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Wick residents answer the ‘Call of the Wild’

By Staff | Jan 14, 2009

NATIONAL FORUM — Local “Big Read” representatives met with Dana Gioia, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, at an orientation session held last summer in Minneapolis. From left are Tina Neil, ArtsLink; Gioia, Marianne Hughes of ArtsLink, and Barbara Snell, representing the New Martinsville Public Library, ArtsLink’s partner in the project.

The Big Read” in Wetzel and Tyler Counties may draw national attention, organizers say.

When representatives of ArtsLink and the New Martinsville Public Library attended a meeting with officials of the National Endowment for the Arts, they were challenged to find a community where everyone would read their book selection – and they did. Residents in the town of Wick in Tyler County have risen to the challenge and plan to meet this goal. National Big Read officials promised to spotlight communities who made this commitment.

Big Read Co-chair Betty Tustin has already begun the process. Books are being distributed with instructions to read it and pass it on. Readers’ guides are also circulating. Book discussions are under way at various locations in Tyler County, including Barb’s Restaurant and The Jug in Middlebourne. A book discussion is scheduled for the Meadville Mall, near the town of Wick.

“We’ve contacted the NEA to let them know about this and we are waiting to hear from them,” Tustin said.

The official kickoff for The Big Read will be from 2-4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 25, at the New Martinsville campus of West Virginia Northern Community College.

At the kickoff event, Dr. Terry Craig, WVNCC Professor of English, will give an introduction to the book; Ellen Pope, a former Iditarod participant, will be on hand with her faithful Husky to discuss Alaska’s annual dogsled race; and John Thornton of the Cincinnati Bengals will be on hand to support the effort. Occasions on Main Street will provide refreshments. The first 25 people will receive a free copy of the book. Local sponsors include the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley and AAA Homes.

Further events include a Silent Read at the Lincoln Theater on Saturday, Feb. 7, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. featuring hourly reading selections from the book by prominent members of the community such as Mayor Lucille Blum, Bill Forbes and Carman Harman. In-between, readers will be invited to sit down and read the book on their own. Light refreshments will be served in the foyer and questions and opinions concerning the book will be discussed. A limited number of free copies will be available at the theater as well.

ArtsLink has distributed books and reader’s guides to 8th graders in New Martinsville, Short Line and Paden City. Approximately 200 River High School students will also be reading the book. New Martinsville Girl Scouts will include the book in their community project and be available to read aloud at the hospital and senior centers. The 4-H clubs are being asked to help with the distribution of free books, posters and reader’s guides.

Raffle tickets will be handed out at each event; the more events a reader attends, the better the chances of winning a prize.

A dog look-alike contest is planned as well as a Dog Paws (Pause) reading, a Humane Society event in which owners bring their dogs to be read to.

New Martinsville Public Library will host a brown bag book discussion at noon on Feb. 25 and the Book Club at the Bookstore on North Street will discuss the book at 6 p.m. on February 17. Book discussions are also scheduled at the New Martinsville Health Care Center, the Wetzel County Senior Citizens Center, the New Martinsville City Building, A limited number of copies of “The Call of the Wild” and reader’s guides will be available at these venues.

“The Big Read is not only about reading Jack London’s 139-page classic,” explained Tina Neil, a member of the committee. “It is an excellent book to read aloud – grandparents to grandchildren, teens to teens, mothers to daughters, sons to their dads and vice-versa. It is a superb quality time alternative to video games and TV. The need to read is greater than ever; ArtsLink is counting on your enthusiastic support and participation.”

The Big Read is presented by the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Arts Midwest. Support for The Big Read is provided by the W. K.Kellogg Foundation. Additional funding for The Big Read is provided by the Ruffin A. Cooper Jr. Endowment and through a bequest made in memory of Dorothy Lois Beverly. The National Endowment for the Arts also acknowledges the following organizations and individuals for their encouragement of and contributions to The Big Read: American Library Association and the Association of American Publishers. Local sponsors are AAA Homes and the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley.