Somewhat Odd and Unusual
OddlyEnough™: Boone Schools Superintendent Is Promised Pay Raises Amid Job Cuts
In what the board president called “crappy” timing, the Boone County school board unanimously voted earlier this week to assure their superintendent future pay raises, just as individual employees were learning whether they’d be affected by the county’s planned 77 position cuts.
Superintendent John Hudson said the five-member board voted Tuesday to grant him, effective July 1, a four-year contract extension with no pay increase for next school year but annual 3 percent pay increases for the three following years. He currently makes about $131,100 annually.
The raises will equal roughly $4,000 for each of those three years, meaning he’ll be making an extra about $12,000 by the final year of his new contract.
Hudson said he asked the board to extend his current four-year contract, which also had 3 percent annual upticks.
Hudson said he’s a graduate of the Boone school system and has spent his entire 32-year career in education there, rising from teacher, to principal, to assistant superintendent, to his current role. He said the board wants leadership stability, and said his position is a 24 hours per day, 365 days per year commitment.
“If there’s an issue at 8:30 at night, 11 o’clock at night, I am involved, I am on call,” he said.
He said the raises wouldn’t jeopardize a single student program or job, and when asked whether he needed the money, he said he appreciated the pay and that the school system “gets good value.”
“I’m not ashamed of that increase, if that makes sense, and it is very typical in any superintendent’s contract that you see,” he said.
According to data from the state Department of Education, Hudson, who leads a 4,331-student school system that’s lost 268 students over the past two years and is still dropping, had the 14th highest salary among county superintendents in the state.
Manny Arvon, superintendent of the 18,877-student Berkeley County Schools, makes the most at roughly $178,500. His contract is set to increase to $187,600 over the next two years.
Hudson told the Gazette-Mail Tuesday that the board will vote on his recommended cuts to the roughly 660-person school system workforce before March 1, and the cuts would take effect next academic year.
He said the cuts are necessary due to declining tax revenue from the county’s sinking coal industry and dropping enrollment, which automatically causes the state school aid funding formula to provide counties fewer dollars.
He said the historical wealth of the coal industry is why Boone has been able to employ as many as 100 more employees than what the state pays for, and why Boone teachers and service personnel have relatively good pay.
Only Putnam County teachers — at about a $51,000 average annual salary — get paid more than Boone teachers, according to education department data that doesn’t include certain supplements that can vary from county to county, but excludes the impact of teachers’ years of experience that can skew comparisons.
Boone teachers get about $50,500, while Boone service personnel rank third for pay in the state, at a roughly $3,000 average monthly pay. Hudson pointed out he doesn’t get the years of experience and other pay raises these employees receive.
Boone school board President Mark Sumpter said the board decided not to give Hudson a pay raise next year due to the cuts, but suggested that if annual, smaller pay raises weren’t given in later years, a larger one-time increase might be necessary later to keep the pay competitive. He said many places will be looking for superintendents before the new school year and fiscal year start July 1, and he was concerned Hudson could be hired away.
But he said he’s been getting calls from many upset teachers, and is about to shut down his Facebook account because of the treatment online.
“The timing is crappy,” Sumpter said. “And if I had to do it over again, maybe I’d wait a little bit.”
Carrena Rouse, head of the Boone arm of the American Federation of Teachers union, said kids at Scott High School were crying this week when they learned their band teacher, who moved to the county in December and has a lease, is one of the recommended layoffs. She also said the county’s only French teacher and his wife, an English teacher, also are recommended to lose their jobs, and they have a baby due in this summer.
“He is trying to do the right thing for Boone County Schools,” Rouse said of Hudson. “I don’t think he rationalized or thought about the timeliness of that information or that pay bump.”
~~ Ryan Quinn - Gazette-Mail ~~
West Virginia Republican Says Rape Can Be ‘Beautiful’ if It Produces a Child
The remarks echo a string of embarrassing statements by politicians regarding women’s bodies
A Republican state lawmaker in West Virginia said on Thursday that while rape is horrible, it’s “beautiful” that a child could be produced in the attack.
Charleston Gazette reporter David Gutman was on the scene when Delegate Brian Kurcaba (R) said, “Obviously rape is awful,” but “What is beautiful is the child is that could come from this.”
Kurcaba made the remarks during a House of Delegates discussion of a law outlawing all abortions in the state after 20 weeks’ gestation. At 20 weeks, anti-choice activists and lawmakers allege, a fetus can feel pain and is therefore too viable to abort.
The bill was passed by West Virginia Republicans in 2014, but vetoed by Democratic Governor Earl Ray Tomblin. Now the state GOP has revived the bill and voted to remove an exception for victims of rape and incest.
Kurcaba’s remarks echo a string of embarrassing statements by Republicans regarding rape and women’s bodies.
In 2012, Missouri’s Rep. Todd Akin said that pregnancy can’t result from rape because “If it’s legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.”
Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock said that while sexual assaults are unfortunate, the resulting pregnancy is a “gift from God.”
Libertarian favorite Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) made statements of his own implying that women routinely fabricate rape stories in order to get abortions.
“If it’s an honest rape,” said Paul, physicians should allow the victim to abort, but otherwise, women should not be able to terminate their pregnancies just because they claim to have been raped.
Republican leaders convened an emergency meeting in 2013 urging the rank and file to stop talking about rape altogether lest it further alienate women voters, who have been abandoning the Republican Party in droves.
Nonetheless, Kurcaba — a financial advisor who was elected in 2014 — appears eager to bring discussions of rape back into the dialogue about women’s access to reproductive health care.
Principal: Students Can ‘Hurl’ Cans Of Corn at Gunmen As ‘Last Resort’
W.F. Burns Middle School principal Princella Holley suggested stockpiling “cans of food such as corn and peas in classrooms” so students could grab them and “hurl” them at school attackers as a “last resort.”
Holley sent a letter home on January 09 asking each student to bring one can of food to school for this purpose.
According to the AP, Holley wrote, “We realize at first this may seem odd; however, it is a practice that would catch an intruder off guard.” She believes “the canned food item could stun the intruder or even knock him out until the police arrive.”
Holley’s letter came about after school employees “received training from Auburn University’s Department of Public Safety.”
After the training, Chambers County School superintendent Kelli Hodge agreed that the cans of corn could be used in a pinch.
Hodge said teachers are taught to grab their students, lock their classroom doors, and shelter-in-place in the event of an attack. If the doors were breached the students could then throw the cans of corn “and items such as textbooks.”
Other school systems around the country have changed their policies to allow teachers with concealed carry permits to be armed in case of attack.
~~ Follow AWR Hawkins ~~
OddlyEnough™: Police Find Head on Rural Road, Seeking Body to Match
An aerial search for the embalmed body of a woman whose head was recovered this month along a lonely rural road began this week.
Police in the borough of Economy, 22 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, said they were exploring a number of theories as to how the head wound up on the roadside, including the possibility of a grave robbery or that the body was intercepted on its journey from a funeral home to a cemetery.
They have received no reports of missing bodies or disturbed graves, said Chief of Police Michael O’Brien.
“This woman had been laid to rest,“ O’Brien said in a statement. “She is someone’s loved one.“
A sketch done by an Edinboro University art professor showed how the woman might have looked in life: she appeared to be about 50 years old, with short gray hair that had been styled, police said.
An Economy resident found the head in a wooded area while out for a walk, police said.
An initial search for the rest of the body using cadaver dogs was unsuccessful. The planned aerial search had been delayed by bad weather.
Local media quoted Beaver County Coroner Teri Tatalovich-Rossi as saying the head had been embalmed before it was left in the forest. S
OddlyEnough™: Cloud of Pot Smoke Puts Colorado High School on Partial Lockdown
A high school in Colorado, one of the first two U.S. states to legalize recreational marijuana use, was put on partial lockdown after a student’s weed pipe filled a classroom with pot smoke, the school said.
The smoke from the device, known as a “gravity bong” or “bucket,“ was released into a classroom at about 9:45 AM. at Adams City High School in Commerce City, a northeastern suburb of Denver.
“As a precautionary measure, our students were placed on a modified lockdown to limit movement throughout the school,“ the school said in a statement, adding that teenagers who had been near the device were examined by medical personnel.
“As always, students’ safety is our number one priority,“ it said. “All students were fine and the school is resuming business as usual.“
The school said it was working with the proper authorities to resolve the issue, and that it would provide more information when available. It did not give details on the student who brought the pipe to class, nor possible disciplinary measures.
Colorado voted in 2012 to allow recreational marijuana sales to adults aged 21 and older beginning this year. But consumption of the drug by minors, or by anyone in public settings such as schools, parks and on the street, remains illegal.
The tale of the partial lockdown received widespread attention on social media, with some Denverites describing it as the story of the day and an “only in Colorado” moment.
A gravity bong or bucket uses the force of gravity, normally by releasing water from a chamber, to suck a large amount of pot smoke into a container, from where it is inhaled by the user.
~~ Reuters ~~
UFOs in West Virginia: 10 Witnesses, 4 Low-Flying UFOs, 3 Big as Football Fields
A UFO sighting in southern West Virginia has been reported that not only presents multiple witnesses of the objects in question but also the witnessing of multiple unidentified flying objects during the sighting. Open Minds reported October 17 that ten men working at a coal plant in Marmet, West Virginia, saw the four flying objects as a collective. Three of the UFOs were massive, the size of football fields. They were all flying extremely low to the ground—and deathly silent.
Originally reported on the Mutual UFO Network website, the actual sighting took place at 10 p.m. on October 12, 2014. It was quiet all around, according to the reporting witness. The plant had shut down. The guys had just finished some pipe repairs and were leaning against their vehicles.
One of the guys pointed at the sky. “What is that?“ he asked.
Everyone looked up. The first of what would be three huge flying objects was headed toward them.
“We all looked up and saw a triangle-shaped object outlined in white lights the size of a football field coming up the hollow from the southwest [Beckley, WV area],“ the witness reported. “It might have been 300 to 500 feet above us. It was moving very slow and made no noise. We watched for about 3 or 4 minutes as it disappeared over the trees.
“A few minutes later another one showed up behind it – the same shape and size and no noise. Another one showed up after that, same as before.
“After these three went by a small object with lots of red flashing appeared at the end of the line formation. They were all headed northwest towards Charleston, WV.”
The reporting witness said that all the guys were “amazed” that there was absolutely no sound, no noise whatsoever coming from the UFOs—especially “as close as they were, and their sizes.“ And it all took place in the space of 15 minutes.
So what did the ten men see? Could it have been a case of group or mass hallucination as some will surely suggest? Or is there a reason UFOs—whether manmade, alien, or faux—were traveling between Beckley and Charleston, West Virginia in mid-October?
In the comments section on the MUFON web page, the question was posed that, given so many witnesses, why did not one of them capture an image with a cell phone camera? Karen King of the Appalachian UFO Research Society suggests that in many areas of West Virginia cell phone reception is limited and/or sporadic, which might account for the absence of phones and, therefore, photos of the four UFOs.
Two weeks prior to the Marmet UFO sighting, a couple in Elkins, West Virginia, reported a low-flying massive triangular-shaped UFO, according to International Business Times. Flat black, it blocked out the stars in its passage. It had three lights, a dim white one and two orange hourglass-shaped lights. The couple that filed the report with MUFON noted that the UFO had no distinguishing control features (like a canopy or windows) and as they moved toward it, it seemed to move toward them. The reporting witness said it was not military or a regular aircraft, because he was familiar with their general characteristics. And most remarkable of all, instead of flying away, the UFO simply disappeared, as if using “a cloaking device,“ the witness said.
Ron Paul: Scottish Referendum Gives Reasons to be Hopeful
Even though it ultimately failed at the ballot box, the recent campaign for Scottish independence should cheer supporters of the numerous secession movements springing up around the globe.
In the weeks leading up to the referendum, it appeared that the people of Scotland were poised to vote to secede from the United Kingdom. Defeating the referendum required British political elites to co-opt secession forces by promising greater self-rule for Scotland, as well as launching a massive campaign to convince the Scots that secession would plunge them into economic depression.
The people of Scotland were even warned that secession would damage the international market for one of Scotland’s main exports, whiskey. Considering the lengths to which opponents went to discredit secession, it is amazing that almost 45% of the Scottish people still voted in favor of it.
The Scottish referendum result has done little to discourage other secessionist movements spreading across Europe, in countries ranging from Norway to Italy. Just days after the Scottish referendum, the people of Catalonia voted to hold their own referendum measuring popular support for secession from Spain.
Support for secession is also growing in America. According to a recent poll, one in four Americans would support their state seceding from the federal government. Movements and organizations advocating that state governments secede from the federal government, that local governments secede from state governments, or that local governments secede from both the federal and state governments, are springing up around the country. This year, over one million Californians signed a ballot access petition in support of splitting California into six states. While the proposal did not meet the requirements necessary to appear on the ballot, the effort to split California continues to gain support.
Americans who embrace secession are acting in a grand American tradition. The Declaration of Independence was written to justify secession from Britain. Supporters of liberty should cheer the growth in support for secession, as it is the ultimate rejection of centralized government and the ideologies of Keynesianism, welfarism, and militarism.
Widespread acceptance of the principle of peaceful secession and self-determination could resolve many ongoing conflicts. For instance, allowing the people of eastern Ukraine and western Ukraine to decide for themselves whether to spilt into two separate nations may be the only way to resolve their differences.
The possibility that people will break away from an oppressive government is one of the most effective checks on the growth of government. It is no coincidence that the transformation of America from a limited republic to a monolithic welfare-warfare state coincided with the discrediting of secession as an appropriate response to excessive government.
Devolving government into smaller units promotes economic growth. The smaller the size of government, the less power it has to hobble free enterprise with taxes and regulations.
Just because people do not wish to live under the same government does not mean they are unwilling or unable to engage in mutually beneficial trade. By eliminating political conflicts, secession could actually make people more interested in trading with each other. Decentralizing government power would thus promote true free trade as opposed to “managed trade” controlled by bureaucrats, politicians, and special interests.
Devolution of power to smaller levels of government should also make it easier for individuals to use a currency of their choice, instead of a currency favored by central bankers and politicians.
The growth of support for secession should cheer all supporters of freedom, as devolving power to smaller units of government is one of the best ways to guarantee peace, property, liberty — and even cheap whiskey!
OddlyEnough™: Mysterious Fake Cellphone Towers Found Across U.S.
Seventeen fake cellphone towers were discovered across the U.S. last week, according to a report in Popular Science.
Rather than offering you cellphone service, the towers appear to be connecting to nearby phones, bypassing their encryption, and either tapping calls or reading texts.
Les Goldsmith, the CEO of ESD America, used ESD’s CryptoPhone 500 to detect 17 bogus cellphone towers. ESD is a leading American defense and law enforcement technology provider based in Las Vegas.
With most phones, these fake communication towers are undetectable. But not for the CryptoPhone 500, a customized Android device that is disguised as a Samsung Galaxy S III but has highly advanced encryption.
Goldsmith told Popular Science: “Interceptor use in the U.S. is much higher than people had anticipated. One of our customers took a road trip from Florida to North Carolina and he found eight different interceptors on that trip. We even found one at South Point Casino in Las Vegas.”
The towers were found in July, but the report implied that there may have been more out there.
Although it is unclear who owns the towers, ESD found that several of them were located near U.S. military bases.
“Whose interceptor is it? Who are they, that’s listening to calls around military bases? Is it just the U.S. military, or are they foreign governments doing it? The point is: we don’t really know whose they are,“ Goldsmith said to Popular Science.
It’s probably not the NSA—that agency can tap all it wants without the need for bogus towers, VentureBeat reported:
Not the NSA, cloud security firm SilverSky CTO/SVP Andrew Jaquith told us. “The NSA doesn’t need a fake tower,“ he said. “They can just go to the carrier” to tap your line.
ComputerWorld points out that the fake towers give themselves away by crushing down the performance of your phone from 4G to 2G while the intercept is taking place. So if you see your phone operating on a slow download signal while you’re near a military base . . . maybe make that call from somewhere else.
In an amazing coincidence, police departments in a handful of U.S. cities have been operating “Stingray” or “Hailstorm” towers, which—you guessed it—conduct surveillance on mobile phone activity. They do that by jamming mobile phone signals, forcing phones to drop down from 4G and 3G network bands to the older, more insecure 2G band.
OddlyEnough™: Transgender Women Claim Mistreatment at West Virginia DMVs
Two transgender women say they were ordered to take off their makeup, jewelry and wigs at West Virginal Division of Motor Vehicles offices or they would not get new driver’s license photos.
In the process, they say they were belittled, and called names like “it.“
“The manager told the agent I was working with, ‘It’ needs to remove ‘its’ makeup and false eyelashes,‘“ said Kristen Skinner, a Ranson resident.
Skinner, 45, left the Division of Motor Vehicles office in Charles Town in January with a license featuring her new female name and a headshot she says looks nothing like her.
Trudy Kitzmiller, 52, described a similar experience in May at the Martinsburg office. Downtrodden, she left without a new license and kept her old one with the wrong name and an inaccurate photo.
“They dehumanized me,“ said Kitzmiller, a Mount Storm resident.
Late last month, the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund wrote the state Division of Motor Vehicles, or DMV, to ask for new photos for the two women. The letter said denying them of that would violate constitutional free speech rights.
Under West Virginia law, the two women will need to see a judge first, according to the division’s acting commissioner, Steven Dale.
Like several other states, West Virginia requires a circuit court order for someone to change gender on a driver’s license. A judge has to acknowledge the person completed gender change procedures.
Skinner and Kitzmiller are both still undergoing medical treatment for their gender switches.
Otherwise, wearing makeup as a man could be construed as an attempt to conceal or disguise one’s identity. It is akin to a face-covering scarf or a hat, though the decision about what someone can wear can vary case by case, Dale said.
“Until these two drivers take the steps necessary to change their gender to the satisfaction of a Circuit Court Judge, their photographs must reflect their identities as males,“ Dale said.
Dale said he is still sorting through what happened during the two visits. He said division employees undergo sensitivity training to ensure everyone is treated with respect.
“If that was not accomplished in these cases, I will apologize,“ Dale said.
The process has been particularly problematic for Kitzmiller. She’s an out-of-work heavy equipment operator, and employers won’t consider her because her outdated ID doesn’t match up.
Skinner, an information technology employee for the federal government, said she had no problem getting her federal work badge photo switched, makeup and all.
Such issues aren’t uncommon for transgender people, said Michael Silverman, executive director of the Transgender Fund.
In March, a 16-year-old boy in South Carolina who dresses like a girl was denied having his driver’s license photo retaken wearing makeup.
Not every state is as stringent as West Virginia about changing gender on a driver’s license, either.
In Florida, for example, a doctor needs to confirm a person is in the process of changing genders. Completed surgery isn’t a requirement.
Silverman said that’s not the main issue. He said officials are wrongly making judgment calls on gender appearance.
“It’s not the job of the DMV to decide women and men need to look a certain way to meet DMV expectations about gender presentation,“ Silverman said.
Congressman Nick Rahall: Critical Corridors of Commerce
The House of Representatives recently passed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), which authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to improve our Nation’s water infrastructure, such as dams, locks, ports, navigation channels and inland waterways. This bill will advance the modernization of America’s critical corridors of commerce that enable the efficient transport of American-produced commodities, including West Virginia coal.
As the top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I had a key role in negotiating the final version of the bill. And, along with Chairman Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania, I introduced the original House bill, which resulted in a bipartisan, bicameral agreement that passed the House by an overwhelming vote of 412-4.
It was a refreshing change of pace to break free of the legislative gridlock that has stymied Washington for so long. It was a real achievement to have gotten something significant done to advance our State’s and Nation’s economy. This bill proves that bipartisanship is still alive on Capitol Hill for those of us willing to work together for the betterment of our Nation.
This bipartisan jobs bill will revitalize our inland waterway system so that bulk commodities such as West Virginia coal can be transported more efficiently. Critically, this bill expands the Buy America requirements placed on future Army Corps projects, ensuring that more of our Nation’s infrastructure is made in America by Americans. The Buy America provisions in particular further define this legislation as being about jobs - jobs to construct flood control projects, jobs to expand our harbors, jobs to make improvements to our waterways - and American jobs in the production of the iron and steel which goes into these works.
As our Nation’s leading coal exporter, West Virginia relies heavily on water infrastructure to reach foreign buyers. In fact, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. waterways and ports directly support 9,890 jobs in the Mountain State and contribute $1.6 billion to West Virginia’s economy. Commodities travel to and from West Virginia on many vital transportation links, such as the Ohio River, Allegheny River, Monongahela River, and the Mississippi River. The Port of Huntington Tri-State alone moves 45 million tons of coal annually and supports more than 12,000 jobs.
My position on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and the perennial reauthorization of the Army Corps’ work to maintain and improve our State’s and Nation’s ports and waterways and other water infrastructure, has enabled me to do much good for our region’s people and economy.
It allowed for the creation of the Army Corps Sec. 340 Infrastructure Program, which has provided tens of millions of dollars over the years to construct new water infrastructure projects in southern West Virginia, including projects for wastewater treatment and the design and construction of water supply, storage, treatment, and distribution facilities.
It allowed for the construction of flood control projects, like the Island Creek project in Logan County, and the expansion and maintenance of outdoor recreational activities at Beech Fork and East Lynn Lakes, and especially Summersville Lake, where I helped to authorize seasonal releases from the Summersville Dam for whitewater rafting.
It even has allowed for the preservation of our historical sites, such as the Jenkins House, home of Confederate Gen. Albert Gallatin Jenkins, in Lesage.
The investments made possible by this bill support jobs throughout our State and Nation on our waterways, our farms and fields, on shop floors and in our mines.
WRRDA will lay the foundation for economic growth for many years to come.
DeVano, The Next Gilmer County Superintendent of Schools
There has not been any news released from West Virginia Department of Education regarding the next superintendent of schools for Gilmer County since Ron Blankenship is leaving the position effective June 30, 2014.
However, Gabriel DeVano was approved by the West Virginia Board of Education as the next Gilmer County’s state appointed Superintendent effective July 01, 2014 last week.
Devano currently is the head of RESA 7.
OddlyEnough™, DeVano’s position will be filled with the current State Superintendent James Phares who had decided to resign from his position in order to retire.
The appointment of DeVano was a surprise to Gilmer County Board of Education members. The members were notified neither in advance nor after the fact about DeVano neither by the State Board nor by Blankenship.
Gilmer County Board of Education is having its monthly meeting today at 6:00 PM at Gilmer County High School. Perhaps, there will be an announcement at the meeting.
OddlyEnough™: Gilmer County Education Policies Repealed?
According to the Gilmer County Schools total of 88 policies being repealed!
Click H E R E to See the Policies Repealed
In addition there are 44 Gilmer County Board of Education policies for public review?
Click H E R E to See the Policies for Public Review
To Ron Blankenship, Superintendent; Dr. Simmons, Board President; Phyllis Starkey, Misty Pritt, Tom Ratliff, Dr. Armour, Board Members; the State Superintendent and Board of Education:
Was the public informed?
Has there been any public announcements?
Why are 88 policies repealed?
Why are 44 polices under review?
OddlyEnough™: 10 Live Cattle Stolen from WV Meat Processing Shop
A manager of a Cabell County meat processing shop says 10 cattle belonging to customers have been stolen from the shop’s livestock pens.
Several customers had dropped off the cattle at Nelson’s Meat Market in Milton over the weekend.
Shop manager Rick Stepp discovered the thefts on Monday.
Stepp says employees determined the animals did not wander off and that a break-in occurred.
The Cabell County sheriff’s department is investigating.
The cattle collectively are worth up to $16,000.
Shop owner Andy Nelson is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of those involved in the theft.
Woman Gives Birth to Quintuplets
A Northeast Texas woman has given birth to quintuplets at a Dallas hospital.
The Texarkana Gazette reports that Michelle Seals of Maud had the four girls and one boy Tuesday afternoon at Baylor University Medical Center via cesarean section.
The children’s grandmother, Carole Pearce, says her daughter and all five babies are doing well.
Officials at Baylor University Medical Center declined to immediately provide details of the births, saying a hospital statement would be released later Wednesday.
Steven Seals says he and his wife have names picked out for the quintuplets but will have to decide what name fits which baby.
The Seals also have a 2-year-old son.
Maud is 150 miles northeast of Dallas.
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