Marshall County Santa Claus Hands Over the Reins

Hopefully, the ”new” Marshall County Santa tonight will not miss dropping off gifts to all the area youngsters!

For the past 43 years, Glen Dale resident Joe Blair has been a Santa Claus, but early this year he decided to hang up his Santa suit, thus turning over his Christmas chores to some younger Santas.

Blair has provided these individuals with his lists of youngsters, and with the help of The House of the Carpenter II, the Salvation Army and other agencies, all the youngsters will be receiving gifts. I know for a fact that The House of the Carpenter II and the Salvation Army completed their duties this past week so they could have a nice Christmas with their families.

Getting back to Blair, he was planning on being a Santa for a couple of more years, but after consulting with his morning breakfast group, he decided maybe it was time to retire.

His last official act, at least for this year, was being Santa for the annual city of Glen Dale Light Up Night.

How did Blair become a Santa? Well it came about when Jack Gould decided he needed to go deer hunting in the mountains and he asked Blair if he would substitute for him, being Santa in the Moundsville Christmas Parade, and also, for the Mercantile Bank’s employees’ Christmas Party.

Blair said he never took any type of training, but he did watch some videos of Santa with children.

During the 43-year period, Blair said he missed only two years as being Santa Claus in the Moundsville Christmas Parade.

Blair stated that being Santa was a family affair with his wife Cathy driving him to different functions. He added, ”Cathy enjoyed going to the these events just as much as I did. She would even volunteer me to go to different Christmas events.

”As you might expect, in addition to the Moundsville Christmas parades, we went to churches, schools, hospitals and to people’s homes,” Blair said.

He said, ”One of the most memorable in all my 43 years was going to a home of a young boy who had been diagnosed terminally and they asked me to read a card from a relative giving the family a two-week’s stay at Disney World.” Blair said that young man recovered and is now married with a family of his own.

Another touching appearance took place at a Christmas Eve service at the Glen Dale United Methodist Church. He said, ”The minister asked me to dress up in my Santa suit and during the service come to the church, kneel at the altar, get up and leave without staying a word.”

Just like his predecessor Blair never accepted any money for making an appearance, instead, should someone offer him money, he would tell them to give it to a charity of their choice or to a needy family.

Nancy Yoho was employed as secretary/administrative assistant for 19 1/2 years at the Moundsville Salvation Army, however. this past June she was elevated as the MSA’s service center director which means her duties have changed, especially during the Christmas season.

Among the Christmas tasks, including manning the office, are the recruiting of kettle workers (paid individuals and volunteers), being responsible for getting the kettles to a particular site, and picking up the kettles at the end of the day from locations in Moundsville and New Martinsville, counting the money from the kettles each day, the distribution of food and toys to residents of Marshall and Tyler counties, getting food to Wetzel County residents, and working with the Salvation Army Auxiliary with their stuffed bears and stocking projects. The Salvation Army also has Angel Trees in Moundsville and New Martinsville, the latter involves individuals providing clothing for youngsters in need.

In the past, these these duties were the responsibility of the officer-in-charge, however, since this past June there is no longer an officer assigned to the Moundsville Salvation Army, and instead of answering to Divisional Headquarters in Baltimore, Md., the Moundsville Service Center is overseen by the Wheeling Salvation Army Corps.

Getting back to the red kettle project, Yoho had hoped to have kettles at some 10 locations in Moundsville and New Martinsville, but because of the lack of workers, paid and volunteers, on some days all of the locations could not be manned. Yoho noted that although she had seven workers she could count on, she would have liked to have twice that many.

The good news is that despite the shortage of kettle workers, once the kettles in Moundsville and New Martinsville were counted last night, the figure should be in the $40,000 range.

All the money collected from the kettles in the three counties will assist families not only at Christmas, but throughout the year.

The Mound City Band will be performing holiday music at 3 p.m. Friday at Mound View Health Care and at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Golden Towers. The band is made up of 25 local students and adults. Both programs are free to the public.The Mound City Band has performed continuously for 58 years.

Anyone wishing more information can call 304-845-3403.

Allen Hendershot will have had the distinction of being the first person to have held three key positions in the city — police chief, city manager and now mayor — as Jan. 1.

Hendershot served as police chief for nine years (he had 27 years as a police officer), nine years as city manager, Of course, for the past three years he has been a councilman.

Hendershot said he is looking forward to assuming his new duties, and believes that the city of Moundsville has a bright future.

The new mayor is hopeful the city will move forward in many areas, including recreation. He said, ”For a city our size we have a lot to offer in the way of recreation.” He added, ”I believe new recreation director Rico Coville will do a good job.”

Outgoing Moundsville Mayor Eugene Saunders Sr., dropped off his bi-monthly mayor’s report this past Wednesday, and among items which had been addressed at the most recent council meeting were:

The employment of Rico Coville as Parks and Recreation Director. ”He has had more than 20 years experience and a recreation director and is looking forward to making our Parks and Recreation Department a better department,” Saunders stated. He added that the city manager (Deanna Hess) is responsible for making such an employment.

Saunders said, ”Council approved the moving of the pool’s dextron (humidifier) from the inside roof at Four Seasons Pool to a location outside the building. The city manager also informed council that a water heater and a water pump were needed for Four Seasons.”

Saunders also stated that Brad Varlas had been appointed to the Moundsville Water Board. Also, that council approved this Tuesday as a city holiday.

The winners of the city’s Christmas House Decorating contest were announced as follows: Ted Hanket, first place; Michelle Markey, second place; and Craig Fullerton, third place.

Saunders concluded by stating, ”My term as mayor will end on Dec. 31, and I am writing this article with mixed emotions. I would like to thank mouncil and the citizens of Moundsville for their support. It has been an honor and pleasure being your Mayor. My wife, Ellen and I would like to wash all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”

Saunders’ term as a member of council concludes on Dec. 31, 2020.

West Virginia University’s Extension Service’s most requested publication, the Garden Calendar, is available at the WVU/Marshall County office.

The free calendar highlights 12 months of healthy habits and gardening tips.

The gardening guide offers information helpful to both beginning and avid gardeners. It provides day-to-day planting and harvesting reminders with notes ranging from tips on when to plan a garden layout to when to mulch roses.

Each month the calendar features a short article on a novel or problematic topic. An extra bonus is the Extension Experts page which gives leads on finding inexpensive mulch, tips about feeding trees and other gardening insights.

A few recipe cards have been added at the end of the calendar as well.

Calendars can be pickup up at the Marshall County Extension Service office, 126 Barn Drive (Eastern Fourth), or by calling the office at 304-843-1170 to reserve a calendar.

A two-hour pesticide recertification training session will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Marshall County Extension office. It will be an opportunity for private applicators to gain required hours to keep their certifications current.

Those planning to attend are to call or email to David Shipman at 304-843-1170 at the West Virginia University/Marshall County Extension office. Shipman’s email is

The Marshall County Family Resource Network (FRN) will hold its General Membership meeting at 11 a.m. on Jan. 9 at the FRN’s office building at 1501 Second St., Moundsville.

This meeting is a way to share information and to learn about activities and programs in the community. Each member will have an opportunity to briefly discuss their organization.

Those attending are to bring their business cards and any materials they would like to distribute. Those planning to attend are asked to call 304-845-3300 or email to to RSVP.

The next Marshall County Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours will be held from 5-7 p.m. on Jan. 25 at John Marshall High School to be hosted by JMHS and West Virginia Northern Community College.

Also, on Jan. 25 the Marshall County Farmers Market will hold an open meeting for all local producers interested in participating in the market during the 2018 season.

The meeting to be held 6:30 p.m. at the extension office will provide more details on the SNAP program and other opportunities for producers that wish to participate in the MCF Market.

A covered dish dinner will be held during the meeting.

For more information, call David Shipman 304-843-1170 at the West Virginia/Marshall County Extension Service office. Also Shipman can be emailed at

Both the Marshall County Courthouse and the Marshall County Health Department will be closed on Christmas Day along with Tuesday, Dec. 26.

The Marshall County Commission on Tuesday had a quick meeting, 14 minutes to be exact. Among topics undertaken being the approval of $6,000 to the Ohio Valley Soap Box Derby, along with money for the purchase of a time clock for the Emergency Management System in Cameron.

In the “it’s a small world category,” I failed to mention in last week’s column that I met a couple from the Ohio Valley at church in Alexandria, Va. They were Doug and Louise Anderson, former residents of Wheeling.

Merry Christmas to everyone.