Lions Club Honors Retiring Moundsville Middle Teacher

Students at Moundsville Middle School graciously shared their Awards Day on Thursday with Mike Eskridge, the adviser of the school’s LEO Club, as he was presented with two Lions Club International awards, a Progressive Melvin Jones pin and a Humanitarian Plaque.

Eskridge, who is retiring as both a social studies teacher and as LEO Club adviser at the close of the current school year, has been on the MMS faculty for 30 years, and affiliated with the LEO since its inception at the school 15 years ago.

The LEO Club is a youth organization, the Moundsville Middle School club being for eighth graders. The acronym standing for Leadership, Experience and Opportunity.

LEO Clubs are sponsored by Lions Clubs and Moundsville Lions Club president Eugene Saunders Sr., presented Eskridge with his Melvin Jones award, marking the second time that Eskridge has received this honor.

Nine months ago Eskridge received yet another Lions Club Award, the Leonard Jarrett Award. That also was at a ceremony at the school, with past district governor Eva Dague making the presentation.

The Humanitarian Award was also presented by Dague.

Lions Clubs world-wide recognize outstanding individuals by bestowing on them awards named for either the Melvin Jones or Leonard Jarrett, or both. The Melvin Jones Award is the highest form of recognition and embodies humanitarian ideas consistent with the nature and purpose of Lionism. The recipient of this award becomes a model of exemplary service to his club and community which it serves.

Leonard Jarrett is recognized by Lions of West Virginia as founder of West Virginia Lions Sight Conservation Foundation. The Leonard Jarrett Foundation was established in 1984.

This award is the highest honor given by the West Virginia Lions Sight Conservation Foundation.

Both of the awards are given after the respective foundations receive from a Lions Club, Lioness Club, or an individual the name of a Lion, Lioness or worthy person who has serviced the sight and hearing needs of others.

Both foundations have also established Progressive Awards, these being $1,000 increments above the initial $1,000.

All of the funds generated from these programs are used for sight related purposes.

The Humanitarian Award presented to Eskridge reads:

“Lion Mike Eskridge, a member of the Moundsville Lions Club, is being honored for outstanding humanitarian service while serving as LEO adviser. You have been an exemplary model of our Lions’ Motto, ‘We Serve’ in our community, our community, our district, our state and Lions Clubs International.”

Eskridge said he was first approached by then-MMS Principal Doug Pettit about the possibility of starting a LEO Club in 2002. Pettit was in attendance at Thursday’s awards day as he is a Lions District 29-L co-chairman of the LEO program.

Eskridge said Pettit, along with other MMS principals and fellow educators over the past 15 years have been very supportive of the school’s LEO program.

Eskridge said more than 1,000 students have been LEO members in the past 15 years, and they have raised more than $100,000 to help those in need locally, in the state, and foreign countries. This past school year the LEOs donated $1,200 to Elkview Middle School in Clendenin, o help in rebuilding that school, which was heavily damaged by flooding.

The theme for the latter undertaking was, “One Dollar at a Time.”

The LEO Club for the past 12 years has been selected as “LEO Club of the Year” in Lions District 29-L.

As to Eskridge, he is a native of Akron, Ohio, and has been a resident of Moundsville for 36 years.

Prior to becoming an educator in the Marshall County school system, he was employed by the state Department of Corrections as a counselor.

He attended the West Virginia Police Academy and graduated as class valedictorian in 1982. His goal was to become a state trooper.

In 1985, Eskridge substituted in Marshall County Schools and coached football, basketball and track at Union Junior High School. He became an assistant girls basketball coach at John Marshall High School, and served in that capacity with head coach Stan Blankenship for 10 years.

Eskridge, who has been pastor of St. Paul’s Evangelical Church in South Wheeling for the past three years, plans to spend more time in church work.

The annual city of Cameron Heritage Festival, presented by the Greater Cameron Landsmarks Commission, will be held May 26-27 at the B&O Freight Depot in downtown Cameron.

There will be local crafters, food vendors, a city-wide flea market and local musicians both days.

Crafts will available for viewing and purchasing from noon until 9 p.m., on Friday, and 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Saturday inside the Depot.

The flea market will be set up on Church Street from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., both days.

The musicians will be on the Depot Stage with oldies artists Roz and Lynn performing from 5-7 p.m., on Friday, followed from 7:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. Friday by Larry Santee.

Disc jockey Dave Kinney will be in charge of oldies music all day Saturday.

Cameron American Legion Post No. 18 will fill Veterans’ Park with a Field of Flags on Memorial Day Weekend. Residents and businesses are invited to sponsor a flag for $5.

To purchase a flag, call Jim Rogers at 304-686-3525 or 304-534-1997. Jim and his wife, Christy, this year started this project, with the goal being to have a flag placed in the new Memorial Park, in memory of a loved veteran, whether living or deceased.The flag will have a holder with the veteran’s name.

The post commander said Friday that at present, “We are placing around 500 flags in the park area with 300 in area cemeteries.”

Another upcoming event sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce in early June will be the annual Corporate Golf Scramble at the Moundsville Country Club.

Some 100 golfers, representing numerous businesses, will spend all day (June 7) for lunch, golf, award presentations and a steak dinner at the MCC.

Among the latest event sponsors are Dominion, Main Street Bank, Wesbanco, American Electric Power, Health Plan, RED Partner, Techocap, Altmeyer Funeral Homes, Grisell Funeral Homes, Paree Insurance, Progressive Bank, Project Best, Del. Joe Canestraro, Del. Mike Ferro.

A reception for new members of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Moundsville Salvation Army will be held at 6 p.m. on June 6 the headquarters at 700 Jefferson Avenue.

For the past few weeks the auxiliary has been seeking additional members.

The auxiliary is comprised of women who give of their time, talent and treasures to help in doing the most good.

The meetings are held each Monday at 4 p.m., the lone exceptions being in June and July, when there are none.

The auxiliary, working as a county group, supports the following programs for the less fortunate children in Marshall: Angel Trees, Dress a Bear; and filling Christmas Stockings during the holidays.

They also work at food giveaways for county residents who register to receive help during the Christmas season. The Red Kettles are also staffed by Auxiliary members.

Anyone wishing to volunteer is asked to contact Barb at 304-8450-2201 after 4 p.m., or Carol at 304-845-7907.

Working people can help the auxiliary by donating items, baking a cake or making at a salad for special events, or giving a donation.

Moundsville Mayor Eugene Saunders Sr., provides to the media once a month his thoughts on an issue or two pertaining to the latest city council meeting.

Two issues which seems to come before council are the Four Seasons Swimming Pool, and Riverfront RV Park, which although it would be located at Riverfront Park, would be adjacent to the railroad tracks, and not the Riverfront itself.

Anyway, here is what Saunders had to say after the most recent council meeting pertaining to these issues:

“There have been a lot of rumors and talk about Four Seasons Pool and the Riverfront RV Park. I would like to update the citizens with some facts about both of these projects: First, let me say that Council and I have no plans of closing Four Seasons Pool, but that Council is very concerned about putting $275,000 into the Park and Recreation Department every year, so Council has asked the city manager to formulate a plan which addresses the Detron unit which needs to be placed outside, and in doing so would change the ventilation, temperature and control the mold at a cost of $200,000. So in order to raise money for this undertaking we are looking at developing an RV Park which would bring revenue to the Parks and Recreation Department to renovate the pool develop Riverfront Park, the ballfields, walking trails and Park View Playground, this would allow this department to stand on its own. The RV Park is not in competition with other RV Parks in the city. But if this does not pass (the RV park) and if the Citizens want to get things done it may result in finding other forms of revenue.”

A town hall meeting pertaining to Drug Abuse will be held at 8 a.m. Tuesday in the Banquet Hall at Grand Vue Park, sponsored by the city of Moundsville, the Moundsville Economic Development and the Marshall County Chamber of Commerce.

The keynote speaker for the “Drug Epidemic in West Virginia” program will be acting U.S. Attorney Betsy Steinfeld Jividen. Her talk will be followed by a discussion with panelists featuring those who have struggled with addiction, been incarcerated because of drugs, and reentered society successfully.

The public is invited to attend and those planning to attend are to RSVP to the Chamber of Commerce, 304-845-2773.

A book signing will take place beginning at 10 a.m. Thursday at the former West Virginia Penitentiary in the lobby of Jefferson Avenue entrance, at which the signee will be Maggie Gray, who spent eight years as a correctional officer (1987-1995) at the former maximum security facility.

Gray told her story to C.J. Plogger, who, in addition to being the pastor of the Ash Avenue Church of God in Moundsville, is an author and a tour guide at the former penitentiary.

Gray’s story entails her experience and sightings throughout the years she worked there, including the North Hall, which was the Maximum Security Unit in later years.

Plogger said, “The book is written to capture some the past events of the prison which had some incredible history dating back to another century. Even more so to write about a person who actually worked there is incredible.” He added, “The book has just a few pieces of what happened during the 129 years the facility was in operation.”

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