Vol. 43, No. 25

June 20, 2017

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Sparks Hilltop Orchard named 2017 ECD Farm of the Year

Sparks Hilltop Orchard, owned and operated by Dianna and Joe Sparks, of Duck, has been chosen as the 2017 Elk Conservation District farm. The Sparks’ use their 65 acre farm as an orchard and vegetable operation.
Many of the items they produce are sold at local farmer’s markets. They have completed several programs with conservation practices including tree planting, wildlife exclusion fence, irrigation system, 30’ x 96’ high tunnel construction, mulching, gravel on heavy use areas, and gravel splash pads to prevent erosion from roof runoff.
Dianna and Joe are conscientious about the importance of the natural resources on their farm and conserving them for future generations. They have done an outstanding job in completing their EQIP and ECP programs.
After recent wind storms took a large toll on their orchard, they have worked and continue to work very closely with the NRCS and FSA in the recovery. They went above and beyond in the planting of the highest quality trees and have worked nonstop to insure the survival of those trees. The continuing efforts of the Sparks’ in implementing practices to improve their fruit and vegetable production will ensure that their farm remains to be a successful operation and an example of the rewards of hard work and determination.

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Frametown woman to
celebrate 100th birthday

Grace James will join Braxton County’s centenarians June 24. The Frametown woman, known not only to her family but also to members of her church and her neighbors as “Granny Grace,” has led, as have most individuals who reach that age, a difficult but rewarding life.
Although blind, this soon-to-be 100 woman uses a walker to move from place to place within a relatively small area of her home. She naps every afternoon, but, awake, she puts memories of much younger individuals to shame.
Recently reminiscing on some of the hardships she faced during her lifetime, she told how, when she could not attend high school because she had no warm clothes to wear, she instead returned to her elementary school where she repeated eighth grade. James explained why she made this choice. “I had been the janitor at Dry Fork School, and I wanted to keep the job so I could keep on buying what I needed. I had to be a student to do that,” she said.
One of James’ stories deals with a situation to which few, if any, individuals can relate. She lived with her maternal grandparents in her early years. When she was eight, her grandmother died. She tells of her grandfather’s actually letting her help him “lay out” her grandmother and “put the body in the buckboard” to take it to the cemetery.

Medal of Honor recipient to speak at Gassaway Baptist Church

Medal of Honor recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams will be speaking at the Gassaway BaptistChurch on Sunday June 25 at the 9:30am worship service. Williams, a retired United States Marine, received the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in the Battle of lwo Jima during World War II; and is the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from that battle.
Landing on Iwo Jima on February 21, 1945, Williams, who at the time was a 21 year old Corporal, distinguished himself two days later. An excerpt from his Citation reads “Quick to volunteer his services when our tanks were maneuvering vainly to open a lane for the infantry through the network of reinforced concrete pillboxes, buried mines and black, volcanic sands, Corporal Williams daringly went forward alone to attempt the reduction of devastating machine-gun fire from the unyielding positions. Covered only by four riflemen, he fought desperately for four hours under terrific enemy small-arms fire and repeatedly returned to his own lines to prepare demolition charges and obtain service flame throwers, struggling back, frequently to the rear of hostile emplacements, to wipe out one position after another. On one occasion, he daringly mounted a pillbox to insert the nozzle of his flame thrower through the air vent, kill the occupants and silence the gun; on another he grimly charged enemy riflemen who attempted to stop him with bayonets and destroyed them with a burst of flame from his weapon.”


Local dental practice changes ownership

Dr. Laura Marple recently announced that Dr. Kristy Naternicola now owns what was her dentistry practice. The Braxton native, who has been practicing dentistry since 1980, in Braxton since 1987, will continue to work part time.
Marple earned her undergraduate degree from West Virginia Wesleyan College and her degree in dentistry from West Virginia University. She began practicing her profession in Webster County, where she spent seven years.
“I’m not ready to retire yet,” Marple commented on her decision to continue working a few days a week. She explained that she decided to sell her practice for several reasons. “I live in Charleston. For 30 years, I’ve been driving from Charleston, and I decided to give myself something of a break,” she noted. “Also, I just married again so I want to spend some time being a housewife,” she said.
Marple sees opportunities for her to stay busy on the days she isn’t at the dental office so she isn’t concerned she’ll be bored. Her husband, Dr. David Ranson—a vascular and general surgeon at St. Thomas Memorial Hospital—owns a horse farm. “He has a horse-racing business and shows horses,” she said, adding “I’ll be doing chores there. Coming from Braxton County, I shouldn’t have any problems with that. I also hope to have time to do more exercising.”
In addition to her husband, Marple has a son and a daughter, both in professional careers. Her daughter, Whitney Fleming, is a dentist in South Carolina. Jameson Fleming, her son, practices internal medicine in New Jersey. She also has a step grandson.
Choosing the buyer of her practice carefully, Dr.Marple wanted someone who would “continue [her] legacy of providing quality dental health care in Braxton County and the surrounding counties.” She noted that Dr. Kristy Naternicola, the new owner, “brings a passion for dentistry and will continue providing the excellent care that our patients deserve.”


Beth Atkins anticipates being busy in retirement

While many retiring individuals maintain they’re looking forward to “doing nothing,” Beth Atkins looks forward to something entirely different. After 35 years of teaching kindergarten at Little Birch Elementary School, Atkins has retired. However, she sees a retirement filled with activity.
Explaining that she originally chose to teach kindergarten because she “always enjoyed working with young children,” she added, “At age 15 I helped with the summer Head Start program here in Braxton County, and I knew at that time that I wanted to teach young children.”
In retirement, Atkins plans to continue working with young children. She has worked with children at both the Sutton Library and the Sutton Baptist Church, and she will stay with both. Once school starts, she noted, she will probably volunteer at Sutton Elementary. “A former LBE student will be the new kindergarten teacher [at SES],” she explained.
Atkins belongs to the Friends of the Library, is president of the Sutton Public Library Board of Trustees, and is secretary of Judy’s Garden Club. President of the Braxton chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, she is also a member of the Braxton County Association of Retired School Employees.
The recent retiree will also “spend time quilting, gardening, and reading,” and, of course, she “wants to spend as much time as possible with [her] family, especially [her grandson.” She and husand Larry have two children—Laura and L.J. Her daughter and husband Mark have one child, Elliott. They live in Richmond. Her son lives in Lakeside, Montana.





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