A town’s tragic example

An editorial from The Charleston Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — At the start of the 1900s, Littleton was a booming Wetzel County town just a mile below the Mason-Dixon line. It had 1,000 population, four hotels (each with a saloon) and factories and mills. Franklin Roosevelt spoke there from the back of a train during his historic 1932 campaign for president.

But a ruinous fire and economic downturn eventually made Littleton little. The town became unincorporated in 2004. In the 2010 census it had just 198 people, and per-capita income was only $6,036, West Virginia’s municipal lowest. But this isn’t the worst part of the story.

A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report says heroin and other hard drugs are ravaging the few young people who remain in Littleton.

“Everybody around here is drugheads, drug addicts, and that’s all they’re ever going to do,” Roshelle Piper told the newspaper. “It’s gotten a lot worse in the last 10 years. It’s real sad because there are no jobs around here. There’s no opportunities.”

Actually, Marcellus Shale gas drilling jobs abound in Wetzel County — but they go mostly to skilled out-of-state drillers, while young locals sink into addiction.

County coroner Carla McBee told the Post-Gazette: “A lot of the young men have died in the past couple of years. It’s really shocked the community…

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