‘Pittsburgh Dad’ To Be Speaker for Chamber Dinner

Curt Wootton will be the speaker for the annual Marshall County Chamber of Commerce dinner, to be held on Oct. 4 at the Training Center within the walls of the former West Virginia Penitentiary.

Wootton is better known as “Pittsburgh Dad.”

“Pittsburgh Dad” is an online series of short films featuring the observations of a “blue-collar” father from Pittsburgh who speaks with a thick Pittsburghese dialect.

The Internet show was created by Chris Prekesta and Wootton.

Prekesta, a film maker who is a native of Munhall, Pa., and a graduate of Point Park University in Pittsburgh, is the director.

Wootton, a native of Greensburg, Pa., graduated from West Virginia University. He is the “Pittsburgh Dad.”

C.J. Plogger will be the speaker from noon until 1 p.m. Thursday at the Cockayne Farmstead in Glen Dale of the Summer Series “Hungry for History.”

Plogger has authored books dealing with the transformation that took place at the West Virginia Penitentiary.

Two of his books are “Pronounced Dead: The Executions at the West Virginia Penitentiary” and “Life at the West Virginia Pentitentiary,” the story of Maggie Gray, the first female correctional officer at the male institition.

The books present the daily actvities and significant events that helped to shape the penitentiary into one of the most violent penal institutions in the United States.

Plogger is a guide for the Moundsville Economic Development Council, which offers tours throughout the building which used to be known by locals as the “Big House.”

Refreshments will be provided by the Cockayne Farmstead. The program is free and open to the public. Those attending may also bring their lunch if they so desire.

Programs for the last Thursdays of the months of September,October, November and December at the Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex will be:

James Tomasek, a park ranger for the National Park Service will present a program titled, “New Light on an Old Fort” on Sept. 27 It will be about the battle of Fort Necessity, which took place on July 3, 1754. It was the beginning of a global confrontation between England and France known as the French and Indian War, and the Seven Years’ War elsewhere in the world. The fort became the location of the first major event in George Washington’s public career, and the only place where Washington surrendered to an enemy. The program will offer new ways to intrpret this historic site through archaeological excavations, expanding what is known about events at this location beyond the written record.

The West Virginia Archaeology Month Program for Oct. 25 will be titled, “Ice Age Settlers: Colonization, Technology, and Material Culture,” to be presented by Joseph Gingerich, PhD, an assistant professor of anthropology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Ohio University.

The program will be an overview of early colonization of North America by hunter-gatherers during the last Ice Age. The program will examine widely distributed evidence of human presence on the continet 13,000 years ago. Evidence from archaeological sites in the eastern United States will be presented in a discussion of the technology and material culture of these early groups and to compare similarities in their lifestyles.

November is Native American Heritage Month and its program will be presented by Doug Wood, cultural and national history educator, and retired ecologist. During the French and Indian War, Ostenaco (ca. 1703-1780) was a leader of Cherokee warriors who allied with Virginia military leaders against northern tribes fighting with the French. His leadership provided a vital alliance for the British colonial settlement and expansion of English-speaking people into much of present West Virginia. This presentation is a “History Alive!” program organized by the West Virginia Humanities Council and and consists of a monologue presented in character, audience discussion with the character, and audience discussion with the presenter after he breaks character.

The film, “Davis Bottom: Rare History, Valuable Live,” is the title of the Dec. 27 program. When a highway project cut through the small, working-class neighborhood known as Davis Bottom, historic research, oral histories and archaeology were called on to preserve its history. Established in 1865, this community near Lexington, Ky., has been remarkable for the diversity of its people from its founding to the present day. This project was made possible by the Federal Highway Administration and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

Among items addressed at a recent meeting of the Marshall County Commission were:

A request of $6,000 to the Ladies League of Marshall County for the second annual Cinderella Project, which provides prom dresses and accessories to junior and senior girls from Marshall County, and the Tim Tebow’s Night to Shine Prom for Special Needs persons was approved.

John McKee was moved from part-time paramedic to full-time paramedic. Also, Trent Estep was approved as a part-time EMT

A film crew was in the area recently for a movie titled, “Manson Bloodline,” which be released in 2019 on a yet-to-be-announced television program.

It will be a four-part, two-hour documentary about Charles Manson, who lived in McMechen during a part of his youth.

Like most films shot in Marshall County, the former West Virginia Penitentiary was used.

The rest of the local shootings took place in the gymnasium of the old Bishop Donahue High School, where citizens of McMechen who might have known Manson were asked to come and be interviewed.

Among the questions asked were, “Did you know Charles Manson,” and “What kind of a kid was he?”

Those doing the interviews were younger people, and they weren’t aware that in the time period of Manson’s youth the kids pretty much stayed in their own neighborhoods. Thus, if you didn’t live in that particular area, you didn’t know a person very well.

In case you don’t remember last week’s column, much of it dealt with the Strand Theatre.

Well sometimes space becomes an issue, and thus you have to cut it off someplace, so I’m going to share some of that holdover information in this column.

On Nov. 15 the Strand Theatre will observe its 98th birthday.

It was on that date in 1920 that the Strand opened opened its doors and began a run of many years of providing entertainment to the residents of Moundsville and the surrounding areas.

Originally built as a Vaudeville theater, the Strand brought to life the stars of the silver screen.

Until the lights were dimmed for the final time in 1996, the Strand was an integal part of the lives of those who made Moundsville their home.

Through the untiring efforts of a group of volunteers, the Strand Theatre once again became a source of pride to the area.

It was in 1999 that then Marshall County Chamber of Commerce executive director Dave Knuth brought the matter before members of the Chamber board, and others might be interested in assisting with such an undertaking.

Things began taking shape when an architect and Knuth were walking along Jefferson Avenue, and the architect told Knuth that he believed it could be renovated.

A survey was taken of many of the town’s people, which included the types of entertainment they would support if indeed it became reality.

Of course, the next step would be to purchase the building, and where the money would come from to make this transaction.

Other matters addressed included were the creation a corporation allowing the organization (the Strand Theatre Preservation Society) to seek grant funding.which would enable monies to be able to go toward this undertaking.

With funding available the exterior of the building was the first undertaking, this phase of restoration included a new roof and the repair of the box gutters and rainwater leaders. Next the brick was chemically cleaned and re-pointed, bringing it back to its yellow luster.

In the spring of 2005, work began on the repair or replacement of the windows and doors, and the restoration of the original exterior emergency stairs. Additionally, all decorative metal work and trim was repaired and painted. A replica of the orginal marquee was put place, completing the face-lift of the theatre itself.

The Strand reopened Aug. 20, 2011.

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