Editorial Roundup: West Virginia

Charleston Gazette-Mail. September 24, 2022.

Editorial: Always with the W.Va. teeth jokes

Few West Virginia University football fans, or West Virginia residents in general, had any idea who Riley Wyant was before Thursday.

That all changed when the Virginia Tech alumna and reporter for NBC 12 in Richmond, Virginia, posted on Twitter: “My friends and I ordered 145 toothbrushes to hand out to WVU fans because ‘they don’t have dental care in the state,’” followed by two laughing emojis as the Hokies prepared to host the Mountaineers in a Thursday night tilt, which WVU won, 33-10.

Wyant quickly became acquainted with many angry West Virginians, several of whom responded with vicious remarks of a very personal nature. However, there were just as many replies and tweets simply trying make Wyant aware of how insulting her words were, and how tired West Virginians are of those kinds of negative stereotypes.

Before inevitably concluding that all of those responses were justified, a pretense of effort to determine some sort of context should at least be offered.

Wyant deleted the tweet, so that’s not helpful. Fortunately, there are a plethora of screen grabs. What sticks out is that Wyant’s tweet was a reply to W. Chris Winter, a Charlottesville, Virginia, physician, in a thread of comments started from a tweet from Wyant, containing a photo herself wearing maroon and orange leggings and a maroon tank top at what looks to be a pregame tailgate. In the original tweet, she’s urging the Hokies to beat WVU. Wyant mentions an oddly specific number of toothbrushes and the part about dental care was in quotes.

Winter tweets “it’s true” in what could be a reply to Wyant’s deleted tweet, as he goes on to say his daughter worked for a mobile dental unit that provided outreach services in parts of West Virginia. This doesn’t appear to be any type of jab, but it’s hard to tell. Moving on.

Fun fact: Dr. Winter is the son of Bill Winter, a Nitro native who played football for Marshall University in the early 1960s. After a brief stint with the Charleston Rockets in the defunct Continental Football League, Bill Winter relocated to Virginia, where he had a successful coaching career. Most of this information is courtesy of the Marshall Athletics Hall of Fame, of which Bill Winter is a member, inducted in 1990.

Another fun fact, this one requiring absolutely no research: Virginia Tech’s starting quarterback, Grant Wells, is from West Virginia — Charleston, specifically — and played for Marshall before transferring to the Hokies. Many West Virginians made sure Wyant knew that.

As for Winter, he said Wyant is “an excellent person and I think I speak for her when I say it’s all in fun!” That didn’t go so great with some, although Winter went on to say that he doesn’t think the lack of affordable health care in West Virginia is funny and that the problem affects many people from “my home,” referring to the Mountain State and Southern Virginia.

It should be noted that Wyant apologized via Twitter on Friday, saying her post was “insensitive,” and “unprofessional, careless and hurt many people.” She also said her views do not reflect those of her employer. Interpret that how you will. Reactions to the apology were all over the place, some accepting it, others not, some posting nasty memes and others complaining that West Virginians got their feelings hurt too easily. In other words, typical internet crap.

There’s not much else to know and, considering that this is about a tactless comment involving college football — something that occurs every 1.5 seconds in the United States between September and January (and year-round at a speed that actually bends the space/time continuum in parts of Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas) — it’s not worth the effort.

Was it a low blow, especially from someone who represents a local news outlet? Sure. Do WVU fans, and West Virginians in general, have a right to be hacked off about it? Yeah, they do.

Is all of this a big overreaction? Well, look, everyone knows WVU fans have never said or done anything disrespectful or borderline dangerous to fans of opposing schools, so it’s easy to get carried away after coming under fire like that. Chanting “Eat s- — Pitt” is the height of elegance and class. True, it involves the mouth, but are teeth or alcoholic steel-mill fathers mentioned? Mountaineers would never stoop so low.

Aside from touching on something that’s not all that funny, Wyant’s biggest crime was going after the low-hanging fruit. If she truly wanted to get WVU fans upset to the point of not seeing straight (and without bringing the entire state into it), she should’ve just tweeted the very common misnomer that “Country Roads” isn’t actually about West Virginia, or that a mascot that can’t go anywhere without a musket is clearly afraid of getting their hands dirty.

The point is, you don’t have to go for the bad teeth or the no shoes or the “I’m honored to meet your wife, I assume she’s also your first cousin and your child is a banjo savant?” It’s played out, much like the hype around Virginia Tech football, which hasn’t been exciting since former coach Frank Beamer did a “dance” after the 2014 Military Bowl that looked a lot more like an impersonation of an exhausted and confused toddler.

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Parkersburg News and Sentinel. September 28, 2022.

Editorial: West Virginia needs nurses

If you have received care from a nurse in West Virginia lately, you may have noticed it seems as though they have a lot on their plates — yet they still manage to get the job done. Among the reasons for that increased workload is a shortage of nurses, and the problem is expected only to get worse.

According to the report “Nursing in the Time of COVID-19,” nearly 32% of nurses nationwide plan to retire or leave the field — THIS YEAR.

Here in West Virginia, the outlook is even grimmer. There are more than 34,000 registered nurses in the state, and approximately 38% of them are considering retirement, according to WCHS, which was reporting on “The Future of Nursing,” a fundraising event held in Charleston.

During the event, emcee Derrick Grant said “Nurses sacrifice so much all year long. They are beat up, they are hurt, they subject themselves to serious diseases.”

Nurse practitioner Nancy Atkins added “It is hard work. It is work of the heart, but it can also wear on you, and as fewer nurses are available, the more difficult the patient care becomes because we have more patients and fewer nurses,” according to WCHS.

Mountain State officials have tried new programs and incentives to reverse the shortage, and nursing education programs are on the upswing. But the need outpaces any progress being made.

“Nursing is caring for others; it is the thing that fills me up because we are caring for other people, and in doing that, it helps you feel cared for, and helping others is a big piece of what nursing is all about,” Atkins told WCHS.

It is not for everyone, but surely there are more who could answer the call. If you are looking for a career path — or even a career change — look into nursing. West Virginia needs you.

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The Intelligencer. September 28, 2022.

Editorial: Stay Safe This Hunting Season

Deer season is upon us. Here in West Virginia, the deer archery and crossbow season has begun and will continue through Dec. 31.

Antlerless deer split seasons will open in select counties starting Oct. 20; the two-week buck firearms season is scheduled to open Nov. 21 and a deer muzzleloader season will be open Dec. 12-18. A split season for youth, Class Q/QQ and Class XS hunters, also will be open Oct. 15-16 and Dec. 26-27.

For many, it is the most wonderful time of year.

“If it’s been a while since you’ve gone hunting in West Virginia, the fall seasons are a great time to get back in the game,” said West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Director Brett McMillion.

Just don’t forget to get your license and stamps.

And even more importantly, don’t forget to brush up on your safety routine before heading into the woods.

A hunter born after January 1, 1975 must complete a Certified Hunter Education course before getting a base hunting license, anyway. But if you need some refreshers, there are plenty of resources online. West Virginia’s Department of Natural Resources includes on its website the 10 commandments of gun safety.

Treat every gun as if it were loaded; always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction; be sure of your target and what is beyond it; be sure the barrel and action are clear of obstructions; unload firearms when not in use; never point a firearm at anything you do not want to shoot; never climb a fence or tree or jump a ditch with a loaded firearm; never shoot a bullet at a flat, hard surface or water; store firearms and ammunition separately; and avoid alcoholic beverages and other mind-altering drugs before and during shooting.

Be smart, be safe, enjoy the season — and good luck out there.

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