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State Leaders Get a Lesson in How to Reduce Those Loan Costs, College Debt Averaging $26,000

The Gilmer Free Press

More and more West Virginians are getting their college degrees but they’re left tens of thousands of dollars in debt.

The average 2011 graduate ended up with $26,600 in unpaid loans according to a U.S. News study.

West Virginia State University hosted a roundtable discussion Monday that included educators, student counselors, state and national leaders to delve into the growing problem of student debt.

State Senator Chris Walters of Putnam County says he knows just how expensive an education is today.

“I was a student not too long ago. I still have debt from my college years,” the newly elected senator said.

West Virginia college students and those hoping to go to college are currently in the midst of filling out federal financial aid forms, called FAFSA.

It is a step that has to be taken before a student can be eligible for any federal or state financial aid.

Second District Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito has three children who have gotten their degrees.

She stresses it is not just the tuition students are worried about.

“There are a lot of hidden costs with college: you’re not working, you’ve got travel costs, books. So I think this is an issue that weighs a lot on parents,” Capito said. “It certainly did when we were going through it and I know it does today.”

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, also the father of three college graduates, says what worries him the most is the fact that 60% of West Virginians who start college never get their degrees.

“If [students] are not finishing but they’re incurring a lot of debt, something’s wrong!”

Maisha Challenger with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid also took part in the roundtable discussion. She says there is a lot of grant money coming from the government that is being left on the table.

“The federal government offers 150 billion dollars [in grants, loans and work study] and a lot of people don’t realize that,” Challenger said.

She says students and parents need to know that and how to access the money. The best way to do that, according to Challenger, is to make parents and students aware so they can apply for as much funding as possible to avoid crippling college debt.

~~  Jennifer Smith – WVMN ~~

WEST FORK CONSERVATION DISTRICT: 2013 Speech and Poster Contest

The Gilmer Free Press

“Where Does Your Water Shed?” will be the theme for the West Fork Conservation District’s Annual Speech and Poster Contests.

These contests give youth a voice to express their thoughts and feelings about our environment and the effects, good and/or bad, that we as a society have on it.

The theme is taken from the National Association of Conservation Districts Annual Soil Stewardship week.

The public speaking contest is open to all students in grades 4th through 12th. Students will compete in school, county and District levels. All school winners receive $10.00. County winners receive $25.00. District first place winners will receive either a savings bond for $200.00 or a scholarship to a conservation camp.

The poster contest is open to all students in kindergarten through 12th grades. Students compete in school, county and District levels. All school winners receive $10.00. County winners receive $25.00. District first place winners will receive either a savings bond for $100.00 or a scholarship to a conservation camp.

Teachers of county first place winners will be given $50.00 to be used towards classroom enhancement.

Both contests are open to public and private schools as well as students who are home schooled.


The dates are as follows:

•:  School Contests – before March 08, 2013

•:  County Contests – March 15, 2013

•:  District Contest – March 22, 2013


If you have a student that wishes to participate in these worthwhile contests please contact your local school for materials or Robin Ward, Education Outreach Coordinator for the West Fork Conservation District at 304.627.2160 or “robinward.wfcd@gmail.com”.

Gilmer Public Library: WV Reads 150

The Gilmer Free Press

Join the West Virginia Library Commission (WVLC), the West Virginia Center for the Book and libraries across the state in West Virginia Reads 150, a fun reading challenge that celebrates West Virginia’s 150th birthday in 2013.

The year-long reading initiative encourages West Virginians to read 150 books in any format (printed book, e-book, downloadable text, etc.) from any source, during the course of 2013, West Virginia’s sesquicentennial year. Books can be on any topic, fiction or non-fiction; they must be read between January 01 and December 31, 2013.

People can read 150 books individually, or create teams to read 150 books collectively. Libraries across West Virginia are encouraged to form teams to compete. Teams, which can have up to 15 members, must choose a name and select a leader to keep track of the books read by team members.

All ages and groups can participate – friends, coworkers, book clubs, classmates, seniors, etc. If children are too young to read on their own, kids can have their parents read to them. Families can use their Summer Reading Program reading toward their West Virginia Reads 150 tally.

To participate, sign up at Gilmer Public Library.  Contact the library at 304.462.5620 for more information, or you can check us out on Facebook.

G-Comm™: Hoppy’s Commentary - Manchin Supports Universal Background Checks

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It’s appropriate that Senator Diane Feinstein opened her press conference on gun control Thursday with a prayer from Rev. Gary Hall from Washington’s National Cathedral.  It will take divine intervention to get through Congress a ban on 150 different types of guns.

Gun control is a non-starter in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, and even a long shot in the Senate, where the normally outspoken Majority Leader Harry Reid has been cryptic.

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who seemed open to more gun control shortly after the Sandy Hook shooting, has shifted back to a more pro-gun stance.  The Senator has, however, voiced strong support for the least controversial measure in the gun debate: universal background checks.

“I’m working on a bill right now with other Senators, Democrats and Republicans—we’re trying to get it, and looking at a background check that basically says if you’re going to be a gun owner, you should be able to pass a background check.”

Manchin says the legislation would, however, include exceptions for an exchange of guns between family members or the use of guns at certain sporting events.

That measure would close what some call the “gun show loophole.”  Currently, all federally licensed firearms dealers have to perform background checks.  However, private dealers, who are often found at gun shows, do not.

Subjecting the vast majority of gun transactions to the same rules makes sense. Strong supporters of the Second Amendment should embrace any change that helps keep guns out of the hands of convicted felons, the mentally ill and others prohibited from owning firearms.

However, it’s not necessarily that simple.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which is the database used for the federal background checks, is incomplete.

The system “doesn’t include millions of people legally barred from owning guns, researchers and advocates say,” according to the Journal.  “Fourteen states list fewer than five people flagged for mental illness.”

The Journal says part of the problem is that a 1997 U.S. Supreme Court decision “struck down part of the law requiring states to report mental-health records.”

Manchin says applying the background checks equally is just “common sense,” and he’s right.  However, for those checks to be effective, the states and the federal government have to do a better job of making sure that all the appropriate records are getting to the FBI.

Otherwise, background checks are just a shot in the dark.

WEST FORK CONSERVATION DISTRICT: 2013 Speech and Poster Contest

The Gilmer Free Press

“Where Does Your Water Shed?” will be the theme for the West Fork Conservation District’s Annual Speech and Poster Contests.

These contests give youth a voice to express their thoughts and feelings about our environment and the effects, good and/or bad, that we as a society have on it.

The theme is taken from the National Association of Conservation Districts Annual Soil Stewardship week.

The public speaking contest is open to all students in grades 4th through 12th. Students will compete in school, county and District levels. All school winners receive $10.00. County winners receive $25.00. District first place winners will receive either a savings bond for $200.00 or a scholarship to a conservation camp.

The poster contest is open to all students in kindergarten through 12th grades. Students compete in school, county and District levels. All school winners receive $10.00. County winners receive $25.00. District first place winners will receive either a savings bond for $100.00 or a scholarship to a conservation camp.

Teachers of county first place winners will be given $50.00 to be used towards classroom enhancement.

Both contests are open to public and private schools as well as students who are home schooled.


The dates are as follows:

•:  School Contests – before March 08, 2013

•:  County Contests – March 15, 2013

•:  District Contest – March 22, 2013


If you have a student that wishes to participate in these worthwhile contests please contact your local school for materials or Robin Ward, Education Outreach Coordinator for the West Fork Conservation District at 304.627.2160 or “robinward.wfcd@gmail.com”.

Ritchie County: Area Musicians Will Be Warming Up North Bend

The Gilmer Free Press

Local area musicians will add some joy during the drab winter months during “Sundays in the Park” at North Bend State Park in January, February and March.

“Music livens and warms what can be cold, wintry Sundays,” according to Ken Zebo, park activities coordinator “We get a good response to this type of programming and enjoy hosting local talent.”

North Bend State Park is a family oriented destination known for warm welcomes and well prepared meals and buffets in the park restaurant.

From Noon until 2:00 PM on most Sundays, visitors and folks taking advantage of Sunday dinner buffets can enjoy live entertainment in the lodge lobby.

There is no charge to listen to music.

The Sunday buffet at the park restaurant is available from 11:00 AM until 2:00 PM.

Musicians or groups scheduled to play at North Bend’s “Sundays in the Park” include:

January 27 – Scott Cain from Parkersburg, WV, on hammered dulcimer

February 10 – Steve Ritter from Cairo, WV, on acoustic guitar

February 24 – Steve Ritter

March 03 – Scott Cain

March 17 (St. Patrick’s Day) – Scott Cain

North Bend lodge, restaurant, and cabins are open year-round.

The park features miles of hiking trails and organizes a variety of special weekends and activities.

Find more information about North Bend State Park at www.northbendsp.com or call the park direct at 304.643.2931.

Be sure to take advantage of this great winter opportunity if you have a chance.

G-Comm™: Maya

The Gilmer Free Press

Maya is the name of the determined protagonist of “Zero Dark Thirty” who pursues Osama bin Laden to his death. Controversies generated by the film include whether torture was essential to the success of the original mission, whether the producers were given special access to the CIA, and whether the film amounts to propaganda that excuses illegal methods of countering terrorism. Director Kathryn Bigelow has been accused of wanting the film to be seen as both documentary and fiction, not unlike the way Rush Limbaugh wants to be seen as both as a factual cultural power broker and mere entertainer.

“Zero Dark Thirty,” along with actor-director Ben Affleck’s film “Argo,” a thriller based on the joint CIA-Canadian rescue of rescue of six American diplomats during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, can generate some useful reflection upon American methods for achieving security in a dangerous world. Both films pander to crude stereotypes of malevolent, swarthy-skinned, bearded jihadis. They intensify the “us and them” paradigm that suffuses our thinking about a region of the world going through paroxysmal changes. “Argo” begins with a brief montage that acknowledges the U.S. role in the creation of modern Iran. The film dramatizes how the C.I.A. overturned Iranian elections in the 1950s, deposed the popular democratically elected Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953, and installed the Shah, causing severe blowback. We experienced more blowback when Bin Laden was with us against the Soviets before he was against us.

Ironically, Argo’s reduction of Iranians to brutal thugs is countered by the supremely subtle and human Iranian 2011 film of director and writer Asghar Farhadi, “A Separation,” in which an Iranian couple must decide whether to move to another country to provide opportunities for their child, or stay in Iran to care for a family member with Alzheimer’s; a work vastly higher in quality than either “Argo” or “Zero Dark Thirty.”

The two American films celebrate our ingenuity, courage and perseverance against adversaries, but our own integrity requires that we look more deeply into the dominant narrative that produced them. While these are “only” films, “Zero Dark Thirty” points us back to the painfulness of the events out of which it came, illuminating the questions: How and when can the “war on terror” come to an end, and how will we know when it does? In the same way, “Argo” questions how to prevent a war between us—or Israel—and Iran, a war that would resolve nothing.
Bin Laden was apparently motivated to attack the West out of revenge—the ancient paradigm of an “eye for an eye.” In an extensive 2002 letter to the American people, printed in the British publication The Observer, Bin Laden laid out his specific justifications for horrific violence against innocents.

He began by citing passages from the Koran that give permission to Islamists to fight “disbelievers.” Immediately this sets up a pathological context, because it contains what philosophers call a performative contradiction: He proclaimed Islam as a universal religion, but his vision was radically exclusivist. He believed that a universal God is on the side of pure Islam against impure or non-Islamists. Religionists of many faiths, including Christianity, have occasionally fallen into this moral trap.

Bin Laden went on to say that he and his colleagues are fighting the U.S. because the U.S. supports Israel against Palestine. He was explicitly anti-Semitic; to him the creation of Israel was a crime, implying no willingness to accept a more inclusive, multi-ethnic vision of the region’s future.
Not all of Bin Laden’s justifications for violence were based in irrational fantasies of revenge. He raised issues, like the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children in Iraq as the result of U.S. sanctions, or our double standards about whom we allow to have nuclear weapons and whom we do not, that have also been raised by patriotic and loyal Americans.

When I spoke at a Rotary club a few years ago, I said that however horrific Bin Laden’s crimes were, it was important to hear his rationalizations and understand his frame of reference. It was important to consider what effect actions of our own, like stationing troops on bases in Saudi Arabia, had upon extremists—or those who could be recruited to their ranks from amongst offended citizens—and it was important to bring murderers to trial as ordinary criminals rather than exterminate them. A number of listeners to my talk stood up and walked out.

Our decision to assassinate Bin Laden was not an act of restorative justice. Killing him would not have brought back to life those who perished on 9/11. It was an act of retributive, consciously decided, cold-minded payback. In the intent eyes of our heads of government as they followed the actions of the Navy Seals, eyes that included a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, it was possible to see how an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

In the nuclear age, this lack of moral imagination becomes a great deal more important than the issue of how entertaining or truthful are the products of Hollywood. Our planetary misery and fear will never decrease by an endless cycle of revenge and counter-revenge. A pathological level of revenge is built into the very deterrence that rationalizes the possession of massive nuclear arsenals—the mother of all performative contradictions: a revenge-cycle that could kill us all, as it very nearly did in the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

Shouldn’t any sane narrative of our response to terrorism include fewer drones that create more terrorists than they kill, and a few more initiatives of reconciliation between the West and Muslim regions? It is past time to set aside, from the trillions we spend on weapons and war, a few millions for a Department of Peace.

Otherwise we are fooling ourselves—moving deck chairs around on the Titanic. “Maya” is the Sanskrit word for illusion.

~~  Winslow Myers ~~

Movies This Week – 01.24.13

The Gilmer Free Press

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

Opens Friday, January 25, 2013 | Runtime: 1 hr. 28 min.

R - Fantasy Horror Violence/Gore, Brief Sexuality/Nudity and Language

Fifteen years after Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) defeated the wicked witch who planned to have them for her dinner, the siblings have come of age as skilled bounty hunters. Hell-bent on retribution, they have dedicated their lives to hunting down and destroying every witch still lurking in the dark forests of their homeland. As the notorious blood moon approaches, the siblings face a great evil—one that could hold the secret to their terrifying past.

Cast: Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Famke Janssen, Peter Stormare, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal

Director: Tommy Wirkola

Genres: Sci-Fi/Fantasy

 

 

The Gilmer Free Press

Movie 43

Opens Friday, January 25, 2013 | Runtime: 1 hr. 37 min.

R - Strong pervasive crude and sexual content including dialogue, graphic nudity, language, some violence and drug use.

Take a hilarious director, add a brilliant cast, mix in some twisted jokes, remove all boundaries, and then stand back…way back. In Movie 43, comedy is served steaming hot (literally) by director Peter Farrelly of The Farrelly Brothers (Something About Mary, Dumb & Dumber) in one of the most shocking, original, and dangerous comedies ever made. Starring Johnny Knoxville, Gerard Butler, Anna Faris, Seann William Scott, Hugh Jackman, Richard Gere, Uma Thurman, Halle Berry, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Kate Bosworth, Kate Winslet, Terrence Howard, Liev Schreiber, Elizabeth Banks, Justin Long, Kristen Bell, Patrick Warburton, Josh Duhamel, Jason Sudeikis, Chloe Grace Moretz, Stephen Merchant, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jack McBrayer, Kieran Culkin, and Chris Pratt, Movie 43 is jaw-dropping, uproarious, outrageous fun. Warning: not for the weak-stomached, faint of heart, or easily offended.

Directors: Steven Brill, Rusty Cundieff, Peter Farrelly, Brett Ratner, Steve Carr

Genres: Comedy

Trailer Not Appropriate

 

The Gilmer Free Press

Parker

Opens Friday, January 25, 2013 | Runtime: 1 hr. 58 min.

R - Brief Sexual Content, Brief Nudity, Language Throughout and Strong Violence

Parker (Jason Statham) is a professional thief who lives by a personal code of ethics: Don’t steal from people who can’t afford it and don’t hurt people who don’t deserve it. But on his latest heist, his crew double crosses him, steals his stash, and leaves him for dead. Determined to make sure they regret it, Parker tracks them to PalmBeach, playground of the rich and famous, where the crew is planning their biggest heist ever. Donning the disguise of a rich Texan, Parker takes on an unlikely partner, Leslie (Jennifer Lopez), a savvy insider, who’s short on cash, but big on looks, smarts and ambition. Together, they devise a plan to hijack the score, take everyone down and get away clean.

Cast: Jason Statham, Jennifer Lopez, Clifton Collins, Jr., Wendell Pierce, Michael Chiklis, Nick Nolte

Director: Taylor Hackford

Genres: Action/Adventure, Suspense/Thriller

GSC and Gilmer Public Libraries Participating in Statewide Reading Challenge

The Gilmer Free Press

Staff members from Glenville State College’s Robert F. Kidd Library and the Gilmer Public Library invite you to join them, the West Virginia Library Commission, and the West Virginia Center for the Book in the WV Reads 150 reading challenge. West Virginia Reads 150 is designed to celebrate and honor West Virginia’s sesquicentennial (150th) birthday.

The yearlong reading initiative encourages West Virginians to read 150 books in any format including traditional printed books, e-books, downloadable text, and more during the course of 2013. Books can be on any topic and can be fiction or non-fiction, but they must be read between January 01 and December 31, 2013.

Books can be read individually or through teams to reach the 150 books total. Teams can have up to 15 members, but each team must choose a name and select a leader to keep track of the books read by individual team members.

All ages and groups can participate. If children are too young to read on their own, their parents may read to them. Families may use their completed Summer Reading Program titles as part of their West Virginia Reads 150 tally.

Robert F. Kidd Library Director Gail Westbrook said, “Our staff members are really looking forward to this friendly competition between us and the Gilmer Public Library staff.  We are already busy reading at home during any spare time we manage to find.“

According to Gilmer County Public Library Director Susan Atkinson, a few different teams from the community have signed up in addition to the group that the library staff has. “The idea is just to get people reading. You usually don’t keep track of how many books you read, so it will be interesting to see what kind of numbers these groups reach,“ Atkinson said. She also adds that the five readers from the public library team will have no trouble making the 150 book goal and that they intend to ‘take no hostages’ when it comes to winning the competition between them and the RFK Library readers.

To register for the program, visit www.librarycommission.wv.gov and select WV Reads 150 from the ‘Programs’ drop-down menu.

For more information on the WV Reads 150 challenge, contact GSC’s Robert F. Kidd Library at 304.462.4109 or the Gilmer Public Library at 304.462.5620.

West Virginia Seeks Submissions for 2014 Wildlife Calendar

The Gilmer Free Press

It may be only January, but West Virginia natural resources officials are thinking 2014.

The state’s Division of Natural Resources is looking for original wildlife art for next year’s edition of its annual wildlife calendar.

Paintings can depict popular game and fish, or illustrate lesser-known species such as snakes, frogs, bats, salamanders and small mammals.

A $100 prize is awarded for each painting chosen.

A $500 prize goes to the artist whose artwork is chosen for the cover of the division’s 29th edition of the popular calendar.

The deadline for submitting artwork is February 18, 2013.

Artists are reminded that the calendar format is horizontal. Paintings not chosen in previous years can be submitted anew.

West Virginia Gets an “F” for Tobacco Prevention

The Gilmer Free Press

The state received an “F” across the board in four areas the study covers: in funding for tobacco prevention and control programs, in smoke free air, in cigarette taxes and in cessation coverage.

Vice President of Mission for the American Lung Association Chantal Fields said a better job can be done at the government level.

“There are some steps that they should be taking to help the prevention of tobacco use among kids and to protect our citizens from second hand smoke,” said Fields. “We do not have adequate budget in this state to do the things that are necessary for prevention.”

West Virginia receives $231 million in tobacco-related revenue annually, but only invests $5.7 million to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources to be spent on tobacco prevention and cessation programs.

That amount is well below the $27.8 million investment the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends.

“When you consider that tobacco is costing the state about $690 million a year just in health care costs for smokers, the $27.8 that we should be getting is pennies comparatively,” said Fields.

Fields adds that the $27.8 million would also do a great deal in lowering the health care costs the state incurs each year for smokers.

The report also rated tobacco prevention efforts on the county level as well and Fields said the results were a little better there.

“Some of our counties have done a wonderful job and have comprehensive clean indoor air regulations that cover restaurants , bars, work sites, everything,” said Fields. “Other counties have regulations in place but they are not quit as comprehensive.”

In this report, twenty counties earned “A” grades, 19 earned “B” grades, 10 earned “C” grades and the remaining 6 counties received “F” grades.

In order to get the grades up in the state, Fields said better funding for tobacco prevention is needed, more clean indoor air regulations, cigarette taxes and cessation coverage for people.

Tobacco causes an estimated 3,821 deaths in West Virginia annually alone and 443,000 deaths nationwide.

Fields said the American Lung Association urges state lawmakers to do more to adequately protect citizens.

~~  Travis Brinkstbrinks – WVMN ~~

Cairo, Ritchie County: Filming on ‘Hollow Creek’ Wrapped Up in West Virginia

The Gilmer Free Press

Actress, producer and director Guisela Moro says a visit to West Virginia to buy a puppy inspired her to make a movie in the state.

Filming on Newfoundland Films’ “Hollow Creek” wraped up Thursday in Cairo, Richie County.

The film was shot in Ritchie and Wyoming counties.

Moro says she came to Wyoming County from Washington, D.C., to buy a Newfoundland puppy.

She fell in love with the scenery and decided to write a movie and film it in the state.

Moro describes “Hollow Creek” as a “Stephen King-style thriller.”

The film is expected to release in the fall.

Moro says special screenings will be held in locations where filming occurred.

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