Monthly Archives: March 2017

An Open letter on Not Funding AmeriCorps in West Virginia.

As I write this my future as an AmeriCorps Volunteer in Elkins, West Virginia is in question. As part of the National Corporation for National and  Community Service my funding is in jeopardy under the new proposed national budget. So I just wanted to share what the future of West Virginia will look like with out programs like AmeriCorps. How we contribute to communities and are a value to the State and Country.

With Appalachian Forest Heritage Area being my supervising program, I have greater knowledge of the services that we supply. Yet, I have information and direct experience with the impact that other programs  have within my the state and it is for all the members of AmeriCorps  across the country that I write this.

AmeriCorps members do not choose to be a service members  for wealth, social statues or fame. We choose to live and work under the hardest of conditions, in places of poverty, economic distress and devastation. With little more than minimum wage we choose to take our education ( most have at least a 4 year college degree and some more then that) and use it for the good of a community . We work in places far from our homes and often times in rural locations where most would not want to work. We take on projects that are for the betterment of everyone from the preservation of a historic site, to removing evasiveness species of plants from our public lands to providing summer reading programs to communities who have the highest drop out rates and drug addiction issues in our country.

West Virginia is my home and I work with 883 other West Virginia  AmeriCorps to support small non-profits and state-run programs that help families know their children are safe in after school programs, so they can finish their days work. We work day in and day out with out rest to help victims of  floods, fires, and other natural disasters. Making the job that FEMA and other federal government programs run smoother. We save our culture and history for another generation to learn from with hours of cataloging, researching and displaying our states rich past.  We develop programs to bring more jobs and more economic opportunities to areas where finding a job at a living wage job can be difficult. We work to help the poorest of our communities get health care in areas where they may have to travel over an hour to just get a prescription refilled let alone emergency care. We work with veterans in the tough transition from service to civilian work.  We work to bring more tourist to our beautiful locations and historical places.We replant forests, maintain trails and fight forest fires to protect our communities.We motivate thousands of other volunteers to do the same in all of our locations, towns, and cities.

If we remove the 883 volunteer members that serve my state we are removing 1,836,640.00 work hours from our states economy.That is a million hours of services that we are not going to be provided to all the counties of this state. It is going to take away compassionate educated people who work for the lowest of wages away from our children, our poor, our sick and our suffering.My calculation is based on a 40 hour work week over a year and many AmeriCorps are working more than 40 hours a week to expand the services that they provide for no extra money every week.

Volunteers get no over time, they cost no extra benefits to state or federal governments. We collect no  retirement,sick or vacation time. We as Americorps ask for very little to work for you. We ask that you fund us enough to feed ourselves and house ourselves for the year that we sign up to work for you the people of  this country and the great state of West Virginia.

Yet, some how my work is not seem as a profitable, worth while or important to the well-being of my state or country. How is that possible, how is it that we do not need all of us working together to bring our country forward to be the best place for all of us.

I have not resigned my future to a place of darkness yet, I have not tossed in the towel on all of the projects that I work on. I have only begun to see that if I do not speak out for the thousands of AmeriCorps that I represent that my state and my county  will lose a valuable service that is given to our people. Let the work that I do change the state that I live in for the better and may it change the world that I liven for a better future for all of us. “I am Americorps and I get things done.”

velma ragsdale and Jolynn Powers at the Ramp festival

JoLynn Powers AmeriCorps Member with community volunteer Velma Ragsdale working a booth for Elkins Main Street at the Ramps to Rail Festival 2016

 

Categories: Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Man with a Passion for Glass

When meeting West Virginia native and glass artist Ron Hinkle you are talking with a craftsman who has spent a life time working in West Virginia glass. A man who is passionate about keeping the tradition alive and educating every one he comes in contact with about its importance to West Virginia history.glass tank with pipe close up

West Virginia was once known as the number one producer of tableware glass and crystal in the United States. Early in the 20th century, Fostoria glass company of Wheeling, West Virginia employed more than 900 workers, making it the largest glass tableware factory in the country.In addition to table wares, factories across the state produced plate-glass for windows, pressed glass bottles,jars and marbles.Fortunately for workers in West Virginia, the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company located one of its plants in Clarksburg in 1916, and the Libbey-Owens-Ford Company established a plant in Charleston in 1916, sustaining the industry in the Mountain State into the 1970’s.  Buy the mid 1950’s Louie Glass in Weston,West Virginia is said to have made over 50% of all the table wear glass in the United States. Even with reduced production caused by the importation  of cheep glass from Mexico and China some companies continue the tradition of hand blown glass in the state.Ron Hinkel in his glass blowing studio 2-17-17

Blenko Glass in Milton,West Virginia is known for its vivid colors of hand blown glass. The  historic business has faced many challenges in its 100 years of production. Ron says “The thing that makes them[Blenko Glass] endearing,is the same thing that makes them struggle.”So today Ron Hinkle works diligently as Vise President to make sure that the history and tradition of West Virginia glass continues into the future. With years of experience in every position in the factory, from bit boy to blower, Ron has a unique view of the factory glass business. His success as a glass artist within his home studio also brings the company a creative way of looking at its historic products.Together these skills work to keep blown glass alive in West Virginia.

blenko glass

vivid colors of Blenko glass over the years

Ron’s fascination for glass began at the age of twelve when he discovered the mysterious qualities of melted glass, melting glass tubes from a chemistry set over his mother’s kitchen stove. Following that interest Ron took a job at a local glass factory while in high school and continued to work  near by,in Weston at the Louie Glass for the following twenty years. Working every job in the factory, Ron learned a wide verity of skills and  soon was experimenting with art glass.Ron found making the intricate designs within paper weights  fascinating. With little money and over 4 years Ron personally built his own glass blowing studio,the holding tank and glass furnace. He refurbished tools and struck out on his own.Ron says,” never make choices that you can’t recover from.” Building and expanding  his art glass business slowly even when at times he was overwhelmed with orders.

Ron Hinkel spinning a dish of glass

Ron Hinkle spins a blue candy dish at his home studio in Buckhannon, WV.

Child's Vase 2

Beautiful examples of Ron’s Work available on his website Child’s Vase 

Ron Hinkle bottels

Small potion bottles available on-line at http://www.ronhinkleglass.com.  

 

The quality of the glass products that Ron creates has made his work collectible around the county and is available in 37 states and at times internationally. In 2005 the company changed names and simply became Ron Hinkle Glass. His work has appeared numerous times on the West Virginia’s Governor’s Christmas tree and the Christmas Peace Tree at the White House in Washington D.C. He is the creator of “While You Were Sleeping” a massive glass installation in the grand hall of the Culture of the WV State Capitol Complex that was then moved to its permanent home at the Archaeological  Complex at Moundsville, West Virginia. He has been written about extensively and gained many collectors over the years.Ron Hinkel display moundsville

Ron Hinkle represents what is best about West Virginia  Artists in so many ways. He is a man of faith that has taken a historic craft that at one time incorporated 474 factories in our state and brought it to the community in a new way. He took time to learn from past masters and kept our culture and history alive.He is currently passing those skills on to Aaron Harvey,studio assistant and co-worker at Blenko. He is a family man who is welcoming to every one he meets and he shares his passion with all of us.

Aaron Harvey assisting at Ron Hinkle glass

Arron Harvey learning about glass from Ron Hinkle at his home studio and newest employee at Blenko glass as designer of new products.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Art, Buckhannon West Virginia, gifts, Upshur County West Virginia, West Virginia artists | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

Making a Minion Welding Hood

Forgive me for being so lax about writing these last few weeks. I finally did what my Dr. advised me to do, I rested . I am not good at resting and even while recovering from my surgery I found things to do that kept the mind active but the body safely still. One of those projects was a to make my 26-year-old son a Minion welding helmet. He had seen them on-line and wanted one but was not able to afford the 175 dollar price tag. So he asked me if I could make something close to this.minion with Banana

I knew it would only take a couple of days and would look wonderful when finished. So while the weather was nice I took the old welding hood and washed any oil and dirt off. I ruffed up the old paint with a scratch pad and sprayed on a  couple of coats of bright yellow spray paint.spray paint to welding hood

.old welding Hood

The details were painted with artist quality acrylic paint. The hood lens frame was painted after removing the making tape. Then I let the whole thing dry over night. The following day I masked off the black strap lines and added hair.I used a Sharpy black marker to block out the areas for the teeth and tong. Then painted in the details on the face. color blocking on Minion hood

 

the eye-ball is actually painted onto a clear hood lens that can be removed at any time and replaces the blue/green lens that my son actually uses when working with his welding torches. The eye can be reversed so that it appears to be looking upwards. finished welding hood Then I applied two coats of acrylic top coat to the paint. Let everything dry a couple of days and gave it to my son for his 26th birthday. He seems to really like it and I think the other guys at work will no longer mix his hood up with theirs!

Cody in Minion welding hood

Categories: Birthday, Cody, DIY projects, family fun, Personal art work, Uncategorized, welding Hood | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

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