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New WV Voters Pulled Between Feeling Alienated and Desiring Change

New and newly motivated voters may have a huge impact in West Virginia this year - if they turn out.

The Secretary of State’s office reports almost 60,000 new voters have registered in time for next month’s election, and this where dozens of state legislative races were last decided by fewer than 1,000 votes.

West Virginia University freshman Ryan Cox said he feels alienated from politics and what he called the “rapid-fire scandals.“ Still, he said he’ll vote for the first time this year, because he doesn’t like the direction the country took in 2016.

“It seems slightly unreal,” Cox said. “Still, in spite of being independent and against the party system, I’m leaning towards Democrat, because it sounds like Republicans are just currently a bunch of crooks and idiots.“

The Free Press WV
West Virginia generally has one of the lowest rates of voter turnout in the country.


The Republican Party says West Virginia has benefited from the country’s move to the right. The President had a 62 percent approval rating here in the last publicly released poll.

The last day to register to vote in Virginia is this Tuesday, October 16.

Cox said the ugly and partisan nature of politics has left a bad taste in his mouth. He said the number of things he sees as going wrong isn’t overwhelming, but the overall picture can feel discouraging.

“More pointless than intimidating; it seems that everyone in Washington is currently either greedy, a liar or some mix of those,” Cox said. “And it’s not likely to change anytime soon.”

West Virginia county voting rolls were “cleansed” of old names this spring and summer, for the first time in years. Voting-rights groups have urged folks to make sure they’re registered by going to the Secretary of State’s website.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

New Foster Care Group Seeks More Dialogue with State

The Free Press WV

West Virginia is in a foster care crisis, as many addicted parents lose custody of their children.

According to a new group for foster parents, state government needs to consult more with the families taking the kids in. Marissa Sanders is a foster parent and founder of an organization currently known as the West Virginia Foster, Adoptive, and Kinship Parent Network.

To help deal with the crisis, Sanders described changes the state is considering, including moving children’s health and behavioral services into one big contract with a for-profit, managed-care company.

“Until about a month ago, none of us really knew that this was even being discussed,“ Sanders said. “What would help is if the leadership at the top had more opportunity to hear the voices of people most impacted by the changes that they want to make.“

She described the Department of Health and Human Resources as swamped, with Child Protective Services workers burning out from stress and high caseloads. DHHR figures show in three years, the number of state foster children has risen by 45 percent, largely due to the drug addictions of one or both biological parents.

Some criticize the idea of a managed-care company taking on services for foster children, saying it’s money the state doesn’t have to spare, going to private profits. They argue there are various models that could be considered.

Sanders acknowledged that it is a complex picture. For example, she mentioned a new federal law that will mean more money going into the system. But Sanders insisted that more focus needs to go to helping families, who often are relatives of the biological parents, stepping in.

“We are putting a lot of resources into the children, which is wonderful,“ she said. “But we have not really put a whole lot of resources into the families – the biological families, foster families and kinship families – and supporting the parents who are taking kids in.“

Sanders’ group is calling for more leadership at the governor’s office to slow the process and consult with the stakeholders.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

G-OpEd™: Preserving Election Integrity Means Combatting Election Fraud

The Free Press WV

For years, many people have claimed that in-person voter fraud was non-existent in this state. I and many others were certain that fraud and voter intimidation still exists within our borders. Prior to joining the Secretary of State’s Office, the two points of this argument talked past each other without evidence to support either side. We had no Voter ID law and no meaningful criminal outcomes demonstrating in-person voter fraud in West Virginia.  What’s more, your average voter may not fully appreciate the seriousness of the issue thinking, “a couple of votes, what’s the big deal?”

So let’s identify the problem. Did you know that 54 state, local and municipal elections this year have been decided by single digits? You may have missed the news this January that the balance of power in the Virginia House of Delegates was decided by a coin toss due to a deadlocked vote count.  Our democracy depends on accurate vote tallies, and even a couple of votes is serious business in tight races.  Every fraudulent vote discounts or diminishes the vote of everyone who took time to properly cast a ballot.

With the Secretary’s vision, we recognized early that addressing this problem from an investigative perspective requires a four-step approach: placing the right people at the right places to proactively prevent or swiftly respond to issues; working with our local, state and federal partners in the court system to get results; utilizing available data to focus resources; and engaging in public education efforts to stave off fraud.

Shortly after assuming office, we restructured the process for handling investigations. I supervise the Division, viewing matters through the eyes of a former prosecutor.  I assign seasoned analysts to supervise all investigations, and cases are investigated by nearly a dozen former state and federal law enforcement officials poised at every corner of the state.  Over the last 18 months, our revamped structure led to arresting and convicting double-voters, charging of a non-citizen registering and voting and nearly a dozen other criminal referrals around the state. In 2017, our unit closed 286 investigations, and we have resolved 105 cases so far this year.

To achieve success, we extended an open hand of cooperation to other agencies. In March of this year, we joined U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart’s Public Integrity Special Investigations Unit to share ideas, information and resources to effectively address the problem at every level of government.  Our investigators have personally engaged with all 55 sheriffs’ offices and many other law enforcement agencies. Our investigative analyst uses accessible tools as a Fusion Liaison Officer to narrow and maintain the focus of case management toward resolution. The relationships we have forged with our agency partners have continued to reap results.

The Office also works closely with the available data from our statewide voter registrations system, county clerks and the DMV. The former practice of relying solely on formal complaints postures investigations as purely reactive from the onset. By working through the data, we have identified a host of incidences where ineligible individuals could have registered and/or voted. Part of the solution comes through accurate list maintenance to eliminate the opportunities for fraud - which has been discussed in a prior op-ed. Another facet is holding individuals accountable who “knowingly and willfully” register and/or vote while ineligible. When these cases are brought to the public’s attention, it results in a specific and general deterrent to engaging in this conduct.

Public education is the greatest weapon to fight voter fraud and intimidation. You may know of someone who lives in one place and votes somewhere else – or in both places. You might see someone too close to the polls handing out “slates” or “palm-cards” to voters as they enter and exit the precinct. You could observe candidates or supporters giving away free food, drinks and other things of value to voters at or near the polling places on election day. You could see someone being “helped to vote” in a voting booth when the voter is not disabled or does not require “assistance.” You may well feel pressured into voting in a certain manner by your employer, some organization or by those at the polls on election day. Or, there might be other forms of intimidation that make you feel uncomfortable during the election process. If any of these things happen, call us at 877.FRAUD.WV or file a complaint at https://sos.wv.gov/about/Pages/Investigations.aspx. We stand ready to look into your issue and maintain your anonymity.

On Election Day, you should know that the full force of the Secretary of State’s Office, all 55 county clerks’ offices and 9,000 poll workers will be working overtime to allow our democracy to function. Although that constitutes a small army of people, we want EVERY voter to know that they have the right to prevent fraud. The power is in YOU! West Virginia Code 3-1-39 allows any qualified voter to go to the polling place and file an affidavit explaining why he or she believes someone is an illegal voter. That document will be sealed, preserved and must be investigated by law enforcement. We want 1.2 million Mountaineer voters helping all of us to make this election the cleanest in state history!

Our office understands the concern that many people have relating to voter fraud.  We have worked very hard, and will continue to work harder, to ensure that each and every vote cast is valid and proper – that it is “easy to vote and hard to cheat” in West Virginia. We trust that voters recognize the strides being taken by this office to maintain the sacred nature of their vote.

REMINDER:  October 16th is the final day to register to vote in order to participate in the November 6th General Election.  You can register online by going to www.GoVoteWV.com.

Steve Connolly
Deputy Secretary of State & Chief Legal Counsel

G-OpEd™: WV’s New Campaign Finance Reporting System Provides Greater Transparency

The Free Press WV

Democratic processes hinge on fair and free elections that represent the people’s choices to lead.  Campaigns are mounted to share a candidate’s message on how that candidate is best to share their interests in a position of influence.  Democratic processes function properly when choices are determined by the will of an informed electorate showing up on Election Day.

As candidates launch campaigns to promote their candidacy, access to information for those directly funding candidates are important for public transparency and to diminish any appearance of influence or corruption.  To this end, the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office has been hard at work from day one to increase public access of candidate contributions, expenditures and the ease to summarize this data.

Sunshine is the greatest deterrent to corruption and the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office is committed to make elections “Easy to Vote & Hard to Cheat” by increasing transparency in the elections process.  The ease by which the general public can access campaign finance reports has improved substantially over the last ten months thanks to the modernization effort of the Secretary of State’s Office.

Today, West Virginia is well ahead of the curve in online accessibility of financial contributions to candidates that report to the Secretary of State.  Beginning in the 2018 elections, all candidates for statewide offices as well as for state Senate, House of Delegates, Circuit Court, Family Court and Magistrate are required to file campaign finance reports online with the Secretary of State’s Office.

In 2017, Secretary of State Mac Warner challenged his Elections Division to redesign and implement a totally online Campaign Finance Reporting System (CFRS) with increased access of information to the public.  The primary goals of that challenge were (1) to provide an easy-to-use online method for candidates and committees to record all of their donations and expenditures, and (2) to provide greater transparency for the general public to review those donations and expenditures.

In addition to candidates, state law requires political action committees, political parties and those making individual expenditures in an attempt to affect the outcome of an election or ballot initiative to file campaign finance reports as well.

The result of that challenge produced one of the most transparent and easy-to-navigate Campaign Finance Reporting Systems in the nation.  Our Office encourages you to review the site and the candidate information provided at www.cfrs.wvsos.gov.

The timing of the information provided by the campaigns to our office is very recent.  All candidates and committees were required to file their First General Election Report by midnight on Friday, September 28th.  Those reports will disclose all of the expenditures, donations and loans recorded between May 21, 2018 to September 23, 2018.

Transparency is a hallmark to fair and secure elections.  Our state’s new CFRS provides the general public with individual campaign totals, general expenditure types from all campaigns and a list of top contributors.  Should anyone question an expenditure or contribution to a campaign or committee we encourage feedback to our investigations division at 1.877.FRAUD.WV.

Chuck Flannery
Deputy Secretary & Chief of Staff
WV Secretary of State’s Office

Report: Policies to Help Young Families Good for WV

The Free Press WV

West Virginia and the nation are missing opportunities by not focusing on the needs of young parents and their children, according to new research.

The Annie E. Casey Kids Count report says more than two-thirds of U.S. children with young parents live in low-income homes.

And Rosa Maria Castaneda, a senior associate with the Casey Foundation, says in West Virginia the number is closer to 75 percent.

She says policies that target these families can help reduce the often stubborn poverty in many parts of the country.

“There are still 6 million young adult parents and their children and very high rates of low-income status, very high rates of poverty for this population that we need to pay attention to if we want to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty,“ she states.

The report highlights the importance of making education affordable for these parents. It notes that a single mother with a bachelor’s degree has lifetime earnings that average $300,000 more than one with just a high school diploma.

The report also recommends better child care and policies that help parents with employment. And it recommends specific changes that can dramatically improve the financial stability of low-income households.

Castaneda says the Earned Income Tax Credit should be expanded at the federal and state level, because it is often important temporary help for young parents at a crucial time in their lives.

“They’re facing the challenges of transitioning to adulthood, moving into employment, getting a good job, trying to get an education,” she points out. “And it’s in our interest to help them be successful as both emerging workers, and to help their young children thrive.“

The report also highlights policies to teach child development and healthy parenting.

It recommends changes to foster care support that can help keep families together. And it argues that family planning and reproductive care can reduce unplanned pregnancies.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

Research Confirms Medicaid Expansion Huge Boost for Rural WV

The Free Press WV


A new report says expanding Medicaid is really paying off for rural West Virginians.

Rural areas typically have real disadvantages – higher unemployment and poverty, fewer doctors and in some cases, financially strapped hospitals.

But Kelli Caseman, director of Child Health with West Virginians for Affordable Health Care, says the report from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families shows good news.

It found expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act has cut the rate of low-income, rural West Virginians without health coverage by 60 percent.

“We’ve virtually eliminated the gap in rural health insurance rates with the metro, because normally folks living in metro areas are more apt to be insured,” Caseman points out. “So, this is something that we’re doing well in West Virginia. This is something that isn’t broken, so let’s keep it as it is.“

Caseman says this has also helped cut the rate of West Virginia children without access to health care to 1.8 percent – among the lowest in the country.

By portion of the population living outside cities, West Virginia is one of the most rural states in the nation.

The state expanded Medicaid to cover folks up to one-and-one-third times the federal poverty line – an income of about $28, a year for a family of three.

It also reached out to households in that category to connect them to primary care providers.

Study co-author Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, says that’s a big deal.

“Having health insurance, having this Medicaid coverage, is really important in these rural areas, which are already struggling with higher rates of unemployment and poverty,” she stats. “If you layer on top of that a higher uninsured rate, it really puts these folks in rural areas and small towns at a disadvantage.“

Nationally, the study found that small towns and rural areas in expansion states saw three times the decline in low-income adults without coverage than in states that did not expand Medicaid. And some states that didn’t opt to expand saw their uninsured rate increase.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

More Federal Money as Opioid Deaths Rise in WV

The Free Press WV

West Virginia is getting an $8 million piece of a $1 billion pie to help combat the opioid epidemic. The funding announced last week by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will go toward prevention efforts in both rural and urban communities, and for health centers in the state to expand substance-abuse services.

Nisha Patel, associate director of the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy at the Department of Health and Human Services, explained in 2017 alone, there were 60,000 drug overdose deaths in the U.S., two-thirds of which were attributed to opioids.

“And so this is something that’s continuously rising,” Patel said. “It started out with prescription painkillers, leading to heroin; and now we’re seeing Fentanyl, which is 50-100 times more potent.“

Last month, West Virginia topped 1,000 overdose deaths for the year, a first for the state. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, overdose deaths in the state are up 80 percent since 2010.

The investment is made to help communities determine where there are gaps in services and develop plans to address those challenges. Patel noted that while prevention is key, focus is also needed on treatment and recovery options.

“And so, making sure that there are enough doctors - there are nurse practitioners, there are recovery coaches, there are peer counselors - who have the experience and expertise to be able to support individuals as they are ready to enter treatment and go through recovery,” she said.

Patel said families affected by addiction also need support, and should be made aware of resources within their community to help a loved one. And when someone is ready for treatment, she said, options should be readily available.

“We can’t force individuals to start treatment or go through recovery, but we need to be there to support them in their efforts,” Patel said. “And so, even if they have overdosed more than once and ended up in the hospital, we’re continuing to find ways to make sure they know what services are available.“

One week ago, the U.S. Senate passed bipartisan opioid legislation calling for new research into non-addictive painkillers, and expanded treatment and supports for those affected by addiction.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

G-OpEd™: Citizens Supportive of West Virginia’s New Voter Identification Law

The Free Press WV

On January 1st of this year, West Virginia’s first-ever Voter Identification Law went into effect. For each federal, state, county and municipal election, voters must now show one valid form of identification to vote in person during any early voting period or on election day. The list of acceptable forms of identification include both non-photo and photo ID. A complete list of approved identification can be found at the following link: Voter ID Education Card

Included in those forms of acceptable identification are your driver’s license, utility bill, any government issued ID, and even your voter registration card. Of course, every registered voter is mailed a voter registration card after they register to vote, so every voter has a voter ID.

The new law also provides exceptions to the voter identification requirement:  (1) if the voter is accompanied to the polling location by an adult who has known the voter for at least six months; (2) if a poll worker at the polling location knows the voter; or (3) if the voter is a resident of a state care facility and that facility is also the voter’s polling place.

No voter is ever turned away. If a voter appears to vote without any form of identification, the voter will be provided a provisional ballot. As long as the signatures match on the provisional ballot form and voter’s registration record, the board of canvassers should count the ballot.

In 2017 and prior to the new law taking effect, Secretary of State Mac Warner initiated a statewide public education campaign regarding the new ID requirements.  The “Be Registered – Be Ready!” campaign focused entirely on the new law and how voters could comply with it.

More than 20 statewide organizations, social service agencies and political parties participated with the Secretary in educating the public about the new law.  The Primary Election in May of this year was the first statewide election during which the new voter ID law was in effect. There were 320,937 citizens to vote in that election, and the Secretary has heard nothing but positive remarks regarding the new law.

On Friday, September 21st, absentee voting begins. All absentee voters, including UOCAVA and military voters, are not subject to the voter identification law; the law only applies to voters appearing in person during early voting and on election day.

If you have any questions or concerns about West Virginia’s new Voter Identification Law, you can call your county clerk or the Secretary of State’s Election Division at 304.558.6000.

If you want to vote, you have to first be registered to vote. You can register in person at your county clerk’s office or you can register online by going to www.GoVoteWV.com

September is National Voter Registration Month.  The Secretary of State’s Office has been working with our county clerks all month to encourage eligible citizens to register to vote.  We identified more than 46,000 citizens who appeared to be eligible but not registered – and we sent them a post card encouraging them to explore their right to vote.

“Be Registered – Be Ready!”.  October 16th is the last day to register to vote to participate in the November General Election.

~~  West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner ~~

Contractor Fails to Withhold 11 Years Payroll Taxes, Only Forced to Pay Two

The Free Press WV

A highway contractor that was found to not be withholding West Virginia state payroll taxes for a decade is being required by the state to pay back only two years’ worth.

Florida industrial painting company Seminole Equipment was the low bidder on a South Charleston bridge project.

Steve White, director of Affiliated Construction Trades, said through payroll records, the union found Seminole hadn’t withheld state payroll taxes for about $10 million in contracts going back 11 years.

White said the union filed a complaint and even picketed last fall, but the state put a lien on Seminole for only the last two years’ worth of withholding.

“How could a company not withholding income tax not be required to make good on that?“ asked White. “If it was a person locally that hadn’t paid for 11 years, and they got caught, we’d all be expecting ‘em to pay up.“

The West Virginia State Revenue Department lien is for more than $160,000 for “accrued withholding, interest, additions to tax and penalties.“ Neither Seminole nor the Revenue Department returned calls requesting comment for this report.

White said he isn’t sure if the two-year limit is set by law, or represents the state’s lack of will to go after the money. Either way, in his view, it needs to change.

The construction trade unions watch public contracts closely, and often report what they find. The website WVCheckbook.gov also provides detailed information about state contracts and spending.

White believes that too often, West Virginia lets low-cost, non-union contractors come in from out of state and underbid on public work. According to White, at times these companies cut corners and do a shoddy job.

“It’s a privilege to get the tax dollars, you know - they don’t have a right to it, coming from Florida,“ he insisted. “If you’ve been caught cheating, you should be barred from bidding projects for a period of time, if not forever. Let those honest companies have a chance to get this work, and it’ll probably turn out to be a better job.“

White estimated the company may owe the state close to a half-million dollars for improper withholding. He added if those employees file state tax returns, West Virginia is on the hook for any refunds.

And he pointed out that, despite this controversy, Seminole Equipment has a current $8.5 million contract for work in Raleigh County.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

The Free Press WV

How about the contractors building Public Schools - An Example: Building of Gilmer County Elementary School while the County was under State Control?

G-OpEd™: Voter List Maintenance is the Foundation for Election Security

The Free Press WV

The foundation to providing secure elections is an updated and accurate voter registration list.  In West Virginia, there are 1,271,563 citizens currently registered to vote.

Citizens must first register to vote to participate in our election process.  They do so by registering with the county clerk in the county where the voter lives.  County clerks maintain voter registration files, and do all the list maintenance.

I encourage everyone to check the status of your voter registration and to insure names, addresses, party affiliation and other key data is up to date. Doing so reduces delays and confusion at polling places.

By working closely with our 55 county clerks over the last 19 months, West Virginia has removed 102,797 outdated, duplicate, deceased and convicted felon voter files from the state’s voter registration lists.  During the same time, we’ve registered 78,262 new voters – including 22,518 high school students.

In West Virginia, we’ve made it easy for all eligible citizens to register to vote and to keep their registration updated.  You can register (1) by mail; (2) by visiting your county clerk; or (3) by going online to www.GoVoteWV.com.  To participate in the November 6th General Election, eligible citizens must register to vote by October 16th.

Registered voters who are ill, who may be unavailable, or who are out of town on election day can vote an absentee paper ballot.  You can learn more about the absentee ballot process by calling your county clerk or by clicking this link.  Absentee voting begins on September 21st.

Absentee ballots mailed and postmarked by Election Day and received by the start of Canvass will be counted. However, absentee ballots mailed and postmarked after Election Day will not be counted. If an absentee ballot does not bear a postmark, they will be counted if received by no later than the day after Election Day.

For hand-delivery, absentee ballots must be delivered to the County Clerk’s office by the day before Election Day. Although voters do not have to personally return his or her absentee ballot, no one person may deliver more than two voters’ absentee ballots.

Military voters and their spouses in 21 West Virginia counties who are currently stationed or located outside the country have the option in the upcoming November election to vote absentee via a mobile voting application.  West Virginia is the first state in the nation to deploy this secure voting option for military and overseas voters. 


The West Virginia Secretary of State’s security effort includes assisting counties with the protection of voter registration lists, physical security and cybersecurity. We are very pleased to work with county clerks to help prevent hacking or breaches in all phases of our election process.  West Virginia was the first state in the nation to employ an IT professional with top security clearance and to place that employee in the West Virginia Fusion Center.  The Fusion Center monitors the state’s critical infrastructure and technology services 24-hours a day.

This past week, I was invited to participate in the first-ever National Election Security Summit in St. Louis.  I had a chance to speak one-on-one with Homeland Security Secretary Kirsten Neilson, as well as Missouri Senator Blunt.  Senator Blunt is on the Intelligence Committee and has taken a leading role in U.S. election integrity.  Both of these national officials listened intently to what we were doing in West Virginia to increase election security, and asked for continual dialogue as we encounter cyber penetration attempts by foreign governments.  They also asked we share ideas that we develop in West Virginia that can help nationwide.

Back in July, we hosted the state’s first Election Security Conference in Morgantown attended by more than 160 county clerks and staff members from all over the state.  The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recognized the importance of state-level conferences like ours and sent their top management representatives to participate.

The conference received national media attention, with HBO’s Vice News headline reading, “2 days of the most advanced election security training just went down—at a West Virginia Holiday Inn.”

Read more about coverage of the Morgantown conference by clicking HERE.

Just this week, we allocated $6.5 million in grants to help counties update their election systems, improve cyber security, provide physical security for election equipment and improve access to polling locations. By leveraging these funds with 50/50 matching requirements by the counties, these grants generated more than $12 million in overall improvements across West Virginia.

In West Virginia, we’re working together – the Secretary of State’s Office, our county clerks, the National Guard and the West Virginia Fusion Center – to provide safe, fair and secure elections. Working with the resources and support provided to us by the federal government, we’ll continue to lead the nation.

Mac Warner
WV Secretary of State

Student-Loan Debts a “Loss of Freedom” for Some in WV

The Free Press WV

Some West Virginians fighting student loan debt say they feel they’ve been given a life sentence - a debt sentence.

The state has the nation’s highest rate of graduates with debt, and the second highest rate of loan defaults. Eric Engle of Parkersburg is an office worker who’s kept up with payments since graduating from Marshall University. But he said he’s still trapped trying to pay off more than $70,000 in loans.

He said one loan for about $10,000 has risen to $13,000, despite his paying at least $120 a month - and sometimes a lot more.

“You know, the fact that I’ve made almost nine years of faithful on-time payments of at least that amount, and I still owe them $3,000 more than the principal of the loan is incredibly frustrating,” Engle lamented.

According to the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, budget cuts for higher ed by the state Legislature have pushed public college tuition up by more than 150 percent over two decades. Lawmakers say until this year, they had faced a collapse of state revenue due to falling coal and gas production.

According to the center, the average debt carried by a college graduate in the state has increased by 70 percent since 2005. For people like Engle, that is much more than just a statistic.

Engle said he was always told that borrowing for college was an investment in the American dream. But now he and his fiancee - also a college graduate with a white collar job and student loans - and their two children are struggling to get by.

“For $600 a month to live in an apartment that’s not even big enough for us, and one car, when really we definitely need two; we don’t want to rent anymore,” he said. “We want to build some equity. We want to have some ownership. And we don’t have a prayer right now of getting a mortgage.“

Engle said it looks like he’s going to be making payments for as long as he can foresee into the future. He described it as a genuine loss of freedom.

More information on financial aid for higher education in West Virginia is available HERE.

For Some West Virginians, Insurance Regulations Mean Freedom

For many of the West Virginians with chronic medical conditions, insurance regulation means freedom. But republicans lawmakers who oppose the Affordable Care Act say Obamacare’s insurance rules limit commercial freedom.

For communications professional Julie Warden of Charleston, freedom depends on having health insurance. Warden was diagnosed with arthritis at age 21. She said without the ACA, she could lose the coverage she needs.

“Something as simple as arthritis - which doesn’t seem like it can be that life shattering - when you have someone who’s in severe pain, it can absolutely affect their ability to go to work or take care of their kids or do normal, everyday activities,” Warden explained.

The Free Press WV
Julie Warden of Charleston, far left, spoke at
a press conference supporting the Affordable Care Act last week.


West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey decided the state should join a lawsuit against the ACA led by Texas. The suit argues insurance rules in the health care law are unconstitutional.

Obamacare requires all insurance plans to cover ten basic areas, including emergency care, preventive medicine and prescription drugs. The ACA also mandates insurance companies cannot drop someone for having a pre-existing medical condition or for exceeding an annual or lifetime benefit limit.

Julie Schleier of Parkersburg has a debilitating auto-immune bone disease she keeps at bay with more than $10,000 a month in treatments. She said without health insurance, she would have two choices: bankruptcy or a slow, painful death as the bones in her back fuse together.

“It crushes your ribcage, so it crushes your lungs,” Schleier described. “I would not be able to move my back at all. My head would be looking at my toes, and I would be in excruciating pain all the time.”

Legal experts call the Texas suit a long shot. But Republicans in Congress have said removing the ACA’s insurance rules is the only way to keep insurance affordable. By one count, there are three-quarters of a million West Virginians with pre-existing medical conditions.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

From the Hill to the Mountains

The Free Press WV

 

PASSING THE SPENDING PACKAGE

The Minibus includes funding to prevent Chinese Fentanyl from entering the U.S., treat substance use disorder, return an Amtrak ticket agent to West Virginia and expand broadband service in West Virginia


Last week I secured funding for top West Virginia priorities in the Minibus that was just passed by the Senate.

The spending package includes funding for the Department of the Interior, the Department of Agriculture, Financial Services and General Government, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

I authored provisions to investigate and prevent the smuggling of illicit fentanyl from China, fund FDA’s continued efforts to fight the opioid epidemic, save West Virginia’s Amtrak ticket agent, and urge the FCC to set aside funding for providing broadband service to the most difficult to serve areas in rural America.

This bill includes huge wins for West Virginia, and I am thrilled to see it pass the Senate. I made sure that this legislation included funding and policies that protected communities from illicit Chinese fentanyl and opioid addiction, as well as better connect rural residents to needed goods and services by ensuring that our roads and highways are funded, securing an Amtrak ticket agent in the state, and expanding broadband access. Now my top priority will be making sure these West Virginia wins stay in the final spending bill that is now going to conference with the House of Representatives.


Below is a list of top West Virginia priorities Senator Manchin secured in the spending package that passed today:

  • Illicit Trade of Fentanyl: The Senate adopted an amendment introduced by Senator Manchin, which passed unanimously in a 99-0 vote, which would appropriate $1 million for the investigation and prevention of illicit fentanyl from China from entering the U.S.
  • Opioids: Prioritizes aid to rural areas with the highest rates of addiction like West Virginia, includes $280 million for High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas and $99 million for Drug Free Communities programs, and keeps these programs within the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) where they are most effective. The bill also includes $59 million for the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to remove unsafe opioids from the market, increase educational activities, and continue existing efforts. 
  • Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge: Encourages U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services to consider and prioritize Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge. 
  • Amtrak: Requires Amtrak to maintain at least one station agent in every state, ensuring West Virginia will continue to have a ticket agent. It also requires Amtrak to justify decisions that jeopardize the future of the annual New River Train and harm small non-profits like the Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society.
  • Rural Transportation: Fully funds Essential Air Service, which ensures continuous service to small communities.  It also encourages the Federal Highway Administration to prioritize roads of critical commercial importance in the Appalachian Development Highway System, which includes Corridor H, and ensures that rural areas are given appropriate consideration for grants and other assistance by the Dept. of Transportation.
  • Housing: Includes $3.3 billion for Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), $1.362 billion for Home Investment Partnerships (HOME) Program, $147 million for NeighborWorks, $100 million for Choice Neighborhoods, and $45 million for Housing Counseling.
  • Rural Broadband: Contains $425 million for the Dept. of Agriculture’s rural broadband loan and grant pilot program, $53 million in Distance Learning and Telemedicine grants, and $20 million dedicated to telecommunications assistance for rural communities combatting the opioid epidemic.  Senator Manchin’s amendment directs the FCC to consider establishing a dedicated set aside within the Mobility Fund auction to provide assistance to the most expensive and difficult areas to serve.  The bill also urges the FCC to move forward with the Remote Areas Fund, coordinate efforts with the Rural Utilities Service, and prevent discriminatory delivery and ensure call completion to rural America.
  • Clean Drinking Water: Provides more than $3.6 billion in funding for clean drinking water and water infrastructure, including $2.86 billion for Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, $63 million for the Water Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act (WIFIA), and $15 million for on-site technical assistance for rural communities with water infrastructure challenges.
  • Small Business: Includes $241.6 million for the Small Business Administration and Entrepreneurial Development and $130 million for Small Business Development Centers, which help foster entrepreneurs in West Virginia and other states.

G-OpEd™: West Virginia Leading the Country in Election Security and Preparation

The Free Press WV

While there is considerable banter about election security throughout the United States, West Virginia voters can be proud of steps taken by election officials in the Mountain State to lead the nation in security and the integrity of our election system.  West Virginia now has the best-trained election officials in the country, was the first state to imbed a cybersecurity officer with Top Secret clearance from the National Guard to monitor activity for bad actors, has four staff with Department of Homeland Security (DHS ) sponsored security clearances, and taken many preventative measures to bolster West Virginia’s cyber profile well in advance of the 2018 midterm elections.

West Virginia has a great story on elections security that is rooted in response to the 2016 elections, which caught election officials nationwide flat footed.  While certain institutions wrung their hands on how to start, West Virginia relied on our pioneer spirit and plotted our own course into unchartered territory.  We insisted on security clearances, sought assistance from our National Guard, attended conferences at Harvard, and inspected polling places and elections storage facilities.  We sent field representatives to every county and began working closely with all 55 county clerks.  As knowledge of the threat became known, our staff helped write the protocols on how to defend against the threats, how to counter the threats, and how to respond to attacks. “Protect, detect, correct” became our motto, and when federal officials told states nationwide that it wasn’t a matter of “if” but “when” attacks would occur, “speed of recovery” became our objective.

When the federal government recently presented assistance in the form of financial aid for election security, West Virginia was the first state to present its plan on how best to spend that money – by way of a cost-sharing initiative with our counties, using county clerks and county commissions as the means to determine their specific needs on a case-by-case basis.  Meanwhile, West Virginia’s election officials gathered last week to hold the state’s first ever Elections Security and Preparations Training Conference.  This conference had two objectives:  1) to train the clerks on cybersecurity; and 2) to begin the application and allocation process for distribution of federal funds for election security.

West Virginia’s lead in election security garnered national media attention with CNN, Washington Post, HBO and BuzzFeed all in attendance to cover the conference.  In describing the event, HBO’s Vice News headline read, “2 days of the most advanced election security training just went down – at a West Virginia Holiday Inn.”  DHS cybersecurity expert, Matt Masterton, also came to the conference and addressed the group as the keynote speaker.  Masterton took lessons learned from West Virginia to share with other states.

Attendees at the conference participated in a day-long mock election preparation and Election Day scenario that gave attendees practical experience on issues that could pop up unexpectedly.  Clerks were extremely well pleased with the quality of the training, as well as the opportunity to obtain federal funding for local elections.  The training experience—using the most advanced training techniques available by the nation’s leading experts in elections—now has our county clerks as the best trained election officials in the country in the field of election security.

As for election security, we already have in place a voter verified paper trail that is mandated on all voting equipment. Pre-election logic and accuracy tests of every tabulation device is performed publically before every election. Post-election audits are performed randomly in each county to ensure the paper records match the electronic results.

As Secretary of State, I have taken an active role in improving specific cybersecurity measures. Our office management team became charter members of Harvard’s “Defending Digital Democracy Program” that has produced cutting-edge cybersecurity playbooks for government officials and candidates nationwide. West Virginia was the first state to distribute these materials to county clerks and all 582 West Virginia candidates registered to run for office in 2018. Also, we are now members of the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center, another communication channel to prevent cybersecurity threats against protected systems. When DHS named elections as Critical Infrastructure (CI), I became one of a handful of Secretaries of State who served on the Government Coordinating Council to draft the protocols for this new CI sector.

Almost one year ago today, Major General James Hoyer of the West Virginia National Guard (WVNG) and I forged an advanced partnership that has since resulted in a full-time Guard member with Top Secret clearance to monitor state-level cyber activity and give my office election security recommendations. Our West Virginia National Guard conducted vulnerability testing on election systems prior to the 2018 midterm primary at no additional expense to either agency. This advanced partnership is the first instance in the country to imbed a National Guard member in the elections arena as a cyber-expert, and our approach is serving as a model for other states as they increase their election security posture.

I have also made it a priority to make additional funds available to county clerks and local election officials to improve voting technology.  My office is currently working to distribute $6.5 million in federal funding to counties to upgrade voting technology including voting machines, security for voting equipment and cybersecurity upgrades.  We intend to have the money distributed quickly so counties can increase security prior to the General Election in November.

We also have funds available to help address ADA needs for polling locations. The funding is West Virginia’s portion of money allocated by Congress through the “Help America Vote Act” (HAVA), which helps address election needs at the local level.

A website containing information on how West Virginia is leading the nation to protect elections can be found at www.secureelectionswv.com.

I will do everything in my power to secure, defend and protect the foundation of American democracy—our republic depends on secure elections.

WV Secretary of State Mac Warner is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and the WVU College of Law.  Prior to being elected Secretary of State, he served 23 years in the United States Army retiring as Lt. Colonel.

Study Finds Right-to-Work Laws Depress Average Wages

Right-to-work laws do not bring jobs, but in fact reduce wages, according to new research.

Right-to-work laws say that even workers covered by union contracts don’t have to pay anything toward the cost of getting and keeping the contract. Supporters argue that states with the laws see job growth because employers are drawn by their business climate.

Former U.S. Labor Department chief economist Heidi Shierholz now is with the Economic Policy Institute. She said they’ve found the laws don’t increase employment - but they do depress pay at the existing jobs.

The Free Press WV
The West Virginia Legislature passed
a right-to-work law shortly after being taken over by the GOP.


“What we find is that right-to-work will not create jobs, but it will hurt the wages of middle-class workers,” Shierholz said.

The West Virginia Legislature passed right-to-work legislation in 2017. Although the law has been tied up in court, it has gone into effect, pending a further legal challenge.

Shierholz said it’s complicated to compare right-to-work states with those that don’t have the laws, because industries, education levels, costs of living and other factors are different. But she said once you take all those factors into account, wages in right-to-work states are still at least 3 percent lower. That means an average full-time worker takes home $1,500 less per year.

Shierholz said in spite of the rhetoric, that’s what the laws are made to do.

“The proponents of Right to Work really do try to make it sound like it’s gonna be good for workers,” she said. “But it’s not about freedom. It is simply to reduce the wages of workers so that corporate profits can increase.“

Some union members say they shouldn’t be called right-to-work laws. They say a better name might be “right to work for less”. The research can be found on the EPI website: epi.org.

More information from the Economic Policy Institute specific to West Virginia is available HERE.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

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Readers' Recent Comments

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

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

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

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

By Clarity Is Always Good on 10.18.2018

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

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Looked at the strategic plan for the GCES. It is a major achievement for the new GCBE to provide the information to the public.

Suggestion. Could the GCBOE post a meaning of all abbreviations in the plan? Doing that would make it far easier for readers to understand details in the plan.

By Help Understanding on 10.17.2018

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

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Thanks Mrs. Lowther and the BOE for providing meeting minutes for the public to read.

Those of us who voted for the levy would appreciate receiving specific information for what is being done at the grade school and the high school to make needed improvements for college and career readiness.

Could a current overview and updates throughout the school year be provided to the public?

Why not put the details on websites of the two schools to give the principals a chance to shine?

By Levy Supporter on 10.16.2018

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

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“engage in pedantic colloquy?“

No Bill.

By WEKNOWYOU on 10.14.2018

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

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Correct.  I do not wish to engage in back and forth useless ‘banter’ with big words and no results.  What I AM interested in is Gilmer County, in all it’s ways.  Education, Food, Law and Transparency.  Fancy words are often used to hide, divide, and distract..  Plain words speaking truth for the safety and well being of the people is what I’m looking for..  Gilmer is suffering… I want it to stop. I want to see the citizens healthy, educated and strong. I want to see more jobs instead of food banks.  I want Committee meetings for all to see. I want the law to do what it should, when it should.  Plain english would work fine.  Thanks for asking.

By Reader7 on 10.14.2018

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

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Lol 7, you do not wish to engage in a pedantic colloquy?

By Smart Feller on 10.13.2018

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

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All nice but a small request? Can we simplify some of the language?  Don’t mean to be rude, but fancy works aren’t needed for the Truth.

By Reader7 on 10.12.2018

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

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Stop living the delusion the state will fix education.
They have caused the problem.
Remember, for them, job one IS job protection.

Rare in history, that the cause of a problem, has come forth with a solution to what they have caused. They keep resetting testing standards so as not have any ‘yardstick’ they can be measured against.  Apparently people just don’t get it?  And the WVBOE is so happy about that.

By it-ain't-a-gonna-happen. period. on 10.12.2018

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

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There is a continuum for sophistication regarding what is done with data.

Collecting and compiling it is at the low end of sophistication.

Synthesis is at the high end.

This means using results and other information to make specific recommendations for making improvements.

The State took its typical easy way out by failing to go beyond the data compilation stage.

By Easy Way Out on 10.10.2018

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

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The comment about need to find out what was done at high performance schools to determine what we could do in Gilmer County to get the same results merits a comment.

The comment flags what is wrong with the State BOE in failing to provide effective leadership.

Does anyone recall a single instance, after tens of millions of dollars were spent on amassing data, when the State BOE did anything to effectively address lessons learned at high performance schools for application at other schools?

Of course not! It is the easy way out for those in high income brackets in Charleston to collect data instead of using it to the maximum to take full advantage of lessons learned.

Could the WV School Board Association help fill the gap?

By Lost Opportunity on 10.07.2018

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

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Harry, So sorry to hear of the passing of your wife.  I’m also sorry that I never got to know her because if she was anything like you, I’m sure she was pretty special.  Please know that you and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers.  May God’s love be with you my friend.

By Greg Garvin on 10.04.2018

From the entry: 'Judith “Judy” Carolyn Buckley Rich'.

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What is the BOE’s proficiency goal for English and mathematics and what is the time frame for achieving the goal? That is news citizens want.

Then too, how can citizens at large get involved to honor and to encourage students who improve, and what of a similar nature could be done to give special recognition to outstanding teachers who contribute to improved learning for English and math?

By Positive Changes Made By New BOE on 10.04.2018

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

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The BOE and Mrs Lowther deserve high praise for disclosing proficiency information to the public.

It is the first time since 2011 anything like this has happened.

We still do not know about results for science, and it is understood that Charleston is still “working” on it.

Now we know our serious shortcomings in math and English and there is new hope for burrowing out of the mess with everyone in Gilmer working together.

By Thanks Gilmer BOE on 10.03.2018

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

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Well, dear citizen… sometimes the local ‘law’ gets it wrong.  #truth #JusticeForGilmer

By Transparency matters on 09.30.2018

From the entry: '33 charged in methamphetamine distribution operations in Harrison, Marion, and Monongalia Counties'.

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Soooo…...why do we never see a big drug bust in Gilmer?
With the college and others, there are plenty sources.
Seems strange?

By citizen 3 on 09.23.2018

From the entry: '33 charged in methamphetamine distribution operations in Harrison, Marion, and Monongalia Counties'.

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If you access http://www.mywvschool.com it is evident that some schools outpace others for math and English.

For examples look at data for Lizemore Elementary in Clay County, Alum Creek Elementary in Kanawha County, Rock Branch Elementary in Putnam county, and Greenmont Elementary in Wood County.

Gilmer BOE why not assign someone to evaluate what is being done at those school and others to make them State standouts and to apply lessons learned to our elementary schools?

The same applies to learning from others regarding how to get high marks at GCHS.

By Learn What Works From Others on 09.23.2018

From the entry: 'WV and Area Counties Balanced Scorecard for School Year 2017-2018'.

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I have not read anyone blaming our teachers.  Quite the contrary.
There have been some well thought out comments submitted too.
I am old enough to remember when we had few issues about quality education.

Forget Charleston? Better not.
Believe we are still in their “probation” period.
You better check out just what that means.

By GC--still on state probation? on 09.22.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Wood County Schools exceeds state test averages'.

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Why not go for it on our own and use the tried and widely accepted Iowa Test of Basic Skills to evaluate learning proficiency of our children?

It is the longest running test in America and it goes back to 1936.

One outcome of using the test is that each grade would be evaluated and compared to performances to schools in other parts of America.

We would probably have to go through hoop jumps of the State’s everchanging testing too.

By Iowa Test For Gilmer on 09.21.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Wood County Schools exceeds state test averages'.

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To compound complexity of the issue, Gilmer is different from McDowell and both are different than Monongahela.

The implication is that getting out of the crisis must be county-specific and there is no one size that will fit all of WV’s 55 school systems.

Each county is on its own and ones with the best planning, local boards of education, and administrators will shine. Forget about Charleston!

By County-Specific on 09.21.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Wood County Schools exceeds state test averages'.

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Similar to most complex problems there are several categories contributing to WV’s dismal failure in improving education results in our grade and high schools.

Information in referred journal is beginning to show up. Some of the categories include curriculum issues in high schools, block scheduling failures in high schools, inordinate emphasis on sports at the expense of academics, inadequate prep of grade schoolers to ensure that they get firm foundations in math and English Language Arts, failure to instill need for life long learning at early ages, failure for school systems to fund continuing education of teachers to prepare them for newly emerged practices for enhanced student learning, cultural impediments including failure of some families to encourage children and to give them extra learning help at home, dysfunctional families for children to grow up in caused by drug and alcohol abuse and chronic unemployment, grade inflation characterized by too many As and Bs and attitudes that nobody fails so pass them along, failure of school boards to hire the best qualified superintendents and teachers because of local emphasis on favoring “home grow” individuals, failure of school boards to define performance expectations for superintendents to make effective accountability impossible, constantly changing types of State mandated testing to cause chaos and morale problems, poor compensation of teachers necessary to attract and keep the best and the brightest, etc.

To blame all problems on teachers is a cruel travesty.

One of the weakest links contributing to a lack of progress in improving WV schools is that instead of analyzing the full spectrum of contributing problems and focusing on ones with the biggest payoff potential, the trend in Charleston is to constantly apply band aid approaches with hopes that “cures” will be stumbled on accidentally.

By Do Not Blame It All On Our Teachers on 09.21.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Wood County Schools exceeds state test averages'.

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The problem with preK-12 education in WV is that a holistic and and technically defensible evaluation of contributing factors to cause WV’s problems and how to deal with them has not occurred.

Instead, under direction of clueless politicians ineffective muddling prevails while selling what is done at a particular time as the definitive solution.

How many times have we witnessed muddling over the past 20-30 Years? It still goes on in Charleston.

Why not obtain a grant to have qualified experts analyze success stories around the Nation and use findings to craft a demonstration project in Gilmer County to improve our school system?

Regardless of what we do there must be open minds in seeking out what to do in homes, schools,  teacher education programs in our institutions of higher learning, continuing education for classroom teachers, and to involve various factions in our community to achieve acceptable results. Everyone must band together as a unified team to make it work.

One trap is over emphasis of sports. If the same magnitude of attention and importance were to be focused on solving preK-12 education problems in WV, great strides could be made to benefit deserving children.

By Muddling on 09.19.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Wood County Schools exceeds state test averages'.

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Our heartfelt condolences on the passing of Mr. Ron. I too know this pain of losing a beloved father. Both of these men were taken way too soon. Praying maybe Mr.Ron, my Dad, and all the former Westinghouse employees in heaven are getting together. Love and prayers from, Adrienne and family.

By Adrienne (Trimper) Johnson on 09.19.2018

From the entry: 'Ronald J. Vanskiver'.

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West Virginia’s educational failures is NOT because of classroom teachers.

It IS because of the WV Board of Education’s failures of the past 20-30 years.

That 9 member, lopsided governor board is a crime against children and education in WV as a whole.

It needs 3 teachers, 3 general public parent members, and 3 governor appointees.

Until that governors click gang is broken up, you simply see repeats of the past.  NO progress in education.

It will take the legislature to fix it, but they are too busy with the legislature created court system failure, while trying to line pockets with gas and oil money.

By Tell It Like It Is ! on 09.19.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Wood County Schools exceeds state test averages'.

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What is the plausible rationale for Gilmer not disclosing detailed facts similar to what Superintendent Hosaflook did?

Wood County reported 11,176 students in its 27 schools for the full FY 2018 school year.

In comparison Gilmer had 734 reported students in our two schools for the full FY 2018 school year.

Wood County had 15 times more students than Gilmer and it is reasonable to assume that it was 15 times more demanding to administer with its 27 schools.

If Wood County could get detailed facts out to the public with its significantly higher work load what keeps tiny Gilmer from doing the same?

By Why Gilmer BOE? on 09.18.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Wood County Schools exceeds state test averages'.

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We have not had a responsible, functioning, WVBE for 20 years.
Not one that would accept any responsibility.

They just keep changing ‘score keeping’ so there can be no accurate tracking of student progress.

State ranks 48th or 49th on educational outcomes. Still.
Colleges still have to give remedial classes.

The ONLY thing that changes are the names of the governor appointed players.
And just look at the ‘cost-per-pupil’ spending!
We are about the highest in the nation.

West Virginia State Board of Education = complete failure.  Nothing less.

By just more smoke and mirrors on 09.16.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released for Public Schools in West Virginia'.

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Never could figure out why working people, retirees, volunteers are picking up trash left by adults?

Not when we have the numbers of bored prisoners we have locked up doing nothing??

By No solution here- on 09.16.2018

From the entry: 'Adopt-A-Highway Fall Statewide Cleanup Set for September 29'.

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Go to http://www.mywvschool.org to access more official State information about Gilmer’s schools. There are serious red flags in need of immediate corrective attention.

If you access Lewis County schools on the same web site you can review info for LES. Look at the red flags there. Worse than GES.

Instead of using the info to criticize it can be useful in seeking out opportunities for making immediate improvements.

For those who take apologetic stands that Gilmer is doing as well as some other WV counties and everything is fine, it does not mean that inferior educations for our children are acceptable.

By Look At Red Flags on 09.16.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Superintendent Set Her Goals for School Year'.

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Who is responsible for Gilmer’s oversight of the LES?

If you access the State’s website you will learn that math and reading is red flagged for the LCES to be as bad as it can get.

Why is it that nothing is reported in Gilmer County about how that school is doing when we know that our sixth grade finishers from over there will go to the GCHS to finish their educations? 

It is like our students who attend LCES are forgotten about. Someone needs to be watching out for them.

By Who Minds The Store on 09.15.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Superintendent Set Her Goals for School Year'.

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The really sad stories are left out.
The students who accrue debt and for whatever reasons, drop out of school after a year or two.

They have little hope of improving incomes, but still have debt.
More of them than you think.

By More sad ones to be told. on 09.14.2018

From the entry: 'Student-Loan Debts a "Loss of Freedom" for Some in WV'.

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Information made ‘public’ forces accountability.
Do not hold your breath lest you turn blue.

‘They’ want elected. Get their place at the trough.
Then discover ‘exposure’ makes their work more difficult.

Informed citizens make informed decisions.
Why do we see the same names being elected over and over and over?

By WHEN we're allowed to see it......? on 09.14.2018

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

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Lots of work to be done with schools in Gilmer County. 2017-2018 Summative Assessments out today for student achievement.

Gilmer County High School.

For Math
*Exceed or Meet Standards=40% of Students.
*Fail to Meet Standards=60% of Students

For Reading
*Exceed or Meet Standards=36% of Students
*Fail to Meet Standards=64%

The scores speak volumes. What was done to accurately determine causes of failures and what will be done about it? BOE, the public has a right to know answers.

By Public Demands Answers on 09.13.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Superintendent Set Her Goals for School Year'.

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The Founding Fathers screwed up, we should not have to work and pay our bills. Let that man behind the tree work and pay for it all.
Free education should be a right.
Free food should be a right.
Free healthcare should be a right. 
Free transportation should be a right.
Free entertainment should be a right.

By Smart Feller on 09.13.2018

From the entry: 'Student-Loan Debts a "Loss of Freedom" for Some in WV'.

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Thank you BOE members and Mrs. Lowther. Let’s work together at all community levels to make Gilmer County an educational power house in West Virginia. We can do it as an effective team and provision of information will be the key to success.

By Better Times On The Way on 09.12.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Superintendent Set Her Goals for School Year'.

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Accountability - good point - and across Gilmer County.  We’ve seen glimpses and pieces of news WHEN we’re allowed to see it, mere mortals that we are. But never any follow up.  And the information come in bits and pieces (remember when we actually got to SEE what the Gilmer County Commission was up to?)  My question is, why do we never see the accountability or repercussion for actions of current Gilmer ‘elite’??

By Transparency matters on 09.12.2018

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

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Encouraging news that the superintendent will present her goals for Gilmer Schools on 9/10.

We assume that there will be a commitment for specific goals to achieve, measurable outcomes, completion dates for different steps and final goal achievement, and a meaningful monitoring program to determine if we are on track or there is need for mid-course fine tuning.

If any of this is missing there will not be meaningful accountability. Excellent business plans have all the components addressed above.

By Waiting To See on 09.09.2018

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

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Just saw this. Am so sorry.

By Betty Woofter on 09.06.2018

From the entry: 'Shirley F. Wilmoth'.

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Well, this is nice.

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

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

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

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

By Thanks EDA for trying. on 09.04.2018

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

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

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

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

By Need Measurable Results on 09.04.2018

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

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

Otherwise you are likely wasting time thinking about it?

Remember how loud actions speak?

By no info flow on 09.02.2018

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

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

By Gilmer County School Watch on 08.29.2018

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

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Appears the Governor will appoint 5 Supremes?

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

Will the Governor ‘own’ the Supreme Court?

The Judge’s actions will answer that question.

By Hanshap on 08.28.2018

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

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

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

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

GSC please fix the problem.

By Property Owners on 08.28.2018

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

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Another dark day in WV history.

By Ronzel on 08.26.2018

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

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

By Gilmer BOE Finances on 08.25.2018

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

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Accountability, you say?

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

By accountability? on 08.25.2018

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

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

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

By New Start on 08.22.2018

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

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

By Mr. Cottrill Asked to Lead on 08.21.2018

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

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

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

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

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

By Opportunity For Gilmer's School System on 08.21.2018

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

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

By Grateful Consumer on 08.18.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Bill.H. on 08.14.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

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

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

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

By Kanawha on 08.14.2018

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

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

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

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

By GSC's Opportunity on 08.14.2018

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

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

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

By Smelly Legal System on 08.14.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

By Appreciative Gilmer Shoppers on 08.14.2018

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

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

By one bad apple? on 08.13.2018

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

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

By Trespasser Will on 08.13.2018

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

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Look at the bus run times.

Several over an hour.

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

Someone has cooked the books to meet state regulations?

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

By parent on 08.11.2018

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

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Give the man the credit due him.

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

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

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

Who you going to vote for?

By who you going to vote for? on 08.11.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Harold on 08.11.2018

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

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

By The Silent Majority on 08.10.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Welcome New Board Members on 08.10.2018

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

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

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

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

By Audit and Career Center Assignments on 08.08.2018

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

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

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

The message is that boards govern and superintendents administer.

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

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

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

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

By Kanawha County Observer on 08.07.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Orlando on 08.07.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Provide The True Facts on 08.07.2018

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

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

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

Good luck!  Gilmer BOE.  You will need it.

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

That’s what it will take you.

By Lewis County on 08.06.2018

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

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

By GCHS Needs Improved on 08.06.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Kanawha on 08.06.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By BOE School Finances Scandal on 08.06.2018

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

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

How about checking on this on Mr. Cottril?

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

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

By Classified Staff on 08.03.2018

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

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

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

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

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

By BOE Tracker on 08.03.2018

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

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

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

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

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

By Kanawha on 08.03.2018

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

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

By The State Was Fully Responsible on 08.02.2018

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

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

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

By Doesn't Make Sense on 08.01.2018

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

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