High School Opened in 1905  
Thursday, October 17, 2002

So I've Heard Column

Webster's first high school opened for partial occupancy in September 1905, but the town didn't take formal control of the property until July 1906. The school department maintained secondary classes before that but they were in multi-use buildings.
The 97-year old facility, still in service, is actually the east end to the Anthony J. Sitkowski Elementary School. It was re-designated Bartlett High School around 1913, and a major addition was dedicated in 1928. The school was converted for elementary use after the new BHS opened.
Given this information, no one should be surprised that a Building Committee says the school ought to be replaced. Town history offers the same message. In 1904, when construction started, the owners of two downtown ice cream parlors were arrested for, get this, opening on a Sunday. They were caught serving sundaes.
Lest anyone think Webster was going to Hades for enjoying ice cream on the Sabbath, we have the declarations of one Rev. B.B. Johnson, sponsor of a camp meeting at Point Breeze: "Webster is just as wicked as it ever was. We can't even get people to listen to the preaching of the gospel."
Then, to suggest the economy wasn't that great at the turn of the last century, the town appropriated $30,000 to macadam streets and build sidewalks to "provide work for unemployed citizens." All of this took place just before, while, or just after the school was built.
Times, things, technology, and educational philosophies have changed over the last 97 years. Yet, hundreds of Webster elementary children attend a school built in part when life was, oh, so very different.
Webster voters can stand for kids when the new school proposal is introduced at Monday's fall town meeting.
The Commerce Insurance Group has remained within the footprints to the former B/W Footwear Co. property on Sutton Road, but they're constructing a new office building at the location.
The state's leading auto insurer has bricked the original plant, added granite trim, windows and entryways, put on a new roof, and designed it to conform with adjacent Commerce properties, to report the obvious. The project is well along, according to Commerce Treasurer Randall V. Becker.
Mr. Becker promised a tour after the building is complete. "You'll have to bring your scooter," he joshed. "It covers three acres."
The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources has painted Dudley wildlife artist Peter A. Strzelewicz a calendar winner for the third time.
The division's 2003 Wildlife Calendar, with 12 original canvases, has a painting by Mr. Strzelewicz over the fold to the 30 days of November. It's titled "Largemouth Bass."
The reproduction, like others in the calendar, measures 8.5 inches by 13 inches. Half the winning entries were submitted by West Virginia wildlife artists, and four others are by Virginia artists. Mr. Strzelewicz and James Collins of Plaistow, N.H., were the only out of region winners. Ten honorable mentions were also awarded, again mostly to West Virginia artists.
"This is my third one in the (West Virginia) calendar," says Mr. Strzelewicz, best known for his magazine covers and state hunting stamp paintings. "They gave me an honorable mention last year, but I had two winners before that." Four of his paintings were used a few years ago in state of Virginia calendars.
While some of his paintings are in museums and private collections, Mr. Strzelewicz submits works that suit his own fancy in judged events. He has an arsenal of museum quality paintings in his studio, some critiqued as remarkable. Natural and acquired skill, his own photographs, and a knowledge of wildlife are the ingredients in his work.
He's a successful artist, but Mr. Strzelewicz earns his livelihood running a screen-printing business, Artcraft Signs, Mason Road Extension, Dudley.
-Courtesy Of
Telegram & Gazette

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