Tomblin to sign musket bill at South

PARKERSBURG – A bill allowing the Parkersburg South High School Patriot mascot to carry his musket at away games will be signed into law at noon Monday.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin will sign Senate Bill 421 during a ceremony in front of the high school, weather permitting. Activities will be moved to the fieldhouse in the event of rain.

Principal Tom Eschbacher announced the governor’s visit to the student body Friday during an academic assembly. Students will assemble in front of the governor, who will arrive at the school by helicopter, Eschbacher said.

“They’re pretty excited,” Eschbacher said.

West Virginia Code prohibits weapons on school grounds, except those carried by law enforcement officers.

The Parkersburg South bill copied the exemption afforded the West Virginia University Mountaineer, who also carries a musket, said Sen. David Nohe, R-Wood, a sponsor of SB 421.

“It mirrors that exactly,” Nohe said.

Local lawmakers and representatives from Parkersburg South have pushed for the exemption and a bill last year failed.

The issue with the musket was principals at other schools wouldn’t allow the weapon on school grounds because of the state law, Nohe said.

The legislation passed the House of Delegates and the Senate in April. The House voted 96-1 in favor and the Senate voted 33-0 with one senator not voting.

The musket has been fired at Parkersburg South home football games since 1967 and it is only handled by the mascot after being properly trained to use it.

The WVU Mountaineer got in trouble last year for using the school musket while hunting. He killed a black bear.