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Nature, Environment

Almost Half of Legislature Voted Against Every Conservation Proposal

A voting scorecard by the West Virginia Sierra Club shows record levels of opposition to conservation measures by state lawmakers.

Jim Kotcon, who chairs the Sierra Club West Virginia’s political committee, has been tracking votes on a wide range of environmental legislation for more than 20 years.

He says the worst score previously recorded was three years ago, when 11 legislators voted against every environmental proposal.

Kotcon says this year there are six times as many – far worse than any previous year.

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Much of West Virginia’s self image is defined by its
connection to the state’s wilderness.
But a new voting scorecard shows record
opposition to conservation legislation.


“Unprecedented in that so many of the legislators scored a complete zero,” he states. “We always see a few people that are voting against the environment every time, but we had 70 names on our list that is almost half of the state Legislature.“

Many in the state Legislature argue that loosening environmental regulations is a way to increase economic growth.

Critics of that view argue it doesn’t actually translate into more jobs.

The annual scorecard looks at every recorded vote, including votes on support for state parks and clean water rules.

Kotcon says there are 13 state lawmakers who voted green about two-thirds of the time. He calls them the clean 13.

“There were six state senators and seven state delegates who rank above 60 percent,” he states. “But for these people, the air we breathe and the water we drink would be in much worse shape.“

Kotcon says at the federal level, 4 out of 5 members of the state’s congressional delegation scored zero.

The full list is at the Sierra Club West Virginia website.

Stonewall Jackson Lake named the best lake in WV

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Stonewall Jackson Lake has been ranked among the best lakes in the United States by MSN.

Stonewall Jackson Lake was named the best lake in West Virginia on a list called “The Best Lakes in All 50 States,” by Charyn Pfeuffer.

The lake was rated on affordability, scenic beauty and fishing potential.

The MSN feature said: “Briar Point Campground is a favorite spot for front-row views of Stonewall Jackson Lake. Visit the Marina at Stonewall Resort to rent a pontoon boat, Aqua Cycle, or stand-up paddle board.”

Stonewall Resort State Park also has other accommodations aside from the campground.

The resort has 195 rooms and 12 cottages, and there are a number of other attractions, including a pool, spa, fitness center, restaurants, conference centers and an 18-hole Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Course.

Fund that Helps Protect Iconic WV Sites is in Question

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Congress has three months to renew what’s described as a vital - but largely invisible - program for conserving special places in West Virginia and across the country.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund has meant $184 million for Spruce Knob, Seneca Rocks, the Canaan Valley and other projects. But the Trump administration has proposed cutting it by 90 percent.

Brent Bailey, executive director of the West Virginia Land Trust, explained the LWCF gets funding from offshore drilling royalties, and uses the money to make grants for everything from wilderness access, to pools in city parks.

“If it’s a place where hunters and fishermen go, if it’s a place where people camp, hike, backpack, climb, mountain bike, raft, kayak, canoe, it is probably due to this federal program that’s been sort of invisible,“ Bailey said.

The program has traditionally had strong, bipartisan support in Congress. Bailey said Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WV, and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-WV, and Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-3rd Dist., recently used the fund to protect about 700 acres that rafters see in the Gauley River Recreation Area.

The Wilderness Society has called the LWCF “America’s most important public lands program.“ A budget plan failed in the Senate this month, in part because it would have cut the fund by $16 million.

Senator Manchin expressed frustration that “a popular and successful program for the last 50 years” hasn’t been renewed, and said it’s “long past time” to reauthorize it.

According to Bailey, LWCF grants are crucial to maintaining the state’s recreation economy, worth an estimated $9 billion a year.

“If you don’t have the places for people to visit and to enjoy - for hunting and for fishing, and for all other kinds of recreation - then you’re not going to have that $9 billion coming to a state that desperately needs to diversify its economy,“ he added.

The deadline for Land and Water Conservation Fund re-authorization is September 30.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

WVDA to Begin Aerial Spraying for Gypsy Moth

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The West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) will begin aerial treatment for gypsy moth in early May. The spraying will occur across approximately 5,298 acres within Grant, Hardy, Nicholas and Pendleton counties. The goal is to reduce impacts of the gypsy moth in West Virginia’s forested lands. The WVDA proposed to treat these acres under the WVDA Cooperative State-County-Landowner (CSCL) suppression program.

“The gypsy moth is the most serious forest pest currently in West Virginia. This is a non-native, invasive insect that feeds on over 300 species of trees and shrubs, including West Virginia hardwoods,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt. “Defoliation by gypsy moth caterpillars can kill trees or weaken them substantially, making them more susceptible to other pests and diseases.”
Landowners in the CSCL Program have signed a contract, paid a deposit and share the final cost with the WVDA to complete treatment for their gypsy moth problem. Landowners then select the spray material to be used on their property. The spray materials offered for 2018 are Foray 48B (Btk) or Mimic (Tebufenozide). Egg mass densities on non-residential forested lands must contain 500 egg masses per acre or higher to qualify for treatment.
“This treatment program is a safeguard to one of our most important natural resources. Homeowners, as well as our timber and tourism industries, benefit from this program,” Leonhardt said. “Without control measures, our water quality, recreation experiences, wildlife habitat and timber production could all be negatively impacted.”
WVDA officials caution against the transport of firewood into or out of the state. Owners of RVs and campers are asked to thoroughly inspect and wash their equipment before moving it.
If there are any concerns, please contact Quentin “Butch” Sayers, Assistant Director or G. Scott Hoffman, GMCS Coordinator at 304-788-1066 or via e-mail to .
The adjoining map shows the general location of the proposed treatment areas.

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Groups Blast FERC Findings On Mountain Valley Pipeline For Fracked Gas

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A coalition of landowners and advocacy organizations today condemned the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for disregarding the profound and long-lasting human and environmental trauma the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) would cause. In its final environmental review, released Friday morning, FERC ignores the most harmful impacts this 300-mile-long pipeline for fracked gas would have on lives, communities, drinking water supplies, private property, local economies, and publicly owned natural resources. The groups called these risks unacceptable, especially for a pipeline that is not even needed. The coalition also calls the pipeline an assault on the climate and the future of children in West Virginia and Virginia, and notes that the pipeline can still be blocked on multiple federal, state, and legal levels.

The final environmental review1 issued today by FERC for the proposed $3.2 billion MVP—to be developed by EQT Midstream Partners; NextEra; Con Edison Transmission; WGL Midstream; and RGC Midstream—commits the same central failure of its draft review: failing to prove that the pipeline is needed. An independent study shows there is enough existing gas supply in Virginia and the Carolinas to meet consumer demand through 2030, while experts have warned that the gas industry is overbuilding pipeline infrastructure in West Virginia and Virginia. Key federal government agencies and officials have criticized FERC’s failure to properly determine a project’s need.

Former FERC Chairman and Director Norman Bay in his parting recommendations to the agency, urged the commission to rethink how it determines need when certifying natural gas pipelines. The Bureau of Land Management and Environmental Protection Agency have also criticized FERC specifically for failing to address whether the MVP is needed, and a bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate to reform FERC’s approach to public engagement.

FERC has a history of greenlighting natural gas pipelines with insufficient reviews, resulting in dangerous leaks and spills.  The Rover Pipeline recently spilled millions of gallons of drilling chemicals into Ohio’s wetlands, the Sabal Trail pipeline leaked drilling chemicals underground into the Withlacoochee River in Florida, and the highly contentious Dakota Access pipeline has already suffered three leaks.

West Virginia and Virginia citizens opposed to the MVP say FERC has proven unable to properly assess the environmental risks of these pipelines, and its incomplete reviews have dealt a huge blow to public confidence, not to mention safety and the environment. MVP developers submitted more than 16,000 pages of information after the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was issued. The public did not have the opportunity to submit comments to FERC on the additional submittals. The NEPA review process for the MVP was bypassed by FERC.

While legal and environmental experts are continuing to review today’s document, they have initially identified major gaps in FERC’s Final EIS, including:

  • An accurate assessment of whether the project is needed and in the public interest;

  • Alternative analysis including development of energy efficiency, solar, and wind as alternatives to construction of pipelines;

  • A complete analysis of the cumulative, life-cycle climate pollution that would result from the pipeline;

  • A thorough and accurate analysis of visual impacts from the pipeline, including impacts to the iconic Appalachian Trail and potential damage to its tourism economy;

  • Cumulative impacts analysis of all environmental and human health damage from increased gas fracking in West Virginia that would supply the pipeline;

  • An analysis of the compound effects of multiple regional geo-hazards, including a meaningful analysis of the karst topography; and

  • A thorough review of damage to water quality and natural resources along and downstream from the pipeline route.

The coalition is committed to blocking the pipeline through every available avenue on the federal, state, and legal levels to assure that the very best options for energy, jobs, and landowner rights are considered.

Statements from affected landowners, community members, and environmental and legal experts:

  • Ty Bouldin, landowner in Summers County, West Virginia, stated: “The DEIS for the Mountain Valley Pipeline project was disheartening testimony to the inadequacies of FERC’s environmental assessment procedures. It failed to provide rational scientific standards for evaluating such impacts as were acknowledged. The DEIS simply argued that any impacts—however severe they might prove to be—would be judged acceptable. Such a conclusion was not valid given the inadequacies of the materials submitted by MVP, and it remains unacceptable as the basis for undertaking a responsible Final Environmental Impact Statement.”

  • Maury Johnson, affected landowner in Monroe County WV and The Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Indian Creek Watershed Assoc. WV Rivers Coalition, and more, stated: “The Mountain Valley Pipeline will devalue our land, limit its uses and reduce taxes which support our schools and public services. It will jeopardize the safety and security of residents and anyone who visits the area where it is located. It will impact the water that we so much depend upon for our families, our farms and our communities. It will impact the world class water that comes from Peters Mountain in WV and VA. The impacts to the Jefferson National Forest and the Appalachian Trail will be severe and irreversible. It should be criminal to attempt such a pipeline when the profound environmental damage has not been adequately assessed by FERC, by West Virginia’s DEP or by Virginia’s DEQ.“

  • Andrew Downs, Regional Director, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, stated: “The public has never been allowed adequate access to this process which increasingly seems like it’s been driven by distant a bureaucracy. The devastation anticipated to the Jefferson National Forest and the iconic Appalachian Trail is a violation of the public trust that spans from nearly a century and into our uncertain future.”

  • Diana Christopulos, President, Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club, stated: “The FEIS ignores the potential negative impacts of the project on public drinking water supplies on the Roanoke River, even though the pipeline’s own consultants reported a major increase in sedimentation in the North Fork of the Roanoke River that would travel all the way from Jefferson National Forest through the cities of Salem and Roanoke to either Niagara Dam or Smith Mountain Lake. The FERC never required to applicant to report fully on the sediment that would occur on the South Fork of the Roanoke River, which could have significant impacts on the same downstream communities.“

  • April Keating, Mountain Lakes Preservation Alliance/West Virginia Sierra Club/Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights, stated: “Not only are these new pipelines not needed, but they lock us into flammable, radioactive, climate warming methane use at a time when renewable energy is needed most. Renewable energy is more affordable than ever and has created more jobs than the fossil fuel market in recent years. FERC has refused to look at cumulative impacts of this and other projects in the same region, which is doing a real disservice to our public health and putting a chokehold on our economic opportunities.”

  • Anne Havemann, General Counsel, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, stated: “Time and again, we’ve seen how FERC’s utter failure to honestly assess the impacts of massive, dangerous gas pipelines. We know this pipeline would result in massive climate pollution equivalent to 26 new coal-fired power plants. FERC’s own former chairman has urged the commission to reconsider how it evaluates environmental impacts, including climate change. If FERC was honest in its environmental accounting, it would have no choice but to reject the project.”

  • Dr. Richard Shingles, Coordinator, Preserve Giles County, “An obscure, independent regulatory agency, controlled by the very gas and oil industry it is supposed to regulate, has taken one more step in a fraudulent ‘public review’ process towards finalizing a predetermined decision. The FEIS ignores the scientific consensus as to the cumulative threats to communities, local economies and natural resources and the pipeline itself. The multiple geological hazards abound in this region should make it a ‘no build zone’ for large, interstate, high pressure gas pipelines. To date FERC has failed to require the applicant to show that these threats can be avoided or safely mitigated - an assurance that the scientific consensus demonstrates cannot be provided.”

  • Hugh Irwin, Landscape Conservation Planner, The Wilderness Society, stated: “Damage to national forest lands and values including wilderness, roadless lands, the Appalachian Trail, clean water, and wildlife habitat have been inadequately addressed, putting these public resources in jeopardy.”

  • Jerolyn Deplazes, Secretary, Preserve Newport Historic Properties, stated: “FERC has shown blatant disregard for the laws concerning the protection of historical properties in the process of reviewing the MVP. Four landowners in the Greater Newport Rural Historic District have been denied the right to consult with FERC, MVP and other cooperating agencies to develop alternatives to the proposed route of MVP. And many filings by the Greater Newport Rural Historic District Committee have been made pointing out the continually incorrect, misleading, and apparently deliberately incomplete information provided to FERC by MVP and the failure of FERC to require full corrective action by MVP. Without complete and correct data input to FERC, there is no way that FERC can make an informed decision on the MVP project.”

  • Ben Luckett, Staff Attorney, Appalachian Mountain Advocates, stated: “FERC’s failure to look at whether this pipeline is actually needed to serve the public, and not just the bank accounts of MVP’s shareholders, is absolutely galling. All too often, like with the recently completed Sabal Trail project, these new pipelines just shift gas away from existing infrastructure instead of offering any new beneficial service. Without a real market analysis, FERC can’t tell whether the pipeline’s extreme impacts to landowners, communities, and the environment will bring about any public benefit. Our independent studies indicate that they will not.”

Former Oil Industry Exec Weighs In on Methane-Waste Rule

Just hours are left for the U.S. Senate to invoke the Congressional Review Act and overturn a Bureau of Land Management rule preventing oil and gas developers on public land from venting and flaring methane gas into the atmosphere.

The Congressional Review Act gives lawmakers 60 days to overturn newly adopted agency rules, and for the BLM methane-waste rules, that deadline is Thursday. The Senate vote could come as early as today.

Wayne Warmack, a former director at ConocoPhillips, worked in the oil and gas industry for nearly three decades and contended that the rule will ensure a cleaner environment and bring in money for local communities.

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The Bureau of Land Management estimates that energy companies wasted enough natural gas to power more than 5 million homes between 2009 and 2014.


The result, he said, could be “millions and millions of dollars every year that would come in the form of taxes and royalties to the states and federal government, and the public. There are job benefits, in the fact that there will be more jobs created to help capture this methane.“

The BLM has estimated that companies wasted enough gas to power more than 5 million homes between 2009 and 2014. Supporters have said royalty dollars could go to support public schools or updated infrastructure. Those who are opposed have said capturing the gas is too costly for energy companies and impractical for older well sites.

Warmack said regulations must move forward in line with the public’s continually rising expectations. However, he noted, industry always rises to the challenge. One example, he said, was the mandate that vapor-control systems be installed at gas pumps.

“There was a huge cry about how much it was going to increase the price of gas and how it would put gas stations out of business and cost a lot of jobs,“ he said, “but the truth is that industry responds to those challenges by finding better technology and better ways to accomplish those tasks.“

A poll conducted earlier this year found an overwhelming majority of voters on both sides of the political aisle support keeping the BLM methane rule in place, and 60 percent said they oppose eliminating federal requirements on energy companies.

A fact sheet on the BLM methane-waste rule is online at doi.gov.

CONSERVATION DAY FOR 6th. Graders

Conservation Day for the 6th Graders of Gilmer County was held once again at Cedar Creek State Park on April 25, 2017.

This field day was made possible by the West Fork Conservation District, with Supervisors Jane Collins and Larry Sponaugle representing Gilmer County.

It was a full day of activities, starting with Instructor Callie Sams (Department of Environmental Protection) who talked about the importanceof recycling and what our earth would look like if we did not recycle. 

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The students each received recycled shoe strings, crayons, and coloring books.

The students then advanced to Forestry with Instructor Joe Jelich, where they were exposed to different native trees and how to identify them.

Next, the Wildlife and Snakes class always gets the students excited. 

Instructor Jim Fregonara (WV Division of Natural Resources Wildlife Diversity) brought his snakes and the students were given the opportunity to touch one, if they dared! 

Almost every student walked away with a sticker proclaiming “I touched a snake today.” 

Our popular Beekeeping class was instructed by Bobbi Cottrill.  She always makes sure the kids leave with a few honey sticks and other goodies.

Kelley Sponaugle, a retired Soil Scientist from Shady Springs, originally from Cedarville had the students getting their hands dirty looking for bugs in the soil with magnifying glasses that each student got to take home with them. 

Aeriel Wauhob (WV Streams, Fish and Wildlife) was also very popular with students, getting in the streams and searching for all kinds of specimens. 

Instructor Rick Sypolt (Retired Professor in Forestry and Land Surveying from Glenville State College) instructed students how to use a compass and read a map. 

Each student went home with a compass.

This year each student and teacher received a t-shirt with the conservation logo on it provided by the West Fork Conservation District. 

There were two volunteers who helped guide students from one session to the next, Arletta Davis and Janice Bowling.

Students are exposed to lots of information in one day, however, the information will help them when they take the Samara Exam later in the month. 

The Samara Exam is a test that measures the knowledge students have gained about the environment through 6th grade, another program sponsored by the Conservation District.

“Be Air Aware” During National Air Quality Awareness Week

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As the weather warms, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s (WVDEP) Division of Air Quality (DAQ) reminds West Virginians to “Be Air Aware.” In recognition of National Air Quality Awareness Week – May 01 to May 05 – the DAQ is teaming up with the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency in a national effort to make citizens aware of simple daily choices that can affect air quality.

Transportation choices can play a significant role in air quality improvement. Choose alternatives to driving such as taking the bus, carpooling, biking, or walking to your destination.

If those alternatives are not options, try these tips: turn off your engine instead of idling; keep your tires properly inflated for better fuel mileage; combine trips; and, refuel in the evening hours when fumes from refueling won’t combine with the sun’s heat to increase ozone levels.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) for nine areas in West Virginia can be obtained by visiting DAQ’s webpage. The AQI is reported for Charleston, Huntington, Morgantown, Moundsville, Parkersburg, Weirton and Wheeling year-round.

The reported index is the calculated value for the past 24 hours and is updated Monday through Friday.

During ozone season, April 01 through October 31, Greenbrier County and Martinsburg information is also reported.

Possible Public-Lands Rollback Sparks Suspicion in WV

West Virginians are likely to react with suspicion to Trump administration moves toward rolling back the national monuments named by his predecessors, according to a local conservation group.

In an unprecedented step, the White House and U.S. Interior Department have announced they’ll review - and possibly revoke or shrink - monument status given to public lands over the last 20 years.

West Virginia voted strongly for Trump.

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Trump administration moves that could undermine the naming of national monuments might affect West Virginia’s push for a Birthplace of Rivers monument.


But, Angie Rosser, executive director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, says folks here really identify with the woods and forests, and want them protected.

“The first time a president has ever made that kind of move, and it just feels like it flies in the face of the very people who voted for him,“ she says. “People take pride in those areas here in West Virginia and are willing to fight to defend them.“

Written statements from the Interior Department say they want to give rural citizens more of a voice in what federal land gets extra protection. The agency also argues that recent monuments have been huge - many times larger than the first ones, named early in the last century.

Critics charge the real reason for the review is to make more public land available for energy development.

Rosser says folks will learn a lot watching how the review process goes - if it’s dictated from the top, it might be driven by powerful vested interests. But if it’s open to the public, she predicts many people will come out to defend public lands.

She notes that’s how the monuments are created in the first place.

“Some of these national monuments, most of them, have been decades in the making,“ she adds. “Local economies have seen great benefits. If they truly listen to the local voices, the business voices will be pressured to keep things as they are.“

Rosser and others are backing a push for a Birthplace of Rivers National Monument in the eastern part of the state. One estimate is that a designation could be worth $50 million a year to the local economy.

The century-old Antiquities Act, which empowers presidents to name national monuments, doesn’t specifically allow later revisions. Any changes made to current national monuments by the Trump administration are almost certain to be challenged in court.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

Some Retired Military Oppose Rolling Back Climate-Change Regs

Retired military such as West Point graduate Jon Gensler say national security planners are strongly opposed to Trump plans to roll back climate-change limits.
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Many in the military community are opposing the Trump administration’s plans to roll back regulations to slow climate change.

Trump has said he wants to roll back the Clean Power Plan carbon limits to help industries such as coal mining. But uniformed officers with an eye on national security often will acknowledge that climate change is a real, immediate and growing threat.

West Point graduate and former tank captain Jon Gensler, a native of West Virginia, said people from his home state have to face reality the way their ancestors did.

“They had to make hard decisions. They had to put in long hours. We honor and revere them for their hard work,” Gensler said. “Why then now are we so gun shy of making the same hard decisions for our own future?“

Now a fellow with the Truman National Security Project, Gensler said Trump’s position is more than a little frustrating. He called it politically motivated and “extremely shortsighted.“

“Now we have a commander-in-chief who’s in direct disagreement with the generals who he claims to support and trust,” he said. “I think you would be hard pressed to find senior leadership at the Pentagon that doesn’t take the threat of climate change seriously, all the way up to and including his own Secretary of Defense.“

Gensler said Defense and State departments planners believe climate change is an extremely serious threat - one that puts the lives of American troops directly at risk. He called it a “conflict multiplier” that contributes to instability in areas such as Iraq and Syria.

“The roots of the Syrian civil war itself are tied to a decade-long drought that caused massive crop failures and pushed rural farmers into the cities, crowding the cities and breaking down the ability of the cities to provide services,” he said.

He said the U.S. military now finds itself responding to climate change-driven disasters such as a recent typhoon in the Philippines that killed 8,000 people. He said the U.S. lost more than 1,000 Marines and soldiers escorting fuel convoys in Iraq and Afghanistan - deaths that could be avoided in the future by using more renewable fuels.

More information is available at AmericanSecurityProject.org.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

Renewables Cheap, Growing Fast in Developing World

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Renewable energy is growing fast in poor countries, and in a change from a few years ago, demand for coal is stalled or falling.

According to the international bodies that track the patterns, more solar and wind power is coming online than any other kind of energy.

Vrinda Manglik, campaign representative for the Sierra Club’s International Climate and Energy program, says for a few projects in the developing world, new solar power can cost half of new coal.

She adds across much of the world, the price of renewable energy has come down so much it’s competing with current power sources – without subsidies.

“The World Economic Forum is reporting that solar and wind have reached grid parity in more than 30 countries,” she points out. “It’s expected that in the coming years that’ll be the case worldwide, but at the moment we’re just seeing more and more examples of it.“

Some in the coal industry, in the past, have described coal as a necessary low-cost option for places hungry for electricity.

But Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates 60 gigawatts of wind and 70 gigawatts of solar were installed last year.

Manglik says demand for coal in India has stopped growing, and it has started to fall in China. She cites a number of factors contributing to that, but says the price is key.

“The air pollution that is a big problem in China and India, as well as the climate agreement,” she states. “In addition to that, it’s basically the economics of it.“

About 1.2 billion people worldwide don’t have easy access to electricity. Most of them live in rural areas, disconnected from the power grid.

Manglik says it’s often cheaper, faster and easier to give them off-the-grid solar than it is to reach them with power lines.

“Solar home systems, solar lanterns, and the people don’t have to wait for the grid to be extended,“ she explains.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

Will Trump Administration Ditch Climate-Change Regs?

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What will the Trump Administration do with Obama air-pollution limits designed to slow climate change? The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the federal government has to cut greenhouse gasses, including CO2 from existing power plants, but the feds’ Clean Power Plan has been stalled by court challenges about the specifics.

James Van Nostrand, a law professor and the director of the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development at West Virginia University said the new administration will have a number of ways to withdraw, loosen or delay the plan.

“Even if it stays in place, the EPA would just choose not enforce it,“ he said. “And a lot of the U.S. commitments under the Paris agreement are really hinged on emissions reductions that we were going to achieve under the Clean Power Plan.“

The coal industry has attacked the EPA’s Clean Power Plan as part of what it calls a “war on coal.“

Donald Trump famously tweeted that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by China, although he later said that was a joke.

Walton Shepherd, a staff attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council said while Trump makes up his mind about the issue, climate change is speeding up. But he also noted, so is clean energy, which he called the cure for carbon pollution.

“That’s not waiting, either,“ he said. “Wind and solar are the fastest-growing supply of electricity in the country, and there are now more people employed in solar energy than in the oil and gas or coal-mining industries.“

Shepherd pointed out that clean air rules to address climate change are deeply embedded in the law, and very popular across the country. He said that’s why George W. Bush could stall but not completely stop regulations to address climate change.

“That administration also tried very hard to dismantle clean-air protections,“ he added. “And quite simply, they abandoned their efforts in the face of public opposition.“

The first clues about how the new administration will approach climate change may come when Trump announces who will head the EPA. Some have suggested he may even attempt to dismantle the agency, although that would be a radical step.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

25 Pipelines Proposed for the East

Coal may be declining, but fracking is booming.

Over two dozen natural gas pipelines are planned for the region, many of which cross our favorite outdoor playgrounds. Other pipelines will use eminent domain to traverse private property. All of them will affect the future of energy, health, and recreation in the East.

Dominion Power stands behind their Atlantic Coast Pipeline as a necessary means to meet energy needs throughout the region. “Demand is expected to increase by 165% over the next two decades,” Dominion spokesperson Aaron Ruby says. “Our existing infrastructure is simply not capable of meeting these needs.” As communities grow and businesses expand, energy demands also increase within those developments, Ruby says.

Touting natural gas as a “bridge fuel,” Dominion and other energy companies are hoping to build a massive pipeline infrastructure that could extend fossil fuel dependence for another century or more. Currently 34 percent of our energy comes from natural gas.

19 pipelines are proposed for Appalachia. If built, we would blow past our climate change commitments made in Paris, according to Oil Change International.  And a recent report by Synapse Economics shows that gas pipelines aren’t needed to feed electrical demand. They conclude: “Given existing pipeline capacity [and] existing natural gas storage…the supply capacity of the Virginia‐Carolinas region’s existing natural gas infrastructure is more than sufficient to meet expected future peak demand.”

Each individual pipeline costs upwards of $50 million, with several reaching into the billion-dollar price range. The Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline comes with an estimated price tag of $3 billion, while the Atlantic Coast and Northeast Energy Direct lines ring up at over $5 billion. Such high costs will force the region and the nation to commit to fossil fuels for many more decades. More pipeline infrastructure also means more drilling and fracking in order to supply the lines with enough gas.

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But the multibillion dollar investment in a natural gas infrastructure—including massive subsidies from the federal government—is taking away from investment in renewable energy. If the U.S. had given the same subsidies to solar and wind as it has to oil and gas, we could meet most of our energy needs today with renewables.

Solar and wind power now make up over 75 percent of new electric capacity additions in the United States—representing over $70 billion in new capital investment in 2016 alone.

So why aren’t we building a renewable energy infrastructure instead of a fossil-fueled pipeline network?

No one is claiming that renewables can provide all of our electricity overnight. Massive hurdles in energy storage still need to be cleared, and the better battery grail remains elusive. But a smart grid of renewable technologies seems like a better long-term investment than thousands of miles of fracked-gas pipelines.


Is Natural Gas Better Than Coal?

Ruby argues that natural gas provides a vast improvement over the coal. “Natural gas produces half the carbon emissions as coal,” Ruby claims. “Our project will help the region reduce carbon emissions and meet the regulations of the new Federal Clean Power Plan.”

Natural gas companies also claim that access to local shale gas supplies in Pennsylvania and West Virginia will prove more cost-effective than transporting the gas from the Gulf Coast. Pending their completion, pipelines like the Atlantic Coast project could save the consumer base hundreds of millions of dollars in energy costs. “Cheap energy options lead an improved economic competitiveness of the region,” says Ruby.

But is the environmental and public health cost worth it? “The pipelines in and of themselves are devastating for the communities that they pass through,” says Maya van Rossum, spokesperson for the Delaware Riverkeeper Network. “They cut through wetlands, creeks, rivers, and inflict an immense amount of ecological harm that cannot be undone.”

And according to Ramon Alvarez of the Environmental Defense Fund, natural gas is only better than coal if leakage in the gas pipelines and extraction is less than 3.2 percent. Leakages regularly soar above this limit. Methane—the leaked gas—is an even more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Fracking, a drilling method that involves injecting high-pressure toxic fluids into the ground, has been linked to increased earthquakes and groundwater contamination. It uses mercury, lead, methanol, uranium, and formaldehyde to blast through the ground, and many of these chemicals end up in communities’ drinking water.

Pipeline construction itself causes air pollution and acid rain that harms the surrounding soil and vegetation, invades natural wildlife habitats, and contaminates water supplies. Once completed, pipelines continue to cause disruption by maintaining rights-of-way that permanently splinter natural landscapes and block regular animal movement, while also emitting air pollution from compressor stations that jeopardize public and environmental health.

Many local landowners and environmentalists believe that this money would be better spent investing in a renewable energy infrastructure that would set us on a path toward cleaner energy and healthier, more sustainable communities.

Joanna Hanes-Lahr, a resident in Annapolis, Md., worries about pipeline safety amid increased rates of leakage and rupture. She is concerned about drinking water, gas explosions, and increased air and water pollution. She and others believe that a renewable energy infrastructure makes more sense ecologically and economically.

“We don’t need the fracked gas,” she says. “Clean energy is here today.”

What about jobs?

The pipeline industry promises to create new jobs, but they neglect to mention the expenses that accompany them. Pipeline construction often threatens the status of community projects, tourism, and scenic viewsheds which attract many more jobs and visitors. Wintergreen and Nelson County may encounter a loss of $80 million and 250 jobs as a result of two large projects—a new resort hotel and marketplace—that would be postponed or canceled due to pipeline construction.

Already, solar and wind industries employ more workers than oil and gas. The solar industry has hired more veterans than any other industry, retrained coal workers, and has created one out of 80 jobs in the U.S. since the Great Depression. And wind is not far behind. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, wind technician is the fastest growing job category.

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network has also found that the clean energy sector provides more jobs and a better quality of employment than natural gas jobs. Natural gas employees “spend six months to build something and then [they’re] out,” says van Rossum. “For every million invested in clean, renewable energy versus fossil fuels, you get 3 to 5 times the number of direct jobs created. You also get a lot more long-term jobs.”


Where are the pipelines proposed?

Some of the outdoor community’s most treasured sites may be destroyed by pipeline implementation, including the beloved backbone of the Blue Ridge: the Appalachian Trail. The proposed PennEast, Atlantic Coast, and Mountain Valley pipelines cross the Appalachian Trail on several occasions, which will cause permanent disruptions to the trail and surrounding forest.

“The natural gas companies have not done a good job articulating a plan that will not have an impact on hikers [because] they are looking at boring under the trail, which is not compatible with the trail experience,” says Director of Conservation Laura Belleville.

Pipelines have also been proposed through Delaware State Forest in Pennsylvania and High Point State Park in New Jersey, the latter of which boasts the highest point in New Jersey. “Now, when you go to look from that high point, what you’ll see is just a swath of denuded forest with a pipeline cut through it,” says van Rossum.

In West Virginia and Virginia, Monongahela and George Washington National Forests and the Blue Ridge Parkway will be permanently marred by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which will require regular clearcutting along its entire length.

The Mountain Valley Pipeline similarly endangers Virginia’s Jefferson National Forest, while the Leach Xpress Pipeline moves within 2 short miles of The Wilds Preservation Area and Wayne National Forest in Ohio. Farther south, the Dalton Expansion Project will cross the Etowah River and has already poisoned the waterway after an oil spill during the preparatory construction process. The Sabal Trail Pipeline that winds through Alabama, Georgia, and Florida crosses above the Falmouth Cathedral Cave System, parts of which lie only 30 feet below the earth’s surface and are liable to collapse as a result of the pipeline’s intended path.

The Sierra Club has already opened cases against pipelines where “environmental effects have not been adequately addressed in public areas,” says Thomas Au, the Oil and Gas Chair of the Pennsylvania chapter. Right now, the Constitution Pipeline and Atlantic Sunrise Pipelines worry Au the most. These proposed pipelines pass through Ricketts Glen State Park and across the Lehigh, Susquehanna, and Conestoga Rivers.

Private landowners are also in jeopardy. Pipeline companies are frequently given permission by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to use eminent domain to construct and maintain pipelines across private property. Even if property owners refuse to sell their land, the companies can seize the land anyway.

That’s what happened to the North Harford Maple Farm in New Milford, Pennsylvania, where the Holleran family runs their maple syrup business. But the Constitution Pipeline will run straight through the Holleran’s property and take down the maple trees that they and their loyal customers depend on.

Even worse: most people who will lose their land to pipelines will not receive any energy benefits in return. Eminent domain seizures mostly accommodate the interests of those on either end of the pipeline while taking resources from the communities in between.

Many of the proposed pipelines will take new paths rather than follow existing rights-of-way, like highways and electric lines. Choosing to use pre-established pipeline routes reduces waste by conserving the amount of land in use—a perk that appeals to environmentalists and landowners alike.

“When we saw what Dominion had crafted for its pipeline route, we were a little horrified,” says Jon Ansell, Chairman of the Friends of Wintergreen. “There are better choices using the principle of co-location.” The Nelson County, Va., organization hopes to protect Wintergreen Resort from the Atlantic Coast Pipeline by examining alternative routes that use more existing rights-of-way.

Pipelines ultimately inflict lasting wounds but provide only a short-term energy fix. Together, these pipelines will cut across 3,500 miles of Appalachia and beyond.

~~  Duane Nichols ~~

“When & Where to Visit” for Fall Color This Weekend

The Free Press WV

Best spots to visit currently include Babcock and Watoga state parks; the Summersville area, including the overlook at Summersville Lake; Cranberry Glades; and Williams River. Areas of elevation ranging between 2,000 and 3,500 feet have the most color. Areas over that elevation are losing leaves quickly.


Things to see and do
This weekend, take advantage of the mild October weather and go for a leisurely stroll on the Sunrise Carriage Trail for FestivALL Fall’s Leaf Walk, featuring artists and live music along the way. In downtown Berkeley Springs, nationally and regionally known artists open their studios to the public to show how they create their own unique artwork. And master fiddlers from across the Mountain State converge in Elkins for the Augusta Heritage Center’s Annual Fiddlers’ Reunion, part of Augusta’s October Old-Time Week. For a list of upcoming events this fall, visit https://gotowv.com/events/calendar/.

Natural Gas Industry Energizing Education in West Virginia

The Free Press WV

West Virginia’s natural gas industry is providing significant financial and in-kind support to a variety of educational and youth-focused initiatives in the areas of STEM programming, workforce development, youth athletics, teacher training and general student needs.

“With school in full swing across the Mountain State, West Virginia’s natural gas industry is committed to improving and enhancing educational opportunities for state children,” said Steve Perdue, Interim Director of the West Virginia Oil & Natural Gas Association (WVONGA).

Perdue said programming focused on educating students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) is a priority for many WVONGA members. Recent initiatives include:

–    Chevron and Southwestern Energy’s support of the STEM Network Schools program through the Education Alliance.

–    Chevron’s support of the Oglebay Institute effort to align science curriculum in grades 1-8 in Marshall County and professional development training for teachers at Sherrard Middle School.

–    EQT’s support of the Clay Center’s Power Your Future mobile STEM exhibit.

–    XTO Energy’s Mickelson ExxonMobil Teacher’s Academy support for professional development for Union Elementary School teacher in Upshur County.

–    Antero, MarkWest Energy, XTO Energy and EQT’s support for the Challenge Program in Doddridge, Marion, and Harrison Counties.

–    Dominion’s K-12 and Higher Education Partnership grants will engage students in a variety of energy- and environmental-focused science, math and technology programs.

WVONGA members are involved in myriad ways with schools in their operating region.

Rick Coffman, superintendent of Ritchie County Schools and former Superintendent of Doddridge County Schools, said, “I’ve witnessed firsthand the tremendous impact the natural gas industry continues to have on our education system. Property tax revenues generated by industry activities are providing needed funding for our schools, while ongoing and direct company involvement with local schools is helping to enhance the educational experience for all students.”

Other examples of natural gas industry support with West Virginia schools and students include:

–    Noble Energy’s support for the Energizing Our Youth after-school wellness program in Marshall County.

–    Antero’s Oil & Gas Dodgeball Tournament, which raised funds for Harrison County summer reading and nutrition programming, among other initiatives, and, separately, the company provides monetary contributions to high school athletic departments across northcentral West Virginia.

–    XTO Energy’s scholarship support for students attending the Department of Environmental Protection’s Junior Conservation Camp in Jackson County.

–    Dominion’s contribution of 5,000 pairs of tennis shoes to school students in flood impacted regions of the state.

–    EQT’s support of literacy programs for elementary students in McDowell County through Operation Outreach.

–    MarkWest Energy’s support for the construction of an outdoor classroom in Doddridge County.

–    Chevron and Noble Energy’s support for local back-to-school fairs, providing backpacks, school supplies and other materials for students.

Perdue said the industry’s educational involvement isn’t limited to K-12.

EQT will award 60 $1,000 scholarships to students across the state (one from each of WV’s 55 counties + 5 ad hoc), as well as six full-ride scholarships to students looking to study a field relative to the natural gas industry.

“We recognize the need to prepare our children for the jobs of tomorrow,” Perdue said. “Our members support workforce development and career-readiness programs at our institutions of higher education across the state.”

Perdue cited the industry’s support for the establishment of the Energy Land Management Program at WVU.  One of only 10 such programs accredited by the American Association of Professional Landmen in the country, this program now has more than 100 students enrolled and on their way to careers in the oil and natural gas industry.

Additionally, Noble Energy and XTO Energy’s significant commitment to the Petroleum Technology Program at Pierpont Community & Technical College and West Virginia Northern Community College is facilitating the knowledge, skills and attitudes that are required for success in technician-level jobs within the upstream petroleum production industry.

“These are just small snapshots of the involvement our members have with the education community in the state,” Perdue said.  “The industry is very committed to doing all we can to help Mountain State youth grow and prosper.”

For additional information, contact Steve Perdue at 304.343.1609.

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Bad News, Bears: Obama-Era Rule on Hunting Reversed

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Hawaii Volcano Finds a Way to Get Worse

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West Virginia Wildflower Pilgrimage at Blackwater Falls scheduled May 10-13

The Free Press WVBlackwater Falls State Park will welcome hundreds of wildflower enthusiasts to the area May 10-13 for a weekend of springtime outdoor adventure and nature exploration during the 57th annual Wildflower Pilgrimage [ .... ]  Read More

Meet the New Electric Road

The Free Press WVSwedish project aims to charge vehicle batteries   [ .... ]  Read More

For both beauty and flavor, consider planting berry bushes

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Readers' Recent Comments

The lipstick comment deserves special attention. The State’s testing results verifies that too many students are not proficient in science, reading, and math. WV remains in the lower 10th among the 50 states for those areas.

Google WVZOOM Dashboard and look at State assessment scores for the GCHS. According to reports a decision was made to hire one more math teacher over there to help improve future results.

Nothing is known about what is being done to help Gilmer’s HS students with reading and science. The new Board president must get detailed information out to the public.

Assurances that everything is OK won’t work anymore. There has been too much of that type of hokum. The public knows how to access achievement information from the Internet to impose increasing accountability for our school system.

By R. J. Myers on 07.17.2018

From the entry: 'State Superintendent of Schools Delivers the State of Education'.

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Maybe it is a case of not seeing the forest for the trees. GSC is designated responsibility for serving seven counties in central WV.

SAT scores for students entering GSC are the lowest in the State with large numbers of students coming from the seven counties. This suggests that education needs to be upgraded in the counties.

Why not focus on using the College to train teachers for central WV and to do what is necessary to improve pre-K-12 education in the seven counties?

Looks to be a natural winner for GSC. What about it Dr. Pellett and GSC’s Board of Governors?

By Watching Alumni on 07.17.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Thanks you for honest comments, Mr. Boggs.

Its a sad state when volunteers can be credited with a better job than paid WV employees.

No wonder we have financial, legislative, highway, issues at every turn in the road. 

And to think, that the governor has to burden the National Guard with administration of a flood recovery program? 

Obvious we have incompetent individuals in many positions throughout the state bureaucracy. Are there ever, ever any state employees actually fired, for unacceptable job performance or plain incompetence?

Look at route 5 west of I-79 for a wonderful example of DOH failure.  The DOH county office is a mile from the ‘rollercoaster’ ride. All those state employees have to ride it 10, maybe 20 times a week just doing their jobs.  How can they not see it?

This rollercoaster is the ‘welcome center’ to Braxton and Gilmer county.
Its been a mess for over 20 years.  The rough, bumpy railroad tracks too.

Yes, that’s what the Gilmer Federal Prison employees who commute deal with.  It’s a great welcome, great first look, for prospective Glenville State College students and staff as well.

By A failed state of the state report. on 07.17.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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What a glowing report.

Just because you say or print something, doesn’t make it true.

With a report like this, you would think WV had moved up the list from 47th in outcomes.

A few people don’t have the wool down over their eyes.

By wasted lipstick on the pig. on 07.17.2018

From the entry: 'State Superintendent of Schools Delivers the State of Education'.

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Wiseman’s suggestion is an opportunity for the new School Board officers, Mr. Cottril and Mr. Shakleford.

Both members campaigned on improvements they would make if elected. The most important improvement would be outstanding results with student learning outcomes in the County.

Quarterly progress reports from Mr. Cottril and Mr. Shackleford are requested.

By Voters For Accountability on 07.16.2018

From the entry: 'State Superintendent of Schools Delivers the State of Education'.

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Excellent meeting minutes I wish we could see more local news like this..  Where can I find information on the recent lawsuit between the Gilmer County Commission and Prosecutor Hough?  I understand Judge Alsop issued a decision?

By Reader on 07.14.2018

From the entry: 'GLENVILLE CITY COUNCIL MINUTES'.

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Praises go to Governor Justice, Dr. Paine, and the entire State Board for producing this outstanding report.

For the first time in memory comprehensive information is included in one source for the public and it is written in an understandable
style.

A request is made to the Gilmer County Board of Education and Superintendent Lowther to produce a similar report by this fall for the specific status of our school system.

We could celebrate achievements for which we excel and we could profit from our weak points as opportunities for corrective measures to take.

Forget about what other counties are doing—we are competing against ourselves.

The often cited excuse that we are just as good as other counties with WV ranking near bottom should no longer be tolerated.

By fall results of recent SAT testing would be available to Superintendent Lowther and the County Board to include in the report.

One advantage of the suggested County report and ones in successive years would be a basis for the public to use to judge effectiveness of Gilmer’s Board of Education and Superintendent Lowther.

The GFP is applauded for its role in being a leader in WV for making education news accessible on the Internet.

By Frank Wiseman on 07.14.2018

From the entry: 'State Superintendent of Schools Delivers the State of Education'.

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Dr. Pellett, you attacked accuracy of the NCHEMS report in your Gazette article today.

It would be informative for you to give an Internet link to the report to permit it to be read and for you to publish a detailed critique of errors in it with backup evidence as proof.

By GSC EMPLOYEE on 07.13.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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A basic truism for a highly successful start up business is to offer a new top quality product in high demand at a price consumers can afford.

Why do Dr. Pellett and GSC’s Board of Governors reject the concept? Specifically, as printed in the Democrat there is a proposal to establish a premiere five year teacher education program at the College with grads to receive a masters degree in teaching. A program of that type is desperately needed in WV and it is not offered elsewhere.

Word circulating is that Dr. Pellet, the Board of Governors, and dominant members of the County’s elite have summarily rejected the idea.

One excuse heard is that local power brokers do not want WVU involved with the College. Yet, in the Democrat Dr. Pellett is quoted saying that he is working on a new nursing program with WVU’s involvement.

Is the true reason of veto of the innovative teacher education program because Dr. Pellet and the Board of Governors were not originators of the idea to automatically cause its rejection?

Dr. Pellett is invited to explain to the public and concerned alumni why the program would not be in GSC’s long term best interests.

By Why Dr. Pellet and GSC BOG? on 07.13.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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The Glenville mayor is doing an excellent job and the town is lucky to have him on the job. Getting old houses torn down was a kept promise and the town looks much better at those places. Let’s have more of it.

By Citizen on 07.11.2018

From the entry: 'GLENVILLE CITY COUNCIL MINUTES'.

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Why is it that when tax dollars were spent on the higher education reorganization study by the Colorado NCHEMS group it is being keep secret from the public? Mr. Boggs how about helping out by informing voters how to get a copy of the report to read and decide for themselves?

By Voters Watching on 07.10.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Oops! Bay of Pigs not Figs. Shows that college profs are not immune to embarrassing gaffs.

By WVU Prof. on 07.09.2018

From the entry: 'Report recommends merging Bluefield, Concord, Glenville, WVSU boards'.

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There are two examples in Janis’ book regarding the Kennedy presidency. The first one deals with the group think Bay Of Figs disaster.

Those in Washington associated with invasion decisions considered themselves to be infallible world class thinkers. That mistake prevented critical and constructive review from anyone outside that tight group of political operatives.

The other example covers the Cuban Missile Crisis as an example of masterful diplomacy and planning to prevent a nuclear holocaust. President Kennedy deserved credit because he avoided group think traps from Bay Of Pigs lessons learned.

Higher education decisions in WV are made by individual tight knit Boards of Governors with excessive autonomy and no meaningful oversight.

Also, board members are there through political appointments at local levels. Governors traditionally rubber stamp the recommended appointments.

When serious group think mistakes occur at colleges and universities Boards are conditioned to assume that State bail outs will cover damages.

If private businesses are group think practitioners they never last unless they change strategies to avoid brutal market place penalties.

By WVU Political Scientist on 07.08.2018

From the entry: 'Report recommends merging Bluefield, Concord, Glenville, WVSU boards'.

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“Governance Changes Needed at GSC” is 100% correct.

Basically GSC Board of Governors and other leadership positions, have been a result of nepotism and crony friend choices.

Those two ‘tools’ rarely, if ever, give the best persons available to whatever the position requires.

Incest often produces less than desired outcomes as well.

By PAST Time for change @ GSC on 07.08.2018

From the entry: 'Report recommends merging Bluefield, Concord, Glenville, WVSU boards'.

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Advice for GSC’s president is to read Janis’book entitled Victims of Group Think.

The theme for the book is that alike thinkers of a group of elites in control can have colossal failures because they believe that their decision-making processes are unworthy of outside scrutiny.

Think about it. Did the airport to accommodate jet traffic at the mouth of Cedar Creek work out and did the federal prison result in economic prosperity with a hefty upsurge with GSC’s
enrollment?

What about the millions of dollars of new construction at GSC? Did it result in healthy enrollments as promised.

Some elites associated with GSC were strong advocates for the ill fated ventures.

GSC has been controlled too long by members of the same families. With the undeniable track record of declining conditions a few resignations would be a positive step.

The nagging governance problem affecting GSC has been shielding elite individuals from personal accountability without penalties for bad decisions.

By Governance Changes Needed At GSC on 07.06.2018

From the entry: 'Report recommends merging Bluefield, Concord, Glenville, WVSU boards'.

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Bigger is better? Rarely.

Everyone knows that school consolidation has resulted in failed outcomes.

This is laying the ground work, for an ego driven power grab.  The big institutions have no limit to their desire for money.

Stay small, and if failure occurs, fewer people are impacted.  Too large, and management of that soon turns into a problem.

By Its just planned failure. on 07.05.2018

From the entry: 'Report recommends merging Bluefield, Concord, Glenville, WVSU boards'.

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This information including details in the referenced full Report helps put GSC’s precarious standing in perspective. More information can be accessed at http://www.collegesimply.com.

That web site provides SAT student information for WV institutions of higher learning and GSC has the lowest scores.

Inferences from the scores and material in the report are that because GSC gets a large percentage of students from poor counties including Gilmer County, school systems there need improving.

Also, with employers becoming more sophisticated in hiring the best qualified graduates they access information of the type published on the web site given above.

The reason is that institutions with the best prepared students have more rigorous academic programs and they do not have to expend valuable time on remediation.

Provision of this comment is not intended to be a slam at GSC. The purpose is to encourage Dr. Pellett and the Board of Governors to devise a viable strategy for making the College a center of excellence to improve its standing in WV. It is that simple for guaranteed survival in the future.

By GSC GRAD on 07.05.2018

From the entry: 'Report recommends merging Bluefield, Concord, Glenville, WVSU boards'.

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We must be wary of how County K-12 achievement information is presented.

From the outset the new school board should focus on exactly how well our students are performing with mastering subjects, and not to fall victim to news unrelated to demonstrated student learning.

For one example the GCHS was awarded for its high graduation rate, but it ranked in the bottom 10% among WV high schools for college and career readiness of seniors.

This is not to say that graduation rates are unimportant, but they cannot be interpreted as fact of a direct relationship with how well students are prepared for college and careers.

For some schools an unusually high graduation rate could be a function of enforced “everyone passes” policy.

The point is that there is need for vigilance when student performance information is disclosed to the public so school board get all of it out so voters can decide where the County’s school system really stands.

By Give All Facts on 07.03.2018

From the entry: 'Governor Justice Announces Blue Ribbon Commission on Four-Year Higher Education'.

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Word is that officers on the County’s school board have changed with Doug Cottrill becoming the new president and Shackleford the VP.

Voters request to know what the new board’s plans are for improving the County’s standing with the quality of K-12 education for math, reading, science, and other subjects, and correcting remaining problems at the new grade school contractors have not fixed.

Why not publishing monthly progress reports to cover the new board’s accomplishments? That job would be a good assignment for the new president.

By Voters Watching on 07.03.2018

From the entry: 'Governor Justice Announces Blue Ribbon Commission on Four-Year Higher Education'.

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There is no mention of the facts Jumpin Jim defaulted on a 9 million dollar loan, poor record of paying taxes, nor the mess of the RISE flood funds handling. 

No wonder the poor score.  Anyone think it was ‘earned’?

By Jumpin Jim Nose Dives on 07.03.2018

From the entry: 'Low favorable marks for Manchin, Morrisey, Justice in latest PPP poll'.

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This news has great implications for GSC and Gilmer County. The College could form a partnership with the County’s school system to close the K-12 achievement gap.

For years while under State intervention it was denied that a gap existed, and the mantra was that the County was doing as well as the State as a whole.

That was like saying that we are OK with the State being ranked near the bottom for the quality of its K-12 education system and we should be content to wallow at the bottom too.

Ms. Patty Lowther, the new superintendent of schools, states that we must close the K-12 achievement gap and it is within the County’s capabilities.

She and her staff including Shelly Mason the new curriculum expert, principals, and the County’s teachers are actively involved with devising solutions to eliminate problems.

Regarding GSC, Dr. Pellett is on record with definite innovations to improve the College’s standing.

He has an unique opportunity to guide the College to contribute to Gilmer County having the best school system in WV as a model to emulate throughout the State and Appalachia.

In the past the typical Charleston trap has been to collect achievement data without expending successful efforts to interpret its meaning for use in solving under-achievement.

Dr. Pellett, Ms. Lowther, and Shelly Mason, with the help of other professionals in our schools can jettison that long standing road block to make Gilmer County a K-12 education standout.

Dr. Pellett in particular has an unparalleled opportunity to make his mark on guiding the College to improve K-12 education in the County and to let successes spread as examples throughout Appalachia.

There would not be a better way to justify the necessity of the College’s continuing existence for Gilmer County, central WV, and the entire State.

By Good News For WV on 06.29.2018

From the entry: 'Governor Justice Announces Blue Ribbon Commission on Four-Year Higher Education'.

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If you can’t trust judges to do the right thing…. is there any reason to trust our whole system of government?  One has to wonder.

Now we are reading a judge likely to be impeached as well as the legislature is considering impeaching the governor?

Are the any honest people running for offices?

By crooks everywhere? on 06.27.2018

From the entry: 'Auditors Seek Answers on State Supreme Court Spending'.

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This does not rise to the level of impeachment. “Slick Willy” got a head job in the peoples oval office, and dripped semen on the peoples carpet then lied about it, and according to the democrats back then, that did not rise to the level of impeachment.

By The Silent Majority on 06.21.2018

From the entry: 'Senate and House Democratic Leaders Renew Call for Immediate Legislative Action on Justice Loughry'.

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Something happening is good.
That building has been empty far too long.

Now we shall see if it workable.
Hope for all involved, that their efforts work out for GC and GSC.

By Good on 06.21.2018

From the entry: 'GSC Bluegrass Music Education Center to hold Ribbon Cutting Ceremony'.

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Numbers of new businesses is not the important factor. It is how many new jobs were created for local employees. Politicians like to cite meaningless numbers to crow about and they get by with it too often. Empty store fronts on Main Street have not diminished in numbers. Where are the jobs and what do they pay?

By New Jobs? on 06.20.2018

From the entry: '866 New Businesses in West Virginia for May 2018'.

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Similar to EDA if Gilmer’s SAT results were rosy the news would be out in banner headlines. Elites see to it to keep peasants at bay.

By SAT Checker on 06.19.2018

From the entry: '866 New Businesses in West Virginia for May 2018'.

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Straddlin Joe had a chance to embrace conservatism and convert to Republican, as Governor Justice and much of the state has done. Politics in the state are no longer ruled by mine union bosses. It’s time we send him back to Marion County, as we did with Natalie Tennant.

By The Silent Majority on 06.18.2018

From the entry: 'Joe Manchin: Political games would cost West Virginians with pre-existing conditions'.

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If the so called business creation were true?
Wouldn’t the EDA be having all sorts of news releases?
You would think so.

EDA used to have monthly public meetings.
Now only four times a year?

Business things that slim nothing to discuss?
Or maybe secret meetings by the insiders?

By Gilmer EDA...private club ? on 06.15.2018

From the entry: '866 New Businesses in West Virginia for May 2018'.

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If we can ask Jeff Campbell questions as a Gilmer County official why can’t we get timely information from other officials too?

For an example how did the County do with recent SAT testing?

Superintendents have the information so when is it going to be made public?

Hopefully the newly elected school board will take it on as a priority to get accurate student achievement information to the public with specific plans to make improvements where needed.

By End Public Information Embargo on 06.13.2018

From the entry: '866 New Businesses in West Virginia for May 2018'.

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If true, this would be great news!

The Gilmer County Economic Development Association should be telling us in press releases who/what/where those new businesses are?

How about it GCEDA President Jeff Campbell?

Lets hear from you.

By reader6 on 06.11.2018

From the entry: '866 New Businesses in West Virginia for May 2018'.

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Interesting chart.

But….it shows 4 new businesses in Gilmer…..in each of the past 3 months.
That…..is TWELVE new businesses!

BUT, BUT, where are they?

By Where are they? on 06.08.2018

From the entry: '866 New Businesses in West Virginia for May 2018'.

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You will find most ticks down low on grass blades along well traveled trails, where the unfed adults and even larvae and eggs are brushed off by a passing varmint. Another myth is that ticks will jump on you, of the thousands of ticks I have picked off grass blades and dropped in a cup of gasoline, I have never had one jump at me.

By Trespasser Will on 06.08.2018

From the entry: 'Insect-related illnesses are trending up'.

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Ticks don’t go, they are carried there by host animals. They are best controlled by controlling the host varmints in your back yard. As bad as Lyme disease is, from personal experience, believe me you don’t want Rocky Mountain spotted fever either.

By Trespasser Will on 06.07.2018

From the entry: 'Insect-related illnesses are trending up'.

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NEWS FLASH !
Rural West Virginia is STILL WAITING for that high speed internet that these two have been promising for 20 years!

By Rural WV still waiting.... on 06.06.2018

From the entry: 'U.S. Senators Manchin, Capito announce funding for rural communities'.

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Dilapidated buildings seem to make the news on a regular basis.

Dilapidated buildings are nothing more than an great indicator of a ‘dilapidated’ economy.

By WV's dilapidated economy on 06.05.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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I don’t know how the state can say that, male bears have been known to attack for unknown reasons, and of course females will attack if they perceive their cub is in danger. The best thing to do is shut the #### up and don’t be posting on Facebook what you have done.

By Tresspasser Will on 06.03.2018

From the entry: 'West Virginia man accused of wrongfully shooting bear'.

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Steve and John,
My deepest heartfelt sympathy to you at this most difficult time.
I will miss your mother, my best friend, immensely! We laughed hard together and we cried together, only as two close cousins could do! We spent many hours on the phone chatting either catching up or talking about cooking, any hour day or night,it never mattered to us.

Our words to each other every time we spoke, “I love you sweet cousin of mine”

God’s Speed until we meet again!💞💓
Rest In Peace for eternity💓

Love you dearly,

Cousin, Jo Ann xoxoxo

By Jo Ann Emrick on 06.01.2018

From the entry: 'Catherine Ann Umanetz'.

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The loss of money at Cedar Creek was only part of it. Money spent on Leading Creek, more money to fill the huge hole at GCES, money to fix land slide at GCES because of poor site design work, money spent to fix various other botches that should have been done right to begin with, uncalled for huge pay raises to select central office staff to buy them off, money for playground equipment when existing equipment could have been used, money for an unneeded payroll clerk at the central office, money for a principal at Troy when the individual did not do the work, and more to include building GCES too small and Leading Creek too large with public funds. Will anything be done about it? Of course not except to continue the cover-up. Money trail too hot to handle.

By Etched Memory on 05.31.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education News'.

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Many kudos to both the PACF people as well as their supporters!

Hard to believe how much good they are doing for so many, in just a few short years!

Keep up the good works!

By many kudos ! on 05.31.2018

From the entry: 'Grants Support Area Charities (Little Kanawha Area)'.

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Minney was just another ‘enabler’ for the blatant, bold faced, incompetent, corruption during the West Virginia State Board of Education overthrow of the Gilmer County School System.

Thousands of dollars wasted.  Do not forget the Cedar Creek property chosen by State Appointed Superintendent Blankenship in coercion with the former, ousted, GSC President Simmons.  The money spent clearing forest, the money spent bulldozing a road, until it finally became clear, they were on a ‘fools errand’.

Then to get out of that mess, Blankenship and Simmons,  trade that property, so a school could be built in a flood plain?

‘Education’ and common sense do not always go hand in hand.

If only people were as smart as they think they are.

By Another black eye for state intervention ! on 05.30.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education News'.

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All this Minney stuff brings up at least 2 questions:

WHY did state appointed super Devano hire Minney?

Why did the Doddridge folks hire Minney when he doesn’t have the required financial ‘credentials’ to be a district treasurer?

Either poor hiring practices or someone pulling strings.

By questions but no answers ? on 05.30.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education News'.

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And to think that OUR own little Gilmer County Library ranks in the top ten of libraries in the whole state!

By WOW--WOW--WOW ! ! ! on 05.30.2018

From the entry: 'West Virginia Libraries Rock Out with Summer Reading Programs'.

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Didn’t Mr. Minney approve paying select employees on payroll, for the days they did not work without board or superintendent’s knowledge or approval? Fortunately, he got caught by the board.

By Ridiculous on 05.30.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education News'.

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If you follow the money, you can easily see where all the money went in construction of Gilmer Elementary, why the school has so many physical issues and why there have been problems to get them fixed. Thanks the board for choosing a different auditor.

By FTM on 05.30.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education News'.

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There were a lot of corruptions under state control and superintendent Devano. They mismanaged funds and paid off several employees to keep their mouth shut. When the local controlled board chose a different auditor from the norm, they got caught. I think the remaining paid off employees need to talk the facts, quit, or get prosecuted.

By They were bad on 05.30.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education News'.

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That was far from the first time Mr. DM had gotten into trouble with the auditors. In previous years, findings for mismanagement of funds were issued against him in connection with other work places leading to dismissal.
The audit which is available on state DOE site couldn’t find any justification of board approval for payments, and mismanagement of funds.

By Don LK on 05.30.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education News'.

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He got caught of mismanagement of public funds.

By Jeremy D on 05.30.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education News'.

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I hear Gilmer schools treasurer Dan Minney is leaving. Why?

By Just Curious on 05.30.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education News'.

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Good to see this program return after having it gone missing under the state appointed superintendent.

It was reported there was no place for it to take place.

Thank you Gilmer County Board of Education for making it happen.

By Some remember on 05.21.2018

From the entry: 'FREE breakfast and lunch this summer for Gilmer County Kids'.

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Pam,
Sorry to read of your mom’s passing. I remember may times spent in your home with your parents and brothers. Sending love and prayers to you and your brothers.
Sherry Broggi

By Sherry Straley Broggi and Rita Straley on 05.17.2018

From the entry: 'Lora Faye Tomblin'.

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Really cool project to all who volunteered and those helping financially as well!

Where’s DR? He never misses these events?

By Very nice project - great volunteers! on 05.17.2018

From the entry: 'CommunityImprovement™: Pavilion'.

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The GSC retention post must relate to those beginning in 2014 who planned for 4 year degrees and they dropped out. There probably were students who began in 2014 and they earned 2 year degrees before 2018 so they were not drop outs.

By GSC RETENTION? on 05.15.2018

From the entry: 'Education system perpetuates fraud at every level'.

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Congratulations kids!  Setting up a scholarship fund is a GREAT idea! Where can we get information on who to contact and what local needs are?

By Reader on 05.14.2018

From the entry: 'Calhoun-Gilmer Career Center Celebrates Seniors'.

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How large was GSC’s graduating class of 2018 last week and what was its original size the fall of 2014?

Accurate information should be available to indicate retention. One news source reported that 100 graduated in the class of 2018.

By Alumni on 05.13.2018

From the entry: 'Education system perpetuates fraud at every level'.

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Some interesting results.  Should shake the trees a little.

By Spring cleaning! on 05.09.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Local Election Results - May 2018'.

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So sorry for your loss.  Prayers.

By Betty Woofter on 05.07.2018

From the entry: 'Ina Mae (Foster) Clem'.

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Anyone interested in facts for graduation rates after four years of college can access information on WV’s Education Policy Commission web site.

The last time information was reported WV State was listed at 13.6% compared to WVU’s at 35.9%. GSC was at 25.1%.

Comments submitted so far flag a serious problem in WV. Student achievement information is scattered all over with it being reported by the State, the federal government, and testing organizations including ACT.

Because WV lacks an effective State clearing house to sort through the information and to interpret it for practical application in improving our pubic school systems, too much important quality control material is neglected.

When citizens take initiative to obtain the information and they cite it they are often berated to be a form of “attack the messenger”.

Then too there are the perennial apologists who say that everything is “just fine” to help confuse the issue even more to detract from school improvements.

By WVDE Career Employees on 05.06.2018

From the entry: 'Education system perpetuates fraud at every level'.

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Too often students have to go an extra year or longer to graduate from college with under graduate degrees because they were not prepared when they got there to enable them to complete on time.

The 35% graduation rate includes incoming freshmen who do not finish in four years, and it is factual that some of our public colleges have worse records than others.

WVU does above average, but it has large numbers of-out-of state better prepared students.

By R. Page on 05.06.2018

From the entry: 'Education system perpetuates fraud at every level'.

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Rex Page claims we have a college graduation rate of approximately 35%.

In essence that is a FAILURE rate of 65% !

Think of how many dollars are wasted, and how many students are burdened with student loans, that basically will do them little good in life.

Oh yes.  It does pump money into the flawed system.

By Wv Has a FLAWED educational system ! on 05.05.2018

From the entry: 'Education system perpetuates fraud at every level'.

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Even with enrolling in colleges where acceptance is noncompetitive, meaning that all applicants with at least C averages are accepted, the graduation rate to get a degree is around 35%.

This fact is more evidence for WV’s failed public education system and solid proof that a major top to bottom over haul is needed.

If we accept the often cited excuse that there is a problem with kids and their families to cause under achievement in school that line of reasoning suggests that West Virginians are inherently flawed. This is untrue and the problem lies with WV’s under performing education system.

By Rex Page on 05.03.2018

From the entry: 'Education system perpetuates fraud at every level'.

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Disgraceful that WV lacks a top quality education system to prepare more high school graduates to be eligible for acceptance into the best colleges where there is competition for acceptance.

The deficiency forces students to attend lower tier places where everyone is accepted.

Why does WV fail to make improvements? It is because education delivery in our State is designed to be void of meaningful accountability for administrators.

By WVDE Watcher on 05.03.2018

From the entry: 'Education system perpetuates fraud at every level'.

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Little doubt the block schedule system at the high school gives GC lower scores.

This has been proven over and over in other school systems.

Its an out dated and antiquated system.  Our board of education needs to get rid of it.

Gilmer County Board of Education….are you up to the job?

By Block Schedule Supported By Blockheads on 05.02.2018

From the entry: 'Education system perpetuates fraud at every level'.

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Hopefully this is the beginning of doing better with getting out school news to Gilmer. It is far better to read timely news than to have to go to the Cornerstone to get it.

We wish Mr. Shuff the best in improving learning results at the HS. If he tackles problems like he engaged in athletics the HS will be put on the map for academic excellence.

When he gets his school improvement plan together everyone in the County will pitch in to help him succeed. Thank you GCBOE.

By Pleased Parents on 05.02.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education News'.

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Mr. Williams has it nailed down.  Solid.

America’s entire education system is a farce.
Education administrators worry about their job than worry about the children.

Youth is our future.
By creating dummies, do not expect much of a future.

The children are being short changed, robbed.
America is being short changed, robbed.

But the failed administrators keep their jobs.

By Time To Clean the Education House! on 05.01.2018

From the entry: 'Education system perpetuates fraud at every level'.

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Is this article some sort of a joke ?
Certainly would seem so!

We are almost daily bombarded with chemical spraying from above.
We rarely actually have that clear, deep blue sky that God gave us.

If it happens we do get a clear(?) day, we will have the light blue, almost whispy white cloud sky.

Set a white bowl out in the rains.  Check to see what color the water is after a rain.  You will be
surprised.  Color will vary depending what is being sprayed on a given day.

If it were winter, I’d tell you to look at the snowflakes.  No more are all snowflakes different.  Watch what falls on your clothing, you will see 1,000’s of flakes all the same shape.  Again, depends what toxic material we are being blasted with.

Asthma attacks, ER visits are on the rise.
Do some web searching, plenty of websites report this travesty.  You tax dollars at ‘work’.

By WHERE ARE THE ENVIRONMENTALISTS ? ? on 05.01.2018

From the entry: 'Air Quality Awareness Week is April 30 – May 04'.

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Fraud is not only rampant in education, it consumes Gilmer County..  Those who Have want to keep it any and all costs, and those that don’t, want.  Gilmer needs a good house cleaning of court and legal ‘authorities’ as well if anything is Ever going to change.

By Spring cleaning! on 05.01.2018

From the entry: 'Education system perpetuates fraud at every level'.

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Fraud is committed in Gilmer County when citizens are told that our high school grads are prepared to be highly competitive for entry into the modern world.

The misinformation conflicts with verification that our grads lag when it comes to being college and career ready.

By being disadvantaged academically too many students drop out of college when they cannot compete and they often must go an extra year at a greater expense to catch-up.

There is another type of fraud not pointed out in the posting. It relates to bragging about the “fine” ACT test scores made by students at the GCHS.

For the ACT the average GCHS score as touted by school officials is close to 20. This may be slightly higher than average State scores, but here is the rub.

Our kids could not get accepted into top quality colleges and universities with stringent academic requirements to include those for ACT scores higher than most made at the GCHS.

What do they do? They attend institutions with relaxed acceptance criteria with some not having any basic requirements for ACT or SAT scores.

As a parent with a son at the Career Center I know that there must be remedial instruction in math and English for success in chosen career fields. It is called embedded instruction.

Because teachers must be hired at the Center for the catch-up it means that tax payers are paying twice (more fraud) for instruction that should have been done at the GCHS!

What can we do? Gilmer County must determine what must be done in our schools to make necessary improvements for the better to enable our kids to be the best they can be after HS. Simple isn’t it?

By We Want Better Schools on 04.30.2018

From the entry: 'Education system perpetuates fraud at every level'.

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It is easy to see through the motive for avoiding application of the same assessment approach in all of WV’s school systems.

The powerful in control do not want to make achievement results available for voters to compare academic results among districts!

That way opportunities for more accountability in ways school systems are administered will be nipped in the bud.

Interesting isn’t it that for sports minute attention is paid to comparing performances of all kinds of teams throughout WV.

Unfortunately the strategy will be to keep voters keenly focused on sports so they will not ask questions about education spending and how children are doing in mastering subjects in our school systems.

By WVDOE Disgusted on 04.20.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: State might let counties switch standardized test from SAT to ACT'.

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The West Virginia State Board of Education has operated as a “pin the tail on the donkey” bureaucratic nightmare for over a generation.

Currently, it is hard to envision any positive change in their SOP?

Try this, try that.  Change this, change that.
Continual evidence that all is being run as an experiment?
The WVBOE has no real clue what to actually do, in order to fix anything.

Money wasted. Children cheated of a good education.
Parents and taxpayers cheated.  Opportunities missed.

This is the WVBOE legacy.

By State BOE - dysfunctional is an understatement? on 04.16.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: State might let counties switch standardized test from SAT to ACT'.

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Maybe Jimmy can pay some of his tax bills now?

By Justice, pay your tax bills! on 04.15.2018

From the entry: 'City to purchase club owned by the governor’s company'.

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Reread the article and see what a wonderful set of excuses have been set forward.

Taxpayers give the state the funds for education.  It is then properly squandered leaving students with substandard educations.

These people have the audacity to blame the teachers on top of it.

State BOE, suck it up, fix the problem you and your previous board members have created. 

Make President Truman’s desk saying your motto:  “The buck stops here.“

That is, if you are up to it.

By Kanawha Reader on 04.15.2018

From the entry: 'State board members react to national test results'.

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West Virginia made national news again with its spending per student to be in the top third among the 55 states.

We spend more than $11,000 on average per pupil in our public schools. For comparison Utah spends about $6,500 per pupil and it ranks in the top third for the quality of its education system.

It would be interesting to know how much Gilmer County spends per pupil counting total funding from all sources.

WV is certainly no way near the top third with getting students college, career, and jobs ready right out of high school. Where is all our money going? What could we learn from rural states similar to Utah?

The worst culprit seems to be too many high paid people on WV payrolls who are non-contributers to making better lives for our kids.

By Economist on 04.14.2018

From the entry: 'State board members react to national test results'.

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Those of us who keep close tabs on student achievement want to know reasons for unacceptable reading, science, and math scores in Gilmer County and what is being done to correct them. For something this important the problems and solutions surely have been looked into.

By R. A. Beasley on 04.14.2018

From the entry: 'State board members react to national test results'.

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HaHaHaHaHaHaHa!

By Don't bring them to Gilmer! on 04.13.2018

From the entry: 'NEW “ALMOST HEAVEN” CAMPAIGN'.

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No matter what is going on in the State our concern is Gilmer County. The State reports on Zoom that 10th graders at the GCHS perform at the 35.9% proficiency rate for science.

Proficiency for 11th graders is 37% in math and it is commendable that the rate for them for reading is 64%.

What is being done to make improvements for science and math when students are about ready to graduate from HS? We hope that scores for reading hold up and even improve.

Why do we fail to receive updates for plans for proficiency improvements in the County’s schools?

In other WV counties superintendents provide that type of information on a routine basis.

By GCHS Parents on 04.12.2018

From the entry: 'State board members react to national test results'.

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