EDITOR’S NOTE:Health reports, feral cats, more

Health reports available on our website: After several weeks of working to make it happen, last week we were able to fulfill a request for the latest facility reports from the Jefferson County Health Department, a feature that a number of our readers have sought.

Health officials in Berkeley County recently have filed reports about cleanliness issues at the Outback, problems so severe that the Foxcroft Avenue steakhouse has been twice forced to close its doors until the issues could be remedied, so of course Jefferson County residents want to know the latest reports about restaurants, bars, convenience stores and other facilities that serve food.

Because only the handwritten reports from the health department are made public – no typed summaries – we were initially stumped as how best to share this news. What we came up with was to summarize in the print edition of the Spirit the reports, noting whether an eatery had any critical violations, and then to point readers to our website where they could review the actual reports.

We’ll continue to share this information as the health department makes the reports available to us. We’re thankful to Jason Elliott and other readers who urged us to make this happen.

Is there something you’d like to see in the Spirit? Send an email to editor@spiritofjefferson.com or drop a note in the mail (114 N. Charles St., Charles Town 25414). There’s nothing more valuable than getting feedback from our readers.

Saying thanks for a “thank you”: It was our pleasure to get to profile Bettye Webb-Hayes of Ranson on Aug. 28 on the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. This remarkable retired music teacher had sung for Dr. King as a child in Georgia and then had her life changed when she attended his landmark speech in D.C. 50 years ago.

A few days ago, she made a point to deliver to the Spirit a thoughtful card for the writer of the article and another for me, for taking the accompanying photos. She also brought flower arrangements for our desks. This kind of kindness not only makes our office look a lot better, it makes the work of putting out the Spirit each week that much more satisfying.

Ranson on the map: Ranson’s feral cat problem is making news far and wide. Earlier this month, newspapers and news organizations’ websites across West Virginia and as far away as California posted a story that first ran in the Spirit in August.

Sent out under the headline, “Ranson neighborhoods cope with feral cat overload,” the feature by Christine Miller Ford, along with photographs taken by me and by Ford’s 12-year-old daughter Claire was selected by editors at the Associated Press as a “member exchange” story – distributed to news organizations nationwide, along with the requirement to include the writer’s byline, the paper’s name and the photographer’s credit line.

It was gratifying to see more attention brought to Second Avenue resident Jill Bonvillain’s efforts to find solutions to this troubling issue. It was also neat to see the Spirit of Jefferson and Farmer’s Advocate name in print editions and websites for dozens of papers such as the San Francisco Chronicle, the Miami Herald, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and many more.

It’s likely this was a first for a Spirit story. Christine, who had her first professional byline as a high school senior in 1985, says this is a first in her long career. Because it’s our goal to keep bringing you the most important, interesting stories we can, we’ll aim to do this again.

As always, thank you for reading.

—Robert Snyder


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