University President Cooking Up Success

Perhaps Wheeling Jesuit University’s new interim president, Sister Francis Marie Thrailkill, O.S.U., can warm up the campus with some good and “hot” Cajun and Tex-Mex cooking.

The new leader arrived on campus Monday, Feb. 8, as WJU students and Wheeling residents were in the midst of dealing with the area’s largest snowstorm in recent years.

Most recently, Thrailkill served as interim president of Chatfield College in Cincinnati in 2008-09. Previously, she was president of the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati from 1978 to 2008,

In addition to being praised for her skillful leadership at institutions of higher learning, Thrailkill has gained attention for her culinary talents.

The native Texan’s cooking ability was the subject of a 2007 feature article published in the Cincinnati Enquirer. In that article, staff writer Chuck Martin described Thrailkill as one of the most well-known cooks in the city. He wrote that Thrailkill “has earned thousands of dollars for charities by auctioning her dinners and cooking lessons at benefits. Her spicy Cajun and Tex-Mex dishes are legend.”

As an aside, the Enquirer reporter also noted that the College of Mount St. Joseph (a formerly all-women’s institution) is known in Cincinnati as “the Mount.” Ironically, Thrailkill’s office at Wheeling Jesuit also is near “the Mount” – that is, the now-closed Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy, located on property adjoining the university.

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Tyler Wells, 12, of Smithfield, Ohio, is heading to New York City to compete in junior showmanship and against adults for best of breed with his Siberian Husky dog, Trace, in the Westminster Kennel Club dog show at Madison Square Garden Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 15-16.

In 2009, the seventh-grade student ended the year as the number-two Siberian Husky junior handler in the United States and the fifth-ranked junior handler in Ohio for all breeds. He and his dog have won several best junior awards and group placements.

We’re told that Wells also has high hopes of returning to Westminster in 2011; he already has captured several of the wins needed to receive another invitation.

Wells has been competing in the sport of purebred dogs since he was 5 years old under the guidance of his parents, James “JR” Lerby and Shawna Wells, who have been breeding AKC champion Siberian Huskies for several years. They are members of the Pennsylvania Sled Dog Club and the Fort Steuben Kennel Association.

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Internationally-recognized singer Mollie O’Brien is returning home to Wheeling to present another benefit concert for Girl Scouts of Black Diamond Council.

The Wheeling native, who is also a former Girl Scout, will be performing in concert at Oglebay’s Pine Room at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 13. Organizers said that proceeds from the benefit will help make Girl Scouting available to girls in West Virginia, Virginia, Ohio and Maryland.

O’Brien did a similar benefit concert for the Girl Scouts at the Pine Room last year.

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Area residents attending the Pittsburgh International Auto Show this weekend were asked to create a message of hope for breast cancer “warriors.”

Ford Motor Co. and the Neighborhood Ford Store are sponsors of the annual Susan G. Komen Pittsburgh Race for the Cure. At each of the past two Mother’s Day races, the Neighborhood Ford Store collected more than 2,000 patches made by race participants and supporters. The patches were sewn together by volunteers to create “Warrior Quilts” in a patchwork of personal messages that recognize the fight against breast cancer.

Last October, the Neighborhood Ford Store presented Warrior Quilts to breast cancer centers throughout the region, including Wheeling Hospital, the Betty Puskar Breast Care Center in Morgantown and Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital in Parkersburg.

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As a journalist, I like clever, thought-provoking headlines. My favorite at the moment concerned politician John Edwards’ recent admission that he did indeed father a child out of wedlock while his wife battled cancer. The New York Post offered this headline: “‘I’m the pop,’ says the weasel.”

My second favorite headline in recent days appeared on the MSN Web site Thursday: “Madonna Reunites With Jesus.” The accompanying article, though, wasn’t as startling as the headline implied. It was a gossipy report that the pop singer Madonna (not to be confused with the Virgin Mary) reportedly was getting back together with a 22-year-old Brazilian boyfriend named Jesus Luz.

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Since officials in Vancouver are worried about a potential lack of snow for the Winter Olympics, let’s pack up a bunch of our unwanted snow and send it to them!

Linda Comins can be reached via e-mail at: