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Truth Has A Way of Always Emerging

The Free Press WV

There is a celestial phenomenon that truth has a way of always emerging.

It may take time, but it always gets out.

The story from the Weston Democrat demonstrates that Gilmer County’s long fought struggle to get truth to honest citizens has succeeded.

The State took over our school system without warning, it seized our money to spend it as it pleases, it took over all important decisions affecting our schools, and it even granted itself the authority to commit the County to pay off a $1,000,000 bond debt without getting consent from our citizens.

There has been an embargo against information of all kinds from the onset of intervention to prevent Gilmer County’s school board and its citizens to be informed.

The reason was to keep knowledge from the people because it equates to empowerment and that is what the State wanted to avoid.

The Weston Democrat’s article addresses only part of the story and the remainder will emerge in full to cover how decisions were made leading up to abandoning the Cedar Creek school site after hundreds of thousands of public dollars were wasted.

Also, it will be fully exposed how the State made the decision to build a new consolidated school at Hays City while claiming that there was no other suitable site in the County!

Sincere thanks for serving West Virginia’s citizens by keeping them informed are extended to the Weston Democrat and the Gazette-Mail that published an earlier article about the Leading Creek scandal. That responsible public service by the newspapers is a classical example of the absolute necessity of survival of a free press and free speech in protecting and preserving democracy in the United States of America.


With news about the Leading Creek scandals in the open Charleston’s bureaucrats have two choices:

  1. They can admit to ownership of problems they created and to spend their energy on solutions

  2. or they can continue blaming Gilmer County’s citizens


It is their choice and theirs alone.



The Free Press WV

New School has Low Enrollment

~~  CASSIDY MCCOY - Weston Democrat ~~

Leading Creek Elementary School, the state’s first inter-county school that straddles Lewis and Gilmer County, is facing intense scrutiny for student enrollment that is less than anticipated.

In documents submitted to the State School Building Authority(SBA), Leading Creek was projected to enroll 240 students and was built to support as many as 280 but state reports revealed 156 students enrolled at Leading Creek Elementary as of October 2015.

Lewis County Board of Education President Paul Derico said that about 100 of the students enrolled at Leading Creek are from Lewis County.

The SBA supplied $10.3 million dollars in addition to $300,00 from Lewis County schools and $100,000 from Gilmer County schools in order to construct the new facility.
Leading Creek Principal Kim Freeland told media representatives that the beautifully constructed school is currently housing five rooms that were intended to be used as classrooms that are being designated for other purposes due to the low enrollment; including one room that is essentially a storage room for all of the extra furniture.

The school combines Alum Bridge Elementary from Lewis County and Troy Elementary from Gilmer County. Last year, Alum Bridge reported enrollment of 98 students and Troy reported 92. The 240 enrollment prediction was based on the opportunity to pull some students from Sand Fork Elementary as stated on documents sent to the state and SBA and signed by Lewis County Superintendent Joe Mace and Gilmer County representatives, but Gilmer County Board of Education members and superintended Gabriel Devono say that Gilmer County had no such plans and that the redistricting of Sand Fork students was scrapped early in planning.

Some of the enrollment loss is due 5th and 6th graders in Lewis County choosing to attend the middle school instead of the elementary facility. Another reason for the low enrollment is the report that Gilmer County students in the Leading Creek district were approved for transfer requests that allow them to attend Glenville Elementary instead of Leading Creek.

Some reports say that Devono is issuing bus runs that make the transfers away from Leading Creek easier than it would be otherwise, but Devono said that the bus run in question transports students to the high school anyway, so students who transfered out of Leading Creek have not had a special run created for them but are easily transported to alternative elementary schools because the normal route allows it.

Devono also stated that “if parents wish for their students to attend a Gilmer County school, they have that right. Just like parents across the state can choose to ask for their kids to attend an out of county or district school.“

In 2011, the state Board of Education took over Gilmer County schools and to date the state is still in control of the school system though the county is working toward regaining control. Because of the state intervention, the Gilmer County Superintendent approves student transfer requests upon receiving an application from parents. Gilmer BOE member Norma Hurley says the transfers are approved by the superintendent and then the board is provided with a list of the individuals granted approval for which they then approve the list.

Hurley goes on to say that if a parent has reason and wishes to keep their kids in the Gilmer County education system then the decision should be allowed.

The Gilmer County residents pay taxes in Gilmer County but the Leading Creek deed is issued in Lewis County and Lewis County is responsible for the school’s finances.

Because Lewis County is in control of the finances, they are also subject to the problems caused by low enrollment when receiving state funding because the formula is based on enrollment numbers which has also led to some personnel concerns. The state aid formula is based on enrollment, so more kids translates to more money. When hiring for Leading Creek, Lewis County Schools personnel administrators hired enough employees to cover the 240 projected students.

Not only does the additional personnel create budget problems for Lewis County Schools, but at a September meeting of the Leading Creek Governance Board, Kim Bonnett represented the school’s staff and expressed concerns that the low student numbers had educators unsure about their job security.

Several years ago, Gilmer County had a bond election to consolidate elementary schools and create two schools instead of four but voters did not approve the measure. With the state in control of the county education system, Gilmer County is not only getting an inter-county consolidation that led to Leading Creek, but a consolidation of Glenville, Normantown and Sand Fork schools.

The SBA is providing assitance in the funding of the new Glenville Elementary School also, but current issues with Leading Creek have representatives a little weary. Then, recently officials became even more concerned over the millions in funding because of an amended facilities plan that will transform the old Glenville Elementary School into a middle school to house sixth through eighth grades.

Devono said that there is a great deal of community support for the middle school but there is concern that the additional cost would cancel out any savings provided by the new consolidated elementary school. In addition, one of the reasons for the building of a new facility was because the old Glenville Elementary, which was only constructed in the mid-70’s and has been subject to renovations, is the facility’s proximity to a plastics plant. Parents complaints about the health and safety of students became a routine occurrence so keeping a school in the location wouldn’t minimize the risk but exchange one group of students for another. The SBA could have cut nearly $3 million off the $12.2 million price tag of the consolidated elementary school in Gilmer County had it only been for Normantown and Sand Fork so continuing to use Glenville Elementary but move the students may create minimal additional costs after the fact but would still result in $3 million of state funds that could have been cut from project costs.

Despite the lack of accountability that encompasses the Leading Creek concerns and all of the doom and gloom surrounding the new school through various media outlets, representatives in both counties are looking to the future with positivity.  Devono, who was appointed in July 2014, said that the he supports the concept of the school but he also supports the parents and the students of Gilmer County and thinks that with time and effort, Leading Creek will become “a successful school in our state.“

Lewis County Schools Manager Chris Derico told representatives from the media that he hopes to have even more Lewis County students enrolled at Leading Creek next year because of the option to send fifth and sixth grade students to the school.

Hopefully as things progress at Leading Creek, Lewis and Gilmer County will work together to build a brighter future for the students involved.

With populations across the state dropping, the inter-county school was heralded by some as a potential saving grace for the West Virginia school system, particularly in rural areas. The questions surrounding Leading Creek may cause leaders to reconsider investing in such a project in the future, or it may prove to be a perfect collaboration of West Virginians working together to insure the future through the education of students regardless of the county line, only time will tell.

 

The Free Press WV

The Free Press WV

G-Comm™: Now the WVBOE Blame Game Begins

Now the West Virginia State Board of Education
Blame Game Begins

The Free Press WV

What’s next?

Will the innocent children of Gilmer County, now be used as disposable pawns by West Virginia State Board of Education Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano, WVBE President Mike Green, and the rest of the State Board of Education?  Will the​ designers​ of the destruction of the Gilmer County School system deliver Gilmer Citizens another big blow?

Is this what the big, invitation only, secret meeting is being held to discuss?

Is this a “we must find who we can blame” meeting?

........... Its being planned as you read this commentary.

Seems there has finally been a great ‘ah-hah’ moment, by the Lewis County School Board, West Virginia State Board of Education, and the West Virginia State School Building Authority.  They have finally realized they have orchestrated a disaster.  They are feverishly scrambling to find someone on which to lay the blame.  Has anyone ever heard of a West Virginia governmental agency taking blame?  Yes, taking responsibility for the failure they have wrought?  This blame game is going to be classic to the highest degree.

 

The Free Press WV

Lewis County requested this new Leading Creek School.  That’s on their CEFP plan.  West Virginia State Board of Education’s appointed Gilmer County Superintendent Devano is on record claiming he can not ​even ​locate Gilmer County CEFP plan!  The Gilmer County Board of Education was NEVER, EVER involved in any of the discussion of the Leading Creek School building process, nothing.  (as witnessed on all the videos by Gilmer Free Press)

 

The Free Press WV

Remember, the tyrannical, heavy handed, June 11, 2011,  overthrow of the Gilmer County School System?  The total silencing of the citizen elected Gilmer Board of Education was totally,  completely, a political disaster contrived by a very few select individuals in Gilmer County.  There were political dollars, political paybacks, power driven, ego inflated people who thrust this action upon the completely defenseless Gilmer County citizens?

 

The Free Press WV

Oh yes, the West Virginia State Board of Education will claim the Gilmer County School Board has been involved.  No, It NEVER has; get that straight and clear.  The Gilmer Free Press has posted board meeting videos for years now which will prove that to be totally wrong.  The West Virginia Board of Education will likely flaunt documents signed by Gilmer Board President William K. Simmons to support their claims.  Those documents are a total farce.  Other board members have always been puzzled with the decisions. Some are brave enough to express it publicly, some are fearful of losing their job which keeps them from saying anything.  Some of them will agree with anything.  Just watch the videos of all the meetings to find out who is who in each category (Really you do not have to see them all! Just watch one at random and you will have your answer). But concerned citizens will see them through an FOIA request.

 

The Free Press WV

You will not see one video where the board voted to authorize Dr. Simmons to sign anything.  Remember, Gilmer County is under intervention and the board has been stripped of all powers.  They can’t.  The Gilmer County School Board cannot even request and have simple items placed on the school board meeting agendas, people!  The Gilmer County School Board has been effectively neutered since June 11, 2011.  Apparently, Dr. Simmons has been playing the go-along-to-get-alone-game by himself?

There were individuals who spoke up and tried to inform everyone that the populations of East Gilmer County and West Lewis County areas would not be enough to support a school.  There were several requests made to the West Virginia State Board of Education for oversight of what was happening; all to no avail.  Requests were made directly to West Virginia State Board of Education appointed Superintendent Blankenship to stop this building process because it was sure to be a failure.  Citizens appeared before the West Virginia State Board of Education at their own board meetings, requesting a revisit of what was happening.  These requests all fell on deaf ears.

You must realize the location of this school does not serve the needs of either Lewis County or Gilmer County.  Lewis County has this white elephant to deal with now.  One would hope the West Virginia State Board of Education and the State School Building Authority are embarrassed by their failure.  But now the smallest of rural communities will have to deal with their bungling of millions of tax dollars.

 

The Free Press WV

What will happen now?  Because of the Leading Creek School being severely underutilized, the West Virginia State Board of Education’s refusal to revisit and review their own flawed actions, and the State School Building Authority putting their rubber stamp to this colossal failure of the State Board of Education, its very likely 80 to 100 Gilmer County children will be “tossed away” to Lewis County.

Leading Creek School is a Lewis County School, pure and simple.  Gilmer County citizens have NO SAY, NO INPUT, ABSOLUTELY NO REPRESENTATION for them or their children on the Lewis County School Board.  Zero, zip, zilch, nada, none.  To the Lewis County School Board, the children of Gilmer County are nothing but a number.  An $11,000. dollar per year per child bonus to the Lewis County coffers.  If you get that, then you should understand that the same is a tremendous financial loss to the operating expenses of Gilmer County which is already the smallest school district in West Virginia.

 

The Free Press WV

The foundation for this travesty was set in place in 2011 when the Gilmer County School Board hired and contracted with William K. Simmons to be Gilmer’s superintendent.  Immediately after the board voted to hire Simmons, a Gilmer County School Administrator clearly stated ‘he will never serve one day as superintendent’.

You see the ‘fix’ was in, even before the board voted to hire Simmons.  The ONLY way to keep Simmons OUT, was to influence the West Virginia State Board of Education, using political paybacks as well as the known family tie connections,  would be to take over Gilmer Schools using a totally unwarranted state intervention.  Remember this.  The OEPA takeover audit was weak, very weak.  It can be well defended that Gilmer County was NOT guilty of the accusations of that audit.  Gilmer County IS THE ONLY COUNTY taken under intervention, that was NOT ALLOWED to have a six month improvement cycle.  You must realize, that would have let Simmons be hired.

 

The Free Press WV

Now remember, Simmons was all ready sworn in by the County Clerk for the job.  The clock is ticking high speed!  No no no, the West Virginia State Board of Education could not let that happen.  They had political favors to pay off.  Could it be, that the Gilmer County administrator, who made the infamous statement ‘never serve one day as superintendent’, had a very close family tie to West Virginia State Board of Education Superintendent Jorea Marple?

Its well known, the West Virginia State Board of Education is driven totally by a “school consolidation” mentality.  They had been wanting for years to do an inter-county school building experiment.  Speculation (with some just cause) says they saw this as an opportunity for a ‘two-fer’.  Take care of political paybacks and the opportunity to experiment with your children at the same time.  OK, full speed ahead.

 

The Free Press WV

Now to the bus ride time issue of these little Pre-K and Elementary students.  The bus schedule times posted by Gilmer Superintendent Gabriel Devano are incorrect, wrong.  Wrong.  Inaccurate at best. Lies at the worst?  Little elementary children ARE on buses one and one half hours.  Also, Gilmer County has elementary children ARRIVING ONE HOUR PRIOR TO THE START OF CLASSES.  Yes, arrive at 7:20 AM when classes start at 8:20 AM.  How cruel that is to elementary children.  How can the West Virginia State Board of Education condone that?  State appointed Superintendent Gabriel Devano is the responsible person for that?  His staff sets that in place.

 

The Free Press WV

(side note here: rumor has it the Devanos and Manchins are cousins??)

The calamity known as the Lewis County, Leading Creek School, has been totally formulated, created, upheld, and slammed into the lives of Gilmer County.  Thank you, West Virginia State Department of Education.  The West Virginia State School Board, is and has been appointed by Governor Joe Manchin and Governor Earl Ray Tomblin.

The West Virginia State Board of Education’s final blow, will likely be to steal, to send out of our community, give long bus rides, to the most vulnerable of our citizens.  Our little elementary children.  Treat them as disposable pawns.

Gilmer County Board President William K. Simmons has several times referred to the Leading Creek School as a “model school” for West Virginia to be proud of.

Yes, it is a “model school”,  President Simmons.  A Model of Failure.  An Albatross.  Creation of the West Virginia State Board of Education.



The Free Press WV
Please Note: The Teachers and staff at Leading Creek Elementary School ARE NOT a part of this fiasco. This commentary is only addressing the issues with decision makers.

Forest Enhancement Information Meeting Set for January 05, 2016

The Free Press WV

GLENVILLE, WV — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the National Wild Turkey Federation will co-host a forest enhancement information meeting in early January.

As part of the NRCS Regional Conservation Partnership Program, NRCS and partner agencies have developed the Cerulean Warbler Appalachian Forestland Enhancement project. Its goal: To enhance 4,000 acres of forest habitat on private lands over the next five years. Restoration of 75 acres of mineland is also a component.

Residents in Doddridge, Gilmer, Harrison, and Lewis Counties are encouraged to attend as parts of all four counties may be eligible for technical and, in some cases, financial, assistance.

The meeting is free and open to the public.

It will be held at 6:30 PM January 05, 2015 at the Leading Creek Elementary School, 15300 US Highway 33 West, Linn, West Virginia.

For more information click H E R E.

CommunityConcerns™: Leading Creek Elementary School and Gilmer County

The Free Press WV
CommunityConcern™
With Disclosure Of The Leading Creek Elementary School Disaster
What Comes Out Next?

The Gazette-Mail’s 12.27.2015 bombshell article (read below) exposed underutilization of the Leading Creek Elementary School. The front page article was entitled State’s first Inter-county elementary only 60 percent full to be followed by reports of bureaucratic bungling contributing to the problem.

 

The Free Press WV

When Gilmer County failed to pass a bond issue to fund school facilities swift intervention by the WV Board of Education followed. Soon afterwards the State decided to close four of our elementary schools to consolidate three of them into one, and to send Troy’s students to the Leading Creek School in Lewis County.

Citizens wanted another try at passing a school bond issue. The WVDOE refused to listen and it proceeded with its one elementary school decision for the County and the poorly conceived Leading Creek School.

When the unilateral decisions were made by the WVDOE there was no mentioning of a middle school in Gilmer County. After the Linn School was built and the new Gilmer County Elementary School was under construction the WVDOE announced through Mr. Gabriel Devono, the State’s appointed superintendent of our County’s school system, that there was going to be a middle school too.

Obtaining money from the WV School Building Authority (SBA) for the new Gilmer County Elementary School was sold on the premise that there would be only one facility in Gilmer County for Pre-K through sixth grade students. The square footage of the new school and dollars allocated by the SBA for it were based on that commitment.

Prior to Mr. Ron Blankenship’s departure it was the WVDOE’s stated plan to use the Glenville Elementary School building for the County’s central office. That changed when the WVDOE decided to install the office in the old Minnie Hamilton building. The move is generally perceived to have been politically motivated.

 

The Free Press WV
  • What are the true implications for the middle school?

  • If we have a middle school would there be excess space at the new Gilmer County Elementary School to mean that public funds were wasted on excess space?

  • Some students would be moved from the Gilmer County High School to attend the middle school to make the CGHS’s space underutilized too. Are there additional implications being kept from public scrutiny?

  • When the County was initially informed by the State that it could not afford more than one elementary school what changed to mean that funds are suddenly available for a middle school?

Incidentally, the Gazette-Mail’s article on 12.27.2015 could be updated to include complete details about the total amount of funds Gilmer County contributed for the Leading Creek School.  Perhaps the State will release the secret information so Gilmer’s citizens will be fully informed.

Citizens have legitimate questions about the WVDOE’s competency in making decisions for local school systems with the State’s $800,000 shortfall mistake in providing funds to the County as one of several reasons for local concerns. Now we have the revelation about the enrollment shortfall at the Leading Creek Elementary School to worsen concerns.

The enrollment disaster in Lewis County was unjustly blamed on the Gilmer County School Board when all the decisions were made by the WVDOE, WVBOE, and the SBA. Governor Tomblin presides over the SBA.

Charleston’s secrecy and dictatorial decision-making must end! What are the justifications for the County’s middle school from the perspective of it being in the best interests of Gilmer County, why was the SBA informed that when public funds were sought they would be used to construct an elementary school for Pre-K up through the 6th grade, and what happened to cause the change of plans to have a middle school after construction funds for the new elementary school were granted?

  • Did the WVDOE purposely withhold its middle school intentions from the public and did the SBA err with its lack of oversight?

  • What was the WVBOE’s role?

No matter, it makes Charleston’s bureaucrats look bad. This erodes public trust more while the State is experiencing severe shortfalls in financing school facilities projects.

  • Also, how was the decision made to have a middle school and who were the specific individuals in the County and elsewhere involved in providing input for the WVDOE’s plan?

  • Mr. Devono reported widespread citizen support in Gilmer County for the middle school. Were public meeting held to justify his claim through meaningful citizen input, and are there official meeting minutes for all meeting to provide adequate proof of what occurred to support the WVDOE’s decision?

  • While at it, how can Mr. Gabriel Devono explain his claim that all Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan (CEFP) records leading up to the selection of the Cedar Creek school site for a consolidated school and the decision to abandon the project to built at Hays City cannot be found? Who is responsible for the missing records and what is the WVDOE doing about it to disclose the facts? 

The middle school issue reeks of another one of Gilmer’s famous ruling class’ “behind closed doors decisions” routinely kept secret from common citizens. The difference this time is that the WVDOE is in control to be ultimately responsible for the middle school decision. As a member of the CEFP Committee, the question is when were all these decisions made? CEFP Committee NEVER was involved in any of these decision. Again, “behind closed doors decisions”!

The County’s intervention mess continues while Dr. Michael Martirano refers to WV citizens as necessary stakeholders for his ONE VOICE, ONE FOCUS vision. Most citizens interpret that stakeholders for an effective partnership must include a genuine cross section of a community. Apparently that interpretation does not apply to Gilmer County.  Mr. Devono stated that he has a small exclusive group of local people deciding where education is headed in the County. That exclusive group IS NOT the CEFP Committee on record. Actually ALL DECISIONS are made without any input from the CEFP Committee. The CEFP Committee was used only to decide on the NAME and MASCOT for the new Gilmer County Elementary School.

The quicker the WV Board of Education returns full control of Gilmer County’s schools to local control the better. That decision would unleash the ingenuity and common sense of Gilmer’s citizens to contribute to a better future for our children.

One of the critically needed early actions to accompany the return of local control must be for Gilmer County to hire its superintendent who will be committed to taking care of the County’s needs instead of being committed to Charleston’s dictates.

Centralized control of the County’s schools from Charleston has been a colossal failure.

It should cease immediately to avoid additional damage and growing citizen discontent!

The Free Press WV
WV’s first inter-county elementary only 60 percent full

State School Building Authority officials say West Virginia’s first inter-county elementary school, built with $10.3 million in SBA money, has only about 60 percent of the students planned for it.

The school, Leading Creek Elementary, consolidated Troy Elementary, in Gilmer County and Alum Bridge Elementary, in Lewis County. It was built with 240 students in mind, and can hold as many as 280, said Scott Raines, the SBA’s architectural services director.

But only about 150 students attend the new school, Raines said, because Gilmer school officials haven’t redistricted some students from another school, Sand Fork Elementary. Also, he said, Gilmer school buses are taking some students from the former Troy attendance area farther south to Glenville Elementary instead of to Leading Creek.

Leading Creek Principal Kim Freeland agreed with Raines. She finds it unusual that Gilmer County is providing buses to help their students attend the more distant Glenville Elementary.

The school opened this fall. Freeland said it’s beautiful, and students from both counties have come together as a family. But she said she believes the low enrollment is a financial hardship for Lewis County, which is responsible for the school’s finances and has to pay for its utilities and upkeep. The state school aid funding formula doles out money largely based on enrollment, and Leading Creek students are counted as Lewis students despite the building being on the county line.

Freeland said she has five rooms that were intended for classes, but are now being used for other purposes.

“One of them is storing all the extra furniture,” she said.

Raines said Gilmer County’s actions violate the county’s contracts with the SBA — not just for Leading Creek, but for a new school in Glenville that’s supposed to open next school year and consolidate students from Gilmer’s remaining elementary schools: Glenville, Normantown and Sand Fork.

“We feel like someone has tried to pull the wool over our eyes,” Raines said. “… We upheld our obligations, we feel like everyone else should uphold theirs, too.”

He said Gilmer Schools Superintendent Gabe Devono has expressed no intention to stop transporting the former Troy students to Glenville Elementary next year.

SBA Executive Director David Sneed said the SBA board — which distributes general revenue, bond proceeds and lottery money for school construction and renovation projects around West Virginia — could have saved $1 million constructing a smaller inter-county school. He said the board most likely would have declined to fund the project entirely because its already low enrollment is expected to further decline.

Compared to the SBA’s investment of more than $10 million, Lewis County put in about $300,000 in local money and Gilmer County only gave $100,000, Raines said.

Devono, who started his position in July 2014, after construction on Leading Creek began, said he can’t find the 240-student figure SBA officials are citing “anywhere in our documents.” He said, to his understanding, the idea to redistrict Sand Fork Elementary students was discarded early in the planning stages for Leading Creek.

“We’ve sent all the students out there that we have to send,” Devono said.

Raines, however, sent the Gazette-Mail documents from the county’s applications for SBA funding that show the 240-student figure, as well as the plan to redistrict current Sand Fork students.

Harrison County Schools Superintendent Mark Manchin, who led the SBA during Leading Creek’s development, said he remembers the Sand Fork redistricting detail.

Devono declined last week to provide the Gazette-Mail information on transfers from the Leading Creek attendance area, saying he wanted State Schools Superintendent Michael Martirano to see the data first. Martirano said at an SBA board meeting last week that he was “just now getting involved” in the issue at the level he needs to.

The state Board of Education took over the Gilmer school system in 2011 and still controls finance, personnel and facilities decisions there. Raines said the SBA hasn’t figured out yet who in the county is making the decisions about transfers.

Deputy State Schools Superintendent Cindy Daniel said transfers are still controlled by the county school board in Gilmer, and she’s working with Devono to ensure the students intended to go to Leading Creek actually do so. Daniel said Tuesday she didn’t know about students allegedly being bused to Glenville Elementary.

Norma Hurley, a member of Gilmer County’s school board, said any transfers were Devono’s sole decision. But she said many parents asked to keep their students in Gilmer County, and said the board should honor their wishes.

“How do you force someone to go from a district they pay taxes into another for education?” Hurley said.

Subject to lawmakers’ appropriations, part of state law can prevent school systems that lose students to inter-county schools from seeing their funds drop immediately in one year.

Devono noted the school has only been open for a few months, and said he supports the concept and will make it work. Raines said that with most counties losing students, inter-county schools may be the only answer in some areas.

SBA officials are also concerned about Gilmer’s request to amend its facilities plan to keep Glenville Elementary open as a middle school, by transferring seventh and eighth graders from Gilmer County High School and sixth graders from the new consolidated elementary school. The current plan includes shutting down the existing Glenville Elementary building when the consolidated elementary is finished, and later adding seventh- and eighth-graders to the school.

Devono said the plan amendment had been sent to SBA earlier than anticipated, but declined to elaborate why. He said he thinks the local facilities plan committee, which he leads, voted in either August or September to request the plan change.

He said there’s a lot of support in the county to create a “true middle school,” and though he didn’t have an estimate, he argued the cost would be minimal to turn the current Glenville Elementary into a middle school, noting it used to be a kindergarten- through eighth-grade school and already has a gym and water and gas hookups for a science lab.

But Sneed said the SBA put $12.2 million into building the new consolidated elementary, a cost that could have been $3 million less if it were only built to consolidate the Normantown and Sand Fork schools. He said he won’t take the amendment to his board for the approval for it to be considered for SBA funding.

“That’s a sizable amount of money we’ve spent there to help them be more efficient,” Sneed said. “And now they want to reopen that school.”

Documents the SBA provided also show part of Gilmer’s past argument for closing the elementary school was that it’s “adjacent to a plastics plant causing parent complaints about health and safety to become routine.”

Daniel said there’s still a “lot of discussion to take place” before the amendment to the plan is possibly presented to the state school board for its separate approval. She said Martirano would have to approve it first.

~~  Ryan Quinn - Gazette-Mail ~~

Gilmer County Schools December 2015 Newsletter

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Gilmer County Clerk: Notice to Creditors and Beneficiaries

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CLERK OF THE COUNTY COMMISSION OF GILMER COUNTY, WEST VIRGINIA
NOTICE TO CREDITORS AND BENEFICIARIES

The administration of the estates(s) of the following deceased is pending before the Clerk of the County Commission of Gilmer County, 10 Howard Street, Glenville WV 26351.

The names and addresses of the personal representative and the personal representative’s attorney are set forth below.

Notice is hereby given that the estate(s) of the following has been opened for probate.  Any interested person objecting to the validity of the will, the qualifications of the personal representative or the venue or jurisdiction of the court, shall file notice of an objection with the County Commission within ninety days after the date of the first publication or within 30 days of service of notice, whichever is later.  If an objection is not timely filed, the objection is forever barred.

All persons having claims against the estate(s) of the said following deceased, whether due or not, are notified to exhibit their claims, with the voucher thereof, legally verified, to the undersigned, at the County Clerk’s Office on or before February 15, 2016  otherwise they may by law be excluded from all benefit of said estate(s).  All beneficiaries of said estate(s) may appear on or before said day to examine said claims and otherwise protect their interests.

Claims against the estate must be filed in accordance with West Virginia Code 44-1-14a.

 

DECENDENT NAME PER.REP/NAME REPER.REP/ADDRESS
Lenita R Reale Philip Reale 300 Summers Street, Suite 980
Charleston, WV 25301
Roma Doyle Skinner Reta B. Kight 414 Kanawha Street
Glenville, WV 26351
Wilma Jean Conrad Nina M. Weaver 2204 Shady Birch Lane
Garner, NC 27529
Stacy M. Conrad Nina M. Weaver 2204 Shady Birch Lane
Garner, NC 27529
Elizabeth Ann Moore Jackie Lee Moore 4057 US Hwy 33W
Glenville, WV 26351
Delmas Gene Rexroad Tammy Varner 5253 WV Hwy 5W
Glenville, WV 26351
Wanda Radcliff Susan Keith 1948 Right Ellis Rd
Linn, WV 26384


Clerk of Gilmer County Commission
Jean Butcher
10 Howard Street
Glenville, WV 26351

The date of the first publication of this Notice is : December 17, 2015

TWO YEARS OF THREATS ENDED THANKS TO THE GILMER COUNTY MAGISTRATES OFFICE

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Every once in a while, the courts, local law enforcement and the fine citizens of Gilmer County all work together for the greater good and take the action of finally putting their foot down so to speak when it comes to crimes that are abusive and outrageous, perpetrated by a person or persons who have worn out their welcome with bad language, bad deeds, and all done in bad faith.

We even noticed Gerald B Hough, the Prosecuting Attorney for Gilmer County, who is understaffed, and often has a tremendous work load has taken time out to personally get to the bottom of some of the unfortunate goings on involving the long drawn out Cottrill estate debacle, including taking a trip out to the remote Linn, WV property and having a look around for himself, while discussing all the facts with the victim Ruth Mitchell.

On October the 18th 2013 Ruth Mitchell was given the right to live in the home she shared with the deceased Willard Cottrill by a vote of 4 to 1 handed down from the West Virginia Supreme Court. A decision by the Supreme Court is usually final, but for some reason, many were not happy with the decision of the Supreme Court and refused to honor the final court ruling, which led to Ruth Mitchell being forced out of her home last February 2015 by the Gilmer County Sheriff’s office, while being threatened by a Gilmer County Sheriff Deputy with never again being allowed to be on the property. The manner of which Ruth Mitchell was ordered out of her home was so severe she was not even allowed to go back in the house to get her medicine for Parkinson’s disease. Police tape was put around the house with a warning that gave NO ENTRY instructions.

Thirty one days later, Ruth Mitchell was allowed to return to her property after it was inspected by the EPA and given a clean bill of health. No drugs were found in the home as reported to the police by two representatives of the Gilmer County Senior center.

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There has been a long continuing dispute going on among Cottrill family members of whether Ruth Mitchell should be allowed to stay in the residence, but the 4 to 1 Supreme Court decision put a stop to those debates. Those opposing family members which included Venita Cottrill-Murphy and her husband Mike Murphy the executor of the Cottrill Estate appealed the Supreme Court decision (which is almost always a futile effort,) however they would not give up the legal battle—And then, after the decision allegedly sold the property to Richard Neal for $23,000 cash and a 1968 Camaro totaling to $40,000, when the property was once appraised at over 200,000 dollars.

After the Supreme Court decision, tempers flared and threats were made to burn Ruth Mitchell out of the residence if she did not leave on her own, and Richard Neal who the Gilmer County Commission let take possession of one or two of the homes on the property without a proper deed, shot one of Ruth Mitchells dogs and the local Sheriff did not even speak to Mr. Neal about the murder of the animal. Neal was never arrested for animal cruelty. Neal continued to make threats and threaten other members of the Cottrill family when they came to visit Ruth Mitchell.

There were more court proceedings in Gilmer County Magistrate Court where the matter of the sale of property to Richard Neal was challenged, along with his permission to live on the property without a deed, and without the estate being settled since the Willard Cottrill estate had not been closed officially. No accounting of the estate had ever been done.

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But NOW, the Cottrill accounting has been completed by fiduciary commissioner Linda Huff. Nobody wanted the job of handling the estate because of the controversy that still exists over the manner in which Willard Cottrill died.  Eye witness testimony, and evidence points to MURDER, but then that is something that would have to be proved in court.

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We want to go on record saying that Linda Huff should get a medal for all the work she did on the Cottrill Estate.  It was next man up at the courthouse and Larry Chapman the Gilmer County Commission President convinced Linda to be the one to do the hard job of presenting the final and only accounting to the Gilmer County Commission.

Officially the final settlement of the Cottrill Estate was disapproved and the Gilmer Free Press has the entire matter on video as it happened.  If you watch the video, you may also notice that BRIAN KENNEDY, Gilmer County Commissioner was the only commissioner that had all the facts of the case correct, or even knew as to what to do after receiving a letter from Judge Alsop requesting the commission to ACT on the Cottrill Estate Settlement. 

We want everyone to know, that it is in all reporters opinion, that we may have had our differences with Brian Kennedy in the past, but we have to tell you he sure saved the day this time with the Cottrill Estate Accounting. The Cottrill Estate had been on the books for five long years. Good job Brian, and thanks for all the CommunityConcerns™  that wanted to move this matter forward. Without Brian doing his due diligence in regard to this difficult situation, we would all be back to square one where we were five years ago.

Thanks to Linda Huff and Brian Kennedy for doing their jobs and not letting us down as citizens. The TRUTH about the Cottrill Estate has been revealed to everyone now.

The accounting was NOT APPROVED because one of the heirs, the oldest daughter of Willard Cottrill was not compensated for the alleged sale of approximately 38 of the 44 acres of the estate to Richard Neal, who moved to Gilmer County from Lewis County.  However, that was only ONE of the reasons given by the fiduciary commissioner. Other reasons were cited, and Brian Kennedy paid close attention.

Thanks goes to Karen Elkin, Gilmer County Circuit Court Clerk. Thanks also goes to Magistrates Carol Wolfe, and Alton Skinner for giving this matter their utmost consideration—Wednesday December 9th in the Magistrate Court of Alton Skinner, Richard Neal was ordered by Skinner to cease and desist with all threats.  All of Richard Neal’s guns were confiscated for five years.

The citizens of Gilmer County who were concerned also noticed that on Wednesday December 9th in the Magistrate Court of Alton Skinner, Dan Grindo a local attorney represented Ruth Mitchell and did a fine job by educating, Neal’s lawyer to some facts in the case… for the attorney for Richard Neal knew NOTHING about the oldest daughter of Willard Cottrill, or the fact she had not been compensated for what looks like a fraudulent land sale to Richard Neal by three of the other heirs.

Magistrate Carol Wolfe wrote up the paper work and got it all into the hands of local law enforcement that served Neal with papers last Saturday to the December 9th Wednesday Court hearing.  In court, Neal cussed a few times and cursed while the story was told how he was going to keep Willard Cottrill’s oldest daughter from her rightful share of the land, and then, ranting about how she is crazy anyway.

Richard Neal was told by Alton Skinner he could not talk that way in his courtroom, or act the way he was acting. Richard Neal was the one acting and looking crazy during the mid-day courtroom session of Wednesday December the 9th.

He sued the oldest daughter of Willard Cottrill and that court date according to Gilmer County Circuit Court is on the docket for some time in March.  Neal wants Marlea to be forced to sign off on the sale which she will not do according to the interview we had with her.

On Wednesday December the 9th Richard Neal was ordered to not threaten Ruth Mitchell again.  On or about the 29th of November Richard Neal stopped Ruth Mitchell from getting to her house.  He had a long rifle over his shoulder and side arm strapped to his side. He then approached Mitchell in a threatening manner, while also threatening the oldest daughter of Willard Cottrill who lives in New York.

This time the system has worked for Ruth Mitchell and even Deputy Wheeler has vowed to protect her, and gave Neal a stern warning before pulling his blocking the road and brandishing weapons stunt he pulled at the end of November.

The Cottrill Estate situation has finally been brought to the attention of the local prosecutor, and if he investigates further, he just may find that there has been misconduct involving the estate since the day Willard Cottrill died October the 20th 2010.

We will keep you updated about the next court appearance in March of 2016, involving Richard Neal suing the oldest daughter of Willard Cottrill and she is counter suing him.

And SO IT GOES in Gilmer County, West Virginia.

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West Virginia Hunters Check In 1,131 Fall Turkeys

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SOUTH CHARLESTON, WV - Fall turkey hunters checked in 1,131 turkeys this fall from 33 open counties, according to Keith Krantz, wild turkey and upland game bird project leader for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR).

Leading the state, Randolph County hunters reported harvesting 114 birds, followed by Greenbrier (81), Preston (71), Nicholas (63) and Pocahontas (62) county hunters. Preston County hunters have a two-week season while the others in the top five counties had four-week seasons. The 14 “traditional” fall hunting counties accounted for 56 percent of the total fall harvest, which was very similar to previous years.

All six DNR districts were open to fall turkey hunting in 2015. District 3 led the state with a harvest of 371 birds, followed by District 4 (208), District 2 (196), District 1 (185), District 6 (109) and District 5 (62).

“Fall turkey harvests are driven by a number of factors, including hunter participation, recruitment of turkeys into the population, and availability of hard mast,” Krantz said. “Harvest is relatively low in many of our nontraditional counties because hunters there were likely bowhunting for deer and not fall turkey hunting. Harvest numbers, therefore, may not reflect relative abundance of turkeys in those counties.”

DNR’s annual Mast Survey Report found oak mast to be spotty at best. which likely concentrated birds at localized food sources in many traditional counties. The hunter outlook part of the Mast Survey accurately predicted a turkey harvest similar to the 956 taken in 2014.

Fall harvest of wild turkeys in West Virginia, 2011-2015

County

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

Barbour

0

30

0

18

0

Brooke

6

7

9

2

6

Hancock

8

11

8

5

8

Harrison

20

26

20

20

28

Marion

0

15

4

6

19

Marshall

11

28

10

22

9

Monongalia

13

18

24

15

25

Ohio

12

12

9

3

6

Preston

76

63

77

53

71

Taylor

0

11

8

5

0

Tucker

17

25

14

25

13

Wetzel

0

14

2

18

0

District 1 Subtotal

163

260

185

192

185

Berkeley

35

18

36

19

29

Grant

31

31

41

17

38

Hampshire

22

22

41

15

35

Hardy

27

30

34

18

31

Mineral

32

22

28

16

24

Morgan

18

5

14

15

15

Pendleton

38

46

26

31

24

District 2 Subtotal

203

174

220

131

196

Lewis

22

0

8

0

25

Nicholas

61

98

39

88

63

Pocahontas

68

79

57

54

62

Randolph

142

77

59

83

114

Upshur

42

43

28

0

59

Webster

44

58

35

50

48

District 3 Subtotal

379

355

226

275

371

Greenbrier

90

138

64

81

81

McDowell

0

0

33

0

0

Mercer

52

0

0

2

0

Monroe

63

89

71

52

61

Summers

31

73

42

41

25

Wyoming

0

0

37

35

41

District 4 Subtotal

236

300

247

211

208

Cabell

5

12

4

0

0

Lincoln

0

0

14

0

0

Mason

57

41

26

33

43

Putnam

21

21

2

0

19

Logan

0

0

17

0

0

District 5 Subtotal

83

74

63

33

62

Calhoun

0

14

8

0

0

Gilmer

0

0

6

0

0

Jackson

33

39

18

37

24

Pleasants

2

5

4

3

6

Ritchie

0

0

2

12

0

Tyler

9

6

1

8

15

Wirt

34

23

19

23

17

Wood

43

44

20

31

47

District 6 Subtotal

121

131

78

114

109

Unknown

1

0

0

0

0

State Total

1,186

1,294

1,019

956

1,131

Deer Hunters in West Virginia Harvest 66,374 Bucks During the Buck Firearms Season

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SOUTH CHARLESTON, WV - Preliminary data collected from the new electronic game checking system indicate deer hunters in West Virginia harvested 66,374 bucks during the two-week buck firearms season, which ran from November 23 through December 05, 2015, according to Paul Johansen, chief of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife Resources Section.  

The 2015 buck harvest is up 77 percent from the 2014 harvest of 37,450. The top 10 counties for buck harvest were:  Ritchie (2,273), Preston (2,242), Lewis (2,157), Hampshire (2,107), Jackson (2,094), Roane (2,087), Hardy (1,885), Greenbrier (1,884), Upshur (1,864) and Wood (1,802).

The buck harvest increased in all DNR districts. The largest percentage increases occurred in the western counties of the state where the harvest was double that of last year. Excellent weather conditions and the lack of acorns were the primary reasons for the increase in 2015.

“We are very pleased with how hunters adapted to the new electronic game checking system,” added Johansen. “We have received many positive comments about the ease of being able to check deer and other game using the telephone, Internet or by stopping at a license agent.”

Johansen reminds hunters that several days of deer hunting opportunity still remain for 2015, including the remainder of the muzzleloader season, which runs through Saturday, December 12,. The traditional antlerless deer season in selected counties on both public and private land opens Thursday, December 17, and runs through Saturday, December 19. The Youth, Class Q/QQ and Class XS deer season for antlerless deer will be open Saturday, December 26, and Monday, December 28, in any county with a firearms deer season. This will be followed by the reopening of Class N/NN antlerless deer season December 29-31 in specified counties or portions of counties (see 2015 - 2016 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary or visit the DNR website at www.wvdnr.gov for county and area listings).

West Virginia Buck Firearms Season Harvest, 2011-2015

County

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

Barbour

1372

1177

1109

886

1443

Brooke

413

407

389

251

316

Hancock

324

320

273

200

231

Harrison

1494

1385

1301

930

1571

Marion

1249

1089

1130

702

1354

Marshall

1407

1309

1051

707

933

Monongalia

1508

1297

1107

689

1218

Ohio

467

466

399

232

334

Preston

2224

2158

1741

1526

2242

Taylor

768

684

635

453

793

Tucker

738

649

527

494

782

Wetzel

1615

1471

1537

891

1334

District 1 Subtotal

13,579

12,412

11,199

7,961

12,551

Berkeley

835

767

871

522

1001

Grant

1266

1250

1135

783

1374

Hampshire

1676

1588

1846

1094

2107

Hardy

1589

1429

1447

920

1885

Jefferson

447

526

445

385

553

Mineral

1286

1181

1345

835

1452

Morgan

601

602

743

412

782

Pendleton

1391

1373

1163

861

1407

District 2 Subtotal

9,091

8,716

8,995

5,812

10,561

Braxton

1468

1401

1626

921

1803

Clay

519

528

475

329

626

Lewis

1586

1365

1692

1166

2157

Nicholas

1279

1212

824

871

1306

Pocahontas

1106

1152

961

831

1036

Randolph

2032

1804

1329

1291

1705

Upshur

1612

1283

1396

1009

1864

Webster

1063

817

717

632

1080

District 3 Subtotal

10,665

9,562

9,020

7,050

11,577

Fayette

1005

996

835

725

1258

Greenbrier

1783

1875

1509

1372

1884

McDowell

0

0

0

0

0

Mercer

647

682

536

402

865

Monroe

1364

1569

1466

1004

1603

Raleigh

739

749

579

506

914

Summers

865

1077

973

657

1077

Wyoming

0

0

0

0

0

District 4 Subtotal

6,403

6,948

5,898

4,666

7,601

Boone

653

898

725

519

865

Cabell

705

750

763

421

687

Kanawha

1275

1164

1380

730

1609

Lincoln

1146

1319

1124

720

1412

Logan

0

0

0

0

0

Mason

1944

1676

1495

1002

1662

Mingo

0

0

0

0

0

Putnam

1170

1191

1210

565

1286

Wayne

894

1041

870

528

962

District 5 Subtotal

7,787

8,039

7,567

4,485

8,483

Calhoun

962

770

1164

504

1217

Doddridge

1000

950

1243

615

1508

Gilmer

1029

911

1427

669

1560

Jackson

1962

1630

1917

1107

2094

Pleasants

512

371

438

273

542

Ritchie

1701

1512

2091

1123

2273

Roane

1694

1391

1893

927

2087

Tyler

1189

922

1000

566

1245

Wirt

944

846

1091

681

1273

Wood

1639

1403

1580

1011

1802

District 6 Subtotal

12,632

10,706

13,844

7,476

15,601

State Total

60,157

56,383

56,523

37,450

66,374

Gilmer County Schools November 2015 Newsletter

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Leading Creek Elementary School’s Veteran’s Day Program on November 06, 2015

Leading Creek Elementary School’s Veteran’s Day Program on November 06, 2015.

Second grade students performed for Veterans from the community and veteran relatives to Leading Creek Students.

The flag in the background was created in Mrs. Horn’s art class, using the hand prints from Leading Creek students to represent the stars and strips on the flag.
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Leading Creek Elementary Took Part in A Stream Study of Leading Creek

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Fifth grade at Leading Creek Elementary took part in a stream study of Leading Creek on the border of Gilmer and Lewis counties.

Individuals from the Mountain Institute at Spruce Knob in Pendleton County traveled to the creek across from the school to complete the study on November 03, 2015.

Students learned how to determine the chemistry of the water, the land surrounding the creek, and the creatures that live in the water.

Each station explored a different aspect of the stream.

Based on their findings students were able to give the stream a grade ranging from A to F.

Predictions ranged from A to D, but based on the data students gave the stream a B to B+ ranking.

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TITLE I PROGRAM IN GILMER COUNTY

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Title I Programs are a very important aspect of a school system. Traditionally, Title I has held three guiding fundamentals nationally and in West Virginia Schools:

Accountability for results:

All students are expected to meet the State’s challenging standards, and students who experience difficulty mastering those standards are provided timely, effective, additional assistance. Teachers use information about student performance and share ways that instruction can be improved to meet a wide range of student needs. The school keeps parents informed of the achievement of individual students, and of the progress of the school in meeting its goals.


Research-based practices:

Schoolwide programs operate according to a plan that contains proven, research-based strategies designed to facilitate schoolwide reform and improvement. Professional development activities are based on practices proven to be successful in helping teachers improve the quality of their instruction.


School and community engagement:

Staff in schoolwide programs engage parents and the community in their work as planners, participants, and decision makers in the operation of the school. This collaboration is based on a shared vision of the school’s values and overall mission. These partnerships strengthen the school’s ability to meet the needs of all students and improve the school.


Specific Core Beliefs of Title I Programs include:

* Plan for comprehensive, long-term improvement;

* Serve all students with highly qualified teachers and paraprofessionals;

* Provide continuous learning for staff, parents, and the community;

* Use research-based practices to develop and implement enriched instruction for all students;

* Use inclusive approaches to strengthen the school’s organizational structure;

* Consolidate resources to achieve program goals; and

* Engage in continuous self-assessment and improvement


As Director of Curriculum and Federal Programs, I feel that the first and foremost aspect to addressing the components and implementing quality Title I programs, is to gain input from those who have a direct interest and impact on the quality of education that we provide in Gilmer County. We are the educators, the parents, the family members, the fans, the community, and the support factor for our students.     

So….What do you think?

Please take time for our brief survey and give some  

feedback to improve what we do for our

Gilmer County Students and Families.

Click H E R E for the Survey

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If you would prefer to fill out a paper copy of this survey, please call 304.462.7386 x 108 or contact your child’s school to receive one.
Respectfully submitted by: Kyre-Anna Minney,
Director of Curriculum and Federal Program
Gilmer County Schools

Gilmer County Schools October 2015 Newsletter

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