- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:

Sept. 3

Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail on ice bucket challenge being silly:

Nearly everyone has seen the videos on social media - possibly hundreds of them by now. Someone accepts the ice bucket challenge, gets a bucket of ice water dumped on their head and challenges a few more people.

Those people accept the challenge, or donate to the ALS Foundation, or both, and it grows. The ice bucket challenge is so ubiquitous that some are beginning to tire of seeing so many. As with anything that gets overexposed, the critics are coming out.

“Let’s be clear: The cycle is tiresome. It’s stupid. It’s primarily intended, by all accounts, to let the challenger (a) exhibit his altruism publicly and (b) show off how good he or she looks soaking wet,” wrote Caitlin Dewey in The Intersect blog of the Washington Post.

Sure, not everyone who does the challenge even knows what the initials ALS stand for. “I’m going to donate 501 cents to SLA … LAS … ALS” one six-year old said in a recent challenge posted on Facebook.

But you cannot argue with the results. In one month, the challenge raised $100 million for the ALS Foundation, compared to just $2.5 million in donations during the entire year of 2013.

No matter how silly and overexposed the challenge is, the fact is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a serious disease that most people know little, if anything, about.

It was brought into the national awareness in 1939 by New York Yankees’ great Lou Gehrig, an exceptional baseball player who realized he was losing his abilities and sought treatment. Yet since then, medical progress has been limited.

In ALS, a patient’s mind stays strong, yet they gradually lose all motor and muscle function as the nerves that send signals to those muscles slowly deteriorate.

About 5,600 people are diagnosed with ALS each year, and it is estimated to affect two of every 100,000 people. It occurs throughout the world with no racial, ethnic or socioeconomic boundaries. It can strike anyone.

The one drug approved for ALS slightly alters its progression, allowing sufferers more time in higher functioning states. Yet there is no cure.

There can be significant costs for medical care, equipment and home health caregiving, particularly later in the disease.

Silly, overexposed, ridiculous or whatever, at least the ice bucket challenge is bringing serious attention and funding to ALS research and ALS sufferers.




Sept. 3

Herald-Dispatch, Huntington, West Virginia, on Keith-Albee center:

Salt Lake City is planning a new 2,500-seat performing arts center for its downtown area that officials hope will generate close to $10 million a year in economic impact for the area.

The price tag on the new construction is $114 million.

That project provides a nice reminder of the value cities see in vibrant entertainment centers and their willingness to invest in those resources. It also underscores the importance of the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center for Huntington.

After more than 75 years as a movie palace and a premier stage for the region, the Keith in 2006 began its run as a full-time performing arts center. Today, it hosts the annual Marshall Artists Series and other concerts, and the theater also is used for graduations, special events and even weddings.

In addition, the building represents one of the Tri-State’s and West Virginia’s most significant historic preservation efforts. The theater’s Baroque styling, murals and an atmospheric ceiling transport visitors back to the 1920s and a golden age of entertainment.

Since 2006, much has been done to update and renovate the center, including spending $900,000 for a new roof, installing an accessible first-floor restroom and making upgrades to the stage area, lobby and marquee.

But the building still needs a great deal of work, and some of the projects targeted are upgrading the dressing rooms to accommodate national artists, installing a new HVAC system and renovation of the theater seats and interior.

There is potential for grants to help do some of that work. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Downtown Huntington Historic District, and the art center board has recently joined the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which promotes saving historic properties.

But the Keith also needs continued support from the community, and one way that residents can help is by joining and supporting the volunteer-based Orpheum Society, which has a fundraiser planned this month and a gala in November.

“Huntington has a genuine treasure with the Keith-Albee,” said state Sen. Bob Plymale, who is co-chair of the art center board and sponsor of the National Trust for Historic Preservation membership. “Not only will Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center continue as a vital part of our community, but an exciting period lies ahead for innovative new programs in arts and education.”

We hope the community will continue to invest in the Keith, not only to save an important piece of history, but to enhance a resource for education and an economic engine for the Tri-State.



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