To Kick Off
By JOHN G. WOLFE
The 33rd annual Irish Spring Festival in the Ireland community will kick-off on Sunday with the flag raising ceremony next to the community building at 11:30 a.m., to be followed by a Pot O'clock dinner at 1 p.m. and The Psalms of Ireland gospel sing will start at 2:30 p.m. at the Ireland United Methodist Church on the hill.
The festival ends on Thursday, March 20, with the ascent to the Blarney Rock at 12:30 p.m. and Declaration of Spring. In between there are all sorts of activities for young and old alike.
The theme of this year's festival is "Kites." Organizers say a popular event of the festival is the kite flying event set for Saturday, March 15, beginning at 9:30 a.m. in Mabel's field. And the kite flying is not just for the young. All are invited to participate in the celebration of the arrival of spring. March 15 is the "big" day for the festival, with many activities taking place this day, including the popular parade at 1 p.m.
In accordance with the theme of kites, the Shamrock CEOS club members, sponsors of the festival, invite all to be part of the celebration by creating a representation of the kite theme for the Lucky Charms Contest. Entries will be judged in two categories: edible creations and crafty creations. Those making edible creations are asked to bring plenty to share with judges and attendees, with judging to take place by popular vote on Sunday, March 16, between noon and 4 p.m. Prizes will be awarded.
Three men and three women are vying for the King and Queen of the festival, with the winners to be announced on Friday evening, March 14. Seeking royal recognition are ladies Linda Clutter, Karen Gum and Floda Rexroad. Hoping to become king of the realm are Bob Chumney, Loy Cunningham and Ed Rexroad.
A new event this year will be corn hole, to replace the hayrides of the past. The popular game was added and will take place on Wednesday evening, March 19, along with the serving of Stone Soup at 6 p.m.
The festival schedule is as follows (with most activities held in or around the Ireland Community Building):
Sunday, March 9
11:30 a.m. - Flag Raising Ceremony
1 p.m. - Pot O'Luck Dinner
2:30 p.m. - Psalms of Ireland, UM Church
Thursday, March 13
7 p.m. - Opening Ceremonies
7:15 p.m. - King and Queen Reception
Entertainment by Dustin McCray
Friday, March 14
7 p.m. - Irish Jig (Square Dancing)
8 p.m. - House Decoration Winners
8:30 p.m. - Costume Contest
9 p.m. - King and Queen Coronation
Saturday, March 15
9 a.m. - Scavenger Hunt
9:30 a.m. - Kite Fly
10 a.m. - Lucky Charm Pitch
10 a.m. - Hound Demonstration
10:30 a.m. - Intermediate Harp Workshop
10:30 a.m. - Tour de Shamrock
(10.5 mile bike ride)
11 a.m. - Foul Shooting Contest
11:30 a.m. - Harp Concert Rehearsal
1 p.m. - The March "March" Parade
2 p.m. - Harp Concert (UM Church)
2 p.m. - Fuzzy and Stubbles
2:30 p.m. - Road Bowling
3 p.m. - Beginners Harp Workshop
4 p .m. - Just Ducky Sweepstakes
(Rubber Ducky Race)
4:30 p.m. - Budding Shamrocks
6:30 p.m. - Luck o'the Irish
Arts and crafts, harp music, an Ireland postal station with the 2014 St. Patrick's Day collector's cancellation stamp and appropriate gift items are features from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. ; special exhibits, health screening and Irish themes foods and drinks will be available.
Sunday, March 16
Noon - 4 p.m. - Open Mic,
featuring The Gregory Family
Noon - 4 p.m. - Lucky Charm Contest
1 p.m. - Snake Chase
1:30 p.m. - Road Bowling
4:30 p.m. - Fried Potato Contest
Monday, March 17
9 a.m. - Local Elves and Urchins
(School children visit)
Tuesday, March 18
6 p.m. - Unicorns, Gremlins and Shmoos
Wednesday, March 19
6 p.m. - Corn Hole and Stone Soup
Thursday, March 20
12:30 p.m. - Ascent to Blarney Rock
12:57 p.m. - Vernal Equinox and Declaration of Spring
Weston Democrat Reporter John Wolfe met with City Building Inspector Wayne Gregory and City Manager Michelle Allen last Friday to review written information that he had requested in a letter following the partial collapse of the old DHHR building on Feb. 23.
In the letter Wolfe sent to the city on Feb. 24, he wrote, "I am requesting to view all documents the city has sent to the owners of the former Colonial Restaurant Building on Main Avenue and the old DHHR Building located on Main Avenue and First Street and the owner of the property on West Second and Water where the parking lot fell in.
"In addition, I would like to see copies of any citations issued to the owners for ordinance violations and any subsequent disposition decisions. The partial collapse of those buildings and the parking lot has raised many questions among citizens about just what the city has or has not done to get them demolished or repaired.
"The time for verbal confirmation of what has or has not been done has passed. People want to know all the details and I need to see the proof."
During the meeting, Wolfe was assured that the two property owners involved are taking steps to demolish the buildings and learned that much of the communication between the city and the property owners was verbal in nature. However, some written documentation does exist, but most of it is recent coming on the heels of the Feb. 23 partial collapse of the old DHHR building.
Other than some copies of deeds and tax records, only one document is on file from the time that John Hogan served as the city building inspector. It is a copy of a condemnation and demolition order issued on the old DHHR building dated May 7. The year is not written on the document.
When asked if there were any older written documentation with regards to the properties, Allen responded, "This is all we have, and it includes anything Mr. Hogan provided us with." Hogan resigned from the post last summer.
Also included in the files was an asbestos report done on the old Colonial Restaurant Building, with information that the building is free of asbestos. The asbestos report is dated Jan. 27, 2014, and was completed by Allegheny Environmental of Fairmont. The owner of the old Colonial Restaurant and former DHHR building is James Lanier of Clarksburg.
On Feb. 19, Gregory issued a condemnation and demolition order on the property at 169 Water Street that formerly housed a realty office and where the parking lot collapsed earlier this year. This order was issued to Lisa Mullooly, owner of that property. Mullooly lives in Florida.
On Feb. 25, Inspector Gregory issued another notice of condemnation and demolition order on the old DHHR building to Lanier. In the letter, Gregory wrote that the building was a "danger and nuisance," and gave Lanier ten days to respond. The notice also says that the city will, "enforce its right to abate at costs charged to you and lien on the property."
An email from City Attorney Stranko to Allen indicated that he "still had no word from Lanier about possible bank financing," with regards to demolition of the structures. Stranko suggested that perhaps the city should explore seeking a loan though the West Virginia Housing Development Fund in order to get money for the city to loan to Lanier to get the structure demolished.
No documentation was provided to show that the Weston Police Department ever issued any citations for violations of city ordinances with regards to the three properties. However Allen said that the police department was cooperative with every request that she had made in the past.
Allen assured Wolfe that the property owners will be taking all three buildings down. Lanier plans on first removing the roof of the old DHHR building, and some work towards that end has already begun. "He has a crew of five that will be taking down the building," said Gregory. Once the old DHHR building is demolished, he will tear down the old Colonial Restaurant building.
Allen said that she has been in contact with Mullooly with regards to the Water Street property as well, and that Mullooly is trying to find a contractor to demolish that building. She also said that she has been in constant contact with Lanier since the partial collapse of the old DHHR building on Feb. 23.
Time will tell if all the verbal communication that has occurred works, however, very little written documentation exists at present to show that the city has done much to get the buildings demolished until recently.
May Aid in
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NSMEC) released a photo last week of an age-progressed photo of what missing 5-year-old Aliayah Lunsford might look like today. The photo was released in hopes that it might help with what is now West Virginia's most notorious missing child case.
Lunsford was 3 years old when she disappeared from her Bendale home just outside of Weston on Sept. 24, 2011. Massive efforts to find the child have been unsuccessful.
Authorities have made no arrests and identified no suspects in the case. The FBI has refused to say whether agents believe Aliayah is still alive, but a $20,000 reward leading to her recovery or an arrest is still offered. Lewis County Sheriff Adam Gissy says that the release of the photo has led to a surge in calls to his office and he is hopeful that the Aliayah is still alive and that someone out there will recognize her. "We will continue to follow up on all leads," Gissy said. The FBI and state and local law enforcement continue to work together on the case.
The public is urged to call the Sheriff's Department at 304-269-8245, the FBI at 304-624-4831 or the NSMEC's 24-hour hotline at 1-800-THE LOST (843-3678) or even 911 should they have any information regarding the disappearance or possible whereabouts of Lunsford. Anonymous calls are accepted. Aliayah's mother, Lena Lunsford, is on release from federal prison for welfare fraud after serving eight months in prison following Aliayah's disappearance.