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Rick Steelhammer: Getting zoned out by seasonal time observance changes

In the early 1960s, time travel used to be a thing in the state’s Northern Panhandle.

In those days, people there were routinely transported back and forth in time a half-dozen times or more during a 35-minute journey aboard an ordinary-looking vehicle that was in fact an intercity bus.

Before Congress passed the Uniform Time Act in 1966, individual cities decided when, or if, standard time would end and daylight saving time would begin.

There was an abundance of opinions on the matter in the towns lining the Ohio River between Moundsville and Steubenville, Ohio, perched on the Ohio shore across the river from Weirton.

“There was a bus ride you could take on Route 2 from Moundsville, W.Va., to Steubenville, Ohio,” wrote David Prerau, an expert on daylight saving time, in his 2006 book, “Seize the Daylight.”

“Because some towns along the way had daylight saving time and some didn’t, if you wanted to keep your watch correct during that 35-mile ride, you’d have to change your watch seven times,” Prerau wrote.

The law passed in 1966 ended the practice of individual cities deciding whether or when to observe daylight saving time, and elevated those decisions to the state level. No state was required to observe daylight saving time, but those that did had to make the change from standard to daylight saving time at precisely the same instant — 2 a.m. local time on the last Sunday in April — and switch back to standard time at 2 a.m. local time on the last Sunday in October.

Now, more than a half century since the Uniform Time Act took effect, controversy over the twice-annual time change has stood the test of time.

Two states, Hawaii and Arizona (except for the part governed by the Navajo Nation), remain holdouts from switching to daylight saving time. This year, legislation has been introduced in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas to join them in making standard time the year-round standard.

Meanwhile, Florida voted last year to observe daylight saving time year-round, and this year, legislators in California, Oregon and Washington have introduced bills to join them. At the national level, Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Vern Buchanan, both R-Fla., introduced bills in Congress last week that would make daylight saving time the nation’s official year-round time standard.

To make things even more confusing, bills are in the works this year in the extreme northeastern states of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island to secede from the Eastern Time Zone and join several east Canadian provinces in starting the day an hour earlier in the Atlantic Time Zone.

As someone who has been around to experience the passing of time in various zones both before and after passage of the Uniform Time Act, I’m just happy to have finally learned that like Kroger, the “saving” in daylight saving time is not followed by an ‘s.’ It’s only taken 53 years to get it right.

I hope you all remembered to set your clocks forward one hour at 2 a.m. today — and to check your smoke detector batteries. Here’s something to remember for next year’s change to daylight saving time: The minutes between 2:01 a.m. and 2:59 a.m. do not legally exist.

So, if you need to schedule an IRS audit, a duel or an unpleasant dental procedure, 2:30 a.m. should work just fine.

Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelhammer@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5169 or follow @rsteelhammer on Twitter.

Funerals for Friday, September 20, 2019

Barton, Richard - 3 p.m., Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery, Dunbar.

Birthisel, Avis - 11 a.m., Casdorph & Curry Funeral Home, St. Albans.

Call, Denver - Noon, Allen Funeral Home, Hurricane.

Dearien, Tommie - Noon, Stevens & Grass Funeral Home, Malden.

Fletcher, Joanna - 1 p.m., Curry Funeral Home, Alum Creek.

Keeney, Steven - 2 p.m., Keith Full Gospel Church, Keith.

May, Rosa - 2 p.m., Bartlett - Nichols Funeral Home, St. Albans.

Morris, Linda - 1 p.m., Deal Funeral Home, Point Pleasant.

Parsons, Harry - 11 a.m., Ellyson Mortuary Inc., Glenville.

Pauley, Clarence - 10 a.m., Cunningham Memorial Park, St. Albans.

Pino, Patricia - 11 a.m., Bradley FreeWill Baptist Church.

Rogers, Marilyn - 11 a.m., Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, South Charleston.

Satterfield, Kenneth - 5 p.m., Satterfield residence, 1161 Daniels Run Road, Millstone.