Juanita Fireball and the Continental Drifters perform at the annual Volunteers Dinner last Thursday evening at the Pocahontas County Opera House. Clubs and organizations were recognized for another year of good deeds and assistance given to the people of Pocahontas County. S. Stewart photo

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

Christmas is a time for giving and, each year, the Marlinton Woman’s Club honors Pocahontas countians who give the gift of themselves to the community with an annual Christmas dinner at the Pocahontas County Opera House. Last Thursday, volunteers gathered to celebrate the efforts that went into making the county a better place.

Without volunteers, the community would have nowhere to turn when there is a need for assistance – whether it be clubs that raise funds for scholarships or donations or a fire department and rescue squad that saves lives and homes.

The evening’s emcee, Reta Griffith, shared a thought from former Pocahontas County resident Pat Keller, in regard to the gift of volunteerism.

“It is that time of year when gifts are on our mind,” Griffith read. “You may think this is strange to have a thank you dinner and talk about gifts. The fact is, you give so many gifts to the community. You give in so many ways. You give your time, your talent and your money. You see a need and try to fulfill it. Think of the thousands of hours you have given as you raise money, serve with projects and help wherever you can.”

Citing anthropologist Margaret Mead, Griffith continued by saying it is important to take time to thank all the volunteers who continue to work hard for the county.

“[She] said, ‘never doubt what a small committed group of individuals can do,’” Griffith said. “And you prove that in our communities. You are to be thanked, commended and complimented. There are times you feel that what you do is not appreciated but in the long run, you make quite a difference.”

As Griffith led the celebration, she shared information about the clubs and organizations in attendance and recognized each group’s officers. This year, the oldest serving member of each club and the presidents were recognized for their leadership and dedication.

The Minnehaha CEOS club currently has 13 members and its officers are: president Sue Herold, vice president Mary Saffel, secretary Kathy Henry, treasurer Phyliss Lucas and health officer Kim Hafler.

The CEOS club strives to inspire families to make learning an adventure as they advance through life in home and community. Special projects of the club include delivering Valentine baskets to shut ins, a reading program, and donating to McClintic Library and Family Resource Network.

The club’s oldest serving member is Rene White, who has been in the club for 58 years.

“Rene is their rock,” Griffith said. “When they need information, they go to Rene. She helps them to stay straight with business.”

The Hillsboro CEOS club, which was organized more than 60 years ago, currently has 10 members. The officers are: president Linda Simmons, vice president Leah Burford, secretary/treasurer Doris Ann Starks and health officer Jean Jackson.

The primary purpose of the CEOS is education. The club is an affiliate of the West Virginia University Extension Service and provides educational projects to the community.

The club’s special projects include donations to the Hillsboro Library, Allegheny Mountain Radio, Hillsboro Fire Department and the Pearl S. Buck Foundation, as well as providing information on nutritional meals for families.

The oldest service member is Opal Moore, who has been in the club for more than 50 years.

“She was very active until she went to the nursing home,” Griffith said. “She also served as a County Belle.”

The Pocahontas County Chamber of Commerce officers are: president Bill Jordan, vice president Ben Wilfong, secretary Barbara Lay and treasurer Selina King.

The chamber assists local businesses and promotes a progressive and sustainable climate for its members. Special projects include the RoadKill Cook-off and Autumn Harvest Festival, the Fish Bowl grant program and Career Day at Pocahontas County High School.

The chamber recognized long-standing members Charles Sheets, whose business, Sheets GMC [Sheets Garage], was in operation for 87 years; Mitchell Chevrolet with 51 years of business and Burns Motor Freight with more than 65 years of business.

The Pocahontas County Family Resource Network, which formed in 1999, currently has 20 members. Officers are: president Susan McMillion, vice president Roger Trusler, secretary Debbie Walton and treasurer Laura Dean Bennett.

The FRN is committed to providing services to local families through its special projects including the Harvest House Food Pantry, which serves 750 individuals, in approximately 360 families, each month, and Project Christmas, which provides gifts for 360 low income children.

The oldest serving member is Roger Trusler, with 18 years’ dedication as an active member of the board of directors.

The Humane Society of Pocahontas County was founded in 1998 and currently has eight members. The organization has been instrumental in lowering the stray and pet population through its spay and neuter program.

Officers are: president Chip Adkins, vice president Laura Dean Bennett, secretary Christine Mullins and treasurer Laura Finch.

Along with issuing 358 spay/neuter vouchers and completing 60 trap/spay or neuter/return projects, the Humane Society also sponsors the Strut Your Mutt pet show at Pioneer Days and Autumn Harvest Festival. It also has the Ruth Hornbrook Memorial Fund building project which added a new deck and stairs to both entrances to the facility.

The oldest serving member is Nancy Maddalena, who has been active with the organization for 12 years.

Huntersville Historical Traditions was founded in 2001 and currently has 10 members. Officers are: president Tim Wade, vice president Susie Landis and secretary Laura Dean Bennett.

HHT was organized to preserve local history and help the Huntersville community embrace and restore its history and heritage. Special projects include restoration of the old county jail, a History Appreciation Day for Marlinton Elementary School fifth grade students and the annual Huntersville Traditions Day festival.

The organization recognized Tim Wade and Terry Duff who make apple butter during the fall celebration.

“Without good demonstrators to show and educate in the old ways of doing things, Traditions Day would not be as good as it is,” Griffith said. “Terry and Tim truly do this and much more. Our thanks to them.”

The Durbin Lions Club was organized in 1946 and currently has 45 members. Officers are: president Suzanne Stewart, first vice president JP Alonso, second vice president Kay Wily, secretary Jacob Meck and treasurer Rick Wooddell.

Special projects for the club include vision screenings for all students at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School and homeschool students and children under the age of five.

The oldest serving member is Harold Crist, who joined the club more than 50 years ago.

“Harold is the oldest member, and he is one of the most faithful and hardworking members we have,” Griffith said.

The Marlinton Lions Club was established in 1953 and currently has 29 members. Officers are: president Joe Laskey, vice president Larry Lucas, secretary Becky Taylor and treasurer Phyliss Lucas.

Lions Clubs follow the mottos of “We Serve” and “Where there is a need, there is a Lion.” The Marlinton club’s special projects include donations to the FRN and Pocahontas Parish Co-operative food pantries, working concessions at football games, eye screenings for all students at Marlinton Elementary School, Marlinton Middle School and Hillsboro Elementary School, eye screenings at the Pocahontas Memorial Hospital health fair and trunk or treat at Halloween.

Oldest serving member is Jim Nottingham, who has been active in the club for 52 years.

“Jim has held most offices in the club and has received numerous awards,” Griffith said. “Jim is still very active in the club today.”

The Pocahontas County Opera House Foundation was formed 17 years ago and has 11 board members and countless volunteers. Officers are: president Arla Ralston, vice president Shenda Smith, treasurer Sue Groves and secretary Michelle Jeffers.

Along with an entertainment-filled concert series, the Opera House is a venue for cultural events, and this year hosted author Sarah Sullivan and renown fiddle player Jake Krack as well as its first-ever murder mystery play.

The longest serving member is Rene White, with more than 17 years on the board.

The Marlinton Rotary Club was organized in 1939 and currently has 18 members. Officers are: president Roger Trusler, vice president Roy Gibson, secretary Kenny Woods and treasurer Kendall Beverage.

Special projects include sponsoring Boy Scout Troop 33 since 1939, sponsoring Cub Scout Pack 33 and supporting numerous school projects, including the Pocahontas County High School Rotary Interact Club.

The oldest serving member is Eugene Simmons, who has been a member for more than 50 years.

“Gene has been an outstanding fundraiser for Rotary,” Griffith said. “He has served as PCHS girls softball coach and supports many youth programs.”

The Pocahontas County Veterans Honor Corps was formed in 1996 and currently has 22 members. Officers are: Commander Rick Wooddell, first vice commander Clyde White, second vice commander Sollie Workman, secretary Barry Sharp, treasurer Norris Long, quartermaster Homer Hunter and chaplain Harold Crist.

The Honor Corps provides final rites for veterans who have passed and continue to educate the community with special projects, including visiting all five schools for Veterans Day and teaching flag discipline and folding.

The oldest serving member is Harold Crist, who has been in the Honor Corps for 21 years.

“The Honor Corps would like to recognize its volunteer of the year, Norris Long, treasurer and assistant quartermaster, who is always ready to lend a hand,” Griffith said.

The Marlinton Woman’s Club was founded in 1917 and currently has 20 members. Officers are: president Cindy Sabota, vice president Becky Taylor, secretary Wally Clark and treasurer Dottie Mitchell.

The club gives back to the community by lending a helping hand to the schools, and through the arts and scholarships. Special projects include maintaining the flower containers on Main Street in Marlinton, serving at the Veterans Day dinner and a four-year commitment of $5,000 per year to the PMH improvement campaign.

Its oldest serving member is Dottie Mitchell.

“She’s our treasurer, and is a very active member and proficient with our money,” Griffith said. “She keeps us on track.”

Marlinton Fire and Rescue was founded in 1906 and currently has 37 members. Officers are: chief Herby Barlow, deputy chief Jamie Kellison, assistant chief JP Duncan, captain Travis Cook, first lieutenant Curtis Helton, second lieutenant Jason Sharp, sergeant Brad Cassell, safety officer Donald Sharp, EMS captain Jennifer Barlow, EMS first lieutenant Adam Irvine, EMS second lieutenant Randy Sharp and president Doug Lantz.

The organization is ready to serve the community by responding to fires, wrecks and other emergency calls in the area. Its special project this year was purchasing a “new-to-us” engine/tanker truck and saving $400,000 by purchasing a used truck.
Oldest serving member is Herby Barlow, who joined the department at the age of 14 and has been a member for 36 years.
The evening also included entertainment by Juanita Fireball and the Continental Drifters – who thanked the volunteers for their continued service to the county.

Suzanne Stewart read an article about a nativity scene in Algona, Iowa, which was built by German Prisoners of War during World War II.

Anyone interested in volunteering in the community and making a difference, contact one of the officers mentioned. They will find a way to help you give the gift of yourself.