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G-Eye™: Gilmer Commission and Historical Society Committee Discuss Holt House

The Free Press WV

Earlier the Gilmer County Commission was concerned about the future of the Holt House and expenses associated with. The Holt House is home for the Gilmer County Historical Society.

Commissioners asked to have a meeting with the member of the society and discuss the matter. The meeting was scheduled for last month but it was postpone due to winter storm Jonas.

Last week the society members had a meeting at the Holt House and decided on what they like for the commission to consider.

At the last commission meeting members discussed their plan for the Holt House and came to an agreement on the Holt House Building which is a county property. (Watch the Video below)

Commission will lease the building to the society for $1 per years, renewable every 10 years. Commission will also take care of the building insurance which would be a lot less than if the society purchase it. All the other expenses is the responsibility of the society.

Gilmer County Historical Society has a vast amount of historical and genealogical data. Researchers from all over the country come to Holt house to research and find data.

Everyone can be a member of the society.

The Holt House is located on E. Main Street in Glenville, WV.

GETTING TO WORK ON WHAT MATTERS

A column by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin
The Free Press WV

At the halfway point of the legislative session, it’s important to recognize there is still much work to be done. West Virginia is experiencing budget challenges unseen in a generation, and we must take action - both legislative and administrative - to ensure our fiscal house is in order.

Over the past three years, we have implemented budget cuts of 20 percent. For the first time in anyone’s memory, our state’s base budget for the past two fiscal years has been lower than previous years, and the proposed 2017 budget is $110 million lower than the FY 2015 budget. As our economy shifts, we can no longer rely on declining severance tax collections to be our main source of revenue. We must make the tough decisions to ensure our budget is structurally sound - putting us on the path to a stable financial future for the long term.

During my State of the State address, I introduced a balanced budget that uses no money from our state’s Rainy Day Fund and does not include any across-the-board budget cuts, beyond those already in place. Putting together the fiscal year 2017 budget required hard work and difficult decisions. My proposed budget is fiscally responsible, continues to provide the services on which so many West Virginians rely, gives business and industry the flexibility they need to operate, and projects a return of budget surpluses by 2019.

This session, I’ve proposed a plan to increase our state’s tobacco tax by 45 cents a pack - an increase that is projected to generate nearly $71.5 million in new revenue each year. Combined with savings from a new prescription drug contract, a portion of this revenue will support my responsible plan to fund PEIA, ensuring state employees do not see dramatic benefit reductions proposed for the coming year. So far, my proposal is the only plan on the table. I urge legislators to take up this piece of legislation and do what’s right for our teachers, state employees and others across the state who rely on PEIA coverage.

I’ve also proposed eliminating a sales tax exemption on cell phones and land lines - putting us in step with 41 other states across the country. By placing the same 6 percent sales tax on cell phones and land line usage our residents are already paying on other goods, the state can collect an extra $60 million each year.

In keeping with promises of the past, I’ve proposed legislation to pay off our workers’ compensation debt more than a decade ahead of schedule. We’ve come too far and worked too hard to go back on these commitments. Removing these excess taxes can provide relief to our coal and natural gas industries, allowing these companies to deal with current economic realities to continue employing West Virginians and supporting our economies.

Other proposals to significantly reduce the severance tax on coal have been discussed, but the impact on our state budget could be well in excess of $100 million and would cripple many of our local economies.

At this point in the session, the Legislature appears to lack consensus on the best way to balance our state’s budget. Some have suggested we can make up the deficit by an additional 6.5 percent across-the-board cut, while others believe we should fill our budget shortfall by taking large sums from the Rainy Day Fund. We can no longer rely on cuts and one-time sources of money to get us through these budget challenges, and we cannot raid our state’s savings account because we aren’t living within our means.

At a time when our state is facing serious budget challenges and a lack of funding for essential services, we must seriously consider these - and other - new revenue opportunities. I commend the Legislature for coming together to pass supplemental bills that allowed us to pay our current bills on time and without delay and look forward to working with them to ensure both the current and next budget are balanced.

Serving our state and her people comes with great responsibility. We must work together, not as Democrats or Republicans, but as West Virginians. This is West Virginia, not Washington, and it’s time we put partisan politics aside and focus on issues critical to our state’s continued growth. There is more work to do, and I challenge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to come together and get to work to do what’s right for West Virginia.

College Foundation of West Virginia Sets Goal to Increase FAFSA Completion Rates

The Free Press WV

CHARLESTON, WV – The College Foundation of West Virginia (CFWV) today announced a goal to increase the number of 12th graders who complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or “FAFSA” to 60 percent. 

Last year, 57 percent of high school seniors completed the FAFSA, which is the primary application for state and federal financial aid for college. As of January 29, eight percent of this year’s 12th graders have completed the form. A complete list of FAFSA completion rates by high school is available at www.cfwvconnect.com/financial-aid-outreach

According to a report from the White House, “The President’s Plan for Early Financial Aid,” an estimated 2 million students who are enrolled in college and would be eligible for federal grants are missing out on receiving financial assistance because they failed to apply. 

“We want to make sure college is affordable for any student who desires to go,” Brian Weingart, Senior Director for Financial Aid at the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (Commission) and West Virginia Community and Technical College System (WVCTCS), said. “Completing the FAFSA is one of the most important steps in pursuing higher education. By completing this one form, students can be considered to receive thousands of dollars in grants from both the state and federal government — that’s ‘free money’ that you don’t have to pay back.”

Students can complete the FAFSA anytime after January 1 in the year they intend to go to college. Filing the FAFSA allows students to be considered for the Federal Pell Grant, which this year provided students with up to $5,815 to cover the cost of tuition and other education expenses. Students who file the form before April 15 will also be considered for up to $2,600 through the West Virginia Higher Education Grant Program. Additionally, completing the FAFSA is a requirement of applying for State scholarship programs, including the PROMISE Scholarship. More information about these programs and other financial aid opportunities is available at cfwv.com, the state’s free college-planning website.  

College and university partners across the state have been working with high school counselors to increase awareness of the FAFSA and help students and families complete the form. Students and families can receive free assistance filing the FAFSA and other financial aid forms during CFWV’s upcoming “College Goal Sunday,” event on February 21. During College Goal Sunday, financial aid professionals will be available at 25 locations across the state from 1 to 4 p.m. More information, including a list of locations and what to bring, is available at www.cfwv.com

CFWV is a college- and career-planning outreach initiative led by the Commission in collaboration with WVCTCS, the West Virginia Department of Education and the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts. 

WV Groups Send an Open Letter to Flint

CHARLESTON, WV - Nearly 40 West Virginia groups are sending an open letter to the people of Flint, Michigan saying they know what it’s like to have contaminated drinking water.

When the news leaked that Flint’s water has high levels of lead, many folks in Charleston immediately thought of the Freedom Industries chemical spill two years ago. Angie Rosser, executive director with the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, says her heart goes out to Flint residents.

The Free Press WV
West Virginians say news of lead contamination in the drinking water of Flint, Mich., is painfully familiar.


She says they’re putting the letter in the newspaper there, committing to help however they can because they know what Flint is going though.

“Being frightened about the health of our families who are exposed,“ says Rosser. “And also the outrage, maybe information was held back, and that the government let us down.“

After the Elk River spill, the West Virginia Legislature passed a law to protect drinking water from leaky above-ground storage tanks. It also put rules in place to protect the Kanawha River as a possible future source of drinking water. But Rosser says since then, the state and the affected industries have not built on that progress.

“No. We’re seeing actually the opposite,“ she says. “That there have been rollbacks in protections.“

The oil and gas industry has criticized the above-ground tank law as overly broad and intrusive. The chemical industry has argued that the Kanawha doesn’t need that level of protection, which will hurt that industry’s ability to compete.

Rosser says the Elk River spill and the water crisis in Flint show how dangerous it can be for public health to let water-quality protections erode.

“Why now add more pollution, especially those that are most dangerous to us? Especially in light after we saw the damage and the cost that can happen,“ says Rosser.

The Elk River chemical spill in January of 2014 meant 300,000 people in nine counties couldn’t drink their tap water. Rosser says that situation, and what’s happening in Flint, show that water needs to be valued more and better protected.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

Inequality Against Democracy: 10 Facts About the 1%

Economic inequality inspired Occupy Wall Street, a movement that in a few short months transformed our political discourse with the concept of the “1 percent” and the “99 percent.” Today the presidential candidacy of Bernie Sanders is altering the political landscape with a call to reduce inequality.

Why does this theme resonate with so many voters? How does it intersect with other issues like social justice, national security and the environment? Is inequality irreversible?

We are living through the greatest “wealth grab” in history. But inequality is not produced by immutable forces. It’s the result of a legislative agenda promoted by the rich and executed by their political allies. The struggle to change this agenda and end inequality is inseparable from the other critical struggles of our time.

What follows are 10 facts about the 1 percent – but they’re not just statistics. They’re a paint-by-numbers picture of an economy, and a democracy, in urgent need of change.


1. Not so long ago, growth and prosperity were more widely shared in this country.

There was a time in living memory when the growth in American productivity was shared much more broadly than it is today.

As economist John Schmitt wrote in 2013, “From the end of World War II through 1968, the wages for workers in the middle, and even the minimum wage, tracked productivity closely.”

This led to the growth of a middle class whose members could meet their own needs, afford some luxuries, and raise and educate their children – often on a single working person’s income.

While many people, especially people of color, were shamefully excluded from this prosperity, the postwar American experience shows us that it is possible to promote broadly shared economic growth.


2. Then something changed.

But then, as Schmitt observes, something changed. Increases in prosperity were no longer being shared in the same way. He writes:

“Between 1979 and 2012, after accounting for inflation, the productivity of the average American worker increased about 85 percent. Over the same period, the inflation-adjusted wage of the median worker rose only about 6 percent, and the value of the minimum wage fell 21 percent. As a country, we got richer, but workers in the middle saw little of the gains, and workers at the bottom actually fell behind.”

If the national minimum wage had kept pace with productivity, says Schmitt, it would have been $22 per hour by 2013.

Instead it’s $7.25 today.

A slightly more conservative calculation from economist Dean Baker said the minimum wage would have been $18.42 per hour in 2015 had it kept pace with productivity. This graph illustrates the broadening of this gap:


3. Most of the nation’s income gains are now going to the top.

On the other end of the spectrum, income gains for the top 1 percent now dwarf those of other households. In 2011 the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that “between 1979 and 2007, income grew by: 275 percent for the top 1 percent of households; 65 percent for the next 19 percent; just under 40 percent for the next 60 percent; and 18 percent for the bottom 20 percent.”

And most of the gains since the 2008 economic crisis have gone to the wealthiest among us.

Meanwhile, in what is sometimes called “the middle-class squeeze,” the middle-class cost of living has risen significantly. Even after wages are adjusted for inflation, middle-class income has failed keep up with increases in such costs as child care, higher education, health services, retirement, and housing – expenses that disproportionately affect middle-class households.


4. Wealth inequality has returned to levels not seen since the Roaring ’20s.

Economists Emanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman found in 2014 that the concentration of wealth held by the top 0.1 percent has reached levels not seen since the 1920s:

Saez and Zucman found that in recent years there has been, as the caption to one chart puts it, “a surge in top wealth shares concentrated in (the) top 0.1 percent.”


5. The 0.01 percent – a tiny group of people – controls a vast amount of wealth.

As a result of this surge, 16,000 Americans hold as much wealth as 80 percent of the nation’s population – some 256,000,000 people – and as much as 75 percent of the entire world’s population.

The combined wealth of these 16,000 people is more than $9 trillion.


6. 536 people, $2.6 trillion dollars

A few billionaires are even wealthier. In the United States, 536 people had a shared net worth of $2.6 trillion at the end of 2015. These days even the top 0.01 percent isn’t immune from inequality.


7. CEOs are taking up a bigger piece of the pie, and workers are getting less.

Fortune 500 CEOs earned about 42 times as much on average as the typical worker in 1980. Today they earn 373 times as much.

In fact, seven of this country’s 30 largest corporations paid their CEOs more than they paid in taxes.


8. The average American household is falling behind on wages.

The median household income in the United States fell by more than 7 percent between 1999 and 2014. It’s now slightly over $53,000.


9. The average American owns less wealth than people in many other developed countries.

The median wealth of an American adult is roughly $34,316.

That’s far below that of adults in countries like Japan ($78,862), Luxembourg ($78,453), the United Kingdom ($75,734), Norway ($54,362), the Netherlands ($52,649), Switzerland ($43,700), and Australia ($47,477.)


10. More than one child in five lives in poverty.

The U.S. poverty rate for children is over 20 percent, higher than that of all other major developed countries. The only other nations in the OECD with similarly high rates are Chile, Israel, Mexico, Spain, and Turkey.

By contrast, child poverty is less than 9 percent in the Nordic countries and Austria, and is less than 10 percent in the United Kingdom. Even those rates, which are less than half the American rates, should be considered unacceptable.

Overall, more than 48 million Americans live in poverty.


The Challenge

According to experts like Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, the expansion of the financial sector has contributed significantly to the current crisis. So has the lack of jobs and growth in minority communities; lax federal oversight of banks and corporations; the stock market’s focus on short-term gains over long-term growth; the waning influence of labor unions; the offshoring of American jobs; and tax policies which have increasingly favored corporations and ultra-wealthy individuals.

Political choices are shaping a new class of super-wealthy Americans. And, conversely, the super-wealthy are shaping our political choices. A Princeton study by political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page concluded that “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”

A government controlled by wealthy individuals and large corporations will be much more likely to harm the environment and subvert democratic processes. It will cater to the defense industry abroad and the for-profit prison industry at home. It will hamper racial justice, because true equality cannot be achieved without effort and cost. Its policies are likely to foster growing instability at home and abroad, affecting virtually every aspect of foreign and domestic policy.

That is why runaway inequality is the central issue of our time. It stifles democracy and leads to a more dangerous world. We should, of course, demand that political candidates advocate the right social, foreign policy, and environmental decisions. But even the best candidates will find it impossible to consistently carry out the best policies in a society where so few have so much and so many have so little.

Here’s the good news: Today’s inequality was created by choice, which means we can make different choices. We can end the great wealth grab – by strengthening collective bargaining rights, regulating Wall Street and large corporations, fixing our tax system, and renegotiating bad deals like NAFTA while blocking such deals in the future. Ending the great wealth grab will improve life for most Americans, and will make it easier to reclaim our democracy.

It can be done. To say otherwise is to encourage a false cynicism that breeds permanent despair. It’s true that it will take a major political shift, the kind of mass movement Bernie Sanders calls a “political revolution.” But it can be done, once we understand and accept the challenge that lies before us.

~~  Richard Eskow ~~

We Love Our Little Ones - You Are Invited Today

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In West Virginia….

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►   Treasurer’s Office distributes unclaimed property assets to Special Olympics, Girl Scouts

CHARLESTON, WV — State Treasurer John Perdue presented unclaimed property checks worth $17,000 to both the Girls Scouts of Black Diamond and Special Olympics of West Virginia on Wednesday.

Unclaimed property is any asset from which an individual has become separated. Companies holding unclaimed property assets are required by law to turn them over to the State Treasury after a certain dormancy period.

“These non-profits really reach out in our communities and they do a fantastic job with our youth and helping change some of their lives,” said Perdue. “These organizations mean so much to our communities so it’s really a special time.”

Perdue said the Treasurer’s Office isn’t done handing out unclaimed property money, distributing about $106 million already.

“We have over $100 million a year in the treasury in unclaimed property, so we’re going to continue to return that money to rightful owners in the state,” he said. “I’ve made that a cornerstone of my office and I’ll continue to do so.”

He said the money will help the Girl Scouts and Special Olympics do some extra activities.

They work on so many projects out here, and this gives them the opportunity to put that money make into their budgets to be able to make a difference.”

In both groups’ cases, the largest source of the unclaimed property was from checking accounts started by local chapters around the state and then abandoned.


►   Fayette County School Superintendent hopeful SBA input leads to a facilities plan in Fayette County

CHARLESTON, WV — Fayette County School Superintendent Terry George has been collaborating with the School Building Authority to come up with a Facilities Plan that would be more likely to receive SBA funding next year.

The SBA turned down Fayette County’s Comprehensive Education Facilities Plan in 2015–where they requested 39 million dollars over three years to consolidate, close, and build anew.

“Our plan is to work with the School Building Authority, the State Board [of Education], and Dr. Martirano to come up with a project that could be funded and successfully completed with an award in December of 2016 at the SBA,” George told MetroNews.

George and SBA Executive Director David Sneed met with the State School Board of Education Wednesday to provide an update on what the parties are doing to attempt to improve the Fayette County facilities through short-term and long-term projects. The collaboration began January 5, according to George.

“We’ve been quietly working to develop a process where we can assess our situation, collect our data, and begin working on a long-range plan,” he said. “That’s what they would like to look at. We have all agreed to cooperate and get on the same page and try to put together a long-range plan for the county that alleviates the current facility issues.”

In the short-term, Fayette County will apply for a Major Improvement Project (MIP) that is capped at $1 million during the SBA’s June meeting. If the MIP is approved, it would build a classroom addition to Midland Trail, allowing the Fayette County Board of Education and State Board of Education to close Ansted Middle School.

“We could relocate students from one of our schools that’s currently in sub-par condition,” George said.

Additionally, Fayette County will purchase portable rooms to move students from Collins Middle School to Oak Hill High School temporarily. George said the portable rooms would lead to the closure of Collins Middle School and relieve overcrowding of the students already at Oak Hill High School.

“That would allow our grades five through eight from Collins Middle to be reunited,” he said. “And also to have them in a facility that is not only safer, but eliminates the overcrowding conditions that exist at Oak Hill and Fayetteville High School right now.”

Eventually, the goal will be to have a different school for the relocated Collins Middle School students.

“Close the current Collins site,” George said. “Relocate all of our students to the portable units, but we want to stress that is a temporary condition. We’re looking at long-term solutions that we would be addressing to the School Building Authority.”

George said that Fayette County would present a new long-term plan with input from the School Building Authority. No details of that plan are yet available, but George said Fayette County would be ready to present the plan in December 2016 in front of the SBA.

Despite the SBA’s input, it is still not a guarantee that they approve a new facilities plan. The plan George presented to the SBA last December was questioned over the likelihood of local matching funds, the overall size compared to what the rest of the state needed, and concerns over the closure of Meadow Bridge High School.

“We’ve attempted to adopt a comprehensive plan based upon a sense of urgency during last year’s funding cycle,” George said. “It was not well-received by the School Building Authority–primarily because of the cost involved.”

George is hoping that, with their input, Fayette County will be on the right track to better quality school facilities.


►   DHHR report finds $55 million in SNAP, TANF benefits spent out-of-state - Delegate Jill Upson (R-Jefferson, 65) says she’s concerned about the transactions

CHARLESTON, WV — Nearly $55 million in food stamp benefits has been spent outside West Virginia within a 12-month period, according to a study conducted by the state Department of Health and Human Resources.

The report found that more than $52 million of $457 million in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits were spent out-of-state between November 1, 2014 and October 31, 2015. About $2 million of $29 million in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits were also spent during that time frame.

Delegate Jill Upson (R-Jefferson, 65) raised concern about the numbers on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

She said about 90 percent of out-of-state spending was in states that border West Virginia, but wants to know why over $1 million was spent in Florida.

“I haven’t been able to find out what the zip codes are that those transactions occurred, but we do know it raises questions because we do know that there’s Disney (World). There’s all sorts of theme parks in Florida,” Upson said.

Almost 7,000 purchases were made in Minnesota, according to the report.

“Minnesota has the Mall of America, so again, it just raises questions where we just need to kind of investigate and look at why there are so many transactions in these areas,” Upson said.

In December, Upson sent a letter to DHHR Secretary Karen Bowling asking her staff to conduct the study.

Some nearby transactions included $14 million in Ohio, $13 million in Virginia, $12 million in Kentucky and $1 million in North Carolina. Far off locations included $85,000 in California, $21,000 in Utah, $3,400 in Hawaii and $1,600 in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“We need to really look at these numbers and kind of drill down into this issue,” Upson said. “We do need to look at that to make sure that West Virginia’s needy families have their resources for them when they need it.”

Upson is the lead sponsor of HB 4454, the Welfare Fraud Prevention Act, which is before the House Judiciary Committee. A similar bill, SB 312, is also being taken up in the Senate.

The legislation would streamline the verification process and provide guidelines for Electronic Benefit Transfer cards using SNAP and TANF benefits. It also would ban the use of the cards in vice and luxury locations.

Bowling issued a statement to MetroNews late Wednesday night regarding the study:

“The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is 100% federally funded and offers nutrition assistance to eligible, low-income individuals and families.

Many of our recipients are elderly, disabled, or children. The recipients of SNAP use their benefits to purchase food for the household such as breads and cereals; fruits and vegetables; meats, fish and poultry; dairy products; and seeds and plants which produce food.

Federal regulations mandate that individuals have access to SNAP approved grocers across state lines. Therefore, the DHHR is not allowed to restrict the use of SNAP benefits to be used solely in West Virginia.

Additionally, regulations allow recipients to utilize their SNAP benefits to purchase food products in other states when traveling across the United States and individuals from other states who receive these same benefits utilize SNAP approved grocers when visiting or traveling through West Virginia.

DHHR routinely monitors for fraud and abuse in these programs.”


►   MANCHIN BILL DEMANDS FDA ADDRESS OPIOID EPIDEMIC

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) today introduced the Changing the Culture of the FDA Act, a bill to expand the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) mission statement to require that the agency address the nation’s opioid epidemic. Senator Manchin believes that the FDA plays a critical role in the growing opioid epidemic since the agency oversees the approval of dangerously addictive drugs.  However, to date, the agency has failed to consider the devastating public health impact of its repeated decisions to approve opioid medications.

Specifically, the Changing the Culture of the FDA Act would add the following language to the agency’s mission statement: “The FDA is also responsible for protecting the public health by strongly considering the danger of addiction and overdose death associated with prescription opioid medications when approving these medications and when regulating the manufacturing, marketing, and distribution of opioid medications.”

“The FDA must get serious about the dangers of prescription drugs, and this will not be accomplished without a significant change of culture at the agency,” Senator Manchin said.  “The FDA’s number one priority must be the public’s health and well-being, nothing else. Yet, time and time again, the FDA has stood in the way of efforts to address the opioid abuse epidemic and improve public health. Although the FDA announced that it will be taking steps in the right direction to address these problems, it is not enough, and more needs to be done. This bill is an important step that must be taken to hold the FDA accountable for the impact its decisions are having on the American people.”

West Virginia has been hit the hardest in the nation by the opioid epidemic.  Drug overdose deaths have soared by more than 700 percent between 1999 and 2013. Senator Manchin has made it his top priority to curb prescription drug abuse in any way possible, including changing the culture at the FDA.


►   Money used on old workers’ comp debt will help current budget woes for five months

CHARLESTON, WV — In a vote Thursday, the state Senate approved part of Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s plan to fill a projected $354 million revenue hole in the current state budget.

Senators approved the workers’ compensation bill (SB 419) which takes tax money that’s largely been paid by coal and natural gas to pay off the old workers’ compensation fund debt and move that revenue to help with the current state budget deficit. It will provide $92 million this budget year. The bill discontinues the special tax on the industries on June 30.

The bill, which was approved 34-0, includes a new severance tax rate for the timber industry, 1.22 percent, which will be used to balance the agency’s budget next budget year.

Senator Herb Snyder (D-Jefferson) pointed out before the vote Thursday what he called an “injustice” associated with the bill. When the special tax was levied on coal, oil, natural gas and timber a few years ago to pay off the workers’ comp debt, the formula also included $11 million a year from the horsemens’ purse fund in the thoroughbred racing industry. That industry isn’t getting that money back as originally promised, Snyder said.

“Everybody else gets their money back that we promised but we’re breaking the promise to the horsemen. That’s what we’re doing and that’s the injustice,” Snyder said.

The bill now goes to the House of Delegates for consideration.


►   wv Medical Examiner’s Office Working to Cut Case Backlog

he West Virginia Medical Examiner’s Office has been working to crackdown on the backlog of cases and to seek accreditation.

WVVA-TV reports Commissioner for the Bureau of Public Health Dr. Rahul Gupta oversees the Charleston office and says they’ve been addressing policies, procedures and staffing criteria in order to get the department accredited.

In 2015, Gupta added two pathologists to the staff and cut the backlog on autopsies by more than half, from 700 open cases to 300.

Gupta says the office has also taken the backlog of cases more than three months old from 450 to 56.

While accreditation isn’t necessary or required, he says accreditation is something he hopes the department will accomplish within the next few years.

The medical examiner’s office completed 1,236 autopsies in 2015.


►   West Virginia House approves religious-exemptions bill

CHARLESTON, WV - A West Virginia religious-exemptions bill that opponents say would allow for discrimination has cleared the Republican-led House of Delegates.

Approved by Thursday’s 72-26 vote, the proposal would let people cite religious objections to state actions in certain court proceedings. It moves to the Senate.

Proponents say it protects freedoms to express religious beliefs, unless there’s a compelling state interest to restrict them.

Opponents say it sanctions discrimination, particularly targeting gay marriage.

Various business interests oppose it, from local chambers of commerce to Charleston’s Marriott hotel.

Republican Senate President Bill Cole called it a “tough one.“

Reports say Indiana might have lost $60 million when groups opted against conventions in Indianapolis because of a similar law.

Citing Indiana, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said he’d have to consider a veto.


►   state school superintendent in hot seat as lawmakers eye state standards

The state school superintendent urged lawmakers not to ditch state standards for science and other areas Thursday morning as part of the Common Core repeal bill.

Some lawmakers say state standards carried over too much of Common Core.

State School Superintendent Michael Martirano was questioned by delegates for about two hours Thursday morning. The bill apparently would roll back the educational standards set for state schools to 2011.

Lawmakers are unhappy that about 80 percent of the federal Common Core standards still remain for the state even after educators added multiplication tables, calculus and cursive writing back into the system.

The superintendent pointed out standards similar to Common Core will remain, unless West Virginia wants to have less education than most of the country’s educators deem needed.

“When our young people graduate, if we take steps backwards, they’re going to be behind,“ Martirano said. “They’re going to be in remedial courses. They’re going to be in developmental courses. “

The superintendent said going back to old testing methods would likely cost the state $4 million and textbooks and pencils will not prepare today’s kindergarten students for the world they will face when they graduate in 2029.

Martirano said the change will make it harder for him to fill 600 teacher vacancies. The committee is expected to make a vote Friday.

Did You Know?

The Free Press WV

WHAT CLINTON, SANDERS CLASH OVER

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Scientists say they’ve finally detected gravitational waves, the ripples in the fabric of space-time that Einstein predicted a century ago.


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LAMAR ODOM ATTENDS FIRST PUBLIC EVENT SINCE HOSPITALIZATION

The estranged husband of Khloe Kardashian shows up at brother-in-law Kanye West’s New York Fashion show - and gets cheers from the crowd.

In USA….

The Free Press WV

►   Cleveland Billed Tamir Rice for His Ambulance Ride

In a move that the family’s lawyer says “adds insult to homicide,“ Cleveland has billed a 12-year-old boy for the ambulance he was placed in after being fatally shot by a city police officer. The $500 claim filed against the estate of Tamir Rice on Wednesday includes $450 for “ambulance advance life support” and $10 for mileage, reports Cleveland.com. Tamir, who was seen playing with a pellet gun in a city park, was shot seconds after police arrived at the scene on November 22, 2014. In December, a grand jury decided not to indict rookie cop Timothy Loehmann, who fired the fatal shot, or his partner. After the shooting, police handcuffed Rice’s sister but made no attempt to offer first aid to the wounded boy.

“The callousness, insensitivity, and poor judgment required for the city to send a bill—its own police officers having slain 12-year-old Tamir—is breathtaking,“ attorney Subodh Chandra said in an emailed statement. “This adds insult to homicide.“ The chief of the Cleveland police union has supported the officers, but he seems as disgusted as anybody by the city’s legal action. “Subodh Chandra and I have never agreed on anything until now,“ Steve Loomis tells Fox 8 Cleveland. “It is unconscionable that the City of Cleveland would send that bill to the Rice family. Truly disappointing but unfortunately not surprising.“ The city says it doesn’t comment on ongoing litigation.


►   Cliven Bundy Flies to Oregon, Gets Arrested

Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy flew into Portland, Ore., on Wednesday night to support four occupiers at a wildlife refuge—and was promptly arrested by the FBI. The Oregonian reports that the 74-year-old was booked into the Multnomah County Jail after being arrested at Portland International Airport on charges relating to a 2014 standoff at his ranch that involved grazing rights on federal land. After FBI agents surrounded the occupiers’ camp, the Bundy Ranch Facebook page told America to “wake up” and announced that the Bundy patriarch was on his way to the site. Hours later, the page confirmed his arrest and lamented: “They keep coming for us patriots, they keep attacking peaceful principled men and woman [sic].“

Bundy’s sons Ammon and Ryan are being held without bail for their involvement in the Oregon occupation. The Oregonian notes that Bundy, like his sons, has been charged with conspiracy to impede federal officers, as well as weapons charges. The remaining occupiers had planned to surrender to federal authorities at 8am PST on Thursday, but the Bundy arrest has raised doubts about the agreement, reports the Guardian. Ammon Bundy’s lawyer says Cliven Bundy had been considering joining Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore at a press conference to discuss the situation, and the timing of the arrest is “terribly unfortunate.“ Fiore is believed to be on her way to eastern Oregon to be present at the surrender.


►   RFK Assassin Denied Parole After Dramatic Hearing

Sirhan Sirhan didn’t kill Robert F. Kennedy, according to a man who was shot in the head the same night Kennedy was assassinated. Paul Schrade, a 91-year-old Kennedy family friend and former labor leader, told Sirhan’s parole hearing on Wednesday that he believes Sirhan was the one who shot him at a Los Angeles hotel in 1968, but a second shooter killed RFK, the AP reports. Schrade apologized for missing Sirhan’s previous 14 parole hearings. “I should have been here long ago and that’s why I feel guilty for not being here to help you and to help me,“ he said. Later, when the prisoner was taken away, Schrade shouted: “Sirhan, I’m so sorry this is happening to you. It’s my fault.“

After three hours of testimony—including an hour from Schrade, who described his attempts to investigate the case—commissioners ruled against Sirhan, deciding that the 71-year-old did not show enough remorse or understand how serious the crime was, NBC News reports. The Palestinian-born Christian is serving life for the murder of Kennedy, who was killed just after winning the California Democratic primary. “This crime impacted the nation, and I daresay it impacted the world,“ commissioner Brian Roberts said. “It was a political assassination of a viable Democratic presidential candidate.“ Sirhan’s next parole hearing will be in 2021.


►   Toddler Found Dead Hours After Going Missing

Police investigating the tragic death of a Missouri toddler are trying to piece together what happened in the hours before his body was found in a van around a mile from his home in Iron County on Wednesday morning. Police say 3-year-old Titus Greyson Tackett’s grandparents were babysitting when his parents returned home at around 1am Wednesday to discover them sleeping, the front door open, and the boy gone, reports NBC News. After an overnight search involving local police, the Missouri Highway Patrol, the FBI, and volunteers, Titus’ body was found in the van at 11am, wrapped in a blanket, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Somebody who spotted the body flagged down a searcher, police say.

Family members told police that they last saw Titus at around midnight—and he was wearing only a diaper. The temperature in the area was around 14 degrees overnight, according to the National Weather Service. Authorities say an autopsy will be carried out and it still isn’t clear if foul play was involved in the boy’s death, KTVI reports. “At this point, it’s too early to determine exactly how he got out of the house and how he ended up where he was,“ Iron County Sheriff Roger Medley tells the Daily Journal, adding that there does not appear to be any connection between the van’s owners and the boy’s family.


►   Oregon Holdouts Agree to Surrender to FBI

After a dramatic standoff with FBI agents, the final four occupiers at an Oregon wildlife refuge have apparently decided that they want to leave alive. FBI agents in armored vehicles surrounded the armed group’s camp on Wednesday night, leading to hours of tense negotiations captured on a live stream that had up to 60,000 listeners, reports the Oregonian. At times, the occupiers sounded close to panic, the AP reports. “You’re going to hell. Kill me. Get it over with,“ yelled David Fry, 27. “We’re innocent people camping at a public facility, and you’re going to murder us.“ Nevada state lawmaker Michele Fiore, a prominent supporter of the occupation, called in to calm the situation down, telling the group that she needed them alive.

Along with Fry, Jeff Banta, 46, and married couple Sean Anderson, 48, and Sandy Anderson, 47 (some sources have the husband and wife’s ages switched) are the last remnants of the 40-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. They had originally insisted that they would only leave if all charges were dropped and they were allowed to keep their guns, but they eventually agreed to surrender at 8am PST Thursday, with Fiore and the Rev. Franklin Graham present, reports the Guardian, which notes that the FBI has not confirmed the arrangement. “We are not surrendering, we’re turning ourselves in,“ said Sean Anderson. “It goes against everything we believe in, but we’re going to do it.“ Fiore and Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, father of two jailed occupation leaders, are believed to be on their way to the scene.


►   Government Sues Ferguson After It Tries to Revise Policing Deal

The federal government sued Ferguson on Wednesday, one day after the city council voted to revise an agreement aimed at improving the way police and courts treat poor people and minorities in the St. Louis suburb, the AP reports. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Ferguson’s decision to reject the deal left the department no choice except to file a civil-rights lawsuit. The Justice Department complaint accuses Ferguson of routinely violating residents’ rights and misusing law enforcement to generate revenue. Ferguson leaders “had a real opportunity here to step forward, and they’ve chosen to step backward,“ Lynch said.

Ferguson has been under Justice Department scrutiny since 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was black and unarmed, was fatally shot by white officer Darren Wilson 18 months ago. A grand jury and the Justice Department declined to prosecute Wilson. But a scathing Justice Department report was critical of police and a profit-driven municipal court system. Following months of negotiations, an agreement between the federal agency and Ferguson was announced in January. A recent financial analysis determined the agreement would cost the struggling city nearly $4 million in the first year alone. A big part of the cost was the requirement that Ferguson raise police salaries to attract better candidates, including more minority officers. The city council wanted the Justice Department to agree to seven new amendments to the agreement.

In The World….

The Free Press WV

►   Russia Wants Syria Ceasefire on March 01

Russia has proposed a March 1 ceasefire in Syria, US officials say, but Washington believes Moscow is giving itself and the Syrian government three weeks to try to crush moderate rebel groups. The United States has countered with demands for the fighting to stop immediately, officials say. The talk of new ceasefire plans comes as the US, Russia and more than a dozen other countries meet in Munich to try to halt five years of civil war in the Arab country. The Guardian reports that according to a new study from the Syrian Center for Policy Research, the war has killed or injured 470,000 people—11.5% of the population—and has also lowered life expectancy from 70 to 55 and almost “completely obliterated” the country’s infrastructure.

The most recent Russian-backed offensive, near Aleppo, prompted opposition groups to walk out of peace talks last month in Geneva, while forcing tens of thousands of civilians to flee toward the Turkish border. Sources tell the AP that the US can’t accept Russia’s offer of a March 01 ceasefire because moderate opposition forces could suffer irreversible losses in northern and southern Syria before it ever takes hold. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, meanwhile, says NATO military authorities have been ordered to draw up plans for how the alliance could help shut down illegal migration and people smuggling across the Aegean Sea. Three NATO allies—Turkey, Germany, and Greece—requested alliance participation in an international effort to help end Europe’s gravest migration crisis since World War II.


►   Woman Falls 60 Feet, Lands in a Lucky Spot

There’s never a good time to accidentally plunge 60 feet off a balcony, but there is sometimes a good place to land if that happens: like on a bed. That’s the incredible good fortune of a 60-year-old woman who took such a plunge while in a department store in Britain Monday, reports the Manchester Evening News. She went over a glass balcony near the escalators in a John Lewis store and came down on a display bed set up on the ground floor. The woman ended up in the hospital, but “her injuries are not thought to be serious,“ says a police official.

Another element in her good fortune: Those display beds aren’t always there. That section of the store changes regularly with different displays, and it just happens to be beds at the moment, reports the Guardian. “We closed the shop immediately and are offering partners who witnessed the incident our full support,“ a store spokesman tells Sky News. Based on the landing spot, however, things could have been much, much worse.


►   Meet the UAE’s First Happiness Minister

They say happiness is a state of mind, but maybe it’s also a sound basis for public policy. This week, the United Arab Emirates named Ohood Al Roumi as its first minister of state for happiness, Al Jazeera reports. As such, she “will align and drive government policy to create social good and satisfaction,“ according to a tweet from the UAE’s prime minister. Prior to the new post, Al Roumi was the director-general of the prime minister’s office and the first Arab member of the United Nations Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurship Council. Even without a minister of state for happiness, the UAE placed 20th on the UN’s World Happiness Report in 2015. But the federation says it wants “to be the happiest of all nations so that its citizens feel proud to belong to the UAE.“

According to the Washington Post, reactions to the new minister of state for happiness “ranged from celebration to bemusement.“ “There will also be ministers for grumpiness, sleepiness, bashfulness, and dopeyness,“ one quipster tweets. But there is historical precedent for the position. In 2013, Venezuela created a vice ministry of supreme social happiness and Ecuador appointed a state secretary of well-being. Back in the 1970s, Bhutan started focusing on “gross national happiness” over economic performance when looking at policies. And countries like the United Kingdom and Thailand use happiness as one official consideration when creating new policies. The UAE also announced a minister of state for tolerance this week, USA Today reports.


►   Auschwitz Guard, 94, to Stand Trial on 170K Counts

A 94-year-old former SS guard at the Auschwitz death camp is going on trial this week on 170,000 counts of accessory to murder, the first of up to four cases being brought to court this year in an 11th-hour push by German prosecutors to punish Nazi war crimes. Reinhold Hanning is accused of serving as an SS Unterscharfuehrer—similar to a sergeant—in Auschwitz from January 1943 to June 1944. His trial starts on Thursday and is one of the latest that follow a precedent set in 2011, when former Ohio autoworker John Demjanjuk became the first person to be convicted in Germany solely for serving as a camp guard, with no evidence of involvement in a specific killing, reports the AP. In all, about 40 Auschwitz survivors or their relatives have joined the trial as co-plaintiffs.

Hanning’s attorney says that his client acknowledges serving at the Auschwitz I part of the camp complex, but denies serving at the Auschwitz II-Birkenau section, where most of the 1.1 million victims were killed. The prosecutor argues guards in the main camp were also used as on-call guards to augment those in Birkenau when trainloads of Jews were brought in. “The chimneys were spewing fire ... and the smell of burning human flesh was so unbelievable that one could hardly bear it,“ says a 94-year-old Auschwitz survivor who is the first witness scheduled for the trial. Though he says he feels deeply unsettled about staring Hanning in the eyes in the courtroom Thursday, he adds it’s important to be there. “It’s perhaps the last time for him to tell the truth.“


►   Weapons of Kim Jong Un’s Destruction? Old USB Drives

Got any old flash drives gathering dust in a drawer? There’s a growing movement to get them into the hands of ordinary North Koreans, loaded with Western movies and shows in the hopes of offering a more realistic look at the outside world Pyongyang paints as utterly bleak. Andy Greenberg first did a Wired cover story on the grass-roots efforts in March 2015, and he now follows up on the latest efforts by groups such as the Seoul-based North Korea Strategy Center, the Silicon Valley-based Forum 280, and more. “It’s literally a key that will unlock a new world for North Koreans,“ says Sharon Stratton of North Korea Strategy Center’s USB-smuggling operations. “It’s important that they see ‘people in the outside world [who] I don’t know are sending me these thumb drives,‘ which she says plants the seed “that maybe Americans aren’t the big bad enemy after all.“

Human Rights Foundation’s Alex Gladstein, who helped form Flash Drives for Freedom, tells NBC News: “Obviously, one flash drive is not going to depose Kim Jong Un, but it could change the life of a North Korean.“ Gladstein adds that all you have to do is ship your thumb drive to Palo Alto, Calif., and they’ll take care of the rest—meaning they’ll illegally smuggle the drives (sometimes via cargo trucks, other times attached to balloons) into North Korea, hopefully as many as 2,000 a month, in an effort to pierce the Internet blackout and Kim’s ban on all foreign media. “North Korea feels like this monolithic, impenetrable, unknowable black hole,“ says Stratton. What plays well among North Koreans? Friends and Desperate Housewives seem to be favorites, notes Wired.

Area Closings and Delays on Friday, February 12, 2016

The Gilmer Free Press
Status of Area Closings and Delays on Friday, February 12, 2016
Glenville State College    
Gilmer County Board of Education    
Gilmer County Courthouse  
Gilmer County Health Department  
Gilmer County Senior Center  
Minnie Hamilton Health System, Glenville Office Clinic
Gilmer County Schools 2 Hour Delay  
Braxton County Schools 2 Hour Delay  
Calhoun County Schools    
Doddridge County Schools    
Lewis County Schools 2 Hour Delay  
Ritchie County Schools    
 
Barbour County Schools 2 Hour Delay  
Clay County Schools    
Harrison County Schools    
Nicholas County Schools 2 Hour Delay  
Pleasants County Schools    
Roane County Schools    
Tyler County Schools    
Upshur County Schools 2 Hour Delay  
Webster County Schools 2 Hour Delay  
Wetzel County Schools 2 Hour Delay  
Wirt County Schools    
Wood County Schools    

 

Please Send us your closings and delays:  ‘tellus@gilmerfreepress.net’  or   304.462.8700

Leading Creek Elementary Is Studying the Civil War in Social Studies

The Free Press WV

The 5th Grade Class at Leading Creek Elementary is studying the Civil War in Social Studies Class.

The class received a traveling trunk from Gettysburg National Park.

In the trunk was a full Civil War Soldier uniform.

One of the students, Zackery Harper, was dressed as a Union Soldier.

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The Free Press WV

G-ICYMI™: Same-Sex Couple Gets License, Condemnation in Gilmer County

The Free Press WV
The Free Press WV

Samantha Brookover stood crying in the Gilmer County courthouse last week, humiliated on what was meant to be a celebratory occasion.

Brookover and her partner, Amanda Abramovich, wanted a marriage license. They got one—along with an earful from a deputy clerk in the office, who told them that their relationship was wrong and that God would judge them.

Brookover and Abramovich had expected maybe an eye roll, or some sign of disgust. They said they weren’t anticipating they would be told they were “an abomination.”

“It just takes one person to remind you how closed-minded our world is,” Brookover said.

Debbie Allen, the deputy clerk who processed their marriage license, and another deputy clerk who was there, Angela Moore, disputed some of the allegations from the couple and Brookover’s mother, Jill Goff, who was also there. They disagree on how loud Allen was, and whether the word “abomination” was used, although Moore said she couldn’t hear everything.

“I was working on what I was supposed to be doing and honestly I didn’t care to make eye contact with them,” Moore said.

The clerks don’t dispute that Allen told the couple was they were doing was wrong, and that they would be judged. But they also stressed that they did not view the statement as an “attack.”

“We did not attack them,” Allen said. “We did not yell at them. We were not aggressive with them. I felt I talked nicely to them.”

Brookover and Abramovich say that Allen huffed, took their driver’s licenses, made copies, slammed down the copies, then for two to three minutes, yelled that what they were doing was wrong, in her eyes and in God’s eyes, and that no one in Gilmer County would ever marry them.

The couple had brought family members. They had the camera ready. It was supposed to be a happy day.

Instead, in Brookover’s words, they were “flabbergasted and hurt and angry like you wouldn’t believe.”

Allen says she briefly and calmly told the couple what they were doing was wrong and that God would judge them, then continued assisting them as she would other couples.

“I just told them my opinion,” she said. “I just felt led to do that. I believe God was standing with me and that’s just my religious belief.”

Asked whether her words could possibly have been perceived as an attack to someone of another sexual orientation, who has been belittled because of it, Allen said, “Oh, I’m sure.”

She wouldn’t say how she would treat any future same-sex couples that arrive at the clerk’s office or whether she would attempt to use the West Virginia Religious Freedom Restoration Act, if it passes in the Legislature, to argue she shouldn’t have to give marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The bill, House Bill 4012, could allow people to argue in court that civil rights laws don’t apply to them because of their religious beliefs.

Goff had a phone conversation with Gilmer County Clerk Jean Butcher about the incident. Butcher said she told Goff that her religious beliefs were similar to Moore’s.

“They were issued the license and that was the main thing,” Butcher told the Gazette-Mail.

Abramovich and Brookover had already held a commitment ceremony, but they wanted to get health insurance together, and had to be married to do that.

While they obtained the license, they still feel that Allen didn’t properly perform her job.

“Someone at McDonald’s can’t refuse to give someone a cheeseburger because they’re a heart attack risk,” Abramovich said. “You’ve got to do your job. You can’t just scream at people.”

It wasn’t the first time the women were judged for their sexual orientations. They grew up in rural West Virginia. They went to high school together, but didn’t tell anyone that they were a couple until after graduation, for fear of how friends would respond. Abramovich said she was used to her stepfather being “a little hateful.”

“But to have a complete stranger — someone that doesn’t know me — scream like that, it really cut down to the bone,” she said.

Others, like Goff, have been accepting, although she said she did tell Brookover she felt sad when her daughter came out.

“She took that as I was ashamed,” Goff said. “I told her that it was not that. I love her with all my heart no matter what she does… What I said to her was I hate the way people are going to treat you. That makes me sad because for the rest of your life, you’re going to have to pay a price for this.”

~~  Erin Beck - Gazette-Mail ~~

02.11.2016
Arts & EntertainmentBooks | Magazines | NewspaperCommunityGilmer CountyGlenvilleFeaturesG-ICYMI™NewsCourthouseRegionWest Virginia(6) Comments

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~~~ Readers' Comments ~~~

Debbie Allen should be fired immediately. Her job is to check citizen-applicants meet all legal requirement, process paperwork, and issue government licenses. If she wants to preach religious condemnation, she needs to do it on her time.

By Bill Jones  on  02.11.2016

Wow I Can believe that this happened. Most people believe in the bible and wanna live the “christian” way,but it also says that you should not judge others. People wake up stop judging, and actually live your christian ways. My question is did it affect your personal life,that people who are happy and in love be married?! Like geez its our right to do what we want!! I cannot wait to marry my wife we are absolutely happy and in love going on 6 years so come June 2017 Gilmer county clerks I’ll see ya then!!!

By Jamie Persinger  on  02.11.2016

Since they didn’t hold enough belief not to give the license why didn’t they do what they do to everybody else. Give the license then trash talk them when they leave.
It’s not right to take a government paycheck and treat the customers bad.

By Albe W  on  02.11.2016

I live in Gilmer County, and I will marry them. I am an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church. Samantha & Amanda, if you are reading this, I will give my contact info to the GFP to give to you, and I will marry you. I am so very sorry for the way you have been treated by the staff of our courthouse.

By Ms. Equality  on  02.11.2016

No, it was not God standing with that nasty woman.  It was the exact opposite.

Jesus was quite clear about how to treat ALL people (love them as yourself), particularly if they were among society’s outcasts. 

Do you think that if I went to the courthouse with a sack of rocks, and told her my religion insists that I stone witches, she’d oblige me by standing still?

By Hdonovan  on  02.12.2016

Frankly, I do not like this type of marriage, but who the hell am I to judge? God is THE ONLY judge. What we have here is a very very bad customer service. The county commissioners and the county clerk must take action on this immediately. All of you are getting paid by taxpayers’ money and must obey the laws of the land. If you do not like any of it and refuse to obey it then you should get the hell out of your positions. What a sad way to put the Gilmer County on the map! For a very poor customer service.

By Action is necessary  on  02.12.2016

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DHHR Announces Funding Opportunities for Behavioral Health Services

The Free Press WV

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), Bureau for Behavioral Health and Health Facilities (BBHHF) today announced four requests for applications for the expansion of behavioral health services across the state. The funding will support recommendations of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Substance Abuse (GACSA).

Proposals for funding are being accepted to expand services for peer coaching, intensive case management, substance use and school mental health.

“Our state is making progress thanks to the direction of Gov. Tomblin, a true champion in the fight against substance abuse and awareness of mental illness,” said DHHR Cabinet Secretary Karen L. Bowling. “This funding will further enable us to provide West Virginians of all ages with the support they need to be successful in their families and communities.”

The Bureau is accepting applications for peer recovery coaches, people who help remove personal and environmental obstacles to recovery and link newly recovering individuals to the recovering community. Recovery coaches also serve as navigators and mentor in the management of personal and family recovery. The available funding should not exceed $750,000. Proposals should be submitted by March 4, 2016.

The Bureau is also soliciting applications from licensed behavioral health agencies with direct children’s service experience to act as local coordinating agencies for the development and delivery of a high fidelity wraparound model with supporting services, for youth who meet eligibility criteria. The coordinating agencies and the care coordinators are expected to provide planning, coordination and facilitation of an individualized service plan. Applicants who demonstrate superior knowledge, proficiency and fiscal efficiency in the administration of a high fidelity wraparound approach will be eligible for the start-up funding. The available funding should not exceed $2,000,000. The application deadline is March 11, 2016.

Funding for substance use service development, including peer-operated recovery facility, peer-operated recovery home, short-term residential services, and residential services for pregnant and post-partum women, is also available. The available funding should not exceed $1,000,000. Eligible applicants, public or private organizations with a valid West Virginia Business License and/or units of local government, should apply by March 11, 2016.

BBHHF also is expanding behavioral health services to children and their families statewide through the Expanded School Mental Health (ESMH) model, which recognizes the critical link between social and emotional well-being and academic success. Funding for ESMH is limited to schools that do not currently have a Bureau ESMH implementation grant. The available funding should not exceed $1,300,000. The deadline to apply is March 18, 2016.

“With the team work of DHHR and GACSA, and BBHHF’s plan to expand our services, I have no doubt that we will continue to improve not only the behavioral health of our residents, but their overall quality of life,” said Bowling.

For details regarding each of these opportunities and instructions for application, visit H E R E .

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