Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Columns

May 25, 2013

Back of the Dragon and copper thefts heating up as summer approaches

Tazewell is coming out breathing fire next Saturday, June 1, as the “Back of the Dragon” motorcycle festivities roll into town for the third year in a row. Emblems for the event have been painted on to the roads around the city limits and signs are posted alongside the highway as well. A motorcycle valued at approximately $50,000 is being raffled off in connection with a local effort to complete the new James C. Ramey Sr. field house-exercise facility adjacent to Witten Field at the high school.

The Back of the Dragon is now an official designation for the route which stretches across Route 16 from Tazewell to Marion. That is about 33 miles of some of the best, most scenic, and gently curving road up and down mountains anywhere in the East. Cyclists love it. Along with the rapidly developing Spearhead Trail system in the Pocahontas—Bramwell area, this is another “big wheel” on the local tourist machine gearing up to help the local economy.

County officials, the Crab Orchard Museum, local chambers of commerce, and a host of interested business persons and citizens are coming together to promote our area in new and creative ways. Great ideas from great people.

One of the most entertaining segments of the Tazewell weekend for many will be the music and bike show at Four Way where the Ramey Ford (old McCann Motors) location was for many years. With a huge paved parking lot and level ground all around, event organizers are expecting thousands of visitors. Good weather and projected warm temperatures are golden bulletins to the promoters, who can (hopefully) rest easy knowing that Mother Nature is poised to help with the event.

The BMX Stunt Team from Monster Energy Drink will be performing during the day with several outstanding displays of mechanical wizardry. Music fans should be very happy as three top groups including “Clinton Collins and the Creek Boys,” “Parmalee,” and “Tuesday’s Gone” will all be performing. “Parmalee” has two songs on the country music charts right now, while “Tuesday’s Gone” is a Lynrd Skynrd tribute band. The Creek Boys include Collins, Randy Fielder, and Dale Elswick. Those guys are outstanding musicians with original songs on the program as well as a host of long-time favorites. Their message is very inspirational and popular all across the area.

I’m anxious to see that hot-shot motorcycle and pick up a couple of tickets myself. Anything that will benefit the school children is a great idea. That facility is designed for use by both boys and girls and it will be a huge boost to the physical well being of the young folks. Be sure to get a ticket or two for the bike, which is being coordinated by Hawg Pit Cycles here in Bluefield.

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We all know some of the hard-working people who install and maintain power lines for Appalachian Power Company (AEP). They do great work in all kinds of weather, often risking their lives in times of great natural disasters to help us maintain electricity. It is a hard, often dangerous job up on mountains, around creeks, and down in the valleys.

Some of my buddies asked that readers be made aware of some problems being caused in Tazewell County by copper thieves. Copper has been recently stolen from the Cavitt’s Creek, Abbs Valley, Horsepen, and on the Jenkinjones Mountain road areas.

The APCO employees are frustrated and worried. For instance, it is probably a miracle that no one has been electrocuted yet. These are high voltage lines and the thieves are risking their lives to steal a few dollars worth of copper. In addition, when the lines are violated, repairs must be made. That means expense to the customer because materials must be purchased and employees have to be paid to do the work. That will ultimately be passed along in the bill to customers. Finally, when the work is done, local lines and homes will have to be shut down for several hours at a time to safely complete the repairs. That is inconvenient for private homes, local businesses, etc. Freezers with food stored do not need to be left off for very long, as many of you already know all too well.

So, the workers said it would be great if we could all keep an eye open to spot these copper thieves messing with AEP lines. Report them to the police and to the power company. This must be stopped. The crooks are going to get hurt — or worse — and the local folks are going to have to do without power for a while. Finally, the workers must once again scramble around in some tough geographic locations to do the work. Not much fun for them, either, although their main concern is for the customers.

Help our power company workers protect our electricity and let’s work together to stop the “copperheads” who steal our AEP products.

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

 

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