Prison Was Site for Sports, Entertainment for Many Years

For those who grew up in Moundsville there was something that others places didn’t have — a maximum security state penitentiary.

The prison over the years provided much to the economy of the city through jobs, items purchased from local businesses which were necessary to operate the facility, etc.

In addition, inmates provided entertainment events to which the public could attend. In my case, it was sporting events.

When I was a teenager there was no television and on a Summer afternoon that you couldn’t make it to Pittsburgh for a Pirate game, your next best thing was to go see a Red Sox game — a Prison Red Sox game. You not only got to see a baseball game, but the Prison Band provided music for an hour before the first pitch.

You entered the baseball field from the south wagon gate (11the Street). If you went to a boxing match, a musical performance or other attraction, you went through “The Wheelhouse,” which is still in operation, although you have to operate it by hand rather than by pushing a button.

Going inside the walls wasn’t something that the locals ever seemed to be afraid of. In fact, some of the better basketball players would go “inside” to play basketball, and would you believe that some outsiders would even get their hair cut by an inmate barber?

My second encounter dealing with the “Big House” was when I became a journalist and for some 35 years it was my beat. I even had a press card issued by Warden Don Bordenkircher, which would permit me to go from the front gate to his office without an escort.

I could have probably written a book about the prison, however, thank goodness, there are other individuals who are doing just that.

The doors of the prison closed after more than a century, and within the walls there are many stories which is what people want to hear, and that is why hundreds of people come to the institution on a yearly basis to see for themselves what it was like.

Of course, people also are interested in haunted things and the prison provides that also, not only at Halloween but throughout the year.

Although the pen has been closed for 24 1/2 years, I haven’t lost touch with the prison as I have attended numerous events at the Training Center.

Now it is time to bring you to the present time.

It was this past week that I became a member of the board of the Moundsville Economic Development Council Inc.

The primary objective of this Corporation is to seek out and develop methods to revitalize the business atmosphere of the city of Moundsville, for the purpose of bringing social, cultural, and economic growth to the community.

It is an honor to have been selected to this board, all the members of which I have known for years. The majority of them have served on the board for more than 20 years.

The board of directors consists of 12 individuals, and two advisory council members, one of representing Moundsville City Council (David Wood) and the other representing the West Virginia Department Of Corrections (Pat Morandi).

Holdover members include President Gary Crippen, Vice President Rosalyn Rhodes, Aecretary Karen Baker, Treasurer Hilda Blake, Sondra Hewitt, Richard King, Mike Logsdon and Sid Grisell, president emeritus.

The four new members are George Bamberger, Howard Coffield, Beth Phillips and myself.

Tom Stiles, who started out as tour guide, is the new manager while Amanda Wolverton is the office manager. Bob Straub is the financial advisor.


While on the subject of history, The Marshall County Historical Society will host an Open House at its museum at 13th Street and Lockwood Avenue, Moundsville, from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Oct. 19.

Those attending will have the opportunity to tour the newly refurbished museum with new display cases and many new items donated over the past couple of years, including several pieces from Valley Farm.

The museum houses many Marshall County artifacts, historic books, and a large genealogy collection.

Refreshments will be provided and a special drawing will take place.


Shepherd’s Pantry of Marshall County, previously known as the House of the Carpenter II, is inviting the public to Perkins Restaurant & Bakery in Moundsville, from 4:30-8:30 p.m. on Oct 15 for a “Dine to Donate” event.

The fundraiser will help the non-profit ministry to fill food bags on a weekly basis.

According to Patty Holden, the need for food has been increasing each week.

In addition to food, the pantry also provides clothing at no cost from 4:30-8:30 p.m. on Oct. 15.

Persons must have a coupon for the 20 percent donation with coupons available by calling 304-221-9510 or they can stop at the back door at 601 Jefferson Avenue between 7:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday.


Members of the Marshall County Strings Program will be presenting their annual fall concert at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in the John Marshall High School Center for Performing Arts.

The concert will feature 180 middle and high school students, all dressed in festive costumes and performing a variety of music including Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” along with themes from the opera, “Carmen.”

The concert is free and open to the public. Donations will be accepted.


Beginning Tuesday, the Division of Motor Vehicles window in the Marshall County Courthouse will be open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursday, excluding holidays. The hours will be 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. Most recently the window has been open only on Wednesdays.


More than 400 Marshall County individuals will be participating this week in National 4-H Week.

4-H, the nation’s largest youth development and empowerment organization, cultivates confident kids who tackle the issues that matter most in their communities.

Marshall County has more than 300 members, while volunteers number 90.

The theme of this year’s National 4-H Week is “Inspire Kids to Do,” which highlights how 4-H encourages kids to take part in hands-on learning experiences in areas such as health, science, agriculture and civic engagement.

The positive environment provided by 4-H mentors ensures that kids in every county and parish in the country — from urban neighborhoods to suburban school yards to rural farming communities — are encouraged to take on proactive leadership roles and are empowered with the skills to lead in life and career.

One of the most anticipated events is 4-H National Youth Science Day, which sees hundreds of thousands of youth across the nation taking part inn the world’s largest youth-led STEM challenge The theme for this year’s challenge is “Game Changers,” which will run throughout October.


The Marshall County Family Resource Network will hold its general membership meeting at 11 a.m. Tuesday in the meeting room at the Sleep Inn and Suites located at 6 Wal-Mart Drive, Moundsville.

The meeting is a way to share information and to learn about activities and programs going on 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 to the group. Call (304) 845-3300 or e-mail marshallcountyfrn@comcast.net to RSVP.


The deadline to make reservations for the John Marshall High School Wall of Fame banquet has been extended until Wednesday by calling WOF chair Joseph Komorowski at 304-845-3403.

The event will take place on Oct. 19 at the Moundsville Country Club, with the meal to be served at 4 p.m.

Bill Chaikowsky, S/Sgt Ryan Hammond (deceased) and Rocky Young (deceased) will be honored.


The Marshall County Health Department has announced Clinics and Programs planned for October. The schedule is as follows:

Immunization clinics on Oct. 7, 21 and 28 from 9-11 a.m., and 1-4 p.m. All regular childhood and back-to-school immunizations, including childhood seasonal flu vaccination. Call 304-845-7940 for appointment.

PPD (TB) Skin Testing Clinic on Oct. 7, 21 and 28 from 9-11 a.m., and from 1-4 p.m. PPD skin testing for exposure to TB. Appointments are not necessary. STD and HIV Testing Clinic (free and confidential testing) available on a regular basis. Call for an appointment (304-845-7840) and ask for a nurse.

Seasonal Flu Vaccination Clinics on Mondays from 9-11 a.m.,, and 1-4 p.m. Seasonal flu shots are being offered for anyone 6 months of age and older. Off-site flu clinics for businesses and organizations are available by appointment. Call (304)-856-7840.

The Health Department will be closed on Oct. 14 in observance of Columbus Day.


A presentation titled, “The People Between: An Indigenous Perspective On Ohio Valley History” will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday the Moundsville-Marshall County Public Library, 700 Fifth St., Moundsville.

It will be an overview of the histories and cultures of the native people of the Upper Ohio Valley, with Travis Henline as presenter.

Fascinating facts from the past will be presented for adults and older students.


The Salvation Army in Moundsville, which serves individuals residing in Marshall, Wetzel and Tyler counties, has announced dates for Christmas assistance as follows:

The Marshall County sign-ups will be held at the Salvation Army headquarters located at Seventh Street and Jefferson Avenue. The dates for sign-ups being Oct. 7, 9 and 11 from 9 a.m. until noon, and 1-4 p.m., and Oct. 8 and 10, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.

The Wetzel County sign-ups will be at the former Radio Shack building at 416 North State Route 2 New Martinsville. Applications will be Oct. 21-25, the hours being 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.

The Tyler County sign-ups will be at the Sistersville Volunteer Fire Department from Oct. 28 through Nov. 1, the hours being 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.

At all three locations the person representing the signees must bring a picture ID, proof of all income in the household, proof of all expenses (bills), birth certificate/medical card, proof of guardianship.


“ABC’s of Christmas” will be the theme of this years Moundsville Christmas Parade to be held at 6 p.m. on Nov. 23.

The three letters stand for “Always Believe In Christmas.” The winning theme was submitted by Julie Magers, a student at Washington Lands Elementary School.


Tickets to the annual dinner of the Marshall County Chamber of Commerce will available through Monday. The event will take place Thursday evening at the Training Center within the walls of the former West Virginia Penitentiary

Speaking of the Marshall County Chamber of Commerce, its annual dinner will be Thursday at the Training Center within the walls of the former West Virginia Penitentiary. The speaker will be Jim Crutchfield who began his basketball coaching 26 years ago, with his first job being at Cameron High School.


A Moundsville High School reunion planning meeting will take place at 7 p.m. Monday at the First Presbyterian Church, at Third Street and Baker Avenue, and to which any interested parties are welcome.

MHS alumni have been holding reunion events every five years, with the next one to be held Labor Day Weekend of 2020. All of the activities will take place at the former West Virginia Penitentiary.

Lexie Riggs Hanket, Class of 1960, is the secretary of the reunion committee.


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