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French Creek Freddie Sees His Shadow

The prediction is in and West Virginia’s beloved groundhog French Creek Freddie has forecasted six more weeks of winter.

French Creek Freddie saw his shadow on Tuesday morning at the West Virginia State Wildlife Center in Upshur County, meaning six more weeks of winter.

Freddie the groundhog has delivered his prediction every year since 1978.

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.

Passage of Sportsmen’s Act OF 2015

Legislation will increase public lands access for sportsmen and promote West Virginia’s outdoor recreation economy

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), co-chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus and member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee, applauded the bipartisan passage of the Sportsmen’s Act of 2015. The legislation will enhance hunting, fishing and recreational shooting opportunities by increasing access to federal lands. It also includes the permanent authorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The bill passed the ENR Committee by a voice vote.

“As a lifelong, avid sportsman, I know firsthand that our hunting, fishing and outdoor heritage is so important to who we are as West Virginians and as Americans,” Senator Manchin said. “In West Virginia, it’s a family affair and an opportunity to pass along, from one generation to another, a deep and lasting appreciation for all the outdoors have to offer. I believe that we should protect these traditions that help define who we are. This bipartisan bill will boost West Virginia’s economy while expanding hunting and fishing rights and allowing people a greater ability to enjoy the outdoors.”


Senator Manchin’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:

As an avid sportsman, I believe that hunting and fishing are an integral part of the American culture and a powerful force of good protecting and preserving the natural world around us.

In West Virginia, it’s a family affair and an opportunity to pass along – from one generation to another – a deep and lasting appreciation for all the outdoors have to offer.

One of my top priorities is to make sure that the people I represent can carry on that tradition by ensuring they have access to hunting, fishing and recreational shooting on our nation’s public lands.

In my home state, we have more than 1.6 million acres of public land open to hunting with 28 shooting ranges on these lands.

We have a year-round fishing season, with more than 20,000 miles of streams and more than 100 public fishing lakes.

But this is about more than heritage and family tradition – hunting and fishing are big business in the Mountain State.

In 2011 alone, sportsmen and women spent $870 million on hunting and fishing in West Virginia and paid $81 million in state and local taxes.

Title II of this bill establishes an important precedent that seems pretty common sense to me – Federal land should be open to hunting and fishing, within existing laws, unless there is a reason for it not to be.

Nothing in the bill opens any sensitive areas that are already closed to these activities.

It merely establishes the precedent that our public lands should be open to the public so that people can enjoy them.

I think it’s a shame that we all too often get caught up in debates between environmentalists and sportsmen – both of whom want to preserve and protect the great outdoors.

Gale Norton, Secretary of the Department of the Interior under President George W. Bush, once said:

“Dating back to Teddy Roosevelt, hunters have been the pillar of conservation in America, doing more than anyone to conserve wildlife and its habitat.”

I’m a firm believer that introducing someone to the great outdoors through hunting and fishing is one of the easiest and most effective ways to show them why conservation matters.

I was also very pleased to see that the permanent authorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was included in this bill.

In West Virginia, LWCF has helped maintain and expand access to some of our State’s natural treasures for the benefit of all.

Access projects funded by LWCF, in places like the Monongahela National Forest, Canaan Valley, and the Gauley River, not only keep public lands public for sportsmen, but also promote West Virginia’s thriving and growing outdoor recreation economy.

A Section 6 habitat grant was the centerpiece of a project up in Cheat Canyon that leveraged state, local, and private funds to protect another incredible river that provides outdoor recreation in the northern part of the state.

A different type of grant protected key battlefield areas around Harper’s Ferry last year. 

The permanent reauthorization of the LWCF is another one of my top priorities, and I commend my colleagues for working together, across partisan lines, to include it in this bill.

For the past two Congresses, we have tried and failed to pass a Sportsmen’s package through the Senate despite strong bipartisan support.

I commend Senator Murkowski and Senator Heinrich for their leadership on the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act this Congress, and I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of this bill.

Today Is Mother’s Day, Help Polar Bears by Voting for for the Photo of a Mom Nursing Two Cubs

Nature and wildlife photographer Florian Schulz has taken some of the most striking images from one of the world’s most complex, contested and endangered ecosystems.

The Gilmer Free Press

I first encountered the award-winning photographer Florian Schulz in 2010, when he was presenting his film Visions of the Arctic at the New York Times building in Manhattan with the nonprofit environmental advocacy group Earthjustice. I was awed by the footage that he captured with his wife and collaborator, Emil Herrera Schulz. Their work clearly illustrates the stunning natural beauty and majesty of life in a region that has been threatened by industrialization and climate change.

In 2012, he released the book To the Arctic, a panoramic photoessay that is the official companion book to the Warner Brothers IMAX film To The Arctic, which followed the lives of a mother polar bear and her two seven-month-old cubs as they try to survive in the rapidly changing place they call home.

I had a chance to talk with Florian about his experience in the Arctic, his current project and the poignant image that has been nominated for Por El Planeta, the first international conservation photography competition, sponsored by National Georgraphic.

Reynard Loki: Over the last several years, you’ve spent a great deal of time in the Arctic. What draws you to this place?

Florian Schulz: For me it’s about going to a place that is fairly unknown and getting a chance to look at the world from a different perspective. For example, most of the world goes through different seasons, but in the Arctic there is a really long winter with lots of darkness and then it turns around and there is all this sunlight as the sun never sets. With this change, there is an influx of life and a place that seemed like a barren frozen wasteland suddenly flourishes with life and you witness a tremendous amount of animals, including millions of migratory birds and hundreds of thousands of caribou. What is also intriguing to me is how well Arctic animals have adapted to their environment. For humans, the freezing cold is devastating but polar bears and seals and birds deal with it just fine. For them, the problem is when the temperature become too warm.

RL: While the Arctic has an abundance of well-adapted wildlife, there is also the tragedy of animals not being able to survive because of the melting ice. Polar bears cannot find food and there have even been reports that some bears have resorted to cannibalism, which some experts say may be a result of food stress, when their preferred prey—seals—is unavailable, something that has been linked to melting ice. A mother polar bear swam over 400 miles in nine days in search of food; scientists blame global warming. Is this something that concerns you?

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Welcome To The Arctic from Florian Schulz on Vimeo

p>FS: Absolutely. In my short time I have seen dramatic changes in the Arctic in different areas. For example, along the coast in Alaska you can see how the permafrost is just melting away; it looks like the icing on a cake that disintegrates as whole hillsides just slide away into the Arctic Ocean. I have seen polar bears swim and come to land and they are extremely thin and malnourished because they have to swim hundreds of miles to find food. So you do see these changes. Of course, we love polar bears, and without the sea ice they cannot hunt for seals. But the problems are even bigger with the tiny animals like the zooplankton at the bottom of the food chain, which are key to the entire ecosystem. Warming temperatures and ocean acidification are having a major impact overall.

RL: The Arctic is in many ways ground zero for climate change as the events there are so stunning and impact the rest of the global climate in terms of temperature and sea level rise. If you could ask climate negotiators at the upcoming UN climate meeting in Paris later this year one question or tell them one thing based on your personal experience in the Arctic, what would it be?

FS: I would ask for reason. Because the science is obvious. There are of course the deniers, but it is a fact that we are facing dramatic change. The Arctic shows the signs of the changing climate faster because the temperatures are rising twice as fast there. But it’s only one sign of what’s happening across the entire world. We have seen many major storms, floods, droughts—basically weather going to extreme and the Arctic is more of an indicator of what will happen, so it gives us a chance to listen up now. My big hope is that reason will take on more of a stand because I think we all know what’s going on. We are being bribed by the resource industries like oil and gas who want to keep doing business as usual. We cannot go on doing business as usual, using the same resources, using the same kind of transportation and pretending that everything is going to be fine because it won’t.

RL: There are concerns that the melting ice will permit more trade routes and tourism throughout the Arctic. Did you witness any evidence of tourism when you were there? Was there plastic garbage floating in the water?

FS: I’ve been in many different parts along remote coastlines and it’s shocking how much plastic one finds, but I wouldn’t say that in the areas of Arctic that I have been, in Alaska or Spitsbergen or in Canada, that I would see specifically a lot of plastic. The issue with the shipping routes is definitely a major problem because through the Aleutians, the shipping routes will increase going through the Bering Sea and possibly the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. Because there’s very little infrastructure, if there is a disaster, you cannot react very easily to an oil spill or if a ship gets into a storm.

RL: What was the most dangerous moment during your Arctic travels?

FS: I was camping on the ocean ice in polar bear country for weeks at a time and that was dangerous. Polar bears came to our tent and we had to scare them away by shouting or by even firing a flare gun into the air. But one of the most dangerous moments that I lived through was at the edge of the lead, a narrow crack in the ice. I was laying on the ice photographing a bird, a black guillemot and when I was moving my tripod suddenly I realized I was poking through the ice. It would’ve been very easy for me to fall through if one of these little sheets of ice were to break off and with the water temperature at 30° I would’ve drowned very quickly. So it wasn’t the polar bears, but photographing these birds that almost killed me and in hindsight that was actually quite scary. I was just not thinking—I was in artist mode just obsessed with this image that I wanted to capture.

RL: You took this powerful and poignant image of a polar bear mother nursing her two cubs, which has been nominated for the Por El Planeta Award. Can you describe how you came across this scene and taking the photograph?

FS: So imagine that polar bears are really ocean animals especially on the ocean ice. That’s why they are called Ursus maritimus, the sea bear. They really live out on the ocean ice most of the year. In the winter of course it’s frozen, but later in the year the ice falls apart and disintegrates more and more. So this mother was actually out on a little ice floe in the Arctic Ocean trying to hunt seals because that was the last area where there was still sea ice remaining. This mother stayed around our boat and we got a real insight into her life. It was absolutely amazing how well she took care of her young. During this time however, big male polar bears were in the area and they were trying to actually hunt her cubs and so she always needed to be on the lookout. I actually witnessed one big male sneak up on them and surprise them and they had to run for their lives. This photograph for me was so touching because it was that moment of relaxation when this mother gives everything to her cubs. She has taken care of them for all those many months, and skipping all the different dangers, providing food for them and then actually leading them away from that male and actually confronting that male polar bear, fighting against him so he wouldn’t eat her cubs. And this was her moment of peace, giving milk to her babies. For me it was wonderful to see their bond. As an artist I look for these little details of the perfect symmetry, that Zen moment. In this photograph, it really comes together in that one single moment: An expression of that mother’s devotion to her cubs.

RL: If you win this award, you said that part of the prize will help fund your current Arctic project, which is about conservation. Can you tell us a little bit about this project?

FS: My current project is basically to document the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. President Obama said that he would like to protect large portions of the refuge from mining and drilling. I’ve moved into film and have been documenting it last year for five months and this year already for another two. In many areas along the coast there are polar bears that are really depending on these areas, but the oil industry is interested in drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. It would affect all this polar bear habitat. The nice thing about the Por El Planeta contest is that all of the proceeds from the registration process will be donated to conservation initiatives, with fifty percent of the proceeds going to an initiative related to the photograph that wins the People’s Choice Award, which in my case would be polar bears.

To vote for Florian’s photograph and help polar bears, click here.

RL: So you are moving more into film for this new project?

FS: Yes, we are shooting in cinema quality the big caribou migrations, the landscapes, the auroras and the overall beauty of the Arctic refuge. There is some photography as well but right now we are really focusing on creating the highest quality footage available. We will be doing aerial shots and showing the broad range of wildlife, from the birds to the bears to the caribou and of course the landscapes: There is a wealth of wildflowers in the Arctic plains, bumblebees and many things that people wouldn’t expect of the Arctic. My goal is to give the public the possibility to see what the Arctic refuge is all about because some politicians have called it a barren wasteland or a flat white nothingness. So for example we were just filming musk ox and seeing how they were using the land, surviving in these freezing temperatures, giving birth to calves and going about their ancient rituals such as fighting amongst the bulls. So basically I want to show people what this place is all about so that they can make up their own minds about how they feel about it.

RL: You mentioned that you love going places where humans have had little impact. What other places are on your list?

FS: I’m actually finishing up a book which is called The Wild Edge, which will come out this fall. That is looking at the last large, beautiful intact ecosystems along the western seaboard between Baja California and the Arctic. So from the gray whale migration from Baja to Alaska to bird migrations, I’m highlighting those areas that are still wild and scenic, like the coastline of British Columbia, southeast Alaska and the Aleutians. I am always trying to go to places where the ecosystems are still fairly intact, where the landscape still belongs to animas, because that’s what I think is worth preserving the most.

~~  Reynard Loki ~~


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MonPower Rescues A Bear Cub on Top of Utility Pole in Braxton County

The Gilmer Free Press

SUTTON, WV — It was an “unusual” situation, according to a MonPower Company crew that had to rescue a bear cub stuck on top of a utility pole in Braxton County.

On Saturday, April 18, 2015 a Sutton, WV woman reported a baby bear was perched on top of the 40-foot pole just before dawn.

Before arriving at the site, lineman Bobby Hart de-energized equipment that was attached to the pole, so he and fellow line worker Derrick Kniceley could safely rescue the cub.

Todd Meyers, a MonPower spokesman, said it was a two-hour task, but Hart eventually climbed the pole and saved the bear.

“He took her by the scruff of the neck and then brought her back down to the ground,” said Meyers.

He said the bear was lucky in this situation because it made its way up the pole without coming into contact with any live lines.

“Had she come into contact with it, it would’ve been pretty unfortunate,” said Meyers. “It probably would’ve killed her.”

The bear cooperated with the crew the entire time. Meyers said workers are very caring and dedicated to their jobs even during an odd assignment like this.

“We have good guys out there,” he said.

The bear is now housed in a den with a foster mother in Pendleton County.

Fairy Diddles Are Nocturnal, But Common

Recently the temperature reached 60 degrees, so I headed outside and checked some of my nest boxes. I really didn’t expect to find any active nests just yet, but thought some bluebirds, chickadees or Carolina wrens might have begun gathering nesting material. No such luck, but in another week nesting will surely have begun.

The contents of one box, however, quickened my pulse. Located on the edge of a woodlot, finely chewed plant material surrounded by an envelope of large intact leaves jammed the box. I gently poked the nest until I saw some movement. Suddenly two big black eyes stared back at me. It was a flying squirrel.

After we checked each other out for a few seconds, she jumped from the box and sailed to the base of a nearby tree. She instantly scurried to the far side of the trunk to stay out of sight. We played hide-and-seek while I tried to get a better look at her. But each time I peeked around the trunk, she managed to keep the trunk between her and me. Finally, after several minutes, she leapt onto a larger tree trunk, and I got a chance to admire her.

The Gilmer Free Press


Back at the box, I found four naked and helpless pups. I estimated them to be three or four days old. Given the flying squirrel’s 40-day gestation period, this female had bred in early to mid February.

At about four weeks of age, the pups will be fully furred. At seven weeks, they will be adult-sized — ten inches long including a flat four-inch tail and about three ounces — and ready to leave the nest. The first brood stays with mom until she bears a second litter in July or August.

Southern flying squirrels (Glaucomys volans) inhabit most deciduous and mixed deciduous/coniferous woods east of the Great Plains and are quite common. If a woodlot has oaks, beeches, hickories and/or walnut trees, it is sure to have flying squirrels.

Because flying squirrels are strictly nocturnal, they’re seldom seen. An evening in any woodlot, especially one dominated by nut trees, is one way to remedy this.

You might hear the sound of teeth gnawing nuts overhead. Or perhaps you’ll catch flashes of white gliding from tree to tree. This is best done on a moonlit night. As a flying squirrel twists and turns through the forest’s obstacle course of outstretched branches, its white belly stands out in the moonlight. When it lands, note how it disappears to the back of the tree, a habit that no doubt pays off when it crosses paths with a hungry owl.

A flying squirrel’s diet is as varied as the seasons. In February, a flying squirrel might take peanuts, corn or sunflower seeds from a bird feeder, eat swollen buds or slice into the bark of a sugar maple and lap up the sap that flows. In May, it switches to insects, and occasionally raids bird nests for a meal of fresh eggs or nestlings. In August, mushrooms, fruits, berries and mice are abundant and irresistible. And in October, flying squirrels gather and store bushels of acorns, beechnuts, walnuts and hickory nuts to get them through the coming winter. Fairy diddles, as flying squirrels are sometimes called, eat whatever the forest provides. (In some parts, red squirrels are also called fairy diddles.)

By day, flying squirrels sleep in den trees or nest boxes, often in groups of four to 12 individuals during the winter. Flying squirrels do not hibernate; they huddle together in small groups to stay warm.

One final note: Flying squirrels do not fly. They glide. Courtesy of a flap of skin that runs from wrist to ankle on each side of the body, they sail from tree to tree. Upon takeoff, this skin balloons and permits a controlled glide. The flat tail serves as a rudder to guide the “flight.” Most flights are short, 30 to 40 feet, but biologists have observed trips as long as 300 feet.

~~  Dr. Shalaway - 2222 Fish Ridge Road, Cameron, WV 26033 ~~

Identifying Early Spring Waterfowl

The Gilmer Free Press

Though song bird migration peaks in May, early spring is a great time to learn and review waterfowl identification. Binoculars and a field guide are the essential tools.

To find waterfowl, visit lakes, ponds, flooded meadows and rivers, especially near dams. These are the habitats ducks frequent as they head north in spring.

First, notice how a duck behaves on the water. If it feeds on the surface by tipping its hind end into the air and stretching its neck beneath the water, it’s a dabbling duck. To fly, dabblers jump directly upward off the water.

If, on the other hand, a duck dives beneath the surface of the water to feed, it’s a diving duck. To fly, divers must patter along the surface to get airborne. That’s because their legs sit to the rear of the body to facilitate diving. This leg position makes divers ungainly on land, but they are excellent swimmers.

Here’s a brief guide to the key features of some male ducks you might encounter on local waterways. Hens are duller and require a bit more experience to identify, though in the spring, they typically associate with drakes of their own species.

 

Dabblers:

Wood Duck (1.3 lb.) — conspicuous slick-backed crest; multi-colored gorgeous bird; red eye ring, red bill; white throat and cheek markings; cavity-nester.

Mallard (2.4 lb.) — green head, white collar, yellow bill, chestnut breast, curly-cue tail.

American Wigeon (1.6 lb.) — white forehead and crown; green mask; white inner wing patch in flight.

Northern Pintail (1.8 lb.) — chocolate brown head; white breast with narrow white finger extending up neck; long pointed tail.

Northern Shoveler (1.3 lb.) — green head; large spatula-shaped bill; white breast; brown sides; powder blue shoulder patch in flight.

Teal — two eastern species, both small; blue-winged teal (13 oz.) — powder blue shoulder patch in flight and wears an obvious white crescent on face; green-winged teal (12 oz.) — the smallest dabbler; chestnut head with green ear patch that extends down neck; iridescent green patch on wing.

 

Divers:

Canvasback (2.7 lb.) — dark rusty head; profile of head angular; black bill and breast; light-colored back; favors deeper water.

Redhead (2.3 lb.) — rusty head; profile of head a bit concave rather than angular; breast black, back gray.

Ring-necked Duck (1.5 lb.) — poorly named; white ring near bill tip; head may appear pointed; gold eye; dark head, breast, and back; sides gray.

Common Goldeneye (1.9 lb.) — dark head with round white cheek patch; gold eye; breast and sides white; cavity-nester.

Bufflehead (13 oz.) — small; dark head with large white bonnet; white breast and sides; cavity-nester.

Mergansers — three species; all have “toothed” bill for catching fish; common merganser (3.4 lb.) is large with green head and red bill; white body, black back; cavity-nester; red-breasted merganser (2.3 lb.) has green head with shaggy crest, wide white collar, and streaked rusty breast; hooded merganser (1.4 lb.) has black bill, black crested head; when crest is fanned, large white patch appears; gold eye; chestnut sides; cavity-nester.

Ruddy Duck (1.2 lb.) — chunky compact duck; tail often cocked upward; head dark with large white cheeks; bill blue; body chestnut.

Other waterfowl you might encounter this time of year include a variety of much larger geese and swans.

Canada Geese (6 to 12 pounds) — widespread and common. Often loaf at city parks, golf courses and athletic fields, where their droppings foul the landscape. Identified by a conspicuous white chinstrap that marks the black head and neck.

Snow Geese (5 to 8 pounds) — stocky white geese with black primary wing feathers and a pink bill.

Tundra Swans (14.4 pounds) — large and all white; usually seen flying overhead in migration. Most individuals show a bit of yellow between the eye and the base of the black bill.

Trumpeter Swans (23 pounds) — huge and white with black bill. Once quite rare in the east, their numbers have rebounded in recent years.

Mute Swans (22 pounds) — huge and white with large orange bill. Native to Eurasia. Introduced to North America to populate parks and private lands; often a pest by harassing native waterfowl and destroying aquatic vegetation.

~~  Dr. Scott Shalaway - 2222 Fish Ridge Road, Cameron, WV 26033 ~~

Fishing Report - 03.27.15

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BEECH FORK

Anglers should call the Beech Fork Corps of Engineers office at 304.525.4831 and go to www.lrh-wc.usace.army.mil/wc/bbfns.htm  for information and current lake levels.  No current fishing reports, the lake is at summer pool almost due to recent rains.

BLUESTONE

During the winter season, anglers should fish slowly and methodically.  Fish will still feed but have a slower metabolism.  A few bass are being caught off rocky points using live minnows.  Anglers should look for points that have some cover such as stumps, logs, or ledges.  Some hybrid striped bass may be caught using large chubs.  Anglers should try spots such as at the mouth of the Bluestone Arm or near the dam.  With any warm, stable weather, fish may become more active.  Try to pick a day that is bright and sunny which warms up areas of the lake, especially dark or mud banks.  A few degrees can make a difference!  Right now the tailwaters are high and unfishable with more rain expected.  Anglers should be careful wading this time of year due to the cold water and slippery conditions.  Wear your personal flotation devices at ALL times!

BURNSVILLE

The lake is at winter pool and frozen in places.  Fishing has been challenging with the cold and ice.  Bass are in about 10-12 feet of water.  Crappie and bluegill are also hitting on jigs and live minnows.  The tailwaters were stocked with trout February 11. For more information call Corps of Engineers at 304.853.2398 and go to www.lrh-wc.usace.army.mil/wc/busns.htm.

EAST LYNN

For information on current lake levels call the Corps of Engineers recorded message at 304.849.9861 and go to www.lrh-wc.usace.army.mil/wc/eltns.htm . No current fishing reports, the lake is at summer pool almost due to recent rain.

R.D. BAILEY

During the winter season, fish are still active but have a slower metabolism, so anglers should fish slowly and methodically.  Spotted bass are hitting plastic jigs in crawfish colors.  The spotted bass will be found along the rocky drops with points another good spot to try.  Walleye are starting to be creeled by local anglers.  Best places to try are along the shallow clay flats either early or late.  As the year progresses, walleye will be moving up the river to begin spawning.  Best baits are jigs tipped with minnows or nightcrawlers.  With any warm, stable weather, fish may become more active.  Try to pick a day that is bright and sunny which warms up areas of the lake, especially dark or mud banks.  A few degrees can make a difference!

STONECOAL LAKE

The lake is at normal pool and frozen in places.  Fishing has been challenging with the cold and ice.  Bass are in about 10-12 feet of water.  Crappie and bluegill are also hitting on jigs and live minnows.  A few walleye have also been in about 10-15 feet of water.

STONEWALL JACKSON

The lake is at winter pool and frozen in places.  Fishing has been challenging with the cold and ice.  Bass are in about 10-12 feet of water.  Crappie and bluegill are also hitting on jigs and live minnows.  The tailwaters were stocked with trout February 11.  Before heading to the lake please call Corps of Engineers at 304.269.7463.

SUMMERSVILLE

The lake is at winter pool and frozen in places.  Fishing has been challenging with the cold and ice.  Bass are in about 10-12 feet of water.  Crappie and bluegill are also hitting on jigs and live minnows.  Walleye are being caught off rocky points in about 10-15 feet of water.  Try minnows and small crank baits.  The tailwaters were stocked with trout February 04.  For more information contact the Corps of Engineers at 304.872.3412 and go to www.lrh-wc.usace.army.mil/wc/suens.htm.

SUTTON

T The lake is at winter pool and frozen in places.  Fishing has been challenging with the cold and ice.  Bass are in about 10-12 feet of water.  Crappie and bluegill are also hitting on jigs and live minnows.  The tailwaters were stocked with trout February 11.  Before heading to the lake please call Corps of Engineers at 304.765.2705 and go to www.lrh-wc.usace.army.mil/wc/suens.htm.

TYGART LAKE

The lake level is about 40 feet above summer pool and all boat ramps are currently closed.  Lake elevation is expected to decrease over the next few days.  The tailwater outflow is about 15,000 cfs and muddy.  Water temperature is 40oF.  The tailwater boat ramp has been under water for the last few days and shoreline access is minimal during these high flows.  Once water flow decreases, younger walleyes should be readily available as they have moved through the dam into the tailwater during high flow events (above 5,000 cfs).  Walleye fishing is best during higher flows (1,500 to 5,000 cubic feet per second).  Trout were last stocked in early February and trout fishing is best at low flows (less than 1,000 cubic feet per second).  Call the Corps of Engineers telephone hotline at 304.265.5953 for daily lake and tailwater conditions.

NORTHERN WEST VIRGINIA

OHIO RIVER (New Cumberland, Pike Island, and Hannibal pools and tailwaters)

Over the next week, warming water temperatures and high flows should trigger walleye and sauger to move into tailwater areas below dams.  Jigs with minnows are particularly good baits but 3-inch plastic grubs and deep-running crankbaits are also productive.

MONONGAHELA RIVER

Water temperature has warmed over the last week and is about 44oF.  The river is high and muddy, but increased water temperatures and flows should cause fish to start moving upstream and congregate at tailwater areas just below the Morgantown, Hildebrand, and Opekiska dams.

CHEAT LAKE

Recent heavy rains and warmer temperatures have caused ice to break up.  Debris may still be scattered around the lake due to ice damage last week.  The winter boat ramp at the Cheat Lake Park near the dam is the only public ramp currently open.  The tailwater fishing pier can be very good for walleye and sauger.  The pier is located entirely in West Virginia about 25 minutes from Morgantown.  Take U.S. Highway 119 from Morgantown to Point Marion, PA.  Turn right after crossing the Cheat River and proceed 4 miles to Cheat Dam.

Try the tailwater fishing pier for sauger, smallmouth bass, walleye and white bass.  Jigs with minnows or 3-inch power grubs are the best baits.  White or chartreuse are good colors.  Start fishing at dark when sauger and walleye begin feeding.  The pier is located entirely in West Virginia about 25 minutes from Morgantown and is lighted for night fishing and is handicapped accessible

EASTERN PANHANDLE

South Branch and Cacapon Rivers

Water levels throughout the area have dropped over the past week and near or slightly below normal flow for this time of year.  Water temperatures are in the mid 40’s at most locations and the water is clear.  Anglers are starting to catch a few smallmouth bass.  The spring trout stocking season is underway and many streams are receiving weekly trout stockings.

Shenandoah River

Flows in the Shenandoah River are near normal flow for this time of year.  Smallmouth bass are biting and fishing plastics near the head of pools around the bedrock ledges and in eddies is always a good strategy.

North Branch River

Flows in the North Branch are currently 800 cfs but projected to drop over the next couple days and there should be some great trout fishing opportunities by the weekend.  The first white whitewater event on the North Branch is scheduled for April 11 and 12.  Check the Corp or Engineers webpage for specifics or schedule changes. 

Small Impoundments

Most small impoundments are in great fishing condition and some are receiving spring trout stockings.  Check the 2015 fishing regulations to see if your favorite water is on the January or February stocking schedule.

Jennings Randolph Lake

There has been no recent reports of angler success at Jennings Randolph Lake.  The West Virginia boat launch is scheduled to open for the season next Wednesday April 1.  The WV launch is free and a $5 per day fee is collected for the Maryland Ramp. Jennings Randolph Lake has a dedicated phone line for up-to-date recreational information 304.355.2890.

Mt. Storm Lake

Anglers at Mount Storm Lake should target striped bass, black bass, and walleye.  This is a great location for winter fishing since the lake doesn’t freeze.  Fish can be caught throughout the lake but many anglers do well fishing with chicken livers near the discharges.

CENTRAL WEST VIRGINIA

Water levels are high, milky and some still with ice cover.  If you are looking for a place to go, please check the fishing regulations and the WVDNR website for a list of public access sites or call your local WVDNR district office for some advice and a place to fish.  The March trout stocking is rolling and going well.  Make sure you purchase your 2015 WV fishing license.

SOUTHERN WEST VIRGINIA

The New and Greenbrier rivers are high and off color right now with more rain expected so fishing may be slow there.  Sometimes high water improves the fishing at Kanawha Falls so anglers may also want to try their luck there for musky or walleye (use big chubs for bait) or lake anglers can find some excellent bass fishing at Plum Orchard Lake and Stephens Lake.  Best baits are plastic worms fished slowly along the bottom, spinnerbaits are also good choices.  Anglers should call ahead to make sure that the ramps are not iced over.

SOUTHWESTERN WEST VIRGINIA

Lower Ohio and Kanawha Rivers

Sauger and walleye will begin congregating behind locks, tributary mouths and along shoal areas in preparation for their spawn as soon as the water warms a bit, be ready!  R.C. Byrd tailrace is a great place to try.  Try bait, and small brightly colored jigs fished slow close to the bottom.  Added scent or a small piece of bait or nightcrawlers attached to the tail end of jigs really helps at this time of the year.  Fish S-L-O-W.

Guyandotte, Coal, Poca, Elk, and Mud Rivers

A few reports of very large muskies caught and released from the Elk and Coal rivers using slow moving baits and soft plastics (large tubes).  Try for walleye and sauger behind lower and upper falls as they congregate with warming water temperatures to go through their spawning rituals.

Small Impoundments

Barboursville and Ridenour lakes were recently stocked.

WEST-CENTRAL WEST VIRGINIA

So far this month, trout have been stocked into the following area lakes:  Rollins and Turkey Run lakes in Jackson County, Tracy Lake and Pennsboro Water Supply Reservoir in Ritchie County, Mile Tree Lake in Roane County, Conaway Run Lake in Tyler County and Cedar Creek State Park Ponds in Gilmer County.  Additionally this month Mountwood Park Lake in Wood County will be stocked again.  This information is updated daily at 4:00 pm, January through May.  Trout anglers can use a variety of baits including small worms; mealworms, salmon eggs, cheese, or trout power bait.  Lure anglers like small spinners, Joe type flies, and trout magnets also work well.

This is a good time to fish Ohio River tailwaters.  Anglers fishing below the Belleville dam are catching a few sauger, walleye and a few other species.  Suspended minnows or lead headed jigs with twister tails (white or chartreuses), which are fished along the bottom, are the lures of choice.  When the river is running high and muddy clever anglers are tipping their jig hooks with minnows.  Best spots to fish these areas include eddies and back-current sections, and anywhere that river flows are unusual slow.  Fishing along the Willow Island tailwaters is restricted due to hydro-power development.  Anglers now have access only to a point approximately 150 yards below the dam, and flows have changed significantly.

Warm water discharges associated with industrial facilities hold fish in the winter along the Ohio River.  Best bet for lures here include crank baits and rubber jigs.  Expect to catch white bass, hybrid striped bass and a few other species at these hot spots.

Fishing for largemouth bass can be good during warm sunny days in area lakes.  Slowly fished rubber worms or jig-and-pig combos are good terminal tackle choices.  Area lakes with good winter bass angling opportunities include Mountwood in Wood County, Conaway Run in Tyler County, Charles Fork in Roane County, North Bend Lake in Ritchie County, and Elk Fork, Woodrum, and O’Brien lakes in Jackson County.

Musky streams are expected to be fishable this weekend.  Winter musky anglers use medium to large lures, and they concentrate their fishing efforts around brush piles or other areas of good cover.  Middle Island Creek, the major streams in the Hughes River system, and the Little Kanawha River are good area musky waters.


Stream Conditions
NORTHERN Levels Conditions
 
Low
Normal
High
Clear
Milky
Muddy
Ohio River (Wheeling)     X     X
Fish Creek   X     X
Fishing Creek   X     X
Big Sandy (Preston) X   X   X
Monongahela River   X   X  
Black Water Creek     X     X
Wheeling Creek     X   X  
Buffalo Creek   X     X
EASTERN PANHANDLE Levels Conditions
 
Low
Normal
High
Clear
Milky
Muddy
S. Branch (Potomac)   X   X    
S. Branch (Smoke Hole)   X   X  
Shenandoah River   X   X  
Patterson Creek   X   X    
N. Fork S. Branch   X   X  
Cacapon River   X   X  
Back Creek   X   X    
Opequon Creek   X   X  
Lost River   X   X  
CENTRAL Levels Conditions
 
Low
Normal
High
Clear
Milky
Muddy
Elk (Sutton)     X   X
Little Kanawha     X   X
Elk (Clay)     X   X
West Fork River     X   X
Gauley River     X   X
Cranberry River     X   X
Cherry River     X   X
Cherry River (N. Fork)     X   X
Cherry River (S. Fork)     X   X
Williams River     X   X
Knapps River     X   X
Greenbrier (E&W Forks)     X   X
Little River     X   X
Shavers Fork     X   X
Buckhannon River     X   X
Holly River     X   X
Elk River (Webster)     X   X
Elk River (Back Fork)     X   X
SOUTHERN Levels Conditions
 
Low
Normal
High
Clear
Milky
Muddy
New River (Hinton)   X   X    
Greenbrier (Hinton)     X X    
Greenbrier (Ronceverte)   X   X    
Anthony Creek   X   X    
Big Creek   X   X    
Meadow River   X   X    
Turkey Creek   X   X    
Potts Creek   X   X    
Second Creek   X   X    
Pinnacle Creek   X   X    
Horse Creek Lake   X   X    
Big Huff Creek   X   X    
Indian Creek   X   X    
Glade Creek (New River)   X   X    
Marsh Fork   X   X    
New River (Gauley)   X   X    
Glade Creek (Man)   X   X    
Camp Creek   X   X    
East River   X   X    
Fork Creek   X   X    
Dry Fork Creek   X   X    
Berwind Lake   X   X    
WESTERN & SOUTHWESTERN Levels Conditions
 
Low
Normal
High
Clear
Milky
Muddy
Little Kanawha River X   X  
Ohio River X   X  
Hughes River X   X  

Trout Stockings

March 25, 2015

  • Big Sandy Creek
  • Coopers Rock Lake
  • Cranberry River
  • East Fork Greenbrier River
  • Glade Creek of Mann
  • Horse Creek Lake
  • Jimmy Lewis Lake
  • Kings Creek
  • Little River East Fork Greenbrier River
  • Middle Fork River
  • Mountwood Park Lake
  • North Fork of South Branch
  • South Branch (Smoke Hole)
  • Summersville Tailwaters
  • Tomlinson Run
  • Tomlinson Run Lake

March 24, 2015

  • Anthony Creek
  • Beech Fork Tailwaters
  • Bullskin Run
  • Cacapon park lake
  • Dunkard Fork Lake
  • East Lynn Talwaters
  • Evitts Run
  • French Creek Pond
  • Jenning Randolph Tailwaters
  • Knapps Creek
  • Krodel Lake
  • Laurel Fork of Holly River
  • Left Fork of Holly River
  • Lick Creek Pond
  • Middle Creek (Berkeley)
  • Mill Creek (Berkeley)
  • New Creek
  • North Fork of Anthony Creek
  • North Fork of Patterson Creek
  • Opequon Creek
  • Right Fork of Little Kanawha
  • Rocky Marsh Run
  • South Branch (Franklin)
  • South Fork of Cranberry River
  • Wayne Dam
  • West Fork of Twelvepole
  • Williams River

March 23, 2015

  • Buffalo Fork Lake
  • Cranberry River
  • Deer Creek (Pocahontas)
  • Dillons Run
  • Edwards Run
  • Fort Ashby Reservoir
  • Greenbrier River
  • Kimsey Run Lake
  • Mill Creek of South Branch
  • New Creek Dam #14
  • Rockhouse Lake
  • Spruce Knob Lake (condition of lake: 75%-80% slush ice; clear 20 feet around edges)
  • Spruce Laurel Fork
  • Summit Lake
  • Tygart Valley River Headwaters
  • Watoga Lake

March 20, 2015

  • Anawalt Lake
  • Berwind Lake
  • Buckhannon River
  • Cacapon Park lake
  • Cranberry River
  • Dry Fork (McDowell)
  • Gandy Creek
  • Laurel Fork (Randolph)
  • Left Fork of Right Fork of Buckhannon River
  • Opequon Creek
  • Rocky Marsh Run
  • Second Creek (C&R)
  • South Branch (Franklin)
  • South Mill Creek Lake

Hibernation Season Over, Will Disease-Ridden Bats Emerge From Caves and Mines This Spring?

White Nose Syndrome now infects bats in several northeastern U.S. states

Hibernation season over, will disease-ridden bat

Hibernacula, they’re called: Places where species like bats hibernate.

Bats by the thousands congregate in such caves and mine shafts, spending their winters away from the elements.

Now they’re anything but safe.

Their promixity to one another, along with the caves’ and mines’ natural humidity, has fueled the outbreak of one of the worst bat diseases in history: White Nose Syndrome (WNS).

First diagnosed in bats in a cave near Albany, N.Y., in 2006, WNS spread from bat to bat, colony to colony, across the northeastern United States.

The disease is caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans, which results in a skin infection, a distinctive white growth around the muzzles and on the wings of bats. WNS spreads as bats hibernate in winter.

As of 2012, the disease was linked to some 6.7 million North American bat deaths.

The Gilmer Free Press
Greater mouse-eared bats, European bats that can
become infected with White Nose Syndrome.

The fungus was likely carried to the United States by humans traveling to and from Europe, scientists believe.

WNS and the skin lesions it causes are widespread in European bats. In Europe’s bats, however, no mass mortality has been documented. Why? Researchers are working to find answers.

Back across the pond: From Vermont to Virginia and beyond

In the United States, WNS has been present for several years in Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, says biologist Winifred Frick of the University of California, Santa Cruz.

She and colleagues recently published a paper in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography that details the disease in 468 bat colonies in these six states.

The scientists compared the results with those from 640 colonies in eight European countries: Norway, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Portugal, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria.

WNS infections have been confirmed in all these nations but for Norway, where no surveys have yet been conducted.

“We used four decades of population counts in 16 species of hibernating bats,“ says Frick, “to determine the effect of WNS on bats in North America compared to those in Europe.“

WNS caused a 10-fold decrease in colony sizes of hibernating bats in eastern North America, a dramatic decline across multiple bat species, Frick says.

Most affected, perhaps, is the northern long-eared bat, Myotis septentrionalis. The species is being considered for listing under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Northern long-eared bats have vanished from some 69 percent of the hibernacula where they were once found.

“Mortality from WNS has placed this bat species in peril,“ says Frick. “It now appears at significant risk of extinction.“

Into the field…or the cave

To obtain information on the status of bat colonies, biologists visit subterranean habitats where bats hibernate during winter—caves, mines, old war bunkers, anywhere that’s dark, cool, moist and protected from harsh winds and freezing temperatures.

There scientists count numbers of bats in each species. For the past few decades, such winter censuses have taken place every year or every other year in countries in Europe and North America, says Frick.

In the recent study, she and co-authors focused on bats in the family Vespertilionidae, which has members on both the European and North American continents.

“North America and Europe don’t share any of the same bat species,“ she says, “so we compared bats related at the family level.“

U.S. and European bat colonies now similar-sized

The researchers found that declines in U.S. bat populations have resulted in colonies in North America and Europe that are roughly the same size.

“The finding raises the intriguing question of whether hibernating bat colonies in Europe used to be larger prior to the presence of WNS,“ says Frick. “It hints that disease may be an important hidden force behind basic ecological patterns in bats and other species across continents.“

Sam Scheiner, program director in the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Division of Environmental Biology, agrees. Scheiner represents the joint NSF-National Institutes of Health-Department of Agriculture Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases (EEID) program, which funded the research.

“This study provides important insights into how a devastating disease has affected bats in the U.S.,“ he says. “Such information is essential for developing management plans to help save these species.“

The EEID program supports efforts to understand the ecological and biological mechanisms behind human-induced environmental changes and the emergence and transmission of infectious diseases.

The benefits of research on the ecology and evolution of infectious diseases, says Scheiner, include development of theories about how diseases are transmitted, increased capacity to forecast disease outbreaks, and knowledge of how infectious diseases emerge and re-emerge.

Does disease shape species distributions and abundances?

Disease is increasingly recognized as a serious threat to wildlife species, “especially as human travel increases the chance that we could accidentally introduce pathogens [disease-causing microbes] to new parts of the planet,“ says Frick.

Measuring how infectious diseases may change fundamental ecological patterns is essential for determining effects of these diseases on wildlife species.

“Our study offers the first evidence that disease can change macroecological patterns across continents,“ says Frick. Macroecology is the study of broad-scale patterns of species distributions and abundance.

Bat losses have widespread effects

Many bats are insect predators. As such, researchers report, they provide valuable “ecosystem services” for humans. Increases in insects like gypsy moths and cutworms—favorite bat meals—have economic consequences.

Cutworms, for example, are destructive garden pests that cause fatal damage to vegetables, fruits and flowers. Until bats swoop to the rescue.

Nonetheless, says Frick, when it comes to important wildlife species, bats are often overlooked.

It’s late March and winter hibernacula are opening, their bats beginning to emerge. Without bats, scientists say, the landscape of spring would be a far more insect-ridden, crop-damaged place.

emerge from caves and mines this spring?

“Today’s Catch” Photo on Social Media Results in WVDNR Citations Issued for Nearly 50 Poached

Following up complaints in person and by email that someone had been taking more than the daily creel limit of trout on Big Clear Creek along Anjean Road in Greenbrier County, Natural Resources Police Officers from the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources District 4 Office in Beckley got some help from social media.

“I found that one of the suspect’s girlfriend had posted on Facebook a picture of what she was calling ‘today’s catch,’ a photo of a truck bed with approximately 48 trout on the tailgate,” said NRPO J.B. Hudson, who investigated the case. “I also obtained messages from Twitter about the catch and the time it occurred. I then began building my case.”

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Officer Hudson was able to obtain the identities of the suspects, both juveniles, and questioned them and their parents. He determined that the trout had all been caught the same day, Feb. 6, 2015, and that the fish had been dispersed throughout the community. The two suspects were each issued citations for exceeding the creel limit of trout, exceeding the possession limit of trout, and illegal possession of trout.

“This case was brought to conclusion in large part thanks to the public reporting the incident by way of email and social media,” said Col. Jerry Jenkins, chief of the WVDNR Law Enforcement Section.

Anyone who witnesses a violation of the state’s wildlife laws is asked to report it by telephone, email or online at wvdnr.gov/LEnforce/Poachers.shtm.

You do not need to give your identity to report a suspected crime.

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation presents $50,000 donation for West Virginia Elk Restoration Project

At the regular quarterly meeting of the Natural Resources Commission held Sunday February 22, 2015, in South Charleston, Bill Carman, Regional Director for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) and its West Virginia State Chapter President Brian Satterfield presented a Seed Grant check in the amount of $50,000 to the West Virginia DNR for its active elk restoration program.

These funds can now be used by WVDNR to support its active elk restoration program.  RMEF has been instrumental with the restoration of elk in Kentucky and Virginia just astride of the Mountain State’s designated southwestern coalfields elk zone consisting of all or parts of Logan, Mingo, Wyoming, McDowell, Lincoln, Wayne and Boone counties.

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The commissioners and WVDNR Chief of Wildlife Resources Curtis Taylor thanked RMEF for this generous contribution, which is designated to kick-off the program. Revenues for such grants are generated by fundraising banquets held by local chapters here and elsewhere. West Virginia presently has four active chapters.

“The mission of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage,” Carman said.

Accepting the contribution on behalf of WVDNR were elk zone wildlife and law enforcement coordinators Randy Kelley and Sgt. Terry Ballard, respectively.

**DNR**

Photo courtesy of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources

In photo, left to right: WVDNR Sgt. Terry Ballard, RMEF Regional Director Bill Carman, West Virginia State Chapter President Brian Satterfield, WVDNR District Biologist Randy Kelley.

Proposals for Doe Hunting

The drastic drop in the number of bucks hunters killed in 2014 is reflected in the proposed regulations for the 2015 antlerless deer hunting season in West Virginia. Whether the changes are enough to satisfy hunters remain to be seen.

“The season framework is very similar or the same as in years past,” said DNR Game Management Supervisor Gary Foster. “There will be a lot of counties that are the same, but a lot of counties will be a lot more restrictive. That’s primarily due to that decreased buck gun harvest.”

Under the proposed regulations for 2015 Boone, Tucker, Wayne, Webster and portions of Clay, Fayette, Greenbrier, Kanawha, Mineral, Pendleton and Raleigh counties would have no antlerless hunting season.

Hunters in Randolph, Mercer, Nicholas, Pocahontas and portions of Clay, Fayette Raleigh counties will need to apply for a limited number of tags in 2015 and the bag limit will be one antlerless deer.

The biggest change may be a reduction in the antlerless bag limit in selected counties. Hunters in Barbour, Braxton, Cabell, Grant, Hancock, Kanawha (north of Elk River and west of Corridor G), Lincoln, Marshall, Pleasants, Preston, Summers, Taylor, and Upshur Counties will see their bag limit for 2015 set at one antlerless deer.

The Gilmer Free Press


The other major change will be in the number of counties where hunters are required to kill an antlerless deer before they could kill their second buck.  Thirty-one counties carried the so called “earn a second buck” restriction in 2014. The number this year is down to nine counties or parts of counties.  Those are Calhoun, Doddridge, Gilmer, part of Greenbrier, Hampshire, Part of Mineral, Morgan, Ritchie, and Wood Counties.  The bag limit in those counties for antlerless deer remained at three as proposed by game biologists.

The bag limit will also remain at three without the “earn a second buck” restriction in Berkeley, Brooke, Hardy, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Lewis, Marion, Mason, Monongalia, Monroe, Ohio, Putnam, Roane, Tyler, Wetzel, and Wirt County.  The eastern portion of Pendleton County was also added to the three antlerless deer limit for 2015.

“The 2014 harvest was definitely low, but I don’t think it’s a reflection of a lower deer population,” said Foster. “There are a lot of other factors that came into play including the really strong mast crop and terrible weather in the first week of buck season, particularly on the first day.  The data looks very similar to what we had in 2010 after the bumper crop when mast was at an all time high.”

The proposals keep the season framework intact.  The season would be October 22-24, November 23-December 5 concurrent with the buck season. December 17-19 and December 29-31 on private land.  The season dates for public land include November 23-December 5 concurrent with buck season, December 17-19, December 29-31.

The agency indicated harvest objectives and population density is more inline with management plans on the state’s public hunting areas. The proposals include a limited antlerless hunt with a bag limit of one on the Elk River, Big Ugly, and Wallback WMA’s and Greenbreir State Forest and Kumbrabow State Forest.

Biologist suggest unlimited hunting with a one deer bag limit for does on Castleman’s Run, Stonecoal Lake, Camp Creek, McClintic, Stonewall Jackson Lake, Amherst/Plymouth, Cross Creek, Beury Mountain, Chief Cornstalk, Lewis-Wetzel, Bluestone, and Greenbottom Wildlife Management Areas as well as Cooper’s Rock State Forest.  Any public hunting area not specified in the proposal would follow the county’s proposed regulations for antlerless deer hunting.

The dates and bag limits are only proposals at this point. They will go out for public comment and the agency will accept comments on the ideas during the upcoming sectional meetings in March.  The state Natural Resources Commission will vote on the proposals at their next meeting.

~~  Chris Lawrence ~~

West Virginia Seasons End for Furbearer Trapping and Hunting February 28, 2015

The Gilmer Free Press

The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds sportsmen and women that the hunting and trapping seasons for red fox, gray fox, bobcat and raccoon ends February 28, 2015.

The trapping seasons for coyote, otter, mink, skunk, opossum, weasel and muskrat also will end February 28, 2015.

The trapping season for beaver ends March 31, 2015.

Beaver trappers are reminded that it is illegal to set traps during the month of March for beaver, unless those traps are in water.

Trappers should be aware that it is illegal to set traps or leave traps set after Noon on the last day of the respective season.

The trapping season for fisher ended January 31, 2015.

All beaver, bobcat, otter and fisher pelts are required to be checked at an official game checking station within 30 days of the close of their respective seasons.

Beaver trappers should be aware that starting April 01, 2015, they must check game by one of the following three ways:

•  Internet - www.wvhunt.com

•  Stopping at any license agent (you will not have to bring the animal with you)

•  Telephone - Call 1.844.WVCHECK (1.844.982.4325) - DNR ID number required.

Trappers, hunters and fur dealers are reminded that furs shipped out of West Virginia must have a fur shipping tag, which is available at DNR District Offices.

Anyone who plans to sell an otter or bobcat pelt outside of the state of West Virginia should obtain a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) seal for each pelt.

All otter and bobcat pelts, usually exported from the United States by licensed fur buyers, must have a CITES seal from the state where the animal was harvested.

The general public is reminded that now, before the trapping season ends, would be a good time to deal with nuisance furbearer problems.

Trappers may be more likely to assist landowners with nuisance problems while their gear is in working order and pelts are prime.

Winter Gulls

Harsh winters, meaning those with bone chilling temperatures and serious amounts of snow, such as last year and this year, bring the same question on an almost daily basis — why do I see “sea gulls” at the mall, at fast food restaurants and at garbage dumpsters?

The answer is weather related, but first let’s address the term “sea gull.” Everyone who has ever been to a coastal beach knows what it means, but “sea gulls” are not limited to seashores. In fact, Franklin’s gulls nest on the prairies of the northern Great Plains. Bonaparte’s gulls nest on the edges of the boreal forest in Canada and Alaska. And California gulls nest near lakes throughout the west. Among ornithologists and birders, the term “gull” suffices.

Most of the winter gulls seen here in the inland east are ring-billed gulls and herring gulls. Both are common along the Atlantic coast in the summer, but large populations also nest inland on the many islands of the Great Lakes. When winters are mild, they stay near the lakes.

But when polar vortices plunge southward and send us into a prolonged deep freeze, gulls wander south in search of open water. Last year was a classic case. In December 2013 the Great Lakes began icing up, but in mid January, 2014 temperatures plummeted, and the freeze accelerated. By March 06, 2014, the Great Lakes were 92.2% covered by ice. When it gets very cold, ice up can happen quickly.

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It’s happening again this year. According to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL) on January 06, less than 6% of Lake Erie was frozen. By February 09, more than 90% of Lake Erie and 54% of all the Great Lakes were frozen. Under these conditions, smaller bodies of water near the Great Lakes also freeze.

When this happens, gulls head south in search of open water. During the day they scavenge at landfills, dumpsters, parking lots and anywhere else they can find food. At night, they roost on ice near open water where they are relatively safe from predators.

These evening flocks can be quite impressive and often draw attention from gaggles of birders. In Pittsburgh, for example, thousands and sometimes close to 10,000 gulls gather near the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers. Most are ring-billed gulls, many are herring gulls and sharp-eyed birders are always looking for rarities such as glaucous gulls, ivory gulls and greater black-backed gulls. Similar gatherings occur near Buffalo, NY and Niagara Falls.

Scanning thousands of birds for one or two individuals can be tedious, but it is always rewarding. That’s what birders do.

So that’s why we see gulls in winter. Ice freezes them out of preferred places, and they head south for open water. In the spring when the ice thaws, the gulls will return north to islands in the Great Lakes and beyond.

The most frequently seen winter gulls are ring-billed gulls. They are about 18 inches long and have a four-foot wingspan. The yellow bill is encircled by a black ring near the tip, hence its name. Other diagnostic features include a white head, yellow legs, yellow eyes, pale gray back and white underparts.

Herring gulls, the other common winter species, resemble ring-bills, but are larger, about 25 inches long with a five-foot wingspan. The bill is yellow, and the lower bill has a red spot near the tip. Also look for the pale gray back, white underparts and pink legs.

In nature, gulls are opportunistic scavengers. They eat fish, carrion, crabs, insects, mollusks, and almost any sort of organic garbage. Larger gulls can be quite predatory. Great black-backed gulls, for example, can swoop down and swallow ducklings and shorebird chicks whole.

If you’re puzzled seeing winter gulls, just look around. It’s probably very cold, you’re probably just a few miles from a lake or river and there’s probably an open trash receptacle nearby.

~~  Dr. Scott Shalaway - 2222 Fish Ridge Road, Cameron, WV 26033 ~~

West Virginia Mid-Winter Waterfowl Survey Shows Decrease in Duck and Goose Observations

The Gilmer Free Press

Fewer ducks and geese were observed during West Virginia’s annual mid-winter waterfowl survey compared to 2014, according to West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Waterfowl Biologist Mike Peters. DNR wildlife biologists and wildlife managers completed the survey January 08 and 09, 2015.

This annual survey involves both ground and aerial observations of historically significant waterfowl areas in the state.

Observers counted 7,844 ducks and 6,390 geese during this year’s survey.

The number of waterfowl observed this year was down from last year. Specifically, duck numbers were down 11% and goose numbers 4%.

Duck numbers remain 87% above the 10-year average, however, and goose numbers are 20% above their long-term average.

“While these survey numbers are above their long-term average, this may not translate into more birds in the hunter’s bag,“ Peters said. “Weather plays a key role in determining hunter success during the season. For example, the week of this year’s survey would have proven difficult for hunters in their efforts to locate birds, as most waterfowl were found primarily on larger rivers that remained unfrozen.“

Canada geese, mallards and American black ducks were the most common species seen, with lesser numbers of snow geese, buffleheads, redheads, goldeneyes, American widgeon, ruddy, ring-necked, canvasbacks, scaup and wood ducks. Common and hooded mergansers are starting to make up a larger portion of the observed waterfowl.  Eleven bald eagles and one golden eagle also were observed during the survey.

< < < < < < < < <
2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
Ducks Geese Ducks Geese Ducks Geese Ducks Geese Ducks Geese

Kanawha River (Upper)

547 491 682 437 290 282 243 421 121 673

Kanawha River (Lower)

792 520 731 295 430 216 245 59 102 182

Ohio River (Lower)

2,978 1,354 2,969 2,263 1,238 1,672 1,342 1,017 1,195 764

Ohio River (Middle)

2,803 2,990 3,841 3,270 2,614 3,641 1,134 2,067 2,712 3,536

Tygart Lake/Pleasant Creek

181 445 243 0 213 11 254 16 82 15

Shenandoah River

245 336 81 155 85 36 81 57 136 588

Bluestone   Lake/New River

298 254 250 289 382 404 417 267 696 389

Total

7,844 6,390 8,797 6,709 5,252 6,262 3,716 3,904 5,044 6,147

Ten-Year Average

4,200 5,331 3,941 4,807 3,300 4,604 3,036 4,350 3,333 4,727
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Rare White Tiger Kills Zookeeper

The Free Press WVHe was found in a cage, bleeding from the neck   [ .... ]  Read More

Judge’s Ruling Halts Grizzly Bear Hunts

The Free Press WVHe restores protection for Yellowstone-area bears   [ .... ]  Read More

Huge squirrel population chomps crops, driving farmers nuts

The Free Press WVThere’s a bumper crop of squirrels in New England, and the frenetic critters are frustrating farmers by chomping their way through apple orchards, pumpkin patches and corn fields [ .... ]  Read More

Elk Management Project Tours begin at Chief Logan Lodge in September and October 2018

The Free Press WVThe West Virginia Division of Natural Resources will be leading 20 guided tours of the state’s elk reintroduction site in Logan County in September and October [ .... ]  Read More

Body Camera Footage Shows Officer Save Fawn

The fawn was stuck in a fence   [ .... ]  Read More

Fighting the Caribbean’s Turtle-Killing Scourge

The Free Press WVThis isn’t fun in the sun. Sargassum algae is drowning baby sea turtles, dolphins and fish in its leafy, brown thatch [ .... ]  Read More

Wildlife groups scramble for new way to block grizzly hunts

The Free Press WVWildlife advocates scrambled Thursday to find a new way to block grizzly bear hunts set to begin this weekend after a judge said he wouldn’t immediately restore federal protections on the bears living in and around Yellowstone National Park [ .... ]  Read More

Cops: Tape Shows Father, Son Shooting Bear, ‘Shrieking’ Cubs

The Free Press WVAndrew and Owen Renner also accused of trying to cover up the killings   [ .... ]  Read More

‘I Can’t Believe’ She Is Still Carrying Her Dead Calf

The Free Press WVWorried another orca, J50, has days to live, officials may intervene   [ .... ]  Read More

Yellowstone Tourist Filmed While Taunting Bison

The beast charged, the person backed down   [ .... ]  Read More

Grieving orca highlights plight of endangered whales

The Free Press WVWhale researchers are keeping close watch on an endangered orca that has spent the past week keeping her dead calf afloat in Pacific Northwest waters [ .... ]  Read More

Most Endangered Primate in World Found on Huge Island

The Free Press WVIn Madagascar, 95% of lemurs are under the threat of extinction   [ .... ]  Read More

Biggest King Penguin Colony Sees a Catastrophic Drop

The Free Press WVPopulation at remote French island falls 90% in 3 decades   [ .... ]  Read More

Drought forces emergency measures for US West’s wild horses

The Free Press WVHarsh drought conditions in parts of the American West are pushing wild horses to the brink and spurring extreme measures to protect them [ .... ]  Read More

National Zoo’s New Baby Dies in Fall

The Free Press WV2 golden lion tamarins were born Friday   [ .... ]  Read More

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Readers' Recent Comments

“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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Just saw this. Am so sorry.

By Betty Woofter on 09.06.2018

From the entry: 'Shirley F. Wilmoth'.

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Well, this is nice.

However, there have been promises and attempts more than I care to remember.

Canaan Valley, GSC deal.  Broadband to every holler.  Near twenty years ago.

Ole Joe spent money made promises. 
Little Missy Moore got on that wagon too.

Seems so much of this money chatter comes just before election time?
We be waitin’ though, but won’t hold our breath.

By Thanks EDA for trying. on 09.04.2018

From the entry: 'G-CommunityImprovement™: Gilmer County EDA Receives Community Block Grant'.

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The expectation is that the new board will provide a “tell it as it is”  status report on current student achievement with a comprehensive plan for improvements.

The plan should include a firm commitment for accurate progress reports at scheduled intervals.

If nothing is done by the board that would be a way to skirt accountability for the County’s school system.

By Need Measurable Results on 09.04.2018

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

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If the board wanted you to have the info—you would get it.

Otherwise you are likely wasting time thinking about it?

Remember how loud actions speak?

By no info flow on 09.02.2018

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

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Could the Board get Mrs. Mason’s report summarized and put on the GFP? This should be some of the most important information in years all citizens have a right to know.

By Gilmer County School Watch on 08.29.2018

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

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Appears the Governor will appoint 5 Supremes?

That means the 5 Supreme Court Judges will be beholding to the Governor?

Will the Governor ‘own’ the Supreme Court?

The Judge’s actions will answer that question.

By Hanshap on 08.28.2018

From the entry: 'Justice Appoints Jenkins and Armstead to West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals'.

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Something is wrong with the way storm water all of a sudden rushes down hill from GSC’s parking lot located at the front of the administration building.

Down hill from the south corner of the lot runoff is so bad during storms to make rocks wash out to litter the unnamed steep street up hill from property formerly owned by the Barker’s.

Rocks and other debris are beginning to deposit over a drain at the entry of the steep hill to cause more water problems.

GSC please fix the problem.

By Property Owners on 08.28.2018

From the entry: 'GSC Students Travel to Berlin'.

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Another dark day in WV history.

By Ronzel on 08.26.2018

From the entry: 'Justice Appoints Jenkins and Armstead to West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals'.

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We know that there were problems with accurate tracking of BOE finances, but nothing has been heard about what was found, who was responsible, and corrective measures to be taken. Board is requested to get a report out to the public. Nothing unreasonable about this good government request.

By Gilmer BOE Finances on 08.25.2018

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

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Accountability, you say?

When is the last time your heard that word used with any GC elected?

By accountability? on 08.25.2018

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

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It was apparent to citizens that under intervention the State practiced Machiavellian divide and conquer with the previous board and it never recovered from that type of treatment.

With a new board the county has a fresh start. Let us hope that it will function in a highly effective manner to include openness to keep the public fully informed.

By New Start on 08.22.2018

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

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The “Opportunity” comment should be addressed by Mr. Cottrill. He is the new board president and it is his responsibility to set an example of effective leadership.

By Mr. Cottrill Asked to Lead on 08.21.2018

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

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Why doesn’t Gilmer County do the same? Dr. Manchin has a long standing reputation for working closely with his boards and they function together as effective teams.

In Harrison County the public is kept fully informed of the goals and progress in attaining them.

When school systems lack well defined goals that eliminates objectiveness for evaluating performances of superintendents and boards too. The result is the elimination of accountability.

A major negative result of a lack of fully disclosed goals is lost opportunities for citizens, including business leaders, teachers, and parents, to do their maximum to contribute to improved schools.

By Opportunity For Gilmer's School System on 08.21.2018

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

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Noticed today that merchandise on sale at Foodland is shown on the GFP. Makes it easier to shop to get genuinely good deals. Thank you Morris family and the GFP.

By Grateful Consumer on 08.18.2018

From the entry: 'WV Impeachment Enters a More Partisan Stage'.

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The past couple months—-the first in likely 10 years, we have been filling a grocery cart at Foodland.
Usually shopping meant a trip to Weston or Gassaway, once in a while Clarksburg.
We certainly enjoy shopping and visiting right in Glenville.
Especially with the many visible improvements.
Why now, there is even and electric ‘buggy’ for those who need it.
The entire community and surrounding areas are enjoying Mr. Morris newest good deed!

By Yes---MANY happy Gilmer shoppers! on 08.15.2018

From the entry: 'WV Impeachment Enters a More Partisan Stage'.

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In a couple years we will be right back where we are today.
Here come the payback and favorites appointments.
Several are all ready lining up for a gig even be it a short one.
Nothing changes in West Virginia.

As far as the ones run off.  They will get a bonus, maybe even a cush job, as well as sweet
retirement deal.
Its the West Virginia way.

By Bill.H. on 08.14.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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This supreme court debacle exposes where a LOT of West Virginia’s problems come.

Nepotism and cronyism.  Plain and simple.
I would vote for almost anyone who does not have tie to our state.

Never thought I’d ever say that.
We need the BEST elected for our offices.

Its clear that isn’t the case.  For a long time.
Flip-floppin-party-jumpers need to stay home.
We don’t want your ilk.  Big Jim included.

By Kanawha on 08.14.2018

From the entry: 'WV Impeachment Enters a More Partisan Stage'.

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While GSC struggles to survive why not apply a college version of the Foodland model?

Offer academic programs in high demand, affordable to students, and second to none in quality in WV or better yet not available anywhere else in the State.

It does not require having an MBA degree to figure that out as a recipe for success. Works in business all the time for talented entrepreneurs.

By GSC's Opportunity on 08.14.2018

From the entry: 'WV Impeachment Enters a More Partisan Stage'.

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If misconduct being reported about WV Supreme Court justices is truthful there could not be better way to cast suspicion on top-to-bottom corruption within WV’s legal system including what the State Bar is supposed to do to protect the public from unethical lawyers.

The justices should receive the highest punishment allowable. What a black mark on WV. Couldn’t make it up.

By Smelly Legal System on 08.14.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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To say that the Foodland Store is a major improvement is an understatement. It is kept well stocked with no empty shelves as a result of vastly improved inventory, reordering, and shelf stocking approaches, exceptionally clean store with excellent lighting, there is a price range to choose from for many items, milk does not spoil within 3 days after you get home, prices are fair to make it obvious that price gouging does not exist, and the staff is always friendly and noticeably committed to assist customers. Even the sharp dress code and personal conduct of employees demonstrates that teamwork and pride exist for being on a winning team. No more having to drive to Flatwoods or Weston to shop on a routine basis. Thank you I. L. Morris family.

By Appreciative Gilmer Shoppers on 08.14.2018

From the entry: 'WV Impeachment Enters a More Partisan Stage'.

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One bad apple spoils the barrel.
Looks like that old ‘saw’ is proven
right again!  M-T the barrel!

By one bad apple? on 08.13.2018

From the entry: 'WV Impeachment Enters a More Partisan Stage'.

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Yeah, Manchin and former democratic governor Wise pretended to be deer hunters. They both know to be otherwise is political poison in WV. Mr. Morrisey being a republican will work hard for our 2nd amendment rights, whether he is a hunter or not, he does not have to pretend.

By Trespasser Will on 08.13.2018

From the entry: 'WV Impeachment Enters a More Partisan Stage'.

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Look at the bus run times.

Several over an hour.

And you know that’s not safe or reasonable for stop/go/loaded bus.

Someone has cooked the books to meet state regulations?

GC board of Ed? 
Is that the case?
What say you?

By parent on 08.11.2018

From the entry: 'GILMER COUNTY SCHOOLS BUS SCHEDULES 2018-2019'.

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Give the man the credit due him.

AG Morrisey has done a lot of work in support of 2nd amendment rights for West Virginia.

Reciprocal carry with many states as well as support of WV conceal carry.

Senate candidate Manchin worked former NYC Mayor Bloomberg (yes, that gun grabber) to raise money
to limit gun rights.

Who you going to vote for?

By who you going to vote for? on 08.11.2018

From the entry: 'WV Impeachment Enters a More Partisan Stage'.

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Yep, ole Menace Catch-em…got caught and retired. Just a move to try to save his guilty butt?  lol

The so called “supreme gang” rolled the dice and played their game.  They knew.

Caught now, bringing shame to the good people of West Virginia.

Stirring up memories of A.J.Manchin and his ‘departure’.

Even brings up the memories of Governor getting his ‘due’ and being sent off to prison for a few years.

Pretty obvious, neither party is “quality” minded when they give us their candidates?

Or maybe its the “best” they have to offer??

By Harold on 08.11.2018

From the entry: 'WV Impeachment Enters a More Partisan Stage'.

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The democrats whine about partisanship but they go against the will of the people. I choose to not carry on most occasions, but remember it was a Republican led legislature who voted to allow us to carry if we feel the need.

By The Silent Majority on 08.10.2018

From the entry: 'WV Impeachment Enters a More Partisan Stage'.

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There was a comment about need to be on a school board for 1-2 years before learning how to be an effective member.

Having been on a board for 22 years and observing how newly elected members respond I agree with the statement.

After getting elected it is normal for new members to feel overwhelmed with all the rules, regulations, and procedures in effect to address proper functions of school boards.

A new board member has two options. One is to simply show up at meeting as a seat warmer to get a pay check for doing nothing.

The second choice is to accept that being on a board is a serious responsibility with children’s futures at stake and it takes hard work and dedication to learn roles and responsibilities to carry out.

Consider personnel actions as one example. To attempt to protect as much independence as possible it is common for some superintendents to be parsimonious with material shared with boards.

To overcome this constraint new board members should demand written documentation on personnel information they are entitled to review before voting on a superintendent’s personnel recommendations.

What if there is not official documentation in your county defining a board’s entitled access to personnel information?

Instead of wasting money on lawyers to provide guidance get your board to submit a formal request to your superintendent to provide WV’s rules for boards applicable in all of the State’s 55 school systems.

The information exists and it is unnecessary to reinvent the wheel to waste time and money.

By Welcome New Board Members on 08.10.2018

From the entry: '5 ways to truly help principals succeed'.

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The new school board is commended for deciding to assign Mr. David Ramezan to serve on the audit committee and to be the rep to the Career Center.

There are expectations for the new board to produce and the decisions demonstrate openness to assigning the best people to serve in special capacities. 

We expect Gilmer County to be a WV front runner in educating our kids and that includes using finances optimally to get the most for education dollars and to provide superior career training for students electing to go that route.

By Audit and Career Center Assignments on 08.08.2018

From the entry: '5 ways to truly help principals succeed'.

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New board members know from initial training that an individual member has no more authority than a dog on a tight leash.

This means that individual members are not authorized to give orders to any employee in a school system, all directives must be through a majority board member vote directly to a superintendent reporting to a board, and that individual is held accountable for carrying out directives.

The message is that boards govern and superintendents administer.

If there is failure for a superintendent to perform as a board directs that can result in an unsatisfactory performance evaluation and in some cases be grounds for insubordination with penalties.

Two major problems with boards are failures to give a superintendents timely and clearly defined objectives for administration of a school system and failures to document substandard superintendent performances when annual reviews occur.

The clear separation of authority of boards versus superintendents mentioned above is designed to prevent tendencies by some board members to attempt to engage in personal micromanagement in school systems.

Imposition of the necessity of a majority board vote for what a superintendent is supposed to do functions to promote thoughtful input from all elected members to contribute to wiser school system decisions to lessen internal conflicts.

By Kanawha County Observer on 08.07.2018

From the entry: '5 ways to truly help principals succeed'.

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Thank you for your update Mr. Boggs.
Couple things I’m wondering about.

First—the ‘roller coaster’.  That’s the first mile from Burnsville I-79 proceeding West on Route 5.

Almost immediately exiting the Interstate everyone is greeted with the rough, bumpy train tracks.  Been like that for years as we all know.  Then comes the dips and dives of the concrete road.  This has progressively worsened over the past 20 years.  Why is nothing done with it?

Next.  How about an accounting, a list of accomplishments if any, by the Little Kanawha Parkway Authority/Commission.

It is funded by the WV Legislature.  Has been for many years.  Manchin struck it from his first budget saying it wasn’t needed.  Couple months later it was funded again with the money doubled.

A list of income and expenditures would be nice to see, without having to file a FOIA for it.  It does appear at first glance, this Parkway deal only benefits one attorney and few elected officials.  Sort of closed club where the taxpayer picks up the travel expense and meals just for a day out?

A good explanation would build confidence and eliminate negative discussions?  Thank you.

By Orlando on 08.07.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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It is commonly heard that when the State was in control sensitive records in the school board office were shredded, hard drives were removed and replaced with clean ones, and selected telephone records were eliminated.

Mr. Cottrill a request is made to you and Ms. Lowther to get straight answers to the community.

Involving unbiased and competent investigators should occur. Board office employees who were there when the State was in control know one way or another what happened, but they may be reluctant to provide information out of fear.

If community perceptions turn out to based on facts what are the legal implications, exactly what records were destroyed, and why did the destruction occur?

This concern is too important for the category of “forget the past and move on”.

The “forget and move on” attitude seems to be code for cover up because it is repeated too often in Gilmer County.

By Provide The True Facts on 08.07.2018

From the entry: '5 ways to truly help principals succeed'.

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Gilmer.  Do not expect much from your new board of ed.  Think you have 3 new members?  It will take them a year at least before they get the idea of what they can and cannot do.

I believe some of your new board is connected to previous members who are likely owned by some faction with questionable intentions.  Left overs from your days of intervention I’d guess.

Good luck!  Gilmer BOE.  You will need it.

Citizens and school staff.  Hold your board members feet to the fire and do the job right.

That’s what it will take you.

By Lewis County on 08.06.2018

From the entry: '5 ways to truly help principals succeed'.

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Saw that a Mr. Paine was suggested for the assistant GCHS principal. If hired it would be helpful for the County to see printed background coverage for the person to get to know about him. The information would introduce him to those of us who do not know the gentleman.

By GCHS Needs Improved on 08.06.2018

From the entry: '5 ways to truly help principals succeed'.

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There is more scandal in the GCBOE and WVDE than people realize.

The entire local BOE that worked under Blankenship know just how many files and documents the had to run through the paper shredder..

Most likely Manchin’s cousin, state appointed superintendent, Devano did the same thing?  How about it, GCBOE employees?  You know.

The West Virginia Department of Education gave Gilmer the biggest scandal, the biggest black eye, of the past 100 years.

Now, when will your flood zone built school flood, Gilmer County?  Everyone knows it not ‘if’ but ‘when’?

THERE WAS *NO* ACCOUNTABILITY AND *NO* OVERSIGHT BY THE WEST VIRGINIA BOARD OF EDUCATION. 

If they claim there was, then the only other possible reason for the multiple failures, can be nothing other than complete incompetence?  Thank you WVDE.

By Kanawha on 08.06.2018

From the entry: '5 ways to truly help principals succeed'.

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Solid reporting about the BOE in the Democrat related to the no-excuse budget tracking scandal verifies that criticality important information was kept from the previous school board and the public.

GFP readers were warned for years that withholding of key information was occurring. Those who attempt to keep up on BOE business have a legitimate reason to question how much other information was kept secret during intervention.

Student achievement, personnel actions including involvement of nepotism and favoritism, and administrate decisions associated with consolidating schools are among subjects being questioned.

There was an underground effort in the County to discredit those in the past who questioned irregular activities under intervention. They were attacked by calling them busy bodies.

The excess levy was passed because we wanted to help children. With the recent budget scandal we question if that money was spent on its intended purpose in the past.

Henceforth we want every excess levy penny to be accounted for. If the money was misspent in the past we want that exposed.

We are counting on Mrs. Lowther and the new BOE to end secrecy. That expectation is reasonable for the benefit of the County’s children and taxpayers.

By BOE School Finances Scandal on 08.06.2018

From the entry: '5 ways to truly help principals succeed'.

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Far, far worse with contractor work at the new grade school. We learned early not to rock the boat when we noticed problems with contractors. Should be a record if paper work and hard drives are still available.

How about checking on this on Mr. Cottril?

We were warned not to say anything to anyone about the new school being too small while knowing that Leading Creek was built too large and it still has vacant rooms.

The State was in total control from start to finish with everything and local involvement was forbidden. You see what that got us, and we will be paying the price for years to come.

By Classified Staff on 08.03.2018

From the entry: '5 ways to truly help principals succeed'.

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Reference in the Democrat to the County’s mess about the school budget because of improper record keeping is a red alarm.

It is evident what the previous school board was faced with during intervention with the State keeping sensitive information secret. What else will emerge from the wood work?

Who are the candidates and their special qualifications for the assistant principal job at the GCHS? The selection will be one of the most important ones in the near future to help get the school back on track with a winning administrative team.

Will politics and taking care of special families be put aside on this one or will we have business as usual?

By BOE Tracker on 08.03.2018

From the entry: '5 ways to truly help principals succeed'.

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Yes, “The State Was Fully Responsible” for the immense waste of tax dollars in both Lewis and Gilmer counties.

There are a few who know well the story.  None with backbone to tell it.

No investigative news source to dig the truth for public information.

Millions of dollars lost.  The trail leads straight to the West Virginia Board of Education.  With willing underlings to help every step of the way.

By Kanawha on 08.03.2018

From the entry: '5 ways to truly help principals succeed'.

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Service personnel spoke out clearly and often about shoddy work at the GCHS. They were not listened to and worse yet they were told to keep quiet. There should be a detailed accounting of where all the County’s facilities money went after intervention, who was involved with project oversight, who got money, and what went undone and botched. Take the issue to Governor Justice. He would get involved as he battles corruption, waste, and mismanagement. Start with Leading Creek, go on to the Arbuckle site, on to Cedar Creek, and finally to Hays City. The horrible story is there and it must be exposed.

By The State Was Fully Responsible on 08.02.2018

From the entry: '5 ways to truly help principals succeed'.

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If board members are only permitted to see names for personnel being recommended by the superintendent without reviewing all applications themselves how do they know before voting that the best applicants are recommended by the superintendent?

Sounds like personnel decisions are really a token procedural formality made to look like an objective way of doing business with full involvement of the board.

By Doesn't Make Sense on 08.01.2018

From the entry: '5 ways to truly help principals succeed'.

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There have been reoccurring concerns expressed about GC school board members not being allowed to review credentials of individuals selected for new positions.

End it by getting clarification from the Board’s lawyer pertaining to personnel information a board is entitled to review opposed to what has to be kept confidential from it.

The same WV laws for personnel information apply to all 55 counties.

By Remove Doubt About BOE Access To Information on 07.31.2018

From the entry: '5 ways to truly help principals succeed'.

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When Gilmer’s superintendent recommends personnel actions how is it done? Does she provide back-up information for board members to review before voting or are just names provided? Where do checks and balances apply as they should to ensure that the best qualified are always selected?

By Question to D. Cottril BOE Pres. on 07.31.2018

From the entry: '5 ways to truly help principals succeed'.

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Mr. Boggs. Could you give us an update as to what is happening, action, meeting discussions, etc. with the Little Kanawha Parkway?

We know the Legislature sets aside a goodly amount of money every year, and has for years, but never see any mention in the news of any progress.

Thank you.

By Orlando on 07.31.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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