(12/17/2002)
By Alvin Engelke

There will be a benefit auction Saturday January 4 starting at 6 P. M. at the Creston Community Building, weather permitting. There will be all sorts of goodies, grab bags, 50/50, etc. One can come and tell what Santa brought you and comment about all your "New Year's Resolutions". Proceeds go to maintain the building. Everyone is invited.

The big news locally is the Mead/Westvaco sale. A limited liability company called The Forestland Group paid $50 million for the Westvaco properties in the area. A search of the firm's website gives little in the way of clues as to who the actual owners and investors may be although one Westvaco official took offence when Chinese drug syndicates were mentioned. Of course many will remember Bill & Hillary Clintons' friends at the Lippo Group, as an example. The Forestland Group reports that it owns 600,000 acres in several states ranging from Texas to Upper Michigan and New England.

The properties in Wirt County fetched over $22.5 million or just over $500/acre which should be a benchmark for the value of land. Much of the land was purchased for $10/acre. Some years back (before the Legislature passed a law providing a tax break for large out of state owners) a local taxpayer asked an agent from the state tax department why his land was valued for tax purposes at 10 times the rate given Westvaco. The little bureaucrat condescendingly replied, "Well, you bought your land to make a profit!" Local officials did not know, at that time, that they could have sent the state man packing and that his values were only "suggestions".

Rev. S. E. Cooper, Jr. has been a patient in the hospital.

Nancy June Hall returned from visiting her son and his family in Nevada. She reported having a great trip but was glad to be home.

For the first time in quite a while the local area received enough rain to put a raise in the river. It even got over some of the low bottoms. Then it snowed a little more but turned warm and the snow melted. The wet weather has been causing rock slides, etc.

Ron Balfour who lives on part of the former T. R. Boggs farm on the ridge at the head of Rock Camp participated in building wood toys for the Salvation Army to give to needy children. He and his co workers had a nice write up along with a photograph in The Parkersburg News.

Several of the younger set are excited, trying to be good, and looking for plump fellows who wear red suits, have white beards, etc. An e-mail report noted that Santa Claus was overworked this year and would have his cousin Bubba Claus work this area. Bubba's sleigh is pulled by 'coon dogs, named Earnhart, Petty, etc. and Bubba doesn't smoke a pipe, he rubs snuff, preferably Copenhagen.

Jane, Nancy & Alvin Engelke, Kathy & Keith Collins and Joyce Edwards were on hand Saturday to see Anna Engelke graduate from Fairmont State College. To say the event was unusual would be an understatement. The "speaker" was former congressman and W. Va. Secretary of State Ken Hechler who sang along with a fellow who was introduced as a W. Va. native from Marion County. Older residents may remember that out of state interests fetched Hechler here from New York so they would have another vote in the Congress. The thought police will not allow one to speak of some of the things Hechler did and the opinion one had of what was in the "song" which he said he wrote. When one of the regent's degree candidate's name was read a group shouted, "It's about time" and cowbells were rung for others in the list.


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