MILTON — The West Virginia Pumpkin Festival was in full swing Friday, giving area students and visitors a chance to stretch their legs and enjoy the harvest festival.
Since 1986, the West Virginia Pumpkin Festival has turned into one of the state’s largest celebrations, celebrating fall and harvesting. The festival started as a way to help farmers with the raising and selling of pumpkins and now welcomes about 50,000 visitors each year.
On Thursday, Chris Rodebaugh, from Lewisburg, West Virginia, took the blue ribbon in the largest pumpkin contest with a pumpkin weighing in at 1,384 pounds.
Alongside crafts, artisans and food vendors, Friday’s patrons got to enjoy activities such as the Great Lakes Timber Show and a magic show.
The Pumpkin Festival continues from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6. Admission is $10. Parking is free. Learn more at wvpumpkinpark.com.
HUNTINGTON — Before there was Marshall University, there was Marshall College. Before there was Marshall College, there was Marshall Academy.
At the heart of all these variations was a dedication to educating educators.
Marshall honored its past and looked toward the future of educating educators Friday with a rededication of Jenkins Hall, which houses the College of Education and Professional Development. The building was recently renovated.
As part of the rededication, alumni of the Marshall Lab School returned for a reunion, which included the unveiling of the Marshall Lab School memorial mural, located on the second floor of the building. The mural was created by art professor emeritus Robert P. Hutton, a South Point, Ohio, artist.
The lab school was created in 1896, when Marshall was Marshall College. The school eventually grew to have all grades, and in 1938, Jenkins Hall was built to house the school. The school was a chance for education majors at Marshall College to get hands-on student teaching experience before student teaching was a mainstream practice.
In 1970, as costs increased and student teaching moved from the campus to public schools, Marshall elected to close the lab school.
Alumni of the lab school worked for years to find the best way to honor their school before landing on the mural.
Major Simms, the lab school alumni president, said they wanted something that conveyed what they all knew: The lab school was not just a place where they gathered, but it was a place that changed their lives. He said Hutton’s work was perfect.
Hutton explained parts of the mural, which is made from glazed ceramic tiles — the first piece Hutton has made using ceramics. Figures in the mural include a beloved lab school teacher, a cheerleader from lab school yearbooks, a former student who was infamous for bringing mice to school in her pockets, and elements of the original building, like the tile work and doors. The border is made from tiles glazed by alumni and others. Hutton designed the piece after looking through yearbooks and speaking with alumni.
“The meaning of this work is not only in the storyline or the narrative, or what is going on here with the figures,” Hutton said. “The meaning is partly implied through the total experience. When you look at a work of art, you have an experience. You have a certain emotional response. What I would like people to take away mostly is the rich, colorful, emotional response to the overall imagery.”
College of Education and Professional Development Dean Teresa Eagle said she wanted to have a memorial to the lab school inside Jenkins Hall so her students can know the roots of Marshall were education.
“One of the things that’s happening to education on a national level is they are moving more to a clinical base,” Eagle said. “Think about someone who becomes a dentist or a doctor, or any medical (profession) — they start spending time actually out there, not necessarily performing, but observing, seeing what it really looks like and making sure it’s actually something they want. … It’s the same thing here. We want our students to go out and do that. Our students don’t have the experience of a school dedicated to people just coming in and practicing and learning. That’s exactly what this was.
“I want our current students to know that this is kind of the root of what Marshall was. It’s hard to get people to go into education today because it’s not a high-paying job and it’s been disrespected. It’s really important to know the university values the college, and the university values them.”
She said it was a joy to have the lab school alumni back in the building, and even though not all of them ended up being educators, they all believe in good education and supporting education.
Along with the lab school mural, Jenkins Hall has a new plaque detailing another part of its history — its namesake.
Jenkins Hall is named for Confederate Gen. Albert Gallatin Jenkins, who also owned slaves. A movement occurred on campus during the last school year to rename the building after someone with a less controversial past, but the board of governors voted to keep the name. The board decided the best course of action was the plaque. The plaque explains why the decision was originally made to name the building after Jenkins and why the board in February decided to keep the name.
CHARLESTON — A man who shot and killed a Charleston teenager in 2016 died in jail Thursday morning.
William Ronald Pulliam, 65, was declared dead Thursday, U.S. Marshals Service Deputy Fred Lamey said Friday morning.
Pulliam’s case gained national attention in 2016 after he shot and killed 15-year-old James Means following an altercation along Washington Street on Nov. 21, 2016.
Charleston Police Detective Chris Lioi wrote in the initial criminal complaint that Pulliam said of Means’ death, “The way I look at it, that’s another piece of trash off the street.”
Pulliam was white, and Means was black.
Pulliam’s body is in the custody of the Kentucky Medical Examiner’s Office, and the Kentucky State Police is handling the investigation, Lamey said.
Nafai Adkins, James Means’ mother, said Thursday she learned of Pulliam’s death earlier that afternoon.
Adkins said she was told Pulliam hanged himself in his jail cell. Lamey could not confirm Pulliam’s cause of death, pending a report from the medical examiner’s office.
She said Pulliam’s death felt like justice for her son.
“I feel like he took my son’s life, and it was either him do a life sentence for what he had done to my son or … I just basically wanted him to pay for what he had done to my son,” Adkins said. “God has his own ways of working.”
Pulliam was incarcerated in Carter County, Kentucky, as a federal inmate in the custody of U.S. Marshals for U.S. District Court in the Southern District of West Virginia, Lamey said.
Pulliam initially was charged with first-degree murder following two arguments with Means on Nov. 21, 2016.
The trial was delayed several times as Pulliam changed attorneys and was deemed incompetent to stand trial in May 2018.
In December 2018, King ruled that Pulliam was competent to stand trial after receiving treatment at William Sharpe Jr. Hospital in Weston, West Virginia.
On Aug. 5, Pulliam pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
Pulliam entered his plea as part of a deal that had Kanawha Prosecuting Attorney Chuck Miller and Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Don Morris agreeing to recommend that 65-year-old Pulliam be sentenced to 20 years in prison.
With Pulliam’s death, there won’t be a sentencing hearing, meaning Adkins won’t have the chance to directly address the man who killed her son.
She said it bothered her that she wouldn’t get that opportunity to talk to Pulliam directly.
“He took a son from me,” she said. “He took a brother. He took a grandson. He took a friend from loved ones. My question to him would be, ‘Why? Why did you feel like you had to kill my young son and take his whole life away from him?’”
Pulliam tried to rescind his guilty plea and, in a letter to Kanawha Circuit Judge Charles King on Aug. 9, he alleged that police and prosecutors manufactured evidence against him.
Pulliam sent a second letter to King in September, saying he wanted his plea deal to stay intact.
After he was indicted in Kanawha County, a federal grand jury indicted Pulliam in February 2017 on one count of unlawful transport of a firearm and one count of knowingly making a false statement with respect to firearms records.
Pulliam was accused of lying on federal forms to purchase a .380 revolver from Gander Mountain in July 2016, according to the indictment. The unlawful-transport charge stemmed from the day he took possession of the gun, in August 2016, three months before he killed Means.
Pulliam wasn’t allowed to own a firearm because of a 2013 domestic violence conviction in Kanawha Magistrate Court.
Pulliam and Means bumped into each other while walking on the sidewalk along Washington Street East the night that Pulliam killed the Capital High School freshman, Morris said during Pulliam’s plea hearing Aug. 5.
The two went their separate ways, with Means and some friends sitting on a porch at a nearby house and Pulliam going to the nearby Dollar General.
When Pulliam left the Dollar General, he and Means, this time with his friends, again had an argument.
After Means walked across Washington Street, Pulliam shot Means twice. He died shortly after arrival at Charleston Area Medical Center’s General Hospital.
Charleston police talked with federal authorities about whether the murder met the definition of a hate crime, but Pulliam was not charged with a hate crime.