Sale of Decorated Christmas Trees, Silent Auction Planned

The sale of 22 decorated Christmas Trees, 14 silent auction items and the raffle of a decorated Christmas Tree will take place Thursday evening at the Training Center within the walls of the former West Virginia Penitentiary.

The Christmas events will be in conjunction with the November Business After Hours, all arranged by the Marshall County Chamber of Commerce.

The BAH get-together will begin at 5 p.m., with the Tree Gala tree sales, auction and raffle getting underway at 6:30 p.m.

A portion of the money from tree sale will go to the Childhood Cancer Awareness Group, while a portion of the tree raffle, to which tickets will be available at the event, will go to the John Marshall High School “Paws for a Cause” program.

A third charity will also benefit, that charity to be selected by the person whose tree receives the most money from donations. Donors can still make monetary contributions Thursday in selecting the favorite tree.

WesBanco will be responsible Business After Hours food, which will be catered by The Alpha.

Those decorating the trees and the trees theme are:

United Bank — “The Nutcracker.”

Delta Kappa Gamma Sorority — “States Symbols of West Virginia.”

Bayer Heritage Federal Credit Union — “‘Deerly’ Blessed.”

Forester’s Financial — “The Night Before Christmas.”

Altmeyer Funeral Homes —“Family Album.”

AEP Mitchell — “Snow Must Fall.”

Bob’s Lunch — “Candy Cain Crush.”

Moundsville Economic Development Council — “Holiday Sparkle.”

West Virginia University/Reynolds Memorial Hospital — “Santa and His Elf in the Peppermint Tree.”

WesBanco — “Rustic Farmhouse Glam.”

Mike Kyre — “Chevrolet, The Early Years.”

Jean’s Workbench — “A Berry Merry Christmas.”

Home Town Floral and Gift Shop — “Let Heaven and Nature Sing.”

Valley Hospice — “Light Up a Life.”

Hudson Premier Physical and Therapy Fitness — “All That Sparkles In a Small Town.”

Valley Daughters CEOs — “A Cowboy Christmas.”

Marshall County CEOS —“Gateway to Dreams.”

Center McMechen Elementary School — “Super Hero.”

Marshall County Childhood Cancer Awareness Group —“Going Gold For Awareness.”

Capes and Tiara — “It’s a Spiderman’s Christmas.”

Jean Dougherty and Lisa Ingram — “All is Calm, All Is Bright.”

1st Impression Salon — “Glitz and Glam Winter Wonderland.”

The Tree Gala co-chairs are Barb Rush and Elizabeth Pernell.

The silent auction items include:

A Holiday Spirits Basket donated by Barb Rush.

A Frame Winter Scene donated by Frame and Fortunes.

A Winter Word’s Snowman donated by Patty Morris.

A Burlap Country Snowman Door Hanger donated by Jeans Workbench.

A Merry Christmas Cheer basket donated by Vicki Wiley, WesBanco Securities.

A Jeweled Christmas Tree donated by Laura Francis of Buried Treasures.

An All That Glitters donated by Daunel Gump.

A Bottle of Bubbly donated by Alexander’s on 7th.

A Here We Go Steelers Basket.

An Appetizer Table Setting by Brenda Frohnapfel and Jenny Gouldsberry.

“And the Stockings Were Hung,” donated by Ann Chening of Warren Distribution.

“Holly Jolly Christmas,” donated by Ann Chewing.

Also, Thursday evening there will be a program at the Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex in conjunction with Native American Heritage Month.

The program titled, “It’s All About Stuff” will be presented by “Ghost in the Head,” the Huron name of Todd Johnson.

The program, which will begin at 7 p.m., is open to the public and is free of charge.

Johnson draws from his Huron heritage as he discusses the traditional lifeways of the people of the Eastern Woodlands and the changes brought about with the introduction of European trade goods. His presentation will showcase an extensive display of accurate replicas of Native American artifacts such as weapons, tools, clothing, hunting and fishing gear, and jewelry.

The program will be an “interactive conversation” that encourages audience participation. Children and adults are welcome.

Johnson has been educating the public about the Eastern Woodland Indians since 1999.

He has been a presenter at historic sites such as Fort Necessity National Battlefield and Meadowcroft Rock Shelter and Historic Village. He has received two letters of recognition from the United States Congress for his portrayal of Huron heritage.

Although the late Charles Manson never served a day in the West Virginia Penitentiary, he did make contact via mail about the possibility of spending time in the “Big House.”

Following his death this past week, Moundsville Economic Development Council Executive Director Suzanne Park sent out a communication dealing with the letter which he sent in 1983 to Warden Donald Bordenkircher, the fact that his mother had served time in the WVP, and concluded with a plug on behalf of the MEDC’s tourism effort.

The press release reads in part as follows:

“One of the most notorious and vile murderers died this week, Charles Manson, age 83, led a cult following that was responsible for the brutal deaths of actress Sharon Tate and six other innocent people in the 1960s. He was found guilty in 1971 of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder for the deaths of seven people. He was also convicted of first-degree murder for two other deaths according so historical records.

“Locally, there is also a connection to the Manson family. His mother served time at the former West Virginia in the late 1930s for robbery. While his mother was incarcerated the young Manson spent time with relatives in McMechen.

“In March of 1983, Charles Manson sent a letter to Warden Donald Bordenkircher of the West Virginia State Penitentiary requesting to be transferred to the facility to ‘be near family.’ Obviously, the letter was never given consideration, nor would the transfer have been possible.”

A recent article in Newsweek was titled, “How Murderer Charles Manson Used Language He Used.” The Newsweek article, written by Melissa Matthews, said that Manson was able to speak in a way that engaged those who felt marginalized or alienated.

Park states in her release, “If you read the letter posted in the Museum of the former penitentiary, you would see that Manson was practically illiterate.”

“It is surprising to see an interview of Manson, and then read this letter. His spelling and grammar are nothing like the person you see, in reading this document, you can’t imagine the man being responsible for leading a cult and planning the murders of nine people,” said Tom Stiles, general manager of the MEDC, the leasing organization of the former West Virginia State Penitentiary.

Stiles adds, “Over the last 26 years the MEDC has grown the tourism industry in Moundsville by offering both day time tours and paranormal events at the prison. A copy of the Manson letter is one of the many items in the Museum that visitors see when they arrive for a tour. The letter is actually a copy. The original is locked up, as early on a film group ‘borrowed’ the copy that was on display, taking it with them when they returned to California. We contacted them about the missing document and they promptly returned it, so we are very careful to keep the original under lock and key.

“The letter and many other fascinating artifacts can be seen in the Museum of the Penitentiary Tuesday through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., through the end of this month, and on weekends in December,” Stiles said.

I have yet another matter which involved to an extent Manson and Warden Bordenkircher. It, too, was in 1983.

Since Warden Bordenkircher had formerly been employed by the California Division of Corrections, I asked him if he could possibility arrange an interview with Manson, as I had already arranged a West Virginia Air National Guard flight from Charleston westward with stopovers (out and back) at Travis Air Force Base. It just so happened that the base is 10 miles from Vacaville, Calif., which was my destination.

Bordenkircher made contact with corrections officials at the Vacaville Prison, who were willing to permit an interview, if Manson agreed.

As it turned out, a few days prior to my departure, Manson got into some trouble and as a result the interview never came about, but I did tour the Vacaville Prison while I was there.

By the way, if you have a book written by Jonathan D. Clemins about the WVP, it contains a photograph of Manson and the letters to Warden Bordenkircher.

Spoke recently with Charles (CJ) Plogger, who said that he is planning to write a couple of new books pertaining to the former West Virginia Penitentiary. One of the books will be in-depth and will take a few years, as he will be going through files at the Moundsville/Marshall County Public Library.

Donna Ulisse will return to the Strand Theatre Moundsville on Saturday to perform her landmark Christmas CD, “All the Way to Bethlehem.”

She wrote the entire album, which tells the story of the birth of Christ from the perspective of all of the characters in the greatest story every told.

After the intermission, she will return to the stage and perform some of her bluegrass hits.

Advance tickets are available through Jerry Andrews at 304-281-5776, and will also be available at the door.

As a songwriter she has had songs recorded by several bluegrass artists.

Beginning Monday and continue through Dec. 29 motorists in Moundsville will not have to “feed” the meters. The lone exception will be in the vicinity of the courthouse, Tomlinson and Court Avenues and Seventh Street.