 and Dec. 19. They perform on Friday nights instead, so by the time you read this they will have played their next to last show last night.

However, it isn't too late to catch their last show this Friday. They are a great band and do a wonderful job with their Christmas show. If you know of anyone who is anticipating going to the show the weekend before Christmas, let them know that the show will be Friday at 7 p.m. I apologize to everyone whom I have confused on the show dates. I hate to think that folks will show up at the Elks Club on Saturday evening expecting to see a great show and be disappointed because of my mistake. I am very sorry, indeed.


If you happen to be sitting at the breakfast table contemplating what you might do today, why not consider taking a ride on The New Tygart Flyer's Santa Claus Express. What better way to entertain the kids for about four hours, and it's guaranteed that all adults will enjoy the trip as well.

The first express leaves the Elkins Depot at 10 a.m. and the second one at 2 p.m. Take a few hours and enjoy some real quality time with your family as you view the scenic beauty of our beautiful area. If you don't have a family, climb aboard anyway and enjoy a few relaxing hours of seasonal fun with your significant other - or, as I prefer to put it, your wife or girlfriend.



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