LOOKS LIKE WE WATCHED TWO DIFFERENT DEBATES. TRUMP SHOULD ASK FOR THE TAX RETURN FOR THE CLINTON FOUNDATION FUND. IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN FILED ON A 990 FORM WHICH SHOULD BE AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC. HELLARY ALREADY HAS TRUMPS TAX RETURN. APPARENTLY SHE SEES SOMETHING THERE THAT SHE CAN TWIST AROUND TO MAKE DONALD LOOK BAD BUT SHE CAN NOT RELEASE IT UNTIL HE OFFICIALLY RELEASES HIS RETURN BECAUSE SHE WOULD PROVE THAT SHE COMMITTED ANOTHER CRIME.
Couple things are for sure.
One, the teachers are not to blame.
Two, the taxpayers are footing a big bill.
So the 47th in education failure responsibilities rests squarely with the West Virginia Board of Education, the Joe Manchin administration, the Earl Ray Tomblin administration and their appointees, and the failed Legislators.
IE: Charleston Losers Club
The only winners are the money pocketing elites.
By poor return on tax dollars invested on 09.24.2016
The problem goes well beyond the union problems. Many teachers in many areas join the union just for the insurance protection - Not health insurance, but insurance against being sued. Of course, the union then controls a lot more than their insurance. The major problem is bureaucratic control of education rather than parent/teacher control. Teachers in small schools that I’ve known all worked together as teams…as schools became larger and larger, and mandatory “reforms” and “strategies” were put into place, what teacher has time to do what teachers do best?? Personal contact with students counts for more than all the theoretical “educationese” ever will. Yes, the unions have restricted some reforms but the curriculum isn’t set by the unions. It is set by state/local/ and federal mandates, none of which have done anything at to improve the quality of education. Good teachers with good intentions and solid curriculum guidelines, rather than “pie in the sky” mandates, make education work. Blaming teachers for the mess education is in is like blaming silverware for obesity!
The author of this column is making the problem too hard, and not addressing the real issue. If teachers truly felt as the article suggests they would dissolve their union(s) and take charge of the curriculum. They haven’t and will not.
The unions, like it or not, are the public voice of the teachers. That i to say the the union(s) speak for the teachers. When the unions start prioritizing student education above teacher pay and benefits we might see some improvement in quality if education, but not until then.
When Dr. Gary Smith came in front of the Gilmer County Board of Education to talk about finding a path to use the old Normantown Elementary for community purposes he left saying he had never experienced a more professional board. State Board member, ex County-Superintendent-long experienced Principal,Beverly Kingery came to talk with Gilmer County Board of Education around the first of the month. She said the Board asked very intelligent questions and made a point that the Board was more than capable of running the system. Dr. Cindy Daniel appeared before the Gilmer County Board of Education speaking on behalf of herself as Assistant State Superintendent and Mr. Martirano State Superintendent of Schools. She made it very clear that the Gilmer Board of Education was well prepared to have their authority returned and it was time to return Gilmer County. She further said that the State Board felt they should return control over our school facilities to the local board. That disposal actions as to real and personal property owned by the Gilmer County Board of Education should most only happen through the elected representatives of the communities. Every word was positive.
Will the OEPA Director Susan O’Brian and the WV State Board of Education do the right thing by Gilmer County? It is time to right this ship, work with the local Board of Education and return full authority back to the citizens.
By Gilmer Needs a Real Superintendent on 09.23.2016
Devano is STILL pushing to turn Glenville elementary into a Middle School.
Many people know that Cindy Daniel says that will not got on the WVBE agenda.
Devano though, still hallucinates that he can make it happen. He is suckering a select few along into believing him.
WVBE stated GC cannot afford another school. Especially with the continuing decline in enrollment. For which there is NO speculation to see any turnaround. Remember WV is actually in a population decline.
Plenty capacity in the HS to take a few kiddies without maintaining another building along with all the administrative costs and added utilities.
Devano lives in a fantasy world, denying reality. Some people will do anything to suck up to local elites.
And about a school levy. That’s a big no! Actually its a loud ‘ell no!!. The WVBE has wasted enough money. But even wasting money is beside the point.
You possibly could have made the case for an excess levy with five schools. Now that FOUR schools have been shuttered, there can be NO justification of the need for a levy to be passed.
On top of that, if the WVBE has THEIR chosen superintendent in place, then there is NO financial control locally of your tax dollars. The WVBE will just see to it that the levy money pays another $10,000.00 speaker as well as find other ways to foolishly spend the kiddies money.
Don’t get suckered into passing an excess school levy ever again. It is NOT needed. But you know government, if they have it they will spend it!
No WVBOE in total give back of our school system to local control to include a replacement superintendent who would report to Gilmer County=defeat of excess levy vote.
Money wasted, going from five schools to two, children lost to Lewis County, no accurate information on how the excess levy money was and would be spent—- what good would more tax money do for our children?
People are tired of their hard earned money going down rat holes.
No more excess levy =a financial crisis & when Devono goes it would be questionable if any highly competent % experienced person with excellent interpersonal skills and other job options would apply for his job.
How many votes did the levy pass by the last time? Forty votes or so? Do the math.
Here are more gems for citizens to ponder. There are secret WVBOE meeting to discuss making the old Glenville elementary school into a middle school.
The true reason is to take care of surplus students at the new crowded GCES where some classes have close to 40 students in them.
If the WVBOE puts in a middle school to cover its tracks for incompetent planning, think of the money it will cost to get the old elementary building up to safe schools standards and costs of having two sets of administrators, lunchroom facilities, extra costs for utilities etc. What is the grand total to add to wasted money?
The million dollar taxation without representation loan the WVBOE took out for citizens to pay off was not followed with any explanations of where that money went.
The same is true for the annual $1,000,000 excess levy money we voted in for our school system. How much excess levy money was collected during intervention for the WVBOE to spend without any local say? Close to $5,000,000?
Anywhere else in the USA someone would have been fired or jailed. What do we have? The WVBOE is still bankrupting us while it escapes accountability of any kind. Oh yes, what happened was for our children as said by the WVBOE. Really?
More WVBOE wasted money. $2,000,000 surplus before intervention, down to us being on a special watch for risk of overspending, $803,000 lost because of WVBOE’s accounting error, WVBOE took out a $1,000,000 loan without County’s approval for our citizens to pay off, at least $1,000,000 wasted on LES, auction barn site and the abandoned Cedar Creek project, and GES being built too small. Totals up to about $5,000,000 give or take a little thanks to Charleston’s WVBOE common core math wizards.
If a County had done something like this the WVBOE would have taken it over pronto with charges of dysfunction of epic proportions. WV is a show piece of double standards with the WVBOE leading the parade.
There is considerable anger in the County about the upcoming excess levy vote for schools.
It will not pass if the WVBOE remains in control of finances and everything else.
The County had a surplus when the WVBOE swooped in. We understand that we are so bad off financially under WVBOE control that Charleston has us on a special financial watch.
That occurred after concern that we will go into deficit spending from over five years of the WVBOE’s absolute say over the County’s finances.
There were numerous reports of wasted money and for a recent example, citizens understand from teachers that the WVBOE spent close to $10,000 on a single appearance of a motivational speaker at the GES.
How can a spending excess like that be justified when there are numerous outstanding free speakers we could have invited? Dr. Peter Barr and Dr. Michael Martirano are just two examples.
If we cannot have any say over how our money is spent and anything else in our school system, let the the WVBOE come up with the money to pay all the bills.
There has been enough dictatorial rule and oppression by the WVBOE to include taxation without representation. Gilmer’s taxpayers are not going to take it anymore!
The WVBOE needs to leave to let us salvage the mess for the benefit of our victimized children.
Amateur astronomers are signed up to watch the sky over central West Virginia this weekend.
The third annual Calhoun Stargaze is set for Friday through Sunday at the Calhoun County Park in Grantsville, WV.
The park is known for its pitch-dark conditions for favorable nighttime viewing.
Among the partners in the event are the Appalachian Regional Commission, the West Virginia Development Office, the University of Tennessee, Fairmont State University and the West Virginia University Extension Service.
University of Tennessee political scientist Tim Ezzell says in a news release that the event is aimed at expanding science in a rural area and showing that places like Calhoun County are “positive, important and necessary.“
Space is limited at the event. A small campground is located within the park.
Nearly $20,000 in SMART529 College Savings Awarded to ‘When I Grow Up’ Contest Winners
The grand prize winner of the SMART529 “When I Grow Up” essay contest wants to be a veterinarian some day.
“I love all animals. Dogs are my favorite. I want to take care of them,” said Raegan Wood, a third grader from Victory Baptist Academy in Raleigh County.
There were 15 students in grades K-5, including Wood, who received a $500 check to be put toward their SMART529 College Savings Program account. Wood’s name was randomly selected during a ceremony Thursday at the state Culture Center. She won an additional $4,500.
“I’m so excited!” Wood said with a big smile.
She said she knew she wanted to become a veterinarian when her dog got sick.
“All the veterinarians pitched in to help her. That’s just what I wanted to be,” she said. “I definitely know I have to go to college for about 6-8 years and study real hard to get all the animals well again.”
Fourth grader Caleb Young, of Fairmont, is home schooled. He has his heart set on becoming a small business owner.
“I would like to help WVU’s economy,” Young told MetroNews. After reading his essay to the crowd on Thursday, he chanted “Let’s go Mountaineers!”
He said when he found out he was one of the 15 winners, “I was happy. I was running around the house!”
Young said in order to accomplish his goal, he would have to get a degree in math and business.
Each student’s essay was judged in three age groups — grades K-1, 2-3 and 4-5. State Treasurer John Perdue recognized the winners during the ceremony where nearly $20,000 in SMART529 savings was handed out.
“It’s going to make a difference in their lives and that’s why I’m so happy about this program because that’s what West Virginia is about,” said Perdue. “They’re our future and if we can make them attain their dream, then that’s very important.”
Perdue said they want kids to start thinking about their future at a young age.
“We want them to realize that they hold the key to open up their doors of opportunity and we want their parents to realize if they can save, they can use that key and change their life and be that doctor, veterinarian, teacher, police officer, whatever they want to be,” he said.
The 15 students were selected out of more than 3,000 entries across West Virginia.
In addition to the student winners, Norma Travis, a first grade teacher at Ansted Elementary School in Fayette County, was awarded $2,500 for her essay about how she planned to educate students about higher education and saving with the SMART529 program.
Thursday’s ceremony was co-hosted by Hartford Life and the West Virginia State Treasurer’s Office. It was the 9th year of the contest.
For more information about the SMART529 program, visit SMART529.com.
The People’s Issues Came Second in the First Debate
This was undoubtedly the first presidential debate in history to include a mention of Rosie O’Donnell. Even grading on a curve – something the press tends to do with Donald Trump – the Republican fared poorly on Monday night. Democrat Hillary Clinton took him down on issue after issue, from his tax returns to his business practices.
Unfortunately, that was not her most important mission. Clinton’s fate rests on her ability to turn out key Democratic voters in large numbers, especially young people and minorities. In her zeal to defeat her opponent, which she clearly did, Clinton didn’t do enough to inspire and motivate her base.
The debate was largely a clash of personalities, rather than a clash of visions for the nation’s future. Moderator Lester Holt asked some excellent questions, including a number we had hoped would be asked about the economy and racial justice. But at times it felt as if NORAD should deploy its Christmas Eve “Santa tracker” to find Holt, as the candidates railed for long stretches about whatever they wanted with no sign of his presence.
Holt did step in at several key moments to fact-check Trump on the constitutionality of stop-and-frisk policing, his ability to release his tax returns, and his continued “birtherism” after Barack Obama’s birth certificate had been released. In return, Trump telegraphed weakness when he complained to Holt about how he was being treated.
Trump was most effective in the early minutes of the debate, when he attacked Clinton for her past support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other harmful trade (really, intellectual property) treaties. While she now opposes the TPP, Trump pointed out that as Secretary of State Clinton called it a “gold standard” for such deals.
“Donald,” Clinton said in a line that seemed pre-scripted, “I know you live in your own reality.”
Clinton was not able to defend herself effectively on the trade issue, and instead went into an odd digression that conflated the 2008 financial crisis, tax policy, the long-term decline of the middle class and Trump’s expressed desire to exploit the housing crisis.
“It’s called business,” Trump said to that last point.
Trump pressed Clinton effectively on President Obama’s support for the TPP – a line of attack she could have blunted much more effectively by promising to lobby against the deal if Obama introduces it during the lame-duck congressional session.
From that moment on, Trump’s best moments were behind him.
Yes, He’s a Republican
Trump squandered an opportunity to talk about infrastructure investment, saying only, “Our airports are like from a Third World country. You land at LaGuardia, you land at Kennedy, you land at LAX, you land at Newark and you come in from Dubai and Qatar and you see these incredible – you come in from China – you see these incredible airports and you land… we become a Third World country.”
True enough. But that’s the symptom of a larger problem: the unwillingness of his own party to support infrastructure investment.
Clinton was most effective when she painted Trump as a typical Republican and hung his party’s past errors around his neck. She thankfully abandoned her tactic of claiming that Trump was an aberration from Republican norms. That bid for GOP support likely swayed very few presidential voters, but it kneecapped Democrats running for Congress and robbed her of a powerful line of attack against Trump. By tying Trump to his party instead – a move he failed to counter – she robbed him of his populist theme and linked him instead to the failed GOP policies of the past
Unfortunately, Clinton also characterized Trump’s economic ideas as “trumped up, trickle down.” That’s the kind of phrase that delights politicians and their campaign staff but leave voters cold or confused. Given her struggles to appear spontaneous, it’s also precisely the sort of overly wordsmithed, artificial-sounding phrase Clinton should avoid.
Clinton then mentioned the plight of the middle class, the burdens of student debt, and the need for debt-free college. They were good, if somewhat inchoate, thoughts. But she failed to tie them together into a single economic theme or vision, and that will work to her detriment. Nor did she attack Trump on his misguided deficit fixation – a fixation shared by too many Democrats in the Clinton camp.
On climate change, Trump denied Clinton’s charge that he had characterized it as a Chinese hoax. But he did, and climate denial is the GOP’s default position. At a time of planetary crisis, that alone should disqualify him for the presidency. But there was far too little discussion of the policies that are needed to protect the planet.
Lester Holt mentioned recent police shootings of African Americans in Tulsa and Charlotte and asked the candidates how they would “heal the divide.” Clinton spoke about her policies for criminal justice reform, while Trump talked about “law and order” and boasted about his endorsements from police groups. (I thought for a moment he was about to announce the support of the warden from “Cool Hand Luke.”)
Trump sounded like a feudal overlord, or worse, when he spoke about law enforcement. Instead of projecting compassion, he seemed to have his mind on his money (and vice versa):
“And when I look at what’s going on in Charlotte, a city I love, a city where I have investments … we need law and order in our country.”
“You don’t have good community relations in Chicago. It’s terrible. I have property there.”
Trump brought up his support for “stop and frisk” policing, a tactic which has been found unconstitutional, and repeated a great deal of misinformation about urban crime trends. He and Clinton went a few rounds on his favorite topic – law and order – before Holt gamely tried to reassert control by saying, “This conversation is about race …”
Clinton pushed back on Trump’s assertions and commendably addressed sentencing reform, saying: “We have to come forward with a plan that is going to divert people from the criminal justice system, deal with mandatory minimum sentences which have put too many people away for too long for doing too little. We need to have more second chance programs.”
She did, however, wrongly claim that “we’re ending private prisons in the federal system.” The federal prison system is phasing them out, but Homeland Security still detains immigrants in for-profit prisons, and for-profit companies will continue to provide services in public prisons.
But Clinton clearly has a much better grasp of this issue than Trump does. “We have to address the systemic racism in our justice system,” she said.
Policeman of the World
The conversation on national security was equally frustrating. “We cannot be the policeman of the world,” said Trump, a thought that deserved a meaningful exchange. Both candidates should be asked to explain where, when and how they would intervene militarily around the world. But Trump immediately added: “We cannot defend people when they’re not paying us,” a statement that made the United States sound like a private security patrol company. The right questions were never asked.
Neither candidate found the high ground in Iraq. Trump claimed the United States could’ve crushed ISIS by claiming Iraq’s oil revenue for itself. That position is at once unlawful, unethical and impractical. Clinton failed to offer a coherent plan to stop ISIS in either Iraq or Syria. And neither candidate acknowledged the deaths, not only of thousands of young Americans, but of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and other Middle Easterners.
Trump also claimed that the Iran nuclear agreement was ill-advised because sanctions were devastating that country, which is untrue. He repeated the conservative lie that the United States “gave” the Iranians money to secure the treaty. (Blocked Iranian funds were released as part of the agreement.) It was somewhere around this time that Trump began talking somewhat incoherently about the need to protect “the cyber.”
Observers pointed out that Trump became increasingly less comprehensible as the evening wore on. He also spent the evening sniffling loudly as he spoke – which, had Clinton done it, would undoubtedly have been characterized by the right as evidence of a life-threatening disease.
This summary makes the debate sound more substantive than it was. There was too much talk about the candidates – about Clinton’s stamina, emails, and personality, or Trump’s taxes, temperament (which he claimed was “my greatest asset”), and fibbing – and too little about the voters: their fears, their needs, their dreams, and their changes for a better future.
Perhaps that was inevitable, given the media feeding frenzy around this debate and the personality-driven nature of our political process. But it was unfortunate just the same. Trump got the reality show spectacle he wanted, even if it didn’t go his way. Clinton missed a number of chances to rise above the “Super Bowl” aspect of the debate and appeal directly to the voters she needs the most.
As for the American people – well, they got quite a show. But they often didn’t get the answers they deserved. There was too much contest, and not enough content, in Monday night’s debate.
LOOKS LIKE WE WATCHED TWO DIFFERENT DEBATES. TRUMP SHOULD ASK FOR THE TAX RETURN FOR THE CLINTON FOUNDATION FUND. IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN FILED ON A 990 FORM WHICH SHOULD BE AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC. HELLARY ALREADY HAS TRUMPS TAX RETURN. APPARENTLY SHE SEES SOMETHING THERE THAT SHE CAN TWIST AROUND TO MAKE DONALD LOOK BAD BUT SHE CAN NOT RELEASE IT UNTIL HE OFFICIALLY RELEASES HIS RETURN BECAUSE SHE WOULD PROVE THAT SHE COMMITTED ANOTHER CRIME.
Gilmer County Commission Special Meeting Report - 09.23.16
GILMER COUNTY COMMISSION
SPECIAL MEETING REPORT
September 23, 2016 @ 9:00 AM
Gilmer County Courthouse
10 Howard Street, Glenville, WV
I. CALL TO ORDER
The special meeting of the Gilmer County Commission was called to order by the Commission President Larry Chapman. Commissioner John Bennett as well as the Gilmer County Clerk Jean Butcher were present. Commissioner Brian Kennedy was absent.
II. PLEDGE of ALLEGIANCE TO THE U.S. FLAG
III. PUBLIC COMMENTS
There was not any public comment.
There was not any appointment scheduled for this meeting.
V. ROUTINE BUSINESS:
Discussion and/or action on:
1) Exonerations and/or Consolidations
The commission approved one Exoneration.
2) Approve Estate Qualifications and Estate Settlements
Several Estate Qualifications and Estate Settlements were approved.
ii. Gilmer County Recreation Center-DeKalb District
Above positions are still open for the Unsafe Buildings & Land Enforcement Agency and the Gilmer County Recreation Center.
4) Budget Revisions
5) Budget Control Report-None
6) Approve Invoices for Payment
7) Approve County Commission Minutes
8) Receipt of County Board Minutes:
VI. UNFINISHED BUSINESS
VII. NEW BUSINESS:
Discussion and/or action on:
a) Letter sent to Supreme Court for rent for Family Court utilizing space
A letter was sent to the State Supreme Court regarding rent payment for the use of the Courthouse Annex Building. The Supreme Court stopped paying rent in July citing the court did not have enough room and the space was not sufficient. The commission indicated in the letter to the Supreme Court that now they have all the space in the building since the County Board of Education has moved and the court need to pay the county taxpayers for the use of the space. Needless to say that the issue of handicap elevator is being addressed and an engineer has studied several possibilities.
b) Proposal from Camel Technologies for equipment damaged by water in bottom floor of Annex Building
The proposal provided several options for the payment totaling $4,412.00. The county decided to take advantage of 10% discount by paying the total in one payment.
c) Sheriff and Assessor’s supplemental checks
Farm and AG report from the WV Department of Agriculture indicated the County Assessor Gary Wolfe has successfully completed the Farm Assessment Program and he should be compensated $4,224.00. Also Sheriff Larry Gerwig was to be paid $9,591.00 as well. It was noted that this amount is part of Sheriff’s salary. Commissioners Chapman and Bennett approved both amounts.
d) Assessor to borrow money for Assessor Valuation Fund
The Assessor’s Valuation Fund is 2% of valuations/taxes collected. Since taxes are not paid all at the same time and /or upfront, the Assessor has found himself short of this fund at this time. The Commission approved to transfer $20,000.00 to this fund which will be paid back when all the taxes are collected.
e) Update on the wheel chair ramp in the court room
The Engineering Company still working on finishing the design for the wheelchair and handicap accessibility which includes three of them. The total engineering fee for this design will be about $7,000.00. At that point the Engineering Company will ask for bids. Currently the design of the smallest part of the project is finished. Commission decided to go ahead and bid this part locally.
f) Intent to change polling place-Precinct 18
The building which has been used in Stouts Mills for Precinct 18 is in the process of being sold. As the result the County Clerk requested the Commission to approve an alternate site for this precinct. The Building is located in the Gilmer County Industrial Park which is owned by Waco Oil & Gas (previously owned by Rick Frame). The request was approved.
g) Steam line to boiler in jail building leaking
Commission approved to contact the company which installed the boiler system (Reynold’s) for fixing this issue as well as doing a complete inspection.
VIII. OTHER BUSINESS
Commission thought the Courthouse building needed to be checked for asbestos before any repairs. Also some of the plasters on the walls are coming off which need to be repaired. These repairs will be part of the Courthouse Improvement Grant. This Grant will pay for 80% of the cost if the amount is below $100,000.00. If total is above $100,000.00 the grant will pay for only 70% of it. Also the sewer issue and smell at the Old Jailhouse Building was mentioned.
At the end of the meeting the Governor’s representative who represents Harrison, Lewis, Gilmer, Ritchie, and Tylor Counties showed up asking the commission about any issues the county may have. The commission noted the biggest issue for Gilmer County is the Regional Jail Bill which is costing the county over quarter million dollars annually. It should be noted that Gilmer County is current with payment of this bill.
Bureau of Prisons at Gilmer Inmate Pleads Guilty to Assault
Robert Fleming, age 30, currently incarcerated at Federal Correctional Institution Gilmer, pled guilty today to assaulting a correctional officer, United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II, announced.
In June 2014, Fleming intentionally assaulted a correctional officer with the intent to inflict bodily harm. Fleming pled guilty today to one count of “Assaulting, Resisting, and Impeding Certain Officers or Employees.” He faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen D. Warner prosecuted the case on behalf of the government. The Federal Bureau of Prisons Special Investigations Services Unit investigated.
► Michigan Based Energy Company Purchasing Assets in State
DTE Energy Co. plans to spend $1.3 billion for natural gas assets in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
The Detroit-based company announced Monday that an agreement calls for DTE to purchase all of Appalachia Gathering System in Pennsylvania and West Virginia and 40 percent of Stonewall Gas Gathering in West Virginia from energy company M3 Midstream.
In addition, DTE plans to purchase 15 percent of Stonewall Gas Gathering from Vega Energy Partners.
The assets will become part of DTE’s non-utility Gas Storage and Pipeline business, which owns and manages a network of natural gas gathering, transmission and storage facilities serving the Midwest, Northeast and Ontario markets. The deals are expected to be completed this year.
► $1M in Grants Awarded to WV Food Victims
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s administration has awarded more than $1 million in grants to small businesses devastated by floods in June.
Tomblin spokeswoman Jessica Tice says almost $1.1 million has been approved for 122 businesses through the RISE West Virginia grant program. The businesses employ 772 employees combined.
Two months ago, Tomblin introduced the program that aids small businesses with up to $10,000 grants.
In addition to state money, the public-private partnership also includes more than $511,000 in donations.
Tice says the program still has $2 million to award.
The June 23 floods killed 23 people and tore up businesses, homes and infrastructure.
► Berkeley County Schools Introduce Drug Prevention Program
A West Virginia city is teaming up police, schools, prosecutors, and community and faith-based groups for a first-of-its-kind approach to address drug abuse.
The Martinsburg Police Department and Berkeley County Schools announced The Martinsburg Initiative at Winchester Avenue Elementary on Monday.
Officials say the project will target at-risk children and troubled families, with a more specific focus on opiate and heroin prevention. They heralded it as the “first of its kind” in the United States.
Burke Street and Winchester Avenue elementary schools will serve as the pilot schools for the new initiative.
The program seeks to make schools the center of positive community life, anti-drug activity and learning.
Officials say the initiative relies on proven scientific research that connects adverse childhood experiences and likelihood of future drug use.
► Not all Homeless to be Exempt from SNAP Work Requirements
Officials say homelessness alone isn’t automatically an exemption from work or training requirements for food stamp benefits recipients.
State Department of Health and Human Resources spokeswoman Allison Adler says regulations for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program don’t allow for blanket exemptions based on homelessness.
Adler says beginning October 01, exemptions for the chronically homeless will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Officials say homelessness isn’t a cause for exemption but can be an indication that a person is “unfit” for work and thus not required to.
The state announced last year it would reinstate a requirement for SNAP recipients to meet a monthly work or training requirement of 20 hours per week, or lose benefits after three months.
The changes took effect in January.
► Medical professionals sought to staff free clinic
Volunteer doctors are still being sought for a planned free health clinic to be held in northern Kanawha County next month.
“We need volunteer dentists, optometrists, ophthalmologists, physicians, nurse practitioners that are willing to just give one day of their time, two days if they want to, to help take care of people in need,” Angie Settle, chief executive officer of West Virginia Health Right, said on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
The clinic, which is getting the national Remote Area Medical organization, is scheduled for October 22-23 at Elkview Middle School. It was announced a few weeks ago in the aftermath of the June 23 flood but it will be open to more than just flood survivors, Settle said.
“That (the flood) did spark this event but we welcome, just like West Virginia Health Right does, any needy person in the state of West Virginia that’s in need of help we want you to come on down and get the help,” Settle said.
Medical professionals interested in volunteering for the clinic may call 304-414-5931 or go online for more information at: http://www.wvhealthright.org/
Settle said she’s confident they will get enough doctors and others to staff the two-day event.
“It’s West Virginians taking care of West Virginians and I know firsthand, born and raised here, that we are the most giving state in the nation and I want to see us give back and help our fellow persons here in West Virginia,” Settle said.
Settle wants the clinic to be an annual event. She recently attended a similar clinic in Wise, Va., which is in its 17th year.
The Kanawha County clinic will offer medical, dental and vision services on a first-come-first-served basis.
► SBA in holding pattern with flood-damaged schools
The SBA’s Director of School Planning and Construction said the state is preparing for school repairs, renovations, and possible relocation projects as a result of the June 23 floods, but remains uncertain of a time table to begin any concrete planning.
“It’s very fluid, and that’s what I told the Authority members when we started this morning,” Scott Raines said Monday at the SBA’s quarterly meeting. “I didn’t prepare a hand-out or an attachment to the agenda because things are so fluid that it literally is changing–we can talk one thing in the morning and it will change in the afternoon.”
Raines said the time table for the installation of modular units, the bidding process, and the finalization of FEMA surveys of the five damaged schools are all contributing factors to the uncertainty.
“We’ll obviously work to try to get things back to normal as quickly as we can, but there are so many variable in the construction world that you just don’t have control over,” he said.
FEMA surveys and damage assessments are required for all of the schools before determining if they need to simply build new schools, which must be built outside of the flood plain.
“We don’t anticipate that there’s going to be an issue with any of the five,” he said. “But until FEMA says, ‘We’ve reviewed it all and we’re in agreement that direct relocation is needed,’ we can’t say 100 percent that that’s the direction of the path.”
The assessments are underway for three schools in Nicholas County: Richwood High School, Richwood Middle School, and Summersville Middle School. In Kanawha County, Clendenin Elementary School and Herbert Hoover are also eligible.
“We’ve had the structural evaluations done and damage evaluations done on all the facilities,” Raines said. “Those evaluations have to be reviewed for the ability to rebuild, remodel, renovate, relocate before we can make any determination officially as to who gets rebuilt and who doesn’t.”
In the meantime, Raines is hoping all the affected schools will have modular units installed as a temporary measure by December.
“Once we get those bids received, we’ll determine who the successful contractor is in order to get those buildings established and put on site as quickly as we can to move those kids out of the situations that they are currently in into a more permanent temporary,” he said.
“We’re really hoping that we can provide them the temporary housing by December–the first of the year–which will provide them with some sense of normalcy.”
School repair costs are expected to make the difference in what level of funding West Virginia needs to provide during state-wide rebuilding efforts.
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed a bill last week to allocate $85 million in funding as part of cost of the June flood.
► WV Board OKs Fayette County plan to consolidate to 11 schools
West Virginia school officials have approved Fayette County’s plan to trim 18 schools down to 11.
News outlets report that the West Virginia School Building Authority voted unanimously Monday in favor of the consolidation plan following a nine-month review of Fayette County Schools. The vote means Superintendent Michael Martirano will be able to start asking the SBA for money.
Martirano plans in December to ask the authority for $22.6 million, to complement $17 million provided by Fayette’s school system.
SBA Executive Director David Sneed said the SBA’s conducted its most thorough analysis ever prior to the vote.
In addition to going from 18 schools to 11, the county will change grade configurations and preserve only two existing high schools: Midland Trail and Oak Hill.
► Driver killed in Parkersburg after collided with an ambulance
The driver of a Chevrolet Camaro was killed following a crash with an ambulance Monday evening.
Ralph D. McMullen, Jr., 53, of Parkersburg, was transported to Camden Clark Medical Center and then flown to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, where he died, according to Parkersburg Police.
Police said McMullen was traveling south on Rayon Drive approaching the intersection with Camden Avenue when his vehicle collided with an ambulance traveling east in the left lane.
The driver of the ambulance, Alesha Smith, 23, of Parkersburg, suffered minor injuries and was also transpoted to Camden Clark.
The accident happened shortly before 8 p.m. Parkersburg police, members of the Wood County crash team and the Wood County prosecutor’s office were investigating the crash.
The Census Bureau reported Monday that incidents of violent crime—and murders in particular—were up around the US, but which cities are worst? Here are the top 10, on a per-capita basis, via 24/7 Wall Street.
St. Louis, Missouri: 1,817 violent crimes per 100,000 people, with 188 murders in 2015
The disgruntled lawyer killed by police in Houston after randomly shooting six drivers outside a condo complex Monday morning definitely had a thing for the Nazis, but police aren’t sure whether that was his motive. Capt. DW Ready, head of the police homicide division says the shooter—identified by the city’s mayor as Nathan DeSai—was wearing some kind of military uniform with Nazi emblems and more Nazi insignia were found at his home, CNN reports. “There’s also other historic, or what I would call vintage, military stuff in the apartment going back to the Civil War,“ Ready says.
Six people were injured by gunfire and another three by flying glass in DeSai’s rampage, which ended when nine police officers returned fire. Authorities say he had two legally owned weapons—a .45 handgun and a semi-automatic “Tommy gun"—along with a knife and 2,500 rounds of ammunition. DeSai’s father says he had been having issues including problems at his law office. Condo complex manager Jason Delgado tells the AP that police were called last month after DeSai allegedly pointed a rifle at roofers working in the complex, and DeSai sent threatening emails last week when complaining about water pressure problems.
► Victims, Suspects in California Triple Murder Were ‘Furries’
Two men arrested in the killings of a California couple were friends with the victims’ teenage daughter and all attended “furry” events where some participants dress up in colorful animal costumes, the AP reports. Jennifer Yost, 39, and her husband, Christopher Yost, 34, were found dead in their Fullerton home along with family friend Arthur “Billy” Boucher, 28. Police were summoned to the home Saturday morning by the couple’s 6-year-old daughter. She was not harmed, nor was her 9-year-old sister. Melinda Giles says she became friends with Jennifer Yost after meeting her and her 17-year-old daughter, Katlynn Goodwill Yost, last year at a gathering of “furries.“
Giles says she also saw Frank Felix, 25, and Joshua Acosta, 21—who have been arrested for investigation of the murders—at furry events. She says Jennifer Yost told her weeks ago that she had forbidden Felix from seeing her daughter. “It is really sad because they didn’t deserve that. Those little girls didn’t deserve to wake up to dead parents,“ she says. Goodwill Yost initially was reported missing after her parents’ bodies were found. When police announced the arrests of Felix and Acosta, they also said a 17-year-old girl was in custody and Goodwill Yost had been located and was safe. They did not say if she is the girl suspected of involvement in the killings.
► Body camera use questioned in fatal shootings in Charlotte
The fatal shooting of a black man by a police officer in Charlotte is only the latest shooting to raise questions about how the department uses body cameras.
Six people were fatally shot since body cameras were given to all patrol officers about a year ago. But the officers who fired the fatal shots in five of those cases — including Keith Lamont Scott’s — weren’t using the cameras.
The weekend release of police footage showing the shooting of Scott left questions in many people’s minds — including whether he was holding a gun. The footage includes body camera video from another officer, but not the black officer who fatally wounded Scott.
Scott’s family and advocacy groups complain the department divulged only about three minutes of footage from two cameras. The have urged the police department to release all other video footage it has, as well as audio recordings of communications that could clarify how the situation unfolded. A media coalition is also requesting more footage.
Police Chief Kerr Putney has said the officer who shot Scott wasn’t wearing a body camera that day because he’s part of a tactical unit.
“Our tactical units don’t all have body-worn cameras at this point,“ Putney told reporters on Saturday, adding they are to receive them in the future. He said was previously reluctant to make officers in high-risk operations wear cameras showing tactics and locations.
The department said plainclothes officers who saw Scott with a gun and marijuana left the area to put on vests identifying them as police before confronting him.
If the officers “had the foresight to put on their police vest, why did you not put on your body cam?“ asked Corine Mack, president of the Charlotte NAACP chapter.
Susanna Birdsong, a legal policy expert for the American Civil Liberties Union, questioned whether the department is violating its own body camera policy instituted in April 2015.
The policy, according to the department’s site, states the cameras must be activated in situations including arrests and encounters with suspicious people. It doesn’t address whether tactical units must wear them.
Referring to the Scott case and others, Mack said she’s angry not all units have the cameras yet.
“It speaks to the culture of the police department that even when policies and procedures are put in place, that they feel they don’t have to follow them,“ she said. “This is serious, that there is no record of a life being taken. ... People want to know why we don’t trust the police department?“
In three previous cases from December and January, the Mecklenburg County district attorney cleared officers who killed suspects who fired shots first. In one case, an officer wasn’t wearing a body camera because he was working off-duty security in uniform at a mall. A second case involved a tactical unit not equipped with body cameras. Footage existed in the third case but was poor quality, authorities said.
An April case being reviewed by the SBI involved SWAT members — one of the Charlotte units that hasn’t worn body cameras. A June case involved patrol officers, but multiple media outlets reported that the officers were not using body cameras.
Charlotte police didn’t respond to an email Monday asking about these cases.
Putney said Saturday he released portions of video pertinent to the shooting and hoped to release the rest after a State Bureau of Investigation probe. But he acknowledged that a new state law taking effect October 1 will likely require a judge’s approval for further releases of footage.
Justin Bamberg, a Scott family attorney, said remaining video is vital to understanding exactly what transpired in a very short time.
“It is clear from the videos released that in the moments leading up to the shooting, Mr. Scott was non-aggressive, had his hands down by his side, appeared confused, and was passively walking backwards,“ Bamberg said.
Geoff Alpert, a professor at the University of South Carolina, said that while body camera footage isn’t always conclusive, authorities should lean toward releasing it.
“Unless there’s a really compelling reason that should be explained, I don’t know why they wouldn’t release the video ... as they capture it,“ Alpert said. “This is public safety, and keeping things from us doesn’t seem to be the appropriate way to move forward.“
Reda Burch, who stopped Sunday by a makeshift memorial near where Scott died, said she has watched the police videos but that authorities should release what other footage they have.
“Nobody’s life was being threatened. I didn’t see it from that tape, and if he (Putney) has other tapes that show those officers were in danger,“ she’d like to be persuaded, Burch said. Lacking that, “it wasn’t justified. No, not at all.“
► Tyson Recalls Chicken Nuggets due to Plastic Contamination
Tyson Foods is recalling approximately 132,520 pounds of fully cooked chicken nuggets that may be contaminated with hard plastic.
The fully cooked Panko Chicken Nuggets items were produced on July 18, 2016. The following products are subject to recall:
• 5-lb. bag containing “Tyson FULLY COOKED PANKO CHICKEN NUGGETS” with a “Best If Used By” date of July 18, 2017 and case code 2006SDL03 and 2006SDL33.
• 20-lb. bulk packages containing “SPARE TIME Fully Cooked, Panko Chicken Nuggets, Nugget Shaped Chicken Breast Pattie Fritters With Rib Meat” with a production date of July 18, 2016 and case code 2006SDL03.
The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. 13556” printed next to the “Best If Used By” date on the back of the package. The 20-pound cases were shipped for institutional use in Pennsylvania and the five-pound bags were shipped to retail locations nationally.
The problem was discovered after the Tyson received consumer complaints regarding foreign material contamination of chicken nugget products. According to Tyson Foods, the plastic material ranged in size from 21mm in length and 6.5mm in diameter and may have come from a round, hard plastic rod used to connect a plastic transfer belt. They said the products pass through a metal detector, but the plastic is not detectable to this technology.
There have been no confirmed injuries or illnesses from eating the nuggets.
If you have purchased these products you are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.
► Bombing Suspect ‘Too Injured to See Lawyer’
New Jersey and New York bombing suspect Ahmad Rahami is still in hospital and is too badly injured to have been arrested, let alone meet a lawyer, according to officials. In a court order Monday, US Magistrate Judge Mark Falk revealed that Rahami, who was injured in a shootout with police before his capture last week, is “incapacitated and intubated” in a New Jersey hospital and has not been formally arrested yet, NBC reports. The court order came in response to a public defender’s request to meet with Rahami, who is accused of a string of bombing attacks that injured dozens of people, as well as the attempted murder of two police officers who were injured in the shootout.
Sources say Rahami was badly injured in the abdomen during the shootout. The New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union says that at the request of Rahami’s father and wife, it is representing him until the court allows the appointment of a public defender. The group says it wants a lawyer to check on reports that Rahami has been unconscious since he was taken into custody. “It’s conspicuous whenever the government says, ‘We’re not going to give you a lawyer, but don’t worry, you don’t need one,‘“ ACLU lawyer Alexander Shalom tells NJ.com.
► Mom’s Brutally Honest Tardy Note for Teen Goes Viral
It was like any other morning trying to get a teenager out of bed, only with a little extra sauce—from mom. Nicole Poppic of Clarksburg, Calif., decided to write quite the detailed tardy note for her 14-year-old daughter Cara when the teen wouldn’t get out of bed and mouthed off earlier this month. “Adolescents across our great nation are afflicted and there is no known cure,“ Poppic wrote in a note that quickly went viral on Facebook, thus far racking up about 33,000 shares and 4,500 likes. “Symptoms are multitudinous, but this particular morning [Cara] suffered from an inability to remove herself from her bed, and also felt the need to talk back to her birth giver.“
Things got worse on the drive to school. When Cara donned her headphones to dodge the inevitable discussion about thinking of people other than herself, her mother threw the phone out the window, reports Mashable. (She later retrieved it and gave it back.) Then, when Cara refused to take the note to her school’s attendance office, Poppic marched into the office with her daughter, where Cara was given a tardy slip. The daughter seems to have learned her lesson, as she admits to TODAY Parents that she was “ashamed of acting that way, because my teachers usually know me as the quiet, respectful student in the class, and I didn’t want them to think otherwise.“ Three weeks later, though, she says she’s able to laugh about it.
► 1 Dead in Starbucks Shooting After Credit Card Declined
A Starbucks customer described terrified people dropping to the floor and sobbing after a gunman parked his car and entered the Las Vegas store, fatally shooting a man inside, the AP reports. Customer Medin Gebrezgier told police and a television reporter that he saw the gunman, identified Monday by police as Pedro Jose Garcia, fire twice into the ceiling before shooting a man in the chest. Garcia entered the store after his payment card was declined at the drive-thru window, police said. “Terror, it was just terror. We were afraid,“ Gebrezgier told KVVU-TV. He described people crying and hitting the floor when shots were fired a little before 11:30am Sunday.
Garcia, 34, was jailed pending a court appearance on murder, robbery, burglary, and weapon charges following his arrest at the Starbucks in a commercial center several miles west of the Las Vegas Strip. Despite witness accounts that Garcia was unable to make a purchase, a motive for the shooting remained unclear, police Officer Larry Hadfield said. The victim wasn’t identified as a coffee shop employee. “They’re investigating whether there was any connection between Garcia and the victim,“ said Hadfield, a department spokesman. The name of the 41-year-old man who was pronounced dead at a hospital wasn’t immediately made public by the Clark County coroner.
► New Yorkers Can Now Be Buried With Their Pets. Sorta
New York state will now allow people to be buried with the cremated remains of their pet, the AP reports. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the measure into law on Monday. Cuomo, a Democrat, says many New Yorkers consider their pets to be a member of the family, and says the previous regulation banning the burial of cremated pet remains with their human companions was “unnecessary.“ But cemeteries wouldn’t have to offer the option, and religious cemeteries would be specifically forbidden from doing so. The proposal is the latest in a series of measures honoring the bond between human and beast in New York. Last year, state lawmakers passed a law allowing dogs on restaurant patios. They also are considering a ban on cat declawing.
► Air Force Colonel Accused of Rape Kills Self
A high-ranking Air Force Space Command officer who was charged with rape and other crimes was found dead in his Colorado home after civilian police received a report of a suicide, officials said Monday. The body of Col. Eugene Caughey, 46, was found Sunday at his off-base home in Colorado Springs, city police said. Authorities haven’t said how he died. The officers who found him dead were responding to a report of a suicide, Colorado Springs police Sgt. Tim Stankey said. Caughey was relieved of his duties in June 2015 after the rape investigation began, the Air Force has said. His court-martial was scheduled for October 17, the AP reports.
Caughey, who joined the Air Force in 1993, had been vice commander of the 50th Space Wing at Schriever Air Force Base outside Colorado Springs. The unit operates military communications and weather satellites, as well as global positioning system satellites, which have broad civilian and military uses. Caughey was accused of raping a woman in late 2014 or early 2015. He was also charged with adultery, indecent filming or photography, dereliction of duty, and conduct unbecoming an officer. Prosecutors accused him of photographing his exposed genitals while in uniform and groping women twice.
► Walmart: Sorry We Refused to Make Police Officer’s Cake
Walmart has apologized after employees at a Georgia store refused to make a retirement cake for a police officer. The officer’s daughter told radio host Todd Starnes that she wanted the cake to feature a black and white American flag with a blue stripe added in to symbolize the police force, and that when an employee said no one felt comfortable decorating the cake that way because it “could be perceived as racist,“ the daughter suggested a simple blue line on a background of chocolate frosting—which the employee said she also didn’t “feel comfortable” with. (However, a photo provided to Starnes of the cake that was ultimately completed shows the blue line on black frosting surrounded by the words, “Blue Lives Matter.“)
A family friend and fellow police officer posted about the incident on Facebook Thursday, and then on Saturday posted that the manager of the Walmart had reached out, apologized, and offered to make the cake himself, free of charge, after the post went viral, the Macon Telegraph reports. That’s the cake pictured in a photo provided to Starnes; the cop’s daughter notes that since no employees would agree to decorate it, the manager decorated it himself and it looks “terrible. It doesn’t look professional.“ A Walmart spokesperson confirmed a “misstep” to Starnes, though he wouldn’t say whether an employee had called the cake racist: “I can confirm an associate made a mistake that has since been corrected for the customer,“ he said. The family friend says the daughter eventually had a cake made at Kroger for the party.
► HGTV Couple’s Ultimate Fixer Upper: Waco
“The story of Waco is the story of how a city can break your heart.“ And from David Koresh and the Branch Davidians to biker shootouts and sex assault scandals at Baylor, Waco’s heart has been broken again and again. But Taffy Brodesser-Akner, writing at Texas Monthly, is more interested in the story of how a hometown boy, and his girl, made the hometown good. She profiles Chip and Joanna Gaines, who met in a tire store in Waco, fell in love, got married, and started innocently flipping houses—she the decorating brains, he the demo-ing brawn in a town awash in decrepit homes. They might have faded quietly into the Texas sunset, had HGTV not taken notice. “I think it is their perfect imperfections,“ says an HGTV exec. “They are the best of what’s real in life.“ And when the Gaineses’ HGTV show, Fixer Upper, debuted, millions of people took notice.
“But,“ writes Brodesser-Akner, “a funny thing happened along the way to success.“ Success happened to Waco, as well. As surely as the Gaineses renovated house after house, Waco found its redemption. Tourism skyrocketed. Cottage industries sprang up. Silos that sat long dormant downtown went from blight to landmark when the Gaineses made a bid on them a few years ago. A Waco tourism official recounts the debate about how to fix those silos up: “And Joanna said, ‘Well, but wait a minute. They’re beautiful the way they are.‘ And now they look beautiful to me.“ She continues: “I’ve thought a lot about it. I think that’s what Joanna does. She makes things wanted that were once unwanted.“ The HGTV exec admits that while Waco wasn’t the most likely backdrop for the show, “Now when I say ‘Waco,‘ I don’t even think about Branch Davidians or some of the other bad things that have happened there. I just think Chip and Jo.“ Read the whole fascinating piece HERE.
► Grandpa Sues Grandson, 13, Over Crash That Killed Grandma
On the evening of March 26, Kuem Soon Cho, 79, gave her 13-year-old grandson her minivan keys so that he could help her put the minivan in gear in a parking lot on the block where she lived. (Multiple reports don’t make it clear exactly what they were trying to do.) The teen put the minivan into reverse, then accidentally pushed the gas pedal instead of the brake, police say. Cho was approaching the driver’s side door when that happened; the minivan hit her, and she was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital in a suburb of Chicago. Now, her husband Paul Sang Cho—the boy’s grandfather—is suing the teen over the crash, CBS Chicago reports.
The male Cho has filed a wrongful death lawsuit, alleging that his grandson was negligent and careless when he failed to keep the minivan under control, failed to give warning of what he was doing, and failed to yield the right of way. He’s suing for an unspecified amount of money. An autopsy had ruled the female Cho’s death accidental.
► Parents: Dentist Harmed 131 Kids, Made Millions Doing So
A Florida mother says she brought her then-6-year-old daughter in for a dental appointment to get a tooth extracted with Dr. Howard Schneider in 2014—but, instead, she came in to the procedure room to find her daughter “face-first” on the bloody floor with scratches, bruises, and all eight of her front teeth extracted. When Brandi Motley couldn’t get an attorney to take her case, she “turned her minivan into a rolling billboard attack on Schneider,“ ABC News reports. Then, in April 2015, she posted about her experience on Facebook, and the post went viral. She found other parents who said they’d had similar experiences—they allege Schneider, who catered to children in low-income families, performed unnecessary procedures, harming their kids in the process, in order to collect millions in Medicaid funds—and they started protesting outside Schneider’s clinic.
Ultimately, the attorney who’d at first refused the case took on 131 individual lawsuits against Schneider, settling 104 of them thus far, but Schneider continues to insist he’s done nothing wrong. After the protests had been going on for weeks, Schneider shut down his clinic after more than 50 years of practicing dentistry, and voluntarily gave up his dental license—which meant he avoided a full investigation by the dental board. In November 2015, he was arrested and charged with 11 counts of Medicaid provider fraud; he pleaded not guilty and may go to trial, although his defense team is seeking to have the 78-year-old declared mentally incompetent in order to avoid a trial, News 4 Jax reports. In May, USA Today reported that some parents accuse Schneider of going so far as to choke his patients into unconsciousness rather than using anesthetic.
► Woman’s Getaway Vehicle Doesn’t Work Well
An alleged robber in Gainesville, Florida, managed to successfully get away from an Arby’s restaurant, only to be foiled in part by her choice of getaway vehicle: a taxi cab. The Gainesville Sun reports that 20-year-old Keshunte Taylor is in custody after police say she robbed the restaurant at gunpoint, then made the unusual choice of hopping in a cab. That didn’t make it hard for police to spot the vehicle, and it was stopped less than two blocks away—still in the same shopping plaza. Taylor was in the back seat with $219 of the restaurant’s money, say police.
► Explosion at Suspected Drug Lab Kills NYC Firefighter
The FDNY suffered its first in-the-line-of-duty death in more than two years Tuesday when a suspected drug lab exploded in the Bronx, killing a battalion chief, the New York Daily News reports. According to WPIX, Michael Fahy was directing traffic away from a two-story house where someone had reported a possible gas leak when it exploded. Pieces of the house’s roof struck Fahy in the head. “He was a star,“ WNBC quotes FDNY commissioner Daniel Nigro as saying. “We lost a hero today.“ Fahy was a second-generation firefighter and had been with the FDNY for 17 years. He leaves behind a wife and three young children. “It’s a very sad day for our city,“ WPIX quotes mayor Bill de Blasio as saying.
While no one else was killed, the Daily News reports 20 people—nine firefighters, six police officers, three energy workers, and two civilians—were injured in the explosion. It’s unclear what triggered the explosion, though officials believe the house was the site of a marijuana grow-op or meth lab. WNBC quotes a neighbor who says the explosion “shook my whole neighborhood” and “felt like a bomb went off.“ The only person home prior to the explosion left the house when firefighters arrived.
Colombia’s government and the country’s largest rebel movement signed a historic peace accord Monday evening ending a half-century of combat that caused more than 220,000 deaths and made 8 million homeless, the AP reports. Underlining the importance of the deal, President Juan Manuel Santos and Rodrigo Londono, leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, signed the 297-page agreement before a crowd of 2,500 foreign dignitaries and special guests, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry. Many in the audience had tears in their eyes, and shouts rose urging Santos and Londono to “Hug, hug, hug!“ But in the end, the two men just clasped hands and the rebel commander, also known as Timochenko, put on a pin shaped like a white dove that Santos has been wearing on his lapel for years. Seconds later five jets buzzed overhead in formation trailing smoke in the colors of Colombia’s flag.
During a minute of silence for the war’s victims, 50 white flags were raised. Everyone at the event wore white as a symbol of peace. Santos proclaimed after the signing that the accord will help Colombia to stop the killing, to end the deaths of young people, the innocent, soldiers and rebels alike. He led the crowd in chants of “No more war! No more war! No more war!“ and he urged Colombians to vote to accept the accord in the October 2 national referendum that will determine if it takes effect. Londono called Santos “a courageous partner” in reaching the peace deal through four hard years of negotiations, calling the accord “a victory for Colombian society and the international community.“ He also praised FARC’s fighters as heroes of the downtrodden in the struggle for social justice, but repeated the movement’s request for forgiveness for the war. “I apologize ... for all the pain that we have caused,“ he said.
► Saudi Women Move to Dump Male Guardians
In Saudi Arabia, women are hamstrung from doing certain tasks many of us take for granted—including marrying and vacationing abroad—without permission from their male guardians. Now, more than 14,000 Saudi women are trying to change that with a petition to the government that they hope will put an end to the conservative Islamic kingdom’s guardianship system, the BBC reports. Women currently need an OK from a husband, father, brother, son, or other male family member to do not only the previously listed activities, but also more routine things such as renting an apartment, getting a passport, accessing health care—sometimes even taking a class or getting a job. “Women should be treated as [full citizens],“ activist Aziza Al-Yousef, who’s been in the equal-rights fight for 10 years, tells the Guardian.
The movement to dump guardianship picked up steam in July after a Human Rights Watch report came out on the system and the hashtag #IAmMyOwnGuardian started proliferating on social media. Not all women are against guardianship, with a female columnist for the Arab Newssaying that while reform to the system is needed, how well the system works depends on each family’s dynamic, and that women who live under such systems aren’t necessarily “brainwashed.“ Still, an HRW researcher calls the drive to nix guardianship “incredible and unprecedented.“ “[The women have] made undeniably clear they won’t stand to be treated as second-class citizens any longer,“ she tells the BBC.
AARP WV providing 2016 Gubernatorial Video Voter Guide
AARP West Virginia has released its 2016 Video Voter Guide featuring exclusive one-on-one interviews with gubernatorial candidates Senate President Bill Cole (R) and Jim Justice (D), answering key questions on how they would improve the lives of family caregivers, help West Virginians prepare for retirement security and make the Mountain State more age-friendly.
In the question and answer session with AARP West Virginia State President Rich Stonestreet and State Director Gaylene Miller, the candidates for governor address the needs of the state’s nearly 300,000 unpaid family caregivers and the more than 270,000 working West Virginians without access to retirement saving plans in the workplace. Each of the candidates also details his vision of making West Virginia more age-friendly.
AARP produced the video as part of a 30-year commitment to non-partisan voter engagement effort, to help voters be informed and feel their part of the electoral process.
Additionally, AARP West Virginia and the West Virginia Press Association will present the state’s first broadcast gubernatorial debate in this election cycle at 7 p.m., Tuesday, October 04, 2016. The hour-long debate will originate from the Walker Theater at Charleston’s Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences, with West Virginia Public Broadcasting producing the live television, radio and online broadcast. West Virginia Press Association member newspaper websites across the state will provide online video and extensive print coverage, including live post-debate coverage.
According to voter statistics from the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office, there are more than 1.25 million registered voters in the Mountain State. For information about the November 8 election, including information about voting locations, early voting and sample ballots, AARP encourages voters to visit the Secretary of State’s office online at www.sos.wv.gov/elections.