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Jim Ross: With Labor Day here, brace yourself for what’s next

September 3, 2018

This Labor Day weekend brings memories of decades past, when the holiday marked the last day of summer vacation.

Where I grew up in Ohio, school ended the last weekday before Decoration Day, which was May 31. That was the day families made sure flowers were placed on the graves of those who had come before.

On Labor Day, I would go to my favorite spot along the Ohio River and skip rocks. A good flat one could be made to skip a dozen times or more if the river was still enough. While doing that, I would remember taking in the first cutting of hay or of our family’s harvesting tomatoes, corn, beans, cucumbers and other vegetables from our garden and selling them at the farmers market where the Big Sandy Superstore Arena now stands.

Jacket season would be back soon. Tobacco would have to be cut, spudded, hung in the barn, tied and taken to the market in Huntington.

Since then, Decoration Day morphed back into Memorial Day. School begins in August and lets out in June. Labor Day is, well, another three-day weekend that has lost much of its meaning in day-to-day life.

For working reporters, Labor Day marks the end of vacation season. Real news will pick up as government, education and business make their final pushes to meet their goals before year-end.

Football and the baseball playoffs will dominate the sports pages for a while. For the rest of us in the commentariat, politics and the upcoming election will dominate things.

We will see if Patrick Morissey can neutralize the power of the Manchin family in West Virginia politics the way he did with the McGraw family six years ago.

We’ll see how far the State Senate goes in remaking the state Supreme Court as the three remaining justices undergo their impeachment trials. Gov. Jim Justice, a Democrat turned Republican, used the resignations of two Democrats on the court to appoint two Republicans who are running in November. How that affects the Senate’s decisions in the impeachment trials remains to be seen, as old editorial writers would say.

In the 3rd District of the House of Representatives, Democrat Richard Ojeda jumped out to an early lead over Republican Carol Miller in the yard sign race. Ojeda’s signs are common, while few if any Miller signs are up in the Huntington area.

We will watch for the first big wave of attack ads to appear on television. You know, the ones with slow-motion video footage, the ominous background music and the voice-of-doom narration.

Meanwhile, people who live along secondary roads wonder if the upcoming election will prod the Division of Highways to fill some of the potholes that have plagued drivers all summer. You have to wonder if the Division of Highways obtained the proper mining permits before digging them. If the DOH isn’t interested in taking care of the potholes, maybe the Abandoned Mine Lands Program will help out.

Upon further review, this year would be a good time to go back to that spot along the Ohio River and skip a few rocks. There won’t be any summer memories of hay or gardens, but there was that trip to a school bus junkyard in Ohio, a walk in the woods with my granddaughter and evenings spent listening to my youngest son talk about the daily grind of his summer job at a state park.

It would be a good escape from the things to come.

Jim Ross is a Huntington resident and former reporter and editor for The Herald-Dispatch.

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