Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

November 12, 2013

Worried about the air? What about Smokey Joe?

It was in early spring, April 1941, I was 22 years old.

I and a couple hundred other West Virginia draftees were marching down the main street of Keyser to catch a train to a new way of life.

We didn’t know where we were going, but we know why we were going. There were three thugs in this world that were bent on taking away our freedom and our way of life.

We knew that they had to be taken down.

Thoughts were going through our heads, wondering what it would be like, or when and if we would ever get back home again. (Some of them are still there.)

“We were from the greatest generation.” Just think, that was over 72 years ago.

Those three thugs were taken down and now forgotten. But now, here we are again faced with the same fiasco, only on a smaller scale.

I’m talking about the smoking ban that was put in effect by the non-elected health department board of Mineral County.

There are five Mineral County residents that were appointed by the Mineral County commissioners to do their bidding.

So they came up with this rule called “the clean indoor air regulation” for all businesses, including all Veterans of Foreigns Wars, American Legion and Disabled American Veterans in their private club rooms and bars.

The rule was to take effect on Oct. 1 this year, but the date has since been changed to Jan. 2, 2014, so as to give everyone time to adapt to the smoking ban.

Now then, I have a couple of quotes taken from the Cumberland Times-News, Sept. 17, that were made at one of the special meetings of the Mineral County Health Department.

Quote No. 1: Board member Gerri Mason questioned how second-hand smoke would effect the non-smokers and asked Commissioner Jerry Whisner to look at both sides.

 “They have a right to not be exposed to that health risk if they don’t have to be” said Mason.

Quote No. 2: “The main goal of the board of health is to look at the over all health and well-being of the community, period,” said A.J. Root, administrator with the Mineral County Health Department.

And I agree 100 percent, Mr. Mason and Mr. Root. I’m sure that the majority of the citizens of the county feel the same way, especially the citizens of Ridgeley.

So, let’s get back to the smoke deal, if the members of the board of health feel as such about smoke.

 Then I invite you all to come down to the town of Ridgeley when Smokey Joe, (the nickname I gave him), the Cumberland scenic railroad, is making his run belching out the black dense smoke while he makes his run through the center of Ridgeley to the station in Cumberland.

The smoke is so heavy, black and thick you don’t only see it, you smell it and you eat it.

I have seen it so heavy and thick some days that it blocked out the sun.

When you see something like that, then you can talk about and wonder about the health of the county.

William A. Jewell

Ridgeley, W.Va.

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