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West Virginia to welcome Martha to its prison system

October 04, 2004|by TIM ROWLAND

So Martha Stewart has been ordered to serve her prison time in West Virginia. Nice to see there's still a judge out there with a sense of humor.

I hope Gov. Bob Wise thinks to change all those highway signs: "Welcome to Wild, Wonderful, West Virginia - Home of Martha Stewart."

What, was Cumberland too upscale? I can hear her now: "When you said this prison had wet bars, I assumed..."

"Yep Martha, my pappy's 98 and he's running gin."

"Still?"

"No, bathtub."

Alderson is known as "Camp Cupcake," ("What! You're not sending me to Camp Croquembouche?") but judging from this essay I found on the Internet from a woman who spent six months there, it may not be as cushy as it sounds:

"(T)his minimum-security prison now operates with much of the destructive dynamic present in abusive family relationships - self-esteem is undermined with insidious intent, and control is maintained through isolation and the threat of more severe reprisal for resistance or defiance. Stepping outside the virtual walls at Alderson can result in a fine up to $5,000..."

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So watch it, Martha. Step out of line and they may try to hurt your feelings. Hurt your feelings good. If you act out what do they do, send you down to do 30 days in the spa?

You can see her now, being dragged away screaming, "No, I said I wanted to make some lamb shanks!"

I do agree with the writer on one point, though - I don't want to stay at a prison that looks down its nose at escape. I want to stay at the other kind.

And speaking of things that are bound to work out well, a big-shout out goes to the City of Hagerstown for endorsing a "Bonanza Extravaganza" featuring gambling, liquor and firearm giveaways at the city fairgrounds.

Gambling, guns and hooch. No way that can work out bad.

It sounds kind of like a Longaberger basket party for Texans. Sponsored by the firefighters union, organizers expect 10,000 people, who would be charged a $100 entry fee and be eligible for prizes such as rifles, shotguns and motorcycles.

Two words: Yee Haw. Ten thousand liquored-up Yosemite Sams doing donuts on the soccer fields and bragging over the size of their guns. Can we say, "train wreck?" Maybe this doesn't quite stack up to the fire company that raised money by hiring male strippers, but it seems to me it comes close. To me, you can't lose sight of the fact that if you're a fire company - kids and everyone else look up to you as heroes. You really want your coat of arms to include a pair of dice, a shotgun, a fleur de lis and a bottle of Scotch?

The good news, though, is that the City of Hagerstown will have to go into debt (moreso) to provide upgrades to the fairgrounds so it can handle the influx of pedestrian and RV traffic - to the tune of at least $100,000, not counting the costs of overtime for city employees and fixing up all the rutted soccer fields.

Maybe if the event were going to raise a half-million dollars I could see it, but this is a proposal that, if everything goes swimmingly, will earn a $100,000 profit. Earth to council: Why don't you just take the $100,000 it's going to cost you to prepare for the event and just give it to the fire company?

They're spending $100,000 to earn $100,000? As John Shank would say, "I may be dense," but where did the city take its investing classes, at the Fidelity Magellan 401(k) school of advanced finance? Put $1,000 in your retirement account and five years later it's grown to $1,000. Very nice.

I mean if you want to take a bath I'd be happy to run the water, but at least do it with the powder room door shut. This has the potential to be a very public financial and logistical shellacking.

If the fire company has thought it over and it is at peace with the moral aspects and dead certain of the potential investment/return ratio, then fine, let it go nuts. But don't be a co-investor in potentially bad medicine.

Only Councilman Linn Hendershot seems to get this. His point is that it's going to be a nightmare to manage, and aside from that, the city is already living paycheck to paycheck - and now it wants to take the grocery money and buy scratch-offs.

But there I go again, being negative and not focusing on the silver lining. If it rains and the fields become mush, we may be looking at a tangle of eight-inch ruts. Which, in my opinion, might finally make soccer interesting to watch.

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