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Human Trafficking Prevention Month

The Free Press WV

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has recognized January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month with multiple training events as part of his office’s continued effort to eradicate the growing criminal industry.

Human trafficking is defined as commercial sex or labor that is induced by force, fraud or coercion. It is considered the second largest criminal industry in the world today, second only to drug trafficking according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“Human trafficking is a crime that victimizes men, women and children of all ages,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “West Virginia is particularly vulnerable due to the opioid epidemic, poverty and a large number of children in foster care. Awareness and prevention are vital, and the goal is to educate people in their communities.”

The Attorney General’s Office kicked off National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month with a training session Jan. 4 for medical personnel at Berkeley Medical Center in Martinsburg. Staff were educated about signs of human trafficking and the proper avenues to take when reporting suspected cases.

Another training session will be offered at 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 16, at Heritage Baptist Church in Pinch. Similar events are set later in the month for school personnel in Braxton County and cadets at the West Virginia State Police Academy.

Since 2017, the Attorney General’s Office has offered the training to numerous groups including medical professionals, school personnel, social workers, law enforcement and communities. The ultimate goal is to establish greater awareness and increase overall reporting of the issue throughout the state.

Anyone who suspects someone may have been forced into human trafficking, should call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888.373.7888 and contact local law enforcement.

Landslide, Rupture Issues Raise Problems for Gas Pipeline Permit

A gas pipeline rupture and explosion last summer is raising related worries about a current pipeline proposal.

Last June, Columbia Gas said a landslide after heavy rains caused its brand new pipeline to rupture and explode just south of Moundsville.

Jim Kotcon, on the Energy Committee of the Sierra Club’s West Virginia Chapter, said a line proposed southeast of that area is just as vulnerable.

Kotcon said more than two-fifths of EQT’s Hammerhead Pipeline would be built on slopes 35 degrees or steeper. He noted last summer’s explosion could have been deadly.

“Fortunately, that was in a remote wooded area and so, there were no injuries,“ Kotcon said. “But some of these very steep slopes are just inherently inappropriate for that kind of construction. There’s a real risk of pipeline rupture.“

The Free Press WV
EQT’s proposed Hammerhead Pipeline would originate in the southwest corner of Pennsylvania
before crossing Marion, Monongalia and Wetzel counties in West Virginia. (EQT)


The Hammerhead Pipeline is one of a number of pipelines being proposed to open what supporters describe as a “bottleneck” in getting natural gas to market from Marcellus and Utica fracking wells.

An energy lobbyist recently told state lawmakers that “rogue environmental groups” were responsible for pipeline legal delays.

The 30-inch Hammerhead line could carry 1.2 billion cubic feet of gas per day. It would run from southwestern Pennsylvania through three West Virginia counties to join EQT’s huge Mountain Valley Pipeline in Wetzel County.

According to Kotcon, pipelines are often being built by crews unprepared to deal with the area’s steep terrain, which is subject to constant erosion and sediment problems.

“They’re used to working in areas like Oklahoma and Texas, where they just don’t have the same steep terrain,“ he added. “As a matter of just common sense and safety, it makes sense to reroute the pipeline away from those very steep slopes.“

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection hasn’t yet issued a stormwater and sediment control permit for the Hammerhead Pipeline.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

These High-Poverty Schools Figured Out How to Help Kids Succeed

The Free Press WV

In 2005, the Prichard Committee sponsored a study of a small number of high-poverty Kentucky public schools that were successfully educating their students at high levels. Their success was unexpected because schools with many poor students have historically struggled to help them succeed.

Research on “break-the-mold” schools that defy this trend has consistently identified the same set of characteristics: high expectations for students, strong and stable leadership, effective teachers, safe and orderly environment, focus on academics, and frequent monitoring of each student’s progress.

Our study was unique in using the state audit process to systematically compare eight Kentucky break-the-mold schools that had once been low-performing with eight chronically low-performing schools. We wanted to understand how schools serving the same kinds of students could have such different results.

Our findings confirmed what other researchers had found but underscored that the schools’ primary stakeholders — principals, teachers, parents and students themselves — drove improvement. We were captivated by three findings in particular:


► No one was “brought in” to turn the schools around. The schools’ turnaround did not come through replacing the principal or “re-staffing” the school. Instead, the principal and staff had painful discussions about their low-performing status and engaged in collaborative, intensive self-study — often with district or other external support — to figure out how to improve.


► Schools were led by collaborative principals. Principals in the successful schools were not authoritarian or top-down but engaged with their school communities to collaboratively address the problems.


► School climate was the single most distinguishing feature. High-performing schools differed most strongly from low-performing schools on measures of school climate, particularly high expectations for everyone (not just students); a commitment to equity and appreciation of diversity; and caring, respectful relationships among all stakeholders.  

Sadly, not all of the schools in our study have maintained their high performance. In 2017, only two of the six schools had achievement results in the top third of Kentucky elementary schools. One more was slightly above state average, and three were in the bottom third, based on all subjects tested (two schools have closed). Why are we not able to sustain high performance and learn from schools that have seemingly solved public education’s most chronic problem?

Based on what we learned in 2005 and our work since then, we suggest four promising strategies for eliminating chronically low-performing public schools:


► Learn from and build upon success: The two schools that have maintained high performance are in districts with several high-performing schools, suggesting a district role in improvement that includes ensuring that success does not walk out the door with effective principals and staff when they move on to other opportunities.


► Support school-led improvement efforts: Do we really need to make the case that for schools to improve, the faculty, staff and students inside the school must understand what is going on, figure out how to address the problem, and lead the improvement effort? External expertise will likely be needed, but improvement should be done by the schools, not to them.


► Engage the students: School improvement efforts for far too long have been led and implemented almost exclusively by adults. As recent youth mobilization efforts around school safety in Kentucky and across the country have shown, students sometimes have the best-informed voices about what is going wrong in their schools, and how to fix it. Improvement efforts going forward must involve students in meaningful and ongoing ways.


► Focus on climate: Our findings about the importance of a respectful, caring school climate focused on every student’s learning has been validated by a growing body of research showing a direct correlation between positive school climate and improved learning for all young people. Improvement efforts, then, must focus on creating a safe, engaging, and inclusive culture where high performance by everyone in the building is expected and supported. School-led climate audits are a promising first step to building this culture. The Prichard Committee’s Student Voice Team has been piloting a student-led climate and culture analysis and sharing results to spur rich, solutions-oriented conversations about how to improve schools from the inside out.

Our research and practice suggest that we don’t have to look outside our public schools to break the cycle of chronic low performance. Kentucky’s own success stories teach us that improvement can — and probably must — begin with our schools’ primary stakeholders. That includes administrators, teachers, parents, and yes, what is arguably the most overlooked resource in chronically low-performing schools: students.

The Free Press WV      The Free Press WV


Patricia Kannapel is an education researcher based in Louisville who led the Prichard Committee study “Inside the Black Box of High-Performing, High-Poverty Schools.“ Rachel Belin is the director of the Prichard Committee Student Voice Team, a statewide group of self-selected youth who work as research, policy and advocacy partners in the Prichard Committee’s efforts to improve Kentucky schools.



Rachel’s and Patricia’s solutions

Based on our research and practice in Kentucky, we suggest four promising strategies for eliminating chronically low-performing public schools:


► Learn from and build upon success. Schools that have maintained high performance are in districts with several high-performing schools, suggesting a district role in improvement that includes ensuring that success does not walk out the door with effective principals and staff when they move on to other opportunities.


► Support school-led improvement efforts.  For schools to improve, the faculty, staff and students inside the school must understand what is going on, figure out how to address the problem, and lead the improvement effort.  External expertise will likely be needed, but improvement should be done by the schools, not to them.


► Engage the students.  As recent youth mobilization efforts around school safety in Kentucky and across the country have shown, students sometimes have the best-informed voices about what is going wrong in their schools and how to fix it. Improvement efforts must involve students in meaningful and ongoing ways.


► Focus on climate. Given that there is a direct connection between positive school climate and improved learning for all young people, improvement efforts must focus on creating a safe, engaging, and inclusive culture where high performance by everyone in the building is expected and supported.  School-led climate audits are a promising first step to building this culture. 

With Congressional Inaction, Black-Lung Funding Gutted

Inaction by a stalemated Congress has gutted important black-lung funding, at a time when the number of cases in West Virginia is rising rapidly.

In spite of promises by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and others, a temporary increase in the per-ton tax on coal is set to expire, cutting that tax by more than half. That leaves the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund that Gary Hairston relies on in debt and underfunded.

Hairston has disabling black lung disease, but the mine company he last worked for went bankrupt, ending its legal responsibility. He said politicians talk about supporting miners — until they have to pay for it.

“It almost makes you feel like a soldier sometimes,” Hairston said. “After you go over and fight, then you come back and they say how much they love you, but then everything that you need to get, you have to fight to get.“

The Free Press WV
Black lung is an incurable progressive disease among
coal miners that ultimately can make it impossible to breathe.


About 25,000 sick miners and their dependents receive benefits from the fund, averaging less than $600 a month. The industry has said the higher tax is hard for already struggling mine companies. And this summer an officer of the National Mining Association told Reuters the fund has been strained by “previous or current smokers.“

But doctors countered it’s easy to tell black lung from the effects of smoking. Occupational medicine doctor Carl Werntz said the real issue in Appalachian mines is thinner coal seams, which put more damaging silica in the dust the miners breathe.

Research has found rates of black lung disease are higher than in decades past, and Werntz said he’s seeing it in the lungs of his patients every day.

“I was originally taught that black lung was mostly a disease of people at the end of their career or in retirement,” Werntz said. “We’re seeing people with pretty advanced black lung who are in their upper 20s and low 30s. They haven’t been coal mining for more than 10 years, and we’re seeing them already with really advanced disease.“

The tax on deep mined coal will fall from $1.10 per ton to 50 cents per ton. According to federal figures, central Appalachian coal now is selling for about $80 a ton.

Senator Joe Manchin, D- WV, said he had been promised the cuts would be stopped. He called the failure to do so “embarrassing,“ a sign of poor leadership and “a sad day in America.“

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

Trump SNAP Rules “Go Out of Their Way to be Cruel”

In 2017, SNAP benefits kept an estimated 3.4 million Americans out of poverty
The Free Press WV

After failing to get deep cuts to nutrition assistance through Congress, President Donald Trump now seems to want to get them by changing the rules.

Trump had backed a Republican plan that critics warned would have ended SNAP benefits, formerly known as food stamps, for 2 million Americans and school meal access for 265,000 children. Congress rejected those changes when it passed the Farm Bill last week.

Now, Trump has proposed new rules restricting states’ ability to provide SNAP benefits to childless adults living in high-unemployment areas who are struggling to find work. Rebecca Vallas, vice president of the poverty team at the Center for American Progress, said the rules would force hundreds of thousands of unemployed SNAP participants to lose the help they need to put food on the table.

“Ultimately, he failed to gut food stamps in the Farm Bill, and so now he’s sidestepping Congress and trying unilaterally to slash food assistance by fiat,” Vallas said. “And he’s doing that just days before Christmas.“

The administration has pointed out that unemployment is at record low levels and said the new rules would save $15 billion over 10 years. More than 120,000 West Virginia households receive SNAP benefits.

Vallas insisted a better approach would be to raise the federal minimum wage, which has been set at $7.25 an hour for the past ten years. She said raising it to just $12 an hour would make a huge difference.

“That would save $53 billion in nutrition assistance over the coming decade,” she said. “And it would do so by ensuring that workers earn enough to afford food.“

The administration’s figures show that under the proposed rule change, more than three-quarters of a million unemployed people would lose SNAP benefits. Vallas added research has shown that taking food benefits away from workers who can’t meet strict work-reporting requirements is counterproductive.

“When workers have access to basics like food and housing and health care, they’re better able to work and they have higher earnings,” she said.

Once the rules are published in the Federal Register, there will be a 60-day period for public comment before they could be put into effect.

More information is available at CBPP.org.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

West Virginia is one of nine states to lose population over the past year

West Virginia continues to lose population.

The latest annual report from the U.S. Census Bureau shows West Virginia among nine states that lost population last year.

West Virginia is down 11,216 residents from July 1, 2017, to July 1, 2018.

The other states that lost population over that period included New York (down 48,510), Illinois (45,116), Louisiana (10,840), Hawaii (3,712), Mississippi (3,133), Alaska (2,348), Connecticut (1,215) and Wyoming (1,197).

“Many states have seen fewer births and more deaths in recent years,” stated Sandra Johnson, a demographer/statistician in the Population Division of the Census Bureau.

“If those states are not gaining from either domestic or international migration they will experience either low population growth or outright decline.”

This is a familiar, sad story in West Virginia.

West Virginia’s population now stands about 1.8 million.

Last year’s report from the U.S. Census Bureau showed a population loss of 12,780 for West Virginia.

A study from earlier this year by Pew Charitable Trusts showed that West Virginia is one of two states, along with Michigan, to lose population over the course of the past decade.

West Virginia’s population according to the 2010 Census was 1,852,994.

“This is a long-running trend, so it’s not anything surprising. It’s not anything new,” said John Deskins, director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at West Virginia University.

West Virginia’s demographics, particularly its population that is already older, mean the state has been losing more people to death than gaining by birth over the past few years.

Deskins expects that to continue.

“We expect this to be the case for the foreseeable future, at least the next decade,” Deskins said in a telephone interview today.

The other part of population change is migration.

“We have to have positive net migration even just to stay even because of the natural population decline,” Deskins said. “It’s tough because of that fundamental underlying demographic force that we see.”

West Virginia has been gaining new residents in areas like the Eastern Panhandle and the north central region of the state.

But other areas have struggled economically, leading to extensive population loss.

The Free Press WV


“Migration was bad,” Deskins said. “The net migration was certainly negative to a significant extent here of the past few years when the recession was hitting hard.”

The population loss can build on itself, with the youngest, healthiest, highest educated residents looking for opportunities elsewhere.

“Population growth is a part of making the state attractive to potential businesses,” Deskins said. “If you see an area of population decline, is a business going to come there? A business has to be confident it’s going to find the workers it needs before it locates in an area.

“For some regions of West Virginia, this population loss is just part of a vicious cycle. The people who move out tend to be more educated, more healthy, so that makes the area look less attractive. So the cycle continues.”

The United States population grew by 0.6 percent last year, according to the Census.

Nevada and Idaho were the nation’s fastest-growing states with 2.1 percent population increases.

Other states with population growth included Utah (1.9 percent), Arizona (1.7 percent), and Florida and Washington (1.5 percent each).

The country’s population as a whole continues to grow because of both natural increase and international migration.

International migration was slightly higher last year (978,826 compared to 953,233 the year before), while natural increase was slightly lower last year (1,041,487 compared to 1,122,546 the year before).

~~  Brad McElhinny ~~

Commissioner Leonhardt Applauds Signing of 2018 Farm Bill

The Free Press WV

Following President Donald Trump’s signing of the 2018 Farm Bill, Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt released the following statement:

“Farmers everywhere finally have certainty with the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill. We know vital programs will now remain funded and our farmers can continue to focus on feeding the world,” Commissioner Leonhardt said. “I thank Congress and the President for finally getting this across the finish line.”

The 2018 Farm Bill maintains funding for several vital initiatives, including conservation programs, Specialty Crop Block Grants, and food and agriculture research. The bill also included a provision to legalize the commercial cultivation of industrial hemp at the federal level by removing it from the list of federally controlled substances. Oversight to regulate this cultivation will continue to rest with individual state department of agricultures upon approval by United States Department of Agriculture.

“Senator Mitch McConnell has proven to be a true friend to farmers. Through his effort, our growers will have access to a new cash crop. We hope to see tremendous growth within our own industry now that the path for regulation of these products has been firmly established,” Leonhardt said.

In 2018, West Virginia licensed 46 industrial hemp growers who grew roughly 155 acres of crop. For the 2019 season, WVDA has received applications for 199 permits thus far. The increased interest is largely due to a bill that was passed by the West Virginia Legislature in 2017 which allow cultivation of industrial hemp for commercial purposes.

“Changes in the 2018 Farm Bill will allow the transport of raw industrial hemp products across state lines. We hope our farmers will take full advantage of this revision to the federal law,” Leonhardt said.

2019 Marketplace Open Enrollment ends December 15

Throughout 2018, the Trump administration has been working to increase the number of health insurance options available to Americans.

If purchasing coverage through HealthCare.gov is the right decision for you, make sure you sign up by the December 15 deadline.

Major Setbacks for Controversial Fracked-Gas Pipelines

The Free Press WV

The Mountain Valley Pipeline and Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which have triggered growing opposition and controversy across Virginia and beyond this year, were both dealt major legal setbacks today.

On the Mountain Valley project, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring and the state Department of Environmental Quality filed a lawsuit against Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC, based on repeated violations of state water laws. The complaint says that DEQ and third-party inspectors observed multiple violations in Craig, Franklin, Giles, Montgomery, and Roanoke counties related to erosion and sediment control failures during construction of the project this spring and summer, including unpermitted discharges into surface waters.

According to the Attorney General’s press release, DEQ Director David Paylor has promised the agency will “pursue the full course of action necessary to enforce Virginia’s environmental standards and to protect our natural resources,” but the announcement makes no mention whether DEQ will issue a stop work order to MVP.

On the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit stayed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s revised permit (called a Biological Opinion and Incidental Take Statement) which would have allowed Dominion Energy to construct the pipeline through habitat identified as critical for certain threatened or endangered species.

The same court struck down the original permit issued by the Fish and Wildlife Service in an August 6 opinion.

Following the court order this morning, Dominion filed notice with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that it is suspending all construction activity along the entirety of the 600-mile route (except as needed for safety and to prevent environmental damage).


Peter Anderson, Appalachian Voices, Virginia Program Manager:

“The Attorney General and DEQ should be commended for enforcing Virginia’s clean water laws, but this reinforces what opponents of the Mountain Valley Pipeline have said all along—it is impossible to build this pipeline in compliance with water quality laws. We remain extremely disappointed that Virginia approved the MVP in the first place. We saw this coming.

As for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the court’s decision is a strong rebuke of attempts by both Dominion and the Trump administration to ram this project through.

We firmly believe that stop work orders should be issued immediately for both pipelines.” 


Lara Mack, Appalachian Voices, Virginia Field Coordinator:

“Gratitude goes first and foremost to the many landowners and volunteers who have monitored construction on the MVP for the last seven months and documented dozens of violations. We’re thankful that state officials have finally gotten serious about enforcement, but if it hadn’t been for those volunteers, we may not have seen this action. Because the agency has been so ill-prepared for these projects, there are scores of volunteers ready to do the same monitoring if the ACP begins construction.”

From the Hill to the Mountains

The Free Press WV

Statement on the Passing of President George H.W. Bush

Gayle and I were so heartbroken to hear of the passing of President George H.W. Bush. The President dedicated his life to our country through his patriotism, his public service and humanitarian efforts. He was a man who put country and citizens before party and politics and will be remembered as one of the greatest presidents in our history. It was truly an honor to know him and call him and Barbara friends. While our nation will mourn his loss, and pray for the entire Bush family, I will find joy in the knowledge that he is now in heaven with Barbara, the woman he loved more than anything else in this world. West Virginia will be praying for the entire Bush family and thanking them for the legacy President Bush has left on our nation and the entire world.


Honoring Our Veterans on Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

The surprise attack on December0 7, 1941, was a monumental event not only in American history but in all of world history.  It awakened a “sleeping giant,” as some Japanese leaders feared. It gave every man, woman, and child in America a personal stake in a global war over the very survival of human civilization. Millions of brave souls boarded planes and ships to join the fight.  At home, brave Americans entered the factories and shipyards to supply the war effort, sacrificing to support their family members who were fighting for the freedom of the world.

These Americans, our “greatest generation,” persevered, but they did so with the same firm belief in the greatness of America, with the same love of country greater than of life itself.  America became, and remains, a free nation under God because of such men and women.

President Franklin Roosevelt said in his address before Congress that the attack on Pearl Harbor would be “a date which will live in infamy.”  In 77 years we have never forgotten.  We must make sure that each year, and more importantly every day, that we remember those past sacrifices and the ongoing sacrifices being made to protect our homeland and to secure our freedom.

Let us also pay special tribute to the men and women from our great state who served in World War II, and in every American conflict.  Our home state has mined the coal that forged the steel that built the great ships and tanks that Americans have served on.  West Virginia has given much, and we have much to be proud of. 


Encouraging West Virginians to Get Covered During Open Enrollment Period

While the ACA is not perfect, the number of uninsured West Virginians has decreased by 56% as a result of the Affordable Care Act and the Medicaid expansion. Every West Virginian deserves access to quality and affordable healthcare. I encourage those without health insurance coverage to visit www.healthcare.gov  during the Open Enrollment Period to find a plan that works for them and their families.

The Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment Period ends on December 15, 2018. West Virginians can register for health insurance coverage by visiting www.healthcare.gov/get-coverage/ or call 1.800.318.2596.

Click HERE to read more.


Challenging the Mobility Fund Coverage Map

Senator Manchin (D-WV) submitted to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) a formal challenge to Mobility Fund Phase II initial eligible areas map. The data Senator Manchin submitted proves the coverage map released by the FCC does not accurately depict broadband coverage throughout West Virginia. Senator Manchin was the only member of Congress to submit a formal challenge.

The data I submitted last week proves what every West Virginian already knows to be true: there are too many areas throughout our state that still lack reliable broadband coverage. West Virginia faces unique challenges when it comes to providing broadband access, and the first step to fixing that is making sure these maps accurately reflect coverage on the ground. This map determines who is eligible for a portion of the $4.5 billion that will be made available later this year, and I will continue fighting to ensure every community in West Virginia has the reliable, affordable broadband access they deserve.

Coal Miner Crawls Out of Addiction, Back Into the Light

The Free Press WV

Jasen Edwards is a coal miner who beat a $1,000-a-day pain pill habit - he says, just by knowing he wanted something better.

Edwards lost a leg in a mine accident that introduced him to Oxycontin. He said within a couple of years he had lost everything, and was living in an abandoned building, considering suicide. Edwards crawled out of that hole, detoxing himself and getting clean while living with his ex-wife and her new fiancé - without the help of a program or medical assistance from Methadone or Suboxone. He said there’s hope for anyone.

“You have to find something that you love more than the high that you’re experiencing. To every addict out there, you do not have to live like this,” Edwards said. “If you need to talk to me, call me. I don’t care who you are, but you do not have to live like this anymore.“

Research has shown those battling addiction are much more likely to make it with medical assistance and counseling. The federal addiction hotline number is 1-800-662-HELP and help is available at SAMHSA.gov

The Free Press WV
He’s clean now, but not long ago, Jasen Edwards says he spent $21,000 on pain pills in 11 days.


Edwards is now an underground mine section foreman, in fact, he worked as a miner during much of his addiction. He said he told himself he wasn’t a junkie because he went to work every day and needed the pills for pain in his leg. He said he knew he had a problem when withdrawal made it impossible to go to work one day.

Edwards said a big part of recovery has been rebuilding relationships.

“It’s the simple things. It’s like my ex-wife or anybody in my family wouldn’t trust me. I would come over to their house, they would hide purses,” he recalled. “I went from nobody trusting me to being, like, ‘Hey, can you watch my house for a week? We’re going on vacation.‘ That means more than people think it does.“

Edwards said he has to be careful not to celebrate his sobriety too much, because he doesn’t want to take it for granted. But he said now it feels good just to be normal every day. As he put it, he learned how to enjoy life without being high.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

Wednesday, a state holiday for the National Day of Mourning for President George H.W. Bush

The Free Press WV

Gover Jim Justice announced today that Wednesday, December 05, 2018, will be a state holiday in observance of tomorrow’s National Day of Mourning for President George H.W. Bush.

Bush, 94, died last Friday and President Donald J. Trump designated Dec. 5 as a federal holiday to honor and commemorate the life of the 41st President of the United States.

“President George H.W. Bush was truly a great American military hero,” Gov. Justice said. “I concur with President Trump and his decision to declare December 5th as a National Day of Mourning and I am issuing an executive order to close all state agencies tomorrow in observance of his declaration.”

The Governor’s press conference scheduled for Wednesday, December 05, 2018, at 1:00 p.m. in Bridgeport, WV has been canceled and will be rescheduled.

More Children Without Health Insurance In WV, Nationwide

The Free Press WV

For the first time in years, the number of children without health insurance has risen, in West Virginia and across the country.

The rate in West Virginia is still less than 3 percent, which is well below the national average. But according to Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, last year the number of uninsured American children increased by over a quarter-million.

Alker says the annual survey found, for the first time, that no state made progress.

“They either fell backwards or stagnated,“ said Alker. “Despite an improving economy and a lower unemployment rate, the number of children with health coverage is declining, and that’s very, very troubling.“

The Free Press WV
For a number of years, West Virginia has done a better job of
providing healthcare access for children than many other states


Nationwide, 5 percent of children lacked health insurance last year, up from 4.7 percent the year before. In West Virginia, the rate was 2.6 percent, up from 2.3 percent.

Georgetown has issued a report on this each year since the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010. The number had gone down in each previous report, but not this one.

According to Kelli Caseman, director of child health with the group West Virginians for Affordable Health Care, debates in Congress over health policy may have confused some of the public.

“The threat of the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the long delay in reauthorizing CHIP funding,“ Caseman observed. “Due to a lot of misinformation, people may not have taken their kids in to re-enroll in health insurance, which is unfortunate.“

The increase in West Virginia is much smaller than in other states. Caseman credited the work done here to connect children to health care.

“I am so proud of our state,“ she said. “We have a really robust outreach plan that has kept us a leader in keeping kids insured. And it’s something that we’ve done for a long time; it’s something that we’ve done well.“

The full report is online.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

From the Hill to the Mountains

The Free Press WV

Wishing You a Happy Thanksgiving, from Our Family to Yours

As we gather around the dinner table this Thanksgiving, it is important for all of us to reflect on the blessings we share as West Virginians and Americans. In the Manchin household, we were always taught that if you can count your blessings, you can share your blessings. This lesson has stuck with me throughout my adult life and I have tried to pass it along to my children and grandchildren. One of the blessings I always count is my family and loved ones. With this in mind, I introduced a resolution in the Senate that designates the week of Thanksgiving as ‘National Family Week.’

This Thanksgiving, let us give thanks for our Service Members who sacrifice so much, including seeing their own families during the holidays, so that we may enjoy the comfort and safety of this great country. Their courage and strength shine as an example of what it means to be devoted to one’s country.

Each day presents its own unique struggles and anxieties, but it is always important to remember the blessing of living in the greatest country on Earth. I thank all of the wonderful people of West Virginia who have given me the opportunity to represent them. Gayle and I wish you and your family a happy and healthy Thanksgiving. May God continue to bless America and the great state of West Virginia.


On The Road

Fifty years after the Farmington No. 9 mine tragedy, we continue to grieve, remember those we lost, and to pray for their families. I personally lost many individuals who I knew well, including my dear Uncle John and several classmates. I truly appreciate everyone who attended the memorial this weekend to honor the memory of those


How May We Help You?

I truly appreciate the opportunity to hear from my fellow West Virginians. As your U.S. Senator, I am proud to be your voice with government agencies during your time of need. My goal is to provide top-notch customer service for every West Virginian who contacts me, or who may need help.  I have a team of caseworkers in each of my four offices to help you with matters of concern. While I have no direct jurisdiction in the administrative matters of any federal, state, or local agency, I welcome the opportunity to assist you with whatever problem you may be experiencing and ask that full consideration be given to your case.

Recently, Angie Walsh, a caseworker in my Martinsburg office was able to assist Ms. Viola Usak, with her benefits from the Social Security Administration.  After a long delay in processing her monthly benefits, Ms. Usak visited my Martinsburg office to discuss her case.  Angie immediately reached out to the Social Security Administration to request that her benefit review be completed. Within two weeks of the inquiry, Ms. Usak received her monthly benefits as well as the retroactive award for the time that she waited for her case to be processed. 


West Virginia Spotlight

Quilts of Valor were recently presented to six Taylor County residents, including Specialist E5 Randel Jennings, a U.S. Army Veteran. Quilts of Valor is a national program that recognizes the service of our nation’s heroes. Christian Sisters Quilters in Taylor County presented quilts to Specialist E5 Randel Jennings, Specialist E5 Richard Bowman, Captain William McProuty, Mater Sgt. E7 Dennis Mitchell, 2nd Class Boilerman Jimmie Riffle, and T5 Woodbridge “Woody” Stout. Thank you all for your service!

The Free Press WV

Lifetime SNAP Ban Makes Life Harder For Reformed Drug Felons

Reformed drug felons in West Virginia are blocked from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and some want the Legislature to fix that.

West Virginia is one of only three states that has a lifetime SNAP ban for anyone convicted of a drug-related felony.

That applies to Debbie Kolbe of Huntington, even though she has finished her sentence and broke her addiction to methamphetamine more than two years ago.

Kolbe says it’s unfair that no matter how long she stays clean, or how long she keeps her job, she can’t get the help any other kind of felon can the day he or she leaves prison.

The Free Press WV
Former addicts in West Virginia say making it easier for reformed felons
to receive public benefits would help them stay free of drugs.


“Murder and armed robberies and all that stuff, and you can get help all day long,” she points out. “If I needed help with food, they absolutely will not. Even if I had young children, I could not get food stamps. They could, but I can’t.“

The lifetime ban was put in place as one of several measures designed to get tough on drug crime.

Kolbe says she and other reformed felons want the Legislature to reconsider it in the next session.

Advocates say the ban may actually be counter-productive, forcing people back into crime just when the state should be helping them get their lives back together.

Kolbe says it’s enough of a struggle to become an ordinary taxpaying citizen again – hard to get work or an apartment and extremely difficult to build up any kind of financial security.

“You’ve already suffered the consequences to your actions, which I have,” she stresses. “And you’ve got numerous years of clean time and you’re doing everything you’re supposed to do.

“I just don’t think it’s fair that drug-convicted felons are labeled like we are.“

In recent years, the state has expanded drug courts and day reporting centers, making it easier for offenders to avoid prison time.

Lawmakers also have made it easier for nonviolent felons to clean up their record, to make them more appealing to employers.

Advocates say ending the benefit ban would add to that.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

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During intervention the State had dictatorial control of our school system to include all decisions related to the GCES.

One result is that the GCES was built too small.

An investigation is needed to determine who was responsible for the bad decision, and what role the no-bid architectural firm had in designing and constructing the school.

Something major happened to cause the GCES to be built too small. Was something dropped at the expense of adequate class room space as a result of having to spend extra money because a poor site was selected?

Minimally, gross incompetency on the State’s part is the explanation for the disaster foisted onto the County.

A question pertains to the new gym. Lots of effort was taken by the State to try to convince the public that a competition gym instead of a regular gym was needed.

Did the competition gym cost extra money at the expense of needed classroom space? If the answer is affirmative who was responsible for deciding on the more expensive gym?

What about the enormous pit at the GCES? Was money spent on it at the expense of classrooms because something was wrong with the school’s site that was selected by the State?

Nothing similar to the pit has been seen at other sites where new WV schools were built.

Why has there been a failure for a thorough investigation to have occurred to expose the facts?

The obvious explanation is that powerful elitists in control do not want tracks leading to them, and they have veto power over a meaningful investigation including one done by a leading newspaper.

By GCES Built Too Small Scandal on 01.15.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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Pat McGroyne is spot on.
High speed internet is simply another failure of WV state government.

If the elected in our state, were doing the job expected by voters….we should have very few problems or issues?

By Gilmer resident on 01.14.2019

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Muddling has another distinct symptom. It is the tendency for administrators in control to emphasize processes and procedures while avoiding disclosure of progress, or the lack thereof, in achieving learning results.

The purpose is another way to avoid personal accountability for school system failures.

By Muddling Epidemic In WV School Systems on 01.14.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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West Virginia is number one!
Our politicians are the best that can be had.
They are also the lobbyers dream come true.
No one—-can out-muddle our elected reps !

By we know it on 01.13.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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Suggestion after reading strategic plans for the GCHS and the GCES.

How about the school board requiring that for each school an informative executive summary be written to include——where each school stands on reading, math, and science proficiency, what the term proficiency means to eliminate the confusion, student proficiency goals for the two school, target time to expect goals to be achieved, and a statement to commit to keeping the public informed of progress in achieving the goals at designated intervals (e.g. quarterly) during a school year.

Omit confusing abbreviations and technical terms understood only by a select few in the education field, and written for comprehension by reasonable persons.

Leave it up to the County’s professional educators to determine how to get the job done with continual laser-like focus on getting results.

By Student Learning at GCHS and GCES on 01.13.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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Muddling infects federal, state, and local government entities where personal accountability for top officials to get measurable results rarely exists.

Muddling practitioners are famous for passing off information unrelated to measurable proof that effective problem-solving has occurred. A common example is emphasizing how much public money is being spent to attempt to convince tax payers that magnitudes of expenditures are always directly correlated to levels of problem-solving successes.

Muddling by an organization is characterized by the existence of thick planning documents replete with vagueness and lack of clarity, undefined technical terms, and mysterious acronyms.

Muddling thrives on intentional ambiguity and confusion designed to protect muddlers and their organizations.

By Muddling 101 on 01.11.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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Gilmer County is not the only place in the USA that has been faced with its students failing to meet proficiency standards for science, reading, and math.

The difference here is that evidence is lacking to conclusively demonstrate that Gilmer County’s officials in control have exerted proper efforts to profit form powerful lessons learned elsewhere to use that knowledge to help solve learning deficiencies in our schools.

In fact, a convincing argument could be made that the approach in the County has been the one professional planners designate as muddling through.

Classic symptoms of muddling through include failure to thoroughly analyze categories of causes contributing to problems followed up by using the information to develop a comprehensive plan to do the most good in getting better results by treating key causes instead of symptoms.

Muddling typically involves officials assigning blame for lack of progress to outside forces e.g., the “culture”, the State did it to us, and poverty. Haven’t we heard plenty of that?

Muddling must be eliminated if we want progress in solving non-performance problems within the County’s school system. Does anyone disagree?

By End School System Muddling on 01.09.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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It is unclear after reading school board meeting minutes what progress if any is being made by GCHS and GCES principals in improving student proficiency in reading, math and science.

Why not allocate a few sentences in the minutes to summarize what the two principals reported to the school board?

All it would take to get the critical information out to citizens would be for the new school board to act on this.

Does anyone have a problem with the suggested change to keep Gilmer’s bill paying public informed?

By Need Specifics For Principal's Reports on 01.09.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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“High speed broadband – a necessity for today’s homes, businesses and other institutions – remains a huge unmet need for rural residents, despite promises by a succession of Governors from both parties (a contributing factor in why we’re losing population at a rate higher than any other state).“

I disagree with much of what Mr.Boggs believes.  That said, high-speed broadband is the single most important step the State of WV could take to improve the business climate and provide more opportunities for its citizens.

Sincerely

Pat McGroyne

By Pat McGroyne on 01.08.2019

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Conversation at local eatery.
Shortly after election.
Individuals were educators.

‘You think we have school problems now, wait until these new folks take the steering wheel’.

‘Students, parents, staff are all going to be in the soup’.

Sounds as if Christmas, New Years, Thanksgiving vacation-deer season times have all taken a big hit.  If that is true, the union teachers need to come together, stand their ground, along with parents, and hold this new board accountable.

Have a local strike if need be.
Request resignations.
Vote of no confidence.

Schools employees can win.
You have done it before.
Just stick together.

By overheard conversation on 01.08.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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Scholarship must be the most important focus in Gilmer County’s schools.

Brought up the ZOOMWV Data Dashboard site to review the most recent State achievement test results for GCHS’s 11th grade.

Folks, Gilmer is in serious trouble. Proficiency for math=24%, reading=41%, and science=24%.

On an A through F grading scales the GCHS gets an F for all three subject areas.

What does the new school board have to show for inroads it has made since last July to make critically needed proficiency improvements at the HS? Citizens deserve answers to the question.

By ZOOMWV Data Dashboard on 01.07.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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A thorough accounting for where all the public money went could be easily achieved by a competent accountant.

Isn’t there a special account at the County’s school board office for expenditures related to all bills paid and who got the money?

Following the money trail always gets results along with verification of means, motives, and access.

By Let An Accountant Dig It Out on 11.21.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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If central office financial records for all public money paid out for everything from site planning, site studies and development, and everything else to get to completion of the GCES and the LES—- what is the reason?

It is known that money was spent on the Arbuckle site and Cedar Creek, and public money was paid out for the LES too.

Were County records for the spending purged and if that happened who ordered the action? The records are either in the County’s central office or they aren’t.

By End Financial Secrecy on 11.21.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Hasn’t the time come to finally start naming names and making people accountable?

By Get It Done on 11.21.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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How about the “BIG WV WINDFALL”....?

For 3 or 4 months now we keep hearing about the millions of dollars of tax revenue collected.

Millions and millions above ‘estimates’.  Were those ‘estimates’ honest, or fudged to begin with, so as to request higher tax rates?

Well, Justice and the Legislature now have our dollars, what will become of this windfall? Will we see tax rates lowered?  Doubt full, but we should.

Likely this windfall, created by “over-taxation”, will simply create a “party atmosphere” of legislative spending. Watch the Charleston ‘gangsters’ get their wish lists ready this coming session.

By taxpayers always lose on 11.21.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Yes.  The blame Does seem to fall to ‘local’ people. In small places like Gilmer County, it’s just a poker game, boys, and the deep pockets win.  Money speaks volumes where ‘officials’ stay silent.  Go ask for the records, see what they’ve got.

By CheatersNeverWin on 11.20.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Teachers and staff knew from the beginning that the GCES was going to be too small. They were ordered by the State to keep quiet about the shortfall and other serious concerns too.

A sixth grader could understood how many rooms were needed by dividing total student numbers to attend the school by how many students should be in a classroom.

Under sizing was the State’s fault and it cannot be rationalized any other way including to assign the blame to local people. Same applies to the over sized LCES.

By Corrupt State Intervention on 11.19.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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There will never be a full, public accounting of the gross mishandling of tax dollars during WVDOE intervention.
Too many local jobs and too many embarrassments of both elected and appointed bureaucrats.
These types cover dirt for each other.

Any local whistle blowers?  Doubtful.

One school built short 4 classrooms and another built with 5 too many.  Can it get more stupid than that?
Mr. Degree and Ms. Common Sense seldom travel together.

By Full accounting will never be revealed. Never. on 11.18.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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GCBOE when the two principals give reports at board meeting could the gist of what they said be summarized in minutes to keep the County informed?

It was a welcomed development by the Board to require principals to give reports particularly if there are required updates on progress designed to improve student learning for reading, math, and other subjects.

We still have not been informed about the status of science proficiency at the GCHS based on the latest testing. Why has the State failed to release the data? Were results too dismal?

By More Specifics For Principal's Reports on 11.17.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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If it is going to cost extra money to eliminate over crowding at the GCES the financial information referenced by Do It Ourselves should be presented to Charleston and the press too.

That would help frame a solid case that crowding problems were not caused by Gilmer County because all decisions related to facilities were dictated by officials over whom the County had no oversight authority during the State’s intervention.

By Follow The Money on 11.16.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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It is assumed that all records for spending to include money paid out for the LCES, dropped Arbuckle site, dropped Cedar Creek site, and all bills for the GCES are in the Gilmer Schools central office.

The new GCBOE has authority to get to the truth by demanding a thorough accounting for all the spending.

Afterwards the financial officer in the central office could easily access existing computerized records and to use the information for a report to the GCBOE and the public.

By Do It Ourselves on 11.15.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Notice that most of the ‘officials’ in Gilmer County also hold regular day jobs - sometimes working on more than one paying ‘job’ at a time in the same office space. This common practice is concerning for many reasons, and it needs to be talked about when so many go without.

By QuestionablePractice on 11.14.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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There are two views in the County related to the under built GCES. Although the State built the school with inadequate classrooms one group believes that we should move on to let go of the past.

Isn’t this a form of advocacy for a coverup to prevent accountability for the State’s incompetence and mismanagement?

The other group believes that there should be a full accounting for all public money spent up to the time the GCES was completed to include disclosure of recipients of the public money. 

The accounting should be done for all public money spent at the LCES, the Arbuckle site, Cedar Creek, and finally the GCES.

Reasons for the under built GCES should be fully disclosed too. When the State was in control this information was kept secret from the public with loud claims that there was adequate space at the GCES.

Now it is known that there is inadequate space at the GCES and the problem is left to Gilmer County to fix. Only in WV!

By Citizens For Financial Disclosure on 11.14.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Unprofessional issues,rude commentsand rolling eyes at the high school has become an issue. Being on cell phone talking to boyfriends,when parents etc.going into the office. Since the teachers were ask not to be on them while students in the classroom. The one in the office should not be allowed to talk personal to her boyfriend, or whoever. Also, I hope this is corrected, the personal days, etc that the board provides to staff shouldn’t be allowed to use to work or operate a second job. Let’s get the priorities straight.

By Jo Ann conrad on 11.11.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education Regular Meeting Minutes'.

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GULMER COUNTY BOE. It is time for me to let you know some issues that is going on at the High school.  I’m hoping this will be addressed at the next board meeting. 1. It should not matter if an employee has a second job or run a business. The priority job is for the board. One should not be allowed to use any time from the board to run your business. There is going on
If they want to run your business than go but not on the boards time. I would like for all employees be treated the equal. They should not be allowed to use the time the board gives them for other jobs.

By Jo Ann conrad on 11.11.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education Regular Meeting Minutes'.

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While at it there should be an investigation of why the LES was build with too many classrooms and the GCES was built with too few. At the very least what happened is a WV horror story example of the State’s waste and mismanagement.

By Where Is The Investigation? on 11.11.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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It is obvious that the GCES has a major space problem.

What options for dealing with the State’s mismanagement to cause the serious blunder are being considered by the Board of Education?

Could the original architectural design for the dropped Cedar Creek site be compared to what resulted at the GCES to accurately determine the extent of classroom space alterations?

If the architectural design at the GCES is different than the original plan for Cedar Creek the next step should be to determine reasons for the changes and where the money originally planned for needed classrooms went.

By INFO REQUEST TO GCBOE on 11.09.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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It’s long been known that Justice doesn’t happen in Gilmer County “because it all comes down to money”. And for those in charge of handling it and making decisions, it comes down to being competent to do the job,  keep accurate books and accounts and I’m sorry to say, that is seriously lacking in Gilmer County.

By Follow the Paycheck(s) on 11.06.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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What is GSC’s BOG’s plan for getting money for the next payment on the $38,000,000 bond loan the Gilmer County Commission approved?

Will the State pay or will the money come from private donations?

Money will have to come from somewhere to avoid a default.

By Where Is The Money? on 11.05.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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So sorry to hear of Kendall’s passing. I have fond memories of him at Uncle Paul’s store and the family reunions. I’m sure he will be missed greatly by those closest to him.
Please accept condolences from me and my family.

By Steve Lewis on 11.04.2018

From the entry: 'Kendall Goodwin'.

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GSC’s present plight is no secret and its future existence is in question.

Instead of expressing attitudes that GSC is being picked on could the Blue Ribbon Commission reveal why the College “tested out” as it did to fail to get more State money?

Was the “grading system” based on student enrollment trends, retention, time taken to get a degree, academic reputation, inept governance and administration, and other factors to block more funding? Informative specifics were not disclosed.

Teachers know that concerned students who want to do better always seek advice on what needs to be done to get better grades.

Similar to concerned students GSC’s supporters should be informed of what needs to be done to position the College for improved chances for survival to include eligibility for more State funding.

Saying that GSC is being picked on does nothing to help solve its nagging problems.

By What Was The Grading System? on 10.30.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Well thank you, Details Please,  for asking!  So many problems in Gilmer and education is just one.  Look at the town, take a good look around.  Remember who runs unopposed at election time.  Vote.  Make a difference.  Hold authority figures responsible.  Allow videos, minutes and more to be shared on GFP again, for transparency.  Know your neighbors, help a friend.  Be good to each other. Amen.

By Reader7 on 10.29.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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I will truly miss my Uncle Stephen.  Telling me so much information about from gardening to canning. Just to listening to him talk with such passion for everything that he does… he had a sense of humor that always warms my heart.. listening to him play the banjo sometimes even when he didn’t feel good. he is always willing to share his recipes and his ways of doing things… his solar information he was always studying something ... I’m remember one time we asked him where he got his blackberries when it wasn’t Blackberry season and he go there’s a store down the road it’s called Walmart they have everything… He was so funny.  I love you.. xoxo.

By Robin Nunez on 10.28.2018

From the entry: 'Stephen Blair Marks'.

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Sorry for your loss. He sure did look like his father.

By Buck Edwards on 10.28.2018

From the entry: 'Stephen Blair Marks'.

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Reader 7, please give details for your suggested solutions to the County’s concerns you addressed.

The information would be helpful for consideration by school system administrators and the general public.

By Details Please on 10.26.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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There is speculation that the plan is for GSC to convert to an education center for low risk federal inmates. Is this something the County and central WV needs?

By GSC's New Mission? on 10.26.2018

From the entry: 'InMyOpinion™: Balanced Scorecard -- Where do we go from here?'.

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Dr. Pellett’s commentary in the 10/26/2018 issue of the Gazette includes a statement that GSC is responsible for injecting $28,000,000 into the local economy.

If GSC were to close loss of the money would cause the County to have more severe poverty than it has now.

The pressing challenge is for GSC’s administrators including its Board of Governors to exercise effective leadership to prevent closure.

Why can’t GSC take action on the long standing suggestion for it to be an innovator by establishing a five year teacher education program to enable students to earn a masters degree by graduation time?

Something must be done in WV to deal with the 700 positions for which certified teachers including those for math, science and special education are not in the classrooms.

Dr. Pellett and GSC’s Board of Governors why is a new teacher education program at the College not a viable option? Nothing else seems to be working.

The need exists, a similar program of excellence does not exist anywhere in the State, and GSC’s status would be elevated by having a masters degree program.

By GSC Alumni on 10.26.2018

From the entry: 'Paine: Plan to improve math scores to focus on algebra where a third of teachers aren’t certified'.

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GSC could make a valuable contribution to WV by doing a study to report on how grade and elementary schools with excellent results in math and reading did it.

Then, other schools could use the information as guidance instead of going it alone to reinvent the wheel.

With the Ed.D. expertise at GSC it would be a natural to take on the assignment. Dr. Pellett, would you back the initiative?

By Opportunity for GSC on 10.23.2018

From the entry: 'InMyOpinion™: Balanced Scorecard -- Where do we go from here?'.

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There is reference to signing an agreement with the State for math4life for all WV school districts. What has Gilmer County agreed to do to fix our problems?

By Agreements Matter on 10.22.2018

From the entry: 'InMyOpinion™: Balanced Scorecard -- Where do we go from here?'.

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This important news has potential for making significant progress in improving math and reading outcomes in WV.

It hinges on how quickly advantage can be taken from lessons learned in schools that excelled.

The WVBE could do an analysis of reasons for excelling and to quickly provide guidance information to other schools.

That is the way the private sector approaches problem-solving because chronic failures have consequences and the unfit are weeded out.

Dr. O’Cull could help if the WVBE is not responsive. There could be panels of individuals from excelling schools to make presentations at WV School Board Association meetings to explain what their schools did to make the achievements.

By Why Reinvent The Wheel? on 10.22.2018

From the entry: 'InMyOpinion™: Balanced Scorecard -- Where do we go from here?'.

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A characteristic of a good strategic plan is to simplify language to enable a clear understanding of all its details.

Regarding the comment about abbreviations, a simple fix for them and terms (e.g. lexile) would be to insert an asterisk or a footnote symbol the first time one of them is used to refer readers to a section at the end of the documents where the entries are defined.

This comment is not intended to be a criticism. All specialty fields have a language of their own including the teaching profession.

Suggested clarity improvements in the plans would not be time consuming for principals at the County’s two schools.

By Clarity Is Always Good on 10.18.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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Looked at the strategic plan for the GCES. It is a major achievement for the new GCBE to provide the information to the public.

Suggestion. Could the GCBOE post a meaning of all abbreviations in the plan? Doing that would make it far easier for readers to understand details in the plan.

By Help Understanding on 10.17.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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Thanks Mrs. Lowther and the BOE for providing meeting minutes for the public to read.

Those of us who voted for the levy would appreciate receiving specific information for what is being done at the grade school and the high school to make needed improvements for college and career readiness.

Could a current overview and updates throughout the school year be provided to the public?

Why not put the details on websites of the two schools to give the principals a chance to shine?

By Levy Supporter on 10.16.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education Regular Meeting Minutes'.

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“engage in pedantic colloquy?“

No Bill.

By WEKNOWYOU on 10.14.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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Correct.  I do not wish to engage in back and forth useless ‘banter’ with big words and no results.  What I AM interested in is Gilmer County, in all it’s ways.  Education, Food, Law and Transparency.  Fancy words are often used to hide, divide, and distract..  Plain words speaking truth for the safety and well being of the people is what I’m looking for..  Gilmer is suffering… I want it to stop. I want to see the citizens healthy, educated and strong. I want to see more jobs instead of food banks.  I want Committee meetings for all to see. I want the law to do what it should, when it should.  Plain english would work fine.  Thanks for asking.

By Reader7 on 10.14.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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Lol 7, you do not wish to engage in a pedantic colloquy?

By Smart Feller on 10.13.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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All nice but a small request? Can we simplify some of the language?  Don’t mean to be rude, but fancy works aren’t needed for the Truth.

By Reader7 on 10.12.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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Stop living the delusion the state will fix education.
They have caused the problem.
Remember, for them, job one IS job protection.

Rare in history, that the cause of a problem, has come forth with a solution to what they have caused. They keep resetting testing standards so as not have any ‘yardstick’ they can be measured against.  Apparently people just don’t get it?  And the WVBOE is so happy about that.

By it-ain't-a-gonna-happen. period. on 10.12.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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There is a continuum for sophistication regarding what is done with data.

Collecting and compiling it is at the low end of sophistication.

Synthesis is at the high end.

This means using results and other information to make specific recommendations for making improvements.

The State took its typical easy way out by failing to go beyond the data compilation stage.

By Easy Way Out on 10.10.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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The comment about need to find out what was done at high performance schools to determine what we could do in Gilmer County to get the same results merits a comment.

The comment flags what is wrong with the State BOE in failing to provide effective leadership.

Does anyone recall a single instance, after tens of millions of dollars were spent on amassing data, when the State BOE did anything to effectively address lessons learned at high performance schools for application at other schools?

Of course not! It is the easy way out for those in high income brackets in Charleston to collect data instead of using it to the maximum to take full advantage of lessons learned.

Could the WV School Board Association help fill the gap?

By Lost Opportunity on 10.07.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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Harry, So sorry to hear of the passing of your wife.  I’m also sorry that I never got to know her because if she was anything like you, I’m sure she was pretty special.  Please know that you and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers.  May God’s love be with you my friend.

By Greg Garvin on 10.04.2018

From the entry: 'Judith “Judy” Carolyn Buckley Rich'.

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What is the BOE’s proficiency goal for English and mathematics and what is the time frame for achieving the goal? That is news citizens want.

Then too, how can citizens at large get involved to honor and to encourage students who improve, and what of a similar nature could be done to give special recognition to outstanding teachers who contribute to improved learning for English and math?

By Positive Changes Made By New BOE on 10.04.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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The BOE and Mrs Lowther deserve high praise for disclosing proficiency information to the public.

It is the first time since 2011 anything like this has happened.

We still do not know about results for science, and it is understood that Charleston is still “working” on it.

Now we know our serious shortcomings in math and English and there is new hope for burrowing out of the mess with everyone in Gilmer working together.

By Thanks Gilmer BOE on 10.03.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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Well, dear citizen… sometimes the local ‘law’ gets it wrong.  #truth #JusticeForGilmer

By Transparency matters on 09.30.2018

From the entry: '33 charged in methamphetamine distribution operations in Harrison, Marion, and Monongalia Counties'.

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Soooo…...why do we never see a big drug bust in Gilmer?
With the college and others, there are plenty sources.
Seems strange?

By citizen 3 on 09.23.2018

From the entry: '33 charged in methamphetamine distribution operations in Harrison, Marion, and Monongalia Counties'.

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If you access http://www.mywvschool.com it is evident that some schools outpace others for math and English.

For examples look at data for Lizemore Elementary in Clay County, Alum Creek Elementary in Kanawha County, Rock Branch Elementary in Putnam county, and Greenmont Elementary in Wood County.

Gilmer BOE why not assign someone to evaluate what is being done at those school and others to make them State standouts and to apply lessons learned to our elementary schools?

The same applies to learning from others regarding how to get high marks at GCHS.

By Learn What Works From Others on 09.23.2018

From the entry: 'WV and Area Counties Balanced Scorecard for School Year 2017-2018'.

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I have not read anyone blaming our teachers.  Quite the contrary.
There have been some well thought out comments submitted too.
I am old enough to remember when we had few issues about quality education.

Forget Charleston? Better not.
Believe we are still in their “probation” period.
You better check out just what that means.

By GC--still on state probation? on 09.22.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Wood County Schools exceeds state test averages'.

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Why not go for it on our own and use the tried and widely accepted Iowa Test of Basic Skills to evaluate learning proficiency of our children?

It is the longest running test in America and it goes back to 1936.

One outcome of using the test is that each grade would be evaluated and compared to performances to schools in other parts of America.

We would probably have to go through hoop jumps of the State’s everchanging testing too.

By Iowa Test For Gilmer on 09.21.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Wood County Schools exceeds state test averages'.

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To compound complexity of the issue, Gilmer is different from McDowell and both are different than Monongahela.

The implication is that getting out of the crisis must be county-specific and there is no one size that will fit all of WV’s 55 school systems.

Each county is on its own and ones with the best planning, local boards of education, and administrators will shine. Forget about Charleston!

By County-Specific on 09.21.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Wood County Schools exceeds state test averages'.

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Similar to most complex problems there are several categories contributing to WV’s dismal failure in improving education results in our grade and high schools.

Information in referred journal is beginning to show up. Some of the categories include curriculum issues in high schools, block scheduling failures in high schools, inordinate emphasis on sports at the expense of academics, inadequate prep of grade schoolers to ensure that they get firm foundations in math and English Language Arts, failure to instill need for life long learning at early ages, failure for school systems to fund continuing education of teachers to prepare them for newly emerged practices for enhanced student learning, cultural impediments including failure of some families to encourage children and to give them extra learning help at home, dysfunctional families for children to grow up in caused by drug and alcohol abuse and chronic unemployment, grade inflation characterized by too many As and Bs and attitudes that nobody fails so pass them along, failure of school boards to hire the best qualified superintendents and teachers because of local emphasis on favoring “home grow” individuals, failure of school boards to define performance expectations for superintendents to make effective accountability impossible, constantly changing types of State mandated testing to cause chaos and morale problems, poor compensation of teachers necessary to attract and keep the best and the brightest, etc.

To blame all problems on teachers is a cruel travesty.

One of the weakest links contributing to a lack of progress in improving WV schools is that instead of analyzing the full spectrum of contributing problems and focusing on ones with the biggest payoff potential, the trend in Charleston is to constantly apply band aid approaches with hopes that “cures” will be stumbled on accidentally.

By Do Not Blame It All On Our Teachers on 09.21.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Wood County Schools exceeds state test averages'.

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The problem with preK-12 education in WV is that a holistic and and technically defensible evaluation of contributing factors to cause WV’s problems and how to deal with them has not occurred.

Instead, under direction of clueless politicians ineffective muddling prevails while selling what is done at a particular time as the definitive solution.

How many times have we witnessed muddling over the past 20-30 Years? It still goes on in Charleston.

Why not obtain a grant to have qualified experts analyze success stories around the Nation and use findings to craft a demonstration project in Gilmer County to improve our school system?

Regardless of what we do there must be open minds in seeking out what to do in homes, schools,  teacher education programs in our institutions of higher learning, continuing education for classroom teachers, and to involve various factions in our community to achieve acceptable results. Everyone must band together as a unified team to make it work.

One trap is over emphasis of sports. If the same magnitude of attention and importance were to be focused on solving preK-12 education problems in WV, great strides could be made to benefit deserving children.

By Muddling on 09.19.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Wood County Schools exceeds state test averages'.

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Our heartfelt condolences on the passing of Mr. Ron. I too know this pain of losing a beloved father. Both of these men were taken way too soon. Praying maybe Mr.Ron, my Dad, and all the former Westinghouse employees in heaven are getting together. Love and prayers from, Adrienne and family.

By Adrienne (Trimper) Johnson on 09.19.2018

From the entry: 'Ronald J. Vanskiver'.

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West Virginia’s educational failures is NOT because of classroom teachers.

It IS because of the WV Board of Education’s failures of the past 20-30 years.

That 9 member, lopsided governor board is a crime against children and education in WV as a whole.

It needs 3 teachers, 3 general public parent members, and 3 governor appointees.

Until that governors click gang is broken up, you simply see repeats of the past.  NO progress in education.

It will take the legislature to fix it, but they are too busy with the legislature created court system failure, while trying to line pockets with gas and oil money.

By Tell It Like It Is ! on 09.19.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Wood County Schools exceeds state test averages'.

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What is the plausible rationale for Gilmer not disclosing detailed facts similar to what Superintendent Hosaflook did?

Wood County reported 11,176 students in its 27 schools for the full FY 2018 school year.

In comparison Gilmer had 734 reported students in our two schools for the full FY 2018 school year.

Wood County had 15 times more students than Gilmer and it is reasonable to assume that it was 15 times more demanding to administer with its 27 schools.

If Wood County could get detailed facts out to the public with its significantly higher work load what keeps tiny Gilmer from doing the same?

By Why Gilmer BOE? on 09.18.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Wood County Schools exceeds state test averages'.

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We have not had a responsible, functioning, WVBE for 20 years.
Not one that would accept any responsibility.

They just keep changing ‘score keeping’ so there can be no accurate tracking of student progress.

State ranks 48th or 49th on educational outcomes. Still.
Colleges still have to give remedial classes.

The ONLY thing that changes are the names of the governor appointed players.
And just look at the ‘cost-per-pupil’ spending!
We are about the highest in the nation.

West Virginia State Board of Education = complete failure.  Nothing less.

By just more smoke and mirrors on 09.16.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released for Public Schools in West Virginia'.

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Never could figure out why working people, retirees, volunteers are picking up trash left by adults?

Not when we have the numbers of bored prisoners we have locked up doing nothing??

By No solution here- on 09.16.2018

From the entry: 'Adopt-A-Highway Fall Statewide Cleanup Set for September 29'.

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Go to http://www.mywvschool.org to access more official State information about Gilmer’s schools. There are serious red flags in need of immediate corrective attention.

If you access Lewis County schools on the same web site you can review info for LES. Look at the red flags there. Worse than GES.

Instead of using the info to criticize it can be useful in seeking out opportunities for making immediate improvements.

For those who take apologetic stands that Gilmer is doing as well as some other WV counties and everything is fine, it does not mean that inferior educations for our children are acceptable.

By Look At Red Flags on 09.16.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Superintendent Set Her Goals for School Year'.

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Who is responsible for Gilmer’s oversight of the LES?

If you access the State’s website you will learn that math and reading is red flagged for the LCES to be as bad as it can get.

Why is it that nothing is reported in Gilmer County about how that school is doing when we know that our sixth grade finishers from over there will go to the GCHS to finish their educations? 

It is like our students who attend LCES are forgotten about. Someone needs to be watching out for them.

By Who Minds The Store on 09.15.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Superintendent Set Her Goals for School Year'.

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The really sad stories are left out.
The students who accrue debt and for whatever reasons, drop out of school after a year or two.

They have little hope of improving incomes, but still have debt.
More of them than you think.

By More sad ones to be told. on 09.14.2018

From the entry: 'Student-Loan Debts a "Loss of Freedom" for Some in WV'.

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Information made ‘public’ forces accountability.
Do not hold your breath lest you turn blue.

‘They’ want elected. Get their place at the trough.
Then discover ‘exposure’ makes their work more difficult.

Informed citizens make informed decisions.
Why do we see the same names being elected over and over and over?

By WHEN we're allowed to see it......? on 09.14.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Harrison BOE sets yearly superintendent goals'.

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Lots of work to be done with schools in Gilmer County. 2017-2018 Summative Assessments out today for student achievement.

Gilmer County High School.

For Math
*Exceed or Meet Standards=40% of Students.
*Fail to Meet Standards=60% of Students

For Reading
*Exceed or Meet Standards=36% of Students
*Fail to Meet Standards=64%

The scores speak volumes. What was done to accurately determine causes of failures and what will be done about it? BOE, the public has a right to know answers.

By Public Demands Answers on 09.13.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Superintendent Set Her Goals for School Year'.

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The Founding Fathers screwed up, we should not have to work and pay our bills. Let that man behind the tree work and pay for it all.
Free education should be a right.
Free food should be a right.
Free healthcare should be a right. 
Free transportation should be a right.
Free entertainment should be a right.

By Smart Feller on 09.13.2018

From the entry: 'Student-Loan Debts a "Loss of Freedom" for Some in WV'.

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Thank you BOE members and Mrs. Lowther. Let’s work together at all community levels to make Gilmer County an educational power house in West Virginia. We can do it as an effective team and provision of information will be the key to success.

By Better Times On The Way on 09.12.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Superintendent Set Her Goals for School Year'.

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Accountability - good point - and across Gilmer County.  We’ve seen glimpses and pieces of news WHEN we’re allowed to see it, mere mortals that we are. But never any follow up.  And the information come in bits and pieces (remember when we actually got to SEE what the Gilmer County Commission was up to?)  My question is, why do we never see the accountability or repercussion for actions of current Gilmer ‘elite’??

By Transparency matters on 09.12.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Harrison BOE sets yearly superintendent goals'.

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Encouraging news that the superintendent will present her goals for Gilmer Schools on 9/10.

We assume that there will be a commitment for specific goals to achieve, measurable outcomes, completion dates for different steps and final goal achievement, and a meaningful monitoring program to determine if we are on track or there is need for mid-course fine tuning.

If any of this is missing there will not be meaningful accountability. Excellent business plans have all the components addressed above.

By Waiting To See on 09.09.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Harrison BOE sets yearly superintendent goals'.

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