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Christmas lights on town square the beginning of something good

December 18, 2010
By WAYNE SHEETS, Contributing Business Writer

Elaine Griesel is always starting something. This time she has started something big - the lights on the town square.

Griesel, with the help of a few others, hosted fundraising events throughout the summer and fall months to buy the lights. Her husband, Ed, installed them and from what I'm hearing, and seeing, dozens of people are enjoying them as they walk or drive around the square in their vehicles. If you haven't seen them, it's well worth your while to stop by and have a look.

According to Griesel, several people have already said to her, "Gee, I wish I'd known you were doing this; I would have furnished lights, too," and promised to add to the display next year. Wouldn't it be nice if the old railyard was filled with lights next year?

Maybe someday we'll have our own miniature Oglebay Park-like display of Christmas lights.

Kudos, Elaine, for starting something so lovely. I'd ask only one thing though; could the "Happy Holidays" greetings be changed to "Merry Christmas?"


Everyone associated with the organization is concerned about what will happen to the Downtown Merchants Association.

Ed Griesel, who has served as de facto president of the organization for the past 10 years, will step down from the post on Tuesday when he chairs his last meeting. While he will no longer serve as president, he has agreed to remain active with the organization.

His wife, Elaine, has agreed to continue hosting the bi-monthly meeting at Ceramics with Class at 203 Davis Ave.

I mentioned in an earlier column that I have covered the organization's meetings for the past six years.

During that time, the members have accomplished quite a lot, not as much as they would have liked, but nonetheless have, along with their setbacks and disappointments, enjoyed a great deal of success. Many of the things they do will be missed if it should fold completely.

While some, especially those that have been actively engaged with the organization for the past many years, may feel that it's the end of an era, I believe the organization has a tremendous opportunity for continued success and even greater accomplishments by joining forces with ON TRAC. Many, if not all, of the things the association has accomplished over the years are just what ON TRAC has set out to do. There is strength in numbers.

There are several other organizations in town that are working toward making our city more esthetically appealing as well as keeping the economic base viable and ever-expanding.

It would seem in the best interest of everyone if all these independent organizations were to join forces with ON TRAC. I'm not saying that every organization in the area should join ON TRAC but all those that are struggling so mightily as small independent entities trying to do many of the things that is the mission of ON TRAC might be well advised to join an organization that has state backing and is better situated to obtain grant money with which to accomplish common goals.

There are a couple of inevitable drawbacks to joining a larger organization, however. That is, of course, giving up one's anonymity and being willing to compromise. Isn't it better to accomplish part of one's goals through collective efforts than to continue struggling alone and achieving lesser goals? Isn't it a bit like the well-worn toast "United we stand, divided we fall," a favorite toast, in varying forms, of political orators from Benjamin Franklin to Abraham Lincoln - and perhaps even today?

Ed Griesel said at the DMA meeting on Dec. 7, "It's apparent people like Elkins. They keep coming back time after time. They visit many places and I keep hearing comments about how much they like coming back to Elkins and the area and how much they enjoy the local hospitality, scenery and entertainment."

Griesel made those comments as a result of being a "step-on" guide for many of the bus groups that come to Elkins and hearing our visitor's comments.

It would seem advantageous that members of the DMA and the other organizations, most of which have the same concerns and objectives, would be well served and on the road to bigger and better things if they were to join forces with ON TRAC. Ed Griesel would be the first to agree.


I feel so sorry for Tony Andes. Andes is a member of the West Virginia Legislature's House of Delegates representing Mason and Putnam counties. He serves as a member of the Education Committee.

I fear that, if not already, within the next few days the West Virginia Education Association will have a strangle hold on his neck.

Those of you who read The Journal probably already know what I'm talking about. For those who don't, Andes wrote a blistering article in the Dec. 3-9 issue of the state's premier business newspaper titled "Teachers' Unions Support Bad Public Policies" in which he voiced his concerns about the state's teachers and the ratings of the students coming out of West Virginia schools and the need for real reform.

As Andes wrote in his article, and most everyone agrees, all the blame doesn't rest on the heads of the teachers. They face many tremendous challenges in the school system.

One of the greatest, in my opinion anyway, is a lack of discipline instilled in the kids at home. To make it even harder for the teachers, their hands are tied in trying to do anything about the lack of discipline which comes to the classroom with them (the students.)

That alone, however, does not account totally for the low standings of the student - there are many issues involved as Andes pointed out.

Andes wrote: "Not every kid is the same. Not every teacher is the same. But they are treated the same.

"Fantastic teachers who improve test scores and inspire their kids get the same pay as the ones who barely show up and play DVDs as taxpayer-funded baby sitters.

"That's wrong. Excellence must be rewarded. Tenure appears to have little value ..."

If you don't get The Journal, it would be worth the while of everyone interested in the education of our children to find access to the article and read it.

Last January, I suggested in this column that in order to make up the deficit of lost school days, because of inclement weather, school might be conducted on an equal number of Saturdays. You would have thought I had asked them to give up one of the Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years or spring break vacations.

My suggestion was based on the fact that some counties in Ohio and North Carolina use Saturdays to make up for lost time - why shouldn't Randolph County and the others that took off so many snow days.

While this may not be the major cause for students' low test scores there is a requirement that they spend a minimum number of days in the classroom attempting to gain the knowledge required for acceptable test scores.

Perhaps a better solution would be to have school from the first of April through mid-December practically eliminating closures because of bad weather.


Wondering what to do with all those Christmas cards you received. A good idea would be to donate them to St. Jude's Hospital. They will recycle them into new cards to sell for charity. Send them to: Recycled Card Program, St. Jude's Ranch for Children, 100 St. Jude's St., Bolder City, Nevada 89005.



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