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WVU researchers assess how a vegetarian diet can help prevent or control diabetes

As West Virginia University works toward becoming the world’s first Blue Zones Certified university, a graduate-student researcher in the WVU School of Public Health is exploring how one of the Blue Zone Project’s tenets—eating an abundance of vegetables—can make individuals with diabetes, and those at-risk of developing the condition, healthier.

Rachel Wattick, a doctoral student specializing in social and behavioral sciences, investigated the association between a range of vegetarian diets and diabetes outcomes. She and her mentor Melissa Olfert—an associate professor of human nutrition and foods in the WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design—found that whole plant foods play a crucial role in preventing and managing type 2 diabetes. Their work is part of WVU’s Lifestyle Intervention Research Lab, which Olfert leads.

The Blue Zones Project—an initiative designed to help community members live longer, healthier lives and alleviate their chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes—echoes Wattick’s and Olfert’s findings. The project encourages people to make most, if not all, of their food plant-based. Adopting a vegetarian diet is one way to clear that high bar.

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WVU Organic Farm intern Ava Melzak holds a bunch of green beans.


The researchers performed a literature review of studies that focused on both diabetes and plant-based diets. Most of the studies were published in peer-reviewed journals within the past five years, but somewhat older studies were also included “if they were extremely relevant or if they touched on things that more current studies didn’t,” explained Wattick.

Across the spectrum of vegetarian diets that the studies probed—from veganism, which excludes eggs, cheese and other animal products, to semi-vegetarianism, which allows occasional meat eating—a correlation held constant: the more a diet relied on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes and other plant-based foods low in saturated fat, the more it lowered someone’s risk of developing diabetes.

Among people who already had diabetes, plant-based diets were associated with healthier blood-sugar levels, lower body weight and reduced dependence on insulin and other diabetes medications.

In one study the researchers considered, 39 percent of participants who treated their diabetes with medication or insulin could stop taking the pills or giving themselves injections after they adopted a near-vegetarian diet.

Given the rising cost of insulin, using plant-based foods to shrink insulin doses or eliminate them entirely may be especially beneficial in West Virginia. The state has the highest incidence of diabetes in the nation but one of the lowest average household incomes.

In a recent study that Olfert led—titled “FRUVEDomics” and pending publication—a team of researchers asked 43 young adults to comply with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate guidelines. Participants were instructed to fill at least half of their plates with fruits and vegetables. All of the participants either had or were at risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Those who stuck to the diet recommendations spent, on average, $29 a week more on groceries than those who did not.

“Is it cheaper? No,” said Olfert. “But you have to weigh the pros and cons of a healthier plate for $29 more a week, versus getting fast food or grab-and-go, high-sodium and empty-calorie, convenient meals in the grocery store. Those are going to be what we consider calorie-dense but nutrient-poor foods, and that is the very crux of what promotes metabolic syndrome.”

“I think it would be interesting to do an analysis of how much people are actually paying for their insulin and comparing it to what they would pay for healthy food,” Wattick said.

Even if someone can’t afford to replace meat with healthy, plant-based foods in every meal, he or she is still better off making some substitutions than none at all.

“The research seems to show that veganism is the most therapeutic and protective diet for controlling and maintaining health with diabetes, but if we consider people’s current habits, and if they do eat meat regularly now, even beginning a semi-vegetarian diet—having meat just once a week—can help,” Wattick said.

In one study that the researchers took into account, the prevalence of diabetes decreased incrementally as people consumed fewer and fewer animal products. Participants who ate a typical amount of meat had a diabetes rate of 7.6 percent. Those the study classified as “semi-vegetarian” had a rate of 6.1 percent. Pescatarians (who eat fish but not meat), ovo-lacto vegetarians (who eschew meat but eat animal products) and vegans had rates of 4.8 percent, 3.2 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively.

“If you can make changes that you can adhere to, that’s important,” Wattick said. “And you could have your own diet that you follow that is very strict, but then, if you’re visiting family or you go out to eat, it’s okay sometimes to accommodate those situations. It’s not going to totally throw everything off.”

Little Hats, Big Hearts Program Raises Awareness of Dangers of Stroke and Congenital Heart Defects

Community Educational Outreach Service (CEOS) groups and volunteers from around the region have joined the American Heart Association to help celebrate American Heart Month by knitting and crocheting red hats to distribute to babies born at United Hospital Center (UHC) as part of the Little Hats, Big Hearts program.

This program raises awareness of the dangers of stroke and congenital heart defects. It is also meant to honor moms, babies, and heart healthy lives in a special way.

“It is an honor to be one of the hospitals receiving this donation, as it is crucial to bring awareness to heart disease,” said Denise Steffich, volunteer coordinator at UHC. “We greatly appreciate all the volunteers who are knitting or crocheting red hats, as without their support, this would not be possible.”

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Little Hats, Big Hearts program raises awareness of the dangers of stroke and congenital heart defects. It is also meant to honor moms, babies, and heart healthy lives in a special way. Community Educational Outreach Service (CEOS) groups and volunteers from around the region have joined the American Heart Association to help celebrate American Heart Month by knitting and crocheting red hats to distribute to babies born at United Hospital Center (UHC).

(L-R) Kristin Linger, community volunteer; Ryan Jerico, division director for the American Heart Association; Christy L. Stewart, member of the Quiet Dell CEOS; Shannon Harvey, RN, ADN, OB/GYN at UHC; Sharon Gray, secretary of the Quiet Dell CEOS; and Karen L. Davis, vice president and health motivator of the Quiet Dell CEOS.


Little Hats, Big Hearts began in Chicago in 2014. The project has grown to include 460 hospitals in 40 states. In addition to using red hats to raise awareness of heart disease and congenital heart defects, Little Hats, Big Hearts also drives awareness for the American Heart Association.

According to the American Heart Association, 90 percent of women have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Congenital heart defects (CHD) are the number one most frequent birth defect, affecting approximately eight out of 1000 infants born annually. Congenital heart defects are structural problems with the heart present at birth.

“UHC, along with the American Heart Association and great community volunteers, are raising awareness, providing resources, and inspiring the community to take their heart health to heart,” said Shannon Harvey, RN, ADN, OB/GYN at UHC. “Together, we are advocating for change and a healthier lifestyle.”

The AHA is also accepting donations to support the program, including yarn, for those who would like to contribute but do not knit or crochet. For more information about Little Hats, Big Hearts please visit www.heart.org/littlehatsbighearts.

WV Parents Oppose More Mercury Pollution

A parents group is opposing an Environmental Protection Agency plan that would allow more mercury and other toxins in the air. Under acting administrator Andrew Wheeler, the EPA plans to roll back mercury limits.

Penny Dacks, a Morgantown mother of two, volunteers with the group Moms Clean Air Force.

According to Dacks, the pollution rules save 11,000 lives a year, many in states like West Virginia with a lot of coal-fired power plants. And now that the plants have already installed scrubbers, Dacks points out that even the utilities aren’t pushing the rollback.

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One debate over coal-fired power plant pollution rules pits
the numbers of lives saved against the potential impact on the coal industry


“It affects the safety of the people that I love,“ says Dacks. “And as I understand it, the industry’s not asking for that. The families aren’t asking for that. Health professionals are opposed to it. Who is asking for this?“

Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, says loosening the mercury pollution rules, known as the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, is part of a series of deregulation efforts to help the coal industry. But coal production continues to decline, due mostly to competition from cheaper forms of energy.

The EPA is taking public comments on its proposed changes to the mercury rules now.

Historically, meeting pollution limits has turned out to be much cheaper than industry projections. Dominique Browning, co-founder and senior director of Moms Clean Air Force, says that’s how the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards worked when they were put in place seven years ago.

“They put these scrubbers on their plants and they realized that, in fact, it didn’t cost anywhere near as much as they thought it was going to cost to put on these protections,“ Browning explains.

She adds the rule is important not only because of the mercury, but also because of the other kinds of air pollution it limits.

“Those coal-fired power plants also spew out lead, arsenic, dioxin, acid gases and cancer-causing chromium and selenium. None of these things do we want in our air,“ she says.

She cites the rollback as part of the reason the group also opposes Wheeler’s confirmation as EPA administrator.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

Wild Game is a Nutritional, Natural Source of Protein

The Free Press WV

West Virginia’s abundance of wildlife and hunting seasons provides opportunities for many families to fill their freezers with highly nutritious wild game.

Wild game provides a low-fat, high-protein alternative to beef or other commercial meats. For example, white-tailed deer (venison) contains fewer calories and approximately five times less fat than the equivalent serving of beef.

“Wild game that is legally harvested during one of West Virginia’s hunting seasons provides a healthy source of protein for many West Virginians,“ said Tyler Evans, wildlife biologist with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. “Many West Virginians incorporate venison, wild turkey and other wild game into their diets on a regular basis.“

Hunters and their families are not the only West Virginians who benefit from the state’s abundant supply of wild game. The DNR-sponsored Hunters Helping the Hungry (HHH) Program processes deer for needy families and individuals in the Mountain State.

Since the program’s inception in 1992, approximately 979,549 pounds of venison have been donated. In 2017 alone, 554 deer (19,702 pounds of nutritious venison) were donated to the HHH Program and contributed to approximately 26,269 family-style meals.

For more information about the Hunters Helping the Hungry Program, please visit the DNR website at www.wvdnr.gov or call the DNR district office in French Creek (304.924.6211).

Trump’s rollback of pollution rules to hit coal country hard

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It’s coal people like miner Steve Knotts, 62, who make West Virginia Trump Country.

So it was no surprise that President Donald Trump picked the state to announce his plan rolling back Obama-era pollution controls on coal-fired power plants.

Trump left one thing out of his remarks, though: northern West Virginia coal country will be ground zero for increased deaths and illnesses from the rollback on regulation of harmful emission from the nation’s coal power plants.

An analysis done by his own Environmental Protection Agency concludes that the plan would lead to a greater number of people here dying prematurely, and suffering health problems that they otherwise would not have, than elsewhere in the country, when compared to health impacts of the Obama plan.

Knotts, a coal miner for 35 years, isn’t fazed when he hears that warning, a couple of days after Trump’s West Virginia rally. He says the last thing people in coal country want is the government slapping down more controls on coal — and the air here in the remote West Virginia mountains seems fine to him.

“People here have had it with other people telling us what we need. We know what we need. We need a job,” Knotts said at lunch hour at a Circle K in a tiny town between two coal mines, and 9 miles down the road from a coal power plant, the Grant Town plant.

The sky around Grant Town is bright blue. The mountains are a dazzling green. Paw Paw Creek gurgles past the town.

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Clean-air controls since the 1980s largely turned off the columns of black soot that used to rise from coal smokestacks. The regulations slashed the national death rates from coal-fired power plants substantially.

These days pollutants rise from smoke stacks as gases, before solidifying into fine particles — still invisible — small enough to pass through lungs and into bloodstreams.

An EPA analysis says those pollutants would increase under Trump’s plan, when compared to what would happen under the Obama plan. And that, it says, would lead to thousands more heart attacks, asthma problems and other illnesses that would not have occurred.

Nationally, the EPA says, 350 to 1,500 more people would die each year under Trump’s plan. But it’s the northern two-thirds of West Virginia and the neighboring part of Pennsylvania that would be hit hardest, by far, according to Trump’s EPA.

Trump’s rollback would kill an extra 1.4 to 2.4 people a year for every 100,000 people in those hardest-hit areas, compared to under the Obama plan, according to the EPA analysis. For West Virginia’s 1.8 million people, that would be equal to at least a couple dozen additional deaths a year.

Trump’s acting EPA administrator, Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist whose grandfather worked in the coal camps of West Virginia, headed to coal states this week and last to promote Trump’s rollback. The federal government’s retreat on regulating pollution from coal power plants was “good news,” Wheeler told crowds there.

In Washington, EPA spokesman Michael Abboud said Trump’s plan still would result in “dramatic reductions” in emissions, deaths and illness compared to the status quo, instead of to the Obama plan. Obama’s Clean Power Plan targeted climate-changing carbon dioxide, but since coal is the largest source of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels, the Obama plan would have curbed other harmful emissions from the coal-fired power plants as well.

About 160 miles to the south of Grant Town, near the state capital of Charleston, shop owner Doris Keller figures that if Trump thinks something’s for the best, that’s good enough for her.

“I just know this. I like Donald Trump and I think that he’s doing the right thing,” said Keller, who turned out to support Trump Aug. 21 when he promoted his rollback proposal. She lives five miles from the 2,900-megawatt John Amos coal-fired power plant.

“I think he has the best interests of the regular common people at the forefront,” Keller says.

Trump’s Affordable Clean Energy program would dismantle President Barack Obama’s 2015 Clean Power Plan, which has been caught up in court battles without yet being implemented.

The Obama plan targeted climate-changing emissions from power plants, especially coal. It would have increased federal regulation of emissions from the nation’s electrical grid and broadly promoted natural gas, solar power and other cleaner energy.

Trump’s plan would cede much of the federal oversight of existing coal-fired power plants and drop official promotion of cleaner energy. Individual states largely would decide how much to regulate coal power plants in their borders. The plan is open for public review, ahead of any final White House decision.

“I’m getting rid of some of these ridiculous rules and regulations, which are killing our companies ... and our jobs,” Trump said at the rally.

There was no mention of the “small increases” in harmful emissions that would result, compared to the Obama plan, or the health risks.

EPA charts put numbers on just how many more people would die each year because of those increased coal emissions.

Abboud and spokeswoman Ashley Bourke of the National Mining Association, which supports Trump’s proposed regulatory rollback on coal emissions, said other federal programs already regulate harmful emissions from coal power plants. Bourke also argued that the health studies the EPA used in its death projections date as far back as the 1970s, when coal plants burned dirtier.

In response, Conrad Schneider of the environmental nonprofit Clean Air Task Force said the EPA’s mortality estimates had taken into account existing regulation of plant emissions.

Additionally, health studies used by the EPA looked at specific levels of exposure to pollutants and their impact on human health, so remain constant over time, said Schneider, whose group analyzes the EPA projections.

With competition from natural gas and other cleaner energy helping to kill off more than a third of coal jobs over the last decade, political leaders in coal states are in no position to be the ones charged with enforcing public-health protections on surviving coal-fired power plants, said Vivian Stockman of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition.

“Our state is beholden to coal. Our politicians are beholden to coal,” Stockman said outside Trump’s West Virginia rally, where she was protesting. “Meanwhile, our people are being poisoned.”

And when it comes to coal power plants and harm, Schneider said, “when you’re at Grant Town, you’re at Ground Zero.”

Retired coal miner Jim Haley, living 4 miles from the town’s coal-fired power plant, has trouble telling from the smokestack when the plant is even operating.

“They’ve got steam coming out of the chimneys. That’s all they have coming out of it,” Haley said.

Parked near the Grant Town post office, where another resident was rolling down the quiet main street on a tractor, James Perkins listened to word of the EPA’s health warnings. He cast a look into the rear-view mirror into the backseat of his pickup truck, at his 3-year-old grandson, sitting in the back.

“They need to make that safe,” said Perkins, a health-care worker who had opted not to follow his father into the coal mines. “People got little kids.”

WVDA Suggests Tips to Avoid Ticks

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As of July 16th, the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) have confirmed Haemaphysalis longicornis or longhorned tick’s presence in the following West Virginia counties:

  • Tyler
  • Taylor
  • Hardy
  • Ritchie
  • Putnam
  • Lincoln
  • Monroe
  • Marion
  • Mason

While there has not been any reported spread of diseases from these ticks, prevention and preparation are key to keeping everyone safe.

To help ensure safety, the West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) suggests following five tips to avoid tick bites and contact with ticks:

  1. Use insect repellent with at least 20% DEET; apply to clothes and shoes.

  2. Buy permethrin treated clothing or treat your clothes with permethrin.

  3. Avoid piles of leaves and tall grasses.

  4. Check your body and your pet’s body every 2-3 hours if you or they have been in areas with tall grass.

  5. Different animals require different repellent. Don’t treat cattle with the same repellent you would treat your lambs or your dogs.

“At this point, we believe the longhorned tick has invaded every county in the Mountain State. As we continue to confirm its presence, we want everyone to be safe and take precautions when they are in wooded areas,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt. “It is important to protect our livestock and animals, as well as ourselves.”

If you find a suspected longhorned tick on your person or your animals, please contact the WVDA Animal Health Division at 304.558.2214 or your local veterinarian.

For questions about tickborne diseases or more information about how to prevent ticks on people, please call DHHR’s Division of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at 304.558.5358, extension 1, or visit http://dhhr.wv.gov/oeps/disease/Zoonosis/Tick/Pages/default.aspx.

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WV Kids Count Shows Education, Economic Gains Worrying Trends

West Virginia has one of the nation’s highest rates of children with access to health care
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West Virginia children have seen some progress in economic and especially in education indicators, according to the latest KIDS COUNT Data Book.

There are better numbers since 2010 in teen births, family housing costs and the percent of teens not in school or work.

Observers tie some of this to a better economy.

But Stephen Smith, director of the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition, says parents are also getting better organized at the Legislature.

“Over the last five or 10 years, children and families themselves involved in the political process,” he states. “And as a result you do see advances in expanding school breakfast programs, fighting for and achieving raising the minimum wage.“

The data book reports better education numbers for the state, but also worse numbers for single parent families and children living in high poverty neighborhoods.

Kids Count ranks West Virginia at 40th overall.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation puts out Kids Count. Laura Speer, the foundation’s associate director for policy reform and advocacy, says the organization is worried about the upcoming census.

She says hundreds of federal programs use census data to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars a year.

Speer says more and more young children have been missed by the census each time over the last 40 years.

“All people, including kids, have the right to be counted and represented,” she stresses. “But without any real political or economic power, kids rely on adults to protect and advocate for them, and they can’t fill out the census forms.“

Speer says the 2020 census outreach faces challenges from a lack of leadership, a first ever-digital survey, and the possible lowered participation due to a citizenship question.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

She says this is likely to land hardest on poor and minority communities.

Medical Marijuana Proposed As Partial PEIA Solution

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Stats from states that have legalized medical marijuana suggest legal weed could be a big help to West Virginia’s strained Public Employees Insurance Agency.

Striking teachers recently demanded better funding for their health insurance. And by one estimate, a working medical marijuana program could save PEIA $18 million to $30 million a year in pharmaceutical costs.

Rusty Williams is the patient advocate on the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Advisory Board. He said a survey of states that have legalized medical marijuana showed a sharp drop in Medicaid drug spending.

“They’re seeing a collective annual savings of $156 billion,” Williams said. “People are opting to pay out-of-pocket for cannabis rather than have their insurance pay for pharmaceuticals.“

Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, and is still regarded as a dangerous drug by many in state politics.

Advocates say PEIA needs at least $50 million a year. Gov. Jim Justice is expected to put forward a PEIA proposal any day.

According to advocates, decriminalization also would boost the economy and state revenues. On a human level, they point to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association finding states with legal medical cannabis saw an average 25 percent reduction in opiate overdoses.

Williams said there are patients in desperate need of relief.

“I hear from people all the time - parents with kids with epilepsy, senior citizens who would love to be getting off of some of these pharmaceutical pain-management drugs,” he said. “We have patients in the state of West Virginia that will be dead before this is implemented.“

Banking rules are actually the bottleneck. To get a medical marijuana program under way, West Virginia would have to find a bank or credit union willing to work with marijuana businesses. But the U.S. Department of Justice has threatened any bank that does so with money-laundering charges.

Supporters call that an empty threat, saying Congress has passed protections against such actions.

More information on the state’s medical cannabis program is available at medcanWV.org.

~~  Dan Hayman ~~

Health Consequences from Carbon Pollution Rollback

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Doctors are warning that the Trump administration’s intent to roll back the Clean Power Plan will mean more respiratory illness, especially in vulnerable neighborhoods.

In a long expected move pushed by the coal industry, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has announced plans to end Obama-era rules limiting carbon pollution from power plants.

But according to federal projections, by 2030 the Clean Power Plan would prevent 90,000 asthma attacks and 3,600 premature deaths a year.

Dr. Elena Rios, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Medical Association, says poor and minority communities are being hit the hardest.

“The children’s data has definitely shown that, in those areas that have more carbon pollution, young people in our communities are really disabled, and our families are spending much more time and money and effort on asthma than ever before,“ she states.

Pruitt predicts ending the Clean Power Plan will be good for mining communities and will mean the so-called war on coal is over.

But Rios points out the real war is on poor children’s health, as coal-burning power plants most often put soot into the air in poor white and minority communities.

She says even if the nation ignores the issue of climate change and the extreme weather it causes, cutting power plant emissions would have total health benefits of $14 billion to $34 billion.

The EPA itself has estimated those health benefits at $54 billion annually.

“The government’s number one responsibility from a public health perspective is to help all people, and that’s why we think President Trump and his administration really should not go backwards in cutting back on environmental health standards,“ Rios stresses.

The Clean Power Plan calls for a one-third reduction in carbon pollution from 2005 levels by 2030, and the U.S. Energy Information Administration says the power sector is already almost there.

When the plan was proposed, Americans filed 8 million favorable comments with the EPA – the highest number ever in support of an EPA proposal.

The agency is now taking comments on the plan to reverse it.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

Cassidy-Graham Would Cripple WV Opioid Treatment, Medicaid

The health care bill Senate Republicans are rushing to finish would cripple West Virginia opioid treatment and end Medicaid expansion, according to an analysis that also says the bill could end coverage of pre-exisiting conditions.

Sean O’Leary, senior policy analyst for the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, said the last-ditch attempt to get a GOP-only Obamacare repeal though the Senate would cut Medicaid funding so much that the state would have to roll back expansion. In addition, he said, while Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-WV, negotiated added funding for opioid treatment in previous Affordable Care Act repeal bills, there is none in this legislation.

“There is no extra money for opioids. There’s nothing,“ O’Leary said. “So it could really, really have a really devastating impact on the state’s battle against opioid addiction.“

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Under the Cassidy-Graham plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, federal funding for Medicaid to the states would fall sharply, especially in 2027.


Supporters of what’s known as the Cassidy-Graham bill have said changing Medicaid funding to a block-grant system would give the states flexibility to do more with less. O’Leary said that would be impossible, given the low level of block-grant funding.

According to the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Cassidy-Graham would cut $2 billion out of West Virginia Medicaid funding over 10 years. O’Leary said a state such as West Virginia that already has budget problems couldn’t make up for block grants that would be hundreds of millions of dollars below current levels. Then, he said, even those grants would be eliminated - and with it, coverage for the 10 percent of the state’s population in Medicaid expansion.

“After 2026, that block grant just goes away and we’re on the hook for 100 percent,“ O’Leary said, “and it would essentially end, and that 180,000 people would just lose their health-care coverage.“

O’Leary said the legislation also would allow states to get rid of regulations on insurance companies that require policies to cover a set of essential services outlined in Obamacare. He said that could include the rule that says they couldn’t charge more for - or drop folks with - pre-existing conditions.

“And that’s a big deal. In West Virginia,“ he said. “There are about 392,000 people who have some type of pre-exisiting condition that would be declineable.“

The bill’s only hearing is set for Monday. Capito, a key vote, has not said if she will support or oppose it.

More information is online at wvpolicy.org.

Medicare For All Can Reshape the ‘Art of the Possible’

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Bernie Sanders unveiled his Medicare for All bill this week, and 16 Democratic senators signed on as cosponsors. The last time he introduced a bill like it, not one senator was willing to join him. They considered the idea impossible, utopian.

Times have changed.

The senators who shared a podium with Sanders understand this bill won’t pass in today’s Republican-dominated Congress. They signed on because it’s a good idea, and because they recognize that by doing so they can both reflect and reshape a shifting political landscape.

They’re aware that Sanders’ presidential campaign triggered a wave of energy and activism that continues today. They recognize that this nascent political movement is a powerful political engine, and its diverse millennial base makes it the Democratic engine of the future.

They understand how change happens: as an ongoing dance between street-level activism and electoral politics.


A Declaration of Principles

With this bill, 17 senators – nearly one-third of the Senate’s Democrats, including several presidential prospects – are saying health care is a human right and a public good. That’s a declaration of principle.

They are also defending the principle of progressive taxation. The program would be funded through higher taxes on the wealthy, eliminating special tax breaks, a one-time tax on offshore profits, and a fee levied against big banks.

Their cosponsorship is a declaration of principle in another way, too. Not one of the bill’s 16 cosponsors describes her- or himself as a “democratic socialist,” as Sanders does. But this bill shows us how government can make our lives better, as it already does through programs like Medicare and Social Security.

Democrats have too often been reluctant to proclaim the value of government in recent years. They’ve kept government at an embarrassed arm’s length, like a parent at a junior high dance. These Democrats, on the other hand, are embracing an unabashedly pro-government idea. No embarrassment, just pride.


The Flag

The bill has no chance of passage in the current Congress. In that sense it’s symbolic, a flag. But flags have value. They give people something to rally around, and they can be used to point the way forward.

Democrats could use a few more flags these days.

For too long, “centrist” Dems made the mistake of elevating process over principle. Process is important, of course. But elections are won and lost on principle, on flags. Democrats who speak of “the art of the possible” in the context of a Republican-dominated Congress are on a fool’s errand. They’ll accomplish little or nothing of value.

The goal must be to take over Congress, not surrender to a hostile one, so that the “possible” is redefined. This bill can help make that happen.

These senators are being active rather than reactive. Instead of complaining about Donald Trump, they’ve provoked Trump into complaining about them. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that the president thinks this bill is a “horrible idea.”

That’s how you win elections – by framing the terms of the debate. Let the Republicans tell the American people why they don’t think healthcare is a human right. Let them tell voters why they’re defending the runaway greed of insurance companies and Big Pharma.


Dollar By Dollar, Life By Life

The bill includes a transitional phase-in period. That’s important. Healthcare in the United States is a $3.4 trillion economy, so it will take some time to ensure a smooth transition. And, as Harold Meyerson notes, the bill’s gradualism is also “designed to make it progressively easier for legislators to support and progressively more difficult for such entrenched interests as the insurance and pharmaceutical industries to defeat.”

There is entrenched resistance to single-payer healthcare. It’s easier for a politician to defend a healthcare program for a defined population – children under 19, for example – than it is to defend something that can be abstracted away as “socialized medicine.”

It should also be noted that somewhere between one-third and one-fourth of all U.S. health spending is already government-funded. In that sense, any new government healthcare proposal should be considered “gradualist.”

This bill lays out the long-term goal, but its phased-in approach gives breathing space for other forms of health-related activism in the meantime. They include the fight to defend current government healthcare programs, and the battle for Medicaid expansion in states like Texas and Florida.

Medicare For All can be the flag for all of these health activism fronts, and all of them can be pursued with a single, unifying goal in mind: Dollar by dollar, life by life, public health insurance must be defended and expanded until it is available to everyone.

~~  Richard Eskow ~~

Packed Lunches: Cutting Corners, But Not Food Safety

The Free Press WV

As a working mom of four boys, ages 8 and under, I’m asked on a near-daily basis: “how do you DO it?!” It’s a carefully orchestrated dance: keeping my family fed, healthy, dropped off at school and daycare at the appropriate times, with their respective accompaniments, whether homework, snacks or lunches. And then in the evening, allowing opportunity to focus on homework and dinner, without sacrificing quality family time. Making this happen on a daily basis takes a keen attention to detail, a little luck and some advanced planning.

I’m game to try anything to help our daily routine run smoothly, and will cut any corners I can. However, one corner I won’t cut is safe food handling and preparation. Because let’s face it—a houseful of children in the throes of foodborne illness is no one’s idea of a good time.


Advanced Planning

To keep our household running as efficiently as possible, I prep the boys’ lunches a few days in advance. I pre-portion snack size bags of baby carrots for two to three meals and place those in the fridge with the other vegetables. On a clean and separate cutting board, I make enough ham sandwiches for two to three lunches. The prepped sandwiches go back into the fridge in a designated spot.


The Morning Of

In the morning, I pack each soft-sided cooler lunch bag with a napkin, cold sandwich, cold baggie of carrots, any other non-perishable sides and either a frozen water bottle or a frozen tube of yogurt. I also slide an ice pack on top of the lunch contents so each bag has two cold sources that keep the contents out of the Danger Zone (temperatures between 40°F and 140°F at which bacteria grows most rapidly) until lunch time. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has great resources on safe food handling, particularly for bag lunches.


After Lunch

We’ve taught our boys to throw out their leftovers and not eat anything from their lunches later in the day. When they arrive home from school, they promptly discard anything that didn’t make it into the trash can in the cafeteria. I wipe out their lunch bags with a disinfectant wipe and leave to air dry overnight. 

By prepping a few days of lunches in a session, I save quite a bit of time. Mornings run smoother because there’s no shuffling and rummaging for something to eat. Knowing that the food was safely prepared, stored and packed in their lunch boxes gives me the peace of mind that I’ve reduced the risk of foodborne illness in my kids, while carving out a little more quality time to spend with them in the evenings.

UHC’s Three Germ-Zapping Robots Been Named

Environmental Service Employees Win $100 Gift Cards

United Hospital Center (UHC) recently announced that it has the most Xenex LightStrike Germ-Zapping Robots in West Virginia. The three robots are being used to enhance environmental cleanliness by disinfecting and destroying hard-to-kill germs, bacteria, and superbugs in hard-to-clean places.

The Environmental Services team participated in a contest to name all three of the robots, as these modern marvels of technology are also included as part of the cleaning team at UHC. Each of the following contest winners received a $100 gift card to the cafeteria:

    • Brenda Morrison with the name “UHC3PO”

    • Karen Minnear with the name “Elroy”

    • Chris Owen with the name U.S.H.E.R. (Ultra Sanitation Healthcare Efficient Robot)

The Free Press WV
Pictured from left front row: Brenda Morrison, Environmental Services, contest winner; Karen Minnear, Environmental Services, contest winner; Chris Owen, Environmental Services, contest winner; Pictured from left back row:  Dr. Mark Povroznik; chief quality officer, vice president of quality; Beth Bond, MBA, BSN, RN, CIC, infection preventionist manager; Annetta Payne, RN, CIC, infection preventionist; and Brian Fijewski, MBA, director of environmental services.


“This was a great opportunity to engage with our Environmental Services staff that is responsible for the room cleaning program,” said Dr. Mark Povroznik, chairman of Infection Control at UHC. “The entire Environmental Services team, including the robots, is critical in the implementation of ultra violet room disinfection.”

Each person could submit up to three names for the contest, as a total of 30 names were submitted. The committee of judges from the UHC Personnel Action Committee (PAC) selected the three winning entries.

“If not properly cleaned some spores, such as C-diff, can live on surfaces for up to five months,” said Dr. Povroznik. “Upon a patient discharge, Environmental Services will clean the room as they would normally and then they terminally clean a room with one of the robots. These robots are just the latest step in UHC’s effort to prevent infections.”

Healthy Meals Help Kids Succeed in School

The Free Press WV

Making healthier choices from all five food groups is a simple and proven way to help children succeed in school.

A growing body of research links nutrition and achievement, meaning that kids who eat well do better in school. The start of the school year is a great time to give children every academic advantage possible by encouraging participation in the school breakfast and lunch program and including nutrition education in the classroom.

School meals provide a convenient and affordable way for families to ensure children have access to healthy food at school. Student participation in school breakfast or lunch programs is associated with improvement in grades, standardized test scores and school attendance.

When specific nutrients missing from students’ diets are increased (nutrients emphasized in school meals via fruits, vegetables and dairy products) academic performance improves. (Bradley, BJ, Greene, AC. Do Health and Education Agencies in the United States Share Responsibility for Academic Achievement and Health? Journal of Adolescent Health, 2013.)

The link between nutrition and academic achievement is so strong that many teachers across West Virginia and the country are adding classroom nutrition education to their lesson plans.

If you still need some convincing on the importance of nutrition education in the classroom, here are five testimonials from teachers. Parents can share this article with their student’s teachers or the school principal to help make this the best school year ever!


5. Students get excited about learning.: “My class gets really excited about it (the nutrition lessons), and it’s such an important part of teaching ‘the whole child!’”


4. Students put nutrition education to the test in real-life situations: “The greatest thing I notice is that the students encourage each other to eat healthier snacks and foods. They flat out tell each other when they are eating poorly!”


3. The benefits of nutrition education reach far beyond the classroom: “I had a student that went above and beyond and prepared a shopping list of healthy meals for her mom to take to the grocery store! I thought it was amazing to see the students who encouraged their family members to eat healthier.”


2. Improve the quality of your students’ education by teaching a topic left out of standard curriculum: “So many students are not aware of the health benefits in foods and how it affects their body. Students are interested and are engaged when we fill out the workbook. Each student strives to improve their results. This program is a win-win situation.”


1. Nutrition lessons provide essential education that can lead to more academic success: “We discuss healthy eating first at recess time. One student used to bring candy every day for snack and after listening to lessons asked his parents to send better snacks for his brain to learn.”

Family Foundations of Health

The Free Press WV

The family provides a foundation for children’s and adolescents’ health and well-being. The unique and frequent interactions between children and their families can create protective factors that may promote and support health now and into adulthood. The Lancet Commission’s report on adolescent health notes that during adolescence, peers and other people in a teen’s life also influence health, but the family remains a central influence.

Family members can influence an adolescent’s health by:


1.       Promoting delayed sexual activity.

In 2012, nearly nine in ten teens said that it would be easier for teens to postpone sexual activity if they could have an honest conversation with their parents, and about 40 percent of teens cited parents as the biggest influence regarding their decisions about sex. Research also shows that when parents talk to their teens about sex, teens are more likely to delay sex, use contraception if they do have sex, and communicate more effectively with their partners. Talking about sex with adolescents can be intimidating. Family members can use conversation tools to stay calm and talk honestly. Advocates for Youth also provides a collection of guidance and resources in the Parents Sex Ed Center for parents who may not know exactly what to say or how to say it.


2.       Protecting against substance use.

Teens whose parents establish clear rules and talk about the dangers of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs are less likely to use these substances. Parents and other caring adults should monitor parties to prevent underage drinking and protect against unhealthy relationships with alcohol in the future. Similarly, parents can establish and enforce clear driving rules to prevent teens from drunk or risky driving.

Families can encourage teens of all ages to stay drug-free by clearly communicating the consequences of drug use, talking about what they’re learning at school, and commenting on the positive aspects of the teen’s life and character. Avoiding alcohol consumption or limiting drinking also are good behaviors to model for adolescents. If you believe a teen is already drinking or using drugs, there are ways to help them stop.


3.       Preventing unhealthy relationships.

Open communication and closeness with parents can help prevent dating violence and promote healthy relationships. For example, parents and other family members who get to know their teen’s friends and romantic partners can more effectively monitor those relationships and encourage positive decision-making. In addition, family members can talk about and model healthy relationships to their teen. For instance, using conflict resolution skills can show adolescents how to set boundaries and compromise even when they feel angry or uncomfortable.

Since relationships aren’t black-and-white and exist on a spectrum from healthy to abusive, adults may need to evaluate the health of their own relationships. Adults can see where their relationships land on the spectrum and learn ways to improve them. If you think that you or your adolescent is in an abusive relationship or needs help, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.7233.


4.       Building connectedness.

Parental supervision combined with high levels of support increases family connectedness. When families are connected, teens may be less likely to become violent. Family connectedness also helps adolescents build resilience so they can withstand setbacks. Sharing a meal can promote family connectedness, stability, and healthy eating habits. To make the most of family mealtimes, unplug from phones and have make-your-own meals that get everyone involved. Other activities from ParentFurther can help families strengthen their bonds even as adolescents become more independent. Disconnection or withdrawal from social interactions, along with other warning signs, may indicate a mental health issue. In times of emotional distress or crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.TALK.


5.       Shaping lifelong habits.

Life at home can help teens establish healthy habits. Talking with teens about how to manage different aspects of their lives builds self-sufficiency and provides them with skills they will use in adulthood. Younger children and adolescents can be involved in tasks like grocery shopping and meal planning to ensure healthy food habits throughout life. Similarly, a friendly competition with family can encourage adolescents to be physically active, a habit that helps prevent chronic conditions in the future.

Families also can educate teens on good money management skills. Teach teens the five principles of money management and how to factor them into decision-making. Money as You Grow helps adults guide children as they begin earning money and making financial decisions. Financial education curriculum and other resources help educators and community leaders connect youth and families to financial services and support lifelong decision-making skills.

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Readers' Recent Comments

After the ipads were purchased what measurable benefits resulted from having them at the GCHS to improve student learning? Does anyone know?

Was a formal plan followed to maximize benefits from the equipment to include provisions for measuring before-and-after results to evaluate if the equipment did any good?

Another case of throwing money at a problem and after spending it taxpayers have no idea if there were any meaningful benefits for students?

More than likely competitive bidding was not used to purchase the ipads to add another wrinkle.

By Did The ipads Improve Learning Results? on 03.13.2019

From the entry: 'Former West Virginia school superintendent going to prison'.

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Where oh where did the 200 Gilmer County I-pads go?
Were they bought with federal money?
Attorney General Morrisey are you looking into this?
Someone should get the ball rolling?

By where oh where? on 03.12.2019

From the entry: 'Former West Virginia school superintendent going to prison'.

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They is not no flood plane there the water dont get up there i know i catch musk rats in the river

By THE TRUTH WATCHER on 03.08.2019

From the entry: 'Former West Virginia school superintendent going to prison'.

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Gilmer County’s school board has full authority to demand a comprehensive accounting for every dime spent on everything leading up to site selection and construction of the LCES and the GCES.

Where did the money go and who got it to include naming names and companies on the receiving end?

Stop hiding behind the excuse that the State “did it to us” and assemble the true facts for taxpayers!

What is the defensible rational for failure of the school board to follow up on this?

By Disclose Financial Facts on 03.07.2019

From the entry: 'Former West Virginia school superintendent going to prison'.

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What was in the school board’s 451 resolution? As important as education is more effort should be taken to flesh out what actually happens at school board meeting. Bare minimum information and lack of transparency skirt accountability. Who is responsible for writing up the minutes?

By Transparency and Accountability Needed on 03.07.2019

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

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The new Gilmer County Elementary school was built
in a flood plane.  Education fail.

By YOU FORGET on 03.04.2019

From the entry: 'Former West Virginia school superintendent going to prison'.

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Roads are a mess.
Population continues the 50+ year decrease.

But for deep gas, no new employment.

Education system total failure.
Legislature impotent.

Grand finale in Charleston.
We have a brawl in the Capitol Building.

That out-of-control delegate needs to resign!

By WV continues the slow death on 03.04.2019

From the entry: 'Major Broadband Investment in West Virginia'.

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Broadband coming?  Think we heard this before?
How many times?  I’ve lost count.  You remember?

This will be like JimmyBoys “roads to prosperity” program?
Take the citizens money?  Give ‘em nothing.

Republicans. Democrats. All the same political bs from both.
Voters believe them.  Keep bringing back the old mules so they can give us a repeat performance.

By Just More Dog n Pony Show 4 U on 03.04.2019

From the entry: 'Major Broadband Investment in West Virginia'.

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Jimmy D, Gilmer County needs a full accounting for every dime spent on school site planning and studies, site preparation, all school construction work, and purchases while the State had us intervened.

For one example of many we do not have an itemized accounting for how our funds were spent on the botched LCES project.

How much more was wasted on the auction barn site, the dropped Cedar Creek site, and the GCES in comparison to what could have been done with our money with full transparency, competent planning, competitive bidding, and proper project oversight?

The fact that the GCES was built too small and the LCES was built too large is one facet of the waste and mismanagement that occurred.

Do not expect valid investigations because WV’s standard approach is cover up when the State is involved.

By Jimmy D--Don't Expect Sunshine on 03.04.2019

From the entry: 'Former West Virginia school superintendent going to prison'.

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Saw the GFP video (citizens refer to it as the ambush video) at the school board meeting at which the pitch was made for the new computers.

The GCHS principal and staff talked about wonders to expect if the 200 computers would be purchased.

Promises were made that if the kids got them they would learn to do advanced math and to make other marvelous learning advances. Any evidence of the promises being kept?

Were the computers purchased through competitive biding? Wanna bet that they were not?

Is this another example of throwing money at technology with no meaningful plan for how to use the equipment to maximize learning benefits without evidence of any before-and-after testing to accurately determine if they did any good?

Could the 200 computers be located and what condition are they in if they could be found?

The new school board is encouraged to check on the issues and to report on the findings.

By Accountability For New GCHS Computers on 03.04.2019

From the entry: 'Former West Virginia school superintendent going to prison'.

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Since the local prosecutor is good for nothing, why doesn’t the federal prosecutors look into all the theft by Gabe DeVano and his buddies during the time Gilmer county was under state control? They stole money, equipment from schools which closed, as well as technology equipment. for example where did the 200 iPads go which gilmer county paid for?

By Jimmy D on 03.04.2019

From the entry: 'Former West Virginia school superintendent going to prison'.

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A major cause of WV’s dismal record with K-12 education is the lack of choice regarding a parent’s right to decide on the school for a child to attend.

The elite get around that by using private schools for their kids.

Under existing conditions what chance do the rest of us have? The answer is none!

Our kids are victimized because competition and accountability do not exist and that is exactly what WV’s entrenched education establishment and the unions want.

By Save WV's School Children on 03.02.2019

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: iTeam Investigation: West Virginia's 55-county education system'.

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Pennybaker is correct.
WV educators keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Whats the definition of insanity?

By Gilmer on 03.02.2019

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: iTeam Investigation: West Virginia's 55-county education system'.

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An off grid system works great if you want to live like a hippie. One can cover their entire roof and it will barely power your lighting and a few electronics, let alone our transportation and industrial needs. The humaniacs now complain that the giant windmill blades kill the little birdies, and they have never solved the overpass problem in putting windmills on out autos.

By Vern Windsong on 03.01.2019

From the entry: 'Need for Atlantic Coast Pipeline Falls'.

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It amazes me that the so-called “experts” think more and more centralization will improve anything.  Public school education is in terrible condition and doing more consolidation will only make it worse and more expensive.  With all the technology today, there is NO reason for busing children for miles and miles, spending more and more hours under the control of public schools.  The idea that parents are not capable of deciding how to educate their children is insulting.  There was never any good reason for governments to get involved in education.

By Karen Pennebaker on 02.28.2019

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: iTeam Investigation: West Virginia's 55-county education system'.

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Pat, your information is outdated. Solar and wind are increasingly outcompeting fossil fuels, despite the heavy subsidies fossil fuels (and nuclear power) get. They also are getting steadily cheaper, while fossil fuels can be expected to rise as supply diminishes—the pipelines are going in so fast because of the NEED of the gas companies to get their product out to where they HOPE to find better prices—the drillers have been steadily losing money for the whole decade of the fracking “miracle.“ Wall Street is becoming skeptical. The thing about solar and wind is that once they’re built, the fuel keeps arriving, free. Of course, there isn’t much of a wind resource in our area. But there is in the mountain heights, and off the Virginia coast. And solar works fine here—I’ve had an off-grid system for ten years, works great.

By Mary Wildfire on 02.28.2019

From the entry: 'Need for Atlantic Coast Pipeline Falls'.

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Yes, West Virginia spends a LOT of money on education.
But where does it go?  Is it wasted?  Down the drain hole of bureaucracy?

We spend 7th highest per student and what to show for it?
Being 49th or 50th in ratings?

By where does the money go? on 02.27.2019

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: iTeam Investigation: West Virginia's 55-county education system'.

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Seeing the president of the WV AFT shaking his raised clinched fist in disrespect for the WV legislature tells it all.

WV’s teacher unions are allowed to function as separate branches of government with veto power over WV’s elected officials and their only role is to get more benefits for their members.

Where is the evidence that unions have done anything recently in any WV school system to help create an educational show piece? Can anyone cite an example?

Furthermore what have unions done to develop innovative plans for moving the State’s k-12 education system forward to pry us off our bottom rung rankings? The answer is—nothing exists. 

Conditions will not change for the better until the day our legislators quit pandering to unions to end k-12 decision-making driven by mob rule and raw emotions.

By Unions Failed WV's Children on 02.26.2019

From the entry: 'In West Virginia, the Politicians Fail, and the Teachers Rise'.

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The principal reason for opposition to 451 is fear by union chiefs that public charter schools could outshine performances of non-participating schools to embarrass WV’s entrenched K-12 education establishment.

To attempt to scare the public, there were claims that the underlying motive for opposition to charter schools is the sinister plan to privatize them to permit the rich and powerful to make money off education at the expense of WV’s children.

It is alarming that unions failed to propose comprehensive plans, inclusive of meaningful accountability mechanisms, designed to improve WV’s schools.

Their objective seems to be to protect the status quo instead of being effective partners in improving education for the State’s children.

There are examples in the USA where charter schools resulted in significant K-12 education improvements. Of course some failed.

Why is it irrational to establish a limited few charter schools in WV as demonstration projects to incorporate approaches applied in highly successful charter schools while avoiding mistakes of the schools that failed?

Nothing else has worked in getting WV out of being near the bottom with K-12 education quality—-so why continue with business as usual while expecting better outcomes?

By Unions Failed WV Education on 02.21.2019

From the entry: 'In West Virginia, the Politicians Fail, and the Teachers Rise'.

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If passed when will this take effect? I’m a single mother who has a drug felony from another state. I can’t get food stamps to help me because I a drug felon. I work so my income is to much for one person. I have a son whom him and I barley survive. Cause of my record. I’ve held the job I am at now for 5 years. But since they can’t use me. They use my income. But not me and doing it that way I make to much money.

By Kayla on 02.21.2019

From the entry: 'Bill to Let Drug Felons Get Food Stamps Passes WV Senate'.

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John & Family,  Sorry to hear of Nyla’s passing!  GOD will take care of you!!  GOD BLESS EACH AND EVERYONE OF YOU IN THIS SAD TIME !!!  RIP Nyla !

By Anita L. Adams - New Concord, Ohio on 02.15.2019

From the entry: 'Nyla Leah Frymier Poole'.

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“But Cathy Kunkel, an energy analyst with the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, said utility filings in those states now show the outlook has changed dramatically - in part because of competition from cheap, renewable energy.“

That is utter rubbish.  There is no “cheap, renewable energy.“  Solar and wind are more expensive, even taking subsidies into consideration.  Hydro is more expensive, nuclear is more expensive.

Claiming otherwise is at best fake news, and at worst deliberate misdirection and lying.  Merely claiming renewable energy is less expensive doesn’t make it so.

Sincerely

Pat McGroyne

By Pat McGroyne on 02.15.2019

From the entry: 'Need for Atlantic Coast Pipeline Falls'.

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It was brought to my attention there was an article published in the Gilmer Free Press under Reader’s Comments dated 2-11-19.
This was written by Tammy White which many think it was me (Tammy Foster).  Twenty years (or more) “White” was my last name.
My son does take daily medication at the high school (which somehow this is quite a coincidence).  I want to clarify that I DID NOT write that article!
Now that I have straighten this out….. please read what I have say about this situation at Gilmer County High School:
The secretary or secretaries that were mentioned have never been rude to me or my son in person or by phone.  It is actually the opposite!  They are kind, caring, professional and thorough with distributing my son’s meds.
Not only do they make sure he gets the correct dosage daily but they keep a close inventory on the meds and call me when I need to restock them.
It broke my heart to read the negative article written last week and I was appalled my (old) name was on it.
My son and I trust and depend on these wonderful ladies.  We would like to take this opportunity to THANK them for taking excellent responsibility and care of our child and other students.

By Tammy Foster (not White) on 02.13.2019

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

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I’m sorry for your loss.

By Danny Nicholson on 02.12.2019

From the entry: 'Vera Marlene Lyons'.

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There is some issues going on at GCHS. I’m starting here in Hope’s that it will be addressed and corrected.  The secretary was rude when I turned in medicine for my son to be taken on a daily basis. Nor is it her business why he takes it, or how often. Anyway, is she certified in giving meds out.  I thought that the school employed a nurse. Maybe she should answer the phone or should I say message on her cell. She had no idea how many I handed in she didnt count them. Talks about her co workers. Then she gets upset nobody talks to her. She is 2 face. Talking about them is very unprofessional.
I hope this is taken care of or my next step is to the state department. Your choice

By Tammy white on 02.11.2019

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

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It is welcomed news as reported in the Democrat that Gilmer’s GCES students are making progress in learning math and English Learning Arts.

The principal, teachers, and all staff deserve high praise for the progress. Let’s not forget efforts of students too plus their parents who encourage them at home.

In addition to rates of increase for learning progress it would be helpful to be informed of percentages of students in the different grades who are at grade level for math and ELA.

Nothing was reported about learning progress at the GCHS and the LCES bi-county school. When are reports for those schools going to be given?

By Positive School News on 02.08.2019

From the entry: 'Building A Path to Brighter Future'.

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The lights are up at the Linn school.
Often flashing nights and weekends when NO ONE is on school property.

And you expect lights to work….???
when the WVDE, the WVBE built the school with FIVE TOO MANY CLASSROOMS !!??

*** The WVBE is incapable of meaningful education.
Why do you think the WV Legislature created the current ‘education overhaul’ bill without consulting the WV State Board of Ed? ***

By you are joking I guess? on 02.07.2019

From the entry: 'Building A Path to Brighter Future'.

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“The Environmental Protection Agency issued regular updates for about 100 water pollutants almost four years ago ... “

That would have been the Obama EPA, and the intention wasn’t to provide better water, it was an attempt to control business activity through the use of regulation.

In other words, a power-grab by a politician obsessed with it.

Sincerely

Pat McGroyne

By Pay McGroyne on 02.06.2019

From the entry: 'One Charleston Manufacturer Pressing for Delay of Water Rules'.

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Would the County’s school board take action to help improve safety conditions at the LCES?

The way it is now it can be uncertain if children are present at the school to require a reduction of speed to 15 mph while on Rt. 33.

It would eliminate uncertainty if a flashing lights system were to be installed so the lights could be turned on when children are present.

By LCES Safety Concern on 01.31.2019

From the entry: 'Building A Path to Brighter Future'.

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Why is it that on Gilmer County’s school system web site biographical information including education backgrounds for all school board members and their pictures are not posted?

Other counties have the information. Why not us?

By School Board Member Backgrounds? on 01.23.2019

From the entry: 'Building A Path to Brighter Future'.

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The only reason for our not using a version of the goal-driven Kentucky method would be a veto by controlling elitists opposed to establishing meaningful accountability for Gilmer County’s school system.

Without using the method it would be easier to continue to pawn off information that cannot be used to accurately document progress with student proficiencies for reading, math, science, and college and career readiness.

By School System Accountability Needed on 01.20.2019

From the entry: 'Building A Path to Brighter Future'.

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The KY approach would be valuable to Gilmer County for use in disclosing progress of our two schools in contributing to better lives for our children.

For goals for which progress would be off schedule, the tracking approach would be an objective basis for making mid-course adjustments in our school system to get better results.

By using the approach school board members could be more effective with goal-driven governing, and getting results would be the responsibility of the County’s Superintendent of Schools and school principals.

Overall,the approach would establish meaningful accountability which is sorely lacking in WV’s school systems.

By Establish School System Accountability on 01.18.2019

From the entry: 'Building A Path to Brighter Future'.

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Accomplished communicators have a knack for reducing complex information to its simplest form for effectiveness in getting messages across.

WV’s convoluted strategic plans for schools must follow the State’s rigid guidelines. The plans are confusing and inadequately designed for establishing accountability for getting results.

Kentucky is making progress with improving K-12 education outcomes and one reason is the clarity of specific goals for its schools and the job being done with tracking results.

Google—-2018 Prichard Committee Update to glean what is being done in Kentucky. The approach could be used for Gilmer’s two schools with a single sheet of paper for each school.

The beauty of the Prichard approach is that instead of relying on confusing and lengthy written out material with undefined abbreviations, technical jargon, and head scratching generalities, specific goals and annual results in achieving them are presented graphically.

Perfect real world example of a picture being worth a thousand words.

Board of Education members why couldn’t the Prichard approach be used for Gilmer County? It would be inexpensive, it could be updated easily on an annual basis, and everyone in the County would know how the school system is being administered to achieve measurable results.

Perhaps Mr. David Ramezan could post Prichard material on the GFP to show its simplicity.

By Advocate For Clarity on 01.17.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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The scandal of the too small school?
Don’t forget…
The scandal of the too big school is half of the whole state intervention mess.  FIVE rooms more than needed at the Linn, Lewis County school.

Results are from nepotism, cronyism, and educational stupidity….as well as scoffing at those who attempted to sound the alarm.

Bloated egos was the frosting on the Litter Box Cake Mix.

By School Truth is in the Litter Box on 01.17.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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

One result is that the GCES was built too small.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By GCES Built Too Small Scandal on 01.15.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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

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

By Gilmer resident on 01.14.2019

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

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

By Muddling Epidemic In WV School Systems on 01.14.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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

By we know it on 01.13.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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

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

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

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

By Student Learning at GCHS and GCES on 01.13.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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

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

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

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

By Muddling 101 on 01.11.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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

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

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

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

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

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

By End School System Muddling on 01.09.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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

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

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

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

By Need Specifics For Principal's Reports on 01.09.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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

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

Sincerely

Pat McGroyne

By Pat McGroyne on 01.08.2019

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

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

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

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

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

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

By overheard conversation on 01.08.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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

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

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

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

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

By ZOOMWV Data Dashboard on 01.07.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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

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

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

By Let An Accountant Dig It Out on 11.21.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

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

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

By End Financial Secrecy on 11.21.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

By Get It Done on 11.21.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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How about the “BIG WV WINDFALL”....?

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

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

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

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

By taxpayers always lose on 11.21.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

By CheatersNeverWin on 11.20.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

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

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

By Corrupt State Intervention on 11.19.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

Any local whistle blowers?  Doubtful.

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

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

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

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

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

By More Specifics For Principal's Reports on 11.17.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

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

By Follow The Money on 11.16.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

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

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

By Do It Ourselves on 11.15.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

By QuestionablePractice on 11.14.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Citizens For Financial Disclosure on 11.14.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

By Jo Ann conrad on 11.11.2018

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

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

By Jo Ann conrad on 11.11.2018

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

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

By Where Is The Investigation? on 11.11.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

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

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

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

By INFO REQUEST TO GCBOE on 11.09.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

By Follow the Paycheck(s) on 11.06.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

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

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

By Where Is The Money? on 11.05.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

By Steve Lewis on 11.04.2018

From the entry: 'Kendall Goodwin'.

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

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

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

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

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

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

By What Was The Grading System? on 10.30.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

By Reader7 on 10.29.2018

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

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

By Robin Nunez on 10.28.2018

From the entry: 'Stephen Blair Marks'.

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

By Buck Edwards on 10.28.2018

From the entry: 'Stephen Blair Marks'.

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

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

By Details Please on 10.26.2018

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

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

By GSC's New Mission? on 10.26.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By GSC Alumni on 10.26.2018

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

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

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

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

By Opportunity for GSC on 10.23.2018

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

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

By Agreements Matter on 10.22.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Why Reinvent The Wheel? on 10.22.2018

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

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

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

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

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

By Clarity Is Always Good on 10.18.2018

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

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