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Justice Signs Higher Education Reform Bill

HB 2815 gives more flexibility to schools under the HEPC

The Free Press WV

Governor Jim Justice visited West Virginia University to sign House Bill 2815, legislation that will give greater freedom and flexibility to West Virginia University, including West Virginia University Potomac State College and West Virginia University Institute of Technology, Marshall University, and the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine.
The reform legislation will give more autonomy to these institutions and realign the role of the Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC). Justice was joined by WVU President Gordon Gee, Marshall University President Jerry Gilbert, and WVSOM President Dr. Michael Adelman for the bill signing. Gee, Gilbert, and Adelman voiced their strong support for the legislation. 

 “Our bigger schools need the freedom to continue to innovate and grow,” said Governor Jim Justice. “As the campuses evolve it’s clear that more decisions should be made by the boards of governors at WVU, Marshall, and the School of Osteopathic Medicine. This bill allows greater flexibility and allows HEPC to focus its efforts.”

The bill preserves the HEPC to serve its core function as a coordinating body and to oversee and undertake regional and statewide higher education policy initiatives for the public good. 

Gordon Gee, President of West Virginia University:

“We are very appreciative to the governor and the legislators for their leadership on this issue. This new governance structure will help us be nimble and innovative enough to overcome our state’s challenges, and we look forward to working together as we continue to do great things.”

Jerome A. Gilbert, President of Marshall University:  

“I applaud the governor for signing this bill. This is good legislation that will give Marshall University more opportunities to reward exemplary employee performance and productivity. It also will allow us to do strategic financial planning, and will let us spend more time on programs and services for our students and less on bureaucratic reporting requirements.

“We appreciate the legislature and Governor Justice’s support of this bill to support excellence in higher education in West Virginia.”

Michael Adelman, D.O., D.P.M., J.D., President of
WV School of Osteopathic Medicine

“I truly appreciate the work of the Governor and the legislature during this past legislative session to provide the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, West Virginia University and Marshall University with more autonomy as state institutions during the state’s difficult budget times. We are grateful for the leadership Governor Justice has taken with House Bill 2815 and the efficiency and flexibility this legislation gives to WVSOM as we continue to fulfill our mission by training well-educated osteopathic physicians to meet the health care needs of West Virginia.”

Gilmer County Circuit Court Report

The Free Press WV

Chief Judge Richard Facemire presided over a lengthy motion day in Gilmer County on Monday, April 24, 2017 working through lunch and completing a 3 page docket.

•  Two names changes were granted.

•  One fugitive from justice, namely Antoine Calabrese, waived extradition to return to the state of Virginia.

He was represented by Clinton Bischoff and authorities from Virginia have until 4 PM May 02, 2017 to pick him up or Central Regional Jail will release him.

•  Seven pleas were taken as follows:

•  Charles Pritt

He who was represented by Clinton Bischoff, pled to 1 count of child neglect resulting in injury.

The remaining counts of the indictment were dismissed by the prosecutor.

After the probation officer completes his presentence he will be sentenced May 22, 2017 at 9:20 AM.

•  Matthew Sandy

Accompanied by his attorney, Teresa Monk, entered a plea to 1 count of escape and all other counts of the indictment were likewise dismissed by Gerald B. Hough, prosecuting attorney.

He will be sentenced July 06, 2017 at 9:00 AM.

•  Danny Minigh

Alone with his attorney Brian Bailey, entered a no contest Kennedy plea to 1 count of sexual abuse in the first degree.

The other count of his indictment was dismissed and he will be sentenced in BRAXTON COUNTY on July 05, 2017 at 1:30 PM.

•  Richard Williams Jr.

With his attorney, Kevin Hughart, entered a conditional plea to 1 count of brandishing and 1 count of possession with intent to deliver.

His bond was modified to $10,000.00 surety and home confinement with his mother in MD.

Sentencing was deferred for 1 year while he is on home confinement.

•  Patty Reynolds

She pled to 2 misdemeanor counts after an information was filed against her and the previous felony indictment was dismissed.

Her attorney was Clinton Bischoff.

Shannon Johnson was the special prosecutor that prosecuted her case.

She will be sentenced May 22, 2017 at 9:30 AM.

•  Charles Balliett III

He was before the Court with his attorney, Hughart, and pled to conspiracy with the other count of his indictment being dismissed.

He will be sentenced May 18, 2017 at 10:00 AM in BRAXTON COUNTY.

•  Timothy Maxwell-Lanham

He saw 21 counts of his indictment dismissed and was allowed to plead to 1 count of incest.

He will also be sentenced in BRAXTON COUNTY on July 05, 2017 at 2:00 PM.

His attorney is Bryan Hinkle.

•  Central Regional Jail failed to bring William Reynolds so his plea hearing was rescheduled for May 22, 2017 at 9:40 AM.

He is represented by Brian Bailey with special prosecutor Shannon Johnson representing the state of WV.

•  Three juvenile matters were also before the Court.

•  One magistrate appeal was sent to mediation and a bench trial was set before the Judge for June 22, 2017 at 9:00 AM.

•  There will be a pretrial on August 08, 2017 at 9:00 AM in BRAXTON COUNTY in the case of John Zsigray vs. Cindy Langman.

The trial is set for August 15, 2017 at 9:00 AM.

•  A suppression hearing will be heard May 02, 2017 at 9:00 AM with the trial remaining on the docket for May 16, 2017 in the case of State of West Virginia vs. Charles Collins.

Collin is represented by attorney Joseph Spano.

•  Two trials were continued to the July term:

•  State of West Virginia vs. Coy Pritt Jr.

He is represented by Teresa Monk.

•  Tiffany Parmer (Mayo)

She is represented by Timothy Gentilozzi also had her bond reduced to $10,000.00 without home confinement.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Geoffrey Shaffer

He was before the Court for pretrial represented by Jonathan Fittro.

He is scheduled to enter a plea May 03, 2017, but later failed a urine screen and an order was entered for him to be jailed.

On Tuesday, April 18, 2017 Chief Judge Richard A. Facemire held Court in Glenville.

•  One juvenile hearing was held.

Four criminal matters were heard as follows:

•  David Curry

He appeared for further arraignment and filled out a new financial affidavit requesting an appointed attorney and Judge Facemire appointed Kevin Hughart to represent him.

He entered a not guilty plea and was released back on $5000.00 surety bond.

He will not have a pretrial but his trial is set for May 16, 2017 at 9:00 AM.

•  Joshua Bohn

He was before the Court for a multi county plea and due to it involving charges in Braxton County it was reset for April 27, 2017 at 1:30 PM in Braxton County.

Jeff Davis represents him in Gilmer County with Andrew Chattin representing him on the Braxton County charges.

•  Richard Williams Jr.

He will enter a plea on April 24, 2017 at 9:00 AM.

He is represented by Kevin Hughart of Sissonville.

•  Steven Gibson

He was before the Court for revocation of probation and Judge Facemire denied the revocation and readmitted him to probation.

His attorney was Bryan Hinkle.

On Thursday, April 20, 2017 Judge Jack Alsop heard several matters in Gilmer County.

•  One guardian petition was granted.

•  Three juvenile matters were heard.

Gilmer County Family Court Report

The Free Press WV

On Wednesday, April 19, 2017 Family Court Judge Steve Jones:

•  Continued one divorce case.

•  Entered an order to pay publication costs in another divorce.

•  Granted a divorce wherein Michelle Goodrich (49) of Glenville, WV divorced Robert B. Goodrich (38) of Grafton, Ohio.

Give Local MOV Fast Approaching

The Free Press WV

With $150,000+ in matching funds and prizes available to distribute, the PACF’s Give Local MOV campaign aims to raise at least $300,000 for 42 local nonprofits!  On Tuesday, May 02nd from 12:00am - 11:59pm, you can multiply the impact of your gift to your favorite nonprofits working right here in in the Little Kanawha Area!   Your donations on May 2nd through enable your favorite nonprofits to earn significant matching funds and cash prizes. 

Give Local MOV is powered by the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation & Regional Affiliates (PACF) which provides the secure online giving platform, underwrites campaign costs, and provides education for its nonprofit partners.  Many generous community supporters are supplying the critical matching funds that encourage giving.  In addition to the matching funds, hourly cash prizes sponsored by various local businesses reward nonprofits whose supporters contribute throughout the day.  

Participating nonprofits are initially assigned a share of the matching funds, then, donors who contribute online will have their gifts matched 1:1 up to the allotted share.  Should any organizations not claim their full allocation of matching funds after the 24 hours, the PACF then proportionately allocates the remaining funds among nonprofits that exceeded their initial share.  Our region’s nonprofits address many important issues that affect our community; this is a once-a-year opportunity to help them in a big way!

Participating from Little Kanawha Area:

  • Minnie Hamilton Health Care Center, Inc.:  Minnie Hamilton Health Care Center, Inc. is dedicated to improving the health quality of life of all people in their service area through an innovative delivery system of services and education.
  • Gilmer County Community Grantmaking Fund:  The PACF’s The Little Kanawha Area Community Foundation affiliate created the Gilmer County Community Grantmaking Fund to support the charitable needs of Gilmer County.  Grants from the fund are awarded through the PACF’s Community Action Grants Program.
  • Little Kanawha Area Grantmaking Fund:  Formed by the Foundation’s Little Kanawha Area Community Foundation regional affiliate Advisory Board, this fund provides grant making resources to Calhoun and Wirt counties.  Grants from the fund are awarded through the PACF’s Community Action Grants Program.

Visit today to see the full list of sponsors and learn more about all the participating nonprofits.   Then, return to the website on Tuesday, May 02nd to make your online donation.  For more details, contact PACF’s Development and Communications Officer, Julie Boyce at 304.428.4438.

About Parkersburg Area Community Foundation and Regional Affiliates:

The Parkersburg Area Community Foundation and Regional Affiliates (PACF) works with individuals, families, businesses, and civic or non-profit organizations to make a positive and permanent commitment for the future of our community.  PACF is a single 501(c)(3) public charity that manages more than 350 charitable funds with nearly $34 million in assets.  PACF works in partnership with its local affiliates to provide leadership and develop philanthropic resources to meet the needs of an 11-county service area.  Since 1963, PACF has helped local citizens support charitable needs and touch every aspect of life in the community in a variety of lasting ways.  For more information about PACF, visit or call 304.428.4438.

Social Worker, Katrina Survivor: “West Virginia Chose Me”

The Free Press WV

Social worker Jennifer Wells says West Virginia chose her after Hurricane Katrina drove her out of her old home. And now her profession inspires her to make her new home a better place.

Wells is one of four young women delivering the keynote at the National Association of Social Workers West Virginia spring conference this week in Charleston. The theme will be “West Virginia Chose Me.”

The Free Press WV
Social worker Jennifer Wells says West Virginia was a caring refuge, just when she needed one.

She said in her case, it happened when she was a refugee from Hurricane Katrina brought to the state with her family in 2005 by a National Guard plane.

“West Virginia was just a welcome arm that opened up for us,” Wells said. “And the decision after about four weeks became very easy that, in order to keep our sanity, staying here in West Virginia was the best choice.“

She said the first help they got was, “from the hand of a social worker” - folks who see something wrong and just naturally try to fix it. She said she hopes the keynote presentation will help others in the audience see the value of the help and community organization that social workers provide.

Wells said social work leads to activism, because they see problems firsthand as a web of interconnected issues that can only really be addressed by broad-based policies.

“Make it easier for somebody to find a home. Make it easier for somebody to find a treatment bed. Make it easier for a child to get into college and stay in college,” Wells said; “not doing the work for them, but helping them build themselves up so they can speak for exactly what they need.“

Wells is now working as a community organizer for the Our Children, Our Future Campaign - part of the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition. She said in many ways, that role is a natural outgrowth of the kindness she saw when she first arrived in Cabell County after leaving New Orleans.

Wells said social workers made it possible for her to be in college almost immediately.

“My brother and I entered Marshall a couple of weeks after we got here,” she said. “The Huntington community completely enveloped my family and I, and even offered help before we quite knew what we needed.“

The NASW West Virginia Spring Conference is the largest event of its kind in the country.

In West Virginia….

The Free Press WV

►  DHHR Announces Closure of Emergency Energy Assistance Program for Low Income Residents

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) today announced applications for the Emergency Low Income Emergency Assistance Program (LIEAP) will no longer be accepted after Friday, April 28, 2017 at 5:00 p.m.

Emergency LIEAP assists eligible state residents who have a termination notice in paying their home heating bills.  Eligibility is based on income, household size, whether or not the household is responsible for paying its home heating bill, and if a home heating emergency exists.  Income must be at, or below, 135 percent of the federal poverty guideline for the household size.  This program requires a face-to-face interview with a DHHR worker and clients must provide a copy of their termination notice with the application.

LIEAP clients may contact their local office with questions.  A list of local offices may be found HERE .

For more information on this program, visit HERE .

►  We Love West Virginia’s Volunteers!

National Volunteer Week is a time to celebrate the impact of volunteer service on our communities. Share your passion this week by participating in the  #IVolunteer Campaign

During National Volunteer Week,  download and fill out the #ivolunteer signboard , take a photo holding the sign, and share on Facebook or Twitter using  #IVolunteer

Join in on the fun, Volunteer West Virginia will be sharing our favorite photos on our social media! 

For more information click the following link:  National Volunteer Week

Contact Information:  Phone: 304.558.0111 | Toll Free: 800.WVHELPS

►  Work to Start to Replace Flooded-Out Elkview Bridge

Construction is expected to start this week on a replacement for a flooded-out bridge leading to a mall in Elkview, West Virginia.

The Kanawha County Commission says in a news release Tuesday that construction on the culvert bridge at the Crossings Mall is expected to begin Thursday and should be completed in about two months.

Tara Retail Group owns the mall and is headed by developer Bill Abruzzino, who filed for bankruptcy in January. A federal bankruptcy judge this month approved a financing plan for the new bridge.

The mall has been closed since floodwaters knocked out the bridge last June. Dozens of businesses have closed and more than 500 people are out of work. The floods killed 23 people statewide.

►  WV eighth graders compete in History Bowl championship

Nearly 100 students from across West Virginia have studied for months in hopes of becoming the state’s grand prize winner of the 2017 History Bowl Championship.

The competition got underway Tuesday morning at the state Culture Center in Charleston.

Two dozen teams from 15 schools in 14 counties were in town to answer nearly 2,000 questions prepared by the state Division of Culture and History’s Archives staff.

“Culture, history, politics, current events, climate — it’s anything having to do with West Virginia,” said Matthew McGrew, coordinator of the History Bowl.

The tournament includes lightening rounds resulting in a double-elimination.

“We start out with eight rooms going simultaneously and we slower widdle it down until there’s just one left standing,” McGrew said.

Eighth grade students are required to take a West Virginia history course in school. McGrew said it’s important to learn about state history.

“You get to see how you fit into that larger, broader context of world and national history. You get to learn how Nitro was founded during World War I to support our troops there. You see how it all ties into the larger picture,” he said.

Eighth graders in public, private and home-school education programs were eligible to participate in the competition.

The winning team will be announced Tuesday afternoon.

Competitors include the following teams:

Cameron High School Team 1 (Cameron, Marshall County, Region 6)

Cameron High School Team 2 (Cameron, Marshall County, Region 6)

East Hardy Early/Middle School (Baker, Hardy County, Region 8)

Jackson Middle School Team 1 (Vienna, Wood County, Region 5)

Jackson Middle School Team 2 (Vienna, Wood County, Region 5)

Keyser Middle School (Keyser, Mineral County, Region 8)

Madison Middle School Team 1 (Madison, Boone County, Region 3)

Madison Middle School Team 2 (Madison, Boone County, Region 3)

Mountain View Elementary/ Middle School Team 1 (Union, Monroe County, Region 1)

Mountain View Elementary/Middle School Team 2 (Union, Monroe County, Region 1)

Pendleton County Middle/High School (Franklin, Pendleton County, Region 8)

Peterstown Middle School Team 1 (Peterstown, Monroe County, Region 1)

Peterstown Middle School Team 2 (Peterstown, Monroe County, Region 1)

Shady Spring Middle School Team 1 (Shady Spring, Raleigh County, Region 1)

Shady Spring Middle School Team 2 (Shady Spring, Raleigh County, Region 1)

Sissonville Middle School (Charleston, Kanawha County, Region 3)

South Middle School Team 1 (Morgantown, Monongalia County, Region 7)

South Middle School Team 2 (Morgantown, Monongalia County, Region 7)

Summers Middle School (Hinton, Summers County, Region 1)

Summersville Middle School Team 1 (Summersville, Nicholas County, Region 4)

Summersville Middle School Team 2 (Summersville, Nicholas County, Region 4)

St. Joseph Parish School (Martinsburg, Berkeley County, Region 8)

Wayne Middle School Team 1 (Wayne, Wayne County, Region 2)

Wayne Middle School Team 2 (Wayne, Wayne County, Region 2)

~~  Carrie Hodousek ~~

►  Justice, Legislative Leaders Still Divided on Budget

Nearly two weeks after West Virginia’s Democratic governor vetoed the state budget approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature, negotiations have yet to resolve disagreements on tax changes and spending cuts.

However, Governor Jim Justice says he’ll call legislators back to a special budget session “soon.“

On Tuesday, he didn’t say exactly when that will be but said that he hopes the framework of a tentative agreement reached earlier with the Senate leadership will still hold.

That would limit funding cuts and lower the state income tax while raising the sales tax to close a projected deficit.

Senate President Mitch Carmichael, in active talks this week with the governor, says that would be a tax cut for all working West Virginians.

House Speaker Tim Armstead says his Republican majority still strongly opposes the framework’s tax increases.

►  Jobless Rates Drop in 54 of 55 West Virginia Counties

Unemployment rates dropped in 54 of West Virginia’s 55 counties in March.

WorkForce West Virginia says the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose last month in Monroe County.

Jefferson County’s 3.1 percent unemployment rate was the lowest in the state, followed by Berkeley County at 3.7 percent and Monongalia County at 3.8 percent.

Calhoun County had the highest unemployment rate at 12.7 percent.

Roane County was next at 10.1 percent and Clay County was at 9.8 percent.

Statewide, the unemployment rate fell three-tenths of a percentage point to 4.9 percent in March.

That’s the lowest level since November 2008.

►  Mine Owned by Justice Cited for Safety Violations

Authorities have cited a West Virginia mining operation owned by Governor Jim Justice for six safety violations following a workers’ fatal fall in February.

The West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training says 43-year-old Jason Kenneth Matthews of Bluefield, Virginia, fell from a ladder while attempting repairs inside the McDowell County coal preparation plant.

State inspectors issued notices citing failures to provide training records for Matthews and another miner and within 24 hours all accident details, plus failures to ensure employees wear safety harnesses, that all ladders are properly secured and that repairs aren’t performed with equipment running.

A company official says conveyor belts needed to be moving to do the repair and Matthews didn’t use a fall-protection harness as he was trained.

Roush Selected as GSC Pioneer Mascot for a Second Time

Matthew Roush, a junior from Beverly, Ohio, has been named the Glenville State College Pioneer Mascot for the 2017-2018 school year. Roush also severed as the Pioneer Mascot for the 2015-2016 school year making him the only person in GSC history to have served two nonconsecutive terms as the Pioneer Mascot.

“What I’m looking forward to the most is helping lead the Pioneers to victory in all sports, and help with school spirit by energizing Pioneer Nation,” said Roush. “I was more nervous during the selection process this time because there was more competition. I made sure that I came in with high energy and the right attitude to embrace the school spirit,” he continued.

The Free Press WV
2017-18 GSC Pioneer Matt Roush

The land surveying major is a member of the Men’s Cross Country and Track & Field teams at GSC and a Hidden Promise Scholar Mentor. He says that he hopes to add more school spirit around campus and get students involved in events all around campus. He is the son of Robert and Carrie Roush.

“I’m very excited for Matt to represent Glenville State College as the Pioneer for the 2017-2018 year! His excitement and enthusiasm are overwhelming, and I believe he will bring an infectious Pioneer spirit to the campus,” said Director of Student Activities Jodi Walters.

As the GSC Pioneer, Roush will attend GSC football and basketball games, tournaments, and other school events. The Pioneer is charged with working with GSC students, faculty, and staff to positively promote and support the college. The official uniform of the GSC Pioneer mascot is a set of buckskins, a coonskin hat, and a musket. The Glenville State College Pioneer Mascot first began rousing the spirit of the student body during the 1933-34 school year. It has been an ongoing tradition for over 80 years.


The Free Press WV

There has been considerable angst in the County because of proposed riffs and transfers of school system employees by the Superintendent and Personnel Director.

It is understood that ten employees were on a riff list and ten were slated for transfers.

At a special meeting at 4:00 PM, Monday evening, April 24, 2017, the Gilmer County Board Of Education refused to approve any riffs and transfers, and jobs believed to have been lost were restored.

Members of the school board made it evident that with full authority restored they will watch out for the County’s children and school system employees too.

Thank you GCBOE members.

You gave a highly-needed morale boost to employees after all we have suffered through during the long years of the State’s intervention.

It is a proven fact that high morale is one of the most important ingredients for having high performance schools, and that is what the County’s children deserve.

Employees at all levels will continue to look to the GCBOE to set exemplary leadership standards as demonstrated at the special meeting.

With all of us working together as a dedicated team, from the GCBOE on down, Gilmer County can be a trend setter to have one of the best school systems in WV.

~~  An Observer in the Meeting (Identity on File)  ~~

EducationNewsWest VirginiaRegionGilmer CountyGlenvilleOpinions | Commentary | G-LtE™ | G-Comm™ | G-OpEd™(5) Comments

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~~~ Readers' Comments ~~~

I like to thank all the board members for keeping our job. I could not believe that Mr. DeVano had the guts to get the teachers in a circle telling us that he had saved our positions.

By Thankful  on  04.25.2017

He must think the people are dumb. HE was the one recommending the riffs and transfers.

By Jimmy D.  on  04.25.2017

A game changer is about to happen.  New blood as Superintendent, backed by our elected board members, who are our friends and neighbors, and have the best interest of students, staff, and community in their heart.

Yes, our elected board members will correct six years of intervention.  They will need some time to access and repair issues, but they will do their job.

Many of us have faith that issues like this will be dealt with in a fair and professional manner.

By 67 days = no Devano  on  04.25.2017

All I can say their hidden agenda did not work. Now he has to answer the ones they were catering to.

By Ed Watcher  on  04.25.2017

Gabe Devono was ready to stab the employees on his personally hand picked RIFF and transfer list in the back. That was all too clear. 
Then when he gets in a Board meeting and sees he won’t get his way he flips.  Trying to tell the ones he was fine with hurting that he was really on their side all along. Who on earth would be fool enough to fall for that?
The Devono script has always read he’ll do what he pleases when he pleases and if you don’t agree with him you don’t matter to him.
This time, it didn’t happen. Thank heaven Charleston BOE had the good sense to give back control.  Professionals and Service personnel alike have reason to feel their hard work is appreciated.

By Come On June 30  on  04.25.2017

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Secretary Warner Announces the Elimination of More than 47,000 Outdated Voter Files

1,170 Ineligible Felons Among Group Removed from Voter List

The Free Press WV

Secretary of State Mac Warner announced today that working with county clerks in all 55 counties they have now removed more than 47,000 outdated or ineligible voter files from the state’s voter registration system.

“In just 93 days, we’ve proven that we can make great strides in cleaning up our voter files when we work together with our county clerks. We still have a lot of work to do and I’m confident that we’ll get the job done,” Warner said.

Since taking office, Warner has encouraged his Elections Division staff to explore reliable and accurate ways to eliminate outdated files from the county voter rolls. One such strategy is working with the state Division of Corrections (DOC) to eliminate convicted felons who are ineligible to be registered vote while incarcerated. Over the last three weeks, county clerks have eliminated 1,170 felons from voter files.

Warner said the list of felons was long for the first round of eliminations. Moving forward, county clerks will receive a monthly report from the DOC delivered in the Statewide Voter Registration System where the list is convenient to manage by the clerk and their staff. Future lists should be smaller, and may have just two or three names per county per month.

“Once we start, it’s much easier to stay on top of the list and to keep every county voter file up-to-date. That’s one of the best ways to instill confidence into our elections,” Warner continued.

Other strategies include using previously unavailable data comparisons of voters in-state as well as out-of-state to eliminating those who are deceased, have duplicate registrations due to name variations, or those who are filed in more than one county.

“Being mistakenly registered in more than one county is not illegal. The additional registrations are problematic because they create the opportunity for voting errors and unnecessarily clutters the rolls. Voting in more than one county is illegal,” Warner said.

The next step for the Secretary of State’s Office will be to do a national review of deceased voters whose death records have not have been accessible to county clerks with prior technology. The Office has a long term goal to work with other states to eliminate duplicate registrations. People who used to live and were registered in West Virginia but moved to other states without notifying their county clerk to cancel their registrations could number in the tens of thousands.

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~~~ Readers' Comments ~~~

Have to wonder what the defeated Natalie Tennant was doing during all her years in office?  Or wasn’t doing….. maybe?

By West  on  04.25.2017

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Pallottine Foundation of Buckhannon, West Virginia

The Free Press WV

The Pallottine Foundation of Buckhannon, West Virginia congratulates its grant awardees for the 2016 – 2017 grant cycle.  In its initial grant cycle, the Foundation selected twelve organizations to help continue their dedicated work serving the healthcare needs of their communities in Barbour, Lewis, Randolph, Upshur, and Webster counties.

“The Pallottine Foundation of Buckhannon sought partnerships with non-profit organizations with the potential to inspire healthier choices for the communities of Barbour, Lewis, Randolph, Upshur, and Webster counties,” stated Executive Director, Janell E. Ray. “We are excited to be partners with these outstanding organizations serving the health needs of the community”.

• Central West Virginia Center for Pregnancy Care
• Catholic Charities West Virginia
• Heathy Bodies Healthy Spirits
• Webster County Family Resource Network
• Try This West Virginia
• Randolph County Child Advocacy Center
• Marshall University Research Corporation
• Mountain CAP of WV Child Advocacy Center
• Upshur County Family Resource Network
• Committee for Aging for Randolph County
• Highland Community Builders
• Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council
• West Virginia VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster)

The Pallottine Foundation of Buckhannon, WV provides grant funding for qualified 501(c)(3) organizations in Barbour, Lewis, Randolph, Upshur and Webster counties in West Virginia that serve healthcare and healthcare related needs of the community. Learn more about the Foundation.

In West Virginia….

The Free Press WV

►  Task force reopens 1981 murder of Beckley teacher

A 35-year-old murder in Beckley will be one of the first focuses of Crime Stoppers of West Virginia’s new cold case task force.

As part of the new initiative, Beckley Police are seeking information about the 1981 murder of 27-year-old teacher Cynthia Miller.

Register-Herald archives show that on August 26, 1981, Miller was preparing for her wedding the next morning at her home. When her fiance, ex-police officer Gary O’Neal, couldn’t reach her by phone, he went to her home to check on her. O’Neal found Miller shot to death on her living room floor.

Information can be submitted by calling 304.255.STOP (7867).

Crime Stoppers announced the cold case task force last week. The initiative offers up to $10,000 to solve decades-old unsolved cases.

►  College presidents sign pact to address alcohol, drug abuse

The presidents of most West Virginia colleges and universities have signed a pact to address alcohol and drug abuse on their respective campuses.

At a conference Monday at West Virginia University, the pact was ceremonially signed.

It commits public and private college presidents to work at preventing alcohol and drug misuse and promote recovery support as priorities of student life and campus health.

The pact says drinking and drug abuse “is responsible for many of the most serious academic, personal safety and legal problems our students face.“

So far 21 of 29 college presidents have signed.

Identifying at-risk behaviors and trauma in sexual assault cases are among the topics at the conference attended by 200 higher education professionals, local and state policymakers, state agency employees and mental health practitioners.

►  Local businessman offers reward for evidence of stolen, defaced campaign signs

A Morgantown businessman has offered a cash reward for evidence leading to the successful arrest and conviction of anyone stealing or defacing campaign signs for the current Morgantown city council election.

George Papandreas has offered a $10,000 cash reward to anyone with evidence of such theft or vandalism of candidates signs.

The majority of the signs that have been stolen or vandalized belong to Bane, Callen, Bonner, Nugent and Redmond.

►  Public comment period begins Tuesday in closure of 14 Fayette County schools

Permanent school closure hearings have a tendency to get heated from time to time–a fact that Fayette County School Superintendent Terry George recognizes.

“The emotions can run over and spill over,” George said. “Any time that you are talking about taking a school out of a community or moving students to a new community to attend school, emotions sometimes get a little heated,”

George said that statement is particularly true when it comes to closing a high school, and Fayette County has plans to close five high schools by 2019.

“There’s always that potential for that community to be extremely upset because they are no longer going to have a high school in that community,” he said. “Those are the ones that tend to get a little frustrated–when you move a high school out.”

That statement will likely apply directly to the hearing on May 2 to accept public comment on the closure of Meadow Bridge High School. When the dust settles, only two high schools will remain in Fayette County. In total, the Fayette County Board of Education will hear public comment on the closure of 14 schools through May 16.

These can be meetings that run long when emotions run high. Any meeting that doesn’t conclude by 11 p.m. must be suspended and resumed the following day. George said the board has scheduled two meetings on the same day every other day for the next four weeks to prepare for that possibility. The first meeting at Midland Trail High School is scheduled for Tuesday, April 25 at 4:30 p.m.

“Whatever time that meeting would end at Midland Trail High School, there has to be an hour in between the closure of that hearing and the opening of the Ansted Middle hearing,” he said.

In theory, the next meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. George expects Ansted Middle School to draw particular interest on Tuesday.

“That will move that school and that will effectively take the current Ansted Middle School off-line,” he said. “We are currently running individual room heaters there because of the heating system that failed there several years ago.”

Construction on the replacement for Ansted Middle School is expected to begin in 30 days. George said bids are set to be accepted on the earliest construction projects Tuesday afternoon.

The following is the schedule of public hearings. At this time, each school hearing will be held at the school in question unless otherwise noted.

Midland Trail High School, 4:30 p.m., April 25.

Ansted Middle School, 6:30 p.m., April 25.

Valley Elementary School, 4:30 p.m., April 27.

Valley High School, 6:30 p.m., April 27.

Meadow Bridge Elementary School, 4:30 p.m., May 02.

Meadow Bridge High School, 6:30 p.m., May 02.

Oak Hill High School, 4:30 p.m., May 04.

Fayetteville High School, 6:30 p.m. May 04.

Fayetteville Elementary School, 4:30 p.m., May 08.

Gatewood Elementary School, 6:30 p.m., May 08.

Collins Middle School, 4:30 p.m., May 10, to be held at Oak Hill High School.

Mount Hope Elementary School, 6:30 p.m., May 10.

Rosedale Elementary School, 4:30 p.m.. May 16.

* New River Elementary School, 6:30 p.m. May 16.

G-FYI™: Reminder from State Superintendent to Schools Boards and Superintendents

The Free Press WV

Dear West Virginia County Board Members, Superintendents and Chief School Business Officials, As county boards of education work on their budgets for the upcoming school year, I wanted to take this opportunity to stress the importance of making sound financial decisions on behalf of the county boards of education that you represent. During these times of decreasing student enrollment and declining revenue, it is very important that county boards of education make the necessary adjustments to their budgets in order to keep the school system financially solvent. 

The West Virginia Department of Education has historically recommended that every county board of education have a general current expense unrestricted fund balance of at least three to five percent of the county’s approved budget.  The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA)  recommends a carryover balance of two months of operating revenues or expenditures which equates to a 16.67% carryover balance.    As of June 30,  2016, only 10 county boards of education in West Virginia met the national recommended carryover percentage.  Without sufficient carryover reserves, county boards of education would be unable to react in the event of an emergency. 

As student enrollment declines, county boards of education are funded for fewer positions through the state aid funding formula.  It is important that county boards of education monitor their staffing levels to ensure that they are in line with available resources and funding sources.   On average,  personnel related costs comprise approximately 80% of a county’s overall budget.  County boards of education that do not adjust their staffing levels can therefore quickly find themselves in financial distress, as there are very few non-personnel cuts that can be made to absorb declines in revenue.  I recognize that eliminating positions is very difficult, as it is never easy to make decisions that will negatively impact the lives of our valued employees.  Unfortunately,  in our current financial climate,  making such difficult decisions has become a necessity for most county boards of education. 

As State Superintendent of Schools,  I am charged under West Virginia Code §18-9B-7 and §18-9B-8 to review the budgets of county boards of education to ensure that they will maintain the educational program of the county as well as meet the county’s financial obligations.  If a budget does not meet the criteria set forth in statute, I have the authority to direct the county board to make certain adjustments to the budget.    While I take this charge very seriously,  it is my hope that all local county boards of education make these difficult decisions on their own.

Please be reminded that West Virginia Code §11-8-26 indicates that county boards of education should not expend funds in excess of those available. As you have been taught by the West Virginia School Board Association, under West Virginia Code §11-8-29, county board members can be held personally liable for the amount illegally expended and under §11-8-31, county board members can even be held criminally liable for such overspending. While it is rare that these statutory provisions are utilized, the potential consequences for overspending are significant and not to be taken lightly.

My staff in the Office of School Finance stands ready to assist all county boards of education with financial questions.  That office already maintains a Financial Watch List where monthly budget to actual analysis is performed for 13 county boards of education that have been identified as being financially at-risk.  However, just because a county may not currently be on the Financial Watch List does not mean that a county shouldn’t be closely monitoring their own finances and making the necessary adjustments to their spending. If you have financial questions regarding your county board of education,  please do not hesitate to contact Amy Willard,  Executive Director of School Finance at 304.558.6300 or at

Thank you for your commitment to ensuring the financial stability of your county board of education in order to best serve the students of West Virginia.

Steven L Paine, Ed. D.
State Superintendent of Schools

EducationFeaturesG-FYI™NewsWest Virginia(3) Comments

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~~~ Readers' Comments ~~~

It is about time that Charleston came out with clear language about seriousness of school boards and individuals on them being legally liable for overspending.

Nothing like it went to the public during intervention while the GCBOE was stripped of all its power.

No wonder now why all along some GCBOE members have asked probing questions about finances and they were not answered. More power to those conscientious individuals who tried hard to do their jobs and we support them 100%.

There must be a full accounting of every dollar spent during intervention with no local oversight and no accountability at all for State-appointed superintendents.

We need a complete accounting of spending for the Linn school, the loss of public money at the top of the hill on Arbuckle property, spending at Cedar Creek, unplanned spending at the GCES, the BOE office move to the Minnie Hamilton building, the scandal from the new GCES being built too small, and much more. Citizens have tracked the waste and mismanagement for years and we are outraged. 

Unless a full accounting is done for public disclosure another excess levy will never pass in the County although we understand that there will be a major reset on July 1.

Thank you GFP for getting Paine’s letter out to Gilmer County.

By GCBOE Observer  on  04.24.2017

Now it is clear why some board members always probed for answers and their questions were ignored. The members were simply trying to do their jobs. 

During intervention while the board was stripped of power it is understood that if overspending occurred individual members could still have been sued.

What a travesty!!!!

By Cannot Wait Until July 1  on  04.24.2017

For SIX years we have heard from our local board members, watched videos request for financial information, only to be STONEWALLED by the West Virginia State Board of Education.

Now this gent wants to tell us how important finance is?  We are well aware, the WVBOE provided little to no oversight of *anything* that happened under their 6 year run with lack of leadership.

Over built school in Lewis County.  Wasted funds in Gilmer County.  Undersized school in Gilmer.

WVBOE.  All politics.  No common sense.  Crummy leadership.

By INEPT WVBOE  on  04.24.2017

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G-OpEd™: Legislature & Secretary of State

Legislature Addresses Elections, Business Filings and Efficiencies for Secretary of State’s Office
The Free Press WV

The day I took office we began meeting with legislators to swiftly draft proposed bills to deal with the difficulties encountered in this office. I asked our employees to tell me the problems they confront on a daily basis while doing their work for the companies and voters we serve. We reached out to county clerks and business leaders to find solutions to issues they face.

I was astonished by the input we received and the coalitions we ultimately formed to work toward common goals. During the legislative session, we closely monitored and participated in the progress of legislation shaping our state. I would like to specifically highlight key legislation passed to assist in streamlining the office and eliminating waste of taxpayer’s money:

Cutting the red tape for businesses:

The Legislature required the Secretary of State to create a “One-Stop” call center, website and tax collection mechanism for businesses of the state. I am very encouraged to move this project forward.

The Legislature has allowed our office to create uniformity in the fees charged to corporations and limited liability companies. It also enables our office to provide a fee for expedited services rendered through “One-Stop.“ These voluntary fees for expedited services are currently in place in 31 states, and will allow us to move at the speed of business.

Increasing transparency and eliminating waste:

In the first days of taking office, our Business and Licensing experts presented to me a burdensome procedure for repackaging and re-mailing undeliverable Service of Process filings to circuit courts, which resulted in our office spending around $27,000 in added costs to taxpayers. We developed a change in code streamlining the inefficient process.

House Bill 2767 was drafted by our office, introduced by lead sponsor Delegate John O’Neal, and passed the House of Delegates 98-0 and the Senate 34-0 to eliminate this inefficient process. In discussions with parties involved in the June 2017 flood recovery, our office was made aware of issues of sole proprietors operating under “fictitious names” that do not get registered in a searchable public location. This created problems for flood victims that were looking for reliable help in a hurry, but could not verify a business name.

In conjunction with the county Clerks Association, we drafted legislation that would have all sole proprietors file in the Secretary of State’s Office and we would create a uniform database to search all registered sole proprietors in West Virginia. State Senator Craig Blair took the lead on the bill and it passed 34-0 in the Senate and 96-0 in the House of Delegates.

Elections updates:

  • For elections held past the beginning of July in 2017, the electioneering prohibition near a polling location will exist for election day voting locations and now also for early voting locations;
  • Legislators now have additional disclosure requirements on fundraising activities during legislative session;
  • Judicial races will be placed on the ballot along with their respective districts of state and county elections

We accomplished a great deal of work in a 60-day session. Of course, there is much to be done in perfecting a fair elections process, to do the work of our state and to grow our economy by lifting the bureaucracies from business. I am looking forward to taking on these tasks to move West Virginia forward.

Mac Warner
WV Secretary of State

In West Virginia….

The Free Press WV

►  Appalachian Power Looking to Renewable Energy

New Appalachian Power Company President Chris Beam says the utility doesn’t plan to build coal plants anytime soon and that electricity from renewable energy sources is what potential business customers want.

Beam says Appalachian Power still relies on large coal-fired plants. But he says the company is working on plans to add to its wind-generation capacity in southern West Virginia.

Beam is a Wheeling native who understands the role of coal in West Virginia’s economy and culture. But he says historic changes in the electric power industry are occurring nationwide.

Beam took over as president of Charleston-based Appalachian Power in early January. The company serves about 1 million customers in southern West Virginia, Tennessee and Virginia.

►  Coal Mining Benefits Could Expire at End of April

Lawmakers from coal-mining states are pushing to extend health benefits for more than 22,000 retired miners and widows whose medical coverage is set to expire at the end of April. Last December, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and other coal-state Democrats won a four-month extension that preserves benefits through April 30. With lawmakers returning to the Capitol following a two-week recess, Manchin says the time for extensions is over and that more than a partial fix is needed.

►  Murray has high hopes for coal severance tax schedule

One of the top coal producers in America says despite improvement, the overseas coal market is not as lucrative as it would seem. Bob Murray was in Charleston last week when Governor Jim Justice vetoed the budget and talked about the potential for exporting his company’s coal.

“Right now in our case we export about 15 percent of our production,” said Murray. “It’s a limited market and it’s not great. It’s not a panacea for the loss of all of these coal fired power plants.”

Donald Trump in a recent meeting with Chinese Xi Jingping discussed the use of U.S. coal in China. Reports indicate China’s government rejected importing coal from North Korea and announced plans to expand its U.S. import.

The news didn’t excite Murray nearly as much as the recent action by Trump to derail the Clean Power Plan.

“His killing of the Clean Power Plan has already saved 25,000 coal mining jobs in the United State,” said Murray. “Before Obama, 52 percent of our electricity came from coal. Today it’s 30 percent and if that Clean Power Plan stood it would have gone to 18 percent and would have raised the electricity rates of everybody in America by 30 percent.”

Murray’s company challenged the Clean Power Plan in court and was backed by a number of coal producing state attorneys general in the court fight. Murray remains hopeful Trump can attract more manufacturing to the United States to increase the demand for low cost electricity, something he says will also improve the market for coal.

The cost of producing West Virginia coal is what brought Murray to Charleston last week. He says in two meetings with Governor Jim Justice he and other coal producers were able to work out a schedule on coal severance tax rates which will make West Virginia coal more competitive with surrounding states and the natural gas industry.

“The state was losing coal business to coal from other states, but principally to natural gas,” said Murray. “We needed this relief, the governor saw that and he cares about the miners. We worked out a schedule which I’m sure he’ll announce when he’s ready.”

Coal is 4-cents per kilowatt hour according to Murray, windmills and solar panels are 26 cents a kilowatt hour and they get 4-cents a kilowatt hour from the taxpayers.

“Natural gas has historically been 15 percent,” Murray said. “Right now it competes head on with coal in northern West Virginia. That’s why we needed relief.”

The Justice Administration didn’t reveal the exact makeup of the coal severance tax agreement worked out with coal producers. The governor has described the idea as a plan to tie the rate of coal severance taxes to the price of coal. His idea is for coal operators to pay the highest rates for severance when times or good, but scale back the tax rate during lean times.

So far there has been no legislation to specifically address the coal severance tax, but it’s believed to be part of the Justice Administration’s overall budget plan for West Virginia, which is so far unsettled for the coming fiscal year.

►  Doddridge County Park improvement bids opened

More than a half dozen bids were submitted for a trio of Doddridge County Park upgrades Thursday.

The 11 companies that attended a pre-bid conference, eight submitted official bids by 2 p.m. Bids were submitted to Thrasher Engineering.

Companies sought to win a bid to widen the road, upgrade the parking lot and make drainage and culvert replacements.

The Free Press WV

While still up for verification and review, Wolfe’s Excavating of Bridgeport was the apparent low bidder, with an estimate close to $190,000. Cottrill said all bidders were from North Central West Virginia.

Park officials are prepared to contribute about $200,000.

But those improvements are only the first three of five possible improvements to the park. Officials also hope to create a new parking lot and pave an existing gravel lot, but there are no plans yet to prepare for that bidding cycle.

The hope is for the selected bidder will begin as soon as available, with hopes the project can be completed before Memorial Day weekend.

The renovations will not disrupt operations to the park along Snowbird Road, Cottrill said, but he said officials will coordinate with construction workers to make park visitors aware of the ongoing work.

At no point it is anticipated for traffic being disrupted.

►  West Virginia Business College’s permit to operate revoked

Citing West Virginia Business College’s failure to gain accreditation for the 2017-18 school year and its inability to offer its students financial aid, the West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education on Thursday revoked the college’s permit to operate in West Virginia, effective June 30.

West Virginia Business College has 20 days to appeal the council’s decision. Multiple messages left for John Tarr, the business college’s president, and Julie Magers, campus director in Wheeling, were not immediately returned Thursday.

The immediate impact, outside of the potential shutdown of the school, is that those set to graduate this spring may not be able to receive a diploma, as West Virginia Business College loses its accreditation April 30. Sarah Tucker, chancellor of the Council for Community and Technical Colleges, said the final decision on that matter would be up to the U.S. Department of Education.

“Historically, the federal government has said diplomas are only recognized from accredited institutions,” she said. “We have a phone call in to the department of education, and we are trying to set up a call for next week on this matter. Ultimately, it’s a federal decision.”

The business college, which has operations at 1052 Main St. in downtown Wheeling and Nutter Fort, WV, just south of Clarksburg, had its accreditation pulled late last year by the Accrediting Council on Independent Colleges and Schools. A letter from the Washington, D.C.-based council dated December 22 listed 29 findings by the governing body that led to its decision not to renew the business college’s accreditation, which will formally expire April 30.

Among those findings were concerns with faculty credentials, learning resources, financial aid processes and transparency with students concerning their financial aid and student loans.

The business college had sought more time to dispute the accrediting council’s findings, but an April 7 hearing by the Accrediting Council on Independent Colleges and Schools “found no credible basis upon which to summon confidence that additional time would serve to assure the institution’s compliance.” That led the accrediting body to reaffirm its decision to deny West Virginia Business College’s accreditation, noting that no further appeals process could take place.

The West Virginia Council for Community and Technical Colleges, in its unanimous decision Thursday, cited a section in the governing rules of business, occupation and trade schools that reads, “The Council may for good cause suspend, withdraw or revoke authorization of a school to operate in this state or to solicit students within the state. Good cause shall consist of loss of accreditation by a nationally or regionally recognized accrediting agency.”

The state council also noted its staff would be in contact with West Virginia Business College officials “to arrange for an appropriate teach out and/or transfer plan for students currently enrolled in classes at WVBC.”

Sarah Tucker, chancellor of the Council for Community and Technical Colleges, said West Virginia Junior College, located in Bridgeport, WV, already has offered to provide assistance to displaced West Virginia Business College students if the Wheeling-based school closes.

“They have quite a few of the same programs, so if this goes through, we should be able to transfer students without any problem,” Tucker said. “Our goal is to make sure we find ways to help the students — they are our priority.”

The latest accreditation issue isn’t the first for West Virginia Business College, according to documents released during Thursday’s meeting in Charleston.

According to the final action from the Accrediting Council on Independent Colleges and Schools, the 29 actions discovered in December “were substantially similar to findings of noncompliance made back in December 2013.”

“It took (West Virginia Business College) multiple attempts over approximately 18 months to address these (2013) findings,” with compliance being reached in April 2015, the Accrediting Council’s report stated. “Given the very protracted time it took for the institution to demonstrate compliance in early 2015, the Council expected that the institution would continue to be in compliance when it conducted the next evaluation in late 2016.

Instead, the Council found the institution again to be significantly out of compliance.”

The college also has been hit on another front this year. Shortly after learning its accreditation was in jeopardy, an audit and review revealed deficiencies in the college’s accounting practices for the Higher Education Grant Program, with West Virginia Business College ordered to return $68,000 to the state in “misappropriated funds.”

In early February, the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, which administers that grant program, voted to have the business college removed from the program, which provides financial aid to students.

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