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Visitors Express Thanks for Kindness

April 5, 2008
By Wayne Sheets, Contributing Business Writer
I’d like to share the following letter with everyone that was received by Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ellen Spears and forwarded to Elkins Downtown Merchants Association President Ed Griesel.

The letter only reinforces the qualities of hospitality, kindness and willingness to help others that are such an enviable and important part of our local people.

The subject line reads: “Your Visitor Center is Wonderful.”  The letter reads: “I just wanted to send a quick note of appreciation to the town and chamber of commerce for setting up such a wonderful visitor information center.

    “We arrived in town late on Palm Sunday and were worried about finding a place to stay, but were delighted to find the visitor center open. Moreover, two gracious volunteers were there. They answered all our questions and made us feel quite welcome and glad to have stopped in Elkins. We had dinner in town, walked around, and then, after looking over the brochures, stayed at Cheat River. It was wonderful — very restful after so much driving.

    “Please pass on a word of thanks to the volunteers that day. It was a cheery stop and on a somewhat chilly day. They gave us excellent directions for continuing our journey to Harper’s Ferry and pointed out several highlights on the way that otherwise we might have missed.

“    The visit to Elkins was a high point of our journey and after this experience, I would heartily recommend the town as a center for exploring the area.


Jeannie Takaki, Seattle, Wash.

    A big, heart-felt “thank you” goes out to Jim and Evelyn Skinner, the volunteers who were working the Welcome Center that day.


Let me run the following by you to see if, after reading it, you are as confused as I am. It involves Tax Freedom Day.

    Tax Freedom Day will fall on April 23 this year, according to the Tax Foundation’s annual calculation using the latest government data on income taxes. Stimulus rebates will push the date of celebration up this year and Americans will work three days less to pay taxes in 2008 than in 2007.

    According to the Tax Foundation Special Report Nr. 160, authored by the foundation’s senior economist Gerald Prante and Tax Foundation President Scott Hodge, that’s three days earlier than in 2007. Stimulus rebates and a projection of slow growth in 2008 are the principal reason for the earlier celebration.

    “Government continues to dominate the American taxpayer’s budget,” Hodge said.  “Americans will still spend more on taxes in 2008 than they will spend on food, clothing and housing combined.”

    In 2008, Americans will work 74 days to afford their federal taxes and 39 more days to pay state and local taxes. Meanwhile, buying food requires 35 days of work, clothing 13 days and housing 60 days. Other major categories are health and medical care (50 days), transportation (29 days) and recreation (21 days). Guess what?  That leaves only 44 days to enjoy life — unless, that is, one enjoys work so much, as the saying goes, he or she never works a day in his or her life.

    “During the Bush administration, Tax Freedom Day has been a see-saw affair,” Prante said.  “In 2000, Freedom Day was celebrated on May 3, the latest date ever.  Then a string of tax cuts between 2001 and 2003 pushed the day up by more than two weeks so that it fell on April 16 in 2003 and April 17 in 2004. For the next three years, incomes and tax collections soared, pushing Freedom Day back to April 26 in 2007. Now the stimulus rebates and projected slowing of income growth have made Tax Freedom Day come three days earlier on April 23.”

    According to the report, five major categories of tax dominate the tax burden. Individual income taxes, both federal and state, require 42 days work, and payroll taxes take another 28 days of sweat.  Sales and excise taxes, mostly state and local, take 16 days to pay off.  Corporate income taxes take 13 days, and property taxes take 12. (And I thought we only had 365 days in a year — except leap year, of course.)

    The report also says that Tax Freedom Day by state fluxuates wildly. According to the report, Alaskans kicked the celebrated day off on March 29, more than a week before any other state’s taxpayer.  Mississippi (April 7), Montana and West Virginia (April 8), and Alabama (April 9) round out the first five. Didn’t the report just say that Tax Freedom Day falls on April 23 this year?

    The report goes on an on, quoting percentages that taxes take of taxpayer’s earnings, and how they are calculated, but I won’t bore you with that — enough already. It’s nice to know when we’ll have our taxes paid, and that from that date forward, we’re working for ourselves. But did it have to be so convoluted and confusing?  It’s a typical governmental information release, I suppose. I hope you understand it — I do not.  You can view more of the report by logging on to


Middle Mountain Archery, owned and operated by Matt Higgins, recently moved to its new location on U.S. 33 east of Elkins. It’s located adjacent to where the highway changes from two lanes to the divided  four lanes. You can’t miss it with its bright red roof. 

Higgins is planning a grand opening soon, but did not give a specific date.  He said he wanted to get a little more settled before he makes that decision. It’s a nice store and I wish him great success at the new location.


    On the many occasions you’ve donated money to charitable organizations, have you ever wondered whether your donation was going to help the cause for which you gave your hard earned money, or for other expenses? 

    There are a couple of Web sites available that will help you learn whether your charity is worthwhile, and at the same time, give you information regarding where the dollars go.  One is the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Web site,, which includes a searchable index of charities registered with the office. Probably the most important feature of this site is that it lists how much money the organizations spend on charitable programs compared to fundraising and administrative overhead.

The other is the Charity Navigator, which lists much of the same information as the Secretary’s site. Its address is This one, however, lists only those that are 501(c)(3) tax-exempt and file a Form 990 with the IRS each year.  Those listed here must also have raised at least $600,000. One shouldn’t rely entirely on the Internet for information regarding charitable organizations, but it’s a good place to start.


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