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Tri-State residents carry torch through Huntington

HUNTINGTON, W.

Wednesday, December 19, 2001

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Tri-State area residents – including two from Lawrence County – put themselves in the history book on Tuesday.

The 2002 Olympic Torch passed through Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky on its way to Salt Lake City, Utah, for the start of February’s games.

Janet McCarty of Coal Grove and Stacey Welch of Proctorville were among dozens of Tri-State runners and 11,500 runners nationwide who have or will carry the torch.

"It was pretty cool," Welch said. "At that time, I was the only one in the world holding it."

Mrs. McCarty said the surprise she had when she got her notice from the Olympic Torch Committee was unimaginable.

"It was something else," she said. "It’s really quite an honor."

The runners were selected earlier this year by panels of community judges, who were looking for people who embody the Olympic spirit to carry the 3-pound torch for two-tenths of a mile.

The torch will take a serpentine 65-day course through America starting Dec. 4 in Atlanta and arriving Feb. 8 in Salt Lake. The identify of the final torchbearer, who will light the cauldron at opening ceremony, won’t be known until that moment.

In all, the flame will travel 13,500 miles by air, train, ship, dog sled, snowmobile, horse-drawn sleigh and other modes of transport, including runners who will carry the torch for 17 percent of the distance.

Selected Olympic torchbearers in the Ohio River Region, on the official schedule were: Janet McCarty, Coal Grove; Stacey Welch, Proctorville; Deanna (Dee) Adams, Wheelersburg; Jerry Mayer, Russell, Ky.; Elizabeth Melvin, Russell, Ky.; Gail Melvin Russell, Ky.; Jeff Bauserman, Russell Ky.; Tom Robinette III, Ashland Ky.; Susan Strehle, Ashland Ky.; Jeremy Sheffey, Catlettsburg, Ky.