Court News

Court News

Gilmer County Circuit Court Report - 09.10.12

The Gilmer Free Press

Chief Judge Jack Alsop presided over his regular motion day, Monday, September 10, 2012.

•  Two fugitives from justice waived extradition to their states, both being represented by Daniel Grindo of Gassaway.

Brandon Owens waived to return to Maryland and Christopher Scott waived to return to Virginia.

Authorities in their states have until 4:00 PM on Wednesday, September 19, 2012 to pick the individuals up at Central Regional Jail or they will be released.

•  Four juveniles were set and scheduled for further hearings as follows: Monday, December 10, 2012 at 9:00 AM, Tuesday, October 09, 2012 at 10:00 AM, Tuesday, October 09, 2012 at 11:00 AM and Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 2:30 PM.

•  Judgment was rendered against Angela Nicholas in the amount of $7,981.03 in favor of Citibank’NA’ after a pre-trial hearing was heard.

Nicholas represented-herself and -plaintiff was represented by Jane Pancake.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Robert Hacker

He was before the Court for reduction of bond.

Judge Alsop lowered his bond to $150,000.00 good and sufficient surety to be approved by the Circuit Clerk and also to be placed on home confinement and to have no contact with victims and/or witnesses in his case.

Hacker was represented by Daniel Grindo.

•  The name change of Kenneth White was granted to correct his original birth certificate.

WV Judge Orders CashCall to Pay $13M Penalty

The Gilmer Free Press

A West Virginia judge has ordered a California-based loan company to pay a $13 million civil penalty and cancel all debts owned by its clients in the state.

Kanawha County Chief Circuit Judge Duke Bloom issued the penalties against CashCall Inc. this week.

Bloom said the company used predatory lending practices and harassed borrowers who fell behind in payments.

The West Virginia Attorney General’s Office began investigating CashCall in 2007 after receiving complaints from consumers.

The office said CashCall charged interest rates of more than 90%.

West Virginia consumer protection laws limit these rates to 18%.

A lawyer for the company, Bruce M. Jacobs tells the Charleston Gazette that CashCall believes Bloom’s order is wrong and it likely will be appealed.

WV Supreme Court Justice Calls Dropout Numbers ‘Scary’

The Gilmer Free Press

West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Robin Davis says more than half of the circuit judges in West Virginia are now focusing on truancy issues and are urging state lawmakers to put more resources toward battling the problem.

Davis and Taylor County Circuit Judge Alan Moats gave a group of state lawmakers an update Monday on the statewide initiative Davis began a year ago.

Justice Davis says judges are reporting some success against truancy but admit there’s much more work to be done.

Judge Moats says truancy leads to dropouts and the number of dropouts from 2000-2010 was shocking.

“Almost 35-thosuand kids quit school in West Virginia. That number is, quite frankly, scary,“ the judge told lawmakers.

Further statistics show 8 of every 10 dropouts end up in jail.

“They’re going to get in trouble. They have no hope. They are helpless. Most of them are on drugs. They have to feed their drug habit and they have no money to do it, so they end up violating the law,“ Moats said.

The judge predicts unchecked truancy will result in more dropouts and if each dropout over a 10-year period has three children the state could be looking at another 100-thousand more dropouts in the years to come.

“It is multigenerational and it’s not changing and it won’t change unless we stand up and say, ‘enough is enough,‘“ Judge Moats said. “This is destroying our state, slowly but surely, but certainly it is.“

The judge says not one group has the answer. He says not lawmakers, nor judges, nor schools systems. He says everyone must work together.

“It’s everybody’s problem. It’s the entire community’s problem,“ Moats said.

Anti-Truancy Cases Overwhelm West Virginia Social Workers

The Gilmer Free Press

A new effort led by West Virginia’s judicial system to curb the West Virginia’s growing student truancy problem is overwhelming social workers.

The West Virginia Supreme Court launched an initiative last year to tackle truancy by pairing up the circuit court system, local school boards and social agencies to help keep students in school.

The West Virginia Department of Education says about one in five West Virginia students had five or more unexcused absences last year and 9% statewide were truant more than 10 days.

Those involved in the anti-truancy initiative say the increased push is creating results.

But they say is not enough manpower within the state Department of Health and Human Resources to deal with all the truancy cases.

West Virginia Supreme Court Does Order Further Investigation of Chip Watkins

The Gilmer Free Press

The state Supreme Court has ordered the state Judicial Hearing Board to conduct further investigation against a Putnam County Family Court judge but justices have opted not to suspend Judge William “Chip” Watkins III without pay.

In an order released Friday the High Court says it has looked at the complaints filed against Judge Watkins and the Judicial Hearing Board should “conduct further investigation and hold a hearing forthwith.“

Judge Watkins is currently facing seven charges that he allegedly violated the Judicial Code of Conduct and trial court rules.

Watkins has allegedly verbally attacked people in his courtroom. Some of it has been caught on video.

Friday’s order says Supreme Court Justices Robin Davis and Margaret Workman voted to immediately suspend Judge Watkins without pay but the three other justices, Menis Ketchum, Brent Benjamin and Thomas McHugh voted against the no-pay suspension. Judge Watkins continues to hear cases.

Earlier this year the Supreme Court did vote to suspend former Kanawha County Magistrate Carol Fouty without pay.

Meanwhile, Watkins filed his response to the first two charges Friday.

Read the response by clicking H E R E.

In the eight-page response Watkins admits to several of the allegations made in the Formal Statement of Charges but in response to some he says he does not have sufficient knowledge or information to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations.

Judge Watkins does promise to do better.

He says he will try to file orders in a timely fashion, enter domestic violence orders on the same day of the hearing, attend and complete education and training programs and make every effort possible to return phone calls within 24 hours.

Gilmer County Circuit Court Report – 08.27.12

The Gilmer Free Press

On Monday, August 27, 2012 Judge Richard A. Facemire presided over his regular monthly motion day, concluding at approximately 12:30 PM.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Angel Hart

She was before the Court for modification of her probation, asking for her ankle bracelet to be removed because she is no longer employed due to her pregnancy, and can no longer afford it.

Hart will remain on probation but without the bracelet for monitoring.

Hart was represented by R. Russell Stobbs of Weston.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Amanda Smith

She was before the court for sentencing after completing her 60 day diagnosis and classification at Lakin Correctional Facility.

She was represented by Garth Beck of Clarksburg and was sentenced to 1 -5 in the penitentiary.

Sentencing was suspended and she was fined $100.00 and court costs to be paid within 18 months and was granted 5-years’ probation.

She also must enroll in long term substance abuse counseling and then attend NA and AA and obtain full time employment.

She must also reside with her mother.

•  Several juvenile matters were heard and reset for Monday, October 22, 2012, most of them are scheduled for 9:00 AM.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Gary Paul Ferrell

He was before the Court for pretrial and his trial remains on the docket for Tuesday, September 18, 2012.

He is represented by Daniel Grindo of Gassaway.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Jason Pritt

He was before the Court for reconsideration of his sentence, which was denied by the Judge.

Pritt was represented by Clinton Bischoff of Summersville.

•  William Ratliff Sr. cs. Mylan Inc. Et al

The case was before the court for a settlement hearing, which was granted by the Court but it will be sealed along with the transcript of proceedings when it is received by the Clerk.

•  Francis Frame vs. John Thomas Frame

The case was before the Court for a hearing set by defendant’s attorney, Timothy Butcher, for attorney fees and sanctions.

Judge Facemire took the same under advisement.

Francis Frame represented himself in the proceeding.

Judge Facemire cancelled the Tuesday, August 28, 2012 trial scheduled because he was trying a case in Braxton County.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin: More Workers Stealing From Employers

The Gilmer Free Press

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin says his office has seen more employee fraud and theft cases in the last year than he can remember in the past 10 years.

Goodwin says he doesn’t exactly know what’s causing the increase. He says it may be the economy or technology but one thing is for sure—-he says those once trusted employees will be prosecuted.

“We’re going to push this and get justice because we can’t stand for this,“ Goodwin said. “It could be the difference between being in business or not.“

The latest case to wrap-up came this week when former American Electric Power worker Deborah Farmer was sentenced to three years in federal prison for being the ringleader of a power surge scheme.

Farmer, age 47, was an AEP property damage claims adjuster. She led a scheme where more than 30 people filed false property surge claims. She made sure they were paid for those false claims.

“In this case they went to the well a total of 57 times,“ Goodwin said. “There were 57 fraudulent claims filed resulting for a loss (for AEP) of almost 600-thousand dollars.“

A federal judge sentenced co-defendant Julia Washington, age 45, of Charleston, to two years in prison and Freda Bradshaw, age 47, of Pliny, to one year in prison. Four other co-defendants were previously convicted and sentenced.

Goodwin says there are other cases pending of where once trusted employees have stolen from large businesses like banks and smaller businesses. He says each will be prosecuted in the coming months.

“We have easily had a half dozen cases in the past year and it’s especially hard on small businesses,“ Goodwin said. “Sometimes it’s the difference between profitability and not or the difference in staying in business or not.“

Two X-WV Officials Sentenced in Vote Fraud Case

The Gilmer Free Press

A former Lincoln County sheriff has been sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison for his guilty plea in an election fraud conspiracy, while the county’s former clerk received a term of one year and six months.

Ex-Sheriff Jerry Bowman and former clerk Donald Whitten also were fined $5,000 Wednesday in federal court in Charleston.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Johnston called election fraud “a festering sore on the culture and image” of the state and said it must stop.

In March, Bowman pleaded guilty to conspiring to stuff the primary ballot box while running for circuit clerk, while Whitten pleaded guilty to lying to an investigator for Secretary of State Natalie Tennant that he had provided absentee ballots to Bowman.

Both defendants resigned from office afterward.

G-OB™: CALHOUN-GILMER CAREER CENTER - Classroom Teacher Networking Technology

Classroom Teacher Networking Technology


REPORTS TO: Director 

 I. The teacher shall implement the program of study. The performance criteria for this area shall include:

A. Bases instruction on adopted curricula for the school.

B. Demonstrates accurate and current knowledge in the subject field.

C. Develops appropriate lesson to teach instructional objectives.

D. Employs a variety of instructional strategies t augment achievement.

E. Utilizes content scope and sequence in planning.


II. The teacher shall foster a classroom climate conducive to learning. The performance criteria for this area shall include:

A. Follows established school discipline procedures which include West Virginia Board of Education Policy 4373 - Student Code of Conduct.

B. Establishes procedures and rules that enhance learning.

C. Encourages students’ attendance.

D. Sets high expectations for student performance.

E. Encourages and acknowledges individual student accomplishments and appropriate behavior.

F. Treats students in a fair and equitable manner.

G. Accommodates individual learning differences.

H. Creates and maintains an environment that supports learning.

I. Communicates with parents.


III. The teacher shall organize teaching strategies to maximize allocated instructional time to increase student learning. The performance criteria for this area includes:

A. Prepares and implements lesson plans.

B. Begins lesson or instructional activity with a review of previous material as appropriate.

C. Has materials, supplies and equipment ready at the start of the lesson or instructional activity.

D. Introduces the instructional activity and specifies instructional objectives.

E. Directs and adequately supervises students to be on task quickly at the beginning of each instructional activity.

F. Presents reading, writing, speaking, and listening strategies using concepts and language which students understand.

G. Provides relevant examples and demonstrations to illustrate concepts and skills.

H. Assigns developmentally appropriate tasks.

I. Provides instructional pacing that ensures student understanding.

J. Maximizes student time-on-task.

K. Makes effective transitions between instructional activities.

L. Summarizes the main point(s) of the instructional activity.

M. Encourages students to express ideas clearly and accurately.

N. Incorporates higher level thinking skills.

O. Assists students to develop productive work habits and study skills, enabling communication with parents as needed.

P. Provides remediation activities for students.

Q. Designs, delivers, and assesses student learning activities addressing the state adopted instructional goals and objectives.

R. Integrates a variety of technology applications and learning tools that augment student achievement.


IV. The teacher shall monitor student progress towards mastery of instructional goals and objectives. The performance criteria for this area includes:

A. Gathers, stores and monitors data related to student learning for use in assessing progress toward achieving the instructional objectives.

B. Follows grading policies and regulations.

C. Maintains accurate and complete student records.

D. Monitors and evaluates student progress.

E. Provides feedback on student work.

F. Monitors student attendance.


V. The teacher shall communicate with students, parents, educational personnel, and others, utilizing standard grammar, listening skills and clarity in the presentation of ideas. The performance standards in this area includes:

A. Communicates student progress according to established procedures and policies.

B. Communicates regularly and effectively with students, co-workers, parents/guardians, and community, exhibiting appropriate interactive skills.

C. Follows confidentiality procedures regarding students, parents/guardians, and fellow staff members.

D. Speaks and writes standard English clearly, correctly, and distinctly.

E. Determines and utilizes appropriate community resources.


VI. The teacher shall demonstrate behavior that reflects established professional responsibilities (i.e. attendance, punctuality, and verbal/nonverbal communication). The criteria for this area includes:

A. Adheres to established laws, policies, rules, and regulations.

B. Interacts appropriately with students, other educational personnel, and parents.

C. Participates in activities which foster professional growth.

D. Is punctual with reports, grades, records, and in reporting work.

E. Performs assigned duties.

F. Strives to meet county/school goals.

G. Commands respect by example in appearance, manners, behavior and language.


VII. The teacher shall demonstrate competency and knowledge in the implementation of the technology standards identified by West Virginia Board of Education policies.

A. Demonstrates a sound understanding of technology operations and concepts.

B. Plans and designs effective learning environments and experiences supported by technology.

C. Implements curriculum plans that include methods and strategies for applying technology to maximize student learning.

D. Applies technology to facilitate a variety of effective assessment and evaluation strategies.

E. Use technology to enhance productivity and professional practice.

F. Understands the social, ethical legal and human issues surrounding the use of technology in PreK-12 schools and applies that understanding in practice.



1. Work with area colleges, the administration, and faculty to enhance the seamless curriculum initiatives.  (Articulation Agreements)

2. Help coordinate work-based activities in public schools and/or local businesses.

3. Utilize effective behavior management systems in the classroom that focus on student learning and time on-task.

4. Establish a network of resources for program completers.

5. Participate in recruitment activities for the Networking programs.

6. Other duties as assigned by the Director.

7. Have up-to-date technology knowledge and experience.

8. Coordinate Skills USA.

9. Initiate student recruitment activities at both high schools. 

Job Location or School Name:
Calhoun-Gilmer Career Center

Grantsville, WV



1. Qualifications as outlined in the West Virginia Code.

2. Meet minimum standards for certification as set forth by the West Virginia Board of Education in minimum standards for the Licensure of WV school personnel in order to obtain a WV Professional or vocational teaching certificate.

3. If applicant is coming from Industry at least four years (8,000 hours) of wage earning, verifiable work experience is required.  If applicant has a four year bachelor’s degree or two year associate in-field degree at least two years (4,000 hours) of wage earning, verifiable work experience is required.  WV DOE V10 form approved.  A background in computer repair and networking is necessary.

4. Must be able to detect and correct hardware and software faults in personal computers and demonstrate knowledge of the structure and functions of the World Wide Web.  The applicant should also be prepared to teach the curriculum necessary for students to be prepared to obtain their A+ Computer Technician certification. 

Per State Adopted Salary Schedule

Closing Date


September 06, 2012 – 4:00 PM

Apply to:
Bryan P. Sterns, Director 
Calhoun-Gilmer Career Center 
5260 E Little Kanawha Hwy 
Grantsville, WV 26147 
Telephone:  304.354.6151 
Fax:  304.354.6154 

County Contact Email:

U.S. Court Strikes Down Graphic Warnings on Cigarettes

The Gilmer Free Press

A U.S. appeals court on Friday struck down a law that requires tobacco companies to use graphic health warnings, such as of a man exhaling smoke through a hole in his throat.

The 2-1 decision by the court in Washington, D.C., contradicts another appeals court’s ruling in a similar case earlier this year, setting up the possibility the U.S. Supreme Court will weigh in on the dispute.

The court’s majority in the latest ruling found the label requirement from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration violated corporate speech rights.

“This case raises novel questions about the scope of the government’s authority to force the manufacturer of a product to go beyond making purely factual and accurate commercial disclosures and undermine its own economic interest—in this case, by making ‘every single pack of cigarettes in the country mini billboard’ for the government’s anti-smoking message,“ wrote Judge Janice Rogers Brown of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The FDA “has not provided a shred of evidence” showing that the graphic labels would reduce smoking, Brown added.

Five tobacco companies representing most of the major cigarette makers in the United States challenged the FDA rules: Reynolds American Inc, Lorillard Inc; Commonwealth Brands Inc, which is owned by Britain’s Imperial Tobacco Group Plc; Liggett Group LLC and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co Inc.

The FDA has argued the images of rotting teeth and diseased lungs are accurate and necessary to warn consumers—especially teenagers—about the risks of smoking.

The health agency said on Friday that it does not comment on possible, pending or ongoing litigation. The U.S. Department of Justice, which argued the case for the FDA, said it needs to review the ruling before deciding on next steps.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which has vigorously supported stricter cigarette laws, urged the government to appeal.

“Today’s ruling is wrong on the science and law, and it is by no means the final word on the new cigarette warnings,“ said Matthew Myers, the group’s president, in a statement.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates some 45 million U.S. adults smoke cigarettes, which are the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. And the World Health Organization predicts smoking could kill 8 million people each year by 2030 if governments do not do more to help people quit.

The U.S. Surgeon General warned in March that youth smoking has reached epidemic proportions, as one in four U.S. high school seniors is a regular cigarette smoker, paving the way to a lifetime of addiction.

Judge Judith Rogers, who wrote the dissenting opinion, said the FDA warnings were factual, and necessary to counter tobacco companies’ history of deceptive advertising.

“The government has an interest of paramount importance in effectively conveying information about the health risks of smoking to adolescent would-be smokers and other consumers,“ she wrote.

Congress passed a law in 2009 that gave the FDA broad powers to regulate the tobacco industry, including imposing the label regulation. The law requires color warning labels big enough to cover the top 50% of a cigarette pack’s front and back panels, and the top 20% of print advertisements.

The FDA released nine new warnings in June 2011 that were meant to go into effect this September, the first change in U.S. cigarette warning labels in 25 years. Cigarette packs already carry text warnings from the U.S. Surgeon General.

The ruling against the FDA means tobacco companies will likely not have to comply with the requirements for now, given divergent court rulings.

The U.S. Appeals Court for the 6th Circuit, based in Cincinnati, upheld the bulk of the FDA’s new tobacco regulations in March, including the requirement for warning images on cigarette packs.

The difference in the two cases is that the FDA had not introduced the specific images when the companies filed the 6th Circuit suit. While the Washington suit focused on the images, the appeals court in Cincinnati addressed the larger issue of the FDA’s regulatory power.

Most countries in the European Union already carry graphic images to illustrate the health risks of smoking. Earlier this month, Australia took a further step to limit smoking advertising by banning company logos on cigarette packs, and the EU said it was considering a similar ban.

Ritchie Attorney, Judicial Candidate Accused of Misappropriating Funds, Deceit


The WV Record Reports:

A Ritchie County attorney, who is a candidate for circuit judge, will take a detour from the campaign trial to answer ethics charges that have been filed against him.

The Lawyer Disciplinary Board on April 27 filed a two-count statement of charges against Ira M. Haught. In the statement, the Board, the prosecutorial arm of the state Supreme Court, accuses Haught, 53, a sole practitioner in Harrisville of committing six violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct when he, in one case, converted money belonging to a client for his personal use, and attempted to deceive investigators who he was working for in another.

A statement of charges acts like an indictment for disciplinary purposes.

Conversion of Funds

The first count stems from a complaint filed by Gerald A. Heister. In his complaint filed May 27, 2010, Heister, board chairman for the National Rendezvous and Living History Foundation, alleged Haught received from funds illegally taken from the Foundation by a former employee, Linda Blizard, as payment for Haught’s fee to represent in a criminal action the Foundation filed against her.

In response to the complaint, Haught said the issues were resolved when a civil suit Blizard, and her husband, Richard, filed against NRLHF in 2008 was settled on September 10, 2009, with the Blizard’s agreeing to repay NRLHF $5,000. However, in subsequent correspondence with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, the arm of the Court that investigates ethics complaints, Haught said while he received the disputed funds from the Blizards, none were used to pay his legal fees.

Heister disputed that by providing ODC a check made payable to Linda Blizard and Haught for $11,402.50. The check was cashed on June 30, 2008 Haught’s signatures being one on the back.

Though when he gave a sworn statement to ODC on December 07, 2010, he admitted the signature was his, Haught said he just endorsed it, and gave to the Blizards to cash. Also, he admitted that after the Blizard’s cashed the check, they gave it to him to keep in his office’s safe, and he returned it to them when the civil suit was dismissed.

Haught was asked to provide any receipts showing what the Blizards paid him. In a letter dated December 14, 2010, Haught said “he could not find any receipts for the year 2008 to show any amounts paid by Linda Blizard.“

According to the statement, a review of Haught’s client trust account showed a deposit was made on June 30, 2008 for $11,042.40. A month later the balance was $1,078.60 with “none of the checks paid out from that account in July of 2008 were made payable to Linda Blizard, Richard Blizard or to the NRLHF.“

Later, on September 11, 2009, Haught wrote a check for $7,062.50 to Richard Blizard from the account.

Because he converted funds for his personal use, and lied about it, the Board found Haught violated Rules dealing with safekeeping of property, misconduct, specifically “engage[ing] in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation,“ and Bar admission and disciplinary matters by “knowingly make a false statement of material fact.“

Who’s My Client?

The second count stems from a complaint filed by Jack and Wanda Wright on July 06, 2010. According to their complaint, the Wrights attempted unsuccessfully for four years to correct a deed to property they purchased in Doddridge County to include oil, gas and mineral rights Haught left out when preparing it.

According to the statement, the previous owner, L.L. Tonkin, contacted Haught in April 2005 about selling the property to David Thompson. However, because Thompson did not provide the money to complete the transfer, the deal fell through.

Later, in July 2006, Tonkin called Haught about selling the property to the Wrights. In a letter dated July 28, Haught said the cost to purchase the property would be $14,282.60.

After he received a check for the amount on August 01, Haught deposited the funds. About two weeks later, he recorded the deed, and closed his file.

In his response to the Wright’s complaint, Haught said his involvement in the case began when he was contacted by a pre-paid legal service used by Thompson, who later paid him $600. Also, Haught said he considered Tonkin, not the Wrights, to be his client, and because Tonkin didn’t sign the corrective deed, then the oil, gas and mineral rights were not to be included.

At ODC’s request, Haught provided a copy of the file he kept. Entries in it show Haught had correspondence with Thompson, Tonkin and the Wright about the property. In a letter sent to ODC on February 16, Haught said he “did not have any written representation contracts for L.L. Tonkin, David Thompson or Jack and Wanda Wright.“

Because he lied to ODC to avoid detection as to who was his client, the Board also found Haught violated the Rules dealing with misconduct and Bar admission and disciplinary matters.

An evidentiary hearing on the statement of charges before the Board’s hearing panel subcommittee is scheduled for August 31 at the W. Kent Carper Justice and Public Safety Complex in Charleston.

Haught is the Republican nominee for judge in the Third Judicial Circuit which includes Ritchie, Doddridge and Pleasants counties. He is seeking to fill the unexpired term of Judge Robert Holland who died in September 2010.

The following December, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin appointed Pleasants County Prosecutor Tim Sweeney, 55, to fill the vacancy. Sweeney is Haught’s Democratic opponent in November’s general election.

West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals case number 12-0528

~~  Lawrence Smith -  WV Record ~~

Federal Officials say WV Corruption Hotline Is Generating Cases

The Gilmer Free Press

Federal prosecutors in northern West Virginia have at least eight active public corruption cases under investigation and may be announcing prosecutions soon.

U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld’s office launched a Public Corruption Hotline in April and has gotten about 200 tips.

Ihlenfeld calls the response overwhelming.

He says most have involved corruption by public or appointed officials.

He says announcements about some of those cases could come in October in November, while others may not be prosecuted until next year.

The team is supported by West Virginia State Police, the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service, as well as the Secretary of State’s Office, the West Virginia Ethics Commission and the state Commission on Special Investigations.

The hotline number is 1.855.WVA.FEDS.

Tips can also be emailed to “ ”.

G-otcha™: Shock Resident Indicted by Federal Grand Jury on Methamphetamine Charges

The Gilmer Free Press

A 37 year old Shock, West Virginia, resident was named in two-count Indictment returned on Tuesday, August 21, 2012, by a Federal Grand Jury sitting in Elkins, West Virginia.

United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II, announced that:

DANIEL RAY KING is charged in Count One with Manufacturing Methamphetamine and in Count Two with Possession of Material Used in the Manufacture of Methamphetamine.

Both offenses are alleged to have occurred on February 01, 2012, in Gilmer County, West Virginia.

If convicted, KING faces up to 20 years imprisonment and a $1,000,000 fine on the manufacturing charge and up to 20 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine on the possession of materials charge.

The case will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stephen D. Warner and investigated by the West Virginia State Police.

WV Consumers Can File Claims for LCD Screens as Part of Price-Fixing Settlement

The Gilmer Free Press

WV Attorney General Darrell McGraw says West Virginia consumers can now file refund claims in a price-fixing settlement against companies that made liquid crystal display screens used in televisions and computer monitors.

Consumers have until December 06, 2012 to file claims for LCD screens bought between 1999 and 2006.

Claims can be made online at or forms can be requested by calling 304.225.1886.

McGraw said Monday says consumers will likely receive at least $25, although the actual payment will be calculated based on the number of claims and type of products purchased.

The $1.1 billion settlement involved 10 manufacturers of LCD panels. Partial refunds are being offered to consumers in 24 states.

Jury Duty Scam: Some State Residents Receiving Calls Seeking Credit Card Information

The Gilmer Free Press

West Virginia Supreme Court Administrator Steve Canterbury says he’s learned of a scam involving jury duty.

Canterbury says some state residents are receiving recorded phone calls saying they missed jury duty and they can pay their fines by credit card.

Canterbury says none of the county court systems in West Virginia use phone calls to alert residents when they miss jury duty.

“We don’t do that—it’s more personal,“ Canterbury said. “The fact is that if one misses jury duty likely they will have a deputy visit them with a summons for them to appear to show cause.“

Canterbury says the phone calls were first reported in Webster County.

He says the state Attorney General’s Office has been notified.

He says the best thing to do if you get that call is to hang up.

U.S. Court: Fish and Wildlife OK to Ignore Own Rules in De-listing WV Northern Flying Squirrel

The Gilmer Free Press

A federal appeals court has struck down a lower court ruling that had sided with environmental groups hoping to restore protected status to the West Virginia northern flying squirrel.

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Friday ruled in favor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Five environmental groups had sued in 2009 after the federal agency took the squirrel off the endangered species list.

Last year, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan said the agency wrongly ignored its own rules and effectively changed the recovery plan for the species without the required public-input process.

The appeals court disagreed in a 2-1 vote, saying that “a plan is a statement of intention, not a contract.“

Gilmer County Circuit Court Report – 08.09.12

The Gilmer Free Press

At 9:00 AM on Tuesday, August 07, 2012 Judge Facemire heard a fugitive from justice hearing.

Jabbar Womble was wanted in Pennsylvania and waived extradition back to PA.

Authorities there have until 4:00 PM Thursday, August 16, 2012 to pick him up or Central Regional Jail will release him.

He was represented by Steve Nanners from Buckhannon.

Nanners also represented Jimmie Stewart who appeared before the Court for pretrial motions.

Further motions in his case will be heard on Monday, August 20, 2012 at 1:30 PM in Braxton County.

His trial is still set for Tuesday, August 28, 2012 and Judge Facemire took the motion to continue under advisement.

Also on Tuesday, August 07, 2012 Chief Judge Jack Alsop appeared at 11:00 AM for a civil pretrial in the case of Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital vs. Crystal Marks Miller.

After hearing arguments from plaintiff and defendant, Judge Alsop entered judgment in the case and cancelled the bench trial set for Tuesday, August 14, 2012.

Crystal represented herself pro se and Christopher McCarthy represented Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital.

JudgeAlsop returned to Gilmer County at 9:00 AM Thursday, August 09, 2012 for a juvenile hearing, 10:15 AM for a probation revocation hearing in State of West Virginia vs. Jerry Blackwell.

Blackwell was represented by David Karickhoff of Sutton.

Another juvenile matter was set for 11:00 AM.

On Monday, August 13, 2012 will be Judge Alsop’s regular monthly motion day and he has a full half day of hearings scheduled.

Finally Putnam Judge Facing Charges

The Gilmer Free Press

Formal charges have been brought against a Putnam County Judge.

Putnam County Family Court Judge William Watkins III is facing two counts for allegedly violating the Judicial Code of Conduct and trial court rules. The State Supreme Court of Appeals served Watkins with the charges Friday.

The charges come several weeks after Watkins was caught on tape verbally attacking people in his courtroom. According to court records, nine complaints were filed against Watkins regarding his courtroom display. No charges were filed from the incident until now.

On the first count, the high court says Judge Watkins violated several canons of the Judicial Code of Conduct.

In one case, investigators say Watkins failed to make a ruling on a divorce case even after three prior Circuit Court Orders and one Supreme Court Order had been issued. He finally did after being threatened of being held in contempt.

On the second count, the high court claims Watkins failed to regularly update the Domestic Violence Protective Order Registry.

According to West Virginia Code, a family court judge is required to immediately enter all domestic violence related orders on the West Virginia domestic violence database.

According to investigators, Watkins failed to enter the orders in at least two cases to the database. In fact, it was days, weeks or months before his office finally entered the final protective orders to the database.

Prior complaints have come from Watkins saying his office doesn’t have time to enter the orders into the database. The court offered additional training to try to help, but according to the investigation, Watkins and his staff still didn’t follow procedure.

The charges that were filed were originally issued July 31, 2012, but the high court could not serve them until now because Watkins was on vacation.

A fax indicated that he was on vacation from July 20, 2012 until August 06, 2012.

G-otcha™: Rosedale Resident Sentenced on Marijuana Charge

The Gilmer Free Press

A 44 year old Rosedale, West Virginia, was sentenced on August 08, 2012, in United States District Court in Clarksburg by Judge Irene M. Keeley.

LARRY DONALD SANDY was sentenced to 12 months and 1 day imprisonment to be followed by four years of supervised release.

SANDY entered a plea of guilty on January 20, 2012, to one count of “Manufacturing More than 50 Kilograms of Marijuana on October 11, 2010, in Rosedale.

SANDY, who is free on bond, will self-report to the designated Federal institution on September 10, 2012.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Shawn A. Morgan and investigated by the West Virginia State Police-Bureau of Criminal Investigations.

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G-LtE™: Challenges in Public Education

The Gilmer Free Press

As the new President of the board of Education in a State intervened county school system, I wish to share some thoughts on the state of our public schools and on some of the challenges we face now and in the years ahead.

The dynamics of any school system are extremely complex with many constituencies involved and many policy and legal constraints.  You have probably noted in recent news releases that West Virginia has one of the most regulated and constrained public school systems in the country. With all the complexities in place plus the need to reach the students with the best educational experience we can provide, under the best circumstances we remain challenged to fulfill the needs of our public schools.

Hopefully, most of Gilmer County’s major issues will be identified and resolved in the near future.  In the State’s Audit Report which triggered state intervention there were several citations which the state-appointed Superintendent is in the process of addressing.  Additionally, the State Board of Education is looking to approve an Exit Management Plan for all intervened counties which will help clarify tasks which need to be completed for both the state and the counties involved.  Perhaps Gilmer County will have part of its governance restored in the near future and we can get on with the business of administering our schools.

As a new President, I am committed to the need to move forward to provide a quality educational experience for the -students in the county.  To do this, a vision for the future of our schools needs to be formulated, agreed upon, and understood by school officials and the general public.  Better communication is an essential element in this important process. Superintendent Blankenship and I agree that we should hold town hall Board meetings in different locations in the county to let the public hear from the Board and the Board hear from the public. Quite often the information that circulates is the result of rumor, speculation and erroneous assumptions.  It is not always possible to keep everyone accurately informed, but this Board will strive to have transparency with the public on school matters.

Our most immediate challenges involve getting governance of our schools back to the County Board of Education.  We will work with the State Department of Education and the State Board of Education to accomplish this as expeditiously as possible.  Also, we have a time line until November 01, 2012 to select the most suitable site for a new elementary school which will house approximately 400 students.  While not a certainty, we will work with the School Building Authority to see if a health clinic could be a part of this project. The other facilities related issue is the inter-county school to be built at a Linn site.  It is obvious that new governance procedures need to be placed in West Virginia code to make a fair and equal partnership of inter-county and multi-county schools.  Before the new school opens at Linn, officials of Lewis and Gilmer County will need to agree on a new set of provisions.

As I am sure you are aware, public school systems across the country are facing financial challenges.  In California systems are closing schools, consolidating schools and cutting up to twenty days off the school year.  While the situation is not as grave in West Virginia, we are not exempt from the need to develop strategies to live within our budgets.  Because of the loss of population in several rural counties in West Virginia there are school closures, school consolidations and reductions in staff under consideration.  For example, the Harrison County Board while located in a fairly strong and healthy appearing economy is dealing with some of these difficult decisions.

Rural counties in our state have some of the most difficult challenges in dealing with lost student population.  Here in Gilmer County we have lost significant student population over the last ten or so years. The geography of the county, however, remains the same.  With the diminished numbers and shrinking funds, hard decisions are brought to those who have to manage this kind of situation.  The Legislature has given counties like Gilmer a floor in student funding to allow time for the counties to develop management strategies to operate within the average funding levels for public schools throughout the state. While Gilmer County has approximately 931 students, we receive funding for 1400.  With the financial challenges the state is facing they cannot continue this type of subsidy and therefore have notified counties that there will be a phase-out of these extra dollars over the next three or four years.

What does this mean for Gilmer County? It means that a plan has to be implemented to manage our schools with the funding generated by actual student enrollment in the near future. Not all schools can remain and streamlining must occur all around.

It will be imperative that the Board of Education, the Superintendent and the State Board of Education be totally transparent and forthright with parents, taxpayers and the general public as we all work through this necessary transition.

As counties face financial problems, there is also the need to be mindful of the need to improve qualifications of teaching and administrative personnel and raise our academic expectations for students as well.

Like growing a garden or creating a new structure the transition will not happen overnight.  Gilmer County will get our facilities issues in order, our County back from the State and create a plan for the future and ultimately emerge with an improved educational program for our students.  I encourage your support and participation as we move forward.

William K. Simmons
The Gilmer Free Press

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