I wrote this column back in 1979, and for those younger folks who can’t write their names in cursive or do math in their heads, that was 43 years ago. A lot of things have changed, and a great deal of things have not. So, here we go from the days of yesteryear when I was 25 years old:
Slowly, very slowly, Logan is beginning to change. We are at long last beginning to catch up with the rest of our country, as well as our state.
Throughout the years, most Logan Countians have proven to be of a conservative nature. We are proud people, not ones to let just anybody tell us what to do — at least not directly.
Although it may be hard to believe for some people, certainly not for many others, only within the last few years have many of our county’s people begun to vote in both state and local elections for the candidates of their choice, not candidates forced upon them for money.
For as long as I can remember (and I’m only 25 years old, folks) election time in this county has been a time of filth, full of vote buying, liquor distribution, and promises, lots of promises. I know this just as thousands of other Logan Countians do, because I have witnessed it. From the time I was 14 years old, or even younger, I have never missed a major election.
I stood as a young boy and as a young adult fresh out of the college ranks (I was a political science major, to beat it all) from as early as I could get to the polling places just to catch some of the excitement. I’ve seen fistfights develop, handguns drawn, and money passed from one hand to another right in front of polling places.
Truthfully, most of the crookedness of elections days have long passed. Scandals and disasters have a way of creating good in its own way, and most politicians, as well as voters, have a mighty fear and respect for the federal government.
I mean, it’s a shame that it takes a disaster such as the Buffalo Creek flood to create such highways and housing projects that are now evident in the Triadelphia area. It’s unfortunate too, that so many men, women and children, all just trying to make ends meet, have perished and will never get to witness the beauty and cleanliness of what was once their homes. But it is also sad and somewhat puzzling to think that had the dam not burst, Buffalo Creek would be like most other hollows in our “billion dollar coal field,” in desperate need of much better roadways, housing, and recreation facilities.
Yes, Logan County, we are generally known throughout the state as a one-horse county, once full of corrupt politicians, and still filled with what most visitors to our county have described as “the worst roads they’ve ever seen.
But things are changing. We are at last catching up with the times. Our roads are in better shape now than this writer has seen in his lifetime. That’s not to say we are getting close to home plate, in fact, we are just rounding second base now, but at last we can see what our forefathers have worked so feverishly hard for — a better place for them and their children.
Shopping malls (at Rita and now gone) and a new and better community college, vocational education center, new and better roads, a new and spacious parking building in Logan (now gone), a decent assortment of hotels and motels (four of them now gone), a few new restaurants, at long last a traffic light at the Triangle intersection in Logan, adequate police protection, and hopefully, Corridor G being completed, are just a few of the many things which are helping bring Logan County up to the nationwide standards it should be.
But there are other things which at least parts of the county need, such as more modern apartment buildings for our young people who may choose to make their homes here, a better system of garbage disposal, a crackdown on some of our area’s restaurants and drive-ins, which have restrooms that are enough to turn one’s stomach, more recreational facilities, more entertainment for both young and old so that people don’t have to travel to Charleston or Huntington most of the time to break the dullness that sometimes abounds here, and many other things which we CAN achieve.
These and many other accomplishments can and should be yours, but you’ve got to earn them, if not for yourselves, for your children (I had no children at that time). You’ve got to voice your opinion in one way or another. Believe it or not, there are people who are willing to listen to your ideas and your gripes.
Don’t misunderstand, there will never be a utopia in Logan County, nor anywhere else for that matter, but if you as citizens and voters work together for a common goal, it can be achieved. Let your elected officials know how you feel. That’s what they are there for — to serve you, and most of them are willing to listen, and if they do not, then you can always remember them at election time.
Most anybody will tell you that Logan Countians are the finest and most hospitable people that you’ll ever meet, but for various and unsuitable reasons, these same visitors do not spend much time here.
We need to change our county’s image, and only you as voters, who refuse to sell out to anybody, Republican or Democrat, can help to do that.
Just remember, these were my thoughts over four decades ago (21 years before I became an elected magistrate), and things certainly have changed: a four-lane road to Man and Chapmanville has been completed, the historical Aracoma Hotel burned, the Murphy’s (dime store) closed on Stratton Street, the Fountain Place Mall was opened just outside Logan on Corridor G, Christmas in The Park was created, as well as the Coalfield Jamboree, to name just a few differences in the 43-year span.
There are also some positive things, including businesses, that are in their early stages for Logan County. And there are funds now available, thanks mostly from federal grants that includes $1.5 million for removal of dilapidated houses and buildings. Officials need to keep a microscopic look on the expenditures of this money and more because, as readers will see in due time, a whole lot of funds were not properly or legally utilized in the more recent past.
And it also appears that too many officials were wearing blindfolds at the time.
Where’s the Pampers?
Dwight Williamson serves as magistrate in Logan County. He writes a weekly column for HD Media.