The Tri-State’s TRUSTED news source.

Click here to stay informed and subscribe to Herald-Dispatch.

Click #isupportlocal for more information on supporting our local journalists.

Learn more about HD Media

Something happened in the past 18 months. I’ve never been a fan of big crowds, but since the COVID-19 lockdowns of last year, I tolerate them even less.

Whether it’s being in a church service with 200 people singing or watching a basketball game in a high school gym or watching a movie in a packed theater, I have less desire to share the air with strangers in confined settings.

Throughout 2020 I was never a fan of masks. I wore them when I had to and took them off whenever I could. Masked or maskless, the idea of being in a room where people were talking, yelling or singing — and more than likely spreading their viruses, if they had any to share — had little appeal to me. Even with vaccines reducing the likelihood of that happening, the appeal is less than it was before.

If you wanted to do it, fine. It’s your decision, and I supported the reopening of businesses and houses of worship.

On further review, there are very few movies I need to see and few athletes I need to watch other than those in my family. Maybe I’m just getting old.

While we’re talking about crowds, I still prefer to maintain social distancing. We introverts like social distancing. According to Bishop James Ussher, we’ve been doing it since the night before Oct. 23, 4004, B.C.

n n n

If there’s a more pleasant sound than that of little children laughing and playing, I don’t know what it is.

Back in March or April, I stopped in the small Ohio community where I grew up so I could look at something that had changed. While there, I saw and heard toddlers playing and running and just having a good time. The thought hit me that it had been decades since I had seen or heard anything like that there.

The community had been mainly a bunch of old people who were either childless or whose Baby Boomer children had grown up and moved away. Here in 2021, those older folks have left this vale of tears and younger couples have taken their places. The sight and sound of those little ones gave me hope that the town was renewing itself with a new generation. Those children probably won’t know the stories we grew up with, but it’s their community now and they’re free to live their own stories and pass them down.

The population decline in many Appalachian communities is more than people moving out. It’s a story of young parents deciding to raise their children elsewhere.

n n n

All the words we’ve read and heard lately about how West Virginia is losing population overlook many things. One of them is that many people who could live in one of West Virginia’s border counties often choose to live over the state line.

There are many reasons for that. Smaller school districts and fewer large consolidated schools could be one of them. Another could be the state’s personal property tax system. Having to pay what amounts to a sales tax on your car every year is bad enough, but the way taxes are calculated makes it more complicated.

Other than Gov. Jim Justice’s failed push this year to eliminate the personal income tax, most legislative attention to taxes has been on giving relief to businesses. As far as people in border counties are concerned, the taxes people in border counties pay could use some scrutiny, too.

Jim Ross is development and opinion editor of The Herald-Dispatch. His email address is

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Recommended for you