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Almost Half of Legislature Voted Against Every Conservation Proposal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carmichael Claims Credit for Teacher Pay Raises He Tried to Kill

West Virginia Senate President Mitch Carmichael now appears to be taking credit for the teacher pay raises he failed to stop earlier this year.

When school employees went on statewide strike, the Republican-led Senate was blocking the higher pay they were demanding. But last week on Hoppy Kercheval’s Talkline program, Carmichael took credit for the money now showing up in public employee checks. Carmichael said he wasn’t trying to pat himself on the back, but in his words, “if we had opposed that pay raise, it wouldn’t have happened.“

Senaor Corey Palumbo, D-Charleston, called that statement laughable, given what happened after the strike began.

“The House fairly quickly passed the 4 percent increase. And then the Senate sat on it for days, not doing anything with it,” Palumbo said. “It is laughable for them to now take credit as if they were leading the charge.“

The Free Press WV
During the teachers’ strike, the West Virginia State Senate was widely
viewed as the main obstacle to meeting strikers’ demands.

When host Kercheval pushed back, Carmichael said it was “not true at all” that GOP Senate leaders opposed the raise, and the strike “made no difference.“ The record of roll call votes on the bill that finally resulted in the pay raise shows Carmichael and the committee chairs he appointed repeatedly trying to stop, slow or reduce the pay increase.

Carmichael told Kercheval the GOP was “100 percent on board with as much pay raise” as the state could afford. He said the only thing holding them back was a tight budget.

But Palumbo pointed out that it’s the first public employee pay raise to get though the legislature since Republicans took over.

“It’s been a four-year period,” he said. “And if you look back over the last 25, 30 years, there’s been no three-year period, if I remember right, where teachers or public employees had not received a raise.“

Teachers and school service personnel shut the schools down for 11 days, ending March 07, when the 5 percent pay increase passed. During regular demonstrations at the Capitol, strikers singled Carmichael out. One sign said, “Mitch better have my money.“ Others chanted - parodying a rap song - “Yo, Mitch - Get Out The Way.“

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

Sales-Tax Modernization Could Fill PEIA Gap

The Free Press WV

Modernizing the state sales tax is now possible, due to a U.S. Supreme Court decision - and it could help solve West Virginia’s budget problems, including for the Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA).

The decision late last month in the case South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. means West Virginia can force internet retailers without a brick-and-mortar location in the state to pay sales tax, the same as in-state retailers.

According to Ted Boettner, executive director of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, one study found Amazon had been able to dodge billions of dollars in sales taxes that might now be collected.

“This is an issue of tax fairness; treat online retailers that are out-of-state the same as they treat brick-and-mortar stores in our communities,“ Boettner explained. “And not only would that make our tax code more fair, it would also bring in about $50 [million] to $100 million.“

Most estimates are that PEIA needs at least a steady, new $50 million a year. But applying the state’s 6 percent sales tax more broadly to include online sales would require the Legislature’s approval – and the governor has said it might be considered a tax increase, which he is likely to oppose.

Online purchasers are supposed to voluntarily pay these taxes, although few have done so. The West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy has found the state is now collecting less sales tax revenue as a portion of all consumer spending than it did in the 1990s.

Boettner said meanwhile, the state cut deeply into support for higher education, and 20 towns and cities depend on their own local sales taxes.

He said modernizing the sales-tax system could patch some of those gaps, and listed a few: “The cash-strapped local governments, patching the hole in our public employees health insurance, and also, mitigating huge cuts to higher education that have put more debt on the backs of our students.“

Boettner added that, if the state exempts smaller retailers, it wouldn’t be difficult for the remaining large, online retailers to keep track of and send in those taxes.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

Government Watchdog Groups: Pruitt’s EPA Exit “Long Overdue”

After allegedly overspending on everything from pens to lavish trips and accepting questionable deals from lobbyists, government ethics and watchdog groups say Scott Pruitt’s resignation as Environmental Protection Agency administrator is long overdue.

During his one-year tenure, Pruitt was seen by conservatives as one of President Donald Trump’s most effective Cabinet members, working relentlessly to dismantle Obama-era regulations aimed at reducing pollution.

Stephen Spaulding, chief of strategy for the group Common Cause, said Pruitt’s questionable past was widely known. His group had urged Congress to delay the confirmation when Pruitt withheld documents revealing corporate influence in his decisions as Oklahoma attorney general.

The Free Press WV
Many of the EPA regulations that Scott Pruitt scrapped or delayed as
EPA administrator had not yet taken effect before his resignation.

“He was clearly unfit for the position of public trust that he was in as administrator of the EPA,“ said Spaulding. “I think we were extremely troubled that the majority in Congress really refused to hold him accountable and, in our view, were complicit.“

Spaulding shared similar reservations about Andrew Wheeler, a former coal-company lobbyist and now EPA deputy administrator, who will take Pruitt’s place as acting administrator on Monday. Pruitt expressed no regrets in a letter submitted to media outlets on Thursday.

Environmental groups predict the Trump administration will continue its pattern of appointing the least likely candidate to head the agency. Kara Cook-Schultz, director of U.S. PIRG’s (Public Interest Research Group) toxics program, thinks the president should take time to really understand the purpose of the EPA.

“Scott Pruitt has failed in the EPA mission to protect human health and the environment, and Americans are less safe today than they should be, due to his poor decisions and leadership,“ Cook-Schultz said.

Like President Trump, Pruitt voiced skepticism about mainstream climate science. Andrew Wheeler also doubts that humans are a primary cause of climate change.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

Fund that Helps Protect Iconic WV Sites is in Question

The Free Press WV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

I’m a pastor and I want you to quit church. Now!

The Free Press WV

I know this surprises you that I am sending this asking you to QUIT CHURCH,
but I agree with this article: I’m a pastor and I want you to quit church. Now!

At a time when church attendance is shrinking in America, I, a pastor, am encouraging people to quit church. Why?

The answer is birthed out of conversations and research I’ve been a part of over the last several years.

Regularly, I meet and train pastors and church leaders from all over the country through my leadership platform, ChurchBOOM. The conversations carry a common theme – a lot of people who attend church are passive towards serving, giving and community outreach.

In most churches, 80 percent of the work is being carried out by 20 percent or less of the people. We’ve become a church of spectators and the pastoral staff is getting burned out.

According to my own personal research, the problems are even bigger than the 80/20 principle.

Only 39 percent of active believers consider the Bible as the literal word of God. Less than 20 percent of professing believers follow the biblical principle of giving. Only 5 percent have shared their faith with a non-believer. More than half of all church members attend church once a month or less.

Something has to change.

Casual attendance and the belief that others will serve, give and share the Gospel are tearing down churches across our country brick by brick. As believers, it’s time that we are either all in or we get out. The solution is simple: quit!

That’s right – quit! If we quit the casual way we approach God’s principles can you imagine what would happen in our personal walks of faith and in our community of believers?

What if every believer exercised generosity? What if every Christian fought for loyalty in the local church? What if everyone served in their God-given purpose? What would happen if we stopped simply believing and started belonging?

If we would only quit the way we approach our relationship to Christ and our local church, the blessing, the reward, the joy, the fulfillment, the purpose, and the increase would radically transform our lives and the world. Together, we can revolutionize the church!

But the only way we can do this is if we quit.

My conversations over the past several years revealed the spiritual habits necessary for personal and church growth and revealed the “why” behind disengagement in the church.

The truth is, if we don’t feel passionate about something we don’t do it. If we don’t like something that happens in the church, we find another one. If the spiritual practices don’t fit our lifestyle, then we don’t do them.

This mindset permeates our “I want it now and I want it my way” culture and is only enforced through social media, website choices, TV options and countless other platforms that have risen in prominence in our lives. This is not the way God intended the church to live.

The local church isn’t a building – it’s a body of believers fulfilling God’s purpose in our lives. When these believers approach their individual involvement and commitment in a casual manner it weakens the entire body of Christ and the impact we are called to have.

As a result, we lose and so does the local church. God wants us to win, to thrive, to fulfill our potential in him. We will not experience the abundance he desires for us until we quit our current approach and we are all-in.

Once you go all-in on generosity, serving, outreach, discipleship and the other biblical behaviors laid out in his word then look out, because God will rain on your life with his blessings like you have never experienced.

Jesus felt the church was worth dying for – it should be our mission as Christians to value living for it.

This op-ed is adapted from the book “Quit Church.”

Chris Sonksen and his wife Laura are lead pastors of South Hills Church. He is the founder of Church BOOM, an organization that has provided personal coaching to more than 200 churches and impacted thousands of leaders. His latest book is “Quit Church.”

Critics Say Rule Could Allow “Junk Insurance” To Undermine Market

A new federal rule could allow health insurers to exclude people who are ill or have preexisting conditions from coverage.
The Free Press WV

The Trump administration has cleared the way for an unprecedented expansion of inexpensive health insurance that critics say will drive prices up for more comprehensive plans.

The new federal regulation allows small employers to join together to create so-called association health plans, which are exempt from some critical insurance safeguards. According to Cheryl Fish-Parcham, director of access initiatives with the health care advocacy group Families USA, such plans often end up being so limited that they’re “insurance” in name only.

“They don’t have to provide a minimum value of coverage. They don’t have to provide mental health benefits; they might not have to provide maternity benefits,” Fish-Parcha said. “So, there are really limited benefits being offered in these plans.“

The administration has said the plans will spur competition in the insurance market. But critics say the new rule will lead to more people being denied coverage and more medical bankruptcies.

Fish-Parcham said these plans also are allowed to discriminate against people who are sick or who have preexisting medical conditions.

“This segments the market into a market for the healthy and a market for the sick,” she said. “And there are many ways that the market for the sick becomes even more expensive.“

She added that association health plans are more difficult to oversee, which opens the door for unscrupulous companies to sell very low-cost plans that don’t actually cover medical claims.

Fish-Parcham said states may be able to step in to weed out the companies that are defrauding consumers.

“Unfortunately, that’s going to take resources that states may not have,” she said. “Their insurance departments will have to step up quite a lot to oversee these plans.“

The new rule was drafted by the Labor Department under an executive order signed by President Donald Trump in October of 2017.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

G-OpEd™: Elder Fraud Cases are a Priority

The Free Press WV

The Northern District of West Virginia was recently invited by the Department of Justice and Attorney General Sessions to highlight our prosecution of a fraud case involving elderly victims.  It was the Department’s goal to highlight that prosecution and others being done by United States Attorneys’ offices throughout the country.  It is very important work and crimes upon the elderly all too often go unreported.  I intend to vigorously pursue anyone violating federal laws where the victims are elderly citizens of our district.

One of the victims in the case highlighted by the Department was Eugene Roman, whose identity was compromised by now convicted defendants.  Mr. Roman spoke from the heart about how the crimes affected him, but the courage it took for him to speak in front of a roomful of strangers at the Department of Justice and on video being transmitted around the country did not come from just his own experience.  Instead, it was more important for him to help other future potential victims get the encouragement they needed to report the crimes. 

In addition to Mr. Roman, there were several other older victims in the case my office prosecuted, some of whom who were too frail to appear.  He spoke for them.  Many elderly victims of fraud or physical abuse are too afraid to come forward or embarrassed to do so because they felt like they should have been able to avoid being a victim.  He spoke for them.  Nearly twenty percent of West Virginia’s population is over the age of 65, and are often prime targets of those criminals wanting to take advantage of a vulnerable victim.  He spoke for them.

Assistant United States Attorney Lara Omps-Botteicher prosecuted the fraud case on behalf of Mr. Roman and Assistant United States Attorney Anna Krazinski is my coordinator for elder abuse cases.  I have several highly competent and aggressive prosecutors who will prosecute those who victimize elderly citizens in our district, and if there is no federal crime, they will ensure the case is forwarded to the Attorney General’s office or a state prosecutor.

Earlier this year, the Department of Justice and its law enforcement partners conducted the largest, coordinated sweep of elder fraud cases in history that involved more than 250 defendants and over one million American victims, most of whom were elderly. The Department of Justice has now teamed with the Department of Agriculture so that the resources of that department, particularly in rural areas, can assist elderly victims.  This provides valuable and much needed resources.

Our older population represents one of our state’s greatest assets, but are also one of the most vulnerable groups to defraud.  We will not tolerate these special West Virginians being victimized.

Thank you Mr. Roman for speaking on behalf of those who could not or were too afraid to speak about their experiences.  I will do everything in my power to justify your faith in my office.


U.S. Attorney Bill Powell, the Northern District of West Virginia

G-OpEd™: 2018 Farm Bill: A Win for West Virginia

The Free Press WV

As Washington D.C. continues to tackle the task of passing a comprehensive 2018 Farm Bill, West Virginia farmers anxiously wait in anticipation while important programs hang in the balance. At first glance, one may think these programs minorly affect the Mountain State, but that cannot be further from the truth. Previous farm bills have netted West Virginia $17 million for conservation efforts, $1.9 million for Specialty Crop Block grants and 351,391 West Virginians rely on monthly assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). In addition, $120 billion for invasive species control and $200 billion for management of preventative disease outbreak for the U.S. may be discontinued without a new bill. Clearly, if Washington cannot move beyond their differences, not only will West Virginia farmers lose but so will those who consume the food they produce.

The USDA defines the Specialty Crop Block Grants program as designed to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops within the United States. Specialty crops can be anything from maple syrup to lavender depending on the state. Essentially specialty means crops that are not widely grown. This matters in the Mountain State because we do not have the landscape to grow cheap, in-expensive, high yield crops. Instead, our state has shifted its focus toward high-end, specialty crops which yield a higher per pound gross profit. Therefore, our farmers maximize the limited real estate in West Virginia. Why this program matters because many farmers lack the capital needed to start up these types of operations. Without these grants, several successful agribusinesses would not exist today as used to cover large expenses that are barriers to the business or to test a product.

As West Virginia continues to lead the way with our Veterans to Warriors to Agriculture program, the United States Department of Agriculture has taken note. Within the 2018 Farm Bill, language exists that lays out veteran farmers as a priority. From our program, we have proven that agri-therapy can help our service men and women heal from the unseen wounds of war. At the same time, veterans can be a solution to a growing age gap and lack of new farmers in our country. As the USDA makes federal resources available for these types of programs, a state that has one of the highest per capita veteran populations will surely benefit from this new vision.

From the rolling hills to the vast forests, West Virginia is one of the most beautiful states in the nation. Although, invasive pests like the emerald ash borer insect or the multiflora rose bush have created problems for our farmers, state parks and forests. For example, federal resources are being matched with state funds to combat Japanese barberry in Cacapon State Park. Without these federal resources we have no way to slow these pests down and more pesticides will be necessary to combat the challenges that will ensue. If future generations are to enjoy West Virginia’s natural beauty it will, invasive pests programs will be a part of that equation.

Sustainable agriculture is a popular buzz word these days, but not easily defined. In general, it means using our resources without exhausting them. In a state with an abundant access to fresh water, conservation and the efforts of the Natural Resources Conservation Service is vital to our state. From addressing food deserts schools to assisting our farmers with the implementation of conservation practices, the Farm Bill provides much needed resources and technical assistance. This is only possible through shared resource programs which are authorized through the bill. Without these programs, many of our schools would have not started farm-to-school programs and West Virginia would not be leading the effort to clean up the Chesapeake Bay watershed through an entirely voluntary approach.

We may only play a small role in our nation’s agricultural might, but our 20,600 small, family farmers play a vital role in our state’s economy and local communities. From the poultry industry in the Eastern Panhandle to the local farm stand providing their neighbors with fresh produce, our farmers grow $800 million worth of food annually. These farmers rely heavily on the assistance authorized within the Farm Bill. If Congress fails to pass a new version, the consequences will affect consumers and farmers alike. What hangs in the balance is a safe, reliable food system. With a safe, reliable food system, you have many problems. Without one, you have one problem. Congress must act and they must do it soon.

Kent A. Leonhardt
West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture

Joe Manchin: Political games would cost West Virginians with pre-existing conditions

The Free Press WV

When people ask why I voted against repealing the health care law, I always say it’s because we need to make sure those with pre-existing conditions don’t go bankrupt paying for basic health care.

I believe that every West Virginian deserves access to quality, affordable health care. I have always said that our nation’s current health care system is in need of repair, but I am very concerned our country is at risk of moving backward instead of forward.

Right now 20 U.S. Attorneys General, including the Attorney General of West Virginia, are suing to allow insurance companies to once again deny coverage to West Virginians with pre-existing conditions.

This impacts every family in West Virginia. More than 800,000 West Virginians have a pre-existing condition, including 90,600 children.

Illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease are only some of a very long list that are considered a pre-existing condition. But did you know that if you are a woman in West Virginia and get pregnant, you are at risk of losing your health care?

If you have arthritis, you are at risk of losing your health care.

If you have asthma, you are at risk of losing your health care.

If you have anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder, you are at risk of losing your health care.

It is important for everyone to have health insurance because your health can change in a blink of an eye, and West Virginians with pre-existing conditions like these are the ones that need health insurance the most.

What’s happening today is an unfortunate political move. Republicans in Congress have tried to repeal the health care law more than 50 times without once voting in a bipartisan way to preserve the good parts of the law, such as protections for the 800,000 West Virginians who, for now, can’t be denied coverage by insurance companies.

What makes this worse is we have two bipartisan compromises, which I have co-sponsored, one led by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and another one led by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.). These bills include important steps that will help reduce health care costs for West Virginia families, and this agreement shows what is possible when we put people before politics. It’s shameful that Congressional Republicans refuse to bring that bill up for a vote.

On Monday, I asked West Virginians to share their stories with me, and my office has been flooded with stories. I heard from Katelyn in Elkview who has a pre-existing condition that could be used against her to take away her health care coverage.

She told me, “I am a 22 year old West Virginian who grew up in northern Kanawha County near Clendenin. I was diagnosed with anorexia when I was 13, and have struggled with it for years. I am thankful that the ACA created provisions that will allow me to remain on my parents’ health insurance until I am 26, but worry that my pre-existing condition could prevent me from getting insured in the future. Losing health insurance would mean me losing access to my mental health medication, as well as making it really difficult to access further treatment should I have a relapse. I also worry about how lack of coverage for my pre-existing condition could prevent me from affording care in the future — I hope to devote my life to public service, which is very fulfilling but does not pay well enough for me to afford to pay high medical bills. This is something that particularly worries me as I get older and am thinking about whether I will be able to afford to start a family. I hope that you will continue to defend the Affordable Care Act, particularly its provisions that protect people with pre-existing conditions and women’s health generally.”

West Virginians agree that we cannot go back to a time when insurance companies played God and decided who was insured and who was not. For a lot of West Virginians with pre-existing conditions, insurance coverage is the difference between life and death.

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~~~ Readers' Comments ~~~

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

By The Silent Majority  on  06.18.2018

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The Free Press WV

On behalf of my recently deceased husband Roy H. Turner, I would like to express my sincere thank you and appreciation to all of my family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, churches and well-wishers who surrounded us with their love and care during our difficult journey with Roy’s illness and death.

Roy and I were deeply touched by the numerous calls, cards, prayers, weed eating and picking up prescriptions, grocery shopping and words of encouragement for strength.

You held us up spiritually and mentally.

The acts of kindness and generosity from the churches and the community mad our burden more bearable. May you all be blessed.

We were blessed to have our son Shane with us. I could not have gotten through this without him and Roy’s brother Bill who made countless trips.

I would like to specifically thank my Co-Workers at Mountain Lakes Reality, LLC, Jim Rankin, Casey Nay, Nick Long and Shelly Flynt for fulfilling my commitments and my clients for their patience and understanding.

A special thank you to Cathy and Steven Flaughers, Letha Metheney, Sandra Metheney, Shirley and Theresa Rose, Samantha and Herb Kniceley, Paige and Lorene Singleton, Rick and Susie Campbell, granddaughter Jessica Knicely, Lisa Tanner and Peggy Burns for all you did.

It’s tough to lose someone like Roy who lived his life serving others.

I would also like to send my gratitude and appreciation to CAMC Cancer Center, Dr. Khalid, Hospice of Charleston and Amy Summers for her exemplary services as a hospice nurse.

A special appreciation to Pastor Trevor Morris for his many words of comfort.

To the Ohio and WV Masons for their brotherly love and Masonic Service. Also, I would like to thank the Sons of the American Legion Detachment of Ohio Judge Advocate Bill Towns and Braxton County Sergeant of Arms Luke Tanner for their graveside Sons of the American Legion Service.

I would like to thank the Pallbearers, grandson Andrew Knicely, nephews Brian Turner, Mark Turner, Beau Hilton, Cody Hilton and Tanner Morehead. Many thanks to Ritchie, Ryan and Heather at the Ritchie Roach Funeral Home for their knowledge, professionalism and compassionate service.

All the people that took time out of their busy lives to offer condolences at the funeral home, the text messages of comfort and strength I would receive during Roy’s illness.

The Servia Fire Department for chairs. For the grave diggers, the last kind act one could do for another, I am so appreciative of Shane Knicely, Andrew Knicely, Jim Knicely, Kelvin Gene Knicely, Kevin Ray Knicely, Herb Knicely, Beau Hilton, Cody Hilton, Luke Tanner, Darrell Nicholas and last but certainly not least, Stevie Jo Cottrill for his final finishing touches that did not go unnoticed.

A special thank you to everyone that prepared dinner after the funeral/burial, refreshments, made food and brought paper products.

Vada Knicely, Vivian Carr, Sue Thompson, Tammy Minigh, Brenda McHenry, Becky Rutherford, Paula Akers, Barb Hoder, Jerry Knicely Sr., Bobbi Allen, Thelma Fitzgerald, Marie Collins, Edna Zwoll, Cindy Wilson, Kay Akers, Shar Knicely, Patty Jones, Bill Hart, Tammy Ann Tanner, Chris Lare, Mary Marks; I am grateful to each and every one of you.

If I have missed anyone I am truly sorry. I cannot imagine living my life without Roy, but I know I praise God for him, family and friends.

Sincerely, Sharon (Knicely) Turner

Preserving the Second Amendment

The Free Press WV

Americans who choose to lawfully exercise their right to keep and bear arms should be at liberty to do so.

Those who wrote the Constitution knew the importance of protecting core values, defending their life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. This was of such significance that the founders ensured the right to bear arms was enshrined into the Bill of Rights.

West Virginians and many who visit our state also cherish the right to carry a concealed handgun. Our office not only respects this personal freedom, we have been and remain committed to expanding the reach of the state’s concealed carry licenses.

We share this respect for the Second Amendment with a growing list of more than 35 states that recognize our traditional concealed handgun licenses.

Since 2013, approximately two dozen states have either recognized West Virginia’s concealed carry license for the first time or enhanced their agreement.

This represents real success and accomplishment – the product of our determined effort to protect the Second Amendment rights of West Virginia gun owners.

That same perseverance drives our office to maintain the broad recognition that West Virginia license holders enjoy, while constantly looking for new avenues with other states.

Our office’s tenacity underscores the benefit of having a concealed carry license, even though West Virginia’s constitutional carry law allows residents and visitors alike, ages 21 and older, to carry concealed without a permit.

Younger West Virginians, ages 18 to 20, may lawfully carry a concealed handgun by obtaining a provisional concealed handgun license. Those permits are recognized by 20 states.

Freedom and responsibility go hand in hand.

Traditional and provisional license holders are required to undergo basic firearm safety training. Such permits are granted only to applicants who are U.S. citizens with a clean criminal record and no addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Those wishing to obtain a concealed handgun license can do so by contacting their local sheriff’s office.

Those traveling with a concealed weapon should contact any state they will enter. It is the license holder’s responsibility to know and understand each state’s recognition status, its applicable laws and any local restrictions.

Mountaineers are always free and the Second Amendment is paramount.

We honor and protect this precious liberty as a matter of utmost importance because responsible gun ownership is a right, whether a person is from West Virginia or possesses a concealed handgun license from another state.

Self-defense, constitutional rights and personal freedoms will always be respected in West Virginia. A population that is free is best equipped to reach its full potential.

Patrick Morrisey is the Attorney General of West Virginia

G-OpEd™: National Police Week

The Free Press WV

As National Police Week comes to a close, take time to recognize the service and sacrifice of the men and women of our law enforcement community. Words are insufficient to express the gratitude of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice, but words are sometimes all we have. Federal, state, and local law enforcement officers are the guardians of our communities. Often at great sacrifice, they enforce the rule of law and keep us safe.

This country’s first known officer death in the line of duty was in 1791. His name was Constable Darius Quimby. He was from New York and was killed trying to arrest a man for a trespassing warrant. The man who killed Constable Quimby was named Whiting Sweeting. He was convicted and hanged. Since the murder of Constable Quimby, there have been more than 20,000 officers killed in the line of duty.

According to the FBI, there were 93 of their brothers and sisters who died across the country in line of duty incidents in 2017. One of them was from West Virginia. Lieutenant Aaron Crook of the Bluefield Police Department died on May 30, 2017 as the result of a vehicle crash at the intersection of Princeton Avenue and Lee Street shortly after midnight while involved in a vehicle pursuit of a suspected drunk driver. His patrol car collided with another Bluefield Police Department patrol car and a West Virginia State Police cruiser. Lieutenant Crook was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and had served with the Bluefield Police Department for nine years. He is survived by his wife and two children.

We’ve had 49 deaths nationally so far in 2018, with half of those being by gunfire. The headlines don’t lie. Officers are many times targets in today’s climate.

In April of this year, Deputy Sheriff Taylor Lindsey and Sergeant Noel Ramirez were simply eating lunch while on a break from their duties with the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office in Florida. Someone opened fire on the officers from outside the restaurant through a window. Both of these officers perished.

Some perish during acts of total selflessness. Police Officer Rodney Scott Smith of the Hickman Police Department in Kentucky was patrolling a flooded area in March of this year, looking for those in need of rescue when his police cruiser was swept away by flood waters. Rodney spent his last watch watching out for others. That’s what guardians do.

Our prayers go out to all of the families of these extraordinary men and women. It takes great courage to be in law enforcement and great strength to be a family member of a law enforcement officer. Their sacrifices will never be forgotten.

As the United States Attorney, I have the privilege of interacting with law enforcement professionals on a nearly daily basis. They are, without question, some of the finest and most dedicated people I’ve encountered in my professional life. There is not a task too big. There is not a sacrifice too great. The professionals I work with are not doing it for the money. They don’t do it for the great work hours or the abuse they take day to day. They are not always perfect, but they have one goal—to make our community safer by protecting those who live in it. They, more often than not, represent the best of us.

Every day I see actions by federal, state and local officers which likely save lives. Whether it is the arrest of a dealer of fentanyl, a felon in possession of a firearm, or the rescue of a child in an abusive situation—lives are saved. Those officers ask for nothing special: not special recognition, not to be singled out and not even for thanks—though that is appreciated and not provided often enough. They just want to do their jobs because they know they are making their communities—the communities that they and their families live in—safer.

Notwithstanding the inherent risks and known dangers, notwithstanding the unfairly broad brush of scorn they get painted with in today’s society, and notwithstanding the physical and emotional pain they are exposed to on a daily basis, our law enforcement members continue to put on their badge every hour of every day. Whether it’s Christmas Day, or 2:00 a.m. on any other day, they are always there for us. That’s what guardians do.

Those who give the ultimate sacrifice gave, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “the last full measure of devotion.”

So, this week we honor these men and women. Thank you for your service, sacrifice and dedication. Our society is better because of you.

United States Attorney Bill Powell, Northern District of West Virginia

Op-Ed: I Just Saw Something Special

The Free Press WV

If you’ve ever seen a truly world-class performance, you know it. The extraordinary talent, the physical capital expended, and the dedication to perfection stands out so clearly that you know you’ve witnessed something special. I just had such an experience, and it’s worth sharing.

Think of this as the Olympics of the U.S. Military, but with a sharp distinction. Olympics are world-wide competitions held for pure sport and personal glory. The “Best Sapper Competition” is a world-wide competition, but held for military competence by competitors dedicated to defending our American way of life. Every competitor volunteered to serve our country, writing a blank check payable to the people of America, for an amount up to and including his or her life.

A Sapper is an Engineer on the cutting edge of the military sword that defends our country. Best known for employing explosives in combat, they do much more. On the offense they are called upon first - to blow holes in enemy defenses, to clear paths for infantry to follow, to clear landing strips for aircraft, to breach doors, and to clear mines. On defense, they are the last to leave the battlefield, blowing bridges, creating tank barriers, and hindering the advance of enemy attackers. Sappers have proven their worth from Yorktown to Omaha Beach to the mountains of Afghanistan.

The U.S. Army’s Best Sapper Competition was held recently at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri - the home of the U.S. Army Engineers, Military Police, and Chemical Corps. Teams from around the globe (two people per team) earned the right to participate in the competition first by individually completing the grueling Sapper Leader Course to earn the coveted “Sapper” tab, then teaming up to win regional or unit competitions. The final Army-wide competition showcases the best-of-the-best and is hailed as “50 Teams, 50 Miles, 50 Hours” - a tagline that doesn’t do justice to what I saw. In reality, the event pushed these warriors to the very edge of human endurance demanding physical, mental, and spiritual fortitude rarely seen. And, this year’s event covered 60 miles, not 50.

The competition began at dusk with a three-mile run and obstacle course - rope climbs, pull-ups, wall climbs, balance beams, etc. - while wearing gas masks. Competitors then executed a “Helocast,“ an airlift via Chinook helicopter where they jumped without parachutes into icy water, at night, wearing combat fatigues and boots. After the several-hundred meter swim to shore, they then “rucked up” (70 pound backpack), and, as a squad, carried a 600-pound Zodiac boat overhead for a mile, still sporting their soaking fatigues in freezing weather. After a half mile swim across an icy lake in the dead of night, the hiking began.

For the next two days, the teams marched 60 miles carrying their 70 pound rucks, encountering 20-some “lanes” that tested their technical and physical proficiency as Sappers.

Technically, they measured a bridge and calculated the proper explosives to demolish it; they were tested on the proper explosives and techniques to breach doors, walls, and buildings; they built - then detonated - C4 charges to sever steel beams; they engaged targets with M320 grenade launchers; they used line explosives to breach barbed wire and concertina wire obstacles; and they calculated charges to destroy enemy artillery and mortar pieces.

Physically, they were pushed to exhaustion with road marches, cliff climbing, rappelling from mountainsides, more river-crossings, and a variety of stress tests. At one station, they performed a “stress shoot” - a combination of punishing exercises and rifle shooting to simulate marksmanship during combat conditions. At another station, instead of brawn, they had to use dexterity and concentration at night to tie knots taught in the Sapper Leader Course while wearing gloves and only under the light of a flashing strobe. And in a third location, they had to use robots, mine detectors, and ground-penetrating radar to simulate clearing an airfield of potential hazards.

Several teams met their physical limitations and had to stop due to medical conditions. Every team experienced blisters and hot spots from the heavy equipment, and were treated by medics along the way. I saw open wounds where backpacks wore bloody lesions deep into the flesh on Soldiers’ backs. Sleep was at a premium, coming only during scheduled downtime for safety, or during strategic pauses on the course - one Soldier would quickly eat or change socks while the other napped, then switched. Speed was always a factor despite the extreme toll being taken on each Soldier’s body.

On the third day, the teams gathered in a medical shed for a quick health evaluation before the final and most demanding event of the competition, the X-Mile Run.  The “X” in “X-Mile” is a variable - no competitor knew the distance to be traveled or physical tests to be completed along the way. Thousands of Soldiers at Fort Leonard Wood gathered along the trail and at the physical challenges to cheer the contestants through the X-Mile Run.

The best comparison I can offer is to consider the most challenging cross-training event you’ve ever seen, and then multiply it by four, spread over a timed three-mile course. Again, contestants were tested mentally along the way, with scores dictating the severity of the physical challenge presented. The teams encountered stations that included: 50 box jumps; 100 meters of burpees; 50 squats with a 95-pound barbell; 150 meter tractor-tire flip; 800 meter fireman carry; 100 meter dead-man pull; 100 meter bear crawl dragging an 80-pound bag; 50 sand-bag thrusters; quarter mile 80-pound cratering-charge carry; 40 hanging toe-to bar reps; wall climbing; barbed-wire low crawl; manual door breaching with a battering ram; 300 pound sand bag/ammo box carry for 100 meters; and more (done in the woods, outside my view). Perhaps the most challenging was the “POW crawl,“ a face/chest-down 75-meter worm-crawl through dust and rocks with hands and ankles joined together behind the back as if tied as a prisoner of war.

Considering what these Soldiers and Marines had been through the previous 49 hours - the freezing temperatures, the blisters and open wounds, the strain from carrying 70 pounds for 60 miles, the lack of sleep - spectators cringed to watch them tackle the X-Mile event. Yet, at that point, we saw something special…there was NO QUIT. Contestants muscled their way through station after station, the agony in their faces felt by each and every spectator on the sidelines.

To say that I’m proud of what I saw is an understatement. More accurately, I was in awe.

I was in awe of the preparation that took place to host an event like this: the logistics, lane graders, medics, road guards, helicopter pilots, engineers to construct obstacles, travel agents, and more, all focused on getting contestants there, and putting on this world-wide competition. I was in awe of the cadre who planned, executed, and graded this grueling competition for 50 straight hours. And, I was in awe of the dedicated men - and two women - who volunteered to undergo the series of tests, all to sharpen and showcase their Sapper skills in order to better serve our country. They volunteered to serve in our Armed Forces, they have risen to the top of their profession in technical expertise, and they dedicated the time to condition their bodies and minds to push past the point of exhaustion. Then, they submitted themselves to be tested to complete exhaustion in front of an entire Army post. Everybody present knew they were witnessing something special.

At the ceremony where the winning Best Sappers were announced, the guest speaker, Lt. Gen. (R) Robert Flowers, made an interesting request. Moved like everyone else by the courage, dedication and tenacity of the contestants, General Flowers made an open plea to President Trump. Flowers asked the Commander in Chief to “bring attention to what is being done here, and at every Army post across our nation where we turn young men and women into Soldiers.“ He went on to say, “When the United States has a tough job to do, it calls on the Army. When the Army has a tough job to do, it calls on its Sappers.“

George Orwell is attributed the notion, “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.“ At Fort Leonard Wood’s Best Sapper Competition, I saw something world-class, something special - the “rough men” of whom Orwell spoke. You can sleep peaceably tonight knowing we have Sappers standing guard on Freedom’s doorstep.

Mac Warner
West Virginia Secretary of State
Mac Warner is West Virginia’s 30th Secretary of State. His son, 1st Lt. Scott Warner and teammate, 1st Lt. Louis Tobergte, are Combat Engineers assigned to the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) in Vicenza, Italy. They placed third in the 2018 Best Sapper Competition.

Education system perpetuates fraud at every level

The Free Press WV

Earlier this month, the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress, aka The Nation’s Report Card, was released. It’s not a pretty story. Only 37 percent of 12th-graders tested proficient or better in reading, and only 25 percent did so in math. Among black students, only 17 percent tested proficient or better in reading, and just 7 percent reached at least a proficient level in math.

The atrocious performance is only a fraction of the bad news. Nationally, our high school graduation rate is over 80 percent. That means high school diplomas, which attest that these students can read and compute at a 12th-grade level, are conferred when 63 percent are not proficient in reading and 75 percent are not proficient in math. For blacks, the news is worse.

Roughly 75 percent of black students received high school diplomas attesting that they could read and compute at the 12th-grade level. However, 83 percent could not read at that level, and 93 percent could not do math at that level. It’s grossly dishonest for the education establishment and politicians to boast about unprecedented graduation rates when the high school diplomas, for the most part, do not represent academic achievement. At best, they certify attendance.

Fraudulent high school diplomas aren’t the worst part of the fraud. Some of the greatest fraud occurs at the higher education levels — colleges and universities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70 percent of white high school graduates in 2016 enrolled in college, and 58 percent of black high school graduates enrolled in college. Here are my questions to you: If only 37 percent of white high school graduates test as college-ready, how come colleges are admitting 70 percent of them? And if roughly 17 percent of black high school graduates test as college-ready, how come colleges are admitting 58 percent of them?

It’s inconceivable that college administrators are unaware that they are admitting students who are ill-prepared and cannot perform at the college level. Colleges cope with ill-prepared students in several ways. They provide remedial courses. One study suggests that more than two-thirds of community college students take at least one remedial course, as do 40 percent of four-year college students.

College professors dumb down their courses so that ill-prepared students can get passing grades. Colleges also set up majors with little analytical demands so as to accommodate students with analytical deficits. Such majors often include the term “studies,“ such as ethnic studies, cultural studies, gender studies and American studies. The major for the most ill-prepared students, sadly enough, is education. When students’ SAT scores are ranked by intended major, education majors place 26th on a list of 38 (

The bottom line is that colleges are admitting youngsters who have not mastered what used to be considered a ninth-grade level of proficiency in reading, writing and arithmetic. Very often, when they graduate from college, they still can’t master even a 12th-grade level of academic proficiency.

The problem is worse in college sports. During a recent University of North Carolina scandal, a learning specialist hired to help athletes found that during the period from 2004 to 2012, 60 percent of the 183 members of the football and basketball teams read between fourth- and eighth-grade levels. About 10 percent read below a third-grade level. Keep in mind that all of these athletes both graduated from high school and were admitted to college.

How necessary is college anyway? One estimate is that 1 in 3 college graduates have a job historically performed by those with a high school diploma. According to Richard Vedder, distinguished emeritus professor of economics at Ohio University and the director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, in 2012 there were 115,000 janitors, 16,000 parking lot attendants, 83,000 bartenders and about 35,000 taxi drivers with a bachelor’s degree.

I’m not sure about what can be done about education. But the first step toward any solution is for the American people to be aware of academic fraud at every level of education.

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.

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Readers' Recent Comments

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

By Reader on 07.14.2018


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Frank Wiseman on 07.14.2018

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

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

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

By GSC EMPLOYEE on 07.13.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Why Dr. Pellet and GSC BOG? on 07.13.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

By Citizen on 07.11.2018


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

By Voters Watching on 07.10.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

By WVU Prof. on 07.09.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By WVU Political Scientist on 07.08.2018

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

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

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

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

Incest often produces less than desired outcomes as well.

By PAST Time for change @ GSC on 07.08.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Governance Changes Needed At GSC on 07.06.2018

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

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Bigger is better? Rarely.

Everyone knows that school consolidation has resulted in failed outcomes.

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

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

By Its just planned failure. on 07.05.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By GSC GRAD on 07.05.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Give All Facts on 07.03.2018

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

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

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

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

By Voters Watching on 07.03.2018

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

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

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

By Jumpin Jim Nose Dives on 07.03.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Good News For WV on 06.29.2018

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

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

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

Are the any honest people running for offices?

By crooks everywhere? on 06.27.2018

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

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

By The Silent Majority on 06.21.2018

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

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

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

By Good on 06.21.2018

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

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

By New Jobs? on 06.20.2018

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

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

By SAT Checker on 06.19.2018

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

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

By The Silent Majority on 06.18.2018

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

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

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

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

By Gilmer EDA...private club ? on 06.15.2018

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

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

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

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

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

By End Public Information Embargo on 06.13.2018

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

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If true, this would be great news!

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

How about it GCEDA President Jeff Campbell?

Lets hear from you.

By reader6 on 06.11.2018

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

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Interesting chart.

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

BUT, BUT, where are they?

By Where are they? on 06.08.2018

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

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

By Trespasser Will on 06.08.2018

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

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

By Trespasser Will on 06.07.2018

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

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

By Rural WV still waiting.... on 06.06.2018

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

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

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

By WV's dilapidated economy on 06.05.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

By Tresspasser Will on 06.03.2018

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

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

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

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

Love you dearly,

Cousin, Jo Ann xoxoxo

By Jo Ann Emrick on 06.01.2018

From the entry: 'Catherine Ann Umanetz'.

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

By Etched Memory on 05.31.2018

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

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

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

Keep up the good works!

By many kudos ! on 05.31.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Another black eye for state intervention ! on 05.30.2018

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

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All this Minney stuff brings up at least 2 questions:

WHY did state appointed super Devano hire Minney?

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

Either poor hiring practices or someone pulling strings.

By questions but no answers ? on 05.30.2018

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

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

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

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

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

By Ridiculous on 05.30.2018

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

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

By FTM on 05.30.2018

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

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

By They were bad on 05.30.2018

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

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

By Don LK on 05.30.2018

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

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He got caught of mismanagement of public funds.

By Jeremy D on 05.30.2018

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

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

By Just Curious on 05.30.2018

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

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

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

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

By Some remember on 05.21.2018

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

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

By Sherry Straley Broggi and Rita Straley on 05.17.2018

From the entry: 'Lora Faye Tomblin'.

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

Where’s DR? He never misses these events?

By Very nice project - great volunteers! on 05.17.2018

From the entry: 'CommunityImprovement™: Pavilion'.

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

By GSC RETENTION? on 05.15.2018

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

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

By Reader on 05.14.2018

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

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

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

By Alumni on 05.13.2018

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

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Some interesting results.  Should shake the trees a little.

By Spring cleaning! on 05.09.2018

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

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So sorry for your loss.  Prayers.

By Betty Woofter on 05.07.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By WVDE Career Employees on 05.06.2018

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

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

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

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

By R. Page on 05.06.2018

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

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

In essence that is a FAILURE rate of 65% !

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

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

By Wv Has a FLAWED educational system ! on 05.05.2018

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

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

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

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

By Rex Page on 05.03.2018

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

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

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

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

By WVDE Watcher on 05.03.2018

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

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

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

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

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

By Block Schedule Supported By Blockheads on 05.02.2018

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

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

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

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

By Pleased Parents on 05.02.2018

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

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Mr. Williams has it nailed down.  Solid.

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

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

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

But the failed administrators keep their jobs.

By Time To Clean the Education House! on 05.01.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

By Spring cleaning! on 05.01.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By We Want Better Schools on 04.30.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

By WVDOE Disgusted on 04.20.2018

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

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

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

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

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

This is the WVBOE legacy.

By State BOE - dysfunctional is an understatement? on 04.16.2018

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

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Maybe Jimmy can pay some of his tax bills now?

By Justice, pay your tax bills! on 04.15.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

That is, if you are up to it.

By Kanawha Reader on 04.15.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Economist on 04.14.2018

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

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

By R. A. Beasley on 04.14.2018

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

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By Don't bring them to Gilmer! on 04.13.2018


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

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

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

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

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

By GCHS Parents on 04.12.2018

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

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

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

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

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

By Makin Arch Look Good on 04.09.2018

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

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

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

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

By R. Curry on 04.06.2018

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

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

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

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

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

By Appreciative Parent on 04.05.2018

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

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

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

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

That dissention was completely ignored by our failed state leadership.

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

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

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

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

By J.P. on 03.30.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Gilmer County Teacher on 03.30.2018

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

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