Letters to the Editor
As we consider the economic possibilities open to our town at this time, I would like to see the Depot building put on the table as a viable location for a business. It is a lovely venue in a prime location.
There has been some discussion that the Depot was not intended for commercial use. While acquisition of the original Depot property may have had this stipulation, much has changed. The tourism board paid rent for use of the building prior to the (Depot) fire, a new building has replaced the historic structure, and our town has undergone recent trauma that necessitates a fresh look at existing structures.
With a relatively small investment and the efforts of local contractors, the Depot complex can be transformed from an empty shell into a vibrant contributor to the town’s economy, benefiting the two Fourth Avenue ventures, The Mason Jar and the 4th Avenue Gallery, that have shown confidence in the future of that corner of town.
There are new public restrooms adjacent to the Depot building, the oldest house in the county sits on adjoining property, and the Farmers Market coalition has shown an interest in developing a venue in that area. Volunteers have painted the train and caboose, and repeatedly weeded and spruced up the Depot lot – hometown pride abounds.
The time is ripe to look at how property in town can be utilized to promote economic growth and prosperity. The Depot embodies a once-bustling hub of activity that could be available for a business venture that would attract visitors from the adjacent trail, as well as contribute to the economic health of the community.
Let’s not let former strictures and generalities preclude taking a fresh look at how this property can become productive.
On Saturday, August 17, 2013, at Fort Hunt Park in Alexandria, Virginia, the National Capital Area Chapter of the West Virginia University Alumni Association held its annual Crab Feast. The event was another success and all who attended had a great time and demonstrated the true Mountaineer spirit.
This year marked number 36 of our annual festivals. In addition to the number of WVU officials, we were pleased to have Hall of Fame quarterback Major Harris along with All Americans Pat White and Chris Neild join with us. Also two former Mountaineers attended along with the current Mountaineer. This included Natalie Tenant who was the first female Mountaineer and now serves as West Virginia Secretary of State. The other former Mountaineer was Dr. John Coyner who was born and raised in Pocahontas County. Dr. Coyner’s mother, Rose, was for many years, the English teacher at Green Bank High. Dr. Coyner flew in from Wichita Kansas, where he practices. Dr. Coyner is a frequent visitor to the Marlinton area and the family homestead in Clover Lick.
Incidentally, loyal readers of your fine newspaper may recall that a group of fraternity brothers who attended WVU in the mid-50s have a long funning golf outing designated as the Crawdad Invitational Golf Tournament. This year’s outing was held on July 24 at the Pocahontas Golf and Country Club. We found the course to be in excellent condition and it was a great pleasure to continue our golfing tradition of more than 50 years at the same location. Fred Burns continues his longterm championship play by closing out the match with a Rockefeller putt on the 15th hole.
This year we were pleased to have a special guest, Retired General George Friel, a part-time resident of Buckeye.
Your Loyal, Humble, and Obedient Servant,
Paul C. Farmer
AKA Head Crab
In the fall of 1996 I was squirrel hunting with my dad. I had a single shot 20ga shotgun and was trying to be as independent as a 10 year old boy could be.
I set up probably 50 yards to the right of my father, still within seeing distance of one another but I felt free nevertheless.
In my position, I could see a different side of the holler than my dad could. This often occurs when hunting on the terrain of Droop Mountain. It was dry enough that the leaves gave away the position of anything within earshot – making squirrels and chipmunks sound like herds of elephants approaching me.
Experienced hunters know that when it’s dry like that, everything moving sounds like its “big,” and I suppose I was still figuring that out as a young hunter. It quickly began to get dark – as the fall evenings do – when I began to hear something below me in the holler, making noise. It sounded like something walking. But whatever it was, it was a bit different in its approach up the hill. It made less noise than the chipmunks playing in the leaves earlier, and stopped frequently as it made its accent towards me. I imagined a deer slipping up the hillside, stopping ever so often to take a look around. It felt like forever but I’m sure it only took five-to-ten minutes to finally appear. But what I saw that evening was not what I was expecting. There, in front of 10 year old me, stood a Cougar no more than 20 yards away.
The cat did not appear to notice me. It was tan colored and very large. Childhood memories tend to exaggerate themselves a bit so I am not certain of the size but I can tell you that it was similar in size to a deer only much lower to the ground. Beyond the color, one thing that cannot be explained as a childhood exaggeration was this thing’s long tail, which appeared as long as its torso, doubling it in total length. It leaped onto a fallen tree trunk and walked horizontally across it in front of me. For a few moments it looked down into the holler where it came from as it stood on the log. Then, it jumped down onto the ground and eased back down the hill out of sight at a 45 degree angle from where it originally appeared. The whole encounter lasted probably two minutes. I hoped that dad had seen it too, but it turned out that he had no idea what was happening to me at the opposite end of the ridge. He had to wait until the 2010 Spring Gobbler season to see one.
I tell you this story not just for entertainment value but to make the residents aware of something that most of them probably don’t know. In 2011, the US Fish and Wildlife service completed a four-year study on the Eastern Cougar and determined that it was now extinct. In this 500 page study, it listed the 1978 incident in which two cougars were observed killing livestock in Lobelia. Their DNA was proven to be of South African origin.
I know people in the county see cougars to this day, and I would love to read other people’s stories.
I will leave you with this: In 1937 the last confirmed track of an Eastern Cougar in the US was found crossing the snow covered roads on top of Kennison Mountain leading into the Cranberry Wilderness. I don’t know if the cougar I saw was a released pet or the remnants of an endangered species of Eastern Cougars, but I know without a shadow of a doubt that there are still big cats roaming the woods and Appalachia.