Jeanette Riffle: Watermelon Heaven

The Free Press WV

My husband’s grandpa, Charlie Riffle, raised one of the biggest watermelon patches around. He lived on the Bear Fork and had a melon patch twice as big as our whole garden. For each hill, he dug a big hole, put in a handful of fertilizer, a shovel of horse manure and enough dirt to fill the hole up level with the ground. Then he took more dirt and made a hill like you would for cucumbers and he put the watermelon seeds in that. That would be a lot of work with hills like that all over a big garden. He sold the melons for 3 cents a pound, so a 12 pound melon would only cost 36 cents. He had men coming every Sunday afternoon to buy melons. When they found out that he had good watermelons, they would come to visit and eat all they could hold and then buy one to take home. This was back in the mid 40’s and early 50’s.  He quit growing melons when he came to live close to his daughter and her family at the Shock log cabin. They had a little house there for him to live in so they could take care of him in his old age and Duane’s aunt and uncle didn’t raise melons. Duane said that he helped his grandpa raise a watermelon patch there one time, but it didn’t do too good so they gave up. It was over across the creek from where my brother, Brock, now owns a little piece for a hay field. Duane’s Uncle Ralph Perrine brought in store bought watermelons and hid them under bushes out in front of the cabin to keep them cool. People would take the salt shakers, cut into those melons, go outside, sit on split bottom chairs,  and spit watermelon seeds out on the ground.  There were always chairs out on the grass, by the back porch of the cabin, to sit out there in warm weather.

Grandma Riffle had died ahead of Grandpa and he didn’t stay at the old home place very long after she died. Duane thinks she died about 1954.  We all had feather pillows back then and the feathers formed a crown in her pillow where she lay dying.  Aunt Susie felt it and cut it out of the pillow and she showed it to me one time after I married into the family. I had never heard of anything like that and was trying to figure out what would make feathers do that. She said that her mother was a saint and feathers do that around the head of a saint when they die.

Her name was Sarah Cottrell Riffle. She was a Baptist by faith and went to church when she could but in winter the weather was too bad to walk the distance she had to go to get to church. She read her Bible and lived the Christian life, though.  I have since read about that feather crown inside the pillow of a dying person so I guess there were others that experienced that too.

We have been enjoying watermelon lately. We don’t grow them but Duane brought in a store bought one. My brother, Roger, told us that Grandpa Frank Stewart grew watermelons and he helped. They brought in a hot watermelon one summer day and didn’t wait for it to chill down. They were so hungry for watermelon that they just went in on it and between the two of them, they ate the whole thing.  Roger said he got so sick he threw up and to this day he can hardly stand watermelon. That would do it.

Until next time, stay close to the Lord and just try and enjoy the rest of the summer. We have had a couple sunny days without rain. Maybe our gardens will do better if the rain will slow down.

Jeanette Riffle: Bats in the Belfry

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Bats in the belfry and one got in the church and was hiding under the organ bench when I went up to my organ last Wednesday night. We are into revival and I play organ before church and after. I yelled for my husband to come and get it before the service turned into a Mississippi Squirrel Revival.In this case a West Virginia bat revival. I thought there was something wrong with it because when I put my cane up to it, it just spread it’s webbed wings but didn’t move. He said they fly at night and sleep in the daytime, so maybe it was just sleepy.

Bats like to get in the bell tower of churches because they like darkness. They do eat insects that fly at night but we don’t like them getting in our houses or the church. One got in my parents house one night and Mom said she batted it all over the bedroom with a broom and finally got it. One other time a chipmunk got in their house and was making noises and keeping them awake at night, when it would go in their bedroom. She had to set a trap for that one.  It was too quick and kept getting away from her. We used to have chipmunks and ground squirrels here, but I haven’t seen any since we took the pan of dog food off the back porch.  That’s what was drawing them. Everything likes dog food.

The last time I wrote a story it was raining, but today it is hot and we have had sunshine all day. We heard on the weather report last night that we had a dry day ahead, so Duane jumped out before 6:30 this morning, started weed eating, and then did trimming on the little riding mower. He came in for coffee and breakfast and then went right back out again to mow with the big mower. Everyone is behind with outside work because of all the rain we have had.

Tomorrow, he has to do more garden work. A friend of mine told me that the weeds got so high in her garden , she had to go in on them with a weed eater. That’s the way Duane has been doing my flower garden for several years, now. A few flowers have come up missing but I’m justglad to get the help as I am not able to go pull weeds anymore.  What will July hold? We will take whatever we get, huh?  Temps in the 90’s are supposed to return this weekend.

This past week we have had sunshine and rain all in one day. First one and then the other all day long as the storms went through. Tonight is the last night of revival at Rosedale Baptist. It’s been a good week.  Enjoy your family and friends and get out to attend the church of your choice.

Until next time, take care and God bless !

Jeanette Riffle: Big Bad Dog in the Sky

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Our new dog, Rascal, barks and chases thunder. He hears it rumbling in the distance and starts barking and chasing it as it comes closer and closer to us. I guess it sounds like something growling at him, and he is trying to chase it away. The old black lab was always afraid and would go in his dog house or inside the garage when a storm was brewing up, but not this one. I guess it’s that Border Collie in him. It is storming today as I write and I went down for a nap after I got my housework done. Rascal woke me up barking at thunder. He wouldn’t shut up.

We have been having some very hot humid days, so that rain is certainly welcome. It has cooled things down a bit and it gave the garden a good drink of water.

We haven’t seen anything more of that big snapper. Someone suggested that maybe it was going back to the mud to lay eggs. I hadn’t thought of that. Always before, we would see that big turtle making its journey across the road and field here, to the creek out back and we really didn’t see it anymore until it returned to the mud in the ditch across the road, in the fall. We knew winter was coming on and there are other signs of weather changes if you watch the critters outside.

It’s been too hot to light the oven but I should be able to bake some pies before long.  I got the pie dough made up and in a zip lock bag, in the fridge. A glass bowl with a lid will do for that, also.

We heard from our son and granddaughter on Father’s Day and they plan on coming down next month. We haven’t seen them for eight months. It would be hard on us to make an 8 hour trip up there, unless we stopped at a motel on the way up and again on the way back.  We used to do the whole trip in one day on the way up. Our cucumbers and tomatoes are setting on and the beans should be blooming by July. The garden is late this year but we can always buy what we don’t have. Those kids love the fresh garden vegetables and it is easy to get a meal together when you have a garden to go gather in the veggies. Revival is starting up at Rosedale Baptist on Sunday night, June 24th and will run through Friday night. Starts at 7:00 pm with guest preachers and different singers every night. Everyone welcome.  Hope to see some of you there.

Until next time, take care and God bless!

Jeanette Riffle: School’s Out, School’s Out, Teacher Wore Her Paddle Out

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Does that sound familiar? That was one of the chants that I remember in elementary when I was growing up. The school house would get hot by afternoon.  I was always glad for school to be out and then anxious for Vacation Bible School. Those classes were held in the cool of the morning and we got iced cold Kool Aid and cookies on break to refresh us. Dad was at work and   Grandmother Stewart drove us to my childhood church of Mt. Pisgah Baptist at Stumptown, WV.  My grandmother and her sister, Bess Smith Vanhorn, taught a class, served refreshments and just helped where needed. One year grandmother made me a yellow Swiss dot sleeveless dress to wear to VBS. I was a young teen by that time. I remember it smelled like coconut.

Great Aunt Bess and her husband, Onnie Vanhorn, had the ministry there. They were good with the children. Now, both their grandson’s, Richard and Leary Vanhorn, are preachers, now.

Mom let us go barefoot at home after Easter, if it was warm enough. I remember taking an old quilt out in the back yard under a tree and looking up at the sky on a nice June day, with my crayons and a coloring book.  Now and then you would see a jet plane go over but not very often. Not like today. Mom taught my oldest brother and I how to make mud pies by mixing dirt with a little water and filling old zinc canning lids with it.  We decorated them with little pebbles or violets. We set them in the sun to bake and pretended like we had made some pies.

The woods behind our house was a good place to explore and swing on grape vines. My brothers played, “Cowboys and Indians” or” Robinhood and His Merry Men.” We had the playhouse to go to when there weren’t any renters there. It was a two bedroom house down the path from ours, with a living room, kitchen and wash room. There was a porch on the right side of it. Sometimes we would take off walking up Chesnut Lick to visit Mom’s friend, Ruth Hardman and her two children, Gail and Kay. There was so much to do in summer. I liked the old barn to the left of the playhouse. I got a scare one Saturday morning out there, though. I think I was about five. I ran out there after breakfast to see the cow and when I opened the side door, the sun shined in on a man sleeping in the hay. The cow was in the next room of the barn. I could see her. She was probably hungry for her hay.  He had run her off so he could have the hay to sleep in for the night. The bright sunlight awakened that man and I ran back to the house to get Dad. By the time he got out there, the man had left so fast that he forgot his cigarette lighter in the hay. That’s why farmers didn’t want tramps or men traveling on foot, sleeping in their barn. They were afraid of them burning the barn down. My husband was telling me of his uncle, Ralph Perrine, running a man off one time for smoking in their barn.

We had the hobo, which was a way of life for them, and then we had the guys that were just traveling on foot trying to get somewhere, because they didn’t have a car.

Until next time, take care and God bless!

Jeanette Riffle: Black Snake on the Porch

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I had been hearing noises under the house. Thumping noises and I knew there was something under there. Yesterday, Sunday, Duane said,” There is what you have been hearing.” I was looking out the window in the direction that he was pointing and sure enough, there was a big black snake over around the patio door, looking for a place to get in.  I went for a camera but Duane was already swishing it off the porch on the ground, with a broom. It went under the house.

Now, a week later, I have heard of more black snakes trying to get in shelter.  A friend of mine said her son had to kill a black snake in the chicken house. It was eating up their eggs and then one came on the porch where there were baby kittens and the mother cat was defending them. The little two year old was yelling, “Mommy, there’s a copperhead on the porch after the kittens. “She ran out and killed the black snake. Tonight at church, Preacher Westfall was telling us about lunging noises at Mt. Carmel Church and the man that was hearing it thought a snake was in the walls. When he went out the front door and there it was on the steps by the door. 

Still another snake story was that of a black snake looking in the window at the people inside. The woman took pictures of it. That one looked to be about five feet long and it was fat. Her husband had to go outside and kill it because it was trying to get in. I’m glad that the rattlers stay up in the high timbers and that a dog can do a lot to keep snakes away from the property. Hopefully, we won’t get any copperheads or rattlers. 

The black snake is your friend unless like the above stories they get after your food or your pets. They will kill the poisonous snakes and rodents.  I don’t want them or any varmint in the house with us.  In warm weather, we sometimes get lizards in here. Blue tail or the brown ones. We can’t find where they are getting in at. They don’t seem to do any harm but we just don’t want them in here.

A few years back when our son and granddaughter were down for a visit, they came upon a humongous black snake behind the tractor shed. I expect it was back there catching field mice. They startled it and it began to slither away. They chased it with a camera and got some pictures.

I don’t think either one of them had ever seen a snake that big. They don’t tell me about seeing any snakes where they live in Michigan. Anyway, that one went for the creek, jumped in and swam to the other side. I was surprised that it lived over there. Until next time, watch out for the snakes.

Take care and God bless!

Jeanette Riffle:  Confused Snapper

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We wondered why we hadn’t seen the big snapping turtle yet.  Every spring it makes its way from the ditch across the road and across our field, to the creek out back. Quite a trek for a slow moving turtle.  Well, yesterday, my husband saw something dark on the bank, up to the road, and it started moving. He got the binoculars and said, “Well, there’s that turtle.”  I asked why it was going back to the ditch so soon.  “Did the dog scare it? “  “No, it could bite him or pull into its shell for safety.”  “Is it because of so much rain and high waters?”  “ Is it going to crawl off and die?”  Not likely. I finally decided that the most logical explanation was that it was confused. We went from winter into summer. It didn’t know when spring came. We didn’t have a spring this year.  The turtle came out of the mud in the ditch across the road and had come a little ways before he turned back.  We really don’t know if it checked the creek out, or maybe had already been there to eat fish. We just noticed it on its way back to the ditch. Strange!  Maybe it will wait until all these storms and flood waters are over and try it again.

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Dad caught a turtle on my fish pole one spring. He had me and a couple little brothers down over the bank at the creek and I got tired of sitting on a rock, pitched forward . I told Dad that I was going back up to the house. He stuck my fishing pole in the mud beside him.  Later, he came in the back kitchen door all excited and told me that I should have stayed down there. He said that my pole caught a big turtle and then he proceeded to tell Mom and I all about it. He said my pole started bobbing up and down and he thought he had a whopper of a fish there.  He stuck his pole in the mud and grabbed mine to pull that fish in but he had a struggle. I guess he thought it was a big catfish.  Finally, when he got it up out of the water, and saw what it was, he came up out of there and to the back kitchen door all excited and telling Mom to fix it for supper.  He pumped up some water from the pitcher pump on the back porch and put it in a big galvanized wash tub and started cleaning it up. When it was fried like a chicken and on the table, Mom and Dad kept trying to get my brothers to eat it. I liked it but they didn’t want any. Dad was always glad to put meat on the table. One time he was out on the job reading meters and brought home a pheasant. He had been seeing grouse and had his shotgun with him. He told Mom to make dressing and roast it like a chicken. It was good.

Until next time take care and God bless!

Jeanette Riffle: Decoration Day

The Free Press WV

Decoration Day brings back memories to me of Mamaw Warner’s peony bushes in their yard at the house on Crooked Run. People called them piney roses back then. Those made pretty grave yard flowers. My youngest brother, Brent Stewart, can remember going with our Warner grand-parents to the cemetery at Cedarville, for them to decorate graves of Mamaw’s Lowe relatives. Mom had pink roses at one corner of our yard and she would pick several of those and put them in a quart jars of water, along with asparagus fern for the greenery. Dad drove her up to Cedarville to decorate.  I don’t ever remember her cooking the asparagus. She grew it at the corner of the garden, which joined our back yard, for the sole purpose of decorating graves.

My husband remembers his Aunt Susie and a neighbor, Garnet Wilson Woodyard, fixing food to take to the Stout Cemetery up at Flatwoods.

Garnet’s husband, Park Woodyard, was Uncle Ralph Perrine’s nephew. They both had Stout mothers. The two families would go together and have a picnic under the shade trees. He said they picked fresh flowers from their yard and just laid them on the graves.  It took nearly all day to go up and back.  They would leave out about 10:00 in the morning and not get back home until late afternoon. There was no   interstate back then and no bridges up Steer Creek after you got past Rosedale. You just drove through the runs to the other side.

Duane and I went to the Stout Cemetery, Saturday, after we had decorated graves at Stumptown and Orma.  It took us nearly all day to go to three cemeteries and stop at a restaurant for an afternoon lunch before coming on home.  There was a military burial going on at the Orma Cemetery.

We saw a green canopy over a grave and men there with a big vault. Later, men in uniforms drove up. Duane said that was going to be a military burial with honors. It started raining while we were eating lunch and before we got home, the sky looked story and mean over in Braxton County.

Later, I saw where there had been a flash flood on Nicholas Run Rd. and some of our friends from church almost had muddy water in their front door. I was scrolling through news feed on Facebook and found pictures and read what had happened. Their garden was ruined. They really got pounded by that storm.

It almost seems like black snakes are trying to get in houses out of storms.  We had one on the back porch hanging around the patio door and Duane got the broom and swished it off the porch to the ground. It went under the house. Then I heard of two of my friends having encounters with black snakes. One said a black snake had been going in the chicken house and eating eggs and then one got on the front porch and was trying to get a baby kitten. The mother cat was fighting it off and my friend had to go kill the snake.  We can’t have them eating up eggs and baby kittens. Another friend saw a great big black snake up in a window looking in their house like it was saying, “Can I come in? It’s wet out here. “  This one can stay under our house to keep rodents away as long as it minds its own business and doesn’t try to kill baby birds in our trees.  We don’t have chickens or any baby animals here to worry about.  Until next time, take care and God bless!  I hope June will slow down on the bad storms.

Jeanette Riffle: Split Bottom Chairs

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My husband and I grew up with split bottom chairs made out of hickory.  Everyone had them and he remembers his Grandpa Riffle making fish poles out of hickory. He went in the woods and cut saplings and cut out strips that were big enough around, soaked them in the creek to make them easier to work with and shaped them into fish rods. It took a long time. He had to keep scraping with a knife until he got it down to the shape he wanted and then he varnished it and put the guides on it.  He made one for my husband and one for Westley Nicholas, who was another grandson. One sapling made four fishing poles. I’m sure he always had extra fish poles on hands that way.

We went to visit Westley over on Bear Run before he passed away and he still had his fish rod. They held up pretty good. The split bottom chairs were made out of the same wood.  Hickory made a good sturdy chair bottom.  The reeds were soaked in water and each cut the same size and then woven in and out to form the seat of a wooden chair.  My sister in law, Marina Stewart, took me to a basket weaving class one time that was held at the cafeteria of Normantown High School. I made a two pie basket. Hard on the hands to work with those stiff reeds but the baskets were very pretty, and I was proud of my basket. It was nice to put a couple pies in and lay a red and white checkered tea towel over them and go to a family gathering or church picnic.

I remember Dad saying that he was going to have to find someone who knew how to put a new bottom in our chair, one time when it needed repaired. I think this one had been handed down through the generations and had a lot of use. If extra chairs were needed when company came to my Warner grandparents’ house, Papaw would go get the split bottom chairs and the same thing at Duane’s house. There was one by Mom’s magazine rack, where the phone was, when my parents moved up to the Cecil Whitesel house. They moved in with Mamaw to take care of her after Papaw died. Mom would sit on that chair by the end of the couch and talk on the phone in the corner there.

Duane said that when he was little, that‘s all there was in the living room of the Shock log cabin. There was no couch and chairs to match at first. He remembers a bed in the room and lots of those chairs. They had gas lights on the walls. I remember those chairs in the kitchen and on the porch. In summer people would take those chairs out to the side of the cabin, in the yard, to eat watermelon. Uncle Ralph kept melons hid in bushes where they were protected from the hot sun.  No one ate melon on a plate. Aunt Susie would carve a melon in a big dish pan, and start handing out big pieces of melon, and a salt shaker. People sat on the chairs and spit seeds on the ground.  Makes me hungry for watermelon just thinking about it.

Until next time, enjoy this nice summer weather and the rain to make gardens and hay grow. We went from winter into summer. That’s the way the weather was in Michigan when we lived up there. One day I would open the back-kitchen door and warm sunshine hit me in the face and it would be 80 degrees just overnight.

Take care and God bless!

Jeanette Riffle: Coffee Grinders

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One of our friends was looking for a coffee grinder to grind her own coffee beans and that brought back some memories to us. Duane’s folks had one and he said he and his cousin played with it when they were kids and tore it up. His Aunt Susie told him that when she was growing up, you bought green coffee beans and roasted them yourself.  The one she had at the Shock log cabin was made out of wood. The grinder and crank of course were metal. They put the beans in the top and when they turned the crank, the coffee came out in a little drawer. They pulled the drawer out and poured the coffee into the pot and then filled the pot up with water. No coffee filters back then.  His Uncle Ralph Perrine had coffee in the store and they used it. He doesn’t remember them grinding coffee after he came there. It was already ground and in bags or cans.  I remember my parents getting coffee at the A & P store in Glenville. That store smelled so good.

As soon as you walked in you could see a cashier grinding coffee beans right up front of the checkout isle.  Another thing that I liked from A & P was the Spanish Bar.  Mom always had a sweet tooth and would bring home one whole brown bag of baked things… angel food cake for my oldest brother, honey buns or pecan rolls, Spanish Bar and something chocolate for the chocolate lovers.

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Mamaw Warner had this huge coffee pot that was real fat at the bottom and smaller at the top. She would get up and make a big pot of coffee every morning and just drink on it all day. In the afternoon she would take a break with a cup of coffee and a couple of her Dutch Cakes. They were big round cookies flavored with nutmeg and lemon.  The old folks put crushed egg shells in the coffee pot. One person has told me it was to keep the grounds down and another said it was to take the bitterness out.  I remember Mom saying that she didn’t drink the last few sups of her coffee because some grounds settled in the bottom of her cup. Some people poured a little hot coffee in their saucer to cool it down, so they could start sipping on it.

I had a friend in Michigan that bought her coffee beans at the coffee shop in a mall. When spring came, and the sun had the enclosed porch all warmed up, she would call me early of a morning and tell me to get up and come over for some sunshine, apple cobbler and good fresh coffee. Sometimes she made rhubarb cobbler, as they grew rhubarb along one side of their house. They, like us, lived in a suburbia and there wasn’t room for a big garden, but you could grow a few things along fences or at the back of the property. She kept half and half in the fridge and that really made that strong coffee taste good.  This friend was a country girl like me. She grew up in a tar shack up north and knew the country ways. She and her husband had a nice brick home in Taylor, Michigan, not too far from us. It only took me about 20 minutes to drive over there. I met her at the choir of a Baptist church in Taylor.

I can’t remember for sure when instant coffee came along but Mom sure went through a lot of jars of that. It seemed like she was forever sending Dad to the store after more coffee.  She sometimes would share a jar of coffee with a neighbor that came to visit.

I remember this lady would get a coffee headache when they ran out of coffee, and she would walk to our house to have coffee with Mom. They didn’t have a car.

Some of you can remember those coffee cups that came in boxes of detergent. I think it was Fab. Sometimes it was a saucer or a plate.  That was exciting to open up a box of detergent and dig down and see what was in there each time. Those dishes were a light green color.  I don’t think Mom ever did get the complete set, though. You couldn’t tell what was in the box. It was a surprise each time.

Until next week, take care and God bless!

Jeanette Riffle: Warm Weather Finally Here

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The first week of May set in sunny and warm for the most part. We are having light showers though, today as I write this.  Mom always said that if it set in rainy the first week of May, you would have those cold May rains for several weeks. I was glad it didn’t because we have had so much rain.  The leaves on trees have grown overnight with the warm nights and grass is growing like weeds. It took 3 days for my husband to get caught up with all the mowing, trimming and weed eating this week. Weed eating banks is the hardest on him.

There are wildflowers everywhere and he took the 4-wheeler, went across the creek and got pictures of tall mountain flox, ragwort, spring beauties, and violets. We saw a lot of blooms on the dog wood, sarvis and red bud along I – 79 when we went to Bridgeport this week.

People are going mushroom hunting and digging ramps. Mom used to pick poke greens in May.  My family didn’t eat the wild mushrooms. The ones I hear of the most are,” merles.” Some people call them, “Molly-Moochers.” They are honey-combed, hollow and attached to a thick, whitish stalk at the base. They are found in burned out areas, in old apple orchards and under poplar and ash trees. They pop through the ground after a warm rain. Those seem to be the easiest and the safest to identify.

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Birds are migrating, and we got some good pictures of the grosbeaks this week. They were at the seed feeders out back. There’s a big eastern blue bird coming and the red bellied woodpeckers.  Lots of brown headed cow birds are coming in and the woodpecker can sure hold his own, if they try and run him off. I think the most colorful bird that we have seen was one that just touched down for a meal and went on. It looked like a big Baltimore Oriole, but was the brightest orange that we have ever seen.  We have had gold finches and sapsuckers all winter long. The sapsucker is a little acrobat and interesting to watch.  Not many blue jays came but lately we are seeing red winged black birds. I remember a cute little yellow bird that came close to the back porch when I was a child and I wanted to catch it and put it in a cage like a canary. Mom told me if I could put salt on its tail, I would be able to catch it. I knew that wouldn’t work.

Until next time, enjoy the nice days when we can get them.

Take care and God bless!

Jeanette Riffle: Singing School Lessons Coming Back

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Years ago when the shaped note music lessons were taught, they were held in churches. My Grandmother Grace Stewart learned shape notes and she could read music. She learned to play her brother’s organ, at home as a girl growing up, and she could play a guitar. I was visiting with her one time and saw her with a hymn book, playing a familiar hymn on a guitar, that she said Dad had left there. He wanted a guitar and they got him one but he couldn’t get the hang of it. She said it was just laying around there and she decided to learn to play it.

I just found out this morning that there’s a man over at the Glenville Senior Center who is teaching shaped notes, now. They have choir on Wednesday mornings at 10:00 and I think they are having a pretty good turnout.

The late, Leon Whipkey, used to teach this kind of music. I took a class that he was teaching at Crooked Fork Baptist Church, several years ago. He didn’t want it to become a lost art and was looking for someone to take over for him, as he was getting up in years and not able to get around much. He had some of us singers to come up front and listen to a song being played on the piano and then sing it.  He asked one of the men if he could take over with the singing school but that man said he had health problems and said he couldn’t do that. So, to my surprise, he asked me if I would learn it and teach it.  There was an instruction booklet that came with the chalk board and stand that it goes on.  I taught a few classes for about a year and then the joint surgeries started, after shots to cooperate with insurance. Step 1, Step 2 and then surgery.  I was diagnosed with severe osteo arthritis and needed 3 joint replacement surgeries. The right hip and both knees, so I wasn’t able to continue. It took 2 years for all that.

If you have ever seen the movie, Sound of Music, with Julie Andrews, you probably remember a song with the words, “Do, a deer, a female deer, Ra, a golden ray of sun, Me, a name I call myself, Fa, a long, long way to run, “and so on.  The notes are Do, Ra, Me, Fa, So, La , Te, Do,  on the music scale and this way is more interesting and easier than the new way of learning music, that came along. Until next time, look forward to planting that garden.  We went to Bridgeport this past week and noticed plants and flowers at various locations.

Take care and God bless !

Jeanette Riffle: Winter An Unwelcome Guest

The Free Press WV

Winter has worn it’s welcome out and we will be glad when it packs up and goes home. I was reading a column in the Charleston Gazette, Saturday, that I could relate to and it inspired me to write a few things. My flowers bloom and get nipped overnight. We have had the air conditioning on and the furnace heat, all in one day, and I could go on and on, but April is almost over and we can look forward to May and the May flowers. I was reading about ramps and camping trips. My dad went to the mountains to dig ramps but we never went on any camping trips when I was growing up. The ramps he brought home seemed stronger than the ones I’ve encountered here since we retired and came back to the farm. I remember Mom complaining that when she fried ramps, it stunk the whole house up.  Even the curtains had to be washed. Maybe they were older, more mature ramps. The ones I found frozen in their deep freeze, after we came back, looked more like greens. The little white bulbs at the ends weren’t as big as my little finger nails and I fixed my parents a good country meal one day when I was over there cleaning house for them. I did the quick soak with pinto beans and cooked them up   boiled some buttered potatoes, made cornbread, fried some pork, and fried what I thought was greens.  Later, when we were at the table and passing the dishes of food around, Dad said, “Sis, do you know what that is?”  He was referring to the bowl of greens. I saw his mischievous grin and I replied, “By, the way you are acting, I’d say they must be ramps,” and he started laughing. I told them that they didn’t look like the ramps I remembered, and I asked them where they got those tiny ramps. Mom said that some neighbors had brought them in there and she cleaned them up and froze them. They were mild, so I went ahead and ate them with my meal. I didn’t eat ramps when I was growing up but these tasted good.  I loved the wild greens that Mom would pick in the spring. I guess the young tender ramps are milder and look like greens.

Well, we are still training in a pup, but he is learning to mind better than he did. He knows his boundaries now and stops short of getting shocked with the invisible fence. When his collar beeps and warns him, he abruptly puts on the brakes and doesn’t go any farther. That border collie/lab mix is a highly intelligent dog but sure is hard headed. He is comical though with walking around on hind legs to catch snowflakes and he likes to catch grass flying to the side of the mower. When he walks on hind legs, it looks like he is dancing.

Until next time, take care and God bless!

Jeanette Riffle: Mail Order Catalog House

The Free Press WV

Montgomery Ward used to sell houses with blueprints on how to build them. Catalogs came free in the mail. The mail was delivered by train to the bigger towns. This was back before my time. I remember catalogs coming in our mailbox; Montgomery Ward, Sears & Roebuck, and Spiegel. They were called, “Wish Books,” and ended up at the outhouse to be used as toilet paper after we were through with them.  Everyone in the country lived like that. We saw toilet paper in towns with rest rooms. By the time I was 9 years old, we had a bathroom. I’ve always said that my youngest brother grew up in luxury.

My husband noticed a Montgomery Ward home this week when we were out and it has held up pretty good through the years.  That started the conservation. The person wanting to build a home would fill out an order, mail it to Wards and the shipment would come in on a train to a nearby town. They were notified of the delivery and then that person rounded up people with trucks to go get it. Carpenters were hired to put the house together.

I only remember clothes and household items in those catalogs. When I was in elementary, Mom’s folks ordered me dresses for school in the fall, one time.  Mom gave me a pen and had me mark the dresses that I liked and then my grandma chose from those and ordered 2 or 3 of them.  Dad drove us all to Clarksburg to shop Montgomery Ward a few times through the years.  He treated us to a good lunch at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel. There was a nice restaurant in the basement. After our meal, we went shopping and then would go to Nutter Fort and visit Mom’s cousin, Thelma Stout McIntyre, and family. Sometimes we stayed all night but most of the time, we just stayed for supper and went on back home. That was an all-day thing. Up at 6:00 a.m., eat breakfast and get ready to go.  No interstate super highways back then.  It took a long time to get there, around and around hills.  I got kind of car sick a lot and had to roll down the back window for cool air to hit me in the face. I was sure glad when we could get out of that car and walk around.  Until next time, watch for the snow on the sarvis. It is blooming now and according to old folks, that will be our last snow. I am running into people who don’t know who I am. My maiden name is Stewart. I grew up between Lockney and Normantown, WV on 119 &33.

Take care and God bless!

Jeanette Riffle: My First Milkshake

The Free Press WV

Can anyone remember your first milkshake? Every time we go by the Millstone Inn, my thoughts go back to Dad driving my oldest brother and I over there one hot summer day.  They were advertising milkshakes and he heard about it. He wanted to try one. He asked us what flavor we wanted. I expect we got chocolate, but he went in and ordered up three to go.  Can’t remember for sure what flavor we wanted or what flavor he got, but I remember what it tasted like……. thick, melted ice cream. We went home and told Mom about it and she asked what it was and how they made them. Sometime later, Dad brought in an ice cream machine.

Mom and I hand cranked that thing until we were worn out. We had plenty of cream from the milk cow and Mom went by the recipes that came with the machine.  It was a big heavy thing and had to be set up on the dining room table where there was plenty of room. Mom also made ice cream in ice trays, in the top freezer compartment of the refrigerator. We had a Watkins woman that traveled around on foot, carrying a suitcase full of Watkins products and Mom would set her down for a cup of coffee and a sandwich and give her a good order. One of the things she bought was the ice cream mixes.  If you ordered things from the catalog that weren’t in the suitcase, she would bring it around next time. My mother gave her such a good order that she never went any farther down the road. She went right back to Normantown. We felt so sorry for her because she was on foot and lived clear to the other fork of Steer Fork up by Normantown. She didn’t have a car. Her last name was Kennedy. I don’t know her maiden name.  This must have been back in the 1950’s.  I was in elementary school.

Duane remembers those ice cream mixes, too. Ugee Stump, had a refrigerator and she bought the mixes from the Watkins man that came up Shock. Not everyone had a refrigerator back then. When electricity came to Shock, Ugee had it put in her house. Until next time, watch for the sarvis to bloom. Old folks used to say that when it snowed on the sarvis bloom, that would be the last snow.

Take care and God bless!

Jeanette Riffle: Stocking Country Stores

The Free Press WV

Recently, I wrote about the old paths that people walked through these hills to get to where they needed to go. Today, I’m going to write about how the country stores got stocked. My husband’s uncle, Ralph Perrine, who was born in 1900, told him that they took a team of horses and a wagon, went as far as Sleeth, and spent the night at a farm where they were welcomed.  Supper and breakfast were provided, and the travelers would throw down a nickel or quarter, whatever they could afford.

From there they went on to Gassaway, to a warehouse for a load of supplies.  There were warehouses in towns, similar to our Sams Clubs of today. Duane’s Uncle Ralph helped on some of those trips.  After loading the wagon at the warehouse, they were on their way back home and stopped again at the same farm to rest up for the night. Home to Shock the next morning and unload all that stuff at the Shock country store.  This was before the railroad came in.

Freight that had been ordered was brought in on that little train to the depot, here at the bridge. In later years, a salesman would come to the country stores and take the orders. Then a load would come in on a truck. Those trucks didn’t go up the dirt road of Tanner #4, though.

Those store owners took a flatbed truck and went after their own supplies. Duane remembers seeing big flatbed trucks coming out of Tanner to go get a load of merchandise and then come home with it.  Fred Lambert, Ray Miller and Homer Samson, were some of the men who had little stores up Tanner. It was their trucks. I wrote a story a few years back about what all you could buy at a country store and if they didn’t have what you needed, it could be ordered.

That would be nice to have stores like that, nowadays. People wouldn’t have to take half a day to go to town and back. Sometimes all day depending on what stores you have to go to.

Well, our son and granddaughter couldn’t make it home for Easter but maybe it’s a good thing they didn’t. Type B flu is on the rampage, now. There has been so much sickness this winter. So far, we haven’t caught anything. I’ve had to see our doctor for sinus infection and sore throat but I get that every spring with pollen flying in the air and with weather changes.

Until next time, avoid crowds if possible and stay well. Take care and God bless!

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

By Reader on 07.14.2018


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Frank Wiseman on 07.14.2018

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

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

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

By GSC EMPLOYEE on 07.13.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Why Dr. Pellet and GSC BOG? on 07.13.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

By Citizen on 07.11.2018


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

By Voters Watching on 07.10.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

By WVU Prof. on 07.09.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By WVU Political Scientist on 07.08.2018

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

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

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

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

Incest often produces less than desired outcomes as well.

By PAST Time for change @ GSC on 07.08.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Governance Changes Needed At GSC on 07.06.2018

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

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Bigger is better? Rarely.

Everyone knows that school consolidation has resulted in failed outcomes.

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

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

By Its just planned failure. on 07.05.2018

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

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This information including details in the referenced full Report helps put GSC’s precarious standing in perspective. More information can be accessed at

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

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

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

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

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

By GSC GRAD on 07.05.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Give All Facts on 07.03.2018

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

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

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

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

By Voters Watching on 07.03.2018

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

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

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

By Jumpin Jim Nose Dives on 07.03.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Good News For WV on 06.29.2018

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

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

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

Are the any honest people running for offices?

By crooks everywhere? on 06.27.2018

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

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

By The Silent Majority on 06.21.2018

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

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

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

By Good on 06.21.2018

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

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

By New Jobs? on 06.20.2018

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

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

By SAT Checker on 06.19.2018

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

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

By The Silent Majority on 06.18.2018

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

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

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

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

By Gilmer EDA...private club ? on 06.15.2018

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

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

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

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

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

By End Public Information Embargo on 06.13.2018

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

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If true, this would be great news!

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

How about it GCEDA President Jeff Campbell?

Lets hear from you.

By reader6 on 06.11.2018

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

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Interesting chart.

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

BUT, BUT, where are they?

By Where are they? on 06.08.2018

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

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

By Trespasser Will on 06.08.2018

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

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

By Trespasser Will on 06.07.2018

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

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

By Rural WV still waiting.... on 06.06.2018

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

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

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

By WV's dilapidated economy on 06.05.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

By Tresspasser Will on 06.03.2018

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

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

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

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

Love you dearly,

Cousin, Jo Ann xoxoxo

By Jo Ann Emrick on 06.01.2018

From the entry: 'Catherine Ann Umanetz'.

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

By Etched Memory on 05.31.2018

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

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

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

Keep up the good works!

By many kudos ! on 05.31.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Another black eye for state intervention ! on 05.30.2018

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

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All this Minney stuff brings up at least 2 questions:

WHY did state appointed super Devano hire Minney?

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

Either poor hiring practices or someone pulling strings.

By questions but no answers ? on 05.30.2018

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

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

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

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

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

By Ridiculous on 05.30.2018

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

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

By FTM on 05.30.2018

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

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

By They were bad on 05.30.2018

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

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

By Don LK on 05.30.2018

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

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He got caught of mismanagement of public funds.

By Jeremy D on 05.30.2018

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

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

By Just Curious on 05.30.2018

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

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

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

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

By Some remember on 05.21.2018

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

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

By Sherry Straley Broggi and Rita Straley on 05.17.2018

From the entry: 'Lora Faye Tomblin'.

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

Where’s DR? He never misses these events?

By Very nice project - great volunteers! on 05.17.2018

From the entry: 'CommunityImprovement™: Pavilion'.

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

By GSC RETENTION? on 05.15.2018

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

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

By Reader on 05.14.2018

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

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

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

By Alumni on 05.13.2018

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

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Some interesting results.  Should shake the trees a little.

By Spring cleaning! on 05.09.2018

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

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So sorry for your loss.  Prayers.

By Betty Woofter on 05.07.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By WVDE Career Employees on 05.06.2018

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

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

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

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

By R. Page on 05.06.2018

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

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

In essence that is a FAILURE rate of 65% !

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

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

By Wv Has a FLAWED educational system ! on 05.05.2018

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

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

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

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

By Rex Page on 05.03.2018

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

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

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

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

By WVDE Watcher on 05.03.2018

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

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

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

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

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

By Block Schedule Supported By Blockheads on 05.02.2018

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

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

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

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

By Pleased Parents on 05.02.2018

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

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Mr. Williams has it nailed down.  Solid.

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

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

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

But the failed administrators keep their jobs.

By Time To Clean the Education House! on 05.01.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

By Spring cleaning! on 05.01.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By We Want Better Schools on 04.30.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

By WVDOE Disgusted on 04.20.2018

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

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

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

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

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

This is the WVBOE legacy.

By State BOE - dysfunctional is an understatement? on 04.16.2018

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

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Maybe Jimmy can pay some of his tax bills now?

By Justice, pay your tax bills! on 04.15.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

That is, if you are up to it.

By Kanawha Reader on 04.15.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Economist on 04.14.2018

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

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

By R. A. Beasley on 04.14.2018

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

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By Don't bring them to Gilmer! on 04.13.2018


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

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

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

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

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

By GCHS Parents on 04.12.2018

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

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This well written article makes is clear what actually a businessman can do.

Businessman turned politician.  Can actually make an entire state look like idiots.  Idiots for electing him at the minimum.

Looks like we have to find the patience to tolerate this bs two more years…...and hope he turns into a one term disaster.

Congratulations to the WV state employees giving him a good lesson. Nice job folks.

By Makin Arch Look Good on 04.09.2018

From the entry: 'ICYMI™: A 'billionaire' should be embarrassed to let schools, local governments, vendor bills'.

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Why is important school system improvement news of the type addressed in the other comment not on the County’s school system’s web site?

Someone in the board office should be assigned to write up news to keep citizens informed.

We are expected to vote in more tax money to run the schools and we deserve to be informed of positive improvements being made with our money instead of taking our support for granted. It works both ways.

By R. Curry on 04.06.2018

From the entry: 'Howard O'Cull: School 'work action' a teachable moment'.

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This is a suggestion for getting breaking news out to the community concerning important new improvements in the County’s school system.

We hear that improvements are being made to increase student performances in mathematics, reading, and other areas. The changes include getting back to basics for math teaching to eliminate achievement gaps.

Would someone write up something to explain the new changes to keep the community informed? One improvement I know is that progress reports come home regularly so families can track how kids are doing.

There is nothing wrong with positive news getting out to demonstrate that Gilmer County is positioning itself to become a leader in public education. The County deserves all the positive press it can get.

By Appreciative Parent on 04.05.2018

From the entry: 'Howard O'Cull: School 'work action' a teachable moment'.

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The Governors and the elected Legislators made the time ripe for the “educators revolt”.

The past 20 years, state employees, all who work outside the ‘capitol complex’ have been dissed.

Put off.  Put down.  Worked around.
That was clearly understood by our state employees.

That dissention was completely ignored by our failed state leadership.

Clearly it was time for action.  Social media was a major player….for the good.

The Governor, the Legislators, have now been put on notice to not ignore state issues, while they feather their own nests.

Now, lets see social media swing into action,  straighten out the Public Service Commission, and their gross failure to hold Frontier Communications lack of customer service to the fore. Some leader needs to step forward and make it happen.

We see what can happen with some leadership.  Social media is the citizens friend.  The election is just a few weeks away.  Its time to build a fire under the Public Service Commission.  Governor Justice you might even give it a shot to fire them…...up?

By J.P. on 03.30.2018

From the entry: 'Howard O'Cull: School 'work action' a teachable moment'.

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We want the County to become WV’s star performer known throughout the State for producing the highest achievement students.

How can this be done? Simple. Establish goals for math, science, and other subjects and aggressively manage the school system accordingly.

This will require establishment of a clearly written, professionally done holistic plan containing specific goals to achieve, establishment of personal accountability at different levels in the school system, accurate and timely reporting of achievement results as we proceed, and applying improved approaches when necessary to keep the plan on track.

We have heard for too long that everything is “just fine” in the County, and we continue to hear it today from some quarters.

Folks, things are not ‘just fine’ when too many of our students leave high school unprepared for college and careers. Where we go from here is the primary responsibility of the elected school board.

Teachers and staffs are more than ready to deal with obstacles confronting them and all they need is to be enabled to do their jobs.

The time is over for continuing to be hampered with lame excuses for why major improvements cannot be made i.e., Gilmer County is too poor, too many kids lack family support they deserve, and keen focus on public education is foreign to the community’s culture.

By Gilmer County Teacher on 03.30.2018

From the entry: 'Howard O'Cull: School 'work action' a teachable moment'.

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