There are many ideas of what exactly defines a newspaper. Those ideas are as varied as the people picking it up and reading it. To some, a newspaper should be filled with investigative reports and expositions. Others want to see scandals, murder and mayhem. There are others who find comfort in reading about community events, births and weddings.
A newspaper should be a reflection of the market it serves. In a metropolitan area, press coverage would definitely be different than what a reader would find in a rural area. Mingo County is different in many aspects from our neighbors such as Charleston, Huntington or Morgantown. There is not even a comparison between our neck of the woods to urban jungles like New York, Chicago or Los Angeles.
It has been our goal each Friday for the past 10 years to celebrate what is to be Mingo County. Whether that celebration is a community festival or a Christmas parade or a police report or the latest developments in the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. It is a duty that we will continue to fulfill this Friday and next Friday and all the Fridays thereafter for years to come. That is as long as you, our readers, welcome us into your homes and lives. It is a duty that we do not take lightly. It is our honor to serve you.
A few years ago Mid-Atlantic Administrator Joe DeFleice of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) visited Williamson to designate the Williamson Housing Authority’s community resource center becoming one of a handful of EnVision Centers nationwide. During his speech he talked about his trip from Philadelphia to Williamson:
“I travel this region extensively. Williamson is probably the furthest point from Philadelphia (in his coverage area). There is a difference economically and culturally and geographically — you’re not going to get a direct flight from Philly to here.”
He is correct. Whether it is our distance between Point A and Point B or our slower pace of life, Mingo County is different from other places. We are a bit more relaxed and laid back. We are a community of people and family, not a community of buildings and numbers. We still stop and help fellow travelers who are broken down on the side of the road. We check in on our neighbors to make sure they are safe. We know our roots and ancestors. “Where are you from?” is not an insult but just a way of knowing more about you and your family ties.
Don’t get us wrong. We are not so naïve to think nothing bad ever happens here. We have crime and drug addiction and homelessness. We deal with our share of scandal, backroom deals and political intrigue; road rage and home invasions; and murder, arson, assault and robberies. Just not on the same scale, thankfully.
It is that very way of life we try to celebrate at the Mingo Messenger.
We tell the stories about our people in a manner that is informative and respectful. We featured Gilbert resident Lake Hopson when she celebrated her 100th birthday a few years ago. Then, when we needed some wisdom and a bit of sage advice about the COVID-19 pandemic, we once again turned to Lake. She was born during the aftermath of the Spanish flu pandemic and lived her childhood with all the contagious diseases that followed in its wake.
During times of civil unrest, we have told the stories of Jada Hunter and the late Zada Hairston. Jada has had a long career in the local education sector but had to fight too many prejudices. She filed petitions with the Department of Labor because she was qualified for a job in a county school but the then board allowed blacks to teach at only one school. Then again, when she wanted to become a principal, Jada hit the “glass ceiling” and had to file a sexual discrimination claim against the board. Her actions have opened many doors for both women and minorities in our community. In the face of these challenges, Jada is still a mentor to people in our community, especially to young girls, and encourages them to strive for their dreams no matter the obstacles that lie before them.
Zada was a point of light for many. She was the matriarch of many and despite living in a time of school segregation insisted all seven of her children obtain their college degrees and even earned her own degree at age 56. She followed that with a long career as a teacher. She was an active civil rights advocate and staunch believer in the importance of voters’ rights.
We have told the heart-wrenching story of the Kermit Volunteer Fire Department’s search for a young Kentucky child who fell into a turbulent Tug River on Christmas Day about five years ago. We covered the tragic murder of Ben Hatfield who was shot to death while cleaning his deceased wife’s grave at a cemetery in Maher. We were on the scene when a local man forced a tractor-trailer to stop on the roadway and the tragic shooting that ensued during that encounter.
We have followed the turmoil that Mingo County and the state of West Virginia was thrown into with the COVID-19 pandemic. We have told of the stories of businesses, which were able to withstand closure and those that unfortunately succumbed to it. We have attempted to shed some light on the complicated and ever-changing community alert mapping system. We have tracked staggering statistics and have found ourselves in the horrible position of relating death after death as the state’s death count surged to more than 5,000 people. We have covered the UK variant, the Delta variant and now the Omicron variant looming on the horizon. We have discussed the need for vaccinations and boosters.
We try to explain the declining Census numbers and how they affect the local communities with changes in precincts and new governmental districts. We detail municipal, county and state elections.
Yet, we are still the place you can turn to have birth announcements, engagement and wedding announcements, your 10th, 25th, 50th and each year beyond anniversaries published (at no charge) so your family and friends can celebrate with you. We celebrate with our community by covering parades and festivals and fireworks; walks, runs and marathons; river floats and ridge riding and school athletics.
In short, we are a community newspaper — your community newspaper. We strive daily to tell your stories and to be “Your source for all things Mingo County.” We are proud to have reached our 10th anniversary this week and look forward to continuing our celebration of Mingo County each week.