THE PRESS BOX FOR MARCH 27
The recent outrage over PCE in Paden City’s water system and drinking supply is warranted. The hardest part to swallow may not be the water, but how the residents of Paden City were unaware of any issues until now.
I remember, as a lad, we used to play ball on the lot where the Matthew Barker Building is now located. It was the high school practice field for football and a frequently used field for pickup games. Directly behind it were the school facilities. The band practiced there, as they do today. The football games were held there, just as they are now. The only basketball court in town was in the school yard, and it was a crowded place during the hot summer months.
There were a lot more kids in town back then, and someone was always at the ball fields playing. The Band Box Cleaners was there, and the owners were known as good citizens of the town. Another one of our fields to play on (remember now, this was before we had a nice park) was the one along Route 2, next to the library. It’s now known as the Nazarene Church’s parking lot. It just so happened there was a dry cleaners there as well. It was owned by some of the same family members. That makes one wonder why the grounds by the high school are supposedly polluted, but not the grounds by the library.
As I recall, and again I could be mistaken (which is highly unlikely), I distinctly remember steam coming out of the pipes of the cleaners and disappearing in the air. It was constant when they were operating. I don’t remember seeing any big puddles of waste being poured onto the ground. I recently spoke to a friend of mine whose parents owned the Band Box. According to him, they never had excess chemicals to dispose of: “Even if we did, we would not have poured it out or down the drain. We would have reused it. Dad was pretty good about conserving, nothing went to waste.
The families that owned the cleaners in town were, as I said, good citizens. They were also good Christian citizens who were members of one of the town’s finest and most conservative churches. I am sure if someone was going to try and save a few bucks by poisoning the land, it would not have been them.
Back in those days the Wildcat Band was the best in the land; the football team was the pride of the community, and the town’s folks filled the gym at the basketball games. Paden City put out some great athletes and some great teams. When they played football, it was often said, “Where do they get those kids?” See, they didn’t know we were making monsters. They didn’t realize we had a secret ingredient in our water, that every time we took a water break we were getting that good old Paden City Education (PCE).
Well, after the cleaners closed down, and many of the factories left, the population in town started decreasing.
There were, at one time, 10 gas stations along Rt. 2, several businesses and a bunch of churches (all filled on Sunday).
There was an equal number of watering holes, at least nine that I remember. I remember six grocery stores and a couple hardware and variety places. There were a few restaurants, a couple drug stores, clothing stores and a respected furniture store. That’s just part of it. We had a doctor, a couple insurance companies, and a couple realtors. But I blame the cleaners; once they left, it all started falling apart.
I can’t quite pinpoint it, but I believe our water started changing sometime in the mid-to-late 90s. That’s when our winning ways started declining. We lost a lot of people to old age, sickness; some just couldn’t take it any longer, so they departed for more fertile land. Some said, “The drinking water’s no good anymore; it’s just not what it used to be, so we’re leaving.”
So, what can we do? City officials were at a standstill. “We have to get more business in town,” they said. “Everyone is leaving!” Some bright mayor or councilperson, however, figured it all out. “They are right,” they said, “The drinking water isn’t the same; we have to get it back to normal. So, let’s experiment with some chemicals and see if we can get it right. Our ball teams are not winning as much; everyone wants to play Paden City. Let’s get something back in that water. (The Gatorade just ain’t working).”
“And while we’re at it, put a little something in there to brainwash everyone, so they will think we’re right and just trying to help them. And let’s create a Development Authority to make them think we want the town to grow. Oh, it working good, but then darned if that stupid EPA didn’t come in and find out we had too much chemical in the water.”
“Now, we’re in a fix and we have to go back in time and blame that old Band Box Cleaners.”
Hard to believe? A bit far-fetched Well yes, it might just be a theory, and rather far-fetched, but it’s no theory that for several years the water has, in fact, been in violation. It’s no theory that so many of us were kept in the dark about it.
Now for the top sports news from this past week:
* Gage Huffman and his five-inning no-hitter against Pine Grove Valley. Gage just missed the perfect game with one walk, facing 16 batters.
* Spencer Corley and his 6’4″ first-place high jump in the team’s opening meet at Ritchie County, and his first-place high jump on Friday at Parkersburg in the mostly AAA Kim Nutter Invite.
* Abbe Stackpole finishing first in the 100-meter dash on Saturday in Parkersburg and her second-place finish in the 200-meter dash, while also anchoring the 100 and 200 relay teams.
* Trey Slider and his complete game win over Weirton Madonna for the Wildcats.
* Noah Smith getting the game-winning hit in the bottom of the fifth to knock in two runs and end the game giving Huffman the victory.