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Food

Wild Game is a Nutritional, Natural Source of Protein

The Free Press WV

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

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

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

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

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

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

Healthier School Lunch Choices: A Worthy Investment for WV

The Free Press WV

Public officials are tasked with ensuring programs are efficiently using public dollars while maximizing services. As budgets tighten, these programs are vetted under extreme scrutiny to determine worth. Due to elections, most elected officials look for the quickest return on investments when prioritizing initiatives. Policies that take years to reach fruition are often overlooked; voters expect results now. As attention spans have decreased and expectations have risen, it has resulted in policies becoming shorter sighted. A shining example that did not contemplate future consequences was the decision to take fresh, healthy foods out of our school systems.

Given the recent discussions surrounding the Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA), we must examine practices within West Virginia state agencies that are contributing to the rise of healthcare costs in West Virginia. This is paramount as our state budget continues to grow despite agencies seeing cuts year after year. Services within these entities are being pushed to the wayside to pay for the increase cost of caring for our citizens. Therefore, the state’s health care bill is putting a strain on all government agencies. Obesity, the drug epidemic and an aging population are the main contributors for the inflated burden.

Elected officials are already focused on combating the drug epidemic, while attracting young people to the state to replace our older generations in the workforce. However, the same effort is not being put towards to solving the rising obesity crisis in the Mountain State. Policies implemented in the past have created an artificial preference for processed foods at state institutions. This is due to a decision to rid schools of actual kitchens and the cooks who staffed them. In lieu of this, schools opt for highly processed foods that can be heated and served instead of prepared, fresh. The healthier food options have been replaced with high sugar, low-nutritional value counterparts contributing to some of the worst health issues in the nation. In what looked to be a small savings at the time, in reality has had dire consequences on our population.

According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, children consume up to 50 percent of their daily calories at school. At the same time, obesity rates have risen 4.5% in the last 20 years, according to the CDC and Prevention’s National Health Nutrition Examination Survey. This clearly shows, obesity is an increasing problem for our children. A study, New School Meal Regulations Increase Fruit Consumption and Do Not Increase Total Plate Waste, found when kids were given healthier choices, they ate more food while throwing less away. School Lunch Quality and Academic Performance found a modest increase in tests scores of children whose lunches were replaced with healthier options. We can see that the food served in our schools has a huge correlation to overall health and academic performance of students.

As health care costs continue to rise, our state has an opportunity to right the wrongs of the past. We need to focus on future generations, instilling healthy habits at an early age. This must include expanding opportunities for state institutions to source healthier, local foods from West Virginia farmers. Current practices clearly have costed the state more money in the long run, as well as taking economic opportunities from the local producer. If we can reverse course, the state will see a drop in health care costs while creating opportunities for economic growth. We should no longer continue to make decisions based on short term savings without considering long term consequences. At the end of the day, our children deserve better and this is simply the right thing to do for West Virginia.

Sources:

www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes/index.htm
online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/chi.2015.0019
www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/analysis/2016/04/06/healthy-school-lunches-can-reduce-childhood-obesity-and-diabetes

Kent A. Leonhardt
West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture

Farms to School Food Links Growing Like a Weed

The Free Press WV

Almost all West Virginia school districts get - or plan to get - food from local farms, and Congress may further boost the growing connection.

The Farm to School Act of 2017 would expand existing USDA Farm to School Grants to improve access.

Maximilian Merrill, the policy director for the National Farm to School Network explains it’s a win-win: Farmers supply their food to schools and students learn about agriculture.

“Students participating in educational activities related to agriculture, food and nutrition and health - and school gardens, so students engage in hands-on learning through gardening so they understand where their food comes from and the difficulty it is to grow that healthy food,“ he explains.

The bill asks for funding to be increased annually from $5- to $15 million to better meet the demand for the program. According to the USDA, more than 80 percent of districts in the state take part, and another nine percent plan to.

State districts have invested more than $21 million in local food, helping to provide for about a quarter million students. The Farm to School Act of 2017 would enable that to include summer foodservice program sites and after-school programs, and encourage farm-to-school partnerships between tribal schools and tribal producers.

Merrill notes that the program helps boost farmers’ bottom lines.

“In 2013-2014, that school year, there was $790 million in local foods purchased from farmers, ranchers and fishermen,“ he notes. “And if you look at the multiplying factor, that leads to over $1 billion pushed into the local economy.“

The bill also would improve program participation from beginning, veteran and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

It’s Harder to Nourish Young Minds If We Don’t Also Properly Nourish Their Bodies

5 Things You Don’t Know About School Lunches (But Probably Should)
The Free Press WV

School lunches have been the focus of much controversy in the past few years, but school cafeteria food been the brunt of jokes for decades, as anyone who has ever attended public school can attest. However, school lunches are no laughing matter. Today, we’re more aware than ever of the importance of nourishing young minds with a healthy, well-balanced diet to equip students for success. But do we really know everything we need to know? Here are five things you don’t know about school lunches—but probably should.

 
1. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 has good intentions but is not well-executed—yet.

Most everyone is aware that there is some set of standards that aim to standardize the nutritional quality of school lunches across the nation. Most notably, Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, enabling the U.S. Department of Agriculture to overhaul school meals in order to meet currently accepted standards. 

In spite of its noble intentions, the act has been harshly criticized by claims that the food is unpalatable, participation in the school lunch program has dropped sharply as a result, and in turn, school districts are realizing less revenue. Worse, more students are skipping lunch altogether.

On the surface, the Hunger-Free Kids Act makes a lot of sense. It requires school meals to be lower in fat, lower in calories and lower in sodium, as well as contain more lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. The hallmarks of a well-balanced diet, right? Unfortunately, in order to continue to meet student expectations, school lunch programs are often serving reengineered versions of the foods students were accustomed to (think: whole-grain doughnuts, cheesesteak sandwich served on whole-grain bread with cheese low in both fat and salt, and some form of lean meat that some say is unidentifiable to many students). It’s fair to say that these reinvented foods aren’t meeting the bar in students’ eyes.

 
2. Standards require that certain foods be on a student’s trays when exiting the lunch line, but there’s no guarantee the kid will actually eat it.

It also turns out there’s a lot of waste. The act requires that students participating in school lunch programs have certain items on their trays before exiting the lunch line—meaning many fruits and vegetables are dumped into the trash, untouched.

Other critics express concern that by banning certain foods and attempting to essentially force students to consume foods they don’t enjoy, the program may be fostering an unhealthy relationship with food among today’s youth. Proponents of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, however, say that students are starting to come around to some of the healthier options and say that the act simply needs more time to allow schools and students to adjust.

 
3. Your school district may be outsourcing its school lunch program.

Huge food service companies are making bank by securing contracts with public school systems to provide school lunch foods. Privatization of school lunches has been around since the 1980s and 1990s, primarily due to dwindling federal support and funding. Sadly, nutritional standards often take a backseat to the need to control costs.

One public school district in Washington, D.C., gave the concept of privatization a shot beginning in the 2008-2009 school year based on the promise of numerous benefits: better-tasting meals with better nutritional quality, which in turn would result in better student participation in the school lunch program—an attractive benefit for schools.

More importantly, outsourcing the school lunch program was supposed to result in cost savings. Per Washington, D.C., law, any outsourced government service must result in a cost savings of 5 percent or more. An audit conducted in 2016 found that the district consistently failed to realize the projected cost savings:

  • In the 2009 fiscal year, projected savings were 56 percent and actual savings were -4 percent.
  • In the 2010 fiscal year, projected savings were 68 percent; actual savings, 53 percent.
  • In the 2011 fiscal year, projected savings were 73 percent; actual savings, 5 percent.

These savings shortfalls were expected to be made up with the promise of drastically increased student participation (from approximately 51 percent to 71.6 percent in the first year). Higher participation rates typically result in increased revenue through reimbursements per each meal served. However, these projections also failed to play out as expected.

Nutritional standards for healthier school meals may be partially to blame for a lack of participation, but other factors played a role as well. For instance, the report points out that participation rates are typically higher among students who receive free lunches. It’s worth mentioning that the audit did not specifically aim to assess the nutritional value or quality of the foods provided.

Finally, the audit report identifies six other school districts that have privatized food services and subsequently returned to self-operation, including:

  • School District of Philadelphia
  • New York City Public Schools
  • Detroit Public Schools
  • Fairfax County Public Schools
  • New Haven Public Schools
  • Baltimore City Public Schools

For one reason or another, each of these school districts ultimately returned to self-operation after failed attempts at outsourcing food services.

Costs are obviously a pressing factor for school systems today, as many districts are operating on tight budgets, and some are even tapping into reserve funds to get through another fiscal year. But perhaps the more pressing question is whether privatization of school lunch programs results in healthier foods.

 
4. Major food companies make big money by marketing less-than-healthy food choices to schools.

In 2009, privatization was viewed as a possible savior for the sad state of school lunches, promising ready-made, healthy, and tasty meals that meet USDA standards, but these programs largely targeted charter and private schools at the time, as the cost of the meals exceeded the federal reimbursement, and public school districts simply lacked the funding to make up the difference.

For every company offering healthy meal options for schools, there are several making bank by marketing unhealthy options. And ultimately, if student participation isn’t there, the program—no matter how healthy it may be—won’t have the desired impact.

But how is this happening given the nutritional standards that went into effect? It’s the same phenomenon discussed earlier in this article: rather than scrap the idea of serving kids corn dogs for lunch, food companies simply re-invented their products to meet nutritional standards. So, kids are still getting corn dogs for lunch, but maybe they’re lower-sodium corn dogs.

Schools can either purchase foods directly from the USDA at discounted rates (which the USDA obtains from private companies) or they can opt to purchase foods directly from private companies, provided the meals meet the standards, containing the required minimum amount of whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine reviewed a number of advertisements targeting the School Nutrition Association, a professional organization representing the 55,000+ school food service employees tasked with choosing and purchasing foods for school lunches. It found 106 ads for unhealthy meat and dairy products; among them, 26 full-page ads for Pizza Hut or Domino’s pepperoni pizza.

 
5. School districts may receive whole, nutritious food—and then process it into unhealthy options like chicken nuggets.

A 2011 article in the New York Times reports that the Department of Agriculture spends about $1 billion each year on foods such as fresh apples, sweet potatoes, chickens, and turkeys. Schools that participate in the program get cash subsidies or USDA foods for each meal they serve. According to the Times, some schools will cook these whole foods on-site, but an increasing number actually send the foods out for processing, turning once-healthy ingredients into unhealthy options such as fried chicken nuggets, pizza, French fries, and other common school lunch menu items.

The reason some schools send whole ingredients out for processing seems counter-intuitive, but it’s possible that it all comes down to the bottom line: it’s a lot easier to cook chicken nuggets for hundreds of students than it is to prepare chicken breasts, for instance, and it often requires simpler kitchen facilities and less-skilled staff to do so. So, while schools are paying more to have these items processed, they may be realizing greater cost savings by reducing their investment in labor costs (fewer hours, fewer skilled kitchen staff) and facilities.

One thing is clear: school lunches have a long way to go, and there’s no simple solution in sight. As school districts struggle to balance costs with meeting federal nutritional standards and other requirements, students are left to weather the storm with lackluster food choices that may not be having the positive effect on their mental and physical health that educators and parents want—and are certainly not having the tastebud-pleasing effects students hope for.

~~  Cynthia Lopez ~~

Packed Lunches: Cutting Corners, But Not Food Safety

The Free Press WV

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

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


Advanced Planning

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


The Morning Of

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


After Lunch

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

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

WVBOE Approves Nutrition Policy for West Virginia Public Schools

January 02, 2018 is the take effect date for a new nutrition policy for West Virginia’s public schools.

The Free Press WV

The state Board of Education approved Policy 4321.1 Standards for School Nutrition as a replacement for a previous nutrition policy dating back to 2008.

In general, it aligns West Virginia’s child nutrition standards with federal child nutrition standards.

In many ways, the policy approval is a formality.

“Our schools have been operating under the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act since 2012,” Michele Blatt, assistant state superintendent of schools, told members of the state BOE before the vote.

“The Act passed in 2010 and we started transitioning our schools to meet those federal requirements and had all our schools functioning by 2012, but our policy had not caught up with what was occurring in our schools.”

In part, the policy addresses food brought into schools for classroom celebrations or other events.

Under revisions that followed a public comment period, baked goods from home are again allowed in schools if in accordance with local wellness policies which are developed by county school officials.

“When we talk about our current local wellness policy, these are policies that are required by the federal government and all of our districts currently have a local wellness policy,” explained Blatt.

“In that policy, they have to promote student wellness, talk about how they’re going to prevent and reduce childhood obesity and provide assurances that school meals and all other food and beverages sold or provided will meet the applicable federal and state standards.”

Miller Hall, a BOE member, said local control was key. “I think that’s the way it needs to be,” he said.

A portion of the policy revisions prohibit counties from punishing students for unpaid or outstanding school meal debt with denial of meals, blocked access to extracurricular activities, graduation participation bans, refusal of transcript requests or other measures.

“All communication addressing financial matters should be directed to parents/guardians,” the policy stated. “Food and beverages shall not be offered as a reward and/or used as a means of punishment or disciplinary action for any student during the school day.”

More than 400 comments from 180 individuals, a larger number than usual according to state Department of Education officials, were submitted to the DOE prior to the close of the public comment period.

Going forward, Dr. Steve Paine, state superintendent of schools, said the effects of the policy would be monitored. “If it doesn’t work, we come right back and we revisit the policy,” Paine said Thursday.

~~  Shauna Johnson ~~

Healthy Meals Help Kids Succeed in School

The Free Press WV

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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

West Virginia Feed to Achieve Program Aims to End Childhood Hunger

The Free Press WV

West Virginia Feed to Achieve (WVFTA), an initiative of the West Virginia Department of Education Office of Children Nutrition, officially launched today during a special event on the Capitol lawn.

State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Martirano served as keynote speaker and addressed the importance of working together to end childhood hunger in West Virginia.

“Hunger among children has a major impact not only on health care costs later in life, but also educational achievement, worker productivity and eventually the ability of the region and nation to compete in a global economy,” Martirano said. “Feed to Achieve will be a tremendous asset to our state. It will also help build the foundation for other states to develop and carry out similar programs for children.”

West Virginia Feed to Achieve is a nonprofit, donation-based program that aims to end childhood hunger in West Virginia by providing grants to programs that are feeding children outside of the school day such as backpack feeding programs, school-based food pantries, community-based food pantries, and church-based feeding programs.

“In West Virginia there are nearly 1 in 4 children that live in a household that does not have sufficient access to food,” said Samantha Snuffer-Reeves, West Virginia Department of Education Office of Child Nutrition Coordinator. “Feed to Achieve’s main goal is to feed children when they’re most at risk: after school hours, holidays, weekends, snow days and during the summer months.”

The inspiration for WVFTA occurred when West Virginia Senator John Unger was visiting an elementary school in Martinsburg. He asked what students would change about their school and one boy said he would like to receive two lunches so there would be enough food left over for his parents and siblings. “That was a huge wakeup call for our department- something had to be done about childhood hunger in our state, and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” Martirano said.

West Virginia Feed to Achieve is solely dependent on donations from individuals, businesses and corporations. All donations received directly fund grants that are distributed to eligible social service organizations statewide twice a year.

Grant applications will be received in September in preparation for winter and in April 2017 in preparation for next summer. Funds will then be awarded in November 2016 and June 2017. The West Virginia Feed to Achieve Selection Committee will review grant applications and award funding. Funding amounts will be dependent on the amount of money in the state West Virginia Feed to Achieve fund.

Since West Virginia Feed to Achieve programs are strictly donation based, interested corporate or individual donors are encouraged to visit and make donations on the West Virginia Feed to Achieve website at www.wvfeedtoachieve.com.

Report: U.S. Should Use Fewer Antibiotics in Agriculture

The Free Press WV

CHARLESTON, WV – A new report calls for banning or restricting the use of antibiotics in farm animals to curb the global spread of infections.

Cameron Harsh, senior manager for organic and animal policy for he Center for Food Safety, explains continuously dosing animals creates stronger strains of bacteria, which makes antibiotics less effective at fighting infections in people.

He says the report is a wake-up call for policymakers to reform common factory farming practices.

“Producers can crowd animals, have higher stocking densities, and they’re getting animals to grow faster on less feed,” he points out. “So, in the long run, these have been misused as a tool to raise more meat and poultry products faster and more cheaply.“

According to the report, from the Britain-based Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, some 700,000 people die each year worldwide from antibiotic-resistant infections, and that number could rise to 10 million per year by 2050.

Industry groups say they’re using antibiotics to keep animals healthy, and maintain the practice is necessary to keep costs down.

Doctors report for the first time in the U.S, a patient has come in to receive care infected with a bacteria that’s resistant to every known antibiotic. Harsh and others see it as a possible result of livestock antibiotic use. He notes that making sure animals have good feed, can access the outdoors and have enough space to lie down helps boost their natural immune systems. And he says an increasing number of people are willing to pay more for drug-free meat, dairy and eggs.

“You’re seeing a lot of companies make strong statements about antibiotic use in their supplies, and make strong commitments to reduce use,” he points out. “But transparency is going to be an important step moving forward, so that consumers can make informed food decisions in the marketplace.“

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has introduced guidelines that would require farmers to get antibiotics from licensed veterinarians, instead of over the counter at the local feed store, and has asked drug makers to voluntarily remove growth-promotion claims from labels.

Harsh maintains those moves don’t go far enough.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

G-OpEd™: Labels on Genetically Modified Foods? Not So Fast

The Free Press WV

States could no longer require labeling of genetically modified foods under legislation approved by a Senate panel.

The Senate Agriculture Committee voted 14-6 Tuesday to prevent the labeling on packages of foods that include genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. Vermont is set to require such labels this summer, and other states are considering similar laws.

Senators have said they want to find a compromise on the labeling issue before Vermont’s law kicks in. Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., chairman of the panel, said a patchwork of state laws would be a “wrecking ball” that could be costly for agriculture, food companies and ultimately consumers.

“Now is not the time for Congress to make food more expensive for anybody,“ Roberts said.

The bill would block Vermont’s law and create new voluntary labels for companies that want to use them on food packages that contain genetically modified ingredients.

The legislation is similar to a bill the House passed last year. The food industry has strongly backed both bills, saying GMOs are safe and a patchwork of state laws isn’t practical. Labeling advocates have been fighting state-by-state to enact the labeling, with the eventual goal of a national standard.

Passage won’t be as easy in the Senate, where 60 votes will be needed to overcome a certain filibuster. Vermont Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders have both strongly opposed efforts to block their state’s law.

Roberts and Stabenow have worked to find a compromise that can pass the Senate. But those negotiations broke down before the committee vote, and Roberts said the panel needed to move quickly ahead of the Vermont law. Both said they are still negotiating and hope to find agreement.

Stabenow said that for the legislation to receive broad enough support to pass the Senate, “it must contain a pathway to a national system of mandatory disclosure that provides consumers the information they need and want to make informed choices.“

Three Democrats voted for Roberts’ bill: North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp, Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar.

Genetically modified seeds are engineered in laboratories to have certain traits, like resistance to herbicides. The majority of the country’s corn and soybean crop is now genetically modified, with much of that going to animal feed. Corn and soybeans are also made into popular processed food ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup, corn starch and soybean oil.

The food industry says about 75 percent to 80 percent of foods contain genetically modified ingredients.

While the Food and Drug Administration says they are safe and there is little scientific concern about the safety of those GMOs on the market, advocates for labeling say not enough is known about their risks. Among supporters of labeling are many organic companies that are barred by law from using modified ingredients in their foods.

Those groups said they are holding out hope for a compromise on the Senate floor.

“We remain hopeful that the Senate will craft a national, mandatory GMO labeling system that provides consumers with basic factual information about their food,“ said Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group.

National Nutrition Month

The Free Press WV

For National Nutrition Month, Enjoy Food Traditions and Experiences to ‘Savor the Flavor of Eating Right’

Bridgeport, WV –For National Nutrition Month® 2016, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and United Hospital Center is encouraging everyone to “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right” by taking time to enjoy food traditions and appreciate the pleasures, great flavors and social experiences food can add to your life.

“Your source of energy and nourishment is through the foods you consume; thereby, helping you to live and protect your body against diseases, said Sherry Spagnuolo, RD, LD, registered dietitian at UHC.  “Certainly food should be enjoyed. So the way you prepare and combine food is also important.”

The Free Press WV


Enjoy Food Traditions and Social Experiences

There is an obvious social component to food. Whether a nightly family dinner, special holiday occasion or social gathering, food often plays a central role.
“Getting back to the tradition of eating together as a family is significant in that it promotes the family bond and helps us to eat healthier too,” Spagnuolo said.  “It is certainly a ritual that we all need to practice.”


Appreciate Foods Pleasures and Flavors

Take time to appreciate the flavors, textures and overall eating experience. In today’s busy world, we often eat quickly and mindlessly. Instead, try following this tip to help you savor the flavor of your food: Eat slowly.

“Eat slowly to savor the flavors and textures of your food,” Spagnuolo says.  “This not only allows you to appreciate what you’re consuming, but it can also help you to eat less as your stomach will send a message to your brain that you are full.”


Develop a Mindful Eating Pattern

How, when, why and where you eat are just as important as what you eat. Being a mindful eater can help you reset both your body and your mind and lead to an overall healthier lifestyle.
“Avoid multitasking through you meals, “said Spagnuolo.  “Take time to mindfully eat so that you will feel fuller faster and be less likely to over eat.”


Consult a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

“Making good food choices, based on your individual health and nutrient needs, and including healthy habits, like exercise,  can be essential in contributing to an overall healthy lifestyle,”  said Spagnuolo.

Possible School Lunch Improvements

The Free Press WV

CHARLESTON, WV - Members of the U.S. Senate are working on a bipartisan bill that would reauthorize child nutrition programs, including the national school lunch and breakfast programs for the next five years. Among the changes, the legislation includes funding for expanded kitchen equipment to enable staff to prepare fresh-cooked meals for students.

Claire DiMattina, executive director with the advocacy group Food Policy Action, says this comes after a trend of school districts centralizing food preparation and utilizing frozen meals and vegetables.

“Because we’re talking about serving fresh fruits and vegetables and heart-healthy meals and meals with less sodium and some of those things you just can’t serve if you don’t have a place to prepare them,“ says DiMattina.

The legislation also would require that 80 percent of grains served in schools are whole grain and it puts in place sodium-reduction requirements. Once lawmakers are back in session, the bill will have to be added to the calendar to be considered by the full Senate.

The bill also doubles funding for the Farm to School Grant Program, streamlines summer meal coordination and expands summer meal programs. DiMattina says if passed, the legislation would have a direct impact on children in the state.

“For a lot of those kids, these are one or two of the only healthy, nutritious and hopefully delicious meals they’re having every day,“ she says. “So, it’s important that we’re providing meals that are healthy, that they want to eat, that are providing the necessary nutrients.“

The former Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act that went into effect in 2010 has been criticized for encouraging a menu with food many children won’t eat. This bill is the reauthorization of that legislation and includes some changes.

~~  Dan Heyman   ~~

Petty Wins Culinary Contest

The 3rd Annual Gingerbread House Contest sponsored by First Neighborhood Bank was held at the Blennerhassett Hotel in Parkersburg on December 12, 2015.

Sixty houses were entered and displayed in the contest.

The Free Press WV


There were seven divisions and $7,000 in awards.

Analysse “Annie” Petty placed first in the school division.

The Free Press WV
Gabriel Devono (Gilmer County Schools Superintendent),
Analysse Petty, Chef Annette Benson (instructor)


A $200 check was awarded to Calhoun-Gilmer Career Center and her class will receive a pizza party to celebrate her accomplishment.

Annie attends the ProStart/Culinary Arts and Health Occupations programs at the Calhoun-Gilmer Career Center.

The Free Press WV


She is a TASC completer through the Option Pathway and will be a 2016 graduate of Gilmer County High School in May.

Annie is the niece of Danielle Cottrill of Rosedale Road, Normantown, WV.

The Free Press WV

New Food Safety Rules: Something to be Thankful For?

The Free Press WV

CHARLESTON, WV -  The Food and Drug Administration is putting new food safety rules in place, and advocates of the change say that’s something to be thankful for.

The FDA is finalizing rules for three basic categories of groceries: produce, imports, and processed foods.

Sandra Eskin, director of the Safe Food Project for The Pew Charitable Trusts, says she’s going to take a moment at her Thanksgiving table to be grateful.

“We have a safe food supply in this country, but it can be safer,“ she says. “And it’s made safer by rules like these that are going to make the people who grow and import the food responsible for the safety of it.“

Some farm and food industry lobbying groups have chafed under federal rules in the past. Eskin points out the new regulations will be phased in starting with the big operations first.

She adds many of the rules will be enforceable, rather than voluntary, for the first time.

The rules also will require producers, growers and importers to ensure the food they produce or import has minimal contamination. That’s a change, for both produce and for imports.

“For the very first time, the entity that imports a food product regulated by FDA is responsible for the safety of that product,“ says Eskin.

Many people probably assume all the important food-safety rules were put in place a long time ago. But Eskin says that isn’t the case. She says every time there is a serious food-safety problem, regulators consider updating the rules. That was the case a few years ago, when a lot of people became ill after eating fast-food hamburgers.

“Looking at ground beef, looking at this particular horrible strain of E. coli, we have cut infections by 50 percent. And that is quite an achievement,“ she says.

For consumers, Eskin notes there is still a need to follow all the basic rules for safe food handling, storage and preparation at home. But she says they can also be thankful that their food will be safer and more sanitary before they get to it.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

DHHR Encourages Residents to Take Steps to Avoid Foodborne Illness

The Free Press WV

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Public Health (BPH) is reminding residents of the importance of proper food preparation and food storage temperatures during the holiday season. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), foodborne illness is a common, preventable public health problem. Each year, one in six Americans gets sick from contaminated foods or beverages. Foodborne illnesses commonly occur due to unclean hands, not separating raw meat from other foods, not cooking foods to the correct temperature and not refrigerating food properly.

“Foodborne illness sends more than 100,000 people in our nation to the hospital each year,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, State Health Officer and Commissioner for DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health.  “Taking the time to ensure that proper food handling measures are taken around the holidays and throughout the year can go a long way in preventing an outbreak of illness such as norovirus, salmonella or E. coli.”

BPH offers the following tips for preventing foodborne illnesses:

• Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145°F (62.8°C) as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming.

• Cook all raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to an internal temperature of 155°F (68°C) as measured with a food thermometer.

• Cook all poultry and stuffed meats, poultry, fish and pasta to an internal temperature of 165°F (73.9°C) as measured with a food thermometer.

• Foods should not be thawed at room temperature. Safe thawing methods include in the refrigerator, under cool running water, or in the microwave.  If food is thawed in running water or the microwave, it should be cooked immediately.  It is also important to allow sufficient time to thaw food.

• Check the temperature of your refrigerator and freezer with an appliance thermometer. The refrigerator should be at 40°F (4.4°C) or below and the freezer at 0°F (-17.7°C) or below.

“Always wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food,” said Gupta. “Keep raw meat, poultry, fish, and their juices away from other food to avoid cross-contamination. After cutting raw meats, wash cutting boards, utensils, and countertops with hot, soapy water.”

According to Dr. Gupta, it is important to discard any food left out at room temperature for more than two hours.  Place food into shallow containers and immediately put in the refrigerator or freezer for rapid cooling.  Make sure you use cooked leftovers within four days.

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

One result is that the GCES was built too small.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By GCES Built Too Small Scandal on 01.15.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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

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

By Gilmer resident on 01.14.2019

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

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

By Muddling Epidemic In WV School Systems on 01.14.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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

By we know it on 01.13.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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

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

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

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

By Student Learning at GCHS and GCES on 01.13.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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

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

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

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

By Muddling 101 on 01.11.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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

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

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

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

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

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

By End School System Muddling on 01.09.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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

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

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

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

By Need Specifics For Principal's Reports on 01.09.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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

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

Sincerely

Pat McGroyne

By Pat McGroyne on 01.08.2019

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

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

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

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

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

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

By overheard conversation on 01.08.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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

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

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

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

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

By ZOOMWV Data Dashboard on 01.07.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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

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

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

By Let An Accountant Dig It Out on 11.21.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

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

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

By End Financial Secrecy on 11.21.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

By Get It Done on 11.21.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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How about the “BIG WV WINDFALL”....?

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

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

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

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

By taxpayers always lose on 11.21.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

By CheatersNeverWin on 11.20.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

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

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

By Corrupt State Intervention on 11.19.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

Any local whistle blowers?  Doubtful.

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

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

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

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

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

By More Specifics For Principal's Reports on 11.17.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

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

By Follow The Money on 11.16.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

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

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

By Do It Ourselves on 11.15.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

By QuestionablePractice on 11.14.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Citizens For Financial Disclosure on 11.14.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

By Jo Ann conrad on 11.11.2018

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

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

By Jo Ann conrad on 11.11.2018

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

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

By Where Is The Investigation? on 11.11.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

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

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

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

By INFO REQUEST TO GCBOE on 11.09.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

By Follow the Paycheck(s) on 11.06.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

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

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

By Where Is The Money? on 11.05.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

By Steve Lewis on 11.04.2018

From the entry: 'Kendall Goodwin'.

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

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

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

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

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

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

By What Was The Grading System? on 10.30.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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

By Reader7 on 10.29.2018

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

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

By Robin Nunez on 10.28.2018

From the entry: 'Stephen Blair Marks'.

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

By Buck Edwards on 10.28.2018

From the entry: 'Stephen Blair Marks'.

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

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

By Details Please on 10.26.2018

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

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

By GSC's New Mission? on 10.26.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By GSC Alumni on 10.26.2018

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

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

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

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

By Opportunity for GSC on 10.23.2018

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

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

By Agreements Matter on 10.22.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Why Reinvent The Wheel? on 10.22.2018

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

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

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

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

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

By Clarity Is Always Good on 10.18.2018

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

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

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

By Help Understanding on 10.17.2018

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

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

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

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

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

By Levy Supporter on 10.16.2018

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

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“engage in pedantic colloquy?“

No Bill.

By WEKNOWYOU on 10.14.2018

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

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

By Reader7 on 10.14.2018

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

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

By Smart Feller on 10.13.2018

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

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

By Reader7 on 10.12.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Synthesis is at the high end.

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

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

By Easy Way Out on 10.10.2018

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

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

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

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

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

Could the WV School Board Association help fill the gap?

By Lost Opportunity on 10.07.2018

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

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

By Greg Garvin on 10.04.2018

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

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

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

By Positive Changes Made By New BOE on 10.04.2018

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

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

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

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

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

By Thanks Gilmer BOE on 10.03.2018

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

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

By Transparency matters on 09.30.2018

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

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

By citizen 3 on 09.23.2018

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

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

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

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

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

By Learn What Works From Others on 09.23.2018

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

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

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

By GC--still on state probation? on 09.22.2018

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

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

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

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

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

By Iowa Test For Gilmer on 09.21.2018

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

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

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

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

By County-Specific on 09.21.2018

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

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

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

To blame all problems on teachers is a cruel travesty.

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

By Do Not Blame It All On Our Teachers on 09.21.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Muddling on 09.19.2018

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

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

By Adrienne (Trimper) Johnson on 09.19.2018

From the entry: 'Ronald J. Vanskiver'.

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Tell It Like It Is ! on 09.19.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Why Gilmer BOE? on 09.18.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

By just more smoke and mirrors on 09.16.2018

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

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

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

By No solution here- on 09.16.2018

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

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

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

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

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

By Look At Red Flags on 09.16.2018

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

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

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

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

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

By Who Minds The Store on 09.15.2018

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

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

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

By More sad ones to be told. on 09.14.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gilmer County High School.

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

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

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

By Public Demands Answers on 09.13.2018

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

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

By Smart Feller on 09.13.2018

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

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

By Better Times On The Way on 09.12.2018

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

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

By Transparency matters on 09.12.2018

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

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

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

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

By Waiting To See on 09.09.2018

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

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