Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Columns

August 4, 2012

Power restored, fall season brings job joys and individual rights sliding away

— — My good friend Barry Miller, who works on a local Appalachian Power crew, was in town recently and we talked about the tremendous damage and challenge presented by the early July storms.

Barry and the APCO workers were stretched to the limit, several crews had to be dispatched to eastern Virginia, and it took several days to restore power to everyone. Local teams had tree cutting, line repair, mountain climbing, and a host of other hard and dangerous chores to finish before all was back to normal but those dedicated power company employees got the job done.

As bad as our situation was, I can only imagine how tough it must have been earlier this week when a whopping 370 million people (more than the combined U.S. and Canadians populations) lost electricity.

From hospitals to commuter trains, services were either forced to use emergency back up sources or shut down entirely. One of the reported problems was a need to better organize the supply of coal to keep the lines operating. We in Four Seasons Country can certainly understand that.

The Indian situation brought home another wonderful daily item most of us take for granted. Nearly everyone in our country has power but fully a third of citizens living in India do not have electricity in their homes, according to the latest census.

No doubt Barry and his fellow workers, along with all the rest of us, can count our blessings when we only have a few outages with power usually restored within hours of the original problem.

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Two of my favorite items — the microphone and the keyboard — have been in my hand within the past half hour. First, I was able to cut the first promo for 107.7FM for the upcoming football season and now it’s time to put the column together here at the Daily Telegraph. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays are always three of the week’s biggest days beginning with the coach’s interview for the both the newspaper and the radio station followed by the game day broadcast and afterward the story when the game is over.

Once the “heavy work” is over, it’s always a blessing to be able to muddle my way out of bed to begin the weekend and read the story of what happened.

It’s fun to be part of that and have people rely on something you are part of. Most everyone needs a place to go, somewhere to be, a task to complete and a feeling of importance in this world. That headset and keypad are a big part of my little world. So many people, loyal readers and dedicated listeners, share the experience and over the years we have become a family. Without readers there is no reason for the story and without listeners there is no need for the broadcast. We are all in this process equally and this old reporter/announcer never takes that bond for granted.

Hopefully, the coming season will be fun for all of us from time to time.

lll

Smokey Shott’s column about a rush in some circles to again push for gun control brings to mind some of the freedoms either lost or severely curtailed within the past 11 years since the destruction of the World Trade Center.

Few regular citizens would disagree that an AK-47 or some similar assault weapon is not necessary. Here in the mountains many of us still like to hunt and a variety of guns or bows is required to participate in that type of outdoor activity.

The right to keep and bear arms is a precious one and we must never allow a few highly-publicized acts of horrific consequence to deny it from the overwhelming majority of American citizens.

Our children are already indoctrinated into a system most of us over the age of 50 find more and more confining and disturbing. We have to go through metal detectors to enter most public buildings, schools are locked with identification required to gain entry, flying on a pubic airplane has become an act of endurance with all manner of irritating requirements before and during flights, one can no longer carry a simple pocket knife on the job, and those who wish to smoke a legal cigarette in any kind of business have to stand someplace outside on public display. The list is long and getting longer.

I was raised to believe that the majority rules but that is no longer the case. If Big Brother grows much larger, there may not be room for both of us.

Larry Hypes, a teacher at Tazewell High School, is a Daily Telegraph columnist.

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