CommunityConcerns™: Gilmer County’s Summer Energy Express Program

WVDOE Withholds Summer Feeding and Reading Program
From Gilmer County’s Disadvantaged Children

The Free Press WV

Citizens are outraged about the failure of the WVDOE to ensure that our disadvantaged children will be fed and given the opportunity to improve their reading skills during the summer. In previous years the County participated in the Energy Express’ program. The highly successful program is administered by WVU’s extension service. Its purpose is to feed disadvantaged children and to improve their reading skills.

Everyone in Gilmer County knows that some of our children are vulnerable because of poor nutrition. In information related to Energy Express’ program it is stated “When the school bell rings for the final time each June it signals the beginning of summer months. But, for many West Virginia children, it also signals the end of the security of having two meals served to them each weekday.” There is no acceptable excuse for failing to feed the County’s hungry children when Energy Express is available to them.

Reading is something else.  Although the State is prone to keep the information secret from citizens, 50% or more of our children are not proficient in reading.  Reading is the gateway to success in high school and college, learning a trade in our high tech world, and being prepared for life in general. If a child lags in reading at an early age chances for escaping poverty are glum. Without access to Energy Express’ summer program for which reading improvement, in addition to a nutrition program, is emphasized the County’s disadvantaged children have become innocent victims.

The Free Press WV

What caused cancellation of Energy Express’ program in the County? It is understood that the State’s excuse was that a facility for the program was unavailable this year. Who in their right mind believes the truthfulness of that claim? Some checking exposed the State’s flimsy position that because deteriorated steps at the high school will be repaired when the program would have been offered, that facility could not be used for Energy Express. That was insulting nonsense because children could have entered back and side doors to avoid need to use the front steps. Besides, there would have been space at other facilities owned by the County’s school system, something could have been worked out at the recreation center or the College, or the I. L. Morris family, known for its long history of generous caring for the County’s children, would have prevented the disaster.

The reprehensible failure to feed and to help enhance reading skills of Gilmer County’s disadvantaged children is another example of broken State government. In particular it represents a shameful failure of Dr. Martirano’s WVDOE and Mr. Green’s WVBOE to provide effective oversight for how the County’s school system has functioned during intervention. The State’s administrative failure occurred because of its dictatorial elimination of all checks and balances by the County’s elected school board.

Incompetence, waste, and mismanagement from five years of the WVBOE’s intervention are horrible enough, but abuse of the County’s disadvantaged children by eliminating their access to Energy Express demonstrates a much higher degree of broken State government.

What can be done to deal with this latest atrocity? The answer is that citizens must begin to speak out to officials they elect to send to Charleston. If citizens fail to speak out nothing will be done to help our disadvantaged children and they will continue to suffer because of Gilmer County’s enabling complacency.

The Free Press WV

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This latest fiasco affecting our needy children is another example of what happens when local control is taken over by the WVBOE.

Something is horribly wrong. When contacts in the WVDOE are asked why something of this sort happens they blame Devono with the claim that he will not take direction.

If that is true isn’t it insubordination to merit firing?

Devono says that he does exactly as told by Charleston. Both sides cannot be correct.

Devono needs to go so the County can have a fresh start. Things are not working and it is a mystery why the WVBOE permits that to happen.

By B. Short  on  05.31.2016

Energy Express is a program under the leadership of WVU Extension Service’s 4-H Youth Development program. This AmeriCorps program is funded, in part, by grants from the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts and Volunteer West Virginia. Volunteer West Virginia encourages West Virginians of all ages and abilities to be involved in service to their communities.

Two family style meals a day, reading and arts programs, family interaction, that’s what our children will miss this year.  Gabe Devono decided there was no space and offered no transportation for the 35-45 students who attended every year.

Our college students will not see the Americorp payment for their service as those considering Teaching careers lose valuable experience.

Gilmer County BOE still owns 4 buildings plus the High School.  There were options but seems it was more important to patch a roof at the closed GES on Devono’s timeline rather than use it for the children and patch it later.

Our Extension Service would have provided for Gilmer County to receive Energy Express as they always have if the state appointed Superintendent had shown BOE interest and assistance for this program.

Is the reason he didn’t want to do it because of ancillary costs?  Is the money there to provide transportation and keep the A/C on for the summer?
No money there for either a regular or pre-k playground at the new school.

By No Energy Express For Gilmer  on  05.31.2016

Is Devano the blame?  Yes and no. Devano is nothing more than a puppet of Charleston educators.

This is simply another example of failure of the WVBOE to serve the children, parents, taxpayers and voters of West Virginia.

Failing at something as basic and necessary to childrens well being as this, shows how the WVBOE under the direction of Dr. Michael Martirano, disregard their employment responsibilities.  There can be NO acceptable excuse for this.

Essentially the entire WVBOE under the leadership of Michael Green, board president, has failed Gilmer County once again.

By more WVBOE failure  on  05.31.2016

Energy Express had some money to reimburse parents for transportation if they could bring their kids in. Of course kids whose parent used the car for work couldn’t get in so less children get the service if no bus is provided. The application time for the grant started back in November.  Devono said there was no place but a site had to have some place to make or get the meals delivered. It was his choice, under his control whether or not any one of the schools could be used.  It’s the same reason less will get summer tutoring this year, no summer school.  Some don’t want the state to send people to their house but will let their child get on the bus.

By No Thought By The State For The Children's Needs  on  05.31.2016

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Gilmer County Parks and Recreation Center the Recipient of a John Deere Gator Cart

The Gilmer County Parks and Recreation Center was lucky enough to be the recipient of a Gator dump cart from the Glenville Golf Club last week.

The recreation center has been in need of a cart like this for sometime now with all of the remodeling that has and will be going on to make our facility one that family’s will come to and enjoy for years to come.

The Free Press WV
(L-R) Reed Radcliff golf course employee, Darrel Ramsey Director,
Keith Wenner golf course employee

We want to thank Lance Woodford and his board of directors at the Glenville Golf Course for this great donation .

Thank you !!
Darrel Ramsey - Director
Gilmer County Recreation Center

Gilmer County Circuit Court Report

The Free Press WV

•  Gilmer County’s Circuit Karen Elkin attended the annual Circuit Clerk’s Meeting in Bridgeport, WV from Sunday through Wednesday, May 25, 2016.

On Monday, May 23, 2016 Judge Richard Facemire heard cases in Gilmer County before going on to the Judge’s conference.

•  Two fugitives waived to return to their home states, namely, Randy Dixon waived to return to Pennsylvania and Leslie Gould waived to return to Oklahoma.

Both were represented by Brian Bailey of Buckhannon and authorities in their states have until 4:00 PM on Tuesday, May 31, 2016 to pick them up or Central Regional Jail will release them.

•  Three juvenile matters were heard.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Adam Couch

He had motions heard in his case.

•  One expungement hearing was cancelled.

•  One name change was gratned.

2016 West Fork CD AgEP Sign-Up Period

The Free Press WV

The intent of the Agricultural Enhancement Program (AgEP) is to provide a simple, user friendly program that promotes conservation of soil and water, while also increasing the value of the land by making it more sustainable and profitable. The first requirement to participate in the AgEP program is to become a cooperator with the Conservation District. Farmers and other agricultural producers can sign up or learn more about this program by visiting the West Fork Conservation District office in Mount Clare, WV.

PENDING AVAILABILITY OF STATE FUNDING, the sign up period for the FY17 Agricultural Enhancement Program will be during normal businesses hours of 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. starting Monday, May 23, 2016 and ending Friday, June 17, 2016. The Agricultural Enhancement Program (AgEP) practices that will be cost-shared on this year are: Lime, Nutrient Management (Commercial Fertilizer), Pasture Division Fence, Watering Systems, Water Protection Exclusion Fence, and Woodland Exclusion Fence.

If you wish to apply for one of the above cost-share programs, please bring a farm map with applicable Farm and Tract numbers (available at your local Farm Service Agency office) with you during the sign up period. If you are applying for lime or fertilizer, you will also need to bring a current soil test (within the last 12 months). Feel free to call us with any questions about the Agricultural Enhancement Program at our office 304.627.2160.

In West Virginia….

The Free Press WV

►   Former Bridgeport High School valedictorian hopes to unseat Senator John McCain

An Arizona doctor, originally born and raised in the Mountain State, might have the best chance of any Republican on August 30th at unseating long-time U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) in the Arizona Republican primary.

“I loved growing up in West Virginia,” Dr. Kelli Ward said on the MetroNews-affiliated “The Mike Queen Show” on the AJR News Network. “Born in Fairmont. High school in Bridgeport. Now, amazingly, running for the U.S. Senate. Never thought I’d run for public office, and here I am trying to put this country back on the right track.”

Ward may be an insurgent primary challenger against a U.S. Senator, former major Presidential candidate, and war hero, but she is polling closer than expected against the soon to be 80-year-old McCain. The most recent available polling from Public Policy Polling finds Ward 13 points behind Senator McCain, but with 27 percent of the electorate undecided.

“Everybody knows John McCain’s name,” Dr. Ward said. “It’s not that I’m not a competent, qualified, capable person who could take the reigns and hit the ground running in Washington D.C. That is true. It’s overcoming the difficulty of getting my name identification up to the point where I’m able to win. However, those polls are pretty amazing.”

Dr. Ward is attempting to challenge McCain from the right–claiming that he isn’t conservative enough on issues like immigration and term limits.

“John McCain has touched almost every political life in Arizona,” she said. “He’s touched many across the country and across the world, as well. It is a huge a challenge, but if people aren’t held accountable for the way that they vote then we’re going to keep getting the same thing that we have in Washington D.C.”

The publication National Journal once described Senator McCain as “conservative,” but not “a conservative.” Dr. Ward believes Senator McCain owes a further shift to the right to his constituents.

“It seems he’s forgotten who he actually works for,” she said. “He creates fear in the people who are represented by him, and I don’t think any of our elected representatives should create fear. Actually, the people who elected them–their bosses–should create fear in them.”

Dr. Ward claims that her goal is to work in the U.S. Senate for no longer than it takes to, in her words, “get this country back on the right track” without exceeding her idea of what it means to become a career politician.

“I think that I have got some skills and some talents and some abilities–some things that I have been blessed with that I would love to share for a short period of time, because I also believe in term limits–with the people of the state of Arizona and with the people of this country so we can get this country back on the right track,” she said.

In addition to her time at Bridgeport High School, where she was valedictorian in 1987, Dr. Ward also graduated from Duke University, eventually attending the West Virginia Osteopathic School of Medicine in Lewisburg.

“They teach you so much about how to take care of a patient and put a patient first, and I think it is one of the main reasons why I was able to be such an excellent physician was because of the training I got in Lewisburg,” she said.

Dr. Ward hopes she has made her Alma mater and those in North Central West Virginia proud of her.

“I think that I have made the people of Bridgeport pretty proud so far,” she said. “I’m a family physician. Had my own practice for about ten years. Transitioned to just working in the emergency department as I was transitioning into the political arena. Served in the Arizona State Senate.”

The Arizona Primary is on August 30th.

►   Manchin doesn’t waiver on support of Hillary

CHARLESTON, WV — With the last primaries of the 2016 election cycle set to happen in a matter of days, the battle for the Democrat nomination for president continues to be a much tighter race for Hillary Clinton than anybody expected.

Clinton has been dogged of late by the fallout from her private e-mail server used during her tenure as Secretary of State.  An internal report by the State Department last week scorched Clinton’s actions in violation of the law.  Here in West Virginia she lost every county to Bernie Sanders, but what sealed her fate in the Mountain State was that now famous line, “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”

The line angered U.S.Senator Joe Manchin, but he hasn’t backed down from his support of Clinton.

“The smart political thing for me to do is run as quickly as I can away from her,” Manchin remarked in a recent appearance on MetroNews Talkline. “But I’ve known Bill and Hillary for quite some time. They’ve never lied to me and never misled me. They’ve always been there and willing to help.  They’ve been compassionate about West Virginia and the plight of West Virginia because they come from a state like Arkansas with the same demographics.”

Still, Manchin is drawing heat for continuing to back Clinton.  But for Manchin, the last Democrat in West Virginia’s Congressional Delegation, there was really no alternative.

“There is no one more detrimental to the fossil fuel industry, coal in particular, than Bernie Sanders,” Manchin said.

Although the Delegate Math continues to favor Clinton, Sanders’ popularity has steadily grown throughout the campaign and could disrupt the Democrat National Convention. Manchin said he had blasted the Clinton’s when they support measures which hurt West Virginia and vowed, he’d continue to be that way. However, Manchin reasoned the former Secretary of State had a higher percentage than not of becoming the next president and if that happened, he would be in a position to have a compassionate ear for West Virginia’s needs.

“I’m the only one willing to take that political risk,” said Manchin. “If it means the end, then it means the end, I’m okay, I can live with myself but I’m not going to leave my state stranded.”

►   Mild winter, better calendar management leads to earlier summer vacation for WV students

Students across West Virginia are seeing their summer vacations begin much earlier this year.

Much of the reason for that is because of the much tamer 2016 winter, said chief academic officer for state Department of Education Clayton Burch.

“We did have lighter inclement weather issues this year,” Burch said. “I think when we ran the report this year, Greenbrier County had the most absences due to snow, which was 12. The average for the entire state was seven days.”

Burch also said that districts are doing a better job preparing for snow and planning their calendars accordingly.

“We saw a huge shift of counties making the shift to finishing their first semester prior to that Christmas winter break,” Burch explained. “When they begin frontloading and adding in more instruction prior to that natural break that happens in December, they’re able to keep those calendars managable.”

He said many districts are looking to start earlier and fit more days into the first half of the school year, and some that typically get heavy snow fall are looking into “reimagining” time, which is when work is assigned during inclement weather days.

“We have three counties that have applied for reimagining time days. All three of those are in the Northern Panhandle,” Burch said.

The state board was trying to continue focusing on 180 days of instruction and learning throughout the year, Burch said, because retention rates over the summer are low.

“We have quite an issue with the summer learning loss, it’s pretty clear the research that we have students who leave for that break during the summer and regress during that time off,” Burch said. “Our goal is to keep kids engaged all year long, and for public schools 180 days is our target.”

By June 10, students in all 55 county systems will be on summer vacation.

Gilmer County’s last day for students was past Thursday. Calhoun County’s is today.

►   wv Senate appears ready to follow House lead on budget

CHARLESTON, WV — The state Senate has recessed for the long holiday weekend with no budget in place. The Senate’s version of the proposed 2016-17 budget was on second reading Friday, but leaders chose to let it lie over for a day.

The move along with remarks from Senator Kent Leonhardt (R-Monongalia) seemed to indicate the Senate plans to allow the House of Delegates to take the lead on the budget plan.

“I’m going to urge all members of this body to pass the budget that comes from the House,” he said. “You may like some of it, you may not like some of it, but I’m going to urge we pass it unanimously.”

Leonhardt added he would urge the governor to sign the bill once it passes and beyond the special session, the Senator urged all members to work to make the bill better afterward for the good of the state.

“We here in this body have an opportunity to bring certainty to some of the citizens of West Virginia,” he said. “That certainty is in this budget right now.”

The action by the Senate seemed to follow Senate President Bill Cole’s sentiments of waiting to see how the House planned to balance the budget without an increase in the tobacco tax.  The Senate’s bill to raise the tobacco tax by 45 cents a pack on cigarettes and other tobacco products was defeated in the House.

The Senate has recessed until 1 p.m. Tuesday.

►   Hemp seeds being distributed to West Virginia growers

VIENNA, WV — Hemp seeds are being distributed to approved growers in West Virginia for a research project on the crop.

State officials say it took two years to create rules governing the project. Applicants must pass background checks before being licensed to participate.

The planting of hemp seeds moved forward this year after Governor Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed a bill that would have prevented individuals from growing industrial hemp for research projects.

J. Morgan Leach is executive director of the West Virginia Hemp Farmers Cooperative. He said his father, Jim Leach, and Dave Hawkins are among the members of the cooperative who have been approved by the state to plant hemp seeds in the project.

The state Department of Agriculture recently delivered seeds to Jim Leach, who will plant them on his property in Vienna along the Ohio River. He is interested in the manufacturing prospects for hemp and has a 30- by 90-foot plot for growing three varieties of hemp.

Hawkins, owner of Mother Earth Foods in Parkersburg, will plant seeds he receives from the state on a half-acre of his property in Wood County.

Industrial hemp can be used as food, fiber and supplements, said Chris Ferro, chief of staff for state Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick. It can also be used for clothing and in building.

Morgan Leach said hemp can be used to make paper, fabrics, rope, cosmetics and plastics.

“Hemp canvas covered the wagons that settled America, and was named the next billion dollar crop by Popular Science Magazine in 1938 before it was officially outlawed,“ he said.

The Agriculture Department will test the hemp to ensure the levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the primary intoxicant in marijuana) in the crop are below the federally mandated 0.3 percent.

The hemp looks like marijuana but doesn’t have the same THC component, Ferro said. The state will work with law enforcement officials to let them know where the legally grown hemp is located, he said.

Ferro and Morgan Leach have visited with Department of Agriculture officials in Kentucky where hemp growing is “taking off,“ Leach said.

This is believed to be the first time hemp has been planted legally in West Virginia since World War II.

“This is a pretty cool idea,“ said Hawkins, saying hemp production is an interesting project for West Virginia as a commodity crop to help the state’s economy.

Morgan Leach said veterans and former coal miners could become involved in hemp production.

Although the hemp focus is now on the research side, the Department of Agriculture wants to assist in future market and product development and the plant being used for remediation of the land, Ferro said.

Ferro said the department hopes the project develops into hemp processing plants opening in West Virginia.

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Update for Senator Manchin.  Joe you state “there is no one more dangerous to the fossil fuel industry, coal in particular, than Bernie Sanders”.  Really?

You must have missed that current president has referred to ‘bankrupt coal fired power plants’ in speeches.  Also the administration has decimated the coal industry in WV.  And your friend Hillary has stated put coal miners and mines out of business.

By reader17  on  05.31.2016

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Gilmer County Family Court Report

The Free Press WV

Due to the flooding of the Court House Annex building, all Family Court matters were cancelled for Wednesday, May 25, 2015.

Did You Know?

The Free Press WV


The hot water heater upstairs at the annex malfunctioned?? And after the water ran all night long destroyed most of the magistrate court area including their computers, files and took ceilings down?


Apparently a Gilmer County Schools bus driver has been very interested in female employees of the system. Reportedly complaint has been made to Gilmer County officials which have been ignored for some excuse or another. Even last Friday at the Gilmer County Employee Recognition Breakfast at GSC, the alleged bus drive ran over and kissed a young female employee on the lips!


The children in Gilmer County will not be receiving energy express or a summer school setting this year! WVU was told there was no space for the energy express so the needy children do not get the two meals a day and Education. If a parent wants summer school help they have to sign up for a tutor to come to their home?


An Associated Press-NORC poll finds that U.S. voters feel disconnected from their political parties during this presidential contest.


Iraq forces begin their push into Fallujah, expecting to encounter the stiffest resistance to date in the campaign to free parts of the country from the Islamic State group.


Data specialists working with the Republican Party say Donald Trump trails Hillary Clinton’s campaign by months, even years, in using digital campaigning to woo voters.


A director at the zoo defended the decision to kill a gorilla named Harambe to protect a 4-year-old who had entered its exhibit.


The ex-U.S. Attorney General says the former National Security Agency contractor performed a “public service” in stoking a national debate about secret domestic surveillance programs but should still stand trial.


The Baptist university brings on former Wake Forest coach to Jim Grobe to lead football program through a tumultuous time.


Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking says he can’t understand Trump’s popularity.


Brazilian police investigating a gang rape possibly involving more than 30 men say they have no doubt the assault happened but tests on the 16-year-old victim were done too late to provide conclusive evidence.


Nearly 40,000 striking employees at the phone company will return to work Wednesday after reaching a tentative contract agreement.


Residents of some southeast Texas counties brace for more flooding as a major river slowly rose above a previous record after torrential rains last week.

Education Department Replaces Career College Chain Monitor

The Free Press WV

WASHINGTON — The Education Department last Friday appointed a new lawyer to oversee the turnaround of schools once owned by Corinthian Colleges Inc., following an Associated Press review that found trouble at the schools and questioned the previous monitor’s independence.

Corinthian Colleges was one of the largest chains of for-profit colleges when it collapsed in 2015 amid allegations of fraud. The episode raised questions about whether the government should set higher standards for colleges accepting federal aid.

The agency said Clark Kent Ervin, an attorney at Squire Patton Boggs LLP, will oversee the business practices of Zenith Education Group, an offshoot of a student-loan debt collection firm that took over Corinthian’s operations. His new role makes Ervin the government’s eyes and ears within Zenith, which receives tens of millions of dollars in federal student grant and loan dollars.

Ervin is a former inspector general of the Homeland Security and State Departments who was ousted from his Homeland Security job in late 2004 after delivering reports highly critical of the agency under the Bush administration.

Unlike the lawyers he will replace as monitor, Ervin does not appear to have a background representing for-profit colleges. But Squire Patton Boggs helped defend Corinthian in at least one case brought by students alleging that the school committed fraud.

Some education advocates expressed skepticism of selecting a lawyer from the firm on the grounds that the firm’s past work to defend Corinthian’s schools posed a conflict of interest.

“Is it possible for Zenith to find an independent monitor that did not work for Corinthian?“ said David Halperin, a Washington attorney and writer who helped identify misconduct at Corinthian.

The Education Department said it chose him from among seven candidates put forth by Zenith.

In March, the Education Department announced it would replace the previous monitor, Hogan Marren Babbo & Rose Ltd. The announcement came after the AP found trouble at Zenith — including its flagship Everest College brand — which the monitor apparently did not. The AP reported that Zenith still recruited students through large-scale telemarketing, had not made major changes to its curriculum and retained senior Corinthian executives in key posts. Zenith also continued to recruit students using some of the same ads that Corinthian ran during the same daytime TV talk shows.

The AP also raised concerns about Zenith’s relationship with Hogan Marren. Under the terms of Zenith’s initial arrangement with the firm, its lawyers had an attorney-client privileged relationship with Zenith and were not obligated to provide the government with access to their work product.

In announcing the hire of Ervin, the Education Department explicitly ruled these things out.

Ervin could not be immediately reached by phone or email. The Education Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the past legal work but said in its announcement of Ervin’s selection that he would have “full independence” in his monitoring work.

In USA….

The Free Press WV

►   Guy Tracks Down Stranger Who Saved His Life

“Did you call 911 last March 17?“ said a sign posted at a Hollywood intersection. “You saved my life. Please call me.“ The sign had been placed there by Leon, a retired judge who suffered a massive heart attack while driving that day. After being told that somebody had called 911 and performed CPR on him, he went on a mission to find and thank his rescuer as soon as he had recovered, the Los Angeles Times reports. After posting the sign and knocking on doors, the 71-year-old found two women who had seen him “totally out of it and turning purple and dying” and encouraged a woman who had begun CPR. With the help of phone records, Leon was able to track down Susie Powell, the woman he owes his life to.

“Someone saw me and intervened, and I was so touched,“ Leon says. “This is supposed to be an anonymous metropolis, where nobody connects.“ Powell, a legal assistant who was on her way to work, tells the LAT that when she tried to make eye contact with the other driver at the intersection, she saw that Leon was slumped in his seat and knew she had to help. Following the 911 dispatcher’s instructions, she pulled him from the car and began performing CPR, even though some bystanders were yelling at her not to touch him. When they met for lunch, she initially told him he didn’t need to do anything to thank her. Leon, however, supports a nonprofit that helps the poor in the Guatemalan city of Xela and Powell, who studied Spanish in the city, was delighted by his idea of sponsoring a child’s education in her name. He now plans to host a gathering for everybody involved in saving his life that morning.

►   Zoo Faces Backlash for Killing Gorilla to Save Boy

Did the gorilla have to die? The Cincinnati Zoo is facing an angry backlash for shooting Harambe, an endangered gorilla, dead after a 4-year-old boy fell in its enclosure Saturday, CNN reports. Protesters who accuse the zoo of using excessive force gathered outside the zoo Sunday and the #JusticeforHarambe movement has started a petition to have the boy’s parents investigated for negligence. The zoo, however, says that while it is devastated by the death of the male western lowland gorilla, the boy was in imminent danger and tranquilizers would not have worked quickly enough. A witness says that after the boy fell 15 feet into in the enclosure, the gorilla seemed protective at first, but he became agitated as visitors screaming and started dragging the boy through a moat.

A witness tells CNN that to get into the enclosure when his mother was distracted, the boy had to “climb under something, through some bushes and then into the moat.“ He was released from a hospital on Saturday night and his parents issued a statement thanking the zoo and saying the boy is “doing just fine,“ the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. “We know that this was a very difficult decision for them, and that they are grieving the loss of their gorilla,“ they said. The BBC notes that a similar incident in Britain in 1986 had a happier ending. When a 5-year-old boy fell into a gorilla enclosure on the island of Jersey and fractured his skull, a male silverback named Jambo stood guard, stroking the boy and keeping other gorillas away until he was rescued.

►   Average Size of U.S. Homes, Decade by Decade

24/7 Wall St has a list that shows how the typical American home has changed from 1920 to 2014. And that mainly means the homes have gotten way bigger. The list tracks various stats year by year, including average square feet. Here’s a sample, with the figure referring to the average floor area of a new single-family home:

  • 1920: 1,048 square feet
  • 1930: 1,129
  • 1940: 1,177
  • 1950: 983
  • 1960: 1,289
  • 1970: 1,500
  • 1980: 1,740
  • 1990: 2,080
  • 2000: 2,266
  • 2010: 2,392
  • 2014: 2,657

Click for the FULL LIST .

►   $700 Jalopy on Craigslist Was Million-Dollar Corvette

Anybody can go poking around Craigslist and find a junker car for $700. But nobody at all snapped up a jalopy listed five years ago and described thusly: “SERIAL # X53L on documented 1953 pre-production Corvette Frame. We believe this to be a 1953 Pontiac prototype that was to assume the name Longoria? Info received todate indicates that ZAGATO designed and PINNAFARINA constructed the body for GM in late 52.“ As Fox News reports via Hagerty, that listing turned out to be a storied 1960 Corvette known as the Cunningham Corvette No. 1—one of three turned into racecars by Briggs Cunningham, who put the cars through their paces at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1960. All three eventually were converted back to be street-legal, and were sold. No. 1 was the final one to resurface, now in “gaudy purple paint, poorly applied.“

We’ll likely never know where No. 1 spent its missing half-century. It may have been drag-raced, and its engine is missing. It’s currently sitting in Indiana, the property of car collector Gino Burelli after a lengthy legal battle, and will head to New York state for a restoration that’s estimated to take up to a year and cost upward of half a million dollars. Sound steep? Burelli is “shopping it,“ says a vintage car lawyer, who estimates that he should get well over the $700 the Corvette once failed to command—between $3 million and $7 million.

►   $8M Will Buy You an Entire Nevada Town

A couple hundred miles from San Francisco, where somedays it seems like $8 million will just about get you a dilapidated one-bedroom condo, that amount of money can buy you an entire town. CBS News reports Nancy Kidwell is selling the Nevada town she founded in 1951 with her first husband, Slim. Cal-Nev-Ari lies 80 miles south of Las Vegas and boasts 375 or so residents, a hotel, a general store, a casino, and even a few stop signs. “It may look bland and boring, but it’s pretty cool,“ says one 12-year-old resident. Kidwell got the land from the federal government when it was nothing but an old WWII airstrip. She and Slim built it up from nothing, and when Slim died in 1983—he was 34 years her senior, according to AFP—she married his son Ace and kept going.

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Five years after Ace’s death, Kidwell is the town’s mayor and police chief; she makes sure there’s water in the tank every day, orders provisions for the cafe, and does just about everything else. But at 78 years old, it’s time to retire. “I’m selling it because I’m not getting any younger,“ Kidwell tells CBS. “I haven’t found the fountain of youth, and there’s no one to take my place, so I have to start providing for the future of the community.“ Cal-Nev-Ari is listed on, and there are already a handful of interested buyers. One wants to build an automobile test track in the largely undeveloped town; another wants to open a marijuana resort. But there’s one catch to the sale: The cemetery where Ace and Slim are buried and where Nancy already has a plot must remain. “When your roots are somewhere, that’s where you want to be,“ she tells CBS.

►   Cold Hand Bandits Rob 23 Banks in 7 Months

Police are hoping to find three men they say are responsible for robbing 23 Los Angeles-area banks since November before things turn violent, NBC News reports. According to CBS Los Angeles, the men have been dubbed the Cold Hand Bandits because they always walk into a bank with one hand in their pocket. They typically hand a teller a note stating they’re armed and threatening violence, police say. One manager, whose bank has been robbed twice, says it’s “scary.“ Police say the Cold Hands Bandits last struck April 28.

Police say they’ve “had it,“ deciding Friday to release video of the suspects in hopes the public can identify them. “In recent robberies, the suspects have become increasingly brazen and have jumped over the teller’s counter,” CBS quotes a statement from police as saying. “The next level is people get tied up, maybe somebody gets hurt,” LAPD Det. Charles Geiger tells NBC Los Angeles.

►   Teen Removed From Graduation for Wearing African Cloth

A black teenager says he was escorted out of his high school graduation ceremony in Sacramento by three deputies for refusing to remove his kente cloth, a traditional Ghanaian silk and cotton fabric, the AP reports. Nyree Holmes said Saturday he wore the decorative cloth atop his graduation robes to have something that represented his culture during the ceremony Tuesday. The 18-year-old student from Cosumnes Oaks High School says the school’s student activities director told him he was violating graduation dress requirements. He says he tried to have a dialogue with him, but he wouldn’t and instead tried to prevent him from walking onstage and called authorities. Holmes says that when he got off stage, there were three sheriff’s deputies waiting to escort him out. He says the school principal met with his parents and apologized for the incident.

►   Police Helicopter Was Hit in Shooting

A man came into a Houston auto detail shop and began shooting, killing a man known to be a customer and putting a neighborhood on lockdown Sunday before being killed by a SWAT officer, police say. A total of eight people were shot, with the aforementioned two being the only fatalities. Among the injured: a man authorities initially described as another suspect because he was present and armed, the AP reports. Police said later Sunday they are investigating further whether he played any role. “He’s telling us a version as to what his involvement is,“ Houston Police spokesman John Cannon said, per CNN. “We need to verify that before we say anything publicly.“

Police say the main suspect, armed with a pistol and an “AR-15 type” rifle, opened fire at the first police car to arrive on the scene, riddling it with 21 bullets. At least two other police vehicles were damaged and a police helicopter was hit five times after being shot at with a “high-powered” weapon, authorities say. A gas pump that may have been hit by a bullet erupted in flames at an adjacent station. KHOU reports that two wounded police officers, one shot in the hand and the other shot in the chest while wearing a bulletproof vest, were released from the hospital Sunday evening. There has been no word yet on a motive. Cannon say that the man killed in the auto shop “parked his car to get detailed, and within a minute or two, that’s when the suspect came out and shot him for no apparent reason,“ NBC reports.

In The World….

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►   More Than 30 Men Sought in Gang Rape of Teen Girl

Brazilian police are searching for more than 30 men suspected of gang-raping a 16-year-old girl May 21 in a Rio de Janeiro slum, CBS News reports. Police only became aware of the crime after two men posted photos and videos of the naked and unconscious victim online, along with jokes about what happened to her. According to Reuters, one man bragged that “more than 30 impregnated her.“ The photos and videos received hundreds of likes and supportive comments online, the Washington Post reports. Police have identified only four of the suspects—including the victim’s 19-year-old boyfriend—and are asking the public’s help in finding them and identifying others. According to AFP, the first suspect was arrested Saturday while 70 military police worked their way through a Rio de Janeiro slum. He hasn’t been identified.

The victim told police she arrived at her boyfriend’s home last Saturday. The next thing she remembers is coming to in a different home surrounded by 33 heavily armed men, the Globe and Mail reports. “I feel like trash,“ CBS quotes the victim as saying. “It’s the stigma that hurts me the most…I want people to know that it is not the woman’s fault.” Brazil’s interim president called the attack a “barbaric crime.“ Many blamed the victim after reports of the attack surfaced. Violence against women is a huge problem in the country. Nearly 50,000 rapes were reported in 2015 in Brazil. There were a reported 13 per day in Rio de Janeiro alone. When asked if the victim was in danger of reprisals from her attackers, the city’s police chief responded, “That would be a subjective answer. Who isn’t at risk in Rio de Janeiro?“

►   U.S. May Get Sued for Dronestrike on Taliban Chief

A DNA test has confirmed that Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour was killed in a US drone strike, Pakistan’s interior ministry said Sunday, as the family of a driver killed in the strike sought legal action. On Sunday, the family of Mansour’s driver—identified as Mohammed Azam—filed a police case against unknown US officials, seeking to press murder charges against them, police officer Abdul Wakil Mengal said. The family maintains Azam’s innocence, and describes him as the sole breadwinner and a father of four. They say they want justice. The identity of the US officials involved in the drone strike is unknown, reports the AP, and it was unclear if the charges will relate to those who ordered the attack or the US servicemen who carried it out. Azam’s family may be seeking a trial in absentia and a symbolic victory or they may attempt to push for compensation.

A DNA sample from one of the men killed in the US drone attack was successfully matched with a close relative of Mansour, the interior ministry statement said. American and Afghan officials had already confirmed Mansour’s death, but Islamabad had declined to do so before the DNA test results. Mansour had entered Pakistan from Iran using a false name and fake Pakistani identity documents on May 21, when his car was hit by the US missile. Earlier this week, the Afghan Taliban unanimously selected Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada as their new head.

►   Boy Left in Woods as Punishment Disappears

Rescuers are scouring bear-infested woods in northern Japan for a little boy who was abandoned by his parents as punishment. Police say that the parents of 7-year-old Yamato Tanooka reported the boy missing on Saturday but initially lied to investigators, claiming he had vanished while they were picking wild vegetables, the Japan Times reports. They later confessed that they ordered him out of their car in the mountains to punish him for throwing rocks at cars earlier in the day. The boy’s father, 44-year-old Takayuki Tanooka, said they stopped the car half a mile away and walked back to where they left the boy, but he was no longer there.

On Monday, more than 150 police officers and volunteers continued the search near the town of Nanae in Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost main island, checking streams and heavy undergrowth. It isn’t clear whether the parents will face charges for abandoning the boy. The Telegraph notes that there are around 3,000 Ussuri brown bears on the island, and they can be extremely aggressive. This month, two men picking wild bamboo shoots in the area were killed in two separate bear attacks.

►   Inside Russia’s Black Market for Dissertations

Academic achievements are held in high regard in Russia. And thousands of Russians, including plenty of politicians, judges, and other public officials, submit doctoral dissertations each year. But that doesn’t mean it’s a country full of intellectuals. Instead, academic status—or, at least, the means to academic status—is a commodity that can fetch thousands of dollars on the black market. It is common for “would-be academics” in Russia to hire ghostwriters to draft their dissertations (buy one here) and then bribe academic boards to accept them, writes Leon Neyfakh in a lengthy Slate article. About 4% of those dissertations include plagiarism, says activist group Dissernet, which uses software to compare dissertations with previously published work. When the software flags a dissertation, it gets a closer look by a human. (Even Vladimir Putin has been accused of plagiarism.)

So far, per Neyfakh, Dissernet has identified about 5,600 suspected plagiarists. (After jumping from 15,000 to 30,000 between 1993 and 2005, the number of dissertations submitted each year dropped to 16,500 in 2014.) In January, Dissernet reported that one out of nine members of Russia’s Duma legislative body “has a suspect or blatantly fake degree,“ per PRI. Sometimes, Neyfakh writes, the fraud is “comic in its brazenness and absurdity.“ Take, for instance, the Duma member who allegedly adapted someone’s dissertation on the chocolate industry to one about meat by simply swapping out the word “chocolate” with “beef.“ A Dissernet founder says the group just wants people to care about academic fraud. But that may not be so easy. Just a small number of officials have been forced out of their jobs because of fraudulent dissertations. After all, “cheating is a national sport and a source of pride,“ Russian writer Diana Bruk opines in Esquire.

►   UN: Spate of Shipwrecks Kill Hundreds Off Italy

Over 700 migrants are feared dead in three Mediterranean Sea shipwrecks south of Italy in the last few days as they tried desperately to reach Europe in unseaworthy smuggling boats, the UN refugee agency said Sunday. UNHCR rep Carlotta Sami told the AP that an estimated 100 people are missing from a smugglers’ boat that capsized Wednesday. The Italian navy took horrific pictures of that capsizing even as it rushed to rescue all those thrown into the sea. She said about 550 other migrants and refugees are missing from a smuggling boat that capsized Thursday after leaving the Libyan port of Sabratha a day earlier. She says refugees who saw the boat sink said it didn’t have an engine and was being towed by another packed smuggling boat before it capsized with about 670 aboard. About 25 people from the capsized boat managed to reach the first boat and survive, 79 others were rescued by patrol boats, and 15 bodies were recovered.

Italian police have corroborated the account of the Thursday sinking in interviews with survivors, but with different numbers that were not immediately reconcilable. Per survivors, the second boat was carrying about 500 migrants when it starting taking on water. Efforts to empty the water—with migrants passing a few 5-liter bailing cans—were insufficient and the boat was completely under water after an hour and a half, police said. At that point, the commander of the first smuggler’s boat ordered the tow rope to be cut to the sinking boat. The migrants on the top deck jumped into the sea, while those below deck, estimated at 300, sank with the ship. Of those, just 90 were rescued. In a third shipwreck on Friday, Sami says 135 people were rescued, 45 bodies were recovered, and an unknown number of people—many more, migrants say—are missing. Last week, over 4,000 migrants were rescued at sea in one day alone by Italy.

►   Rome Student Burned Alive by Ex-Boyfriend

Italian police say a Rome university student has been burned alive by her ex-boyfriend. A police official, Luigi Silipo, told reporters Monday that in 25 years of investigations he has “never seen such an atrocious crime” as Sara Di Pietrantonio’s slaying. Investigators say the man, who was held for questioning, doused first her car, then the woman with alcohol before dawn Sunday. Prosecutor Maria Monteleone says some motorists drove by as the 22-year-old woman cried for help but no one stopped or called police, the AP reports.

Police say her attacker, a 27-year-old security guard she had dated for two years, caught her as she tried to flee and set her head afire with a cigarette lighter. Investigators say he followed her car, forcing her to pull over on a Rome street.

►   Japan to Military: Get Ready for North Korea Missile Launch

Japan’s military is on alert as of Monday that North Korea may be preparing to launch ballistic missiles, officials tell Reuters. South Korea officials also say launch preparations appear to be underway. Since North Korea conducted a fourth nuclear test in January, followed by launching a satellite and test-launching missiles, tensions have been increased in the region.

In preparation for a possible launch, Japan has ordered naval destroyers and anti-ballistic missile Patriot batteries to be at the ready to shoot down missiles if necessary; the missile tubes of one Patriot battery at the country’s ministry of defense were elevated to firing position. This is at least the third time this year Japan has been on alert for a possible missile launch from North Korea.

►   PETA: Geese Routinely Plucked Alive for Down

The goose down used in bedding often is a byproduct of the food industry, with the feathers collected after an animal has been slaughtered. However, a PETA investigation finds the practice of plucking feathers from the bodies of live birds is still prevalent, CBS Money Watch reports. PETA workers last fall visited 11 farms in China, producer of about 80% of the world’s down, only to discover that live-plucking, thought to be on its way out, is “still something openly done.“ Footage recorded by PETA shows, according to a press release, “employees on goose farms pulling fistfuls of feathers out of live birds, often causing bloody wounds as the animals shriek in terror.“ (See the graphic video here.) PETA tells Money Watch that the group’s findings serve as evidence that retailers such as Land’s End, Eddie Bauer, and Hollander Home Fashions unintentionally use live-plucked down.

All of those companies maintain that they had previously taken steps to remove live-plucked down from their supply chains, although Eddie Bauer and Hollander tell Money Watch they are “taking additional steps to address the issue.“ Hollander, Down Décor, and Allied Feather & Down dismissed claims by PETA that recorded phone calls show a link between the Chinese farms and intermediaries that supply those companies with down. “We applaud PETA’s work,“ a Down Décor rep says, adding that the investigation “addresses a practice that we, and every brand in the USA that we work with, abhor.“ Ultimately, PETA says it wants people to stop using geese for food and other products. “PETA appreciates that companies attempt to reduce harms to animals,“ a rep says, “but there’s no way to eliminate suffering when animals are used as a commodity.“

►   ‘Human Stupidity’ Blamed After Crocodile Gets Woman

“If you go in swimming at 10 o’clock at night, you’re going to get consumed.“ Such was the assessment of an Australian lawmaker when commenting on a woman who is believed to have been consumed by a crocodile Sunday night in far North Queensland. Warren Entsch, who serves in parliament, placed the blame squarely on Cindy Waldron, 46, who went swimming at 10:30pm Sunday in the Daintree National Park. The attack occurred at Thornton Beach, which is only accessible via ferry and has signs “saying watch out for the bloody crocodiles,“ Entsch said. “You can’t legislate against human stupidity.“ Senior Constable Russell Parker tells Australia’s ABC News that Waldron, who lived in New South Wales, was swimming with a friend in waist-deep water when the attack happened.

The friend tried to pull her to safety but failed, and then ran to a local business to get help; she was unharmed save for some grazes, but is in an extreme state of shock, per an emergency responder. Parker says they have thus far been unable to find Waldron, though a helicopter equipped with thermal imaging equipment was used last night. The search will continue Monday. CNN notes that crocodile attacks in the region occur infrequently, with the last one in the park having taken place in 2009, when a 5-year-old was killed. In comments to, a local official suggests this attack could be especially rare: “I don’t know exactly where it happened, but if it was on the beach, that is very unusual for a croc to attack on a beach. They live in estuaries and are usually in transit when on a beach, going from one estuary to another.“

Memorial Day 2016

The Gilmer Free Press
“They hover as a cloud of witnesses above this Nation.“
Henry Ward Beecher

“These martyrs of patriotism gave their lives for an idea.“
Schuyler Colfax

“Each man is a hero and an oracle to somebody.“
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.“
Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.“
Billy Graham

“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship,
support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.“
John F. Kennedy

“Memorial Day (Decoration Day) is the most beautiful of our national holidays.
The grim cannon have turned into palm branches, and the shell and shrapnel into peach blossoms.“
Thomas Bailey Aldrich

“All we have of freedom, all we use or know - This our fathers bought for us long and long ago.“
Rudyard Kipling, The Old Issue, 1899


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Memorial Day is a day to remember those men and women who have died serving their country. While many people visit cemeteries and memorials in their memory, others celebrate the service of all U.S. veterans—including those who live on and who continue to bear the burden of their sacrifice every day.

As a tribute to fellow Americans killed in war, Memorial Day is also an opportunity for future generations to pay tribute to veterans who made it home by helping them face the challenges they found both on and off the battlefield. Flags display patriotism and support on this holiday, and yet Americans can help veterans in other ways, as well.

The Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation provides emotional, physical, educational and financial support for wounded and disabled veterans, to help improve their lives. Programs include suicide prevention, support for veterans with brain injuries, counseling for Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) and assistance for women’s health issues—all common challenges for veterans. The Purple Heart Service Foundation provides scholarships, family assistance, claims assistance and employment training. Family members also get support, learning how to help disabled veterans to cope with their physical, emotional and behavioral challenges.

In addition to displaying their flags on Memorial Day and remembering those who have died in service, Americans can support all our veterans by volunteering or making a donation to a worthy veterans service organization. As we continue to identify new areas of concern for veterans and their families, we know that solutions are in reach if we can help them gain access to programs, services and support.

Visit to learn more about how you can impact the lives of veterans by while honoring their sacrifice with your service.

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In West Virginia….

The Free Press WV

►   West Virginia marks Memorial Day

CHARLESTON, WV — Monday’s Memorial Day is a day for remembrance and West Virginians will be marking it with parades, wreath laying ceremonies, memorial dedications, community picnics and more.

“Memorial Day is more than everybody meeting and grilling hot dogs and being with each other, we need to know why that holiday is a holiday,” Billy Wayne Bailey, deputy cabinet secretary for the West Virginia Department of Veterans Assistance, told MetroNews.

“It’s for us to take time and reflect on those who gave the ultimate sacrifice so we can eat that hot dog and hamburger and have that cookout.”

The Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery in Kanawha County was open to the public throughout the Memorial Day weekend.

On Sunday at 12 p.m., members of several Boy Scout troops were scheduled to start placing flags on every grave at the cemetery where nearly 500 men and women are buried. Volunteers were welcome as well.

Beginning at 12 p.m. Monday, the cemetery’s Honor Guard Association was set to host a flag retirement ceremony to dispose of old and worn American flags, West Virginia flags and military branch flags through burning, what Bailey called a “proper and solemn manner.”

The disposal work was scheduled to continue until 2 p.m. at least at the Committal Shelter.

“Memorial Day is a sobering and important day to West Virginians because almost every family in our state includes one or more members who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces,” Bailey said.

“Too many of our families suffered because they lost loved ones who were serving our country.”

In Taylor County, a Memorial Day ceremony was scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday at the West Virginia National Cemetery and at 12 p.m. Monday at the Grafton National Cemetery, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“When you’re grilling that hot dog, or if you’re really fortunate and you’re doing steak or lobster tails, remember why we got that day off,” Bailey said. “Someone has that ultimate sacrifice for us and we should remember them, honor them and keep them forever in our minds.”

West Virginia’s elected officials released the following statements in observance of Memorial Day:

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV)

“Memorial Day is a special day to honor the courageous service of the men and women who gave their lives to serve our country,” Senator Manchin said. “We honor their solemn sacrifice every day, but on Memorial Day, we come together as a nation to show our deepest respects. It is because of their discipline, dedication, bravery and valor, that we remain a safe and secure nation.”

“This day also serves as an opportunity to recognize the Gold Star families who have been forever changed by the sacrifice of their loved one. I encourage all West Virginians to thank these families for their patriotism. From the bottom of my heart, I extend my deepest gratitude and respect to the men and women who gave their all to keep our nation the greatest on earth.

U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)

“While we can never repay those who have given their lives to defend our freedom, we can pause and pay tribute to the sacrifices made by our brave service men and women this Memorial Day,” Senator Capito said.

“As West Virginians enjoy the company of family and friends this holiday weekend, I urge you to have fun, be safe and join me in honoring our fallen heroes. Our hearts are with all of West Virginia’s military families this Memorial Day weekend and always.”

3rd District Congressman Evan Jenkins (R-WV)

“For more than two centuries, men and women in uniform have given their lives to protect our way of life. They believed in something bigger than themselves – freedom, liberty and democracy. They knew our nation was worth defending, even worth dying for,” Congressman Jenkins said.

“I encourage all West Virginians to join in remembering those who laid down their lives so that we may be free. They must never be forgotten.”

►   Parkersburg Art Center honors artists, Byrd with displays

PARKERSBURG, WV — The work of artists from around the state as well as the life and times of one of West Virginia’s most prominent politicians will be on display at the Parkersburg Art Center for the next month.

A reception was held May 22 for the opening of the West Virginia Allied Artists 70th Annual Exhibit and for the traveling exhibit “Robert C. Byrd: Senator, Statesman, West Virginian.“

“We got two shows opening and they will both be here for a month,“ said art center director Abby Hayhurst.

The West Virginia Allied Artists exhibit, in the Main and Boll Galleries, features the work of 63 artists from around the state of West Virginia.

“This group has been around for a while and they have this juried exhibit every other year were they have a juror, Robert Peppers from Ohio University, came in and picked out these works,“ Hayhurst said. “It really is a great show.

“We get artists from all over the state for this show. It is great to have these people here.“

Lauri Reidmiller, of Shady Spring, WV, was the winner of Best of Show with her acrylic painting “Cut So Deep.“ Reidmiller said the work came from her dreams.

“I was very ill for a couple of years and I had lost my dreams,“ she said. “When my dreams came back, they came back in images of animals.“

The colors and symbols in her painting represented something in her life from starbursts representing her children to round circles representing family and generations of women and snakes hidden within the painting represent surgeries she had.

Reidmiller has been interested in art all of her life since she was a child with crayons. She has only been doing acrylic painting over the last three years. This is her fifth piece in that medium.

“I wanted to challenge myself and get into a media that I haven’t tried since college,“ she said. “I really challenged myself to create this body of work.“

Reidmiller has been involved with the Allied Artists for the last five to six years.

“It is a very strong organization in West Virginia with many artists doing high quality work,“ she said. “This was a show I definitely wanted to get into and have been in the past.“

West Virginia Allied Artists is one of the oldest and largest arts organization in West Virginia, said President Sandra King who was also the chairperson for the show.

“We have members all over the state,“ she said. “We try to put on one or two shows a year to display and promote the artists that are members and artists in general across the state.“

The juried show is held bi-annually and includes work from all artists across the state. Many times, there are more artists in the show than there are members because they bring in a judge from outside the state to make the selections.

Pieces in the show include photography, two-dimensional work, three- dimensional, pottery, fabric, wallhangings and more.

King wants people who come to the exhibit to realize the amount of talent in the state.

“We believe that West Virginia artists and craftspeople are our main natural resource,“ she said. “We believe these people are so talented and it showcases what the people in West Virginia are actually doing.

“We hope the people get a feel for this.“

On the art center’s mezzanine, the Byrd exhibit will also be on display through the next month. Parkersburg is the first stop in a statewide tour for the traveling display on the life and times of Senator Robert C. Byrd, D-WV

The exhibit will be traveling around the state until November 2017, said Ray Smock, director of the Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education.

“It is an exhibit about his life, from his childhood and his 60-year career in politics,“ Smock said. “We will tell stories about his contributions to West Virginia and the nation.

“We will tell what kind of senator he was, a very special guy. His story needs to be remembered.“

Smock said they have Byrd’s papers which provide insights into the history of the state and into the nation for more than half a century. The papers filled two tractor trailers and have taken four years to go through.

“We are still going through his papers and still discovering things,“ he said. “This exhibit is a small sample of some of the things we are discovering as we go through this collection.“

The exhibit, which is displayed on 18 panels, details Byrd’s life from growing up in the coalfields of West Virginia to being elected to Congress and his rise to the leadership of the U.S. Senate. It includes images of documents, photographs, newspaper clippings and more detailing what Byrd faced during his time in office.

It also details Byrd’s faith, his work as a historian and his skill as a musician.

“He was not just a country fiddler, he was a master at it,“ Smock said. “We tried to show a range of his personality besides his legislative career.“

The exhibit also addresses Byrd’s more controversial stances, including helping to pass the Panama Canal treaties which were not popular in West Virginia and his positions against civil rights in the 1960s which he later expressed regret over “and apologized for many years,“ Smock said.

“The exhibit contains many of Senator Byrd’s own quotes,“ he said. “He gets the final word and says what he needed to say about his own career.“

Both exhibits offer visitors a unique experience, Hayhurst said.

“We have two cool shows,“ she said. “Both are very different.“

►   2 schools in Barbour County under consideration for closing

PHILIPPI, WV — Two elementary schools in Barbour County are being targeted for closure next year due to declining enrollment.

The Board of Education is looking at the possibility of closing Mount Vernon and Volga-Century schools.

County schools Superintendent Jeffrey Woofter says Mount Vernon has 57 students and Volga-Century has 37 students.

Last week Woofter was authorized to prepare documents to close the schools and bring them to the school board for consideration. Woofter says hearings on the closings could be held as early as July.

If the schools are closed, the children would attend Philippi Elementary School.

Board member Dana Stemple says enrollment numbers have dropped this decade as families have left the area due to a decline in the coal and oil and natural gas industries.

►   Charleston Girl Scouts donate hair to help others

CHARLESTON, WV — Three Black Diamond Girl Scout Brownies and one parent stepped up to the spinning chair and went under the scissors Monday, donating eight or more inches of hair to Children with Hair Loss.

Emerson Sadorra, Grace Looney and Aurelia Kirby donated their hair, along with parent Judy Pray.

Lottie Looney, the Black Diamond Girl Scouts troop leader, said donating to Children with Hair Loss is the perfect fit as a donation organization for the 9-year-old girls. More than 300 children a year receive hair from the nonprofit organization, which aims to give hair to children afflicted with cancer and other diseases that cause the loss of hair.

Lottie Looney credited the idea of a troop hair donation to Grace Looney, her daughter and a member of the Black Diamond Girl Scouts. Grace Looney said she was inspired to donate her hair when a fellow troop member’s relative lost her hair while fighting cancer.

“Someone’s grandma in the Girl Scout troop had cancer and she lost all of her hair, so I decided to do it for her,“ Grace Looney said as her post-donation hair was styled by an Allure stylist.

Pray said she was donating for her daughter, a troop member whose hair isn’t long enough for donation.

“My daughter’s in the troop, but her hair just is not growing,“ Pray said. “So I said ‘I will donate for you.‘ “

After the donation, Grace Looney, Sadorra and Kirby were all happy with their new hairstyles and happy about making their donation.

“I feel proud and excited,“ Kirby said.

Sadorra favored her new hairdo more than her previous one.

“I like it a lot better,“ Sadorra said.

Grace Looney said she likes her new hair but is still getting used to the feel of it.

“It feels way lighter,“ she said.

Three hair stylists at Allure Salon donated their time and talent for the girls, but the Black Diamond Girl Scout Troop was able to provide them with a tip from funds made during Girl Scout cookie sales.

Kristin Roberts, a hair stylist at Allure, said she was more than happy to donate her time to such a worthy cause.

“I know multiple people who have had cancer and how they had to deal with losing their hair and everything that came with it,“ Roberts said. “I think it’s so sweet that these girls are doing it, especially at a young age. They’re just so giving.“

Lottie Looney said she’s hoping the bravery of the girls in her troop will inspire others throughout the community to donate their own hair.

“Part of the push to get this done before school was out was that they would inspire others at school, and maybe their teachers and their parents, to consider doing the same thing,“ she said.

Even though all 20 girls in the troop weren’t able to donate, Lottie Looney said each of them was able to participate. Every Black Diamond Girl Scout made cards to send to children through the organization, and other girls showed up at Allure to provide moral support to the donating girls.

In addition to the girls who donated already, another child and parent from the troop will be donating their hair at a future time.

►   Search on for missing boater in Greenbrier River

RENICK, WV — First responders were looking for a boater who was reported missing in the Greenbrier River near Renick Saturday evening.

The Lewisburg Water Rescue Team was one of the crews on the scene.

►   Woman killed in Nicholas County collision

CRAIGSVILLE, WV — A woman died early Saturday morning after she was ejected from her vehicle that was struck by an oncoming truck in Nicholas County, state police said.

At about 5 a.m., Alicia Nicole Meadows pulled out of the parking lot of Crazy Eight bar in Craigsville into the path of a large truck. Meadows was thrown from her vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene.

Troopers are continuing their investigation.

Celebrating 1237!

The Free Press WV

In USA….

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►   1800s Shipwreck Was Buried in Boston’s Seaport District

A buried shipwreck from the 1800s has been uncovered during construction in Boston’s Seaport District, the AP reports. City archaeologist Joe Bagley tells WBZ-TV it’s the first time a shipwreck has been found in that section of the city, a trendy waterfront area with office buildings, expensive condos, and upscale restaurants. He adds that it’s “the first shipwreck that I know of in Boston discovered in filled land.“

Bagley says it appears the vessel was carrying lime, which was used for masonry and construction. The vessel also appears to be partially burnt. The ship was uncovered last week during construction of a 17-story office building. New York-based construction company Skanska USA is meeting with city officials to discuss the discovery. Several archaeologists are inspecting the site.

►   Oops: School Let Hitler, ISIS Quotes Into Yearbook

A Pennsylvania school district has apologized after quotes from Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and an Islamic State leader were printed in the graduating class section of this year’s high school yearbook, reports the AP. “Though the content of the quotes was reviewed thoroughly, the attributions clearly were not,“ Quaker Valley School District officials said in a statement Wednesday, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Hitler quote is, “Words build bridges into unexplored regions.“ Stalin’s is more menacing: “Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, so why would we let them have ideas?“ The third quote is from Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: “Be just: the unjust never prosper. Be valiant. Keep your word, even to your enemies.“

The yearbooks cost at least $69, but can go for more than $100 if students have their names engraved, says district spokeswoman Angela Yingling. Students submit quotes from famous people for inclusion in the yearbook, but Yingling says, “publishing the quotes is a shared responsibility of the yearbook staff, sponsor, and administration.“ The district won’t say if students or anyone else faces punishment. More than 360 of the yearbooks were distributed. “This is a regrettable mistake, as the school district would never knowingly condone this messaging in a school-sponsored publication,“ the district said in its statement. “We are well aware of the emotions this has conjured in many of our students and their families, and for that we are sorry.“ Students can get a refund on the books, or stickers to cover up the quotes.

►   Boomers, Quit Your Whining About Millennials

The Pew Research Center is out with an interesting stat: More people ages 18 to 34 are living with their parents than with romantic partners—the first time that’s happened in more than 130 years, which is when the data starts, notes NPR. At the Washington Post, Catherine Rampell runs through some of the reasons, including high unemployment among the young, student debt, rising home prices and rents, and stagnant wages. Considering all that, it’s “rather financially prudent” for millennials to stay with mom and dad longer, a situation that’s not all that unusual in the rest of the world, she writes. But her bigger message is for those “crusty” baby boomers complaining about a lack of character in the younger set: “Well, boohoo.“

“Today’s boomers have benefited for decades from huge public intergenerational transfers of wealth,“ writes Rampell. “Is it really so much to ask that they make some much smaller private intergenerational transfers to their own children?“ They’ve paid low tuition and too-low taxes for the services they get back, and they’ll hand over an enormous public debt. Plus, today’s millennials will have to make up for their out-of-whack Medicare benefits. “In this light, the return home of young adults should be seen less as an act of morally bankrupt mooching and more as a step toward balancing the intergenerational ledger.“ Cick for the FULL COLUMN.

►   Fire Ants Kill Woman Planning Mom’s Funeral

Kalyn Rolan’s mother died on May 19. Less than 24 hours later, Rolan was dead, too. In what WSFA calls “a story so tragic, it’s almost hard to believe,“ Rolan, 29, was in Selma, Ala., making funeral arrangements when she was attacked by fire ants as she sat on a haystack. “The ants started coming out and getting all over her,“ Rolan’s mother-in-law says, noting Rolan was severely allergic to fire ants. “My son said he grabbed her and put her on the ground, took her clothes off trying to help her, to save her, but he couldn’t.“ She swelled until she couldn’t breathe and “died in my son’s arms.“

Such a death is exceedingly rare, reports WSFA, which cites Alabama Department of Public Health records from 2013 to 2015 that show no one in the state died as a result of ants. It isn’t clear if Rolan—a mother to two boys, aged 2 and 7—had an Epipen, but a friend is urging anyone with a severe allergy to get one. “Losing a mother and a daughter together, back-to-back within a day, it’s a lot for a person to take on,“ Rolan’s mother-in-law says. Both Rolan and her mother were buried in a joint funeral on Thursday. A GoFundMe page has been set up to cover burial costs.

►   Hiker Dies After Being Smothered by Bees in Arizona

A young man from Louisiana surrounded by bees during a hike in a Mesa, Ariz., park died from what a medical exam says was 1,000-plus bee stings. Alex Bestler, 23, was hiking the relatively easy Merkle Memorial Trail in Usery Mountain Park around 9am Thursday with a woman IDed simply as Sonya when the bees swooped down “without provocation or warning,“ says a press release from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. It notes Sonya was able to escape by fleeing to a restroom, but Bestler was overcome by the insects, whose “hostility” also kept bystanders and park employees at bay, the Arizona Republic reports. A group was finally able to get Bestler, “still covered with bees,“ into a police vehicle and to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

A note on the park’s website Thursday morning indicated the trail and its vicinity had been closed due to “aggressive bee activity,“ the Washington Post reports. “These attacks are becoming more frequent and I urge the public to be aware of their surroundings when out in these areas,“ a statement from Sheriff Joe Arpaio warned. The Post backs up Arpaio’s claim, noting that bee attacks have been increasing in the Southwest, with Africanized bees (aka “killer bees”) responsible for some of the most aggressive strikes, though it hasn’t been said yet what kind of bees were involved in Bestler’s case. “They hate any movement, noise, or vibration,“ an Arizona bee removal expert told the AP after a spate of Africanized honeybee attacks last year. “They hate everything.“

►   Lawmaker Burns Traffic Camera Ticket in Viral Video

Not a fan of traffic cameras? You have at least one lawmaker passionately on your side, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. Tennessee state Rep. Andy Holt recently got a “photo enforcement citation” after being caught on one of the cameras, and in a video that’s gotten more than 400,000 Facebook views since he posted it Wednesday, he set the ticket on fire. “What to do if you get one? Throw it in the trash. Personally, I prefer to burn mine,“ Holt says in an accompanying blog post. Holt’s argument is that the tickets are issued “to increase revenue, not to increase safety,“ that it’s not a real citation if it’s not issued by a police officer in person, and that the citations aren’t legally valid since the person being ticketed wasn’t actually convicted of an offense.

In the video and follow-up Facebook posts, he adds that because ticketed drivers weren’t actually convicted of anything, they aren’t legally obligated to pay the penalty, and that if they don’t pay, nothing bad will happen to their credit score, car insurance rates, or driving record. (Holt, the News Sentinel notes, sponsored a recently-passed bill that requires traffic camera tickets to include a notice saying just that.) So how does the local police chief feel about all this? “No one likes to be caught violating traffic offenses, regardless of how they are caught, but they have a legal obligation to properly address it,“ he says, adding that since the citations are considered a civil penalty, non-payment could result in the same collection efforts that come with any unpaid debt. Another Tennessee lawmaker tells WATE he suspects that if an unpaid ticket were to go to collections, it would indeed impact a person’s credit score.

►   For Teen Killers, Iowa Bans Life Without Parole

Life without parole is now off the table for juveniles convicted of first-degree murder in Iowa, reports the AP. In a 4-3 ruling Friday, the state Supreme Court says such sentences equal cruel and unusual punishment because predicting young people’s “future prospects for maturation and rehabilitation” is impossible when their brains are still developing, per the Des Moines Register. “The parole board will be better able to discern whether the offender is irreparably corrupt after time has passed.“ The ruling overturned Isaiah Sweet’s sentence of life without parole in the shooting deaths of his grandparents in 2012, when he was 17.

►   Sippy Cups Recalled After 68 Kids Get Sick From Mold

Almost 70 kids have gotten sick thanks to sippy cup valves that can get moldy, prompting a recall of the cups involved, the Consumer Products Safety Commission says. More than 3 million Tommee Tippee Sippee cups are affected by the recall, CBS News reports, including the First Sips Transition cup, Trainer Sippee cup, Sportee bottle, Swiggle/Sippee tumbler, and the regular Sippee cup. To date, 3,066 reports of mold have been made to the manufacturer, Mayborn USA, and 68 children have suffered from symptoms including diarrhea and vomiting after drinking from the cups.

The cups have a one-piece, opaque, removable valve in which mold can build up. On its recall page, Mayborn says the mold grows “when [the valve] remains wet/moist and is infrequently cleaned,“ though one mom who posted a video about the problem in January insists she’s always cleaned the cup per manufacturer’s instructions. The company says to stop using the cups and get in touch, whether via the recall page or by calling 877-248-6922, to receive a free replacement. The affected cups were sold at Target, Walgreens, Walmart, Amazon, and other retailers between December 2014 and this month.

►   Stoned Man Calls Cops on Dog That ‘Shot’ Him in Butt

We suppose many different kinds of injuries inflicted upon one’s fleshy backside can feel like a gunshot—especially if that someone is stoned out of his mind and possibly suffering from pot-induced paranoia. That’s apparently what happened to a man Thursday in Groesbeck, Texas, who called the cops after he said someone shot him in the buttocks, per the Houston Chronicle, which marvels at the “beauty of small-town police departments” and the “level of homegrown weird” they get to deal with every day. The chief of the Groesbeck Police Department took to Facebook to let the public know exactly what had happened.

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“To quell the rumor concerning a reported shooting today, I want to offer this brief explanation,“ the chief wrote Thursday afternoon. He wrote that police responding to a call from a mobile-home park had spoken to the caller, who said he had been shot in the left buttock, and determined he’d been toking. They also figured out who had “shot” him: a dog hanging out with him (it’s not clear if it was his) that had become spooked by thunder and actually bitten him, not shot him, on his bottom. The unnamed man was treated by EMS workers and released; the dog was presumably not arrested. As one Facebook commenter quipped, “That dog was ‘taking a bite outa [sic] crime’!“

In The World….

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►   ‘All Cats Are Beautiful’ Bag Gets Woman Fined by Cops

Maybe the officers were dog people? The Local reports a woman in Madrid was fined by police Sunday for carrying a bag that read “All Cats Are Beautiful.“ The two riot officers that stopped graphic designer Belén Lobero claimed the acronym on the bag—despite the drawing of a cat and aforementioned phrase—actually stood for “All Cops Are Bastards,“ according to El País. That meaning of the acronym dates back to the 1970s, was made famous by a British punk band, and is frequently used by soccer hooligans. A police spokesperson tells the AP the lettering on the bag is similar to that used in anti-cop tattoos and graffiti. Officers hit Lobero with a fine of up to $670 under Spain’s Public Security Law, which—among other things—makes “disrespecting the police” illegal.

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Lobero took to social media to complain about the fine. “What a bloody disgusting country,“ the Local quotes one of her Facebook posts as saying. “But well, ALL CATS ARE BEAUTIFUL and anyone who says otherwise is lying.“ Her tweet about the incident was shared more than 20,000 times. After that, the Madrid police commissioner decided to drop the fine against her, citing the bag’s “ambivalence.“ The Public Security Law went into effect last July. Critics—including the UN, rights groups, and journalists—call it the Gag Law. Opponents are vowing to repeal it contingent on the outcome of elections next month.

►   This Might Be the Heaviest Baby Girl Ever Born

A baby born in India on Monday is likely the biggest ever born in the country, and she could be the heaviest girl ever born anywhere. The 19-year-old mother, Nandini, gave birth to a girl weighing 15 pounds and measuring 24.4 inches. Most babies in India weigh between 5 and 8 pounds and measure around 20 inches, the BBC reports. “It is the biggest baby in India, I can say,“ says a district health official in the southern state of Karnataka, where the baby was born. The current official record for the heaviest baby born in India belongs to a boy born last year at 14.77 pounds.

The world record for the heaviest baby ever born belongs to an Italian boy born in 1955 at 22 pounds, 8 ounces. The local health officer tells the Metro he believes the baby girl born Monday, however, could be the heaviest girl ever born in the world. According to ITV, the previous record for the biggest baby girl ever born was a 14 pound, 5 ounce baby born in Massachusetts in 2014. (Guinness World Record only tracks heaviest babies overall, not by gender.) Doctors aren’t sure why the Indian baby girl was so big—her mother did not have diabetes, thyroid problems, or any other abnormalities, but doctors are now doing a test for something called an “inborn error of metabolism.“ Mom and baby are both doing well, CNN reports.

►   10-Foot Python Bites Man’s Pe**s During Morning Bowel Movement

Just when you thought it was safe to get back on the toilet. Coconuts Bangkok reports Thai resident Attaporn Boonmakchuay was five minutes into his “usual bowel movement” Wednesday morning when a huge python bit him on the penis. The 10-foot snake had, well, snaked its way through his home’s plumbing, according to the AP. Sky News reports Attaporn’s wife and neighbor entered the blood-soaked bathroom to help, but their efforts with a knife and rope were fruitless. It seems getting a snake off one’s penis is just something a man has to do himself. “All of a sudden … it began to lose some strength, so I used my hand to prise open its mouth,“ Sky News quotes Attaporn as saying. “Then the snake released its grip.“

In all, it took the 38-year-old Attaporn—who understandably passed out immediately afterward—more than half an hour to free his penis from the python’s jaws. Emergency workers arrived to find the snake still partially inside the toilet. They freed it with hammers and planned to release it back into the wild. Attaporn was rushed to the hospital with a 3-inch wound on his penis. Doctors say he was lucky the python’s bite didn’t puncture his urinary tract, and he is expected to recover. “He has a really good attitude ... even though his own wife and children were in shock,“ the AP quotes the hospital director as saying. “He’s been smiling and giving interviews all day from his bed.“

►   Detergent Company’s Racist Ad Raises a Ruckus

What could possibly be offensive about an advertisement for something as mundane as laundry detergent? Plenty, it turns out—at least when it comes to this commercial for a Chinese cleaner that has earned it the label of “most racist ad of 2016” from BuzzFeed, which adds viewing it “will likely leave you feeling like you need a shower.“ The promo for the Qiaobi product shows a Chinese woman throwing clothes into her washing machine, when she’s suddenly interrupted by a black man who’s got a little bit of white paint on his face and apparently something a little more amorous on his mind. The woman smiles, saunters over, then shoves a capsule of detergent into his mouth and shoves him headfirst into the washing machine. When he finally emerges, he’s … a Chinese man, with the tag “Change begins with Qiaobi” and the man’s original skin color basically “scrubbed off,“ as Quartz puts it.

The Wall Street Journal notes the ad, which incited outrage outside of China, initially didn’t attract much attention there—perhaps because of continuing racism in China, where Quartz notes black people are often referred to by the local term for “black ghost.“ The Los Angeles Times even links some of China’s racist advertising history back to the West, where blacks were “metaphors for filthiness” in old American and British soap ads. But after the global hubbub over the Qiaobi ad, Quartz notes, people in China started attacking it, too, commenting on the Weibo social network that it was “horrible,“ “disgusting,“ and “racist.“ A rep for Shanghai Leishang Cosmetics Co., the company said to produce the detergent, told the Journal he didn’t really know about the ad. The promo can’t even claim points for creativity: Shanghaiist says it’s a “blatant ripoff"—down to the song playing in the background—of a similarly racist Italian ad from nearly a decade ago.

►   To Get Home From School, 15 Kids Make This Terrifying Climb

Every two weeks when they return to their remote home village of Atuleer from their boarding school, 15 Chinese children ranging in age from 6 to 15 years old must make a terrifying climb, more than 2,500 feet up a series of bamboo ladders attached to a sheer cliff face. Pictures of the climb made the rounds this week and got quite a bit of attention, the AP reports, and now the local government is planning to install a set of stairs. Currently, the ladder system is the only way to access the village; officials say the stairs will be a temporary fix while a more permanent solution is pondered.

The Guardian describes the ladders as “rickety” and says the children must also “claw their way over bare rocks” during the trek, which takes 90 minutes. The Beijing News photographer who took the pictures now getting attention says he was “shocked by the scene I saw in front of me” and wanted to bring attention to the village’s “painful reality.“ The journey to the village is “very dangerous,“ he tells the Guardian. “You have to be 100% careful. If you have any kind of accident, you will fall straight into the abyss.“ Another reporter was later said to have started crying when she realized there was no other way to reach the village, and the village chief says several villagers have fallen to their deaths.

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