Period Fence Going Up at Hall

People who frequent downtown Wheeling noticed that considerable digging began on the perimeter of the lawn at West Virginia Independence Hall this past week.

No, the state is not constructing a moat for the National Historic Landmark. Actually, the digging is being done for a footer to serve as the base of a new wrought-iron fence that is being installed around the museum grounds.

Site preparation began this past week for the long-awaited fence project. The design of the structure replicates the look of fences from that period. Placement of a fence around the state’s birthplace also is accurate from a historical perspective. In illustrations that were published in Harper’s Weekly depicting crowds gathered outside the-then U.S. customs house in Wheeling during the statehood conventions, a wrought-iron fence encircling the property also can be seen.

When West Virginia author Sherri Brake visited the Ohio County Public Library in Wheeling Tuesday, Oct. 29, she noted that her recently published work, “The Haunted History of the West Virginia Penitentiary: Afterlife with No Parole,” is her third, and her biggest, book.

Holding the thick tome, Brake quipped to the Lunch With Books audience, “If you never get around to reading it, that’s OK. You can use it as a doorstop.”

Meanwhile, Morgantown area attorney Tom Rodd had high praise for the Ohio County Public Library – and for libraries in general – when he spoke Tuesday, Oct. 22.

Rodd, who wrote the play, “A New Home for Liberty: Human Rights, Slavery and the Creation of West Virginia,” for the J.R. Clifford Project, commented, “It’s an honor to be in a public library and, obviously, such a nice library.”

Rodd recalled frequent trips to the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh where, as a fourth-grade student, he checked out stacks of books. “I loved the smell of books,” he said.

Entering the library in Wheeling, Rodd said he was reminded of “the unique smell of a public library.” That aroma, he indicated, took him back to memories of his youthful visits to the lending library.

“I’m a book person from the beginning to the end,” he observed.

Rodd’s play, produced to coincide with the sesquicentennial celebration of West Virginia statehood, was performed twice at West Virginia Independence Hall Tuesday, Oct. 22. The local performances featured state Supreme Court Justice Larry Starcher and a cast of circuit judges, attorneys and other citizens from the area.

Traditionally, November is a month to give thanks for one’s blessings and a time to remember those who have gone on before us. With All Saints Day, we remember them and express gratitude for their example and love. With Veterans Day on the horizon, we prepare to thank all those who have served in the military for their bravery, courage and loyalty.

Frequently, I suppose, we think of the hard lessons of love and death only in terms of adults. But, as been demonstrated in recent weeks, loss and grief touch the hearts and souls of young people, too.

Throughout the tri-state area, people are stepping forward to help the Follansbee family whose house exploded, killing their 13-year-old daughter, Hannah Mozingo, and causing serious injury to the parents and an older daughter. Numerous fundraising efforts have been launched to help the Mozingo family who lost their daughter and their home.

On Wednesday, Oct. 30, all of the students, teachers and staff at Follansbee Middle School lined up outside to pay a silent tribute to their classmate as Hannah Mozingo’s funeral procession made a special trip past the school before going to her final resting place in Kadesh Chapel Cemetery, Beech Bottom.

Students and teachers at St. Clairsville Middle School also are grieving the loss of eighth-grade student Dominick Nardo, 13, who died as the result of an ATV accident Tuesday, Oct. 29.

This past week, we also learned of a serious illness facing former News-Register staff writer Andy Wessels’ 12-year-old son. Jay Wessels, a seventh-grade student at Horace Mann Middle School in Charleston, became ill in September and was placed on the waiting list for a heart transplant by early October.

In a week of sad news, we were happy to hear that Jay Wessels received a donor heart during transplant surgery performed at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Wednesday, Oct. 30. Our thoughts and prayers go out to him for a full and complete recovery.

After the transplant, a statement issued by Andy and Barbara Wessels and their family read, in part, “We are profoundly grateful for the continued outpouring of love and support from family, friends and colleagues across the country. And, we are especially awed and humbled by the generosity of the donor family whose gift in the face of terrible tragedy has given our son a new chance. May you find peace and comfort.”

Out of death comes life, and for that reason, we retain hope.

Linda Comins can be reached via email at: lcomins@theintelligencer. net