AND THEN AGAIN………by Tamara Pettit

…….The $59,155.00 fine the City of New Cumberland is paying as a result of violations of the Clean Water Act is rough.  A small city with limited resources has difficulty meeting the day-to-day needs of its citizens; maintaining its streets; and providing adequate police and fire protection.    But, what is even more troublesome is the threat to the health and safety to citizens that occurred over a two-year period due to the failure to keep the sewage equipment in order.   What’s even scarier is that the violations, once documented, were not corrected.  The Department of Environmental Protection repeatedly found that three of the six pumps were inoperable and continued to list that as a violation.

……Former Mayor Dick Blackwell wrote that the City thought the matter was in hand per communication with the water sewage employee.   A red flag should have gone up, however, when the original violation showed up repeatedly in subsequent notices.  That meant the problem wasn’t corrected and should have made City officials aware something was amiss.  Surely, the notices would have been mailed to the Mayor’s office and/or Water Sewage Committee and would have elicited questions on the part of our City officials.

…….Mayor Will White appears to be embarking on several positive programs.   While the construction for the new water lines is physical proof that New Cumberland’s water system is being upgraded, the amount of work that took place before the shovels hit the dirt was enormous.  Securing the loans and grants to make the water project possible was a long arduous process which White guided as Chair of the Water/Sewer Committee.   City Council will have an update on the progress with the water project at Monday night’s Council meeting.

……The veterans’ banner program appears to be taking root.  Newell is launching their program and according to White, the City of New Cumberland is very close to launching its program honoring veterans as well.   Look for more information in the near future.

……Controversy continues to rage regarding whether Mike Adams is able to serve as Hancock County Assistant Prosecutor and Weirton City Councilman.  Part of Adams original defense was that he was hired rather than appointed as Assistant Prosecutor therefore he wasn’t in violation of the City Charter.  What he failed to mention was that he very clearly was appointed Chester City Solicitor.  His second argument is that the prohibition violates constitutional rights and cited several Supreme Court Opinions.  I had to resign from my job as a State employee at West Virginia Northern Community College to serve in the House of Delegates.  Honestly, it’s all about choices and I think Adams needs to choose what is most important to him.  (He rarely attends Chester Council meetings.)  

…..Just when we began to feel our freedom, the Delta Variant of the Corona Virus has raised its ugly head.  I applaud Governor Justice for launching a program to test 60 plus residents to determine if the antibodies are diminished in those who received their vaccines six months ago.  Since both Bill and I received our vaccines in January you can rest assured we will be volunteering to have our antibodies tested.

……So let me tell you a little bit more about “The Letter from a Dead Man” mystery from 1963.  First of all you might know who some of the players were involved at the time.  My Dad, John D. Herron, was County Coroner.  Dad was also Justice of the Peace and New Cumberland City Judge.

 Joe Manypenny was the Sheriff, Don Dunlevy and Bill Webster were then Constables, Joe Rainey was a Hancock County Deputy.   West Virginia didn’t have a medical examiner system back then and  when someone died outside of normal circumstances, the Coroner was called.  Dad would go to the scene of the death and collect the “evidence.”  The Sheriff’s office was then called and the body would be taken to Weirton General Hospital where the pathologist would conduct the autopsy.  How did they decide whether it was homicide, suicide or accidental death?  A coroner’s inquest was held.  Made up of six men (and in this small county they were frequently the same men who Dad would call upon to serve)  They would gather; hear the evidence; read the report; and rule on the death.  

     While the three suspicious deaths occurred in 1963 and Lawrence Wise, the man who gave his ominous message to a priest who wrote it on the back of a Christmas Card, died on July 24, 1963,  it wasn’t until March 23, 1965 that the call came to Dad. 

        Dad went to visit the landlady who said Lawrence had died at St. Francis Hospital.  He had heart surgery and did not recover.  It was September, however, before a truck would pull up in front of her house and the driver would hand her the Christmas card.  She kept the card for two years until she received a call offering her $10,000.00 for the card from a man who wanted her to go to the Catholic Church on 4th Street in Steubenville.

        She clearly was afraid and opted instead to call my Dad.  I wonder now though, why Dad?

       (Next ..week we look at the first date listed in the message and the death of Helen Williamson, wife of Stewart Williamson.)