AND THEN AGAIN by Tamara Pettit

……The year 2020 has not only changed the world as we knew it, I believe it has changed all of us. The coronavirus has polarized us into those who abide by all safety guidelines and those who don’t take the threat as seriously as they should. The problem is that those who don’t take the problem seriously may infect those who do… spurring resentment and fear of our neighbors and friends.
….Will we ever be carefree in our travels again? Will we ever spontaneously give a hug to a neighbor or friend without worrying about the implications? Will our kids get to be kids again without being inhibited by masks and will school and sports return to normal schedules? Will we come together again? Oh, how I hope we do.
……Corona virus didn’t take a holiday, but many set aside precautionary advice and gathered for Christmas and in the next week I fear an even greater increase in COVID positives. The Hancock County Dept. of Health tells us that on Christmas Day alone 55 people in this County tested positive for the virus.
…..As one who lined up as a small child for the polio vaccine when it was first introduced, I know the difference a vaccine can make. I remember when local civic organization put out donation cans and held fundraisers for research for a vaccine to prevent the dreaded disease. Don’t take the Internet or your Facebook friends as your expert on the vaccines, talk to your doctor if you have doubts.
…. West Virginia may not lead the nation in many issues, but it is one of only four states in which the legislature has held its ground on requiring vaccinations for school entrance. Only California, Mississippi, New York and yes, West Virginia accepts only medical exemptions which include immune diseases and serious adverse or allergic reactions. Other states exempt children for religious and personal believes of their parents which allows for a wide swath of those who may not have the vaccine.
…..The West Virginia Dept. of Highways has been quiet on the Route 2 alternate program, but that doesn’t mean that the implications of their selection of Alt. 4 for the City of New Cumberland aren’t troubling. Appears the Dept. has not only turned a blind eye to the people’s preference for Alt. Rt. 5 A, but the City’s work on the In a Letter to the Editor on Page 2, Councilman Larry Binkoski outlines those problems.
….Filing for New Cumberland Mayor and Council seats in Ward I and II begins in January. I hope that citizens think through the tremendous responsibility the positions incur and the commitment of time and energy required as they consider filing for the positions. I also hope that residents of New Cumberland realize that the future of the City is not someone else’s responsibility, but theirs as well.
….”Here’s to strong women….May we know them…..May we be them….May we raise them.” That’s one of my favorite quotes. As we look towards a new year, I have to pause and reflect on a few of the strong and resilient women I have had the privilege of knowing and what they have taught me through their example.
….I lost a very dear friend last week. Mary Lou Kerr was known in our community for her grace, strength and always giving heart. Her smile could light up a room and she gave it frequently and genuinely to all. I was so fortunate to know her when as two young mothers with children close in age we shared the daily trials and tribulations of raising our kids. We spent many hours together, but even more time attached to the telephone sharing our problems and our dreams while our kids did dastardly things just beyond the reach of the extra-long cord. As the children grew and didn’t need us on a daily basis she went back to school at West Virginia Northern Community College to become a registered nurse while I went to work at the College. Our paths didn’t cross on a daily basis as it once did, but when we did talk it was as if it was only yesterday when we had been conversing. From Mary Lou I learned the beauty of giving without thought of receiving and the enduring bond of friendship. I know that when you lose a dear friend you lose a part of yourself, but I like to think a part of her lives on in me.
….New Cumberland lost a strong woman with an indominable spirit with the passing of Boots Hines. Yes, I know her name was Ramona, but I knew her by Boots and even put that on her newspaper subscription label. Boots raised three sons and before women were even acknowledged for being self sufficient she worked at Weirton Steel, cleaned for businesses and did what she had to do for her boys. From Boots I learned that resilience in the face of adversity is key and to stop talking about independence and just do it! And, to always recognize the humor in life.
….And, Judy Raveaux. I’ve served on the CHANGE board for over 20 years so I’m proud to say I was in trenches with Judy for many of her efforts to grow CHANGE to what it is today. Judy has refined perseverance to an art. She saw needs in our communities and she acted. The domestic violence shelter had to be credentialed to get State money and there were those in Charleston who didn’t want yet another shelter to divide the available pot of money, but she kept fighting for it. Making the school-based health site at Weirton Elementary a reality was a battle fought on many fronts and its success has now resulted in sites at other schools. The clinic in Newell was critical and bringing that facility to reality was a result of her vision and tenacity. From Judy, I learned that if you see a need in the community you truly can fix it if you just care enough to persevere against all odds.
…..There will soon be four generations of women in our family as Shannon’s daughter Abbi has learned her baby is a girl and will be called Madilynn Grace. I know each generation has faced challenges and so will she. I think my greatest wish for my Madilynn Grace is for resiliency and strength.