Bill Signed Allowing Parkersburg South Mascot To Fire "Away"

Updated: 5/13/2013 5:50 P.M.

"I'm here today to make sure that we preserve the traditions of the Parkersburg South High School Patriots," Governor Earl Ray Tomblin Monday told the high school's students and staff.

And one of those traditions, like that of the WVU Mountaineers, is the firing of a ceremonial muzzleloader at sporting events. Something which the governor ensured with the signing of a bill approved during this year's legislative session.

"Oftentimes, we travel throughout the state of West Virginia, and get caught up in a city ordinance that will not allow us to fire the musket within the city limits," said Principal Tom Eschbacher. "That will now be taken care of as soon as he signs his name to Senate Bill 421."

But with an audience made up mostly of high school students, the governor didn't pass up an opportunity to speak of another recently-passed law, one making up unlawful to text while driving.

"This is about more than tickets from police officers. This is to make sure all of you here for graduation, and to live life to its fullest."

In this case, Patriot Pride extended to the Wood County Schools administration.

"I'm pleased to be a graduate of Parkersburg South, first of all," says Dr. James Patrick Law, Superintendent, "and it's great to see the Patriots have the musket again to be able to use it at a ball game to get the fans fired up."

Also on hand for the bill-signing, were Delegates Anna Border Sheppard and Tom Azinger, along with state Senator David Nohe.

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A musket-toting West Virginia high school mascot may soon be able to attend away games worry-free.

The House of Delegates voted 96-1 Friday to exempt the Parkersburg South High Patriot from the firearms ban for school property.

The Senate had approved the measure earlier. It heads to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

State law already allows for West Virginia University's Mountaineer mascot to carry and fire a muzzle-loader.

Parkersburg South officials have sought the same for their school's mascot for several years.

Parkersburg South mascots have fired the gun at home games since 1967. School officials say that only the mascot handles the musket, after being properly trained to load and fire it.

Delegate Danny Wells voted against Friday's bill. The Kanawha County Democrat has criticized efforts to ease gun laws.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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