Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

WV State News

August 7, 2012

War residents battle hopelessness


The town of War, a McDowell County community of 1,000 residents, remains horrified over the gruesome murder this summer of its mayor.

Seventy-two-year old Thomas Hatcher was found dead in his home in July.

Police say Hatcher's daughter-in-law and her brother killed the elderly McDowell County native for $1,100 he kept hidden in the home — money they stole to buy drugs.

Residents describe how wide-spread drug addiction and drug related crimes are throughout the region.

But despite the fear of this epidemic, a small group of residents continues to work tirelessly for change and community improvement.

"We've had unbelievable overdoses and deaths, children that are raising themselves now. It breaks my heart," said Marsha Timpson, Co-Executive Director of Big Creek People in Action.

"I say we've survived the floods, we've survived the coal industry going down to what it is, unemployment being so bad, the housing issue, the economics as they are, and I'm so afraid drugs are what will do us in," she said.

"It is so rampant; people I never thought in my wildest dreams are on drugs."

Big Creek People in Action was established in 1990, originally to fight for a better water system for southern McDowell County.

After a new water system was achieved, the nonprofit organization turned its attention to education and literacy programs, volunteer services, home rehabilitation and weatherizing, community events and other improvement endeavors.

Drugs have changed not only individual users, but those who surround them, and an entire way of life here, according to Timpson.

"What I hold dear is that sense of community," she said. "I grew up in a little holler called Warrior Mines; there was no better place in the world to grow up.

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