If the authorities in Marshall County are right, two small children living in an apartment there were in serious danger. They are safe now.
What happened last week is a reminder both of how seriously local residents take the welfare of children - and the importance of vigilance in watching out for them.
A Marshall County sheriff's deputy went to an apartment on a call unrelated to child welfare. But once there, he saw that a 18-month-old boy and a 4-year-old girl were living in allegedly deplorable - and potentially dangerous - conditions. The children were filthy, as was the apartment, the deputy reported.
Worse was that numerous prescription drugs were on the floor of the apartment. They were determined later to be muscle relaxant medicine. Had one of the children taken the pills, the result could have been tragic.
Either of the children's parents could have cleaned up the pills, not to mention the children and apartment, but they did not, the sheriff's department report states.
The children's mother, who was the only parent home at the time, was arrested and charged with felony child abuse. The children are being cared for in a safer environment.
One striking aspect of the case is that the parents already were being investigated by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services. In fact, later the same day the mother was arrested, a DHHR case worker went to the apartment with the deputy who made the arrest.
The fact that had the deputy not rescued the children, the DHHR probably would have is reassuring.
Still, the situation is a reminder of how easily children can be placed in danger by irresponsible parents and, again, of the need for unremitting attention to the welfare of area youngsters. So, a pat on the back for those involved in this case must, of sad necessity, be followed by a request to keep up the good work.