Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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February 16, 2014

Teachable moments in McDowell County

— — One minute I was sitting at my desk getting ready to tackle a project for the newspaper’s advertising department. The next minute I was holding a two-layer chocolate cake while fellow reporter Bill Archer dodged potholes on Route 52. The sequence of events took longer than described, I admit. But it details the abrupt shift — from a routine day in the office to an adventure in McDowell County rather accurately.

Plans were made earlier in the week for the trip to Welch. Reporter Anne Elgin, along with Bill, would make a special delivery to the West Virginia State Police Welch Detachment. But when Anne came down with the flu, I was the replacement. That is how I found myself holding on to a cake on the curvy roads in between Bluewell and Welch. I had told my boss a few days before that I was restless for news and stories for Lifestyles. She said, “Something will happen.” I surely didn’t expect cake delivery, but at that point, I was eager to get out and about in the two Virginias. So off we went, leaving pens and notebooks behind, just the once.


It was lunchtime when we hit the county line. The smell of the food in the back of the SUV made my stomach growl in protest. The icing on the cake looked divine. I imagined the cake tasted amazing, as does most desserts made with chocolate. I texted with one hand until I lost cell phone signal. Then I turned my attention to roadways and our adventure became a history lesson on wheels. I was the student and  Bill was the tour guide. As he weaved in between the mountains, he pointed out the coke ovens along Route 52. Then, he pointed out buildings, some no longer standing, but others were still a large part of the community. I was no longer disappointed in my lack of cell phone service. I was learning something new.

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