It’s Time! Annual WV Highway Department Screwing

It happens every year. It’s been happening every year since I have lived in these parts.

The Highway Department waits until fall when the brush is already well on the way to dying back, and then spends days out on the road mowing the road sides. We have never determined exactly WHY they wait until mowing is no longer necessary…

Be alert on the main roads! They are running two brush hogs in order to waste even more time and money, and just because you see a “flagman ahead” sign on the road side does not mean that there is actually a flag man. It also means that IF there is any road work being done, you may end up driving as many as four miles before you actually come to the place they are “working”. Usually directly around a blind curve, and long after you have given up on finding them.

And then there is the “grader”. I’ve spent enough time living on back country roads in WV to be quite familiar with the dramatically mistaken idea that a road can be “fixed” by using a grader on it. A grader is usually the machine used in the CONSTRUCTION of NEW roads. It’s the thing that makes the dirt level BEFORE they start putting on the toppings (gravel, tar, pavement).

Well, it must also be the cheapest piece of machinery to own and run, because in WV it has become the “fix-all” for back roads. Unfortunately, over and over again, these grader drivers show up either right before a heavy rain, (or at 8:00am when some folks are still sleeping) or they simply stir up all the loose rocks, gravel, boulders, broken glass, tree branches, or whatever else is there and deposit them in the middle of the road for everyone to navigate around.

Many times, and so far this is still holding true, they totally neglect to clean out the ditch lines, but continue to grade and pile dirt up alongside the road (in the ditch too) until the road is actually LOWER than the ditches, and in some cases lower than the creek. So, what we now have in THIS neck of the woods is a road which will surely become impassable in a month or two. The road, with a couple good healthy rains, will soon become the creek bed. It already resembles one. Even more so now that they “graded” it.

Has anyone noticed how the rivers are filling up with silt and creating more and more flooding each year? Some blame the timber companies, some blame the oil and gas drillers. But those things are small potatoes compared to the destruction created by the highway department with those graders.

They grade a road. They loosen all the rocks and surface dirt. Most of West Virginia is on a hill. It rains. The loose dirt runs downhill, turning to mud, and ending up in the creek. The loose rocks and the boulders the grader driver tried to cover up get even worse once the loose dirt washes off the road. All that loose dirt ends up in the creeks, and is washed into the rivers. Multiply that by EVERY dirt road in West Virginia.

Strange how those who have worked for the highway department for years have no clue how to use their machinery nor how to fix a road. So, let’s have a lesson, shall we? From someone who has NEVER worked for any highway department, but had to spend inordinant amounts of time FIXING what they mess up.

1. Water runs to the lowest point. Always.

2. Ditches are supposed to convey water from one point to another. They are not for growing grass in, nor are they containers for the surplus dirt and rocks the grader stirs up.

3. If you place a wall of dirt alongside both sides of a road, it makes NO PLACE for the water to go except down the road. DUH.

4. The large limestone gravel is meant to be used as a BASE, after the road has been smoothed. Not as the finished product. And large limestone rock rolls out of pot holes and downhill into the lowest place, same as water. Driving up a steep hill on loose limestone rock becomes a challenge, as the rock rolls under your tires. It is NOT suitable for steep hills.

5. The SMALLER gravel is meant to be used as the topping. It fills in the spaces in between the large gravel, and PACKS into place. This makes the road SMOOTHER.

6. Scraping away the road makes the road LOWER. Building the road UP by using the appropriate materials makes the road HIGHER. Making the road HIGHER means the water will drain off better.

7. Cleaning out the ditches will  give the water someplace to go besides down the road, or down someone’s driveway.

8. The soil here is mostly red clay. Red clay gets SLIPPERY when wet. If you scrape ALL the grass off the roadsides, especially the places where the grader has “graded” the road towards the downhill side, there is nothing left there to give vehicles traction enough to hold them on the road during bad road conditions. Scraping away everything but the smooth red clay from the downhill side of a road could cause serious accidents during the winter months.

9. Seeing how the highway department only gets 15 feet right of way from the center on these back roads, a refresher course in using a tape measure would be appropriate, as anything over that would be considered TRESPASSING and PROPERTY DESTRUCTION.

A tape measure would, at this time, reveal a large number of trespassing and destruction of property areas.

Now, we keep hearing about how the WV highway department is strapped for money and had to sell off necessary machinery to get money. And how they can’t even afford to fill all their positions. And how they sometimes have to call back RETIRED workers to get things done. So, WHY is the highway department WASTING money and man-hours, and making the roads WORSE instead of better? Did you pay your taxes so that folks could wreck their cars and be stranded this winter due to bad roads? Gimme a break!!!

Update – Fighting Against the Destruction of WV

The Rally against the high voltage power lines at the Arnoldsburg Community Building on October 17 was a huge success. Approximately 70 people attended. Altho the Bluegrass Band was a no-show, the alloted time was taken up with an informative power point presentation by members of CAP from Mon and Tucker Counties, an enthusiastic speaker from the Sierra Club who actually handed out paper, addressed and stamped envelopes, and pens, so that people could write to the Governor about their concerns on the spot. A short but lively speach was given by Steve Gormezano, a Roane County citizen whose land the power lines could be very near. His ending remark of “We CAN stop this thing” brought much applause.

The Mountain Party candidate for Governor, Jesse Johnson, was also on scene and spoke at length about the alternatives to supporting this power line. He is the only candidate for governor who is actively against the power lines and mountaintop removal, promoting instead sustainable energy produced by wind, hydroelectric, biomass, geothermal and solar energy.

Calhoun County Commissioner, Bob Weaver, expressed that the Commission would entertain the idea of an anti-power line resolution for the county. At this time, several citizens from the Roane/Calhoun/Gilmer areas, with lots of help from Bill Howley (, are putting the finishing touches on a proper resolution to be brought before the County Commission.

Bill Howley states that “Tucker, Hardy, Jefferson Counties all have copies of their resolutions filed with the WV PSC.  They are all available on the PSC Web site under the PATH case documents.  Morgan County’s Commission has passed a resolution opposing the line.  Berkeley County is in the process of passing a resolution, because one commissioner didn’t like the wording of the proposed resolution.  So in the near future there will be five counties on record as opposed to PATH.”

Here is an exclusive sneak preview of the resolution as it now stands:

WHEREAS, the members of the Calhoun County Commission have been elected
to serve and protect the collective interest of citizens of Calhoun
County, WV, and

WHEREAS, Allegheny Energy (Allegheny) and American Electric Power (AEP)
have proposed the Potomac Appalachian Transmission Highline 765 KV
electrical transmission line to pass through Calhoun County, WV, and

WHEREAS, the PATH project is intended to deliver electricity to the
Northeastern Corridor of the United States with relatively little or no
benefit to West Virginia customers of either Allegheny or AEP, and

WHEREAS, the rights of way required by the PATH line will be a minimum
of 200 feet in width and will significantly damage and restrict land use
and value along the entire Calhoun County section of the line, and

WHEREAS, the PATH is designed to transmit electricity from existing and
new coal-fired power plants and will reduce the need for advanced
natural gas-fired generating plants both in West Virginia and in the
Northeast Corridor causing direct economic harm to Calhoun County’s
natural gas industry, and

WHEREAS, under policies of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission,
Allegheny Energy is allowed to include construction and operating costs
of the PATH line in electric rate increases for its customers in Calhoun
County, who will receive no benefit from the line, and

WHEREAS, scientific and medical research has demonstrated adverse health
effects in humans and wildlife from chemical herbicides used to maintain
rights-of-way and electrical magnetic fields generated by the line
itself, and

WHEREAS,  the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources has
documented high levels of mercury in the fish in our state the
construction of new coal-fired power plants to feed the PATH will
destroy a major state resource and pose additional health risks to the
citizens of Calhoun County and the state as a whole, and

WHEREAS, the US Department of Energy has announced that Calhoun County
lies within the National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor (NIETC)
which would eliminate the need for Allegheny Energy and American
Electric Power to perform an environmental impact study concerning the
impact of the PATH line on the environment and people of Calhoun County,
and this same NIETC designation would allow the power companies to seize
the property of Calhoun County citizens by federal eminent domain
powers, and

WHEREAS, a secure, reliable and economically efficient electrical power
system can only be assured by a decentralized power grid fed by a wide
range diverse energy sources, not by huge transmission lines fed by a
few large generating plants burning primarily coal, and

WHEREAS, by making electrical rates lower in the Northeast Corridor and
adding to increased rates in West Virginia, the PATH line will reduce
West Virginia’s attractiveness for businesses seeking to locate in the
state because of our lower cost electricity, and

WHEREAS, major programs to reduce electricity demand and create local
power generating capacity in many states in the Northeast Corridor, most
recently the state of New Jersey, makes PATH unnecessary for its stated
purpose, and

WHEREAS, PATH is an inefficient use of resources, because large amounts
of electricity on large transmission lines are lost when electricity is
transmitted over hundreds of miles, and

WHEREAS, it is likely that AEP will construct up to four new coal-fired
generating plants in West Virginia and eastern Ohio to feed PATH,
increasing the destruction of West Virginia streams, communities and
land from mountaintop removal coal mining and generating large amounts
of new air pollution that will harm the health of Calhoun County
citizens living downwind of these plants,

WHEREAS, the $1.8 billion proposed in PATH construction costs could be
better invested in improving the reliability and security of local West
Virginia electrical infrastructure and more diverse and secure
generating capacity in the state, and

WHEREAS, the proposed PATH project does not demonstrate a need to
originate or pass through West Virginia,

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Calhoun County Commission does
hereby oppose the construction of the PATH within the boundaries of
Calhoun County, WV, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Calhoun County Commission expresses its
support for and agreement with other counties in West Virginia that
oppose the construction of PATH within their boundaries.


At this time the most important thing you can do to help is to educate everyone you know. Many people at this point in time are still totally unaware of this issue. The other thing to do right now is to flood the Governors office and the PSC office with complaints.

Letter to the Editor : Voting for Obama

Sunday, October 19, 2008
Dominion Post, Morgantown, WV


When integration came to Morgantown Junior High, I knew my life had been enriched. To my good-fortune, a young African-American, Charles Blue, and I were placed in the same eighthgrade homeroom. That year, “Chuck” led our homeroom to the eighth-grade championship in allaround sports. Best of all, I had gained a dear, honorable friend for life. Another African-American, Charolotte Johnson, tried out for cheerleader that year. Her “tryout” was a song and dance number that went something like: “Strawberry shortcake, huckleberry pie, let’s all cheer for Morgantown Junior High.” She won in a landslide. Charolotte’s wonderful innocent spirit infected all students and teachers who were fortunate to see her try-out that day.
The turmoil and racial violence percolating in the ’50s exploded in the ’60s. But as a sophomore at WVU in 1960, I got to watch the great running back Ernie Davis lead his Syracuse football team to victory against the Mountaineers, and contrary to the recent film, “The Express,” I witnessed none of the violent racist actions seen in the film. Needless to say, it is dismaying to see West Virginians portrayed in such a deplorable light.
Today when I hear crowds at John McCain’s campaign stops disparaging Barack Obama with shouts of “terrorist,” “kill him,” “bomb him,” “Arab,” “uppity” (which in the dark days was often followed by the “N” word), and “elitist,” I am unfortunately reminded of the mobs of the sixties. It seems to me that the McCain campaign, to say the least, is pandering to racism — dangerously so. West Virginians did not hurl racial invectives or throw garbage at Ernie Davis in 1960.
They are, however, familiar with stereotyping. They know all too well the words, “hicks,” “uneducated,” “inbred,” “hillbillies” and “white trash.” Educators at all levels in West Virginia have worked hard to give all children in the state a good education. Will these children be called “elitist” because they dare to aspire? We want our leaders to be smart and well-educated.
Pete Seeger, a Harvard drop-out, has an admirable ability to elicit a sense of hope about the future and self. Call Seeger a folk singer, a socialist, a communist, poet, musician, story-teller or savior of the Hudson River, his credibility seems to transcend politics, philosophy or science. As a friend of his has said, “[Seeger] personifies what can happen when a human being maintains hope in adversity, restructures his thinking and helps those around him to do the same.”
Obama is helping me rediscover my hope — a hope that is not a thoughtless, carefree walk in the sun, but a hope that allows me to put one foot in front of the other, to keep going forward. He dares me to believe that together we can mend the fences of fear. He encourages us to do what West Virginians have always done, take pleasure in each other, in community, and have faith in the good part of ourselves. West Virginians have long held the strong belief that all people are, in principle, equal and should enjoy equal social, political and economic rights and opportunities.
I am a white male from West Virginia, and the perception for some is that I am not supposed to want a black man for president. In that case, America, not just Obama, loses, and our country’s climb out of its decline — whether in our economy, education, medicine, science, or world prestige — will stagnate. Abraham Lincoln wanted this country to be an example of what democracy could be for the world. I believe Obama represents that best example and is the only candidate who can turn this country around. Obama has convinced me that I can trust my better angel. All West Virginians can trust their “better angels” and feel better the morning after Obama safely crosses the finish line and is elected our president. Don’t be fooled; don’t let fear get in the way. We can do it, West Virginians. Yes we can.


is a Morgantown native, who is best known as a television, stage and film actor. This commentary should be considered another point of view and not necessarily the opinion or editorial policy of The Dominion Post.

Published in: on October 21, 2008 at 12:17 am  Comments (1)  
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Martial Law?

Published in: on October 10, 2008 at 2:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

The New American Way, Welcome To WV.

Sometimes I think it would be much wiser and saner to simply move into a cave in the woods. Because there is very little wisdom or sanity in this world. Even in Calhoun County WV where the crime rate is so low as to be nearly non-existent but the jails are still full, the ignorance and apathy level is thru the roof. (Is it something in the water?) Oh, but actually, there have been NUMEROUS thefts in the county lately. Huh, wonder why the POLICE are so SECRETIVE about it? Don’t they want people to know so they can be on the alert? Or maybe the police are the ones doing some of the stealing… Rumor has it that there is a cabin along the river where the cops go to divvy up the spoils… (Didn’t think I knew about that, did you boys?)

Welcome to our little piece of almost hell. The smoking ban is now in effect. Soon the remaining bar in Calhoun County will go belly up. They may be able to pull off a cig smoking ban in Charleston or Parkersburg, maybe. For a while. Until the bar owners figure out a way to fight back. But in good old Calhoun? Where the good old boys see their beer bottles in the same light as their male members? Where the spirit of the hills is still alive and well, even if the hills are slowly losing their tops just down the road a piece?

Cigarettes and beer. They go together just like soup and sandwich. I just can’t imagine a bunch of confirmed beer drinkers headed out for a night on the town without their cigarettes. If I were a drinker and a cig smoker, I’d just go to Speedymart for my fix and then head to a buddys house, get pickled and drive home drunk later. Oh yea, but be sure to toss out those empties along the roadside so the public menace-in-a-uniform does not toss you, too, into jail. After all, those empty beer cans lying along side the road will give the poor folks something to do to make a little cigarette money.

So, cigarette smokers, how does it feel to be in the same category as pot smokers? We’re all criminals now. About time someone had to share in the wealth of stupidity.

Now, as to THE ROAD.

The road, which is bad enough that it resembles a creek bed and rattles every “unnecessary” piece of equipment right off your car from driving on it, is, well, still the same as ever. By winter this road should be just about impassible. But somehow, the highway department can still find the time and money to run a brush hog along the roadside, AFTER summer is done and the weeds are dying back, anyhow. So, just like always, they come down the road and I stand there and watch. They all see me standing there. They studiously avoid hogging down the bamboo patch, same as they always did in years past, and wave as they go by.

Yes, I said BAMBOO. The bamboo patch which is annually cut back BY HAND from the roadside so that the poles can be used … The patch that was obviously roped off and taken care of. The patch which houses one of the biggest and most astounding migrations of birds in Calhoun county every year. No problem, right? Wrong.

Two days later, it’s 8:00am. Everyone in the neighborhood is still asleep. Suddenly a LOUD chopping/scraping sound wakes everyone up. The brush hog is back. The bamboo patch is attacked with a vengance. Quickly, before anyone can show up to complain. The highway department takes their half out of the middle so to speak. No warning. 15 foot right of way my ass.

I rush to stop the destruction, but it is too late. Then I am told that they “tried” to get a hold of us first, and it was “bosses orders”. But wait, I was standing right there just two days before. Did no one know how to talk that day? And last year, same thing. I was standing right there. But not one single person let me know of their intentions.

Let me get this straight. Even tho something seems to be just fine for years and no one communicates otherwise, suddenly everything changes, a special trip is made with brush hog and trucks (at extra cost to taxpayers) to do something that could and should have been taken care of by hand by the owners with highway department blessing. And the way it was done was just plain SNEAKY. Ah, but I’m told, (after the fact of course) it’s SO important to do, just in case someone comes thru there and somehow wrecks and the highway dept might get sued??? Give me a break!!!! This road is so bad that everyone who lives on it cringes every time they have to get in their cars and go anywhere, and the highway dept is worried about 5 extra feet of right of way??? But only in front of my house. SURE. Well, I figure the highway department owes a nice piece of change for the ruined bamboo poles, and the length of good rope that it was roped off with, which is now chopped into so many million pieces that I can’t even find the remains. They will get a bill. Destroying the natural habitat of about a half million migrating birds is another matter, which, I suppose, will only be judged by KARMA in the end, because nobody gives a rats ass about a bunch of birds, right? Oh yea, and you might now need to move those twenty-something year old fences too, for the sake of this extremely important 15 foot right of way, or “they might get tangled up in the brush hog…” I’ll remember that this winter when I slide off the road or bury my car in the thing that was supposed to be a ditch before it became part of the creek bed…

But the stupid buck does not stop there. A LARGE group of citizens, all the way from the Virginia border thru PA are trying to bring some sanity to the coal/electric power industry and let them know that we want CLEAN and renewable energy and all the new jobs that would come with that, and not more destruction of the state thru mountaintop removal, more blue haze belching coal plants, or huge high voltage power lines strung thru an area that can’t even get reliable LOCAL electric service, in order to serve out of state cities and keep places like NJ and MD clean and green…

Noble cause right? You would THINK so. But, no matter HOW noble the cause, already flyers informing folks of a public meeting about these issues are being TORN DOWN by the flyer nazis.

In other news, while following up on the Narcotics Anonymous fraud scandal in Roane county in which victims of the court system are ordered to attend Seventh Day Adventist Bible study being sold as a Narcotics Anonymous meeting, it is discovered that the victims just don’t care. Even tho they know it’s wrong, even tho they feel insulted and their time and gas money is being wasted, even tho it’s actual FRAUD being committed by the court system and against everyone’s constitutional rights, even tho the court system could be sued in a class action lawsuit and most likely LOSE. All the victims really care about is sleeping thru it until it’s over and not pissing off the probation officer… Score one for the enemy.

Sometimes one would think that the devil himself has been recruiting in Calhoun County. Because the order of the day is DESTRUCTION. Anything less is unacceptable. Allow the thieves to steal. Allow the corrupt cops to keep on doing their thing. Destroy the local economy, the local landscape, create distrust between the citizens and authorities. Lie, cover up, be secretive. Use and abuse. And most of all DON’T GIVE A DAMN. It’s the new American way.