By Bob Weaver

We almost forgot to check our 2003 predictions. It is never too late.

The best we can cipher, we batted 100 in 2003.


We saw these things coming to pass on a quarter moon night, sitting on the mossy rock at the head of Salvation Hollow with little Billy Braveheart and and the Ghost of Reason Kerby:

The Appalachian Regional Commission will be ordered by Congress to direct all their resources toward helping the 50 poorest counties (in their 406 county domain) toward developing infrastructure and jobs, after they have spent most of their money helping develop cities like Pittsburgh in the past 35 years.

Since highways are essential to jobs, the government will shift some millions from foreign aid to construct modern two, three and four lane connectors across the rural counties in West Virginia.

Lewis Slider will have his annual "swearing in" ceremony on the deck of his house at Hur, validating his "Mayor for Life" resolution passed by the Hur Council for Social Improvement and Upward Mobility a few years ago. The village's only police officer, his wife Dottie, did the honors in the presence of her horse.

The State Ethics Commission will be abolished and replaced by a seven-person Civilian Enforcement Panel that will have the authority to try and convict government officials when they appoint family members to be presidents of colleges, sell golf courses to the state, pay their mothers to raise greyhounds, or the like.

Elected officials who have been convicted twice, will suffer Two Strikes Out and be ordered to restore the logging roads in Blackwater Canyon and mountaintop removal sites by hand and shovel.

Former Senator and education expert Lloyd Jackson, will become President of the State Board of Education and will continue school consolidation, building the Mountaineer Central Regional School on a 300-acre site beside the Central Regional Jail in Flatwoods at a cost of $1 billion, with students from 18 counties being bused to the facility. Jackson is quoted as saying small community based schools create an image of poverty and "Big schools impress the kids and parents," Besides, it will save millions.

Pork Chop Booth will be ordered by a federal judge to be on permanent call for flood clean-up in West Virginia, scrubbing school desks and cafeteria equipment.

All State Board of Education officials will be required to attend a one year course on "Bone-Head Ethics for Smart People" before they can be employed by West Virginia. If they're caught looking cross-eyed, they'll get a wooden paddle across the fingers, delivered by the governor. The same zero tolerance policy used on students will be used on officials. First mess up, they will be bused to Blackwater Canyon and mountain top removal sites with a shovel for restoration work.

The annual "Hunkerin' Ed Cooper Memorial Hunkering" will be postponed this year, allowing participants to get a little more limber.

North Korea will drop a nuclear bomb on South Korea and American forces stationed in the area, while we are at war with Iraq, who does not possess the bomb but has lots of oil.

Don Blankenship, CEO of Massey Coal, will decline his multi-million dollar salary and benefit package and become one of West Virginia's last 25 coal miners, all to be replaced by mountaintop removal machinery. The coal industry will have the miner removed from the state's coal miner memorial on the capitol lawn, and replaced with a braided 500' drag-line which will stretch from the top of the statue across the Kanawha River. It will draw huge crowds of tourists and artists.

The German conglomerate that paid several billions for one-fourth of West Virginia's water customers, will announce a public relations program, selling water for $2 a gallon on the courthouse steps of all county seats. The PSC will say its legal.

The West Virginia Legislature will have their first annual "Coming Out Day," with nearly all the house and senate leadership finally declaring they are Republicans.

Governor Wise will begin a public relations program announcing the closure of plants and the loss of jobs. He will fly in the state chopper and re-tie all the ribbons Gov. Underwood cut and serve a nice lunch to the unemployed.

The new owners of Mead-Westvaco will face up to their corporate responsibility and voluntarily pay $1.50 an acre on land they own in Wirt County.

The Calhoun Commission will be excused from paying seven new mandates by the State of West Virginia, because "We desire to preserve rural life."

Several U. S. states will ask Mexico, China and several foreign countries for loans, since business, industry and jobs have been "free traded" abroad, leaving no tax base except those employed by WalMart, fast food establishments and a few government employees.

The state will be declared an "Insurance Free Zone" since all insurance companies have held the state hostage or left. All settlements will become cash transactions between the principal parties, with a $500 limit.

Charleston lawyers who were paid $57 million by the state of West Virginia for services and settlements will be loaded on thirty-seven buses, without their golf clubs, taken to urban areas and ordered to provide free legal services to inner-city poor folks.

Physicians who walked out on their patients will be required to work one day a week at free HealthRight clinics.

Tort reform will require physicians in Wheeling who left clamps inside a patient after surgery and sliced through a stomach wall killing a woman, to bow humbly and apologize to the deceased's family.

The West Virginia State Police, after millions and millions of dollars in lawsuits and settlements (taxpayer funded), endless court cases and sending their own to prison, will give their conflict of interest lab to an independent group and help establish a Civilian Review Board.

The West Virginia State Police will continue to ignore the West Virginia Legislature, define their own benefits and firm up their unionization, and re-name their agency the "West Virginia Supreme Police." Starting July 1 they will work 32 hours a week and be able to retire at age 37. A court will declare they can leave the rotunda and enter the legislative chambers in uniform to "educate the legislature to better preserve and protect." When rebuffed, they will threaten to provide information to the media on bad boy behavior of certain legislators.

Local State Troopers will apologize for violating the constitutional rights of The Hur Herald in photographing and covering plain view scenes, and say they're sorry for being intimidating and yelling illegal orders. They will begin to release information to the public regarding their activities, and respond to Freedom of Information requests. They will apologize to the public for their bad behavior and make a fresh start.

The West Virginia Coal Association will hire a Jeffery Hunter, Jesus look-a-like to replace WVU Coach Don Nehlen as their spokesperson. The TV ads featuring coal mining families around the supper table begrudging their plight, will be visited by "Jesus" who says "Never fear, I am the way, the truth and the light - I own the mountains, and these good coal people are my humble servants."

With a short-fall in revenue, West Virginia will modify its laws and establish the the "Free Range Sports ATV and Sports Utility Program." For $100 annually, you can drive anywhere without seat belts or helmets, with speed limits up to 85 miles an hour. The program is expected to balance the state budget.

A cloud came across the quarter-moon and the sky darkened, and old Reason said it was time for him to go.

Little Billy Braveheart said "Please, Uncle Reason, tell us some more."

"Life is full of the unexpected, the unexpected, the unexpected," said Reason ever so softly, as this ghostly presence lifted skyward from Salvation Hollow. "But I'll return if you come back for me....."