www.charlestondailymail.com http://www.charlestondailymail.com Daily Mail feed en-us Copyright 2014, Charleston Newspapers, Charleston, WV Newspapers Funerals for: December 20, 2014 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/OBIT01/312209973 OBIT01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/OBIT01/312209973 Sat, 20 Dec 2014 00:02:43 -0500 Ashby, C.R. 1 p.m., Allens Fork Community Church, Sissonville.

Barker, Everett Jr. 1 p.m., Morning Star House of Prayer, Ridgeview.

Burnett, Cora 11 a.m., St. Mary's United Methodist Church, Beckley.

Canterbury, Susie E. 11 a.m., Tyree Funeral Home, Oak Hill.

Carter, Nola M. Noon, Evans Funeral Home and Cremation Services, Chapmanville.

Edens, Pamela A. 1 p.m., Cooke Funeral Home Chapel, Cedar Grove.

Ferguson, Mary M. 1 p.m., Bethel Baptist Church, Milton.

Fugate, Zachariah Jr. 2 p.m., Westmoreland Baptist Church, Huntington.

Gunnoe, Janet M. 11 a.m., Armstrong Funeral Home, Whitesville.

Hambrick, Allen K. 2 p.m., Charleston Mountain Mission Church, Charleston.

Hamrick, Anastasia 1 p.m., Dodd & Reed Funeral Home, Webster Springs.

Hudson, Howard C. 1 p.m., O'Dell Funeral Home, Montgomery.

Jarvis, Belinda 11 a.m., Hafer Funeral Home, Elkview.

Kerr, Jerry W. 11 a.m., Thornwood Community Church, Thornwood.

Lewis, Danny R. 2 p.m., Chapman Funeral Home, Hurricane.

Lilly, Londa L. 2 p.m., Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, Summersville.

Lopez, Roy D. 2 p.m., Tyree Funeral Home, Oak Hill.

Lovejoy, Rebecca P. 11 a.m., Fidler and Frame Funeral Home, Belle.

Martin, Karen S. 2 p.m., Wallace & Wallace Chapel, Rainelle.

McComas, Lorraine E. 1 p.m., Lewis Memorial Baptist Church, Huntington.

Miller, Jeffrey A. 3:30 p.m., Foster Church of Christ, Foster.

Priddy, Elizabeth A. Noon, Gatens

Ross, Cora G. 1 p.m., West Logan Church of God, West Logan.

Shouldis, Anna L. 11 a.m., Waybright Funeral Home, Ripley.

Slack, Dr. Richard L. 5 p.m., Wilcoxen Funeral Home, Point Pleasant.

Spangler, Shawn B. 2 p.m., Keller Funeral Home, Dunbar.

Topping, William F. 11 a.m., Crossroads United Methodist Church, Huntington.

Walton, Berman E. 2 p.m., Stevens & Grass Funeral Home, Malden.

Watts, Harold F. Sr. 11 a.m., Bartlett

Willis, Rose R. 11 a.m., Bartlett Burdette Cox, Charleston.

Wright, Boyd H. 11 a.m., Wallace & Wallace Funeral Home, Arbovale.

Yoder, Sabrina 1 p.m., Bartlett

Douglas Baisden http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/OBIT/312209979 OBIT http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/OBIT/312209979 Sat, 20 Dec 2014 00:02:37 -0500 Douglas Gene Baisden, 61, of East Bank, died Dec. 19, 2014. Service will be 1 p.m. Mon., Dec. 22, at Leonard Johnson Funeral Home, Marmet. Friends may call two hours prior to the service.

Reba Boggs http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/OBIT/312209976 OBIT http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/OBIT/312209976 Sat, 20 Dec 2014 00:02:40 -0500 Reba Jewel Boggs, 81, died Dec. 16, 2014. Service will be 1 p.m. Sun., Dec. 21, at Rose and Quesenberry Peace Chapel, Beckley. Friends may visit with the family one hour prior to the service.

Jaxon Brotherton http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/OBIT/312209990 OBIT http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/OBIT/312209990 Sat, 20 Dec 2014 00:02:28 -0500 Jaxon Lane Brotherton, Jax's sudden departure from our life became one of Heaven's newest angels Tuesday, December 16, 2014. He was born August 21, 2014, Jax died peacefully at home.

In his short time here on this earth, Jaxon brought a tremendous amount of love and happiness to his family which will continue to show in Kendall, Emma, and Perry's smile and laughter.

Jax was preceded in death by his grandfather, Johnny A. Brotherton.

Jax is survived by his mother, Nikki Ann Brotherton; sisters, Kendall and Emma Tanner; maternal grandmother, Lois J. Brotherton; uncle, Adam and aunt, Misty Brotherton; beloved cousins, Perry Tanner, Rick and Pam Tanner.

A special thanks goes to the Charleston Fire Department and all other emergency personnel who helped and assisted the family on that tragic morning.

Visitation will be held 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sunday, December 21, at Barlow Bonsall Funeral Home, with a 2 p.m. graveside service at Elk Hill Memorial Park, Big Chimney, WV. The funeral procession will leave the funeral home at 1:30 p.m.

"When we close our eyes, we see you, when we open our eyes we miss you"

Barlow Bonsall Funeral Home has been entrusted to handle the arrangements for the Brotherton family.

Herman E. Cavender http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/OBIT/312209991 OBIT http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/OBIT/312209991 Sat, 20 Dec 2014 00:02:27 -0500 Herman E. "Blink" Cavender, 88, of Sandyville, passed away December 18, 2014, at his home, following a long illness.

He was born January 21, 1926, at Gay, W.Va. and was a US Army veteran of World War II. He retired from the Operating Engineers Local 132, and attended the Sandyville United Methodist Church. "Blink" was well known in his early days of playing baseball in the highly competitive Jackson County League and will be remembered as a Horseman and hosted many Trail Rides that started from his farm.

He is survived by his wife Erma "Tommie" Shepherd Cavender; stepdaughter, Diana Randolph and her husband, Randy of Sandyville; grandchildren, Jeni McCann of Ravenswood and Shelley Randolph of Sandyville; sisters, Jerri Quick of Charleston and Elaine Curry of Knoxville, Tenn.; nephew, Rod Reynolds and his wife, Pam of Ripley; brother-in-law, Ron Reynolds and his wife, Ann of Ripley; cousin, Bob Rhodes and his wife, Jane of Ripley.

He was preceded in death by his first wife, Jenny Kent Cavender; uncles and aunts, Hershel and Nita Tolley, whom raised him and Cyril and Ethel Rhodes; and cousin, JoAnn Rhodes.

The family would like to express a special thank you to his caregivers, Amanda and Ashley Miller for the special care given to "Blink."

Funeral service will be 11 a.m. Monday, December 22, at the Waybright Funeral Home, Ripley with Pastor Herman Robinson officiating. Burial with Veterans Rites provided by the American Legion Post 107, Ripley, will be in the Independence Cemetery, Sandyville. Friends may call from 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday at the funeral home.

Following the funeral service a time of food and fellowship will be held in the Parsons-Vail Family Center located inside the funeral home. Those wishing to provide the family with food may bring it to the funeral home on the day of the service for this time of fellowship. A procession will be leaving for the cemetery following the reception at approximately 1 pm.

Memories and condolences may be sent to the family by visiting www.waybrightfuneralhome.com.

Ossie Dalton http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/OBIT/312209983 OBIT http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/OBIT/312209983 Sat, 20 Dec 2014 00:02:33 -0500 Ossie "Buck" Dalton, 83, of Harts, died Wed., Dec. 17, 2014. Service will be 1 p.m. Mon., Dec. 22, at Freeman Funeral Home, Chapmanville. Friends may call from 6 to 9 p.m. Sun., Dec. 21, at the funeral home. Freeman Funeral Home, Chapmanville, is in charge of the arrangements.

Mary J. Dittebrand http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/OBIT/312209992 OBIT http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/OBIT/312209992 Sat, 20 Dec 2014 00:02:26 -0500 Mary Joanne Dittebrand was born on August 11, 1954 in Cleveland, Ohio, and went home to be with our Lord on Monday, December 15, 2014 after a courageous battle with metastatic breast cancer. She was 60 years old. Mary was predeceased by her father, John Thomas Murphy and mother, Florence Joan Murphy (Rybicki).

Mary was a graduate of Kent State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Education and a Master's Degree in Deaf Education. She was a gifted, loving and caring teacher of the deaf and more recently preschool children at Shoals Elementary in Charleston, where she had a positive influence on hundreds of students and families over the past 33 years. A dedicated member of Bridge of Faith Fellowship in Nitro, West Virginia, Mary loved her church and served it faithfully for over 30 years.

Mary led a full life which was mostly spent enriching the lives of others. In addition to teaching and involvement in her church, she was a volunteer at The River City Youth Ballet for more than 13 years, a Girl Scout and Cub Scout leader and a Little League volunteer. She loved Broadway musicals, collected snowmen & was a talented baker whose specialty was cupcakes. But nothing brought her more joy than her children and grandchildren, especially at Christmas time.

Mary is survived by her sons, Adam Dittebrand (April) and Seth Dittebrand, daughter, Lauren Dittebrand, and grandchildren, Bryleigh, Emma, and Abel Dittebrand. One of 11 children, Mary is also survived by her siblings, Nellann (Bob) Nipper of Erie, PA, Kathy (John) Vitale of North Royalton, OH, John Tom (Karen) Murphy of Hudson, OH, Congressman Tim (Nannette Missig) Murphy of Pittsburgh, PA, Susan (Kevin) Johnson of Hilliard, OH, Christopher Murphy of Cleveland, Ohio, Erin (Paul) Bailey of Lockport, NY, Heather (Peter) von Allmen of Gansevoort, NY, Sarah (Rick) Kluge of Ravenna, OH, Ray (Karen) Murphy of Brunswick, OH and many nieces and nephews.

Despite Mary's diagnosis, she never let cancer defeat her. She continued to work, teach, bake, play, and enjoy each day to the fullest even until the very end. A celebration of Mary's life will be held Friday, January 2 at 2 p.m. at Bridge of Faith Fellowship, 402 Main Street, Nitro, WV. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Mary's honor to the David Lee Cancer Center, Charleston Memorial Hospital in Charleston, West Virginia or Bridge of Faith Fellowship in Nitro.

Juanita Griffith http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/OBIT/312209987 OBIT http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/OBIT/312209987 Sat, 20 Dec 2014 00:02:30 -0500 Juanita Elizabeth Bailey Griffith, 95, of McConnell, died Dec. 18, 2014. Service will be 2 p.m. Sun., Dec. 21, at Honaker Funeral Home of Logan. Friends may call on the family from noon to 2 p.m. Sun. at the funeral home. Honaker Funeral Home of Logan has been entrusted with the arrangements.

Allen K. Hambrick http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/OBIT/312209995 OBIT http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/OBIT/312209995 Sat, 20 Dec 2014 00:02:24 -0500 Allen K. Hambrick, 92, of Charleston, breathed his final breath here and went home to be with his Lord and Savior on Dec. 16, 2014 after a short illness.

Preceding him in death were his wife, Georgia; parents, Alfred and Della; five brothers; and two sisters.

Our Dad was a Christian who loved to read and study the Bible. For the past 60 years he served the Most High God and was known by friends and family as a man of integrity and great faith. He was a good, decent, and hard-working man his entire life. All who were fortunate to know him will miss his humor and quick-wit, his thoughtfulness, his caring attitude, inspiration and wisdom. He was unselfish and reached out a helping hand to all and affected the lives of many.

He was a veteran who loved and served his country with honor on the Amphibious Attack Transport USS Hunter Liggett with the United States Coast Guard during World War II. His assignment was with the medical department, where he took care of sick and injured patients and also assisted in the operating room.

Allen was a 20-year store manager for Kroger and a 27-year store manager for O.V. Smith & Sons. He retired in 1989 and did volunteer work for the Charleston Mountain Mission Social Services Department for the past 25 years. He faithfully attended the Charleston Mountain Mission daily and sang in the radio broadcast choir. When the broadcast was finished, he volunteered several hours sorting and shelving donated food. Then he would box up food to be given to those in need. Many times he would take boxes of his own food to people in need that he met while shopping around Charleston.

Survivors include his loving daughters, Carolyn Sue (Jerry) Cavender of Kenna and Linda Jean DeFrehn of Royal Palm Beach, Fla.; son, Bradley Allen (Robin) Hambrick of Charleston; grandchildren, Megan, Amanda, Jerry II, Andrea and Holly; great-grandchildren, Natalia, Isaac, Mya, Keylee, Dakota and soon-to-be-born Giovanni; several nephews and wonderful nieces, including Shirley and Doris; and family friend, Reba.

Funeral service will be 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 20, at Charleston Mountain Mission Church with the Rev. Tom Price officiating. Burial will be 1 p.m. Monday at Elk Hills Memorial Park, Big Chimney, with military rites provided by American Legion Post 61, Clendenin.

Visitation will be one hour prior to service time Saturday at the church.

In lieu of flowers, please bring non-perishable food donations to the service or drop them by Mountain Mission Social Services food pantry, or make a donation to the Mountain Mission Food Pantry, 1620 7th Ave., Charleston, WV 25387.

The family will accept online condolences at cpjfuneralhome.com.

Cunningham-Parker-Johnson Funeral Home is serving the Hambrick family.

Anastasia Hamrick http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/OBIT/312209993 OBIT http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/OBIT/312209993 Sat, 20 Dec 2014 00:02:25 -0500 Anastasia Marie Hamrick, infant child of Nicholas Hamrick and Reva Woods, died Dec. 17, 2014. Friends may join the family for visitation from noon to 1 p.m. Sat., Dec. 20, at Dodd & Reed Funeral Home. Funeral service will follow the visitation at 1 p.m. at the funeral home. Dodd & Reed Funeral Home, Webster Springs is in charge of arrangements.

Review: Miracle on 34th Street cute but lacks classic charm http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/GZ01/141229947 GZ01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/GZ01/141229947 Sat, 20 Dec 2014 00:50:00 -0500 By Autumn D.F. Hopkins For the Gazette-Mail Though "Miracle on 34th Street" was billed as a "beloved holiday classic," you might have found yourself disappointed if you went expecting something true to the 1947 film starring Maureen O'Hara.

Friday night the Charleston Light Opera Guild opened its Christmas presentation of the holiday classic in the Cultural Center Theater.

Although the basic story line was the same, the character development and interaction stray far from the cinema original. More of a boisterous slapstick comedy, the characters lacked some of the stalwart charm of the cinematic cast.

Tony Pilato as Doris Walker did an excellent job as the prim divorcee raising her child, Susan, (Amelia Allen) alone. Pilato had a lovely singing voice and looks like she was born to wear the trim suits and victory roll hairstyle popular in the 40s.

However, Pilato was plagued all evening by microphone troubles. I had hoped when the Guild found itself in a new venue it would have left its ever-present sound issues behind. Unfortunately, Pilato spent half of the first act completely without amplification, and her voice and dialogue were eaten up in the cavernous theater.

Young Amelia Allen as the precocious Susan was charming and witty. She delivered her lines with the comic timing of a seasoned professional, and she was absolutely adorable in her stoic cynicism. Acting the perfect tiny little adult her mother, Doris, raised her to be. Constantly refusing to believe in anything she couldn't "taste, touch, see or smell."

Eric Hudnall played leading man Fred Gaily, a former marine who befriends the young Susan on Thanksgiving Day and then begins to drag her about New York City without so much as a by-your-leave from her mother.

Maybe in 1947 it was acceptable for a grown man to take up with a second grader, but in modern times I can tell you it leaves me somewhat squeamish. Especially uncomfortable was the duet "My Love" in which Gaily has taken Susan to the park still completely unbeknownst to her mother, and the two sing about a wish for true love. I know it was supposed to be sweet and innocently charming as he stood in for the father figure lacking in her life, but I found it uncomfortable.

Other than that strange and unrealistic relationship, Hudnall did an excellent job as the overbearing, bumbling, but somehow still charming Gaily. Although the abrupt and pushy love scenes between Walker and Gaily seem a little forced, they are quite funny as an oddly matched but appealing couple.

Quite possibly though, the most charming character to grace the stage was Marc Golden as Kris Kringle himself. A picture-perfect Santa, it was impossible not to love him on first sight.

If by some chance your heart was not completely captured when he entered the stage, then you would have no choice but to surrender the last remnants of your disbelief the second he began speaking Dutch to the precious little orphan Henrika, played by the delightful Katherine Akers.

The supporting cast did an excellent job of raising the comic bar throughout the performance. There are fun, if somewhat lengthy, ensemble numbers that the audience loved, replete with a myriad of bright colored costume changes and wild dance sequences.

"Miracle on 34th Street" will show again tonight at 7 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. and again next weekend Dec. 27 and 27 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 28 at 2 p.m.

Although, I didn't find this performance to hold the charm of the original movie, it was not without entertainment value. If you go expecting a lighthearted comedy with lots of glitz and pageantry, it would be an enjoyable evening.

Buckhannon-Upshur's Lofton named defensive back of the year http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/WH01/141229948 WH01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/WH01/141229948 Sat, 20 Dec 2014 00:01:00 -0500

By Chris Johnson

Exponent Telegram

BUCKHANNON - With his school's single-season interception record tied heading into Buckhannon-Upshur's regular-season finale against arch-rival Elkins, the odds were against Marcus Lofton in his quest to set a new mark.

The Tigers run a single-wing offense, seldom putting the ball in the air. Against B-U, Elkins threw the ball a grand total of six times. Lofton, a junior, picked off two of those passes. He then added one more interception in a playoff game - the Buccaneers' first since 2005 - against Martinsburg, bringing his season total to 11.

Eleven interceptions ... it's a number that jumps off the page and was the driving force behind Lofton being selected by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association as the first Carl Lee Defensive Back of the Year.

"Just knowing how many great players are out there in this state, how many options the Sports Writers Association had and knowing they chose me, it's very humbling," Lofton said. "There are no words to describe how grateful I am to receive this honor."

Lofton's interception total may be the highest for one season in the history of the state. Defensive stats have only been kept with some sort of regularity statewide since the early 1990s. In 2006, Martinsburg's Xavier Peters had 10 en route to winning that year's Huff Award. Nobody seems to be able to recall any other player reaching double-digits in interceptions.

As impressive as his knack for picking off a pass became in 2014, it just touches the surface as to what kind of player Lofton has become.

Primarily a cornerback, although he did play some free safety when a teammate was injured, Lofton also had 46 tackles, forced three fumbles, recovered two fumbles and returned two of the picks for touchdowns. On offense, he averaged more than 12 yards per rush attempt, was B-U's top receiver and accounted for seven more touchdowns.

"Marcus is a big-play player," B-U coach Duane Stoeckle said, "no matter what side of the ball he is on. You look at his number of interceptions and the impressive thing was it never stopped with just the interception. He's such a student of the game, too. Marcus is constantly watching film looking for ways to improve, looking at things the receivers he is going to cover do. He's like a sponge.

"As great a season as he had, Marcus is a team-first guy. He's an unselfish player, he's very coachable and he's an even better person. I'm thrilled for him that he is receiving this honor."

Of his 11 picks, Lofton, who is also one of the premier track and field athletes in the state, says the one that stands out the most is the one where he tied Jamie Green's school record of eight against Preston.

"I'm pretty sure the ball was intended for [Josiah] Nuse," Lofton said. "He went up, I went up and my teammate Brandon Mallett went up at the same time. Nuse ended up on the ground, Brandon did too until he made sure I had the ball and I just took off. I was running down the sideline, heading to the end zone [he returned it 68 yards for a touchdown] and everybody was just going nuts because they knew that tied the record. I will never forget that moment.

"Then to get two more the next week against Elkins and talk to Jamie, who I have gotten to know real well this year. He told me he was a little disappointed that he didn't have the record anymore but he was glad it was me that broke it. Then to get one against Martinsburg. Obviously, the score of the game wasn't what we wanted it to be, but to be in the playoffs and going up against a program that has accomplished what they have the last few years and make a big play on defense, that proved to myself that I can get one against the very best in the state.

"Still, though, the best part of this season will be knowing I played a role in getting B-U football turned around and back to the playoffs."

The Lee Award is one of six news honors introduced this season by the WVSWA. Previously announced were the Moss Award for wide receiver of the year to Jefferson's Christian Johnson; House Award for quarterback of the year to South Charleston's Kentre Grier; Walker Award for special teams player of the year to Musselman's Deonte Glover; Warner Award for running back of the year to Capital's Kashuan Haley; and Howley Award for linebacker of the year to Martinsburg's Isaiah Honesty.

Lee, a former South Charleston and Marshall University standout, played in the NFL for 12 seasons (11 with the Minnesota Vikings and one with the New Orleans Saints). He was selected to the Pro Bowl three times and retired with 31 career interceptions.

James Binder: Health insurance companies are con artists http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/ARTICLE/141229960 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/ARTICLE/141229960 Sat, 20 Dec 2014 00:01:00 -0500 By James Binder Private insurance companies have conned us once again. It wasn't long ago that many folks were pleased with a new insurance regulation that required private insurers to cover pre-existing medical conditions. People said it was the moral thing to do. It was also self-protective, since almost all of us will develop a chronic medical condition at some point in our lives.

It is no surprise to many of us that private insurers have found a way to avoid paying for sick people with pre-existing conditions. The private insurers are very clever! They have created a way to sidestep the intent of the pre-existing regulation. How did they con us this time?

First, it is important to realize that Obamacare not only allowed private insurers to remain as middleman in the delivery of health care, it actually increased their income and power. From their position of power, they have begun to collect huge copayments for certain specialty drugs. Don McCanne, MD, a top healthcare analyst, explains:

"Specialty drugs are a problem for private insurers for two reasons. They are very expensive and they are taken by individuals with serious disorders, such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. By assigning high coinsurance payments for specialty drugs, patients who were on them would go elsewhere for their insurance coverage when they found out the coinsurance was unaffordable."

This deceptive strategy allows them to get rid of the sicker, more expensive patients and hold onto healthier patients. In other words, we have a heath care system shunning the sickest and most needy patients.

It is well past the time to rid the health care system of these middlemen, who deny necessary care to the sickest patients and increase the cost of health care at the same time. This a double hit. We would save over $300 billion annually in administrative costs if we eliminated this unnecessary bureaucracy.

It would not be wise or moral to simply repeal Obamacare, as some politicians are proposing. Many people do benefit from Obamacare.

A logical and compassionate response would be to replace with it a better system - single-payer national health insurance. Everyone would be covered for all necessary care with the amount of money already in the system. National health insurance is much more efficient than marketplace care. Patients learning to live with chronic medical conditions would not have the additional emotional burden of dealing with a health system trying to deny them care. What a good idea!

James Binder, M.D., is co-leader of the West Virginia Chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program.

Editorial: Future belongs to the young, secular, if they vote http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/ARTICLE/141229961 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/ARTICLE/141229961 Sat, 20 Dec 2014 00:01:00 -0500 America's culture never stops evolving on many, many fronts. Trying to guess what's coming is the specialty of experts called "futurists" - but even they can't predict with certainty.

Here's a trend that may (or may not) have far-reaching consequences. The Atlantic recently blared a headline: "Southern Evangelicals Dwindling - and Taking the GOP Edge With Them."

The article said white evangelical Protestants, the heart of the current Republican Party, are shrinking rapidly. Meanwhile, secular Americans who don't attend church are a pillar of the Democratic Party, and they're growing relentlessly.

A few decades from now, the magazine indicated, this shift may boost the progressive political values that have largely been the purview of Democrats in recent decades.

"Since 2007, the number of white evangelical Protestants nationwide has slipped from 22 percent to 18 percent today," The Atlantic reported.

At the same time, it said, "growth of the religiously unaffiliated across the South" has coincided with a steady increase in "non-black ethnic minorities.... Notably, each of these growing constituencies leans decidedly toward Democratic candidates."

The intellectual magazine said white evangelicals vote Republican by a 3-to-1 margin, and these born-again voters "have a strong turnout record." But "non-black ethnic minorities and particularly the religiously unaffiliated are much less likely to vote."

Still, the trend line seems unstoppable. White evangelicals are aging, while churchless seculars are much younger. As generations change, the latter eventually will wield more U.S. political power.

London's Guardian newspaper recently voiced the same prediction:

"Even in the Deep South, the Republican base of white evangelical Christians is shrinking," it said. "...Meanwhile, there's been a corresponding increase in the religiously unaffiliated, who tend to vote more Democratic."

The Center for American Progress says: "The religiously unaffiliated now make up 24 percent of Democratic and Democratic-leaning registered voters in the United States. This makes the "nones" the single largest bloc of Democratic voters."

We hope this trend boosts humane political values. But don't hold your breath. Churchless young adults generally vote less. That means progressive politicians must differentiate themselves, and give today's Americans a reason to take part in democracy.

Local charities struggle with increased need, fewer donations http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/GZ05/141229965 GZ05 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/GZ05/141229965 Sat, 20 Dec 2014 00:01:00 -0500 By Erin Beck Local charities say as they are stepping up their services this winter; they are also figuring out how to pay for additional assistance for an increasing number of people signing up for help.

Mountain Mission director John Roberts said his organization has seen a 20 to 25 percent decrease in holiday giving this year. The organization provides food and clothing as well as assistance with purchasing furniture, prescriptions and paying utility bills. It also provides needed supplies to homeless people to help them through cold winter nights, Roberts said.

The organization received 1,300 requests for Christmas baskets this year, compared to 1,250 last year and 900 five years ago.

"We've got a lot of new names coming across our desks - people that have never asked for help before," he said.

He said many of the recipients point to a decrease in hours at work, a loss of employment or low wages.

"There are many people that are working but they are just not getting 40 hours a week," he said. "If they are getting 40 hours a week, it's minimum wage and they just cannot make ends meet."

Major Darrell Kingsbury, Salvation Army Charleston Area Commander, said this year 38 percent of the people who signed up for Christmas assistance said they had never signed up with any organization for Christmas assistance before.

"That's a high percentage," he said. "You usually expect eight to 10 percent that would be new in a year."

He said last year the organization provided Christmas dinner for 3,500 people. This year, about 4,300 people requested Christmas meals.

He said he has talked to recipients who say they recently lost one of two jobs they were holding down. He also believes more help is needed, because some families have recently started taking care of an aging family member.

Last year, the Salvation Army's kettle campaign raised $170,756. With the anticipation of more demand for assistance, The Salvation Army raised this year's goal to $215,000.

"The price of food and toys have gone up," Kingsbury said. "The things we would purchase for Christmas to give out have gone up. We raised our goal to cover that increased cost factor."

This week, donations were lagging $6,200 behind where they were at the same time last year.

Kingsbury said the main reason for the lag is fewer checks sent in after the nonprofit's mail campaign.

He said the organization is about $23,000 below where it needs to be to make its goal for checks this season.

"Sometimes folks get busy with doing their Christmas shopping and the different things going on in the season," he said. "They intend to write a check, but they get busy and it gets laid over to the side, until somebody says something that reminds them. That's what we're hoping to do is stir up the memories."

Ellen Allen, executive director of Covenant House, said three years ago, about 5,000 people were assisted through Covenant House's food pantry. This year that number is expected to reach 13,000.

Allen said SNAP benefit cuts contributed to the increase.

"Sequestration cuts from last year coupled with cuts from different housing grants have really trickled down to our local nonprofits," Allen said. "We're all having to raise more money locally just to keep doing the basic things we've been doing."

Covenant House also provides assistance with finding housing. Allen said rent prices are also contributing to increased need.

"Their wages aren't going up," she said. "They're not keeping up with inflation. The working poor are really losing ground. That's where people like Covenant House come in, to fill that gap."

Covenant House also incurs more costs in the winter because more people are using the day shelter, including the showers and laundry services. The day shelter averaged 200 people a day last month, compared to a year-round average of 150 people per day.

Allen said she expects future years to be challenging.

"We have a new funding landscape," she said.

But she also said the community has responded to the cuts with increased donations.

"This is such a generous community," she said.

Allen said food and cash contributions are always appreciated.

"We never have enough cereal, pasta, pasta sauces and canned fruit," she said. "Those are things we run out of all the time."

Donations are accepted at Covenant House at 600 Shrewsbury St., right behind Capitol Market.

Those who want to contribute may call 304-344-8053, ext. 22., or contribute online at wvcovenanthouse.org.

Those who want to help the Salvation Army may donate at the red kettles and by volunteering to host a shift at a kettle near them. To volunteer, call 304-343-4548 ext. 114.

Those who want to donate to Mountain Mission can call 304-344-3407 or go to mountainmission.com. They can also look for Mountain Mission Incorporated on Facebook.

Reach Erin Beck at erin.beck@wvgazette.com, 304-348-5163 or follow @erinbeckwv on Twitter.

Alyce Faye Bragg column; From the hills of Judea to the hills of W.Va. http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/ARTICLE/141229966 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/ARTICLE/141229966 Sat, 20 Dec 2014 00:01:00 -0500 By Alyce Faye Bragg CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The woman was little more than a girl - and tired; so tired. She swayed slightly on the back of the plodding donkey, and the older man who walked beside her reached out a steadying hand and said encouragingly, "Be of good comfort, Mary. We will soon be to Bethlehem." She shifted her heavy body and smiled wanly at him.

It had been such a long, hard journey, and since noon there had been a queer, persistent pain in the small of her back, which had grown worse as the hours passed. She hadn't mentioned it to her husband. He was such a good man, she thought with a rush of feeling - and he had been filled with worry over her making this long trip in her condition. She sighed unconsciously and let her mind drift back over the events of the last few months.

It had all started with the stranger who had appeared so suddenly in her room early that first morning. She hadn't heard him enter, but she hadn't really been frightened when she looked up and saw him standing there. There had been a compelling glow about him, and when he spoke, it was in a kind and compassionate voice. Still the words had left her troubled.

The words came back to her quite plainly, "Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women. Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favor with God. And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of his father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His Kingdom there shall be no end."

He went on further to explain how this was to be, and Mary remembered her willing submission when she answered him, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word."

Then there was that curious visit to her cousin Elizabeth. After a lifetime of barrenness, Mary found Elizabeth indeed expecting a child in her old age. It was just as the stranger had said. And in the three months that she visited there, Elizabeth's husband Zacharias had spoken not a word. Cousin Elizabeth told her that he had been stricken speechless some six months before. Mary mused on, remembering how her cousin had greeted her with a blessing and even now wondering at the words that poured from her in reply.

The twinkling of lights in the distance brought her out of her reverie. Dusk had fallen, and they were nearing the city of Bethlehem. "Soon, Mary, we shall be at the inn," Joseph comforted her. Mary realized that the pain in her back had grown steadily worse, and the thought of a bed comforted her.

As she waited in the courtyard for her husband to secure a room, she was struck by the multitude of people that milled to and fro. So many people had come to Bethlehem to pay their taxes. She could tell by the discouraged droop of Joseph's shoulders that he was the bearer of bad news. He tried to smile at her. "Mary, there is no room for us in the inn," he told her. "But," he continued in brighter tones, "the inkeeper said we could sleep in his stable. What do you want to do?"

Even a bed of straw was welcomed by Mary, who realized that her time of delivery had come. The next few hours were a kaleidoscope of sound and pain and, at last, joy as Mary gave birth to her firstborn son. The fragrance of fresh hay filled the stable as Mary wrapped her son in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger.

There was a sudden burst of noise at the door, and Mary looked up to see several roughly-garbed shepherds talking excitedly. It seemed that while they were out in the field nearby tending their sheep, an angel had suddenly appeared. "We were so frightened," one of them said. "The glory of the Lord was shining all around."

"He told us not to fear," another of them continued. "He said he brought good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people - that a Savior was born today in the city of David, which is Christ the Lord."

"He said the sign would be that we would find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. Then there was a whole multitude of angels, praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will to men.' We came as fast as we could." And stopping abruptly, the shepherds fell on their knees and began worshiping the baby.

Mary lay on the hay and pondered these things in her heart. There were darker days ahead, and the time would come when she would know the full meaning of the words spoken by Simeon at the circumcising of Jesus. (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also.) But now she was at rest; her heart was full of thanksgiving for her beautiful, healthy baby.

For some reason, her mind kept returning to the words heard on the last Sabbath that the scribe had read from the book of Isaiah. "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." Mary sighed, and snuggled her baby closer. Just a baby, but the hope of the world!

The event that happened so long ago in the hills of Judea are still echoing in our hills today - and throughout the whole world. I am thankful for Mary, who was blessed among women. I rejoice with the angels who sang, "Peace on earth, goodwill to men." I am so glad that the angel told Mary that she would bring forth a son, and call his name Jesus, for he would save his people from their sins. I praise God most of all for the greatest gift the world has ever known. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

"Whosoever" included me.

I want to thank my friends for all the beautiful Christmas cards I've received this season. God bless you all.

I am now mailing books for Christmas giving. Books available are: "This Holler is My Home," "Homesick for the Hills," and "Laughter from the Hills." They are $15.33 each (which includes tax and postage) or three for $40. I will autograph them as you wish. Write to Alyce Faye Bragg at 2556 Ovapa Road, Ovapa, WV 25164 or email alycefaye@citlink.net.

Vent line: Dec. 20, 2014 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/GZ01/141229968 GZ01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/GZ01/141229968 Sat, 20 Dec 2014 00:01:00 -0500 Obama wants to use the Bible and Christmas season as an example in embracing the illegal immigrants that he has given amnesty to with his executive order. Why not embrace those of us who are here legally with jobs and the economy?

I'm sometimes amazed at the ignorance displayed in the Vent line and Reader's Voice, so you may as well print some of my comments. Several years ago I attended a town-meeting-type forum. They asked us what they could do for us. I told them I didn't want them to do anything for me if they would promise not to do anything to me. An honest politician answered and said, "You might as well ask us to do something for you."

The person complaining about me making fun of Marshall must be a liberal. If it is something they don't want to hear, they feel like it shouldn't be printed. By the way, the comment I made is not nearly as nasty as some of the anti-WVU comments I've read.

To the caller who is unhappy with West Virginia and wants to change it: West Virginia is almost heaven. If you don't want to move, accept it. I love it and I'm staying.

I'm glad to see they put Sallie Robinson in "Cornered by the Camera." She is one of the sweetest people and the prettiest assessor we've ever had. I enjoyed that part of it and I'm sure she will make a great assessor too.

Ted Brightwell is a talented guy who can do anything. I'm glad he is in "The Nutcracker Suite."

I have had to go to MedExpress twice for back pain. I love them. They are so friendly, particularly Josh. They are really kind to you there. Keep on keeping on, Josh.

Elementary principals should strike since they didn't get the big raises like the secondary principals did.

Someone said West Virginia is the second-whitest and the stupidest state in the nation, yet they choose to stay here. Who is the intelligent one?

Charleston Town Center forces tenants out by raising the rent. Stores sit empty for two or three years. We need more retail stores and restaurants in the mall.

The leaders in this country need to stand up and say, "If you commit a crime in this country you will be arrested. And what happens during that arrest depends entirely upon you."

If Nitro would quit buying more property and fix the roads and streets up, they might get more people there instead of so many empty buildings.

Please remember those who cannot get out anymore to enjoy the Christmas lights and excitement. One little 35-minute trip would be thoughtful and much appreciated.

When is the West Virginia DOH going to remove the construction barrels from Interstate 77 southbound between Edens Fork and Charleston? Must we look at them for the entire winter season?

There is a huge hole on MacCorkle Avenue in front of SportMart heading south. It is full of water and that means it will be very dangerous when the temperature drops below freezing. Who is responsible for fixing this?

The Oregon quarterback who won the Heisman Trophy is a true man with a soft heart. Plus he gives praise to Jesus for his success. It is nice to see a clean-cut young man who is not on an ego trip win this most prestigious award. God bless him.

I'm calling about Cunningham Memorial Park and the bad shape it is in. The roads are so bad you can hardly get in and there are holes. I had to buy a new tire. They should fix it. Maybe if you print this then they'll fix it.

If you can march all day in cold weather and wave signs, you can work. Get off welfare.

The left likes to claim the moral high ground no matter what the issue is. In reality, they do not believe there is any moral high ground.

Wouldn't Marshall beating WVU be in the same news category as man bites dog?

Russia is back, as prophesied in the Bible. The bear is on the move. Read the prophesies of Daniel and Revelations. It is all predicted in these last days. There's not much time left. Get right with Jesus.

Readers' Voice: Dec. 20, 2014 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/GZ01/141229969 GZ01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/GZ01/141229969 Sat, 20 Dec 2014 00:01:00 -0500 Express your opinion on any subject you wish. Not all comments are published. Call 304-357-4451 or email readersvoice@wvgazette.com.

To the person who asked why the gay marriage issue was not put up for a vote: When was the vote for heterosexual marriage? I missed that vote.

Yes, there is a law in West Virginia that you have to wear a seatbelt. Those who didn't listen are now tragically in a cemetery.

For all the people who say terrible things about Mayor Danny Jones and his car shows that bring thousands, if not millions, of dollars into our economy, and you should look at the past Saturday's Gazette-Mail on page 7A and see that Danny Jones, for the 11th year, he has paid out of his pocket for all city employees to have a Christmas luncheon. He pays for many things out of his pocket.

Shelley Moore Capito voted for Obama's $1.1 trillion budget yesterday. She's as liberal as Natalie Tennant. No more votes for her from me.

In my formative years, I was taught to respect those in authority. The police are in authority to enforce the law. If the two men recently killed by the police had only respected and not resisted their commands, they would still be alive.

We have so many young, inexperienced and overconfident drivers on the road now that apparently driver's ed is not a priority in the education system. It is next to impossible to get into a class. There is a huge waiting list. In other states it is mandatory before receiving a driver's license.

There are 12 registered voters in my family, and we will never again vote for the library funds because of the raises.

I heard there was going to be a "wear blue day" in support of our police. Can you please let us know when that is so that we can wear our beautiful blue?

There are two Division I football teams, Marshall University and West Virginia University. If you can't be proud of both of them then why don't you move out of state? Try Pennsylvania - you could choose Penn State or maybe Pittsburgh.

To the reader who said this country is not made up of illegals: I think the Native Americans would disagree with that. The British came here and not only stole all of their land, but also murdered their people.

So let me get this straight: All of these Republicans were elected to office because the people were sick of what the Democrats are doing, but now the Republicans are siding with the Democrats. How stupid are they?

Our illustrious mayor should do something about the potholes in Charleston. Yesterday my friend almost blew a tire on one of them on the Boulevard.

The tobacco settlement should be used for our schools and to build better ones. It also should be used for the obliteration of smoking by our youth. I'm convinced our youth seeing a hole cut in the throat to breathe would help.

Black ice will not slow down these speeding cars and semis, but a hefty fine will. If only we could find some officers to enforce the limits. Heaven knows the same idiots that do not drive according to road conditions still have not realized the little lever on the left side of the steering column is a directional signal.

Clinton Giles, as an administrator especially, should know that discipline, respect and proper attitude, not mouth, are good leadership examples. Kudos to the Wheeling police, refs and others that had the foresight to prevent problems from escalating in the championship game.

This is for the person who believes teachers are responsible for kids not being ready for college and the real world. I suggest to you that parents are still responsible for their children. If parents don't instill in their children the harsh facts of life, then it's for certain their teachers can't do it alone. If you think your children should go to college, express that to them early and often. No one can do this for you.

The tag line "war on coal" has made some advertising company a lot of money. Made them rich. But in reality, there's no real war on coal. If there's a war being waged by this administration, it's to preserve our plant for future generations. The "war on coal" marketing campaign was designed for the coal industry in West Virginia so that they could continue hide the fact and justify their efforts as they rob, rape and steal the state of its natural resources.

Cinema showdown: which local movie theater do teens prefer? http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/GZ10/141229973 GZ10 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/GZ10/141229973 Sat, 20 Dec 2014 00:01:00 -0500 By Aaliyah Jones Riverside High School During holiday break, going to the movies is a great way to hang out. Whether you're with your special someone or the whole family, the movie theater is a place for all to enjoy themselves.

The two theaters in Charleston are Marquee Cinemas and Park Place Stadium Cinemas, and many teens, including several Riverside High School juniors, have a preference when it comes to their favorite.

Marquee Cinemas, located on Southridge Boulevard behind Walmart, is a larger theater than Park Place; it is two stories high and has a glass elevator and spiral staircase leading to the second story. There are some arcade games on the first floor, and parking for all moviegoers is free. However, the concessions are higher priced, and only large items have free refills and just for one time.

Ticket prices are determined by age, time and even day of the week. Teens are considered adults, so for all 2D movies, matinees (any showings before 6 p.m.) are $7 and night movies are $9.25. There's also the early bird special of $6.50 for the first showing before 2 p.m. Monday-Thursday and the Tuesday family night that is $7 for tickets. Movies in 3-D cost $2.75 more.

Teens enjoy this theater for many reasons. Its "larger space, cleaner [building] and safer and non-sketchy parking area" is why Cassidy Johnson prefers it over Park Place.

"Being closer to Olive Garden isn't bad, either," she added.

"I just enjoy the extra space and not being so crowded with tons of people filling in the movies," said Dajon Watkins.

Park Place, located on Washington Street East in downtown Charleston, is a smaller, one-level cinema. Inside are 11 theaters as well as the "Power Zone," a spacious coin-operated arcade for kids of all ages to enjoy. It has a small variety of concessions to choose from, and all popcorn and drinks are all you can eat/drink. Also, with the popcorn, you fill it yourself, so you can season it whatever way you want. However, you do have to pay for parking, though with the coupon, it's only 75 cents.

"The extra free refills are really nice to have after paying for a ticket, then food and sometimes even extra for a pair of 3-D glasses," said Daniel Kelly.

Tickets at Park Place are slightly cheaper than at Marquee. Adult matinee tickets are $7, and evening tickets are $9. The early bird special, which is the same one as Marquee, is $6.50, and on Bargain Tuesday there are specials on select movies all day. The 3-D surcharge is $2.50.

"I love Park Place Cinemas," said Kaitlyn Murphy. "The prices are cheaper, refills are free, it's close to home and it's all on one floor and easy to find."

Murphy also enjoys the pleasure of multiple free refills on movie snacks.

"Teens already have to work with a small budget, so not having to pay for extras is a plus for me," she added. "And saving gas by not driving out to Corridor G to see an hour and a half movie just adds to my pros list."

Overall, both movie theaters are equally good.

If you want space, don't mind slightly higher prices and are just in it for the entertainment, then Marquee Cinemas is your place. And afterward, you can go to one of the many nice dining options nearby.

If you enjoy all-you-can-eat free refills and parking garages don't give you a fright, then Park Place is your perfect match. And when you finish up your romantic comedy or horror flick, you can head over to Charleston Town Center for some retail therapy and a great selection of restaurants.

Robert J. Samuelson: The budget stalemate continues http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/DM04/141229979 DM04 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141220/DM04/141229979 Sat, 20 Dec 2014 00:01:00 -0500

WASHINGTON - The Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee issued a fascinating and largely overlooked report the other day highlighting how little Congress and the White House have done to deal with the nation's budget problems.

Don't be fooled by Congress' recent approval of a $1.1 trillion spending bill. True, the legislation will finance most of the government through September. But passage mainly signals political exhaustion by both parties. On the budget, they're content with the status quo.

The same conclusion applies to the Budget Committee report. Its tone is congratulatory. The budget outlook, it says, has improved substantially since 2010. And it has.

According to the report, projected spending for the next decade (2015-2024) has dropped $7.8 trillion from the levels estimated by the Congressional Budget Office in 2010. Expected deficits over the decade are almost 40 percent lower than those in the 2010 forecasts.

Genuine - if grudging - progress has been made. All the ugly partisan warfare has produced significant, if incomplete, gains.

Or so it seems.

Here's what the report actually shows: About three-quarters of the spending savings result from trends over which Congress and the White House had little control: lower interest rates ($3.9 trillion over the decade) and slower growth in health spending ($2 trillion).

Legislated spending cuts totaled only $1.8 trillion. For context, federal spending over the decade is estimated at nearly $50 trillion.

Put differently, Democrats and Republicans have done precious little to resolve their basic differences over how large government should be, what it should do and who should pay for it. Both have benefited politically from outside events. They've claimed success while evading the hardest choices.

In a letter with the report, outgoing Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, D-Wash., urges Republicans to abandon their "partisan, cuts-only approach" and to accept tax increases. But the advice works both ways.

Though Republicans have resisted new taxes (an exception: higher rates on the wealthy enacted in 2013), Democrats have been as adamant in resisting benefit cuts to Social Security and other "entitlements," including Medicare.

Not surprisingly, Murray's letter does not mention benefit cuts.

Both parties have taken the path of least political resistance. They've heaped spending cuts onto the roughly one-third of the budget devoted to so-called "discretionary" programs - defense and everything from roads to the FBI. (The other two-thirds of the budget consist of entitlements and interest on the debt.) These discretionary programs have been subject to year-to-year reductions that, cumulatively, are devastating. Measured as a share of national income, the reductions are about a third from 2010 to 2024.

Savings from lower interest rates and slower health spending reinforce these cuts. A lackluster economy and negligible inflation have kept rates low. In 2010, the CBO predicted that rates on three-month Treasury bills would average about 4 percent in 2014; the actual rate has been 0.1 percent. As for health spending, annual increases have averaged less than 4 percent since 2009 - much lower than expected. Why? Some experts cite the weak economy; others emphasize the spread of high-deductible insurance policies or provisions in the Affordable Care Act.

As a practical matter, this two-pronged approach has reached its limits. The savings from interest rates and health care will probably not be repeated. The deep cuts in discretionary programs, especially defense, could be suspended or replaced with increases.

Even without these setbacks, sizable deficits stretch indefinitely into the future. The publicly held federal debt will increase from $12 trillion in 2013 to nearly $21 trillion in 2024, projects the CBO.

The hard choices remain, as does the political stalemate.