Penitentiary in the Running for ‘Best Haunted Destination’ 2019

The former West Virginia Penitentiary has been nominated as a Best Haunted Destination 2019 by USA Today’s 10Best.

The Moundsville Economic Development Council (MEDC), which oversees the operation of the former WVP, is hoping that it receives a sufficient number of votes to receive the honor of top Best Haunted Destination.

Votes can be cast once a day through the end of the contest which is noon on Aug. 26.

“We are absolutely thrilled to be nominated. This is certainly an honor,” said Tom Stiles, executive director of the MEDC.

Stiles states, “In 1996, the MEDC began providing tours of the abandoned prison and have built the facility into a major tourist destination in the tri-state region. For 23 years we have been offering day tours, and although paranormal events didn’t begin until 2001, it has proved to be a huge draw for us.”

Stiles added, “People are intrigued by the history of the place, they are captivated by the mystery.”

The MEDC director points out that each year the gothic structure sees an increase in the number of paranormal visitations in addition to the widely popular “Dungeon Of Horrors” haunted house which takes place in the fall.

As to Stiles, he began his career at the penitentiary as a guide and describes the growth of paranormal business. “We began with overnight investigations after MTV released the pilot of the series ‘FEAR.’ We showed clips of the episode, served pizza and then led visitors on a tour of the facility, but it was apparent very quickly that we needed to add more dates and more staff. We now offer four types of paranormal tours with thousands of people booking visits each year.

“We have a dedicated staff for paranormal events, and for the summer months we added a day tour called, ‘History, Mystery Monday,’ where visitors get to see some of the areas known to have the most paranormal activity.”

Stiles concluded, “Fans of the West Virginia Penitentiary can vote once a day now until Aug. 26 by going to USA Today’s website: www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-haunted-destination-2019/.

A description of the contest states: “The United States is filled with purportedly haunted locations, each with their own ghost stories and paranormal occurrences.”

It further states that the former penitentiary opened in 1876 and during the years between its opening and closing, which was 1995, the facility saw its fair share of turmoil from prison riots to executions.

As to the number of facilities seeking the top honor, that figure is 19, with West Virginia being one of three states with multiple entries. In addition to West Virginia, other states with entries are Arizona, California (3) Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nevada, Ohio (2) and Pennsylvania (2)

The winning places will be announced on 10Best on Sept. 6.

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While on the subject of the “Big House,” a term used by many Moundsville residents in referring to the penitentiary, members of the Moundsville Lions Club had the opportunity to listen to a presentation by C.J. Plogger recently.

Although he has lived in Moundsville for only some five years, the pastor of the Ash Avenue Church of God has not only been busy with his church work, but is a tour guide at the former prison, and has read countless newspapers (on microfilm), to learn about happenings at the Pen.

One area that he learned about was executions.

He not only has data about those who were executed, but also photographs of them.

One point that Plogger stressed is that hangings did not take place between the two doors of the North Wagon Gate, but at another location within the facility.

Gary Rider, the Lions Club president and an author of military books, said of Plogger’s book, “It is a fascinating book.”

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A weekend of fun will be taking place Friday and Saturday at St. Jude Park, Glen Dale, with both events to benefit the Kathy’s House Foundation.

On Friday night, there will be a Kathy’s House 5K Walk/Run at St. Jude Park, while Saturday night the second annual Kathy’s House Steak Fry will also be taking place at St. Jude Park.

In conjunction with the Friday night activity, 6-11 p.m., there will be a street fair consisting of food, inflatables, games and live entertainment.

There will be live music beginning at 4 p.m., Saturday, while the steak fry will begin at 6 p.m. The meal will consist of steak, potato, salad, roll and beverage.

Steak fry tickets are available by calling 304-650-4291 or at Wood Scraps, 245 Jefferson Ave., Moundsville.

Monies from both events will be used to secure and maintain a residence for individuals who need to spend a night at WVU/Reynolds Memorial Hospital in Glen Dale.

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The John Marshall Boys’ Golf team began the 2019 season Thursday with a veteran team.

While the team graduated captain Ryan Campbell, five letter winners return.

This year’s team will be led by three-year letter winners Cody Sprowls, Matthew Douglas and sophomore Mason Orndorff, and this trio is expected to be one through three under veteran coach Dave Gaudio and swing coach Gus Hanson.

Four players, Adam Miller, Cody Grall and Brandon Harrison and freshman Colton Sprowls are expected to view for varsity positions.

Sophomores Nick Sessums and Aiden Young will back up the top six on the roster.

The roster also includes four freshmen, Ty Cox, Alex Harbert, Quentin Richmond and Dylan Wood. The Monarchs’ schedule includes 18 varsity matches and 18 junior varsity matches.

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The John Marshall Girls’ Golf team will be entering its fourth season with some big shoes to fill, but with lots of potential. The Lady Monarchs graduated three seniors who laid the foundation for the team’s success. They were Clarissa Edgar, Avery Wood and Emily Nelson.

This year’s team will be led by junior Lakyn Parker, who placed 15th in a field of 52 who played in the WVSSAC’s first state sponsored tournament last fall.

Parker will be joined at the top of the lineup by sophomore Lauren Tekely, who finished 16th in the state tourney this past season.

Three other sophomore letter winners return, as well. They are Savannah Richards and twins April and Bethany Schaber. Bethany finished 23rd in the state tournament last year.

Newcomers on the team include senior Savannah Wood, sophomore Sydney Coss, and freshmen Megan Huff and Page Messner.

The JM girls’ team will play a full schedule of 18 matches that will include the team’s invitational tournament on Friday, at the site of this year’s state tournament at Mingo Bottom, this year’s Ohio Valley Athletics Girls’ Tournament at Fairways Riverside in Sardis.

John Marshall was the first school in West Virginia to field a full girls’ team in 2016. There are now five other schools.

Bridget Carnahan is the JM girl’s head coach, with assistance from boy’s head coach Dave Gaudino and swing coach Gus Hanson.

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Roger Simmons was named Tuesday as John Marshall High School athletic director. He replaces Robert Chavanak, who was recently named JMHS assistant principal.

Simmons is returning to JMHS, where he previously was a vocational education teacher and assistant baseball coach.

His most recent position was that of athletic director at Cameron High. That position has been posted and is slated to be filled at Tuesday’s regular board meeting.

A new employee is Sara Sherman, who will assume her duties as third-grade teacher at Center McMechen Elementary when schools in Marshall County open on Thursday.

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Some of the attractions at Grand Vue Park will have new hours starting on Aug. 19 and continue the following two weeks.

These are:

The pool, which will be open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4-8 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m.

The Aerial Park will be open from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Mondays. It will be available for private groups on Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursday.

Mini Golf will be open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4-8 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from noon until 8 p.m.

Flurry’s Ice Cream will be available from 4-8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and from noon until 8 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

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The West Virginia Oil & Natural Gas Association (WVONGA) this past week released a document pertaining to oil and natural gas production, which reached record levels in 2018, the 10th straight year of output increases, according to data from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

In oil production, Marshall County was the state’s largest oil producing county, with a 116% increase, from 1,347,636 barrels in 2017 to 2,914,000 barrels in 2018.

Ohio County is the state’s second leading oil producing county, tallying 2,362,026 barrels in 2018.

Rounding out the top 10 oil producing counties were Brooke (2,063,152 barrels), Tyler (1,399,594 barrels, Doddridge, Ritchie, Wetzel (640,790 barrels), Clay, Lincoln and Roane.

According to the DEP’s Office of Oil and Natural Gas production of natural gas last year rose to. 1.8 Tcf (trillion cubic feet) from 1.5 Tcf.

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Two new county employees were were hired at Tuesday’s Marshall County Commission meeting.

Shane Redd of Mozart will become a data collector in the office of Assessor Terry McDiffitt.

A new animal control employee is Jerry Wade.

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The 3rd annual Artisan Festival hosted by the Marshall County Historical Society will take place beginning at 10 a.m. on Aug. 17 at the Cockayne Farmstead, 1111 Wheeling Ave., Glen Dale.

The event will feature artisans in such trades as flint knapping and knives, blown glassware, pottery, handmade jewelry, photographs on slate, quilting, weaving and more.

Dixie’s Down Home Cooking Food Truck will be on site offering a variety of food choices.

Tours of the farmhouse will be ongoing as well as youth activities which will include Mickey Massey hosting her “bubbles, bubbles, bubbles” program.

Society members will teach youngsters how to play marbles, jacks and introduce a field of “turn of the century” farming techniques such as how to plant, shell and grind corn as well as instruct on other curiosities such as how their great-grandparents mowed the lawn or swept the floor in the Victorian age.

At 1 p.m., Jane Klug will present a “Brief History of Marshall County” in the Cockayne’s Visitors Center.

The public is invited to attend the festival and anyone wishing additional information can all the Farmstead at 304-845-1411.

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The Governing Board of Marshall County Public Service District No. 1, a public corporation and political subdivision of the State of West Virginia, has announced its meetings through the next 12 months.

The meetings will be open to the public and will be held at the office of Marshall County Public Service No. 1 in Sherrard, which is located on the west side of West Virginia Route 88. The post office address is 3537 Fairmont Pike Road, Wheeling, WV, 26003.

MCPSD No. 1 Manager Aaron M. Foster lists the following dates for the meetings, all of which will be on Thursdays at 6:30 p.m.:

Aug. 15, Sept. 12, Oct. 10, Nov. 14, Dec. 12, Jan. 9, Feb. 13, March 12, April 9, May 14, June 11 and July 9.

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Ashley Chanze, office manager of Taylor Shepherd-State Farm in Moundsville, was recently chosen as the Marshall County “Employee of the Month.”

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Actors are wanted for the annual Dungeon of Horrors at the former West Virginia Penitentiary in Moundsville. The dates are weekends starting Sept. 27 through Nov. 2.

Contact the WVP at www.wvpentours.com.

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JUST IN! As of Friday morning, the voting for the former WVP Best Haunted Destination had dropped from fifth to seventh place, which means everyone needs to get involved.

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Five granite slabs which include the names of 438 Marshall Countians whose deaths were military related are expected to arrive on Aug. 19 at the northeast corner of the Marshall County Courthouse, where they will become part of the Veterans Memorial Plaza.

Once the slabs are erected by workmen for JD&E contracting, they will be covered until a ceremony takes place in mid-September.

In addition to the slabs, the plaza will consist of four monuments, six benches and a fountain.

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