by Ron Gregory
On the one-year anniversary of the vicious beating of teenager Dawson Isom in Williamson, there are glimmers of hope and firm resolve remaining with Isom and his supporters. We all believe that 2016 has ushered in a time when justice will prevail in Mingo County. God still performs miracles in the physical life as well.
There cannot be sufficient praise for the voters of Mingo who tossed Prosecutor Teresa Maynard out of office. To say it wasn’t even close is an understatement. It wasn’t even close.
For all the efforts of the Williamson Daily News and Mingo Messenger to serve as press agents for Maynard, the truth shone through to the good people of Mingo. They did not buy the front page “news” stories about Maynard’s intense prosecution of those guilty of animal cruelty and drug offences. The last shot in a troubled campaign came when she and police paraded alleged druggies into court just days before the election.
The federal law enforcement agencies have a well-known policy of attempting to do nothing that would effect the outcome of an election. In the rare exception of revered (and innocent) U.S. Senator Ted Stevens in Alaska, indictments are often delayed if officials think the charges would affect an election outcome. No such policy apparently exists with the West Virginia State Police and Mingo Sheriff’s Department. Timing, they thought, was everything in the drug indictments. The voters did not buy the stories, literally or figuratively.
We must salute, then, the vast majority of Mingo voters who saw a wrong and decided to right it. They did so in the privacy of the voting booth. They were not required to stand on a street corner and shout Duke Jewell’s name. Likely, they would never have done that. But vote they did.
But I admire the courage and wisdom of all of those who voted for Jewell against Maynard. It was a statement above normal statements. It said Mingo Countians want to help clean up their own back yard without the help of federal or outside agents. Surely those agents tire of coming into Mingo every so often to clean up the legal messes. This time, the people stood up for themselves and that is good.
Although a majority of Mingo Countians apparently have no problem with a county commissioner who pollutes the environment with gay abandon, they did take a courageous step for prosecutor. That Thomas Taylor is a hothead with no noticeable leadership qualities did not deter 53 percent from voting for him. Likely, some of those votes came from those who continued to link incumbent John Mark Hubbard with the late, departed Team Mingo. Hubbard deserved better and so did Mingo County. They didn’t get it.
Today, then, is overall a day to feel positive about the Isom situation. Those of us who see him regularly even notice small signs of improvement in his physical condition, despite medical theories to the contrary. The Great Physician can cure all his ills and we believe He will. On the legal front, the civil lawsuits against Gary Rash and Erik Rash are progressing and soon there will be a real prosecutor in Mingo.
Although it has been a year since any of us have heard Dawson’s sweet voice or shared a vision with those deep brown eyes, hope springs eternal. My expectation is that one day he will look at me and say, “Ron, where have you been?” I’ve said a day like that will be one in which this old Primitive Baptist shouts and jumps just like a Pentecostal. It will be a glorious day indeed.
Again, thanks to all of Mingo County for your overwhelming support and belief. His sister, Holly; his dad, David; his mom, Crystal; his stepmom, Melissa; and the entire Isom extended family appreciate the care they have received. Together, Mingo County, we can accomplish big things with God in charge.
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One of the most difficult things for the Isom family to deal with is the financial burden placed on them because of this tragedy. While Dawson’s care is being provided by outside resources, the family is faced with a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week burden to make sure he is constantly monitored.
This leaves little time, obviously, for any of them to earn steady incomes. In fact, they cannot. They are proud people who really don’t want their financial condition on public display. Suffice it to say the churches and good people of Mingo and Pike counties should come to their aid. Even small donations help and I can guarantee you none will ever be misused by anyone in this family.
There is an account set up for donations. Anyone interested can go to Dawson Isom’s Medical Expense Fund at gofundme to help. Donations can be made anonymously, if you like.
It would certainly be good to see about 500 ten-dollar donations made to that fund in the next few days.
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We are #DawsonStrong.
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Speaking of Maynard, as we were earlier, wouldn’t one think the inept prosecutor would at least ask for help in handling the Ben Hatfield murder case? With “evidence” that makes no earthly sense, Maynard may have one of her famously hard times gaining a conviction even though one defendant has allegedly admitted to the shooting.
The state Prosecuting Attorney Institute exists, I believe, to assist prosecutors who need help or to fill in when an elected prosecutor steps aside. Although Maynard obviously would not step aside if hers was the only vote she got in the May 10 election, she COULD at least ask the Institute for assistance. They undoubtedly could recommend a prosecutor or assistant with experience in handling these types of cases. Maynard has proven she has neither the experience nor judgment to take care of such a prosecution.
Voters could give Maynard the boot no sooner than January 2017. They’ve done all they can. She should do the right thing, for once, and at least ask for help.
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Your comments, story ideas, gossip and recommendations of prosecutors who have actually seen the inside of a courtroom are always welcome. Use my email address listed or call my cell, 304-533-5185.