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Stories of April 1

(proving that you shouldn't believe EVERYTHING you read)
by staff writers Robin Gordon and Bill Bailey


Updated on Wednesday*:

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Boys’ Contact Sports
Banned In Schools

by Ova Protective

WVSSAC has announced, effective Apr. 1, that boys’ sports in high school will be banned.

Football, wrestling, basket-ball and baseball are considered contact sports and are considered too dangerous for student athletes.

The committee has declared that girls’ sports will remain intact, since it is “just girls.”

 As a result of its new ruling, athletic directors have con-firmed that there will be new alternatives to sports’ rosters.

Young men that have played football in the past can now enjoy flag football. Coaches expect there to be fewer injuries and less penalties.

Basketball athletes can join teams and play H-O-R-S-E. Coaches predict there will be less personal fouls now.

Taking the place of baseball will be T-ball. Coaches are ecstatic that their pitchers won’t have “rubber arms.”

Finally, grapplers can become a member of thumb-wrestling teams.

So, boys, fear not, alternative activities will be provided.

As you become older, you won’t be complaining that your knee aches from an old football injury, have shin splints from running on the court, pulled shoulder muscle from throwing a baseball, or have a cauliflower ear.

Remember, always be a good sport!

April Fools

Ohio Treasure Hunters

 Locate Ancient Artifacts

   by Luke N. Further

Four treasure hunters from Athens, Ohio, came to Calhoun County in early March for a weekend of walking along old roadways in the Arnoldsburg area that were abandoned when new highways came through. Since the roads were originally mud, they figured there should be valuable coins lost by travelers to be found.

They came equipped with old maps of the county and the latest in metal-detector technology, capable of reaching deep into the ground to detect even the smallest of coins.

When they began searching, they had only gotten a few hundred feet before they unearthed two Indian head pennies and what appeared to be a coin of coal mine scrip from a New River mine. They soon detected something larger--much larger.

“The detectors were sounding over an area about five foot wide by 10 foot long,” said a spokesman for the group. “We had no idea what it was, but we were determined to find out, even if it took the whole weekend to dig it up.”

They sent two of the group to procure a small backhoe. That made folks curious, and word spread quickly. When the treasure hunters returned with the backhoe, they were leading a parade of cars and trucks full of interested onlookers.

The crowd of speculators gathered on the hill beside the old road and the guessing game began. Some thought the buried object might be an old wagon that had belonged to a traveling tinker who had went missing in 1852. The wagon was reputed to be filled with silver and gold. The treasure hunters, who by this time were discouraged from the lack of progress, overheard the rumors from the crowd and redoubled their efforts.

As night fell, some of the onlookers moved their vehicles in position to shine their headlights on the excavation site so that work could continue.

By dawn’s early light, just as the backhoe was reaching the limit of its reach, a shout went up from the crowd as the machine struck something metal.

As men carefully shoveled dirt aside, they were surprised to find casket-shaped oil-soaked wooden crates, four of them laying in a tight group, side by side and end to end. They were ready to give up the dig as a lost cause and fill the dirt back on the graves when one of them passed his metal detector over the caskets. “If there are skeletons in there, they are made of iron,” said one treasure hunter. “I say we open one up just to see what’s in it.”

Tire tools and crowbars were quickly passed from the pick up trucks of the ever-present onlookers. One box was opened. Inside were one dozen perfectly preserved Virginia Manufactory first model muskets that had been made by the Richmond Armory with machinery salvaged from Harper’s Ferry at the beginning of the Civil War.

Each box contained the same thing. Evidently, the arms had been meant for Confederate Rebels who were operating in the area during the war, but had been hidden and lost to time.

Each musket is valued at over $8,000, but the finders plan to keep one each and donate the rest of the muskets to a local museum.

April Fools

Tent Jail/Work Camp To


Solve Prisoner Problem

by Judge Roy Bean

In an ongoing effort to reduce county bills for prisoner stays at regional jails, Calhoun, Gilmer and Wirt counties have decided to pool efforts, and prisoners, into Tri-County Work Camp and Rehabilitation Center.

State representatives from across the country are looking into tent jails as a permanent solution for overcrowded county jails across America.

Cost of housing a prisoner is over $24,000 per year. Housing them in tent jails would reduce the costs by 90 percent. The tents and sleeping cots are Army surplus and can be obtained by state and county agencies at little or no cost.

It is an idea worth exploring, if safeguards can ensure the tent facilities are secure and the inmates are treated humanely.

Tent jails are not new. In Phoenix, Ariz., sheriff Joe Arpiao constructed a tent jail in the early 1990s, which housed 500 inmates. We can and must construct such a jail if we are to keep citizens safe and cut the cost of law enforcement.

Inmates serving time in the Arizona tents have already had their day in court and have been found guilty of the crime they were accused and sentenced to serve a given amount of time by an Arizona court. Some will try to convince the public that tent jails are not legal. This is simply not true.

Persons convicted of committing a crime against society’s law owe a debt to that society. Such debt should include providing service to the community, whether it is spreading gravel on back roads or other tasks they can legally be held to complete.

County commissioners are working with state legislators to open a temporary tent facility in the next few months to address both the growing jail population and inmate work projects in the three counties.

The idea is for each county to outline the work projects that prisoners can perform and then the tented and fenced jail can be moved to a new area as projects are completed.

Residents in all the affected counties who are concerned that the prisoners may escape from the facility or job sites have voiced security issues.

“That will not be a problem,” said proposed chief of security Mark E. deSade, “All prisoners will wear special collars similar to the ones used to train dogs to stay in their own yards. If a prisoner steps five feet from his designated area, the collar will shock them continuously until they return to the ‘safe zone.’ No one can manage to make it twenty feet out because the shock will increase and incapacitate them. In test ‘runs’ carried out in tent prisons in Arizona, no prisoner wanted to get shocked twice. The collars seem to tame them right down.”

Another advantage to the collars is a reduced guard to prisoner ratio of 1/100. Each guard is provided with a button they can press which will administer a shock to an unruly prisoner. The severity of the shock is controlled by the amount of time the button is pressed. Each use of the button is recorded by a central computer to insure that inmates will not be subject to mistreatment.

Jail officials and county commissioners who pay the bills for county lockups will be keeping a close watch as the program unfolds. The success of the project could change jail operations across the state.

Commissioners believe a bare bones, no-frills jail would help reduce recidivism among the small percentage of jail regulars who see incarceration as a way of getting three meals a day, air conditioning, and television privileges.

Jail beds don’t come cheap, and if tents can offer counties an inexpensive way to handle population spikes, they would help keep many lockups in compliance with jail standards.

Detention costs are a big portion of any county’s budget. Benefits to taxpayers, from innovative ways of keeping jail costs down and managing the inmate population, could be monumental.

April Fools

Lightning Strike Leaves

Students Locked In School

      by Mast R. Locke

A malfunctioning electronic lockdown system at Calhoun Middle/High School forced all students and staff to stay after school on Tuesday--until Wednesday evening.

A nearby lightning strike apparently caused a short-circuit in new electronic door locks, fusing all the doors in the “lock-down” position until help could be brought in from the company that installed the system.

Staff and students said that the extended stay at the school had a few tense moments, but the situation had allowed the teachers and students to get to know each other better.

“We played games like Jeopardy that tested the students’ knowledge in different areas and we now have a better understanding of what they know and what we need to work on,” said one teacher.

“It was just like, you know, a big sleep over,” said sophomore student Ima Teen, “I just wish we could have used the telephone and made S’mores.”

The company that installed the equipment, Joe Locksmith of Akron, dispatched an emergency crew, but it was delayed for six hours after locking the keys in their truck at a rest stop.

When the emergency crew arrived at the school around midnight, it was discovered that the doors could not be unlocked simply by using an override command, as all the locks and doorframes had been welded together by the surge of electricity from the lightning. A call went out for cutting torches and local volunteer fire departments also brought hydraulic “jaws of life” to the school in an attempt to force them open.

The rescue was further delayed when word came that state officials were sending a team to assess the situation. Since the team had to procure an X-ray machine for the locks, it did not arrive until noon on Wednesday.

Anxious parents greeted students when they were able to leave the school at 6:12 p.m., after the front doors were removed with cutting torches.

Laboratory testing found that the unique alloy of aluminum, steel, titanium and magnesium was a perfect material for the job, unless exposed to electrical arcing above 50,000 volts. That caused the metals to fuse into a mass that even acetylene torches had trouble cutting through.

Since the military uses the same alloy in tanks, submarines and airplanes, a memo was sent to all military posts in thunderstorm-prone areas to ensure that personnel vacate any equipment made with this alloy during stormy conditions.

April Fools

PATH Line To Bring Jobs To County

by Phat Chance

In a surprise move, a local power company has made known that it plans to build a 400 megawatt electrical power generating plant in Calhoun County that will use natural gas drawn from wells. It will employ approximately 150 people when it is finished in 2015.

The plant will be constructed across the river from Cabot Station, about a quarter mile from the PATH line, and will tie into an existing natural gas pipeline.

Proposed power plant

“There is more than enough natural gas produced from existing wells in Calhoun County right now to fuel a plant of this size, and continued drilling promises more fuel for expansion in the future,” said a spokesman for the power company. “Right now, most of that natural gas is piped out of the county and only employs the workers needed to maintain the wells and the pipe lines.

“Since many of those pipelines have been in use for years, they will soon need to be replaced. We propose to route the new pipe lines to our state-of-the-art natural gas power generating facility to lead West Virginia’s leap into the future of clean electrical generation, as well as provide employment for the people of Calhoun County.

“The PATH power line will still follow the same route as before, but the main difference will be that clean power from our new plant will be transmitted to the entire northeast quadrant of the country, while greatly reducing the harmful emissions that could cause global warming.”

Projected cost is $680 million.

April Fools

‘This Ain’t No


by W.P.A. Workman

Will Makedo of Cremo stood before the county commission at last week’s meeting, and spoke fervently for over an hour about the current financial crisis and how Calhoun can use the situation to improve things for all residents.

“This ain’t no depression,” he said, “I lived through the ’30s and I can tell you this is a whole different animal. There was jobs to be had back then. They was government jobs all right, and almost worked you to death, but they was jobs. So far, I don’t see any jobs coming out of this. I don’t see any cut-stone walls being built along the roadways or even any new roads. You might not know it, but we got most our roads built back then through the WPA.

“We still use them today, and outhouses--we got paid to build outhouses for folks that needed them. There was work for young and old alike back in them days, I tell you. All I hear now a days is about all the layoffs happening and people not having money to pay for their home. I say, lets build them houses! We can even put in a nice stone-cut wall and a two-holer out back.”

Makedo said that electricity was the devil incarnate.

“I knew what the future held when whole families would quit working two hours before dark and sit around listening to the radio to escape the reality of hard times,” he said. “I tell you nothing will ever get done until the electricity gets shut off. So, when money starts getting tight, don’t pay the power bill, and once they shut it off you will find yourself with a whole lot of time on your hands. You will do things for yourself, your family and your neighbors.”

April Fools

Commissioners Donate Atlas

To Culture and History Center

by Watt A. Whopper

West Virginia Dept. of Culture and History was delighted that a book of historic maps had been discovered during recent renovation work at the Calhoun County courthouse. It was appreciative when the county commission donated the tome to the state archives. They were overwhelmed when they saw the size of the book.

The maker of the atlas is unknown, but speculation has it that it may have been a project with more than one artist. The size and detail of the maps point out that it was decades in the making.

“We didn’t realize that the maps had been drawn on paper of that size,” said a spokesperson. “The atlas measures 4’x6’ and weighs close to a thousand pounds. It contains hand-drawn maps of Calhoun and several surrounding counties with astounding detail.”

The idea has surfaced among some in the county that the commissioners may have made the gift of the large atlas to the state in hopes that the state would help with a grant the commissioners have been working on to put an elevator in the courthouse in order to retrieve it.

The state sent a truck with a large crane to Grantsville last week, and, with the assistance of many volunteers, the atlas was carefully taken through a window opening on the third floor out onto the roof and lowered to the truck.

After several months of restoration at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the atlas will be returned to Charleston where it will be studied further and kept safe for future historians.

April Fools

Thank you for indulging us in our once-a-year fun fest of writing.
If you have an idea for this page next year, please
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