Category: Advocate

The 10 Year

Feb. 18, 2017 marks an unpleasant anniversary. Rather than reflect on that moment and the ripples it sent through my life, I think more to the time leading up to it, which galvanized who I am today in my professional life.

Got my start in the newspaper world in May of 2001, at age 19, working for The Pendleton Times. I was hired for the summer after my sophomore year in college, but worked there whenever I could, as I moved through the second half of my higher education.

In those days the newspaper was still produced by printing out the different design elements from an ancient Apple Macintosh, cutting them out and waxing them so they would stick to a sheet the actual size of the newspaper. That sheet would then be taken to the printer, scanned onto an aluminum plate and reproduced on newsprint.

I loved it. It was like a jigsaw puzzle that you got paid to put together, and I was particularity good at it too. So much so that I switched majors from journalism to graphic design after that first summer.

[It was also during my first summer that I first put together the Treasure Mountain Festival guide, a publication that I still produce annually.]

After finishing school in Summer of 2003, I was hired full time, mostly to develop a website (which didn’t happen), but also to help with layout duties and advertising design.

Publisher Bill McCoy was already in his 80s when I first met him, but he still possessed a keen eye for newspaper craft. Although he had relinquished most duties at the paper by then, he still came in Tuesday mornings, cane and coffee in hand, to read over the week’s news and lay out the front page.

Perhaps it was because I came to know him late in his life that my opinion formed differently from others, but he always struck me as someone willing to try new things if the situation called for it. Co-workers who were there much longer than me knew him, instead, as someone who was very adherent to the continuity of the past – to keep things the way they had always been.

That said, he wasn’t one to pull punches either. I remember once complimenting him on the look of a front page a particular week. It was a genuine remark, but I knew he had struggled with getting it just the way he wanted. His gruff response, “Really? I think it looks like shit.”

He was my first mentor for understanding the creative and logical process of developing an attractive and attention-grabbing front page. I was in awe of the process, and dreamed of someday being the one to design the front page.

That day came sooner than expected. Bill had been sick in the days leading up to the Nov. 20, 2003 edition, and with no one else available, I was given the task of making the front page.

It was something I approached with raw enthusiasm, meeting early with editor Ed Tallman to figure out which stories were being written for that week, and visualizing a layout approach. I went out and took pictures of trees fallen in a recent wind storm, took a group picture of the members of the newly formed Chamber of Commerce for the lead, broke a story about Subway opening. Also, it was the week prior to hunting season, so obviously that was a front page story.

Early Tuesday morning I came into the paper and pasted together my inaugural front page.

It was a work of art, I thought.

I was so proud.

I should have guessed what would follow.

A few hours later, as the rest of the paper came together, Bill arrived as he always had. He had been feeling much better, but no one ever passed the message on to the staff.

Ed saw him enter and ran to the front of the room to explain the situation. Bill seemed unfazed by what could have been viewed as betrayal, and went to the back to the office to read the stories as he always had.

The guilt I felt that day still resonates, and all I could do then was quietly continue on with the rest of the paper as he read over the stories for that week.

Once he finished reading, he got up, and walked to the already-completed front page, sitting on a concrete table in the center of the room. He stared at it, emotionless, for several minutes. In that time, I decided I may as well approach – perhaps for a scolding or, at best, a sharp critique.

Instead he looked up at me and smiled. “Hell of a good looking front page,” he said.

I was relieved and flattered, but still shell-shocked by the morning’s events, and stood numb as I watched him slowly make his way to the front door.

That was the last time I saw him in the office.

I still saw him out on the streets or in the restaurants, and always had a pleasant conversation with him about what was going on with the business or with the community.

Ten years ago today, on Feb. 18, 2007, I was fired from The Pendleton Times. My raw enthusiasm had been forged into a sharp opinion of how the newspaper should look and read, and those creative clashes ultimately became deliberate insubordination. It took me years to admit that to myself, and until now to acknowledge it publicly.

Bill had little to do with the operation by then and had no involvement in the decision, but I never wanted to know if he endorsed it. In the times after that, I avoided making contact with him in public, and maintained that elusiveness until his passing in June of 2008.

I went on to work for the Moorefield Examiner, whose owner was a cousin of Bill’s. In the 10 years since The Pendleton Times, I have moved up to become the advertising and production manager at the Examiner. Among my many tasks there is laying out the front page – a task I hold as just as much of an honor now as I did that first time.

Aside from that, the traces of guilt are still there in every page I produce. The guilt that I robbed someone of the last thing they did to feel useful, and the guilt that someone had to step away in order for me to thrive.

This is a story I’ve never told anyone before, but one I remind myself of every day. Framed and hanging on the bedroom wall above my head is that actual front page paste-up sheet from Nov. 20, 2003. It’s the last thing I see at night, the first thing I see each morning, and serves as a guidepost to know that I am where I am because of where I started.

Christmas Haikus

A year ago I picked up on a writing challenge on Twitter. With the hashtag #HaikuADVENTure, people were making up haikus related to Advent, the season leading up to Christmas.

Armed with a lack of knowledge on Advent specifically, my haikus soon went off the rails, covering a wide variety of aspects of the season. From consumerism to contemplation, I’ve compiled the bulk of them below – with a few more added this year to help fill out the list. There is something for everyone.

For the reveler who is not down with church terminology:
Googled word “Advent” / So I wouldn’t look stupid / For using it wrong.

For the reveler who is an extroverted hunter:
We mighty hunters / Traverse unforgiving wild / Return with flat screen.

For the reveler who is an introverted hunter:
Shopping Black Friday / Computer and pajamas / Only fights router.

For the reveler who sees the ghost of consumerism’s past:
Saw ad for K-Mart / I could not believe my eyes / K-Mart still exists.

For the reveler who sees the ghost of consumerism’s present:
Spoke with a cut-out / Of Ree Drummond at Walmart / Thinking she was real.

For the reveler who sees the ghost of consumerism’s future:
Forget Santa Claus / A drone delivered my gifts / No chimney needed.

For the reveler who has a geek side:
No haiku right now / I’m going to see Star Wars / mind preoccupied.

For the reveler who decorates on a budget:
The stockings were hung / Despite protest from my toes / My feet are cold now.

For the reveler who goes all out decorating:
The space station called / They can see my lights from there / My power bill weeps.

For the reveler who doesn’t go all out decorating:
Put up lights indoors / but feels more like seedy bar / than it does festive.

For the reveler who has mixed feelings on winter:
Snow on the hillside / awesome display of beauty / Snow on the road. Ick.

For the reveler who is a film critic:
Yule Log is peaceful / director’s commentary / unnecessary.

For the reveler who is resourceful:
Chestnuts are roasting / over chestnut wood as well / we used the whole tree.

For the reveler who sees the big picture:
These memorable times / converge on a single point / and then dissipate.

For the reveler who likes a good origin story
Bathed in the moonlight / it was not the only source / the shepherds realized.

For the reveler who likes finality:
It’s all over now / Valentine’s candy is out / Consumers move on.

Don’t Forget Local Businesses This Holiday Season

shoppendleton

No Doorbusters. No long lines wrapping around the building. No irate consumers looking for the cheapest bang for their buck. This is what you can get from Black Friday shopping, and sometimes just general shopping around the holidays.

Meanwhile, you get none of that from shopping local. In fact, you may get a little more out of the bargain – from great customer service to the knowledge that your purchase is making an investment in the community. Local purchases will continue to sustain and grow the local storefronts that we still have, and could even encourage other entrepreneurs to take a serious look at setting up shop in the community. Its a win-win for us all.

Obviously, there’s a lot of things you can’t get in Pendleton County. Most electronic devices outside of appliances are nowhere to be found, which is the bulk of what the hot gifts are these days. That said, there are a multitude of great gift ideas still available right here in Pendleton County.

What we want to do is compile a list of all the great Christmas shopping ideas that are available in the county. From the storefronts to the sales consultants, we want to know them all so you can know them all too.

To get on this list, or to add someone you know, email us at mike@pendletonwv.com. We hope to begin compiling this list next week.

Mission Statement

Pendleton County, West Virginia is a unique place.

We are a rugged group of individuals not bound by what’s inside our mountains, but on top of them. We are the most beautiful destination in the state, and possibly the most well-hid. We are minutes from metropolis, but secluded as if civilization were light years away. We are in the calm of the screaming universe around us.

There is burden to this blessing, however. Industry doesn’t want us, and the world of business finds no value in what we offer. Despite closure after closure, we have endured, and will continue to endure to protect the land we love so much.

Unfortunately many have had to venture out into the wide world in order to survive, and are in danger of losing touch with home. Perhaps they won’t, but the generations that follow will know less and less about what was left behind.

Newspaper is a brilliant medium that has survived for centuries despite being counted out for the past 100 years as the medium of communication has advanced. Radio and television couldn’t put that final nail in the coffin, but the internet has always threatened to do so.

To be clear, newspapers should never go away completely. The printed word will always be the most powerful. It is the one communication medium that can span eons. The broadcast signal is fleeting, and the bits and bytes that make up the digital word could be wiped out with one strategic failure in the technology. Newspapers must continue. In 50 years or 1,000 years they will tell us who we were.

This site was created as a window into Pendleton County. It’s a view of home that can see anytime, and hopefully that familiar sight will leave you comforted.

It is also an advocate for Pendleton County. It has always been my opinion that we have lost so much, and let so many opportunities pass because there wasn’t a strong voice rallying us and motivating us to secure our futures. It’s not too late to turn things around, but it’s much harder than it would have been 15 years ago.

This is an imperfect example of what the community truly deserves, but it suits the need for now. We welcome better options, and do not intend to impede upon any site that can do a more adequate job. The objective is to make Pendleton County stronger, and the more voices we add, the louder the call to action will be.

Armed with only the stamina that God has granted us, we are producing this site as a labor of love solely in our free time, and will continue to do so as long as stamina holds.

 

DKeRwWP1Mike Mallow is the publisher of Pendleton News
and advertising manager for the Moorefield Examiner

 

Where We are with Sugar Grove a Year Later

Next week will be a year since operations ceased at Sugar Grove Naval Base, leaving civilian workers scrambling to find new employment in its absence.

If you need a recap on this continuing saga, WV MetroNews has got you covered. No, really – covered like a blanket. You can find the articles, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, *deep breath* here, here, here and here. If you’ve read all of that, then you’re well up-to-date.

Now that we’ve moved a year beyond the economically devastating closure, it’s time to look at where we are now, and where we think we are going.

At last we left the situation, the high bidder for the base bowed out, citing an inability to “complete the transaction.”

In the clandestine tradition of the navy base, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), which was charged with unloading the base, has not given a reason for the bidder backing out, or who the bidder even was.

So who was it? Nothing has even been confirmed officially, but this is where the leads have taken us.

Was it KVC?

No. Though even Governor Tomblin’s office doesn’t know who the high bidder was, they could confirm is that it wasn’t KVC, the nonprofit child welfare and behavioral healthcare organization. They had been interested in converting the base to a college for kids aging out of the foster care system; however, their bid wasn’t half of the $11.2 million high bid.

New York, New York

The most likely candidate is a 5th Avenue company out of the Big Apple. Empire State Bankruptcy Management Corp., a 40-year-old company that specializes in “Management and Acquisition Construction Development of Commercial, residential and retail properties nationwide.” While that name didn’t come up specifically, associates of the company’s CEO, Patrick McEvoy, made inquires about the property to the courthouse in late August. Perhaps it was McEvoy himself who was the high bidder.

We contacted the company for comment the day before the announcement about the sell falling through. To date we have not gotten a response.

It may have been a bullet dodged if it turned out this company. One thing they make clear on their website, is that they focus “on HUD revitalization projects.” It’s the only text in bold on their homepage other than the company name.

This tells us that the base would likely not have produced many jobs in this scenario.

It could have been that once they took a good look around, and realized that there was a Habitat for Humanity development directly across the street, that they decided no further low-cost housing was needed for the area.

Hopefully we’ll know something by the end of the year. The new round of bidding begins again in November, and shouldn’t drag on for as long as the online auction.

Hopefully we’re not writing a two-year article similar to this.

Ode to the Lutheran Baked Potato

This may seem like an odd post, but there is an equaly odd trend I’ve noticed on social media lately.

With Treasure Mountain Festival coming up this week, there is a lot for folks to look forward. Crafts, visiting, the parade, the fort burning – there are just so many things to take in, where do you even begin to discuss it?

In the run-up to this year’s festival, I’ve noticed tons of chatter on Facebook and Twitter specifically for one thing: the Lutheran baked potato.

I’ve seen mentions from people, specifically former residents of the county scattered to the wind, all making the same intention known. They’re coming to TMF for a baked potato.

I think part of it is the deep nostalgia we feel towards the festival, which ultimately runs up against the wall of inevitable change. Of all the transitions the festival has made over the years, the potato has stayed the same. It takes us back as we move forward.

In that spirit, I give you a poem specifically for this occasion.

Ode to the Lutheran Baked Potato
In the town of Franklin,
On the third Week in September.
You’ll find a festival,
With food to always remember.

There is pork barbecue,
A stand serving a fine crab cake.
But nothing can compare,
To one that takes hours to bake.

The lowly potato,
So plain and inconspicuous.
Yet, stands out from the crowd,
As, by far, the most delicious.

Gone are the hamburgers,
The Methodist grillers are through.
Their stand is now long gone,
Presbyterian hotdogs too.

One of the last church stands,
Sticks to a game plan tried and true.
Undeterred by changes,
Is that of Martin Luther’s crew.

Get it with some butter,
Some homemade chili, if you please
.
Pepper it green with chives,
Make orange with liquid cheese

Remember the sour cream,
Amazing with just a dollop
.
Any way you want it,
Just flush it down with some pop.

Every year we have it,
It has become so iconic.
Can’t be duplicated,
And we think that seems ironic.

So what is the secret?
Was it from Lutherans of yore?
Back to the beginning?
Did it get nailed to someone’s door?

Whatever the reason,
To that stand, I suggest you march.
You will never regret,
Filling up on five dollars of starch.

Accidents Happen

Mike Mallow

Mike Mallow

There are a lot of things that can happen by accident.

You could fall down, forget to pay a bill, hurt someone’s feelings. The list of types of accidents are as numerous as stars in the universe;  however, starting a news site is generally not on that list.

It happened though, this past week. While purchasing domain hosting for an unrelated website project I did a regular check of available website names. It’s a thing I do perhaps yearly, and have never had much luck in finding a good name to settle upon.

But there it was – pendletonwv.com. Short, simple, relevant, but most importantly, available.

I’ll say more in a mission statement that I hope to draft soon, but the online news experiment has officially begun.

It’s something that has been on my mind as early as 2002, when I envisioned it as more of a satirical site. The Panhandler was my working title, and it would make light of the current events of the area.

Perhaps that has always been part of my love/hate relationship with news. I’ve just never had the gumption to take it seriously for much of my career. To this day I’ve quipped that newspapers would look much better if they didn’t have all the words on them.

That said, printed news is to be very much taken seriously. They say the pen is mightier than the sword, and this is true. Even greater in the context of this age of advanced weaponry. Swords have become guns, which have become missiles, which have become WMDs; but the stroke of a journalist’s pen carries the same power that it did 200 years ago.

While the means of creation (journalism) is more or less the same, the delivery system is what has advanced, which is why a news website for Pendleton County is vital.

It’s hard not to talk about news and Pendleton County without bringing up my time at The Pendleton Times. I was hired full time in 2003 for the specific purpose of building a website for the newspaper. Shortly before its completion, the plug was pulled on the project.

To this day no functioning website exists. The only thing hosted by the domain name is an image of what the site could look with a “coming soon” starburst near the bottom. According to the image’s meta data, it has been there since October of 2012.

In short, Pendleton County deserves a news website, and I have always been about giving Pendleton County what it deserves. Fortunately, this is something that sits within my capabilities. It’s not exactly an endeavor I wanted to take on my own, but here we are.

And here we go.

© Pendleton New Media, LLC