Essential reporting in volatile times.

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Like the rest of you, I feel like I’m living in the Twilight Zone. I expect to awake at any time from what surely must be a nightmare. Perhaps it’s all science fiction, but even Robert Heinlein, whose works I read many years ago, couldn’t come up with the real life scenarios we all are experiencing right now.

Never in my life did I expect to see a “masked” nation, closed restaurants and bars, a supposed coin shortage, riots, etc., at least not on the national level and all at the same time. Growing up, I envisioned the day when nations would likely annihilate each other via atomic bombs, or the like, but now — without any good sports to watch and some already cancelled — I feel like a lost ball in high weeds.

We’re all suffering in our own ways, but allow me to fire this curveball at you. Now that there is this alleged shortage of coins, I wonder how those guys who usually hit me up for “a little change” when I start into one of the local businesses are going to react. I mean, is it going to be $1 now? Indeed, a dollar bill with a slaveholder’s picture on it — Washington being the same guy who played such a major role in creating a country in which it was declared “All men are created equal?”

I’m puzzled even more when I think about the hitchhikers I will be passing up along the roadways. Those unfortunate souls are being hit hard by this nasty pandemic thing. First of all, with the virus going on, who wants to pick up a hitchhiker and have him or even her sit next to you in your automobile? On the other hand, who’s willing to pick up a hitchhiker who’s wearing a mask? Either way, it might pay for some people to invest in a bicycle.

I will admit to not planning this column as it is being written. I actually had intended on explaining several legislative changes to criminal laws and bonds, as well as new DMV adjustments, and some other matters I think readers should be made aware of. However, thanks to my friend Joe Browning, now a resident of Ohio — and who just happens to be Devil Anse’s Hatfield’s great-grandson — I had hoped to make you smile with an e-mail that was supposedly sent to the Chicago Tribune after the newspaper published an article about a name change for the Washington Redskins football team. It was addressed to the writer, Clarence Page. I found parts of it hilarious, but it really wasn’t in good taste, so it properly is being contained, or you could say “masked.”

BITS AND PIECES

n As imperfect as things are today in this country, let’s consider our nation’s dark past: Until 1920, women were not allowed to vote, serve on juries, or sue in courts of law. Prior to that, children as young as eight worked in American factories and even coal mines; and just over 160 years ago, African-Americans were sold on auction blocks.

Now, in today’s times, I must admit to having mixed feelings regarding the removal of monuments across our divided country. From a historical standpoint, I don’t really approve of what’s happening, but being a white Caucasian, I can’t experience the feelings that might exist in the hearts and minds of the black community. I mean, should there be any question as to the name changing of Stonewall Jackson Middle School, a predominantly black school? I think not.

Nevertheless, I have never viewed any Confederate monument (and I’ve seen many in my travels) and thought of the person it represented as a hero. I consider the memorials simply a part of history that cannot be changed and most definitely should be taught in schools to all races of mankind.

Oh, by the way, the Cincinnati Reds need to change their name. I’m offended by the word “Redlegs.” Shucks, I get sunburned quiet easily. Just joking, Reds fans, including my wife.

The truth is that every time there is a movement to confer rights to people or any entity, there is usually a response of oddity, or frightfulness, and there are always even some people who find things laughable.

n I got to meet the new manager of the City of Logan’s Water Department recently while paying my water bill. Turns out, Herb Staten is the son of a political acquaintance of mine from days past. Unfortunately, he gave me the sad news that his father (Herbert Sr.) passed away about two years ago; something of which I did not know.

Staten replaces longtime department head Everett Brumfield, who retired for reasons unknown to me. Staten hails from Buffalo Creek of the Man area, which is where I met his father.

Regardless of who is directing the Water Department, let it be known that I have always appreciated those employees who battle the freezing cold of winters and sizzling temperatures of summer to keep the rest of us happy. Frankly, I think they are underpaid.

As a matter of fact, there are a lot of good things that can be said about Logan’s water department, fire department and police department, especially, now that certain negative elements have some time back departed from the law enforcement sector. None of the departments are really appreciated much until, of course, they are needed. Personally, I couldn’t fill any of their shoes, but I do think I could find a way to share about $80,000 or more annually with them. Let’s just say it would be in the form of a needed budget cut.

n One of the changes in law I had intended to share with you this week, and likely will next week, is that the deer replacement fee for illegally killing one of Santa’s Christmas helpers has been legislatively raised to $500. If the inside spread of the antlers measures 14 to 15 inches, the replacement cost is $2,500; 16 to 18 inches is $5,000; 18 to 20 inches means a $7,500 fee; and God forbid, for any illegally killed deer whose antlers measure at the widest point at 20 inches of more, you will be handed a mandatory $10,000 replacement fee.

There has been an increase of replacement fees in everything from a skunk to a bear, but I am a little puzzled as to the value of an elk as opposed to the nation’s symbolic icon — the American bald eagle. While the replacement for the elk is $10,000, the bald eagle or golden eagle fee is $5,000.

Considering that the newly formed Congress in 1782 adopted the eagle as the official seal for the new nation because since ancient times it has been considered a sign of strength, I can’t help but wonder: Is the elk going to replace the eagle on money, flags, public buildings and other government-related items?

I know one thing. There had better not be a monument of an elk placed anywhere around the Logan Courthouse. If so, I will protest and have it removed.

I say let’s stick with “Marco,” my favorite buffalo. Of course, the real Marco that was the live mascot of Marshall University when I was there in the early ‘70’s is likely dead by now; perhaps killed by a WVU mascot. Marco’s replacement — a human dressed as a buffalo — has no replacement fee.

On the list of animals I received, from native brook trout to a hoot owl, there is no buffalo to be found.

Therefore, I must logically assume that, since there’s an Elk Creek as well as a Buffalo Creek in Logan County, it may be time to bring back the buffalo to the local area. When considering the amount of money that could be saved from the costs of expensive marijuana eradication, perhaps the animals could be returned to what is becoming a wilderness, where no doubt they would be happy together grazing on pot fields.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those which divide us.” — John F. Kennedy.

DID YOU KNOW that iced tea was invented at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis? When hot weather ruined his tea business, Englishman Richard Blechynden served his tea over ice, which became an instant hit.

CLOSING NOTE: The word I’m getting from the political front is that there exists several candidates in the November general election who absolutely refuse to open their closet doors at home. Just saying.

Dwight Williamson serves as magistrate in Logan County. He writes a weekly column for HD Media.