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CommunityConcerns™: WV School Building Authority (SBA)

The Gilmer Free Press

WV School Building Authority (SBA) To Do Business Differently with Mr. David Sneed’s Leadership

Attempts to escape sticky situations by politicians and government agencies are characterized by selecting damage control strategies from a standard menu.

Selections include deny with fervor that anything bad happened, contend that bearers of unwanted news are delusional or afflicted with another behavioral problem to cause irrationality, blame the problem on someone else, lose records which could be used to prove what happened, blame negative news on baseless allegations from ruthless adversaries, and to claim that there were gross misinterpretations of what actually happened.

There is one West Virginia agency deserving praise for not evading controversy to take unilateral measures to improve its operations. That agency is the WV School Building Authority with Mr. David Sneed, its newly appointed administrator.

After the SBA spent hundreds of millions of dollars over the past years on school facilities West Virginians can read Mr. Sneed’s new plan by accessing the WVSBA’s website and searching for meeting minutes for the March 23, 2015 meeting and, and reading the Charleston Gazette’s article entitled School Construction Agency Prepared to Keep Lid on Funding, published in March 2015. Then, GFP readers could find the article for themselves.

Mr. Scott Raines, the SBA’s architectural services director said in the Gazette article that previously the SBA’s funds were approved without use of adequate information, and architects designed and built schools with specifications beyond those needed. One undesirable side effect was escalations of school building costs. Raines cited an example of an architect designing a building thousands of square feet larger than the SBA agreed to fund to run up costs beyond an existing budget overrun of $1,500,000.

It is well known that private architectural firms took leads in counties to write their Comprehensive Education Facilities Plans (CEFP), and they were responsible for pre-construction studies including those to meet environmental requirements. Then, the same firms got no-bid architectural contracts to construct a county’s new schools for hefty no-risk profits.

A fatal flaw with the SBA’s past practices was that counties lacked the proper technical expertise to independently develop and evaluate CEFPs, architectural plans, and results of site pre-construction and environmental studies done with involvement of private architectural firms.  Because the SBA lacked the proper expertise to compensate for skills counties lacked, State-level oversight was nonexistent and architectural firms enjoyed too much autonomy.

One of the WVSBA’s new initiatives will be to ensure that in the future, private architectural firms will not be in special positions to be self-policing with design work and other services for which they are paid. One remedy will be for the SBA to hire construction managers to supervise various phases of projects to do better in watching out for WV’s taxpayers.

Some of the SBA’s interpreted changes are listed below.

•  Participate in an improved project delivery system to include assistance to counties with pre-planning, site selections, project design and costing, project scheduling,  bidding, and construction.

•  Define minimum site study requirements including geo-technical, architectural, and environmental studies.

•  Control budget creep during projects to prevent budget shortfalls and overruns.

•  Require architects to consider alternative designs and construction material to save money.

•  Create policy for SBA intervention in architects and contractors relationships believed to mean disputes and potential for conflicts of interests.

•  Define respective roles of the SBA, County Boards of Education and other important participants involved with   projects to eliminate confusions and to establish accountability.

The clear message for West Virginia is that the SBA is beginning a proactive role in assisting WV Counties and Boards of Education.  This is a long awaited move. Hopefully, never again will there be mismanagement similar to what happened for the failed Cedar Creek project in Gilmer County and the situation at Hays City.

Word was not released from Charleston if an in-depth, independent investigation will be conducted to delve into the SBA’s past practices. It was reported, however, that in the future county school districts should contact the SBA, not just architects, when planning occurs.

In the Gazette article Mr. Raines warned that toes will be stepped on to make things uncomfortable. West Virginians will have to wait and see what that meant.

One courageous action the SBA could take, with help from the WV Legislature, to correct a reversible mistake would be to halt the Hays City project. Then, Gilmer County could have a fresh start in determining what is best to provide safe and adequate facilities for its school children.

Horoscopes: April 06, 2015

The Gilmer Free Press

The alignment of the sun and Uranus in Aries will start the business of the week off with an invigorating blast. Also, the shorthand communication between people who know one another well will extend now to complete strangers, who will communicate in brief and effective exchanges as Mercury and Jupiter form a fire-sign trine.

ARIES (March 21-April 19). When you worry too much about offending people, it puts a strain on natural interaction. The same goes for when you worry too much about impressing them.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20). Those who try to appeal to everyone usually wind up appealing to no one. To have the greatest appeal, target a specific group – an audience you understand well because you’re the same.

GEMINI (May 21-June 21). You have a low tolerance for rules now. A loose plan will best suit your current creative mindset. Let your imagination lead you, and you’ll like where you wind up.

CANCER (June 22-July 22). Though you shine when you compete with your own past performance, a winning game strategy will also involve assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the competition.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22). This is no time to take a chance on the new guy. Speculative ventures will be a waste of time. Do business with the one who has done hundreds if not thousands of jobs just like the one you need done.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22). You want someone’s love, but you don’t need it. To win this person’s heart you must first honor and cherish yourself in the way you hope to be honored and cherished.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 23). To attract the change you desire, you first have to believe you’re capable of changing. It also helps when you believe down deep that this new version of you is what the world needs.

SCORPIO (Oct. 24-Nov. 21). It’s possible to grow closer to a person you know rather completely. Just when you think there’s nothing left to discover, an interesting question or novel situation will show you another side.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21). You don’t mind making most of the effort in a relationship, especially for a limited amount of time. The pendulum will soon swing, and it will be the other person’s turn to put in more.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19). It’s easy for you to open up, but you’re careful not to do so indiscriminately. When you provide intrigue for others, you’re giving them a gift. You’ll say less and coyly build the mystery.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18). You’ve come to the end of a cycle, or rather you’ll decide it’s the end and make your exit. Maybe this ending won’t be as neat as you’d like, but in time, this piece of the past will go into a fitting emotional compartment.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20). Your wishes may not be a top priority for the others in your group. Telling the right story – the one that highlights what’s in it for them – will help them reprioritize in your favor.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY (April 6). The windfall at the top of your solar return happens because you fully appreciate what you have and use it to your greatest advantage. A VIP will like the way you maximize your resources, and you’ll be promoted in June. Relationships take you on a thrilling ride in August. You’ll see new parts of the world. Virgo and Sagittarius people adore you. Your lucky numbers are: 3, 19, 22, 14 and 1.

ASTROLOGICAL QUESTIONS: “I am a 46-year-old single Capricorn. I’ve never been married, though I’ve had a few long-term boyfriends – one for seven years, one for three years and a few relationships that lasted a couple of years. I’ve dated plenty in my life, lived with men and lived alone. For one reason or another, my relationships have not led to lasting loving. What am I doing wrong? Will I ever find lasting love?”

Maybe you’re not doing anything wrong. Can you look back on your relationship choices and stand by them? If the answer is “yes,” then you cannot assume that just because you’re not currently in a relationship you are somehow in the wrong. We are conditioned to believe that a successful life includes the traditional marriage model, and yet there are many ways to evolve as a human and to find love in the world that do not involve getting married and staying married forever. Everyone has a different path in life, and there are many kinds of relationships to explore. I challenge you, lovely Capricorn, to change your thinking and measure your success as a person in ways that empower you.

CELEBRITY PROFILES: In his pre-movie-star era, Paul Rudd was a DJ at bat mitzvahs, which proved an excellent training ground for learning how to please a crowd. Rudd’s crowd-pleasing career includes comedy mega-hits like “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” ”This Is 40″ and “Anchorman.” Look for him in the upcoming science fiction/action film “Ant-Man.” Rudd was born when four luminaries were in energetic, ever-young Aries.

WayBackWhen™: April 06, 2015

The Gilmer Free Press

Today is Monday, April 6, the 96th day of 2015. There are 269 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight:

On April 6, 1965, the United States launched Intelsat I, also known as the “Early Bird” communications satellite, into geosynchronous orbit.

On this date:

In 1830, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized by Joseph Smith in Fayette, New York.

In 1865, in the closing days of the Civil War, Union forces led by Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant defeated Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia in the Battle of Sailor’s Creek.

In 1896, the first modern Olympic games formally opened in Athens, Greece.

In 1909, American explorers Robert E. Peary and Matthew A. Henson and four Inuits became the first men to reach the North Pole.

In 1917, Congress approved a declaration of war against Germany.

In 1945, during World War II, the Japanese warship Yamato and nine other vessels sailed on a suicide mission to attack the U.S. fleet off Okinawa; the fleet was intercepted the next day.

In 1947, the first Tony Awards were held in New York. (This event, focusing on individual achievement, did not specifically recognize plays or musicals; honorees included Ingrid Bergman, Helen Hayes, Jose Ferrer and Fredric March and playwright Arthur Miller.)

In 1954, a month after being criticized by newsman Edward R. Murrow on CBS’ “See It Now,” Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy, R-Wis., given the chance to respond on the program, charged that Murrow had, in the past, “engaged in propaganda for Communist causes.”

In 1963, the United States signed an agreement to sell the Polaris missile system to Britain.

In 1971, Russian-born composer Igor Stravinsky, 88, died in New York City.

In 1985, William J. Schroeder  became the first artificial heart recipient to be discharged from the hospital as he moved into an apartment in Louisville, Kentucky.

In 1998, country singer Tammy Wynette died at her Nashville home at age 55.

Ten years ago: Iraq’s new government finally began to take shape as lawmakers elected as president Jalal Talabani, a Kurdish leader who promised to represent all ethnic and religious groups. Fifteen U.S. service members and three American civilians were killed when their Chinook helicopter crashed in Afghanistan. Prince Rainier III of Monaco died at age 81, leaving the throne to Prince Albert II.

Five years ago: The White House announced a fundamental shift in U.S. nuclear strategy that called the spread of atomic weapons to rogue states or terrorists a worse threat than the nuclear Armageddon feared during the Cold War. Former Soviet diplomat Anatoly Dobrynin, 90, died in Moscow. Actor Corin Redgrave, 70, died in London. Wilma Mankiller, the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation, died in Oklahoma at age 64.

One year ago: Legendary Hollywood actor Mickey Rooney, 93, died in North Hollywood. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel delivered a two-pronged warning to Asia Pacific nations, announcing in Tokyo that the U.S. would send two additional ballistic missile destroyers to Japan to counter the North Korean threat, and saying China had better respect its neighbors. The U.S. Navy rescued an American family with an ill 1-year-old from a sailboat that had broken down hundreds of miles off the Mexican coast. George Strait won his second entertainer of the year – 25 years after winning his first – and Miranda Lambert and Keith Urban teamed up to earn top honors at the Country Music Awards.

Today’s birthdays: Nobel Prize-winning scientist James D. Watson is 87. Composer-conductor Andre Previn is 86. Country singer Merle Haggard is 78. Actor Billy Dee Williams is 78. Actor Roy Thinnes is 77. Writer-comedian Phil Austin (Firesign Theatre) is 74. Movie director Barry Levinson is 73. Actor John Ratzenberger is 68. Baseball Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven is 64. Actress Marilu Henner is 63. Olympic bronze medal figure skater Janet Lynn is 62. Actor Michael Rooker is 60. Former U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., is 59. Rock musician Warren Haynes is 55. Rock singer-musician Frank Black is 50. Actress Ari Meyers is 46. Actor Paul Rudd is 46. Actor-producer Jason Hervey is 43. Rock musician Markku Lappalainen is 42. Actor Zach Braff is 40. Actor Joel Garland (“Orange is the New Black”) is 40. Actress Candace Cameron Bure is 39. Actor Teddy Sears is 38. Jazz and rhythm-and-blues musician Robert Glasper is 37. Actress Eliza Coupe is 34. Folk singer-musician Kenneth Pattengale (Milk Carton Kids) is 33. Actor Bret Harrison is 33. Actor Charlie McDermott is 25.

Thought for today: “History is the ship carrying living memories to the future.” — Sir Stephen Spender, British poet and critic (1909-1995).

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