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September 11, 2008 - Betsy Bethel
First, I just have to say participating in the United Way's Day of Caring yesterday was hard work but fun and rewarding, as well as educational.

I and five of my colleagues at The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register assisted in painting the lunch room and first-floor hallway of Holy Family Child Care Center in Wheeling. We arrived not knowing what to expect but we and three Wheeling Jesuit University employees got down to business after a brief tour of the facility. We divvied up responsibilities and set to work. Seven hours later, the task was complete. It felt good to be helpful. It felt good to see our work accomplished. Although some of us were concerned that our painting was not professional looking, we did our best and the center staff was thankful. Now, instead of antiquated wallpaper, bright yellow, orange and red walls greet the children, staff and parents as they enter the center and head down to their classrooms.

I learned about the center's mission, its history and its facility. The center is a mission of the Congregation of St. Joseph and leases its space -- founded as a "home for wayward girls" in 1901 -- from the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. It receives Title XX funds from the state to offset the costs of child care for low-income families. It has a new community-built playground that is an outstanding example of the local community's generosity, but it still has some pressing needs, such as a kitchen of its own. Right now the dishes are wheeled over to neighboring Good Shepherd Nursing Home to be washed!

Thank you to Perry Nardo, general manager of the newspapers, for encouraging us to participate in the Day of Caring this year, as well as to the United Way and its member agencies, that serve the needs of our less-fortunate neighbors every day of the year. Bless you all!

-- -- -- Second, you may or may not be aware that the Ohio Valley Parent magazine's annual Cover Kid Contest is under way. I have a stack of ballots to be counted on my desk and about 100 e-mail votes in my inbox to record after being absent from my desk yesterday. We had a record 26 entrants in this year's contest, which tells me two things: 1) The magazine is more popular than ever (and I'm hoping that is because it contains useful and interesting information for you parents!) and 2) There are a lot of cutie pies out there in the Ohio Valley!

If you haven't voted yet, please check out these darlings at Click on the link under the "departments" heading to send me an e-mail with your vote. Alternatively, simply e-mail me the number of your vote at Or mail the ballot in the magazine. Only one vote per person please!

The child who receives the most votes will be featured on our November cover.

Thanks for your participation!

-- -- -- Finally, today is the seventh anniversary of the al-Qaida-led attack on America. It is 9:30 as I write this. Seven years ago at this moment, we in the newsroom were gathered around the television watching in disbelief as both towers were in flames and about to collapse.

Speculation was rampant in those early hours. My first thought was that this horror was perpetrated by enemies within -- compatriots of Timothy McVeigh and his ilk. I had lived until then in such a "safe" time in our country that it was inconceivable that we could be vulnerable to foreign attack.

Those first months after the attack, I was never prouder to be an American. (Makes me wonder how Michelle Obama was feeling during this time.) Every car and home flew a flag, United We Stand bumper stickers were everywhere and the heightened sense of patriotism, while fleeting, made me feel a part of some force greater than myself. I wondered if this was how people felt in the 1940s when they held countless parades and ceremonies to welcome home and honor the Greatest Generation warriors from World War II.

When we attacked Afghanistan, home of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, we felt nothing could stop us from achieving our goal of bringing him and his followers to justice. Our people truly were united. The whole world was on our side.

Did anyone ever imagine we would still be fighting seven years later? I know I didn't. In the past few days, I found myself asking my friends and colleagues, "How is it possible that bin Laden is still at large?" We have the greatest military force and technology on earth at our fingertips. Not only that, each of us PAYS for this military to operate. It's unconscionable that the job remains unfinished. I simply can't wrap my brain around it.

Today, I pray not just for the families of the 3,000 who were killed seven years ago, I pray for the families of the U.S. soldiers and our allies who have died in Afghanistan and Iraq as we have fought to keep another 9-11 from happening. I thank God we haven't had a repeat attack on our soil. And I pray for those working in military intelligence that they would continue to pour every resource they have into finding bin Laden because I feel every day that passes puts me, my family and my country at greater risk. We're counting on you!


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