West Virginia Scholar Application Now Available

The Free Press WV

West Virginia Wesleyan College, in conjunction with MetroNews, announces the beginning of the 11th annual West Virginia Scholar Program for high school juniors in West Virginia. 

The top student will win a four-year scholarship to Wesleyan, valued at more than $160,000.

A second place prize of $5,000 and third place prize of $2,500 will also be awarded. 

All awards begin with the 2019 fall semester.

“We are thrilled to enter our eleventh year of partnership on the West Virginia Scholar program,” said John Waltz ’01, vice president for enrollment management. “Every year we are privileged to read each application and meet the absolute best and brightest students in West Virginia. These scholars not only excel in the classroom but also in athletics, creative arts, and service and leadership.  Applicants and finalists enrolling at Wesleyan have been among our 21 international scholarship winners in the last 7 years.  We cannot wait to see how these students change our state and the world.”

Students can apply at

An essay detailing how the applicant plans, through their studies and continuing education, to make West Virginia a better place to live.

The application deadline is April 15. 

Online voting at will be held directly after, and the winner will be announced at the 2018 WV Scholar Award Luncheon at Wesleyan in June.

In addition to MetroNews and Wesleyan, sponsors include the West Virginia Hospital Association, ZMM Architects and Engineers, the West Virginia Forestry Association, the West Virginia Farm Bureau, RBC Wealth Management, Komax Business Systems, and Friends of Coal.

Please contact the Office of Admissions at 800.722.9933 for more information.

WV documentary “Heroin(e)” nominated for Oscar

“Heroin(e),“ the Netflix documentary that highlighted Huntington’s weaknesses as well as its strengths, has been nominated for an Oscar in the Documentary Short Subject category.

The film was released in September, giving the world an inside look at how the city is fighting back against its drug problem.

The film is up against four other documentaries: “Edith and Eddie,“ “Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405,“ “Knife Skills” and “Traffic Stop.“

The documentary follows the lives of three women — Huntington Fire Chief Jan Rader, Cabell County Family Court Judge Patricia Keller and Necia Freeman, a Realtor who organizes a ministry for sex workers — as they work to aid their community that has been forever altered by the opioid epidemic.

While the drug crisis is not unique to Huntington, the film has highlighted Huntington’s distinctive response, which is shown through the compassion of the three women.

It is because of their different approach on a relatable issue that the film has garnered national attention.

The film is directed by West Virginia native Elaine McMillion Sheldon.

The 2018 Oscars, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, will be awarded Sunday, March 04, with the ceremony airing live at 8:30 p.m. Eastern on ABC.

Looking ahead to 2018

The Free Press WV

I’m not much on making New Year’s resolutions.  The history of failure to keep them weighs heavily and who needs more of that?

Still, the idea of a fresh start speaks to me.  There is the inherent desire to discard all the mistakes of the previous year and at least consider the possibility of not making them again in 2018.

That’s not exactly the definition of optimism, but then again, I’m not an optimist.

President Ronald Reagan surely was an optimist.  He loved the story about the boy who was shown a pile of horse manure in a stable. Instead of showing disgust, the boy jumped on the pile and started digging.  “With all this manure, there must be a pony in there somewhere!”

Now that’s optimism.  I would have looked at the pile and thought about the smelly job of hauling it away, but then got busy with my pitchfork. In that way, I am my father’s son.

My late father was a man who lived his life by always doing what had to be done, while keeping the complaining to a minimum.  But in taking on the task at hand he was always moving forward… sometimes at an imperceptibly slow pace or with setbacks, but still the motion was decidedly positive.

With his head down, his gaze was more toward the steps in front of him than the horizon.  The goal may not have been lofty, but it was practical and, yes, even hopeful.

In the “pony” scenario my father would have quietly cleaned away the pile of manure and then felt reasonably accomplished by finishing the task.  He would not have been disappointed because there was no pony, because he would have never expected one.

I doubt any of this sounds very inspiring, especially to you who have set goals for the New Year and plan to keep them.  I’m always impressed when I meet people who have lost weight, committed to a better diet and exercise or taken that trip that’s been on their bucket list.  You have overcome lethargy and routine and improved your lives.  That’s impressive.

My plans for 2018 lack specifics, but I am nevertheless hopeful.  Benjamin Franklin said, “Be at war with your vices, peace with your neighbors and let every New Year find you a better man.”  That’s good counsel.  Just try to be better.

My father’s journey resulted in a life well lived. It was not one of great accomplishment and he did not leave behind a box-checked bucket list.  But he left the horse stall clean, if you know what I mean, and did 10,000 other things that just needed to be done.

That’s progress, and progress is linked with hope.  If you are hopeful you will not be cynical. I have no specific resolutions for 2018, but I’m excited to find what the year will bring.

Let’s go forward and see what happens.

My top ten West Virginia news stories of 2017

The Free Press WV

It’s time for my top ten West Virginia news stories of 2017.  I asked the MetroNews staff for their input and then put together my list.  See if you agree or disagree and tell me what you think I missed!

10)  Mountaineer sports is always big news in West Virginia and no sports story was bigger than Florida transfer quarterback Will Grier finally taking his first snaps.  Grier demonstrated pinpoint accuracy and uncanny escapability as he passed for nearly 3,500 yards and 34 touchdowns, leading the Mountaineers to seven victories before a season-ending injury against Texas. His favorite end zone target was David Sills, whose 18 touchdown catches led the nation.  Despite a disappointing bowl loss to Utah, optimism is running high for next season because Grier and Sills are both returning for their senior season.

9)  School consolidation issues are nearly always contentious, but none more so than in Nicholas County in 2017.  The flood of 2016 destroyed Richwood High School, Richwood Middle School and Summersville Middle School. The Nicholas County School Board approved a controversial plan to consolidate those schools, along with the Nicholas County High School and the Career and Technical Education Facility at one campus near Summersville. That decision divided the community and prompted a legal fight.  The year ended with a conflict resolution specialist from the Federal Emergency Management Agency trying to help the two sides find common ground. That effort is expected to continue into 2018.

8) West Virginia is rich in coal and natural gas so energy is always a significant story. The beleaguered coal industry began to come back in 2017.  Prices for metallurgical coal increased and the steam coal market improved.  President Trump’s decision to scrap the Clean Power Plan sparked optimism within the industry as some companies began calling miners back to work.  Meanwhile, work to build several major natural gas pipelines through West Virginia continued, often over the objections of property owners and environmentalists.

7) Donald Trump captured 68 percent of the vote in West Virginia on his way to the presidency, so he knew that he would get a warm reception in the Mountain State.  Trump visited West Virginia twice last summer. On August 3, Trump spoke to a huge rally in Huntington where the surprise guest was West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, who announced that day he was switching from the Democratic to the Republican Party. Just two weeks before, Trump spoke to thousands of Boy Scouts at the National Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve.  However, Trump triggered controversy by talking politics in what was expected to be a non-political appearance.

6)  West Virginia continued to struggle with the drug epidemic in 2017.  The Centers for Disease Control released new figures showing that the state’s overdose death rate in 2016 reached 52 per 100,000 people, more than twice as high as the national average.  Dr. Rahul Gupta, the State Health Officer, said someone dies in West Virginia from a drug overdose every ten hours.   Many of the overdose deaths were linked to fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that has 50 times the potency of morphine. Elaine Sheldon’s documentary Heroin(e) provided a first-hand account of three women in Huntington who are fighting back against the drug epidemic. Her film is under consideration for an Academy Award.

5)  The Justice administration announced in November a memorandum of understanding with China Energy for $84 billion in investments in West Virginia over the next two decades.  The agreement was the largest among an estimated $250 million in deals signed by President Trump during his visit to Beijing.  The West Virginia projects are expected to include natural gas power generation, chemical manufacturing and underground storage.  Governor Justice said the pledged investment is so big that “it absolutely takes your breath away.”  However, the announcement has been tempered somewhat by a lack of details on specific projects.

4)  We learned last month about previously undisclosed extravagant spending by the West Virginia Supreme Court on office remodeling and furnishings.  The most talked about examples were a $32,000 couch and $7,500 for a specially designed inlaid wooden floor in the shape of the state in the office of Chief Justice Allen Loughry, and $28,000 for two luxury rugs as part of a $500,000 tab for remodeling Justice Robin Davis’s office.  But all the Justices had expensive furnishings that focused attention on the fact that the Legislature does not have oversight of the Judiciary’s budget. Legislative leaders say they will try to change that in 2018.

3)  Many of West Virginia’s roads are so bad that a couple of years ago, I started an on-air campaign called #FTDR—Fix the Damn Roads.  Finally in 2017 the state did something about the crumbling infrastructure.  Governor Justice proposed a $1.6 billion dollar road bond, and he crisscrossed the state to push for passage, calling it “the biggest election in the history of the state.”  Voters bought in, with 73 percent voting for passage. Combined with a leveraging of federal dollars and a planned increase in turnpike tolls, West Virginia will undertake one of the largest road and bridge building and repair efforts ever starting in 2018.

2)  West Virginia’s finances were tight in 2017.  Governor Justice and legislative leaders quarreled for weeks about the budget. The debate continued throughout the regular session and then carried over into a 20-day-long special session. At one point, a frustrated Justice even dramatically unveiled a platter of bull manure that he said represented one of the budget proposals. The debate was often acrimonious, straining relationships and triggering name calling, particularly by the Governor. Finally on June 16, the House and Senate agreed on a $4.225 billion budget, which Justice allowed to go into law without his signature.

1)  Jim Justice ran for Governor in 2016 as a non-traditional candidate.  He repeatedly cited his business experience over his political acumen.  He won the election and on January 16th was sworn in as the state’s 36th Governor.  Justice brought his cheerleading can-do style to the Governor’s office, as well as a rejection of any action he deemed as political.  His candid “with-me-or-against-me” approach won converts, but also ran afoul of a number of Legislators who saw Justice as hard-headed and uncompromising. Justice then turned the political structure of the state on its head later in the year when he switched from the Democratic to Republican Party.  “Like it or not, but the Democrats walked away from me,” Justice said.  “… West Virginia, I can’t help you anymore by being a Democratic Governor.”   We’ll see how the change of heart, and party, plays out in 2018.

The Christmas when the fighting stopped

The Free Press WV

Has there ever been a Christmas when there was no war, no fighting in any corner of our planet?  It’s difficult to imagine since the world’s history has been a series of conquests and defenses.

But there was once a Christmas when the fighting did stop, when enemies shook hands and laughed and even sang Christmas carols together.

The First World War had been underway just a few months in December 1914, but it was clear a long, bloody fight was ahead.  The Germans and the English were dug in their muddy trenches separated sometimes by just 60 yards.

Between them was a No-Man’s land of mud, debris and the casualties of both sides, left unburied for weeks.

But something remarkable happened along the battle lines on Christmas 103 years ago; the German and British soldiers stopped fighting.

It wasn’t that they were afraid to fight. The trenches of both sides were filled with brave men who faced death each day.  No, the peace began as an informal truce casually agreed to by the officers in the field, but not the generals safely in the rear.

At night the English first saw the lights of Christmas decorations in the German trenches, and then heard the sounds of the German soldiers singing Christmas carols.  The British soldiers responded in kind.

All along the Western Front the scene repeated itself.  The impromptu truce spread.  In some places along the lines the warring soldiers emerged from their trenches, leaving their guns behind, and met in No-Man’s land where they exchanged food and conversed as best they could.  One group of soldiers played a game of soccer.

Percy Jones of the Queen’s Westminster Regiment said, “Altogether we had a great day with our enemies, and parted with much hand-shaking and mutual goodwill.”  Corporal John Ferguson of the Seaforth Highlanders remarked, “Here we were, laughing and chatting to men whom only a few hours before we were trying to kill.”

Well behind the trenches the British High Command was distressed, fearing it might not be able to get the men to start fighting again.  The war might grind to a halt. Headquarters issued a statement blaming the lack of fighting at the front on “stormy weather.”

Eventually, the soldiers at the front drifted back to their positions.  At some locations along the front the Christmas Spirit carried to the New Year before fighting resumed.  The fighting of course did start again and continued for nearly four more bloody years.

This Christmas as we search for good news in a troubled world we can remember that Christmas 103 years ago when the spirit of peace on earth and good will toward men was strong enough to—for a time at least—stop a world war.

The Republican gamble on tax reform

The Free Press WV

In 2010, Democratic California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi famously said of the Affordable Care Act, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it away from the fog of the controversy.”

The statement was taken by Obamacare opponents as an indication of how Democrats crafted a complicated bill remaking the nation’s healthcare delivery system without a full understanding of its impact.

Now Republicans are passing, and President Trump will sign, the biggest tax reform plan since the Reagan tax cuts of 1981.  Certainly more details are known about the tax bill than the ACA.  There are numerous websites where you can enter your tax information and see how you will be affected.

However, that does not mean the tax bill is widely understood by Americans or, even if they understand it, they may not want it.

The New York Times did a survey of people that could expect a tax cut.  It found that “even among people with more than 90 percent chance of getting a cut, about half said they did not expect to get one.”

That helps explain why the tax cuts are not popular. The statistical website FiveThirtyEight reports, “According to an average of nine surveys taken this month, 33 percent of Americans are in favor of it, and 52 percent are opposed.”  Contrast that with the Reagan tax cuts when a Gallup Poll found 51 percent approved, while 26 percent were opposed.

These numbers and others put Republicans in a precarious position heading into 2018. The GOP is already bracing for losses often suffered by the party in power in midterm elections, especially when the President is of the same party and has low approval ratings.

West Virginia’s three Republican members of the House of  Representatives—David McKinley (R-WV1), Alex Mooney (R-WV2) and Evan Jenkins (R-WV3)–along with Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito all supported the tax bill.

Capito is not up for re-election until 2020. However, McKinley and Mooney have to defend their seats next year, and Jenkins is running for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate.  They have to own the tax bill during the 2018 election cycle.

They are banking on that working out for them. Their best arguments are that more than 80 percent of West Virginia taxpayers use the standard deduction rather than itemizing and those folks all get a tax break. Additionally, small businesses, which dominate the state’s economy, will also see a lower tax liability.

But a lot of things could go wrong. There could be a massive correction in the stock market.  The economy could hit one of its cyclical downturns.  What if big corporations, which stand to benefit most from the tax bill, see profits surge, but wages do not follow?  What if the deficit explodes?

The political fallout could be dramatic.  Americans, who according to surveys never saw taxes as their top issue, will take out their frustrations on the party in power, giving Democrats in West Virginia and across the country a foothold to try to regain their majorities.

Republicans said they needed the tax bill; they and President Trump had to have a legislative victory to carry them through the midterms.  We will know in a few months whether that was the correct calculus.

A Republican version of the Pelosi blunder might be, “Let’s pass the tax bill and see what happens.”

More college-going students in WV need remedial classes

The Free Press WV
The Free Press WV

A growing percentage of high school graduates in West Virginia who attend the state’s public colleges need to take remedial classes to be ready for entry-level college classes. That’s according to a new report presented Thursday to the board that oversees West Virginia’s two-year colleges.

About 31 percent of college-going students who graduated in the spring of 2016 had test scores low enough that required them to enroll in a remedial class when they went to college, the report showed. That rate is double in a handful of the state’s most southern counties.
“What you’re seeing is, socioeconomic conditions that students face are a strong predictor of college success,” said Chris Treadway, the interim director of research and analysis who completed the report.

He was referring to a series of maps that show low-income areas largely coincide with counties that have graduate students needing remedial classes.

The report doesn’t take into account students who went to school out of the state, nor students who went to the state’s private colleges.

Two-thirds of college-going students in some Southern West Virginia counties needed remedial classes, the report shows. In eight counties, more than half of the college-going students needed remedial classes. Those counties were Calhoun, Fayette, Gilmer, Lincoln, Logan, Mingo, McDowell and Wayne.

College-going students from North Central West Virginia and each of the panhandles had the lowest need for remedial classes. In only one county, Monongalia, were there fewer than 10 percent of college-going students needing such classes.

The Free Press WV

The report was presented Thursday morning at a meeting of the Council for Community and Technical College Education. It includes students who graduated in the spring of 2016 and went on to study at one of the state’s public colleges within a year. It includes students who went to public and private high schools, and breaks down the need for remedial education by county and most individual schools.

“There’s been a real disconnect,” said Bob Brown, chairman of the council. “For a lot of years, public education has thought, ‘We know exactly what we need to get the kids prepared for to get them into college.’ But that isn’t necessarily the case. It’s just a lack of communication right now. We live in two separate worlds, and we need to figure out how to live in one world.”
Education quality coming into spotlight

State schools Superintendent Steve Paine said at a meeting earlier this week that he expects West Virginia’s 89.4 percent four-year public high school graduation rate for last school year to keep the state among the highest in the nation, by that measure.

“But we need to focus on quality instruction,” Paine said. “Even though we’re graduating a lot of kids, I have concerns about the quality of what we’re doing.”

Sen. Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha, questioned Paine during a legislative interim meeting Monday on whether credit-recovery programs provided students with enough instruction to make sure they learn core material. Those programs, which Paine said are used in most school systems across the state, often allow students to take a shortened, online program to make up for classes they’ve failed.

“We’ve got to stop making it easy to get a high school education requirement,” said Delegate George Ambler, R-Greenbrier. “There’s a lot of reasons why graduation statistics went up, and I’d venture to say it wasn’t because of the quality of education that kids were getting, it was the programs that were offered.

“Education should have a meaning to it. That high school diploma should not be cheapened, and it seems to me . . . we’re cheapening it.”

In Kanawha County, where 759 students from the class of 2016 went on to study at a public college in West Virginia, about 35 percent enrolled in some sort of remedial class. About 28 percent enrolled in remedial math, and almost 18 percent enrolled in remedial English.

Kanawha County Developmental Education

Kanawha County Schools spokeswoman Briana Warner said she hadn’t seen this data Thursday and was reluctant to answer questions. In an emailed statement, she said the county school system is dedicated to making sure students are college- and career-ready.

“Specific to students who may need a bit of additional academic help, we’re proud of the individual programs that each high school has developed to support those students,” Warner wrote. As one such example of a program, she pointed to “Warrior Time” at Riverside High, where students get one period a day to make up class work or focus on areas of need.

Students at Riverside had the highest rate of needing remedial classes of any public high school in the county. Nearly 51 percent of Riverside’s college-going students needed some sort of remedial classes, with 45 percent needing remedial math and 23 percent needing remedial English.

Valery Harper, the former principal of Riverside who recently was hired to lead the county’s virtual-schools program, said in an emailed statement after reading the report that she worked continuously while at Riverside to improve the school’s performance and believes the school is in “good hands” with the new principal, Jane Kennedy.

Harper did not specify what changes should be made, and Kennedy did not return a request for comment.

Graduates of South Charleston High had the second-highest rate in the county for needing remedial classes. The principal of that school, Michael Arbogast, said test scores alone shouldn’t be used to determine if a student should take remedial education. He suggested other facts, like a student’s GPA and recommendations from teachers, should count toward the determination.

“I’m just telling you, some kids have to work harder than others,” Arbogast said. “I have kids here who’ve been inducted into our honors program that maybe aren’t the highest-achieving academic kids but have busted their tails and worked their rear ends off to get in there. They get in there and they maintain a high grade point average. But when it comes down to the ACT, they don’t score real well.”

College-going students of George Washington High School had the lowest rate of needing remedial classes, with a nearly 24 percent rate. The principal of that school did not return a request for comment.

Changing attitudes to remedial classes

A statewide policy dictates which students are eligible to enter college math, English and reading courses and which students need remedial education. Students can qualify for entry-level college courses only through standardized test scores, like the ACT and SAT.

Students needs to take remedial math if they score below 19 on the math section of the ACT or below 500 on the math section of the SAT. A student who scores below 18 on the English section of the ACT or below 480 on the English section of the SAT needs to take a remedial course in English.

The West Virginia Department of Education recently selected the SAT as the new statewide assessment for high school juniors.

The ACT, which historically has been the most common college entrance exam students in the Mountain State take, has higher standards for what it sees as a student ready for college math. Under that standard, a student should earn a 22 in its math section.

Only 40 percent of students included in the study met the ACT’s benchmark. About 46 percent of students going to a four-year college did so, compared to only 12 percent who go to a two-year school.

In previous years, students taking remedial classes were enrolled in a class without credit, meaning that, although they had to complete class work and exams, how they performed in the class didn’t count to their overall credits to earn a degree. As a result, many students didn’t finish the remedial course.

The state’s public colleges have largely redesigned this system in the past four years, opting to call it developmental education, instead of remedial classes. Corley Dennison, vice chancellor for academic affairs at the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, said community colleges pushed in 2013 for a change, to make sure every student needing remedial classes got that remediation in a credit-bearing course.

In practice, this means professors squeeze remedial education into an entry-level course.

“The downside is, if you’re spending time on developmental courses, you’re not spending the time you could be on regular higher education courses,” Brown said.

All of West Virginia’s public two-year colleges have implemented the co-requisite model, Dennison said, save for a handful of cases where students need extreme remediation. About 55 percent of all community college students need some sort of developmental education, the report shows.

In four-year colleges, the change hasn’t been as swift. The HEPC, which oversees four-year schools, set a goal to get 80 percent of all students needing remedial education into a co-requisite class by fall 2018. Dennison said the four-year colleges are on track to meet that goal next year, but he didn’t know Thursday afternoon exactly how close they are.

“In the long-run, the colleges actually spend less time, because they had so many students that were dropping out of the developmental course because they were getting behind or they weren’t going to pass it,” Dennison said. “Then they had to repeat the course. The success numbers with this program are so much higher, because they’re having fewer students repeating the course.”
Staff writer contributed to this report.

~~  Jake Jarvis & Ryan Quinn ~~

West Virginia has more regulations that you can count… almost

The Free Press WV

The Mercatus Center at George Mason University has launched State RegData, “a first-of-its-kind project to quantify the level of regulation across the 50 states.”  It would be impossible to read all those regs so Mercatus is using a text analysis that identifies key words in state codes such as shall, must, may not, prohibited and required.

These are the key words and phrases that give regulations their power, and our state has a lot of them.  “West Virginia has 125,700 regulatory restrictions in its administrative code,” according to the Mercatus study. That’s fewer than Pennsylvania, Virginia and Kentucky, but more than Maryland and North Carolina.  The Tar Heel State has 16,000 fewer restrictions that West Virginia.

Clearly, some (or perhaps many) of the restrictions are important public health and safety measures, but consider the following: The state Code’s rules for acupuncture has 344 restrictions.  Barbers and cosmetologists face a labyrinth of 302 restrictions, while dietitians have 191 do’s and don’t’s. The Division of Water and Waste Management and the Division of Air Quality have a total of 9,087 restrictions!

The Mercatus report says all of these regulations have compliance costs.  Individually they may not be that significant, but “The body of regulations in a state, taken together, has an effect on the economy that is greater than the sum of the effects of each individual regulation.”

Mercatus cites several major studies showing that collectively the profusion of regulations creates a drag on economic growth.  A 2013 study in the Journal of Economic Growth estimated that federal regulation has slowed U.S. growth by an average of two percent a year since 1949.

This is especially relevant in West Virginia, which has been trying to climb out of the economic doldrums for the last decade.

“From 2006 to 2016, West Virginia real GDP growth averaged just 0.7 percent per year,” Mercatus reports. “If this trend continues, it will take 100 years for the state economy to double in size.”  However, if the economy grew at three percent annually, the economy would double in just 24 years.

Last year, the state legislature passed a sunset provision triggering the expiration of all new regulations after five years unless lawmakers reauthorize them. That’s a start, but more needs to be done.

Mercatus suggests a cap limiting regulatory accumulation. It’s working in Canada where a 2015 law requires at least one regulation to be removed for every new one that is adopted. The federal law was modeled after British Columbia’s 2001 measure, which has reduced that province’s regulatory requirements 43 percent.

Our political culture has perpetuated the regulation creation craze by expecting our elected representatives and government agencies to “do something” about every real and potential problem.  The result is a clogged code that inhibits growth and assigns an ever increasing amount of power to the bureaucracy.

The Mercatus report makes clear that a priority for our politicians in West Virginia should be to get rid of regulations before adding new ones.

WV Supreme Court: Champagne Taste on a Beer Budget

Justice Robin Davis’s office renovation cost one-half million dollars
The Free Press WV

West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Tim Armstead (R-Kanawha) is the latest legislative leader to express outrage over excessive spending by the West Virginia Supreme Court on office renovations and furnishings.

The Court has spent $3.7 million in office repairs, redecorating and refurbishing over the last several years, and some of the spending is more in keeping with the tastes of a millionaire than of a poor state that struggles to balance a tight budget.

“These things that have come to light are alarming,” Armstead told me earlier this week on Talkline.

Much of the attention has focused on the $32,000 couch in Chief Justice Allen Loughry’s office.  He says former court administrator Steve Canterbury is to blame and that he fired Canterbury the first chance he got.  Canterbury says Loughry knew what the couch cost and approved it.

But one of the largest of the controversial expenses was the renovation of Justice Robin Davis’s office. That cost $500,278.23.  According to, the median listing price for a house in Charleston is $150,000.

Davis’s office work included over $23,000 for “design services” by Ed Weber Architects.  The glass countertops, glass door and floor cost $90,000.  Stainless steel cabinets and shelves cost $40,000. Two Edward Fields rugs priced out at over $28,000.

Davis, in an interview with WCHS TV’s Kennie Bass, who broke the original story, owned up to the expenses.  “I wanted the people of West Virginia to hear about my office from me,” she told Bass. “Anything that is done in this office is on me.”

Lawmakers may well take that to heart.  “No one can justify spending that kind of money… it’s incredibly excessive spending,” Armstead said.

The controversy expanded this week with the revelations that Justice Loughry had a sofa left behind by the late Justice Joe Albright and a Cass Gilbert desk at his home office.  Loughry, who is increasingly frustrated by the controversy, had the couch and desk removed and taken to storage.

“The desk was not returned because its use was inappropriate, but because issues such as this are becoming an obstacle to the Court completing its important work,” Loughry said.  Supreme Court spokeswoman Jennifer Bundy said, “The Court has a longstanding practice of providing the justices an opportunity to establish a home office, with Court-provided technology equipment and furniture to suit their respective needs.”

The Supreme Court spending issue has the West Virginia Bar buzzing. The legal community is a small, close-knit group and what happens at the high court is of significant interest. However, neither of the two main legal organizations in the state—the West Virginia State Bar and the West Virginia Association for Justice (trial attorneys)—is willing to be publicly critical of the court.

Sometime next month, Loughry will appear before the House and Senate Finance Committees to explain the Judiciary’s budget for next year. It is normally a perfunctory exercise since by law the legislature has no control over the budget.

However, the committee rooms will be packed for these hearings and lawmakers will have plenty of questions about how taxpayer dollars are spent on the third floor in the East wing of the Capitol.

~~  Hoppy Kercheval ~~

Glenville State board cuts tuition, adds new fee for some students

The Free Press WV
The Free Press WV

The Glenville State College Board of Governors decided Wednesday to cut tuition by 25 percent for the summer semester and, so long as there are no future budget cuts from the Legislature, to cut tuition by 2 percent for the fall semester.

To make up for the tuition decreases, President Tracy Pellett said the school will cut more than $600,000 of scholarships the school currently offers.

“Part of this, frankly, is an effort for all institutions in West Virginia to advocate that they leave us alone,” Pellett said following the meeting. “If the Legislature would invest a little more money in Glenville State and probably other colleges — I can only speak for us, but we will decrease tuition additionally.”

The summer tuition cut will come no matter what, but the 2 percent tuition cut for the fall 2018 semester will only happen if the school is spared from further cuts to its state appropriations.

If the school sees more cuts, Pellett said it would probably need to increase tuition.

This past summer, an in-state student spent more than $900 to take a single three-credit class, not including fees. The 25 percent tuition cut for the summer semester means a student will save about $230 for a class.

The 2 percent tuition cut for the fall 2018 semester will mean a savings of about $136 for every student, according to documents given to board members. The school would lose about $162,000 because of the cut, one estimate showed, but cutting scholarships will more than make up for it.

College administrators often refer to scholarships by another name — tuition discounts. That’s because when a student gets such a scholarship, there’s no actual exchange of money. The students get a discount on the bill they need to pay.

Pellett said he didn’t know Wednesday exactly how much scholarship money the school offers, but that reducing it by more than $600,000 would be a decrease of less than 10 percent.

“It’s a more focused approach in the way you give it out,” Pellett said. “In other words, right now, we do institutional scholarships not in the most strategic way. We’ve got to do a better job on focusing our efforts at the students that have the greatest need and have the best merit. Right now, we’re not doing as strategic of a job as we need to.”

Glenville State planned to announce the tuition cuts at a special news conference at the Governor’s Office on Tuesday morning. A handful of board members, including the chairman and vice chairman, could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

The board’s decision follows a move during the summer to cut tuition by $1 this year for every student and to marginally reduce the cost of a meal plan.

Also Wednesday, board members approved a new fee to charge students $300 for every credit hour they take over 17 credit hours a semester. This fee, which won’t take affect until next fall, will mean a student taking 18 credit hours will pay an extra $300, a student taking 19 credits will be pay an extra $600 and so on. Glenville State students currently need approval from an academic adviser to enroll in more than 18 credits in a semester.

“You shouldn’t have to take extra classes in the year if we’re cutting the tuition 25 percent for summer,” Pellett said. “This is another opportunity for students to get ahead or catch up, and do it in a significant way. We felt like the 25 percent would be a game-changer for a lot of students and families who are struggling to avoid the costs in that way.”

That fee sounds like a tuition increase, but Pellett insists it isn’t — “it’s an instructional support fee,” he said.

“The cost associated with the extra credits over 12 hours is not being recovered by tuition,” he said. “Tuition is just not covering it. What we’re finding is, to make sure we are providing the classes that need to be offered, to cover the additional expenses beyond a normal course of study, we thought there should be this fee.”

State law prohibits public colleges from charging students additional tuition for taking more than 12 credit hours in a semester. Schools charge students more money for every credit hour they take until they hit 12 hours — the point they become a full-time student. At that point, the student is charged a flat tuition amount no matter how many more credit hours they take.

Earlier this year, lawmakers briefly considered allowing colleges to charge students more tuition for taking more than 12 credit a semester. The House Education Committee considered adding language to different higher education bills that would have allowed colleges to do that, but the idea died.

Committee members feared at the time such a policy would discourage students from completing their degrees on time. The Higher Education Policy Commission and colleges across the state have pushed a “15 to Finish” campaign, encouraging students to take at least 15 credit hours a semester in order to graduate on time.

~~  Jake Jarvis ~~

Men Behaving Badly

The Free Press WV

The stories about sexual harassment, abuse and assault of women by men in power will fade because every story has a shelf-life.  The staying power of the story is of undetermined length, but we know from experience that the media will move on.

The question is whether the revelations of the past two months will have had an impact that goes beyond the headlines or will we fall back into what we now know is the familiar pattern of some men in positions of power taking advantage of women, while the women are reluctant to come forward.

A good friend of mine, who is a professional woman, told me, “Every woman I know, and I mean everyone, has experienced sexual harassment in the workplace or sexual assault including being groped, kissed, fondled and touched in inappropriate ways.”

So why didn’t they say something?  My friend wrote, “When this happens, most women do not turn around, haul off and wallop the offender; they look at themselves to see what they did wrong—acted too friendly, went into the room alone?  They (and many others) blame themselves.”

If nothing else, that appears to be changing because abused and harassed women, through the power of their collective voices, are now coming forward.  The message is that no abuser, no matter how powerful, is off limits.

CBS This Morning anchor Nora O’Donnell, following the allegations of harassment against her co-host Charlie Rose, said “This is a moment that demands a frank and honest assessment about where we stand and more generally the safety of women.” She said the revelations are producing a reckoning.

That suggests a settling of accounts for abuses that have occurred. Maybe that happens, but care is advised.  Not all bad behavior is created equal.  There’s a significant difference between boorish behavior and sexual assault. Each case must be judged on its own merit.

National Review Editor Rich Lowery wrote that we are undergoing a low-grade cultural revolution. “A model of predation practiced by scruple-less powerful men is getting destroyed before our eyes and it’s a very good thing.”

As men, we have held the most power in society for the longest and, until very recently, women could only accrue power through men. That’s changing for the better, but as has become evident in recent weeks, we still have a ways to go.

What we have learned most recently has been painful, particularly for the victims, but also necessary to bring about change.

Legislators Turn Focus on Supreme Court Spending Following Report on Luxury Purchases

The Free Press WV

The issue of the lack of legislative review of the judiciary’s budget has been simmering at the State Capitol for a few years now.  Some lawmakers object to the State Supreme Court’s power to determine its own budget with no oversight from lawmakers.

The judiciary’s budget autonomy is written into the state Constitution. Article VI, Section 51, Subsection A(5) actually states that the legislature does not have the authority to decrease the judiciary’s budget.

In theory, the court could ask for significant budget increases every year and there’s nothing the legislature could do about it.  In practice, however, the court has generally worked with lawmakers to craft a reasonable budget that is in line with state spending.  That shows restraint.

The General Revenue portion of the judiciary’s budget this fiscal year is $141,759,670.  That’s a lot of money, but it has increased less than two percent over the last three budget years.

In 2016, the legislature considered a joint resolution to amend the state Constitution by eliminating the judiciary’s budget protection, but it didn’t go anywhere.  There was no groundswell of support or particular constituency motivated enough to take on the State Supreme Court.

However, that changed this week with the revelation by WCHS TV of excessive spending and waste on Supreme Court office furnishings—a $32,000 couch and $7,500 for an inlaid wooden floor in the state’s design in Chief Justice Allen Loughry’s office; $28,000 rugs and an $8,000 chair in Justice Robin Davis’s office; a $9,000 sofa in Justice Margaret Workman’s chambers, to name a few.

All paid for with taxpayer dollars.

The luxury furnishings were part of a general renovation of the Supreme Court’s Capitol offices.  The initial estimate was $900,000 back in 2009, but that ballooned to $3.7 million with changes, additions and, yes, fancy furniture.

Legislative leaders say the luxury spending has renewed interest in the constitutional amendment.  “This just isn’t right,” said Senate President Mitch Carmichael (R-Jackson) on MetroNews Talkline.  “We’re going to make an effort to change that.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Shott said he has no issue with upgrades to the historic Capitol building that are “appropriate and necessary,” but he adds that he “was stunned and angered by the amount that was spent for some of the furnishings that are more temporary.”

Changing the Constitution is not easy.  It requires a two-thirds vote by both chambers of the legislature and then approval by the voters.  Additionally there will be compelling arguments against it.  Would legislative oversight inject more politics in to the judiciary?  Would justices and judges feel compelled to craft decisions that meet approval of those who control the purse strings?

Those are rational questions that will need to be debated during the upcoming session. However, it’s going to be hard for lawmakers and the public to get the image out of their minds of a $32,000 couch.

“We’ve had some very difficult financial times.  We have state employees at nearly every agency that are not well paid,” Shott said.  “The thought that someone would spend that kind of money on a piece of furniture in view of those situations is just really troubling.”

Jobs Are Opening, But You Need The Training

The Free Press WV

The image of a shuttered factory representing the decline of blue collar jobs has been etched in our minds, and for good reason.  Since 1991 the U.S. economy has lost three million good paying jobs that did not require a college degree and all but 500,000 of them have been in manufacturing.

The days of getting a high school degree and turning that into career in a blue collar industry are rapidly disappearing. However, the economy is not static.  As those traditional jobs are disappearing, new jobs are opening up, according to a new report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce and JPMorgan Chase & Company.

The U.S. has approximately 123 million workers in the economy and 30 million of those are workers without a BA who have good jobs, and that sector has expanded by three million since 1991.  These are new skilled-services jobs in business, health care, hospitality, construction, education services, natural resources, wholesale and retail and government services.

The Center defines a good job as a salary of at least $35,000 a year ($17 an hour) for those under age 45 and at least $45,000 ($22 an hour) for workers age 45 and older.

The biggest difference between these new jobs and traditional blue collar jobs is the level of education necessary to perform the work. “Among good jobs, employers favor those with Associate’s Degrees or some college,” the report said.

“There are millions of good jobs in our economy for workers who have graduated from high school and completed some post-secondary education or training,” said Chauncy Lennon, Head of Workforce Initiatives with JPMorgan Chase.  “We need to connect this workforce with these opportunities.”

Community and technical colleges are playing a more vital role in the economy. They can adapt more quickly to the needs of the local economy and provide the necessary training over a shorter time period than traditional four-year liberal arts schools.

The new jobs at the Procter & Gamble facility near Martinsburg are a good example. The company partnered with Blue Ridge Community and Technical College on job training for potential workers even before they broke ground.

None of this should be seen as devaluing a four-year degree.  The report said workers with BAs have gained 8.4 million good paying jobs since the Great Recession (2007-2009) compared with 3.2 million workers with less education.

However, there is still a place—and a growing need—in our economy for dependable workers without a BA who have a particular skill, can communicate well and problem solve.  Many of the old factory doors have closed, but new doors are opening.

West Virginia’s Big Deal with China

The Free Press WV

The announcement was stunning if, for no other reason, than the size of the number.  China Energy says it will invest $83.7 billion in natural gas-related projects in West Virginia.  As a comparison, that’s larger that the state’s entire economic output for 2016 ($73.4 billion).

The projects are a significant portion of the quarter-trillion dollars worth of deals announced by the Trump administration during a meeting in Beijing with Chinese leaders as part of the President’s attempt to correct the trade imbalance.

West Virginia Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher, who was in Beijing for the announcement, explained that the investment will be over 20 years in power generation, chemical manufacturing and the construction of an underground storage hub for natural gas liquids.

Two natural gas power plants are already planned, tentatively one in Brooke County and another in Harrison, but Thrasher stresses that the site selection process is ongoing.

“This is the beautiful thing about this project,” Thrasher told me in an interview from Beijing.  “These are raw products from West Virginia, and they are going to stay in West Virginia.”

The news is almost too good to be true, which does trigger a reasonable amount of caution. West Virginia’s road to economic doldrums is littered with announcements about the next big thing, so much so that the phrase “game changer” should be stricken from our vocabulary.

It was almost four years ago to the day (Nov. 11) that Governor Earl Ray Tomblin announced the planned development of an ethane cracker and associated petrochemical plants at Parkersburg. However, Odebrecht, later pulled out.  Braskem, a subsidiary of Odebrecht, has taken over the project, but it has not proceeded with construction.

Additionally, the business publication Bloomberg raised caution flags about the U.S.-China deal. “The reality, however, is that the roughly 15 agreements unveiled on Thursday are mostly non-binding memorandums of understanding and could take years to materialize, if they do at all,” Bloomberg reported.

But there are reasons to have more optimism about at least the initial portions of the West Virginia deal.  Thrasher reports that the Chinese have already been to the state scouting out sites for the power plants.  Also, China Energy has a long-established research and development relationship with West Virginia University.

Brian Anderson, director of WVU’s Energy Institute, predicted the deal will have a dramatic impact on the state’s economy.  “Instead of sending jobs offshore, we are bringing hundreds of thousands of jobs statewide and directly into the state,” he said.

We all hope so. Some of the largest deposits of natural gas are right below us and accessible through hydraulic fracturing. Utilizing the gas here through power generation and petrochemical production will create wealth and opportunity.

Certainly the memorandum of understanding with China Energy is a reason for optimism. This could be the start of what we have been waiting for ever since the first person uttered the “game changer” phrase about natural gas.

But we’ve been stood up enough times over the years to be cautious.

WV Revenues Match Expenditures, Keeping The Budget In Balance

The Free Press WV

West Virginia state government’s budget looks decidedly better four months into the new fiscal year than at the same time the two previous years.

Figures released Monday by the State Department of Revenue show the state collected $354 million in October, matching almost exactly the projections.  It’s critical to meet the monthly projections because the budget is based on the expected collections. If revenue falls too far short, mid-year cuts have to be made.

So far this fiscal year revenue collections are just slightly below estimates, by $8 million, but that’s not much considering the General Revenue budget is over $4 billion.  The collections-to-expenditures match is positive news for the state.

“We are in a much better place,” said State Revenue Secretary Dave Hardy. “Because the revenue projections are spot-on we don’t have to make the painful decision about recommending mid-year budget cuts.”

That has not been the case in the last couple of years, when a significant slowdown in the coal industry and a drop in natural gas prices wrecked the state’s economy and caused tax collections to spiral downward, well below projections.

Last year at this time revenue collections trailed estimates by $87 million.  That hole was serious enough for then-Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to impose a two-percent midyear spending cut. The state faced a similar shortfall in 2015, forcing Tomblin to cut four percent from most state agencies and one percent from public education.

But now the state’s economy is showing some improvement.

For example, for the first four months of the year the state has collected $80.7 million in severance taxes—the taxes on coal, gas and timber—for the General Fund.  While that figure is $13 million below projections, it is still 68 percent higher than the same period last year.

Personal Income Tax collections are up, due in part to a slight rise in employment.  However, sales tax collections are running behind projections because West Virginians are not spending as much as expected on taxable goods and services.

“We are keeping an eye on sluggish sales tax numbers, but we aren’t worried at this point,” Hardy said.  “And we are excited to see marked improvement in our Personal Income Tax and energy industry revenues.”

The revenue projections and collections are indicators of the strength or weakness of the state’s economy.  The most recent numbers show some positives, but more importantly they indicate the worst of the state’s economic downturn is behind us.

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West Virginia






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Events & Announcements




Reader's Comments


Readers' Recent Comments

Yes, it would appear that Gayle M. has lost some of her ‘luster’ ?

The question now.  Will she pop back up somewhere else like that Whack-a-Mole game?

By Charleston Reader on 03.18.2018

From the entry: 'Justice names acting Secretary for Education and Arts'.

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Brian and Montie send their condolences to Gary’s family, especially to Nancy and Sharon for the death of a husband and father.  Nothing can really prepare us for such a loss as this. We are thinking about you at this sad time.

By Brian and Montie VanNostrand on 03.17.2018

From the entry: 'Gary Don Williams'.

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The centerpiece of nationally reported fake news pertained to Gayle Manchin’s plan for making WV’s southern coal field area a model for school system turn-a-rounds.

After the intense trail of high profile TV appearances to tout Manchin’s plan and pouring in money down there, nothing worked out as promised. 

The lesson from this sad saga is to focus on facts instead of what politicians try to pull over on voters.

The chronic problem in WV is that facts are routinely hidden by some politicians to keep voters misinformed.

By Bill Williams on 03.16.2018

From the entry: 'Justice names acting Secretary for Education and Arts'.

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Gilmer County has long memories. We recall the hill crest fund raiser out along Mineral Road to raise money for the Manchin political machine.

That was followed by Gayle’s insulting rant against the County leading to the damage of our school system and outlying communities during the State’s six years of iron rule intervention.

The good news is that Gayle is gone along with all other members of the WV State Board of Education responsible for our County’s intervention and the waste and mismanagement it wrought. Karma is alive and well WV!

By B. Jones on 03.16.2018

From the entry: 'Justice names acting Secretary for Education and Arts'.

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Brad got it all mixed up.
Gayle Manchin’s *resignation*....?

T-V, radio, newspapers across the state and beyond, even national news sources, all reported
that Governor Justice FIRED Gayle Manchin.

Brad, your effort to smooth that puts you squarely in concert with the rest of the BS fake news world.

By Brad got it mixed on 03.15.2018

From the entry: 'Justice names acting Secretary for Education and Arts'.

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Interesting.  Yet not so long ago, Gilmer local police weren’t interested when informed an out of state convicted felon was in possession of a trunk full of stolen guns.

By BangBang on 02.14.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County man sentenced for illegal possession of a firearm'.

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Great guy, who would do anything to help you. He would have probably got a kick out of having some strange woman’s face plaistered on his obituary. He would have had something smart to say about it I’m sure. smile

He had a great sense of humor. I saw him a little while back. I stopped by his house and visited with him a couple hours and as I went in I told him I stopped by to see if I could borrow his fancy car parked out front, expecting to meet with some resistance to that idea. Without missing a beat he said “Sure, just don’t let any of my kids drive it!“ We had a really nice visit that day - talking about cars and reminscing.

Our prayers are with the family.

By Connie Turner on 02.10.2018

From the entry: 'Kenneth Lee Page Jr.'.

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Justice, do you lay awake at night thinking up this stuff?

Can’t we West Virginian’s have some woodland that has not been molested by humans?

Keep the saws out of our state forests!

West Virginians are being raped once again.  The new generation of robber barons have bought off the governor and elected.

By Another Clueless Politician's Scheme on 02.10.2018

From the entry: 'Former Administrator: State Park Logging Plan Numbers Don’t Add Up'.

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so sorry to hear this news.  He took over Steve Grossmann’s mail route and we sure did appreciate his getting the mail delivered in all kinds of weather.  Slipping and sliding all the way. I loved his little dog that would look for snakes in the Normantown P.O.

By Cookie Setty on 02.09.2018

From the entry: 'Kenneth Lee Page Jr.'.

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Would it be possible for our new college president to involve Mr. Gallagher and student Evan Merical to attempt a revival of the defunct GSC Main Street Small Business Center? 

The community sure could benefit from it.  New management might just be what it needs?

By Question for Pres. Pellett on 02.07.2018

From the entry: 'GSC Student Speaks at One Stop Business Center Grand Opening'.

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Not surprised the Board of Ed supporting employees for raises and insurance. These people show they care about good employees over and over.
Just after they got our school system out from under state control they stood unanimously against the state appointed superintendent and his hand picked lawyer who tried to take away jobs from 8 professionals including Teachers and 4 service personnel. Can’t even count the number of transfers.  Gilmer’s Board of Ed just said no to that hit list. They stand up for this county and the kids..

By And we Appreciate It on 02.02.2018


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The state of WV overall has a dismal record of salaries and finance.

The jail system has issues.  Has for years.
The highway department.  Yup, them too.
The school system.  Ditto.

One per cent per year for 5 years?  That’s a real insult to any employee.

Teachers.  If you don’t get something that’s good, wait until warmer weather and strike.  Stand your ground !

The legislature and governor seem to have plenty $$$ to spread around Kanawha County.  Make sure they spread some towards teachers and staff salaries!!

By Give 'em some $$$ ! on 02.01.2018


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Rumor mill is saying that teachers and possibly other state employees will have to wear a wrist bracelet to track their lifestyles? 

Or pay higher insurance premiums?


By is it true? on 02.01.2018

From the entry: 'West Virginia board revises high school requirement, grading'.

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Sorry to hear. He was a classmate at Sutton High School class of 1956.

By Nancy Rose Westfall on 01.31.2018

From the entry: 'Franklin D. “Frank” Conley'.

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A call to all candidates for all seats:  You can submit the information about yourself to us and it will be published at NO COST.

By Free Press on 01.31.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County: List of Candidates for 2018 Election'.

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Long list of candidates for the School Board. It would help voters decide if each candidate would publish a write-up of their personal backgrounds to include special qualifications for serving on the school board, and to include detailed goals for what they would like to achieve as a board member. The information would be far more useful to voters than signs plastered all over the County.

By Active Voter on 01.31.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County: List of Candidates for 2018 Election'.

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How about the new superintendent of Gilmer’s schools giving a progress report on her accomplishments so far in improving the quality of our schools to produce better prepared HS graduates for college and careers, plans for continual upgrading of academic achievements by our students, and how results will be accurately measured and reported to be convincing that our County is moving ahead? Doesn’t sound too much to ask for by bill paying citizens.

By Gilmer Parents For Accountability on 01.29.2018

From the entry: 'West Virginia board revises high school requirement, grading'.

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Gilmer County must set its own standards for student learning and to do what is necessary to achieve them with full involvement of highly motivated teachers.

We know that major improvements are needed to make our kids more competitive, but we have not heard details for what is planned in our school system to make critically needed changes.

Ignore what the State does with is long history of failure and let’s go ahead on our own.

Top down management in education has never worked in WV with its crippling grip of politics to emphasize the importance of making improvements through local initiatives.

By Glenville Teachers on 01.29.2018

From the entry: 'West Virginia board revises high school requirement, grading'.

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This is just another failure by the West Virginia State Board of Education!

It does NOTHING to improve education!

Just one more attempt to make everything “look nice”.

The State Board members are too far removed from the classroom.

That board needs populated with 4 or 5 of our better teachers who are not afraid to speak up.

By Troy Parent on 01.28.2018

From the entry: 'West Virginia board revises high school requirement, grading'.

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The question for the County’s sitting School Board is what is being done with corrective actions to get the County’s HS graduates out of the worst prepared bottom group for college and career preparedness as the State has reported?

Because more students graduate it does not mean that they mastered key subjects to promote success in the modern work place. Can anyone say grade inflation?

By B. Beckett on 01.26.2018

From the entry: 'West Virginia board revises high school requirement, grading'.

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Reduce requirements.
Lower teacher standards.

Produce less educated students.
Continue WV’s downward education spiral.

The current State Board of Education is less prepared to lead than back in the Gayle Manchin
days of failure.

Do not fool yourselves. Realize Paine is pain.
Do not expect WV educational leaders to improve education.

They have been showing us for years that goal is
out of their reach.

By Failed State BOE on 01.18.2018

From the entry: 'West Virginia board revises high school requirement, grading'.

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Does anyone know the County’s plan for getting us out of the State’s bottom group for college and trades ready after high school?

What are the causes for our being at the bottom for being ready and what is being done to solve them?

Causes never cease by themselves and the only solution is top quality leadership pushing a highly focused corrective program.

By Rusty Moore on 01.16.2018

From the entry: 'West Virginia board revises high school requirement, grading'.

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Example of a yes/but situation. Just because kids are pushed through does not mean that they are college and career ready. Read past comments about Gilmer’s being in the failing category for academic preparation. The way WV info is reported allows selective use of results to bloat up claims of how well a high school does in preparing students for the real world.

By R. Wells on 01.16.2018


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Sunday’s Charleston Gazette-Mail had a warning that just because a high school has a high graduation rate that does not mean that its students are college ready. Gilmer County is one of them to put us in the State’s bottom category for readiness, but you won’t hear about it locally. Kids call it dumbing down.

By Give Citizens The Facts on 01.14.2018

From the entry: 'West Virginia board revises high school requirement, grading'.

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What about all the septic in the hollers that is draining into the creeks??

By Ugly on 01.10.2018

From the entry: 'PSC Investigates Impact of New Corporate Tax Law on Utilities'.

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This point should be kept in mind i.e. “The Commission has directed all privately owned electric, gas, water, sewer and solid waste facilities to track the tax savings resulting from the 2017 Federal Tax Act on a monthly basis beginning January 01, 2018. “.

By Michell J. Hill on 01.07.2018

From the entry: 'PSC Investigates Impact of New Corporate Tax Law on Utilities'.

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Troyan advocates for competition among schools with survival of the top performers. Her point is that the lack of accountability for county school system administrators must change to be similar to the way corporate America functions. Failure must have consequences!

By Accountabilty Needed on 01.03.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education Minutes of Regular Meeting - 11.27.17'.

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Gilmer singled out again in article by Jessi Troyan for our being at the bottom for preparing high school grads for college. We know we have a serious problem. We await on top school system leadership to devise a workable remedial plan for the County. Denial of having problems cannot be used anymore to cover up

By B. Post on 01.02.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education Minutes of Regular Meeting - 11.27.17'.

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You were in my life for what seemed like a short time but will be in my heart forever. I’ll see you at the family reunion one day again.

By Dana Linger on 12.29.2017

From the entry: 'Kathern Fay (Cogar) Linger'.

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Concerns about urgent need to upgrade student learning have persisted for too long in the County. 

We are tired of hearing lame excuses that under-achievement is caused by uncaring parents who do not emphasize the importance of education.

Parents are keenly important for contributing to student learning, but they cannot compensate for school “culture” deficiencies linked to leadership short comings.

By Parents For Better Leadership on 12.29.2017

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education Minutes of Regular Meeting - 11.27.17'.

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Those who go to college perform down at the bottom in comparison to high school graduates in other WV counties. This evidence suggests that Gilmer’s students who don’t go to college are short changed too. Immediate leadership changes to straighten out under achievement are in order!

By E. Moore on 12.28.2017

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education Minutes of Regular Meeting - 11.27.17'.

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I am so sorry for your loss.

By Margie Shook on 12.18.2017

From the entry: 'Warren Curtis Pierce'.

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The whole child concept is admirable, but with GCHS grads being behind in proficiency for academic subjects we need to make changes to drastically improve learning to enable our kids to compete in the highly competitive modern world.

Our being the 52nd worse off among 55 WV counties for college remediation rates is undeniable proof.

Administrators must determine legitimate causes of our bottom ranking for use in improving learning instead of applying usual low payoff tinkering to be passed off as progress.

By B. K. Brooks on 12.15.2017

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education Minutes of Regular Meeting - 11.27.17'.

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That’s the #### dems new ploy, they can’t win on policy so they charge sexual harassment.

By The Silent Majority on 12.15.2017

From the entry: 'Meet the Miss USA Contestant from Gilmer County, WV Accusing Trump of Sexual Misconduct'.

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Why was there no outrage like this when Billy Boy was doing his deed in the White House? and other places?

Oh, I forgot.  He was the media’s boy?

By HOW COME NOW ? on 12.14.2017

From the entry: 'Meet the Miss USA Contestant from Gilmer County, WV Accusing Trump of Sexual Misconduct'.

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Wanna bet that in green counties when results sag there is no hesitancy to make administrative changes when needed? In Gilmer County the approach has been to hide facts and to manufacture rosy ones to report to citizens.

By Moore on 12.11.2017

From the entry: 'More college-going students in WV need remedial classes'.

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This is basically the process for an improvement plan. A school board specifies student achievement standards and it assigns a superintendent to work with central office staff and school administrators to produce a comprehensive plan for making needed changes. After putting a plan in place results are closely monitored by a school board while holding a superintendent personally accountable for achieving the standards.

By School Board Member In A Top Performing County on 12.10.2017

From the entry: 'More college-going students in WV need remedial classes'.

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Did I miss the County Commission Agenda for the December meeting?  The GFP site is displaying a little differently and I can’t seem to find it.  Do they still meet on First and Third Fridays??

By Searching on 12.10.2017

From the entry: 'More college-going students in WV need remedial classes'.

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The no excuse rate for Gilmer County is 59% and there are only three other WV counties worse off. This alarming information flags dire need for the County’s school board to do its job by implementing an improvement plan.

By Gilmer Students Ripped Off on 12.08.2017

From the entry: 'More college-going students in WV need remedial classes'.

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“We’re going to see a sea change in American agriculture as the next generation gets on the land,“

Yeah, right.  That will last about as long as it takes to discover exactly how hard farming is, and the amount of work it takes to make even a minimal living.


Pat McGroyne

By Pat McGroyne on 11.30.2017

From the entry: 'A Growing Number Of Young Americans Are Leaving Desk Jobs To Farm'.

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I always thought a Harvard education was something special.  Well, I guess it is.  Just a week ago they had ‘sex week’.  One of the course offerings was analsex101.  That’s right.  Google it.  Plenty of coverage. True story.

By Harvard 'taint what it used to be? on 11.23.2017

From the entry: 'Feds Threaten To Sue Harvard Over Asian-American Admissions'.

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This is nothing new.  It has been happening for years and no attempt to stop it.  Just quiet it down when word leaks out.  The court system thumbs their noses and laughs at ‘their hillbillies’.

Remember the hub-bub about $100,000.00 bathrooms in the Capitol building a few months ago?

Think they have them all remodeled so those whom you elected can krap in style the next legislative session?  lol

By Web on 11.18.2017

From the entry: 'Legislators Turn Focus on Supreme Court Spending Following Report on Luxury Purchases'.

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The justices are part of the aristocracy. Does anybody think that they care what the peons think?

By Skip Beyer on 11.18.2017

From the entry: 'Legislators Turn Focus on Supreme Court Spending Following Report on Luxury Purchases'.

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Why are Gilmer’s voters kept in the dark about activities of the two LSICs in the County? No published agendas before meetings, no published meeting minutes, and plans with details for school improvements are not disclosed. Violation of WV’s open meeting laws? To top it off memberships of LSIC’s and who selected the individuals are kept secret from voters.

By Gilmer Voter on 11.16.2017

From the entry: 'Board of Education Takes Action on Policies to Provide Flexibility to Counties'.

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LSIC plans are short on specifics for measurable academic improvements to be achieved. That way no matter what happens extraordinary successes can be proclaimed. The strategy is designed to make meaningful accountability impossible for school system administrators.

By More Of Same For WV Schools on 11.15.2017

From the entry: 'Board of Education Takes Action on Policies to Provide Flexibility to Counties'.

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A food pantry opens at Marshall University?

For students I can understand.
But its also for faculty and staff?

Really now?  Their salaries are that poor they need access to a food pantry?

Times area really tough in West Virginia.  Really are.

By Tough Times at Marshall University on 11.14.2017

From the entry: 'West Virginia News'.

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LSIC=Local School Improvement Council. Each WV school has one. Google to learn what each one is supposed to do to improve a school. Ask for plans for your schools.

By POGO on 11.13.2017

From the entry: 'Board of Education Takes Action on Policies to Provide Flexibility to Counties'.

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What is this “LSIC” commenter speaks about?
Who and what is that all about?

By reader on 11.12.2017

From the entry: 'Board of Education Takes Action on Policies to Provide Flexibility to Counties'.

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Fellow West Virginian’s.  What is being seen here is Paine’s return to ‘power’ and the continued 20 years charade by the WVBOE.

They spend your tax dollars.  They do their best to cover their failed efforts.  They cheat our children of a good education. 

They play (think manipulate) with the grading system every couple years, making it impossible to follow students upward or downward progressions.

Don’t expect any good, any progress, any improvement to happen in West Virginia.  It’s not in the cards.  Well, that is not in the ‘administrators’.

By 20 years of WVBOE 'playing' school on 11.12.2017

From the entry: 'Board of Education Takes Action on Policies to Provide Flexibility to Counties'.

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All high schools in WV have ACT Profile Reports for each graduating class.

The only performance information typically cited in school districts is average ACT scores for graduating classes.

If you can get copies of Reports for your high schools read them to independently evaluate testing results for career and college readiness, science, technology engineering and math (STEM), and other categories.

Chances are that your local administrators gloated that average ACT scores for graduating classes are commendable to give your high schools passing marks, but other testing outcomes in the Reports may show otherwise.

It is doubtful if LSIC members for your high schools know about the Reports to be grounds for demanding academic improvement plans. Check Reports for high schools in your school district to make up your own minds.

By WVDOE Fact Checker on 11.11.2017

From the entry: 'Board of Education Takes Action on Policies to Provide Flexibility to Counties'.

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Policy 2510 is an admission by the West Virginia Board of Education of their own failure.

Dumb down the standards in order that students can get a passing grade.

You grand pooh-bahs in Charleston BOE should be ashamed of yourselves!  But you have no shame. Obviously so.

Steve Paine, leading the failure of education in West Virginia.

By # 2510 policy--WVBOE ADMITS OWN FAILURE on 11.10.2017

From the entry: 'Board of Education Takes Action on Policies to Provide Flexibility to Counties'.

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With a deal like this—WHY—are we selling road bonds and—WHY—were all the motor vehicle fees INCREASED on West Virginia’s citizens?  WHY ! ?

Thanks for nothing Jim Justice and the WV legislators.


From the entry: 'WV Signes $84 Billion Shale Gas Deal with China Energy'.

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The Rosie Bell will be a nice addition to the Park !

A thank you to Donna Waddell and her leadership and the FRN for making the Park happen !

By Thank America's Rosie's ! on 11.10.2017

From the entry: 'What This Bell Means to Gilmer County'.

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Aren’t they supposed to have agendas AND minutes for each and every meeting, by law?  They put it right there on the agendas that there were None. And months’ go by without even Seeing an Agenda.  It’s a citizen’s right to go in and ask to see them ALL.  Someone needs to look into this.  Especially with all the speculation that goes on around legal issues in the county!

By GilmerCountyCommission? on 11.03.2017

From the entry: 'Did You Know?'.

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The grade 7 spike in math in comparison to lowered performances in higher grades begs the question about reasons. What is being done to ensure that math skills will not drop by graduation time? Has anyone looked at adverse effects of block scheduling and other factors?

By Answers Needed on 11.03.2017

From the entry: 'SEEING MATH IN NEW WAYS'.

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We’ll.  It’s a step forward to see the Commission AGENDA - but what about the minutes?  The last two agendas have said “ Approve County Commission Minutes-None”      Aren’t there supposed to legally be minutes for the public to read?????  This makes NO sense unless things are going on that the Commission doesn’t want the public to know.  Obviously.  SHOW THE MINUTES Jean Butcher, do your job!

By 304 More Issues on 11.02.2017

From the entry: 'Did You Know?'.

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This posting is very informative and it documents what can be done with innovative approaches to teaching math. For too long we were fed the party line that all was well in our schools for math and everything else. That myth prevailed because facts were hidden to hold down the County’s demands for accountability. Hats are off to Kelly Barr and Traci DeWall.

During intervention it was commonly known that school board members made repeated requests for all kinds of student progress information, but it was kept from them. That era has ended and the County’s school board is expected to focus on its top priority responsibility that is to continually improve student learning in our schools. Our kids can perform if they are given the chance.

By Gilmer County Parents on 11.02.2017

From the entry: 'SEEING MATH IN NEW WAYS'.

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Gilmer look at this Did You Know. If you look at the State’s data on Zoom Dashboard to review changes in mastery of math and reading for the GCHS’s 11th grade for the 2011 and 2017 testing years it is clear the you have a problem with your math program. In 2011 the math pass rate was 36.92 compared to 37.29% in 2017. Progress with reading was truly commendable. The pass rate went from 26.98 in 2011 to 64.41% in 2017. Why the lack of progress for math? We know that your school board members are trying to get information about plans for improvements for math and science, but is full disclosure of details any better than it was under intervention? Let us know.

By B. Cummings on 10.30.2017

From the entry: 'Did You Know?'.

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Lots to learn kids. By the way,  How’s the Commission coming along with the September meeting minutes?

By 304 on 10.30.2017

From the entry: 'GSC Criminal Justice Students Take Part in Scenario-Based Training with RJA'.

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Most of America lives in denial of toll the government approved ‘life-style’ that is shortening everyone’s lives.

We are living in an era where the government has been lobbied (think bought) in approval of many, many things that are destructive to life.

This article shows the result of a cumulative toll effect that vaccines, pesticides, GMO foods, chemtrails, and other poisons are taking on the American population.

This is likely the globalists dream of “depopulation” coming true.  Enjoy what time you, your children, and grandchildren have left.

By Your Government Taking Care of You on 10.25.2017

From the entry: 'Americans Are Retiring Later, Dying Sooner and Sicker In-Between'.

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I don’t care Who or What he killed.  He shouldn’t be doing it in a West Virginia Police hat.  It sends a bad message to do it with a Police hat on.

By Hunter on 10.24.2017

From the entry: 'Special Antlerless Deer Season Opens October 21 and December 26-27'.

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Your outrage is misplaced Hunter. He killed Bambi, who will no longer will frolic through the forest.

By Democrats Against Deer Hunting on 10.23.2017

From the entry: 'Special Antlerless Deer Season Opens October 21 and December 26-27'.

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It doesn’t seem like Gilmer County Law Officials seem to care about the murders in the area. In my opinion. We don’t hear anything from the law on Any of the pertinent local situations.  Why IS that?  We know MUCH more about national news that we know about the goings on in Gilmer. Crimes, drug busts, investigations and Answers to those investigations.  Why don’t we Ever hear any news from the Sheriff’s Department??  Still wondering why Deputy Wheeler was reassigned to school patrol officer and who took over his murder investigative duties.  Can’t get anyone to pick up the phone or an answer when I call.  Maybe someone on the Gilmer Free Press can shed some light?

By Where is the Law? on 10.23.2017

From the entry: 'Governor Justice, DOT Sec. Smith Announce First GARVEE Bond Sale for Roads, Bridges'.

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“We should welcome refugees and immigrants to the United States because it’s good for our society, for our economy, and for our nation.“

WRONG - Diversity in populations has been proven to be, not helpful to society, but harmful.  Immigrant groups who refuse to assimilate are a problem not a benefit, and will remain a problem until they do assimilate.

It’s understood that not all Muslims are terrorists, but for practical purposes all terrorists are Muslims.  And please spare me the Timothy McVey arguments.  McVey and his ilk were loners.  Muslim terrorists are part of an organized movement.

I think almost all immigration should cease until the present immigrant population can be dealt with, through assimilation or otherwise.


Pat McGroyne

By Pat McGroyne on 10.22.2017

From the entry: 'Trump’s Muslim Bans Impoverish Us All'.

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Will the persons involved in Poor Fred’s murder ever be held accountable?  Ever?  Yet they walk among us every day?

Did not realize it has been 7 years since poor ol’ Willard met his fate?  There is plenty dirt kicked around there to cover the wrong doings too?

By Poor Fred is Dead on 10.21.2017

From the entry: 'Did You Know?'.

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Hold on Gub’ner Justiss….
The juery stil’ be outs on yer barrering’ game….

Ways to er’ly ta be countin’ hens an roosters….

By no chickens yet... on 10.21.2017

From the entry: 'Governor Justice, DOT Sec. Smith Announce First GARVEE Bond Sale for Roads, Bridges'.

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Wanna get votes for the school levy? Simply get truth out about where the County stands with low reading, math, and science scores and publicize a rational plan for fixing problems.

By Truth Will Win Levy Votes on 10.21.2017

From the entry: 'ICYMI™: Former Boone County Board of Education Members Indicted'.

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I get it that it’s a pose for the camera, but should he Really be wearing a Police hat for hunting?

By Hunter on 10.20.2017

From the entry: 'Special Antlerless Deer Season Opens October 21 and December 26-27'.

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Nice to see the Gilmer County Commission finally reveal their meeting minutes after long lapses of no information.  Can’t help but wonder if this was posted specifically because of the topic -  Sheriff Gerwig being assigned to another estate case before closing out others. Memories of Willard F. Cottrill today. d. 10/20/10 R.I.P.  The minutes should be interesting.  Let freedom ring.

By MC on 10.20.2017

From the entry: 'Did You Know?'.

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From WV Zoom Dash Board. GCES 6th grade student proficiency rate=20% for math and 31% for reading. Gilmer County demands a K-12 improvement plan everyone can understand and promote!!! We have had enough of the everything is just fine claims.

By School Kids Are Cheated on 10.20.2017

From the entry: 'ICYMI™: Former Boone County Board of Education Members Indicted'.

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It is a common occurrence for school administrators to carefully select one small piece of information to purposely give a school a rosy performance rating for student learning and to hide unflattering information from an LSIC and a local BOE. The way to prevent the censorship is for superintendents to routinely provide access to all testing results so performance evaluations for a school can be based on a full set of facts.

By WVDOE Employee For Complete Transparency on 10.19.2017

From the entry: 'ICYMI™: Former Boone County Board of Education Members Indicted'.

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The community has observed that there is an improved way of doing business by the GCBOE and the new superintendent after the State pulled out. One problem to solve after the State’s neglect for six years of intervention is low student success at the GCHS for math and science. There is documentation on the ZoomWV Dashboard kept by the WV Education Department. The pass rate for GCHS students for M & S is in the 30s. What is the HS’s LSIC group doing to improve those scores? Does it have a detailed improvement plan for the school and if it does it should be disclosed. M and S under achievement underscores why it is important to know what the County’s LSICs are doing to improve our schools academically.

By Gilmer Business Executive on 10.19.2017

From the entry: 'New 4-H Office in Glenville'.

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Should not have to get LSIC membership from principals. The information should be published for the public record for all interested citizens including taxpayers to know. Gilmer’s secrecy has been a long time tool used to undermine accountability and it must stop!

By Stop Secrecy! on 10.19.2017

From the entry: 'ICYMI™: Former Boone County Board of Education Members Indicted'.

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Is it true the GC Board of Education sold this to 4H for one dollar?  I should hope so!

This community has always supported our children and their 4H works.

Very good of our Board of Education to do this!
Thank all you board members!
Doing what you were elected to do!
Take care of the kids and community!


From the entry: 'New 4-H Office in Glenville'.

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We 4-H supporters wish to express our appreciation to Mrs. Hurley and the other board of Education members with the 100% vote to hold and sell this trailer for 4-H use/utilization.  This new office space for the very nominal fee is much appreciated.

Kudos to Hurley for staying in contact with the past 4-H director and making sure all was well and agenda requirements were met.  We had heard we were not going to get the trailer.  Thanks goodness the fake news was totally wrong.

Moving out of the old infirmary building will be a real blessing.  The group has learned a valuable lesson.

Do not take the word of ANY others about what the Board of Ed tries to do for each and every community in Gilmer County.  Go to the source.

By Thanks Mz. Hurley & Board of Ed ! on 10.17.2017

From the entry: 'New 4-H Office in Glenville'.

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