AND THEN AGAIN by Tamara Pettit

…..The West Virginia Lottery Annual report showed an overall profit for the lottery.  Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort, however, did not fare so well in the year of the pandemic showing a loss of $9.2 million according to WV Metro News.   Mardis Gras Casino in Nitro also showed a loss.  Both Wheeling Island and Charleston showed modest profits.

……..While the business plan in Mountaineer’s heyday was to add amenities thus making Mountaineer a destination resort and distinguishing it from other casinos, the current  Mountaineer management appears to be scaling back on all amenities.  There were no scheduled concerts in the Harv this summer and the biggest event at the facility, the Fall Bash, was cancelled.  This year’s West Virginia Derby is minus the dinner the track hosted for legislators, government officials and community leaders.  In fact, the only food trackside will come from two food trucks on site.

……It makes me sad as it does others who experience Mountaineer when we were operating on all cylinders.   What is should make all of us, however, is really concerned.   Last I checked, Mountaineer was Hancock County’s largest employer and reading the loss incurred in 2020, I am worried that Mountaineer can sustain those type of losses.  Much like Weirton Steel, we tend to think of Mountaineer in terms of a business that is always there…..until it isn’t.

…..If you notice,  we are picking up advertisers and readers as well.   Since the newspaper no longer comes to you in a printed version, you have to go to it online. (Or, as the guy used to say on the old “Leaky B A” television commercial “We can’t come to you…you have to come to us!”    We put out a new edition every Sunday and we’re sending out postcards reminding our readers that every Saturday, new content will be posted.  That way you can enjoy Hometown News with your morning coffee on Sunday.

…..I love mysteries.  They are my preferred reading.   One of the best mysteries I’ve ever read, however, is not in a  book or on Kindle, but in a file given to me by my dad.   It takes place in 1963 and involves three very different suspicious deaths that range from the wife of a very high-ranking Weirton Steel executive to a man faking his own death to escape the mob.  The have never been solved and I’ve gone back to that file trying to figure them out for many years.  Throughout the years we even named the unsolved, Hancock County mystery file the “Letter from a Dead Man” file.

…..Did that catch your interest?  It should have because that letter is an integral part of the three deaths.   You see, Dad was Hancock County Coroner for 12 years.   Sounds crazy now, that an elected official with no medical background should have such authority, but the Sixties were a very different time and Hancock County was a very different place.  I’ll tell you more in future columns because I think this is a story that warrants telling and while most of the players are dead, maybe someone out there can add to the information or come up with a great ending.

……It honestly did start with a message from a dead man.  Dad got a call from a woman in Weirton who said she “had a letter from a dead man.”   It actually was a Christmas card which had a message written in Latin and was hand-delivered to her house by an unknown man.    A man named Lawrence Wise had roomed in her boarding house and died having heart surgery in Pittsburgh.  The night before he died, the man had spoken with a priest and dictated the message which the priest wrote in Latin.     

……The woman said she had had one phone call offering $10,000 for the Christmas Card and asking her to bring the letter to a church in Steubenville.   I have the Christmas card and two translations of the message, one from a Catholic priest in Weirton and one from the late Harry West who taught Latin at Oak Glen.   The two translations are similar and read:

          “I shudder telling my danger.  In the outermost part of my hear.  A slip of the tongue.  You have hit the nail on the head.  The truth written in wine remains written  in the place cited.  There is not found an equal to the noble brother, an experience participant in the crime of the law.  With God’s help you judge.   I have sinned  A new man involved in the matter.”

       And, then there were three dates listed and a license plate. And, then “The letter remains written.  The truth will prevail.”
……More next week.