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Short takes

Almost Heaven and the Saints. That’s a pretty perfect relationship. Now that their three-week stay at The Greenbrier for training camp is over, the New Orleans Saints aren’t holding back about how much they enjoyed West Virginia.

“If we stop coming here, I’m retiring,” offensive lineman Zach Strief told a group of fans, as quoted in Beckley’s Register-Herald (http://www.register-herald.com/sports/article_093ab52f-c849-574e-b19a-45513d3fcaf5.html).

The Saints are set to come back for three years of training camp.“We’d like to be here a lot longer than that,” Saints Coach Sean Payton told the Beckley paper. “The setup is outstanding and the ability to stay in an enclosed environment is good. The people here have been great, and I think everything about it has.”

In a classy move, the Saints placed a newspaper ad thanking West Virginians and the Greenbrier staff for making their stay a success.

Without their own NFL team, West Virginia football fans tend to follow Pittsburgh, Cincinnati or Cleveland.

Give it a couple more years, though, and the Saints could be part of a mutual admiration society right here in West Virginia.

***

West Virginia’s cities deserve their moment in the spotlight.

They got it this week at the City Showcase.

It was an event in Bridgeport sponsored by the West Virginia Municipal League. It featured exhibits from Bridgeport, Clarksburg, Weston, Buckhannon, Fairmont, Elkins and Morgantown.

As relayed by Clarksburg’s Exponent-Telegram (http://www.theet.com/news/local/area-cities-share-spotlight-at-showcase/article_52b8cefe-2364-11e4-bdd9-0019bb2963f4.html), each city tried to evoke its own flavor.

For instance, people stopping by Buckhannon’s booth could spin a wheel to win chocolate-covered strawberries. A popular feature at the Bridgeport booth was a game featuring marbles once made in the city.

Trying to balance the needs of residents with limited budgets, West Virginia’s cities have their share of challenges.

It’s great they have a chance to show what their residents love about them.

***

Patting ourselves on the back for a second: The Charleston Daily Mail did pretty well in the annual Better Newspaper Contest sponsored by the West Virginia Press Association last weekend.

Photographer Tom Hindman was a particular standout, winning two first place awards for his pictures, plus Photo of the Year for his image of a sea of Boy Scouts at attention at last year’s Jamboree.

His contributions helped the Daily Mail win General Excellence among newspapers its size.

Awards sure aren’t everything, but they’re a bellweather of the effort we try to make.

If you like great photography, vigorous coverage of Charleston and West Virginia, smart takes on sports, interesting community features and a fiscally conservative Opinion page, give us a call.

The phone number for circulation is 304-348-4800.

***

When word spread in the Daily Mail newsroom of the death of performer Robin Williams, there was an immediate, collective sense of shock and grief among the evening staff working on the next day’s paper.

That the assembled crew ranged in age from their 20s to their 50s speaks of the closeness with which Williams was held in the hearts of generations of audiences.

From those of us who remembered his brilliant, extemporaneous stand-up comedy to those raised on his heartwarming and comic turns in”Aladdin” and “Mrs. Doubtfire,” as well as his serious roles in “Dead Poets Society” and “Good Will Hunting,” Williams was a comet, a fireball whose stage spanned the heavens, such was his range and versatility.

That the end apparently came by his own hand made his passing all the more tragic, although he was fairly candid about the inner demons he battled.

His death shone a light on the darkness of depression and suicide and it contrasted intensely with his sunny, funny, lovable on-stage persona. Perhaps it will make those of us who will miss him all the more sensitive to and aware of those whose struggles mirror his own.


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