More ADA Access Upgrades to the Gilmer County Recreation Center Pool

The Gilmer County Parks and Recreation Center Board is pleased with all the upgrading being done to the facility for people with disabilities.

The Gilmer Free Press

The park board thanks the FCI Gilmer inmate program for helping with these upgrades, for without their help these upgrades could not have been available this year for two camps that are held here each year with over 20 wheelchair campers.

Again the Gilmer County Parks and Recreation Center Board and Director Darrel Ramsey thanks FCI Gilmer for their help in making our facility a little more user friendly for the disable.

Gilmer County Residents Graduate from GSC

The Gilmer Free Press

GLENVILLE, WV—Ten Gilmer County students were awarded their degrees during the 141st Glenville State College Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 09, 2015.

The GSC Class of 2015 is made up of students who completed their degree requirements in May 2015 and who hail from throughout West Virginia, other states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada, and Serbia.

    •  Keith A. Cummings of Glenville graduated with a Regents Bachelor of Arts degree.

    •  Samuel J. Dennison of Glenville graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice with concentrations in Corrections and Law Enforcement.

    •  Meghan N. Luzader of Sand Fork graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Behavioral Science with a minor in Criminal Justice.

    •  Robert T. Nicholas of Glenville graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Political Science with minors in Psychology and Sociology.

    •  Andrea E. Osborne of Glenville graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Education degree in Elementary Education (K-6) and General Math-Algebra I Education (5-9).

    •  Jodie L. Parsons of Normantown graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Education degree in Elementary Education (K-6) and Multi-Categorical Education (K-6).

    •  Heather C. Patterson of Glenville graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Behavioral Science with a minor in Studio Art.

    •  Amber D. Shackleford of Glenville graduated with a Regents Bachelor of Arts degree.

    •  Tiffany A. Tomey of Glenville graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Graphics & Digital Media.

    •  Ashley D. Woodford of Cox’s Mills graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree in Accounting, Computer and Information Systems, and Management.

Founded in 1872, Glenville State College is a public liberal arts institution located in Glenville, West Virginia. The college offers many four-year degree programs and 13 NCAA Division II athletic teams.

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West Virginia News

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State opens road over new pedestrian underpass at WV fair

FAIRLEA, WV — The state has opened a section of U.S. 219 that runs over a new pedestrian underpass at the State Fair of West Virginia.

Traffic had been detoured through the fair’s free parking lot since May 17 to allow for construction of the underpass.

The Register-Herald reports that the Division of Highways opened the new section of road on Tuesday. Work on the underpass is continuing.

The underpass will replace a pedestrian bridge that links two parcels owned by the fair. Fair officials have said the underpass will improve access to the fairgrounds in Fairlea for people with physical disabilities. The pedestrian bridge was built in 1975, before the Americans with Disabilities Act became law.


Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) applauded the National Youth Science Foundation’s (NYSF) acquisition of the $20 million Canaan Valley Institute (CVI) facilities in Tucker County. NYSF will recommission the campus as the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education Center, expand and improve its national and international programs and become a focal point that encourages youth in West Virginia and across the country to pursue education and careers in STEM.

As it expands STEM education programming through the National Youth Science Camp, NYSF hopes to qualify the STEM Education Center as one of West Virginia’s STEM education hubs, which could benefit as many as 1,000 West Virginia students every year. Senator Manchin and NYSF are calling on state and federal officials to designate necessary funding to enhance STEM programming at the STEM Education Center.

“I am thrilled that the National Youth Science Foundation’s has official acquired the CVI facilities in Tucker County for its state-of-the-art STEM Education Center,” Senator Manchin said. “With the necessary state and federal funding, this new center has the potential to become a national hub for STEM education, attracting the nation’s best and brightest to West Virginia and enhancing our economy, our education programs, and our next generation of skilled professionals. I applaud the efforts of Judge Pearson and everyone at the National Youth Science Foundation, as well as the local residents, the Tucker County Commission and all those who have dedicated so much hard work and time to making this acquisition a reality.”

NYSF’s acquisition of the STEM Education Center was also made possible by the generosity of its 6,000 alumni and other supporters. Together, they have pledged funds sufficient to meet the overhead expenses of the STEM Education Center for the first five years of operation, while the Foundation seeks funding to build the staff to reach many more West Virginia students throughout the calendar year.

Teachers gather in Charleston for technology academy

CHARLESTON, WV — West Virginia teachers are meeting in Charleston to learn more about how to use technology in their jobs.

The West Virginia Center for Professional Development is sponsoring the Infusing Technology Academy. It began Monday and continued through Wednesday.

The academy features more than 40 sessions help teachers embed technology into all aspects of student learning. Teachers bring their own technology devices for the training.

A second Infusing Technology Academy is scheduled for Fairmont State University on July 21 through 23.

Former Kanawha County teacher faces five years in prsion for firearm purchase

CHARLESTON, WV — A Kanawha County woman pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to purchasing a firearm for someone she knew to be a convicted felon.

Jennifer Napier, 39, of East Bank purchased the weapon from the Trading Post in Marmet in October 2011. She falsely filled out a Department of Justice form saying that she was buying the firearm when she knew that the gun would be in the hands of someone else.

As part of her plea bargain, Napier agreed she would surrender her teaching certificate. Her sentencing is scheduled for October; she faces up to five years in prison.

WV first lady retires as community college president

LOGAN, WV - West Virginia first lady Joanne Jaeger Tomblin has retired as president of Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College.

Tomblin’s retirement was effective Tuesday. She had served at the college for 33 years, including the past 15 as president.

Tomblin says in a college news release that she believed the time was right for her to step down. She says the college’s board, academic and campus leaders and community supporters know what is required to achieve continued success.

During Tomblin’s tenure, the college began the Vision 2020 Major Gifts campaign, which has raised $17 million through community donations. Other projects included a new Allied Health Facility on the Logan campus and the Applied Technology Facility on the Williamson campus.


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Gilmer County Commission Regular Meeting - 07.02.15 - Today

The Gilmer Free Press
Thursday, July 02, 2015 @ 9:00 AM
Gilmer County Courthouse – Commission Office
10 Howard Street, Glenville, WV





9:15 Don Bailey and Rick Sypolt-Gilmer County Recreation Center
9:20 Rick Sypolt-Unsafe Buildings & Lands Enforcement Agency


      Discussion and/or action on:

              1) Exonerations and/or Consolidations

              2) Approve Estate Qualifications and Estate Settlements

              3)  Board Appointments and/or Resignations: 

                    a)  Board Seats open on the:

                          i. ** Unsafe Buildings & Lands Enforcement Agency - Dekalb/Troy & Glenville Corporation

                          ii. ** Ambulance Service- DeKalb/Troy

              4)  Budget Revisions

              5)  Budget Control Report: 

              6)  Approve Invoices for Payment

              7)  Approve County Commission Minutes – June 05, 2015 and June 18, 2015

              8)  Receipt of County Board Minutes: 

                    1. Gilmer County Public Service District Meeting Minutes- May 11, 2015

                    2. Gilmer County Parks & Recreation Board Inc. Meeting Minutes-May 19, 2015

              3. Region VI Board Meeting Minutes-March 12, 2015


              1. Family Court-Reimbursement for space utilization


      Discussion and/or action on:

              1. Sell the 2007 Dodge Durango on Courthouse steps at 10:00 AM.

              2. Second Meeting in July

              3. Appoint Office of Emergency Management Assistant Deputy Director


              1. West Virginia State Auditor’s in-service training for County Commissioners - August 10 & 11, 2015.

              2. Limited Bingo License-Glenville State College

              3.  Petition to Enforce-Unsafe Buildings & Lands Complaint #2014-05




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U.S. Girl Scouts get night under the stars at White House

WASHINGTON, D.C.—It was not your average Girl Scout campout.

There were tents, but instead of the backwoods, they were pitched on the South Lawn of the most famous address in America, the White House.

There was star-gazing. But it was led by Cady Coleman, a U.S. astronaut who spent two years on the International Space Station.

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And there was a campfire sing-a-long - which President Barack Obama dropped by to join.

“What are you guys doing in my yard?“ the president said, smiling, as 50 fourth-grade girls bedecked in green badge-covered vests giggled and shouted their hellos.

“We’re camping on the lawn!“ one scout shouted. “We’re making history!“

The event was the first-ever Girl Scout campout designed to spotlight first lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move! Outside” initiative. The First lady, who is also the Honorary National President of the Girl Scouts, sat beside the president on a bale of hay as the group clapped and sang lyrics from souvenir pamphlets. The Obamas read over the shoulders of the scouts beside them, singing along.

“Did you guys see Michelle rockin’ out a little bit?“ Obama asked at the end of the second song, “I Love Being a Girl Scout.“

Later he turned to face the makeshift campfire, a pile of lanterns arranged in the middle of the circle. “Remember to put the fire out before you go to bed,“ he said. “That’s what Smokey the Bear said.“

For the scouts, fourth graders from five troops around the country, the night was an opportunity to learn to rock climb, to pitch a tent, to tie a knot, to look through a telescope - and to get to know Obama.

“I thought he was like a serious man who only wanted to work and do business, but he actually has a really nice soft side,“ said Blaire Batista, 11, from Washington, D.C.

“Until I die…I’m going to have this memory not in the back of my head, but right in the front,“ she said.

After two songs, Obama turned to the girls to say goodbye. “Unfortunately, I’ve gotta go back to work,“ he said. “But we can have a group hug.“

The girls rushed toward him, wrapping their arms around his waist, each one clamoring for a chance to embrace the president.

Outside the circle, the Secret Service stood with their hands clasped, looking around at each other.

Then they started to laugh.

Man in wheelchair robs New York bank, gets away

NEW YORK, NY—Police on Tuesday were searching for a man in a wheelchair who is suspected of robbing a New York bank and rolling out of the building with $1,200 cash to make a clean getaway.

The man, who wore a gray hoodie and appeared to be about 30 years old according to surveillance video, is accused of passing a note to a Santander Bank teller in the New York City borough of Queens on Monday afternoon and demanding money, a New York Police Department spokesman said.

Despite never showing a gun to bank workers, the man was not intercepted as he exited the bank in his wheelchair with the loot. No arrests have been made.

The New York incident is not the first time a person in a wheelchair has robbed a bank.

A 60-year-old Idaho man in a wheelchair was arrested last year for holding up a First Federal Bank, stopped by police while attempting to flee the robbery scene in a taxi cab.

In 2010, a terminally ill California man in a wheelchair hoping to get medical care in prison held up a Chase Bank with a BB gun. He was arrested outside the building and was sentenced to 21 years’ incarceration.

Leetonia’s Shar to Continue Gymnast Career at Glenville State College

LEETONIA, Ohio (WKBN) – Jenae Shar, a recent graduate of Leetonia High School, has signed a letter of intent to continue her athletic career with Glenville State College in Glenville, West Virginia. She will compete on the Acro & Tumbling team.

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Jenae spent her senior year competing as a level 10 gymnast in multiple events across the country.  Her accomplishments include:

    •  Universal Galaxy: 3rd place on floor

    •  Circle of Stars in Indianapolis: 3rd place on vault, 3rd place on bars, and 3rd place on beam.

    •  Excalibur in Virginia Beach: 5th place on vault.

    •  All Around Gymnastics Challenge: 2nd place on vault, 1st place on beam, and 2nd place in All Around.

    •  Arnold Gymnastics Challenge: 5th place on vault, 6th place on bars, 1st place on beam, and 4th place in All Around.


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CHARLESTON, WV — Attorney General Patrick Morrisey today announced he is leading a bipartisan coalition of nine state Attorneys General in a lawsuit challenging a new rule from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency that unlawfully expands the federal government’s regulatory reach over small streams, land and farms.

“This rule is a staggering overreach by the federal government and violates the very law it claims to enforce,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “It will have dire consequences for homeowners, farmers and other entities by forcing them to navigate a complex federal bureaucracy and obtain costly permits in order to perform everyday tasks like digging ditches, building fences or spraying fertilizers.”

The rule, known generally as the “Waters of the United States” rule, would extend the EPA and Corps of Engineers’ regulatory jurisdiction to an untold number of small bodies of water, including roadside ditches and short-lived streams or any other area where the agencies believe water may flow once every 100 years.

“The way this rule is written creates a series of absurd scenarios for which people can be fined,” Morrisey said. “If you dump a wheelbarrow of dirt in the creek bed behind your house, and you don’t get a permit first, you could be fined, even if that creek was never previously subject to federal regulation. This rule expands a scheme whereby property owners have to ask the EPA for permission to do yardwork – it’s regulatory lunacy.”

Failure to comply with the new regulations could result in fines of up to $37,500 a day.

In the complaint filed Tuesday morning in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, the Attorneys General of West Virginia, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, South Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin argue the final rule put out by the EPA and Corps of Engineers violates the Clean Water Act, the Administrative Procedure Act and the U.S. Constitution, and usurps the States’ primary responsibility for the management, protection and care of intrastate waters and lands.

While the Clean Water Act gave the EPA and Corps authority to regulate “navigable waters” – defined as “waters of the United States” – Congress made sure that states would retain their constitutional, sovereign responsibility over non-navigable, intrastate lands and waters. The U.S. Supreme Court has twice rejected the agencies’ attempts to expand their authority (in Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. Army Corps of Engineers and Rapanos v. United States). However, this latest rule written by the two administrative agencies gives them virtually limitless power over these waters.

The complaint asks a federal judge to declare the rule illegal and issue an injunction to prevent the agencies from enforcing it. It also asks the judge to order the agencies to draft a new rule that complies with the law and honors States’ rights.

Funding for WorkForce West Virginia Will Support 200 New Temporary Jobs

The Gilmer Free Press

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) today announced that WorkForce West Virginia will receive federal funding from the U.S. Department of Labor to support about 200 temporary jobs for eligible dislocated workers to assist with recovery and clean-up efforts as a result of recent severe storms and flooding across the state. This National Emergency Grant has been approved for up to $2 million, with $670,000 to be released initially.

“I am pleased to announce that the Department of Labor will be able to provide some assistance to West Virginians who have experienced so much devastation from the severe weather that has hit our state recently,” Senator Manchin said. “This aid will be put to good use rebuilding our communities, while also creating around 200 new temporary jobs. I am confident that the resilient spirit of our friends and neighbors will have these communities up and running again.”

“West Virginia has a long standing tradition of helping our friends and neighbors during tough times, and this funding will be a big help to our communities in need. I am glad the Department of Labor has awarded this funding to WorkForce West Virginia to spur job creation and the recovery of our communities that were harmed by recent severe weather,” said Senator Capito.

Temporary employees, specifically, will assist with clean-up, demolition, repair, renovation and reconstruction of destroyed public structures, facilities and lands within the affected communities, as well as for the delivery of humanitarian aid and safety assistance, as needed.

Air Pollution Decision May Delay “Saving Thousands of Lives”

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CHARLESTON, WV – A Supreme Court decision may have cast doubt on controls for mercury and other airborne toxins from power plants – but it didn’t throw them out.

The high court decision could delay a permanent implementation of new air pollution rules, which the EPA says will save thousands of lives.

In a five-to-four decision, the court said the EPA should have considered the cost to industry earlier in the process of writing pollution limits.

Jim Pew, an attorney with Earthjustice, says whether or not the regulators documented it, the public will gain benefits of $3 to $9 for every $1 the protections cost. He says industry “propaganda” and legal arguments obscure that.

“Nobody is really disputing that this rule is going to save between 4,000 and 11,000 lives every year,“ he says. “To me, it really doesn’t make sense that EPA would be unpopular for doing something that helps so many people.“

The power and coal industries have argued the health-related savings are far less than the cost of compliance with the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.

The air pollution rules have the greatest impact on coal-fired power plants. Some conservation groups say most coal plants have already adapted or taken new pollution limits into account, so it’s unlikely the Supreme Court ruling will have a significant impact. Pew says the case may have been about the technicalities of the EPA’s rule-making process, but the agency’s goal is clear.

“The issue is a pretty simple one,“ he says. “Do we want to control the toxic pollution from the very ‘worst of the worst’ polluters in this country, when we know it is killing thousands of people every year, and contaminating lakes and rivers in every single state in the country?“

The Supreme Court sent the case back to a lower court for review. The rules went into effect in 2012, and will remain in effect pending action by the lower court.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

West Virginia News

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Emergency crews searching woods for possible downed aircraft in Braxton County

FRAMETOWN, WV — Emergency crews searched Tuesday night for a possible downed aircraft in the Frametown area of Braxton County.

Residents called in a report Tuesday after 7:00 PM.

However, emergency authorities in Braxton County say nothing has been found and there is no confirmation of the report.

Crews are searching for the wreckage in the woods along Mill Creek Road near Frametown.

Tomblin orders flags lowered in honor of soldier who died

CHARLESTON, WV — Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has ordered state flags lowered in honor of a West Virginia soldier who died during training.

The flags will be displayed at half-staff at all state-owned facilities from dawn to dusk Tuesday, the day of services for Sgt. Kenneth Ronald Berry of Parkersburg.

The 25-year-old soldier died after he was hit by a car while crossing a highway at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, last Tuesday. Berry enlisted in the Army in April 2010 and served in Afghanistan before returning to the United States in 2012. He was stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

New Fayette County school superintendent to take office

FAYETTEVILLE, WV — Incoming Fayette County School Superintendent Terry George says he wants to hear all sides of a $39 million school construction bond issue that was rejected by residents earlier this month.

“The first thing I’m going to do is assess the situation and to get to meet the staff here and to review the facility reports that are available. Once we have had the opportunity to do that, then we’ll form a strategy,” said George, who officially begins the new job Wednesday.

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Fayette County Schools face consolidation and renovation challenges at a number of campuses, something George said he believes takes time.

“I listen to people and I’m very consistently fair. I’m also interested in doing what’s right for students,” he said.

George comes from Randolph County where he also served as the superintendent. He said he’s looking forward to making Fayette County his new home for many years to come.

“I’m most excited about coming to a new community where it’s got a rich history of education and athletics.”

George was sworn into office Monday, but started a few days early.

Dr. Martirano Visits Richwood High School, June 2015


WV prison dog-training program wins $25K grant

CHARLESTON, WV — A program that enlists prison inmates to train dogs in need of rehabilitation has won a $25,000 in a Facebook contest.

The Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association says its “Dog Training at Prison” program received most votes among 4,000 original entries. More than 192,000 people cast 6.2 million votes, with the top 40 causes getting $25,000 grants from the State Farm Neighborhood Assist program.

In the humane association’s program, inmates will spend 20 weeks learning how to care for and train dogs and eight more weeks working directly with them. At the end of eight weeks, the dogs will either return to the humane association for adoption or advance to service dog training for people with disabilities.

Brother drops lawsuit against U.S. Senator Joe Manchin

FAIRMONT, WV - U.S. Senator Joe Manchin’s brother has dropped a lawsuit against the West Virginia Democrat and another brother.

Media outlets report that Dr. John Manchin III agreed to the lawsuit’s dismissal in a filing on Monday in Marion County Circuit Court. The stipulation of voluntary dismissal was signed by lawyers for all three Manchin brothers.

Lawyers told media outlets that they weren’t permitted to comment on the dismissal filing.

The Marion County Circuit Clerk’s Office says the judge had not officially dismissed the case as of Monday.

John Manchin’s lawsuit accused the senator and Roch Manchin of failing to repay a $1.7 million loan intended to keep the family’s carpet business afloat. The brothers denied the allegations.

Statement from Delegate Mike Caputo (D-Marion) on the Expiration of Prevailing Wage

Delegate Mike Caputo (D-Marion) said the Republican Legislative Leadership’s decision to allow the state Prevailing Wage for most state construction projects to expire, rather than giving state officials adequate time to collect essential information, is irresponsible.

“As representatives of West Virginia taxpayers, all legislators should be concerned with ensuring that our state has a successful, thriving construction industry, and that taxpayer money is spent on projects that are fairly bid, using local workers,” Caputo said. “Despite the strong objections of the Democrat members of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Government and Finance, the Republican members voted to deny WorkForce West Virginia the time needed to get this right. Republican legislators talk repeatedly about the need to provide a predictable, stable business environment, yet by taking this action, they have done just the opposite, adding uncertainty and instability.

“The House Speaker and Senate President should take steps immediately to correct this.”

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Guess this the scoop on Fayette Schools future?
New state appointed super states he is looking to make Fayette his home ‘for many years to come’.

Does that equate to ‘many more years’ of intervention for Fayette?

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Did You Know?

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Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:


Eurozone finance ministers are set to weigh the latest Greek proposal for aid Wednesday, hours after the country’s international bailout expired without a deal.


Myint Naing is one of hundreds of enslaved men rescued after a year-long AP investigation exposed extreme labor abuses in Southeast Asia’s seafood industry.


At least 30 soldiers are killed just two days after the assassination in Cairo of the country’s top prosecutor and the day after the president vowed swift justice.


Despite a chill over the Ukraine crisis, U.S. and Russia continue to find common cause on one of the most pressing issues on the global agenda.


This is the biggest tangible step in the countries’ historic bid to restore ties after more than a half-century of hostilities.


The death toll rises to more than 140, with the victims including families of military personnel aboard and those from the neighborhood where the aircraft went down in flames.


In an online posting that accompanied the disclosure, the candidate adds, “I have paid a higher tax rate than the Clintons even though I earned less income.“


The Education Department now requires any college offering a career-training program to prove their graduates earn enough money to repay their student loans.


They hope to turn young people away from violence through art: by painting murals over violent graffiti and distributing comic books in schools.


Goals by Carli Lloyd and Kelley O’Hara propel the Americans to Sunday’s championship game against either Japan or England.

G-Eye™: New Business in Glenville

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Ku Klux Klan gets green light for pro-Confederate flag rally in South Carolina

The white supremacist Ku Klux Klan has received approval from South Carolina officials to hold a pro-Confederate flag rally at the state capitol, a newspaper reported on Monday, less than two weeks after a white man shot dead nine people in a black church.

The suspect in the church shooting, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, has confessed to the killing. He had previously posted a racist manifesto online as well as photos of him posing with a Confederate flag, a Civil-War era banner associated with slavery and seen by many as a symbol of racist oppression.

The shootings on June 17, in which all nine victims were black, unleashed shockwaves across the United States and triggered calls for South Carolina to stop displaying the Confederate flag on the statehouse grounds.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has called for the flag’s removal, and told the Post and Courier that she did not endorse the Klan’s planned rally.

But according to the newspaper, the South Carolina Budget and Control Board approved an application filed by the “Loyal White Knights” chapter of the Ku Klux Klan for a July 18 rally in favor of the flag.

Budget and Control Board spokesman Brian Gaines told the newspaper that space to demonstrate was provided at the site when not already reserved.

The state capitol is located in South Carolina’s capital, Columbia, about 115 miles (185 km) northwest of Charleston, home to the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church where the shootings occurred.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors extremist organizations, lists the Loyal White Knights as an active group within the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan.

With roots reaching back to the Civil War, the Klan is known for its white robes and pointed hoods and for its acts of violence and intimidation against African-Americans, including cross burnings and killings.

An answering machine for the South Carolina chapter referred to Roof as a “warrior,“ according to the Post and Courier.

Federal authorities said on Monday they are investigating a spate of fires at predominantly black churches across the southern United States, though so far no link between the incidents has been established.

In past year, race relations have been increasingly under the spotlight in the United States amid growing anger over frequent deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of law enforcement, leading to demonstrations and occasional unrest.

Fire destroys historic Oregon baseball stadium

PORTLAND, OR —A historic Oregon baseball stadium was destroyed on Monday in a blaze that prompted evacuations of several dozen homes within a two-block radius.

The vacant Civic Stadium in Eugene was engulfed in flames shooting twice the building’s height when firefighters arrived on Monday evening, police said in a statement.

The structure was scheduled to break ground on a major expansion and renovation in July after a years-long public campaign, according to local non-profit Eugene Civic Alliance.

“We will be looking at the cause. However, the dry condition of the timber in this particular structure, it just took off, and there’s not much you can do about that,“ Eugene-Springfield fire chief Randy Groves told local newspaper the Register-Guard. He said no one was injured.

Police said emergency personnel were working to ensure the area was safe before letting people back home, adding that 38 firefighters battled the blaze for over two hours.

Pictures published online by local media showed only a charred and broken skeletal frame of the once venerable stadium.

Civic Stadium was built in 1938 by the unemployed workers who enlisted in the Great Depression-Era Works Progress Administration.

It hosted high-school sports, rodeo competitions and was one of the oldest operating Major League Baseball stadiums in the country, according to its listing on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

It was also one of only a dozen wooden ballparks left in the United States, according to the national register.

The Eugene Civic Alliance had spent years negotiating purchase of the stadium site and developing plans to renovate the structure and expand it to add additional fields. The group planned to break ground on these upgrades next month, according to its website.

“Like the rest of the community, we are stunned by the fire today that destroyed the Civic Stadium grandstand,“ the Civic Alliance said in a statement.

“It is too early for us to know where we go from here. We ask for a bit of grace and patience as we come to grips with this loss to our community and to our effort,“ it added.

Obama plans to expand overtime eligibility for millions of workers

WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday announced a proposal that would make nearly 5 million more workers eligible for overtime pay, a move that would touch nearly every sector of the U.S. economy and could face legal challenges.

Obama in an editorial posted on the Huffington Post website said the proposal would more than double the maximum income a salaried worker can earn and still be eligible for overtime pay to $50,440, or $970 a week. The current threshold is $23,660.

“Right now, too many Americans are working long days for less pay than they deserve,“ Obama wrote.

It was not immediately clear if Obama would also move to narrow an existing exemption from overtime pay protections for low-level white collar workers, as many observers had expected.

Obama said he would discuss more details of the proposal later this week in Wisconsin, and U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez was scheduled to hold a press conference on the proposal on Tuesday.

When the proposal is published, it will set off a comment period during which business groups are expected to argue that the rules would not have their intended effect of putting more money in U.S. workers’ pockets and could kill jobs.

Randy Johnson, a vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said Monday that making more employees eligible for overtime will lead to a drop in the number of full-time jobs and that some workers would lose benefits and opportunities for promotions.

“This change is another example of the administration being completely divorced from reality and adding more burdens to employers and expecting them to just absorb the impact,“ Johnson said in a statement.

But supporters of the proposal, including Judith Conti at the left-leaning National Employment Law Project, say overtime pay protections were created not to increase workers’ pay but to promote the 40-hour work week.

“Some people will work fewer hours for the same money and have more control over their lives, some will work the same hours for more money,” Conti said.


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World News

The Gilmer Free PressFor world, limited options if Iran talks fall apart

CAIRO, EGYPT — The Iranian nuclear talks are playing out in classic fashion: A self-imposed deadline appears to have been extended due to stubborn disputes, with the sides publicly sticking to positions and facing internal pressure from opponents ready to pounce on any compromise.

Should the talks actually collapse, the alternatives are not appealing. The war option that the United States has kept on the table has few fans, and the world community does not seem willing to impose truly crippling sanctions. A dangerous period of uncertainty looms.

Which way it goes may depend on which side needs a deal the most. Iran might seem the weaker party, with sanctions harming its economy. But its authoritarian regime puts up a convincingly brave front, and the Obama Administration, with its legacy on the line, seems at least as determined to conclude a deal.

Israel and Sunni Arab countries like Saudi Arabia fear any scenario where Iran — a Shiite power with a theocratic government involved in conflicts all around the region — is even close to a bomb. Deeply skeptical of Iran’s promises or of the West’s ability to not be hoodwinked, they have no desire to see the deal that appears to be coming.

Here are some disquieting scenarios and questions to consider:


The Obama administration continues to say it has the option of using military force to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, should diplomacy fail. It does not provide details publicly, but military officials acknowledge that the most likely form of U.S. attack would be aerial bombing of Iranian nuclear facilities, some of which are deep underground. There likely are numerous variations on the drawing table.

Depending on the option picked by Obama, the U.S. military could call on a wide range of forces in such an attack, including one or more aircraft carriers, a full array of fighters, bombers and other combat aircraft stationed in or near the Middle East, and special operations forces that might be used to rescue downed pilots or enter Iran on sabotage or other secret missions.

Iran has a substantial air defense system — and Russia earlier this year lifted its self-imposed ban on sales to Iran of the advanced S-300 air defense missile. But even after Iranian deployment of such missiles, Obama says U.S. warplanes could penetrate Iranian airspace.

Still, senior Pentagon leaders have publicly stressed the limitations of bombing, saying it likely would delay Iran’s development of a bomb by no more than three years while strengthening its inclination to covertly go nuclear — like other countries like North Korea and Israel have done. Leon Panetta said while heading the Pentagon in 2011 that U.S. bombing would have “unintended consequences.“ A retaliatory Iranian attack on Israel could lead to rapid escalation.

Israel itself has also made threatening noises, but the odds of unilateral military action seem slim: The Jewish state lacks the Americans’ ability to destroy facilities deep underground, is vulnerable due to its small territory, and would risk undercutting the international pressure on Iran for a relatively small return.


It seems the world is not prepared to truly bring Iran to its knees by shutting off the flow of capital and goods. That would involve a tremendously expensive and politically explosive land and sea blockade as well as a militarily enforced no-fly zone across a country 2-1/2 times the size of Texas.

That leaves stiffer sanctions as the only realistic way to pressure Tehran economically. But even that could be a tough sell outside the U.S. The Iranian people who would suffer are largely captive, and some countries, like China, India and Japan, still depend on diminished but still significant exports of Iranian oil.

Iran is also a vast market that companies big and small are eager to tap. The longer sanctions stay in place, the greater the incentive for firms to find ways around them — potentially lessening the impact of any ratcheting up.

The U.S. has had sanctions against Iran in place ever since the Iranian Revolution in 1979 and has tightened them several times in the years to include Tehran’s crucial oil and banking sectors. There would be little to stop politicians in Washington from imposing even tougher measures on Tehran should talks break down and hopes for a deal fall through.

But there may be much less appetite for ramping up the sanctions imposed by the United Nations and the European Union in recent years. As it is, sanctions discipline is already loosening as companies world-wide anticipate returning to the lucrative and underdeveloped Iranian market. Britain’s ambassador to Washington, Peter Westmacott, said last month that “we are probably not far away from the high-water mark” of sanctions against Iran and said “sanctions erosion” would likely follow any collapse of talks.


After the initial recriminations, both sides are likely to look for ways to salvage the progress made over the past two years in reducing tensions and lowering the chance of a new Mideast war over Iran’s nuclear program.

Iran says it will continue to honor the Non-Proliferation Treaty and its obligations with the UN’s nuclear agency — meaning limited monitoring of its declared nuclear activities. But there will be great suspicion and Israel and others may ratchet up the covert war on the Iranian program; mysterious explosions, deaths and cyber-sabotage can be expected.

Iran may be ready to resume talks if alternatives arise to physical inspection of the non-nuclear sites. One possibility is advanced measuring instruments based on samples from surrounding areas, or samples taken by a mutually trusted Iranian expert while IAEA inspectors await just outside the sites. They may propose interviewing nuclear scientists only through an intermediary or written questions and answers. But the U.S. administration may find it politically difficult to agree to a new set of negotiations — with terms on nuclear transparency dictated by the Iranians — that are much weaker than it had sought.


They’re unlikely to go all the way, but could push to reach “threshold” status. Iranian officials insist they do not intend to build a nuclear weapon, and there is a “fatwa,“ an Islamic ruling, against the very idea by the country’s top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Yet Tehran’s bomb-making ability has grown, and with it the global agitation.

With no talks constraining Iran, it is likely to resume enriching uranium, which Tehran froze early last year under the preliminary deal that led to the present negotiation. Iran says that program is only for peaceful purposes, but enriched uranium can also form the fissile core of a nuclear warhead. If Iran opts to return to enriching at levels just a technical step away from weapons-grade, it could have enough fissile material for one bomb within months. This is the “breakout point” the deal is trying to extend to at least a year.

Iran is years away from the technical expertise needed not only to develop a working warhead but to be able to mount it on a powerful enough missile. But that — and the notion that Iran will stop at “threshold” level — is cold comfort to those who fear Iran.


The development would come when tensions between the rival Sunni and Shiite sects of Islam are at a historic high, with the sectarian divide fomenting wars in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere while threatening the stability of Lebanon and Bahrain and other countries in the region. Iran is Persian, not Arab — but it is emerging as the top Shiite power in the Middle East. Its hand is in many of the conflicts — whether overtly as in its support for the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon and the Bashar Assad government in Syria, or more opaquely as in Yemen.

Thus, if Iran does become a threshold nuclear weapons state, a domino effect seems likely. Sunni Saudi Arabia — with the oil wealth to buy much of the nuclear prowess that Iran has labored to produce — has hinted it would feel compelled to acquire the same status. Egypt, could also follow suit. Israeli officials have said they believe Iran is aware that reaching the breakout point could have “serious consequences.“

Paris time lords extend Greek deadline - by a second

PARIS, FRANCE—By pure chance, Greece will gain fractionally more time to meet a midnight deadline on Tuesday to pay its IMF debts - thanks to a move by international time arbiters in the Paris Observatory to add one second to the world’s clocks.

The so-called International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service charged with ensuring that earth time keeps pace with time measured by super-accurate atomic clocks ruled earlier this year that a tiny pause was needed to account for a gradual slowing-down in the earth’s rotation.

The change, which will allow earth time to catch up with atomic time, will now take effect on Tuesday at the stroke of midnight Greenwich Mean Time, also known as UTC (coordinated universal time) in French.

“Very exceptionally, the minute ... will last one second longer than normal, that is, 61 seconds instead of 60,“ the Paris Observatory, which houses the international time service, said in a statement.

That literally gives Athens an extra second to either come to agreement with creditors over a cash-for-reform package that has already been five months in discussion, or otherwise find 1.6 billion euros owing to the International Monetary Fund.

“Yes, but one second isn’t much time,“ Sebastien Bize, joint director of the Observatory’s Space Time Reference Systems (SYRTE) arm, told Reuters TV. “And unfortunately, we can’t add more than one second.“

Severe Thunderstorm Watch by National Weather Service

The Gilmer Free Press

The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm watch for multiple counties in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio.

The watch is in effect until 9:00 PM in West Virginia in:

    •  Braxton
    •  Gilmer
    •  Webster
    •  Calhoun
    •  Nicholas
    •  Clay
    •  Roane
    •  Lewis
    •  Pocahontas
    •  Randolph
    •  Upshur
    •  Boone
    •  Lincoln
    •  Fayette
    •  Kanawha
    •  Logan
    •  McDowell
    •  Mingo
    •  Putnam
    •  Raleigh
    •  Wyoming
    •  Cabell
    •  Wayne

A watch means severe weather is possible within the next few hours.

New SpringHill Suites Presents Camp Catch Your Breath with Check

SpringHill Suites by Marriott in Bridgeport recently held a grand opening and presented a donation of more than $1,000 to United Hospital Center’s Camp Catch Your Breath.

“Going to camp is a time-honored tradition where children can come together and grow,” said camp director Sonny Hoskinson.

“We appreciate donors, like SpringHill Suites, whose contributions help give asthmatic kids, who typically miss out on the summer camp experience, the opportunity to participate in a fun and safe environment.”

The Gilmer Free Press
(L-R) Aaron Smith, regional operations manager for Baywood Hotels;
Sonny Hoskinson, camp director and assistant director of pharmacy at UHC;
and Patrick Geiger, general manager for SpringHill Suites Marriott.

Martirano Says Having Test Results Earlier Will Be Beneficial

The Gilmer Free Press

CHARLESTON, WV — West Virginia State Superintendent of Schools Michael Martirano says standardized tests results should now be available in August, which should work to schools’ advantage.

Previously, results were not available until December. Martirano thought that the earlier the results are in, the better it is for improving education.

“It’s much more time than expected from the past,” the superintendent said. “I’m a true assessment person in the sense of using that data and getting it back as quickly as we can. You want to have that data in your hands to make good decisions for kids.”

He said that there’s no reason to wait until December when the entire first semester of school is over with.

“I’m holding myself accountable, I’m holding our department accountable and I’m holding our vendor accountable. They have said they’ll have those results to us in the month of August. That will be the earliest for the state of West Virginia.”

This spring there was a lot of complaining from teachers about the new testing system causing confusion. Martirano said that although there were instances of failures, he was pleased with how smoothly the testing went for the first year. In his mind, the horror stories were overblown.

“You expect a certain level of things to occur, but we didn’t have any major power outages or major failures in our system overall and it worked overall.”

Martirano was extremely pleased with the test coordinators and said there was excellent communication, especially considering how rough the first year of new testing had been in the past.

The state superintendent has long been a proponent of standardized testing in West Virginia, speaking out against parents who opt their kids out of taking them.

~~  Matt Maccaro ~~

EducationNewsWest Virginia(3) Comments

Permalink - Link to This Article

~~~ Readers' Comments ~~~

He has been WV State Superintendent since Sept 2014. With only nine months on the job he has not “long been a proponent” of anything for West Virginia.  However, it is a good thing to bring the test results for Smarter Balanced Assessment forward in a much more timely fashion.

It is reported that county Superintendents already have a computer sign in to the data. Will such a sign in be provided to county Boards of Education? Will the State Superintendent guarantee that all 55 counties will see their data or only the ones not under intervention?

By Just Asking  on  06.30.2015

Getting test results quicker is an entitlement to citizens who pay the bills.

Another entitlement should be to be informed who supervises superintendents appointed during intervention to include the State’s grading system used to evaluate their performances.

There is confusion about who the superintendents report to. Citizens in contact with members of the WVBOE tell that they point elsewhere in the WVDOE.

The general impression of board members in intervened counties is that Mr. Charles Heinlein is the next in line over the superintendents. His last day is today so will there be a reset with his replacement?

Others point to Ted Matterin as the power behind the scenes while others point to the WVDOE’s audit office.

If the responsible person now is Dr. Martirano that arrangement should be revealed. Some individual in Charleston is responsible for patterns of waste and mismanagement continuing in intervened counties, and the full facts should be exposed to the public.

By Ralph W. Graham  on  06.30.2015

The buck stops with Dr. M. now.
His gigantic pay of $230k is in return for being the fall guy when the round of the “coals of failure” are heaped upon his back.

When more NCLB, Smarter Balance, Common Core, or whatever the game will be named, failures appear, he and his “Vision” will be at fault.

Its all ready been set in place for him to wear the mantle of blame.

By poor Dr. M.  on  06.30.2015

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West Virginia Department of Education Announces 2015 Microsoft Office Specialist State Champions

The Gilmer Free Press

Charleston, WV —Thousands of students from across the state showcased their Microsoft Office Word (MOS) Excel and Power Point skills in the 2015 MOS West Virginia State Championship this spring. The top six winners of the state competition were invited to travel to Orlando, Florida on June 18 – 20 to represent West Virginia and to showcase their expert skills on Microsoft Office in a national competition.

The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) is proud to recognize the following students for receiving first place in the 2015 MOS West Virginia State Championship:

    •  Sierra Bell, James Rumsey Technical Institute, Word 2013

    •  Matthew Byrd, Ritchie County High School, Excel 2013

    •  Joshua Arehart, James Rumsey Technical Institute, PowerPoint 2013

    •  Kendra Tolley, Carver Career Center, Word 2010

    •  Katelyn Lynch, Carver Career Center, Excel 2010

    •  Arielle Johnson, Carver Career Center, PowerPoint 2010

“We view all of our MOS West Virginia State Championship student competitors as winners because of their motivation to earn the valuable credential of industry certification,” said Sterling Beane, WVDE Chief Technology Officer. “These students are gaining the upper hand in today’s competitive academic and professional marketplace by learning the 21st century technology skills they need for success.”

“I am delighted to see the enthusiasm and dedication of our young competitors in the MOS State Championship,” said state Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano. “I congratulate the six state champions for their extra efforts and look forward to seeing how they put their superior Microsoft Office skills to use in their future endeavors.”

The MOS State Championship is a global competition that tests students’ skills on Microsoft Office applications. West Virginia students age 13 to 22 were eligible to participate in one of six competition tracks by submitting a qualified, passing score on any of the following MOS exams: Word (2013 or 2010), Excel (2013 or 2010) and PowerPoint (2013 or 2010).

The competition is sponsored by Certiport (, a Pearson Venue business and the leading test delivery solution provider for the global workforce and academic markets. As the competition sponsor, Certiport provides a platform for students to demonstrate success.

West Virginia First Lady to Move into Role Full-Time

The Gilmer Free Press

CHARLESTON, WV — As First Lady Joanne Jaeger Tomblin prepares to leave her position as president of Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College, she says her hope is that the institution is prepared for the future and changing workforce demands.

“I hope that I have built a good foundation there at the college and that the next president who comes along can be able to build on that foundation,” Tomblin said in an interview with MetroNews before her retirement on June 30.

Tomblin has worked at Southern Community and Technical College for 33 years, the last 15 as president.

Student enrollment can vary anywhere from 2,000 to 6,000 at the Logan County school, she said, which offers opportunities for training in a number of fields, including healthcare.

“We focus on places where our students can get jobs and that is in health occupations which has been one of our biggest strengths,” Tomblin said.  During her career, she said the industry demands for workers have changed and, in recent years, coal miners have returned to the college to learn new skills.

As she enters retirement, with plans to serve as First Lady full-time for the remainder of Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s term, Tomblin said she can’t help but admire the role the school plays in its community.

“There’s a certain culture in Southern West Virginia,” said Tomblin. “They’re very close-knit families. A lot of times, families don’t like their children to go off to a larger college. They like to keep them at home. And we are the opportunity in Southern West Virginia for people to get a higher education degree,” she plan.

For Tomblin, retirement is bittersweet.

“When you go to work every day for 33 years and the people that you work with are family to you, you see them more than you sometimes see your own family and you build great relationships with those people,” she said.

“I have been blessed in more ways than I could ever express.  This has
been an opportunity of a lifetime.”

What Now for West Virginia & U.S. Healthcare?

The Gilmer Free Press

CHARLESTON, WV - Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has denied the most important legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act, West Virginia healthcare experts are considering the law’s long-term impact.

Physician and former Kanawha County state senator Dr. Dan Foster says the most important part of the law may be something that hasn’t gotten a lot of public attention, the way doctors and hospitals get paid. Instead of getting paid per procedure, providers will be paid according to their results.

“They’re going to be paid to keep people out of the hospital, to keep people well,“ says Foster. “So, that’s going to be a huge change, but that is probably going to be the greatest legacy of this law.“

According to state and federal figures, 15 million Americans have gained healthcare coverage due to the reform. A 180,000 West Virginians have gained coverage, out of a quarter million who lacked it.

Renate Pore director of health care policy with West Virginians for Affordable Healthcare says reform is working - both increasing the number of people covered, and holding down the overall cost of care. She paraphrases the Supreme Court’s majority opinion to suggest they don’t want to undo that.

“This law was created to fix healthcare markets, not destroy them,“ she says. “Don’t bring us any more of these piddly cases. So all the legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act are going to dry up.“

Dr. Foster says one thing he expects is more states expanding Medicaid. Thirty-one states, including West Virginia, have expanded Medicaid, or are are looking to do so. Where states haven’t expanded Medicaid, it’s been tough on hospitals, says Foster.

“They were expected to get more revenue from previous non-paying patients, and then they were going to lose payments from other sources,“ he says. “Those states that didn’t expand had those reductions, but didn’t get the increase in paying patients.“

Republicans in Congress and at the state level have worked to repeal or dismantle healthcare reform, arguing it would cost too much or raise the cost of care too high. But according to the Congressional Budget Office, the law will soon be reducing the deficit by $45 billion a year.

Foster hopes congress will now admit that the ACA will stay, and work to refine it as needed.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

West Virginia News

The Gilmer Free Press


CHARLESTON, WV - Governor Earl Ray Tomblin today issued a statement following the Supreme Court’s ruling against the Environmental Protection Agency:

“As we have maintained for years, the Environmental Protection Agency far too often fails to consider the impact its mandates have on jobs and the economies of both our state and our nation. I’m pleased with today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling and hope that it encourages those making these unreasonable decisions to reconsider their plans not only for mercury emissions but the unreasonable restrictions this administration wants to put on existing power plants.“


CHARLESTON, WV – Attorney General Patrick Morrisey issued the following statement today reacting to this morning’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency must consider the economic costs of complying with the regulations it imposes.

“I am thrilled that, for the second year in a row, the Supreme Court agreed with my Office’s argument that the EPA violated the Clean Air Act in imposing a costly regulation on the American people,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “The Supreme Court’s ruling today that the EPA has no authority to ignore the costs of its regulation will have far-reaching consequences for the agency’s many other overly expensive rules, including those it plans to enact as part of its effort to cripple West Virginia coal.

“Just like last year’s decision in Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA, the Supreme Court’s rejection of the EPA’s legal arguments today should serve as a clear warning signal to the agency: stop violating the law,” Attorney General Morrisey said.

“I hope that the EPA will finally heed this warning. Just last month, the EPA put forward an unprecedented rule that imposes federal control on local waters and farmlands, in clear violation of the Clean Water Act. And in the coming months the EPA is slated to finalize its so-called Clean Power Plan, which will seek to impose unprecedented and illegal requirements on States and coal-fired power plants. These Rules will have devastating effects on coal miners, farmers, businesses and homeowners of West Virginia.

“If the EPA ignores the Supreme Court’s clear warning today and continues to press forward with these illegal, costly rules, my Office will challenge those rules in court, and we intend to win – again,” Attorney General Morrisey said.

In 2012, the EPA imposed costly regulations on power plants to address mercury and other air toxics, which by the EPA’s own estimates would require compliance costs for those plants of more than $9 billion per year.

West Virginia joined a bipartisan group of 21 States, led by Michigan, to challenge the rule, arguing the EPA improperly confined its focus to health and environmental risks, and ignored what it would cost the industry to comply with this broad new regulatory regime.


CHARLESTON, WV – Attorney General Patrick Morrisey issued the following statement today regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that struck down state same-sex marriage bans.

“I am disappointed in today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “The U.S. Constitution does not address the issue of marriage. Under our system of federalism, it should be up to the states to define marriage. The people of our state should be free to debate and resolve this question themselves, as they have done, instead of having their judgment usurped by unelected judges.

“I am also concerned that this decision could infringe upon our citizens’ religious freedom. During oral arguments for this case, U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. implied that nonprofit religious-affiliated organizations could lose their tax-exempt status if they choose not to recognize same-sex marriage due to their religious beliefs. The First Amendment of our Constitution clearly holds that our citizens have the right to exercise their religion freely without government pressure, and I fear this decision could be used by the IRS as an excuse to unfairly punish charities and schools which hold beliefs that do not fall in line with those of this Administration.”


Washington, D.C. –U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) released the following statement applauding the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Michigan v. EPA case.

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling sends a strong signal to the EPA that it must stop ignoring the economic damage its regulations are causing to our energy sector and our economy. By forcing dozens of coal-fired power plants to close, the EPA’s job-killing regulations have already had a devastating impact on jobs, energy prices, the reliability of our power supply, our coal mining industry and most importantly our families in West Virginia and across this nation. The EPA continues to impose regulations one after another regardless of the impact on our economy, and I applaud the Supreme Court for recognizing that the agency must take costs into account.

“All West Virginians and Americans want to drink clean water and breathe clean air, and over the past 20 years, our state has always been willing to do its part to find solutions. All we are asking for is a partner and not an adversary in the federal government to work with states like West Virginia that produce domestic resources to make this country less dependent on foreign energy and more secure as a nation. This ruling is an important step to rein in this out-of-control agency, and I am hopeful that, in the coming weeks, the court will also recognize that the EPA has again overreached with the Clean Power Plan in order to prevent the loss of a million jobs, an increase in utility rates, and more damage to our economy.”

Engineering programs at Marhall University

HUNTINGTON, WV - Marshall University has three new degree programs that will go along with the university’s new engineering facility, set to open this fall.

Marshall’s Board of Governors approved the addition of the three engineering-based degrees, as well as the elimination of a business degree, during its regular meeting Wednesday in the Chris Cline Athletic Complex.

The board approved a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering, a master of science in mechanical engineering and a master of science in biomechanics during the meeting. The board also voted to eliminate a bachelor of business administration degree in risk management and insurance.

The changes were set to go into effect for the fall 2015 semester, which begins Monday, August 24.

The master of science in mechanical engineering is tied directly to its undergraduate counterpart. The bachelor’s and master’s degree programs will share resources, said Ed Howard, chairman of the board’s Academic and Student Affairs Committee.

“You pretty well have to look at these two together,“ said Howard, a retired senior vice president and regional manager of J.C. Penney Company’s West Region, from Scottsdale, Arizona. “They work together. They share the same resources with the same staffs.“

The bachelor of science in mechanical engineering will cost $7.45 million during its first five years, and $750,000 of that will be used to develop laboratories for the program, according to the proposal for that program. The university is projected to get a return on that investment, though, with an expected $11.67 million in revenue during the first five years of the program, according to the proposal.

The program, which will be open for enrollment during the fall 2015 semester, is expected to have 98 students in its first year and 194 students by its fifth year, according to the proposal.

The master of science in mechanical engineering will cost $1.8 million during its first five years of operation, of which $150,000 will be used to develop laboratories. The program is expected to generate $3.1 million during its first five years, according to the proposal.

The master’s program is expected to grow from 18 students in its first year to 72 students by its fifth year.

The master of science in biometrics also is projected to be self-sustaining.

The master’s in biometrics also will utilize the faculty, labs and supplies used for the bachelor’s degree in biometrics, and almost no additional funding was needed to create the degree. The only cost is a one-time $5,000 expenditure to market the program.

Information regarding the projected enrollment for that program was not available Wednesday.

The board also voted to eliminate a bachelor of business administration degree in risk management and insurance.

The program was launched in 2012, but enrollment failed to pick up for the program.

There were eight students enrolled in the upper courses program in fall 2012, and the program peaked in spring 2013 with 13 students pursuing the degree.

By fall 2014, there were only a total of seven students enrolled in the upper courses of the program.

Board Member David Haden said he was against eliminating the program, saying he thought it was a program that would provide good jobs for students that had been under marketed.

“I want to go on record as being opposed to eliminating the insurance degree program,“ said Haden, who owns i-Source, LLC, an insurance agency in Charleston. “I feel that it has not been properly marketed I don’t think it’s a good thing to eliminate because I can guarantee you 20 graduates a year can get jobs in the state of West Virginia that are well paid.“

Howard noted that the courses still are being offered, and students still could pursue a minor in risk management and insurance.

Parkersburg, Vienna implement sales taxes under home rule

PARKERSBURG, WV - Businesses in Parkersburg and Vienna will begin charging an additional penny on the dollar for taxable items and services this week.

Each city has implemented a 1% municipal sales tax under West Virginia’s Municipal Home Rule Pilot Program. The municipal taxes will be added to the state’s 6% sales tax on Wednesday.

State law requires cities that impose a municipal sales tax to reduce business and occupation taxes.

Vienna’s business and occupation tax cuts will go into effect on Wednesday. Parkersburg plans to delay its tax cuts until January 01, 2016.

The Home Rule Board has asked Attorney General Patrick Morrisey for an opinion on whether Parkersburg’s plan complies with the law.

Motorcycle Accident in Lewis County

WESTON, WV —One person had to be flown to the hospital after a motorcycle accident in Lewis County.
According to investigators, a motorcycle and a jeep collided around 12:45 AM Monday morning on US Hwy 19 near Fisher Hill between Jane Lew and Weston.
There is no word yet on the identity of the person who had to be flown to the hospital or the extent or their injuries at this time.
The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the accident.


The Gilmer Free Press

Did you Know?

The Gilmer Free Press

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday:


It’s unlikely Athens can make a 1.6 billion euro ($1.8 billion) bailout payment, stoking fears of the country’s possible exit from the euro.


The U.S. and other financial markets around the world fall as anxiety over Greece’s debt crisis spreads.


The justices decide that the sedative midazolam can be used in lethal injections without violating the constitutional prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.


The two convicted killers intended to drive to Mexico after breaking out of prison in upstate New York - but their ride backed out, authorities say.


The network says it won’t air the annual Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, and if “Celebrity Apprentice” continues, it’ll be without the mogul.


California lawmakers send to the governor a bill that would impose one of the strictest school vaccination laws in the country in reaction to a recent measles outbreak at Disneyland.


Officials suggest Tehran is backtracking on key points of a framework agreement that seeks to prevent the country from producing nuclear weapons.


Both women, an American and an Italian, were born in 1899 - and are believed to be the only people still alive with birthdates in the 1800s.


“You get this unholy mix of bait fish, sharks and humans together ... you’re going to have some bites,“ he says.


Australian Lleyton Hewitt, the men’s champ in 2002, says his opening-round, five-set loss will be his last singles match at the tournament.

U.S.A. News_15063001

The Gilmer Free Press

Supreme Court upholds lethal injection procedure

WASHINGTN, D.C.—The Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 on Monday to uphold a procedure used by states to carry out executions by lethal injection.

The justices were considering a challenge brought by death-row inmates in Oklahoma, who allege that the use of a sedative called midazolam has resulted in troubling executions that violate the Constitution’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. Problematic executions in Oklahoma and elsewhere have captured national headlines since early last year.

The case was the subject of a tense oral argument, with conservative and liberal justices unusually antagonistic with the lawyers and with each other. The comments showed a deep distrust of the lawyers trying to delay executions by objecting to the process used, and of state officials who minimize the risk of unconstitutional pain their procedures might cause.

The arguments came a year to the day after an execution in Oklahoma left an inmate writhing and grimacing on a gurney, drawing international attention to issues facing the lethal injection process in the United States.

The justices were revisiting the issue of lethal injection for the first time since 2008, when they upheld a three-drug combination and said it did not violate the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. At the time, these drugs were used across the country.

But an ongoing shortage of lethal injection drugs, arising largely from European objections to capital punishment , has stopped the production of those drugs, and caused states to find new ones, create different protocols and seek other methods.

When Oklahoma officials could no longer obtain the drug they used, they turned to the drug midazolam. It was used in three problematic executions last year, turning it into a focal point for debates about lethal injections.

The most high-profile of these was Oklahoma’s bungled attempt to execute convicted murderer Clayton Lockett. He kicked, grimaced and survived for 43 minutes after the execution began. He eventually died after officials had already halted the process, and a state investigation blamed the bungled procedure on the manner in which the execution team inserted the needle.

Midazolam was also used last year in the execution of an Arizona inmate who gasped and snorted and took nearly two hours to die, as well as the lethal injection of an Ohio inmate who gasped and choked before dying after nearly half an hour.

The justices’ intense oral argument in April seemed to indicate lingering tensions over the manner in which the Oklahoma case was accepted.

In Oklahoma’s first execution since Lockett was put to death, the state planned to put to death Charles Warner, who was convicted of raping and murdering an 11-month-old.

Warner was among the inmates who asked the court to review the use of midazolam, and the court’s four liberals wanted to stay that execution. But they could not get a needed fifth vote from one of the conservatives. Sotomayor wrote in a dissent that she found the idea that midazolam could “work as intended difficult to accept given recent experience with the use of this drug.”

The court accepted the case soon after, when only four votes were needed to grant review.

The case is Glossip v. Gross.

Oregon men hospitalized, recovering after rare beaver attack

PORTLAND, OR—Two Oregon hikers who were assaulted by a beaver after they climbed onto its dam have been hospitalized for injuries incurred during the rare attack, law enforcement officials said on Friday.

Clayton Mitchell, 23, told the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office that he and a friend had been hiking along a river near his central Oregon home on Thursday when they climbed onto a beaver dam.

A resident beaver emerged from the dam, knocking Mitchell into the Deschutes River and trapping his friend, 31-year-old John Bailey, in a tangle of submerged logs, according to the sheriff’s department incident report.

After Miller contacted the sheriff’s department for help, deputies called upon search and rescue volunteers to locate Bailey.

Searchers heard the trapped man call for help, but he freed himself and climbed out of the river just as deputies discovered his location, the report said of the incident, which is virtually unprecedented in central Oregon.

“I was just getting off shift when the report came in, and I didn’t believe it,“ Deschutes County Sheriff’s Department Lieutenant Joe Deluca said.

“I’m a city boy from the East Coast, and every day in Deschutes County I learn something new,“ Deluca added. “This time, I learned, don’t mess with a beaver.“

Mitchell and Bailey were both treated for non-life threatening injuries and are expected to recover. There was no information available on the status of the beaver, the sheriff’s office said.

U.S. Supreme Court Justices rule against EPA power plant mercury limits

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A divided Supreme Court on Monday ruled against federal regulators’ attempt to limit power plant emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants.

The rules began to take effect in April, but the court split 5-4 along ideological lines to rule that the Environmental Protection Agency failed to take their cost into account when the agency first decided to regulate the toxic emissions from coal- and oil-fired plants.

The EPA did factor in costs at a later stage when it wrote standards that are expected to reduce the toxic emissions by 90%. They were supposed to be fully in place next year. The issue was whether health risks are the only consideration under the Clean Air Act.

The challenge was brought by industry groups and 21 Republican-led states.

Writing for the court, Justice Antonin Scalia said it is not appropriate to impose billions of dollars of economic costs in return for a few dollars in health or environmental benefits.

The case now goes back to lower courts for the EPA to decide how to account for costs.

Scalia was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.

In dissent, Justice Elena Kagan said it was enough that the EPA considered costs at later stages of the process.

“Over more than a decade, EPA took costs into account at multiple stages and through multiple means as it set emissions limits for power plants,“ Kagan said.

She was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.

The case is the latest in a string of attacks against the administration’s actions to use the Clean Air Act to rein in pollution from coal-burning power plants.

EPA is readying rules expected to be released sometime this summer aimed at curbing pollution from the plants that is linked to global warming. States have already challenged those rules even before they are final, and Congress is working on a bill that would allow states to opt out of any rules clamping down on heat-trapping carbon dioxide.

The legal and political challenges ahead could undermine U.S. efforts to inspire other countries to control their emissions, as they head into negotiations in Paris on a new international treaty later this year.

In the case of mercury, the costs of installing and operating equipment to remove the pollutants before they are dispersed into the air are hefty — $9.6 billion a year, the EPA found.

But the benefits are much greater, $37 billion to $90 billion annually, the agency said. The savings stem from the prevention of up to 11,000 deaths, 4,700 nonfatal heart attacks and 540,000 lost days of work, the EPA said. Mercury accumulates in fish and is especially dangerous to pregnant or breastfeeding women, and young children, because of concern that too much could harm a developing brain.

A disproportionate share of the 600 affected power plants, most of which burn coal, are in the South and upper Midwest.

World News

The Gilmer Free Press

The next act: what happens now in Greece’s drama

FRANKFURT, Germany — Greece has entered the twilight zone.

Out of money, cut off by its creditors, its banks shut, the struggling country will vote Sunday on whether to accept painful cutbacks in return for desperately needed financing.

Between now and then Greece remains suspended between collapse and an uncertain rescue, between membership in the 19-member euro club and the possibility of a humiliating exit.

A look at what’s ahead:


Q: What is the next deadline for Greece?

A: On Tuesday, the main part of Greece’s bailout deal expires. With no agreement to release the last 7.2 billion euros ($8.1 billion) from that deal, Greece is on its own.

An EU official said that after the deal expires, it would take weeks for creditors - other eurozone states and the International Monetary Fund - to put a new agreement on track.

Tuesday is also the day Greece has to pay a debt of about 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion) to the IMF. If Greece doesn’t pay, it will take a while for the IMF to actually declare Greece in default. Credit ratings agencies say arrears to the IMF will not immediately trigger a default crediting rating for Greece.

But the IMF won’t give Greece more money unless the arrears are taken care of. That puts Greece in the same bin with fragile, war-torn developing countries in Africa and Latin America.


Q: And after Tuesday?

A: Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has called a referendum for Sunday. Greeks will be asked to vote if they support a bailout deal that creditors have proposed that involves budget cutbacks and tax increases in exchange for the remaining loans in the country’s rescue program.

Tsipras is urging people to vote “no.“

The catch, however, is that by the time of the vote, Greece’s bailout program would have run out. So the Greeks would be voting on an offer that has technically expired.

Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the EU Commission, has urged Greeks to vote “yes” to a deal, no matter how it is worded.

A “no” vote could mean euro exit is closer for Greece, as the country would have no outside financial aid.

Some think a “yes” could restart talks. Joerg Kraemer, chief economist at Commerzbank, says that “should the electorate vote in favor of a compromise, the eurozone members will not be able to ignore that and will resume negotiations.“

A “yes” vote, however, could lead to the collapse of the Greek government, as it is unclear it would be able or willing to implement a deal with creditors that it had so vehemently resisted.


Q: Is a deal to save Greece still possible?

A: Technically, yes. EU economic official Pierre Moscovici said Monday that a deal was “a few centimeters” away.

EU officials and creditors indicate they are still willing to strike a deal. Tsipras, however, has dismissed all their proposals so far as insufficient.


Q: Will Greece leave the eurozone?

A: Many see Greece’s decision to close the banks as a step closer to leaving the euro.

The banks’ trouble is a bad sign, because the Greek government would need billions of euros if it has to rescue them without outside support. Until Sunday, the ECB had been keeping the banks afloat by increasing emergency credit as deposits fled.

A modern economy needs functioning banks. For Greece that would mean printing a new currency and using it to refloat the banking system.

Greece is also having serious trouble paying its day-to-day bills for salaries and pension.

If it starts issuing scrip - official IOUs for payment later - that could be the first step in introducing a new currency.


Q: If Greece leaves the euro, will the shared currency fall apart?

A: Many economists say no.

Since its troubles over high government debt started in 2009 - in Greece - the eurozone has built anti-crisis measures. Those include a pot of money to rescue troubled governments and an offer by the ECB to buy the bonds of governments facing market pressure. The ECB’s current 1.1 trillion euro bond-buying monetary stimulus program has further insulated markets from panic. The ECB says it will take additional steps if necessary to keep Greece’s troubles from spreading.

In the longer term, however, some experts think a Greek departure sets a bad precedent. Investors might think other countries could leave, and would require higher interest to lend those countries money. That would hurt the countries financially, in the longer term, and market pressure could conceivable force them out too if they run into trouble.


Q: Will a Greek exit from the euro hurt my investments, as the Lehman Brothers collapse did in 2008?

A: Stock were down globally on Monday, though there was no outright panic.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew says no one really knows what the fallout would be from Greek exit. Which is why he thinks it should be avoided.

Demetrios Efstathiou, economist with ICBC Standard Bank, says it would not be comparable to 2008.

“The collapse of Lehman Brothers came as a shock to the markets,“ Efstathiou said. “In contrast, Greece’s dire financial position has been discussed to exhaustion, for many years now, and its bonds have been trading at distressed levels for many months.“

Take your pick.

The Watchdogs of College Education Rarely Bite

Accreditors keep hundreds of schools with
low graduation rates or high loan defaults alive
The Gilmer Free Press

The Wall Street Journal (June 17, 2015 10:30 PM ET):

Most colleges can’t keep their doors open without an accreditor’s seal of approval, which is needed to get students access to federal loans and grants. But accreditors hardly ever kick out the worst-performing colleges and lack uniform standards for assessing graduation rates and loan defaults.

Those problems are blamed by critics for deepening the student-debt crisis as college costs soared during the past decade. Last year alone, the U.S. government sent $16 billion in aid to students at four-year colleges that graduated less than one-third of their students within six years, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal of the latest available federal data.

Nearly 350 out of more than 1,500 four-year colleges now accredited by one of six regional commissions have a lower graduation rate or higher student-loan default rate than the average among the colleges that were banished by the same accreditors since 2000, the Journal’s analysis shows.

“They told me I could build a future there,” says Rachel Williams, 24 years old, who dropped out of Kentucky State University in Frankfort in 2013 because her family couldn’t afford the college anymore and she was losing faith in it. She amassed about $34,000 in federally backed loans.

Kentucky State has a graduation rate of just 18%, and nearly 30% of students who began repaying their loans in fiscal 2011 had defaulted within three years.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges reaffirmed Kentucky State’s accreditation in 2009. A preliminary report by the reviewers made no mention of loan defaults and praised Kentucky State for plans to improve its graduation rate.

College officials say they couldn’t find the final report and wouldn’t comment on the findings. The accreditation group doesn’t publicly release reports.

Belle Wheelan, president of the Southern Association, which is based in Decatur, GA, and reviews colleges in 11 states, declines to comment on Kentucky State but says accreditors don’t follow “bright lines” when assessing performance because students enter college with different levels of academic preparation, resources and goals.

The Gilmer Free Press

Accreditors say their job is to help colleges get better rather than to weed out laggards. Colleges pay for the inspections, which can cost more than $1 million at large institutions.

“You’re not there to remove an institution,” says Judith Eaton, president of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, a trade group. “You’re there to enhance the operation.”

The government has relied on accreditors as watchdogs since the 1950s. Colleges are evaluated by teams of volunteers from similar institutions, who follow standards set by the accreditation group. For example, colleges sometimes are required to collect student-retention data but given the freedom to set their own goals for those numbers.

The accreditation system was born near the start of the 20th century as a voluntary effort by a small number of colleges to set standards for themselves. The colleges wanted to distinguish themselves from high schools.

The Education Department is barred by law from telling accreditors how to do their job. In 2013, President Barack Obama proposed tying access to loans and grants to a new ratings system that would compare colleges on measurements such as graduation rate, student debt and income after graduation.



The proposed changes would essentially make an end run around accreditors. “We are concerned that accreditors are not doing enough to protect students,” says Ted Mitchell, undersecretary at the Department of Education.

Democratic and Republican lawmakers have voiced opposition to Mr. Obama’s plan, citing concerns about inadequate data.


Still, the current accreditation system is drawing more scrutiny as college costs climb farther out of reach for many American families. Outstanding federal student-loan debt has doubled to $1.2 trillion since 2007. In the past decade, the amount of loans and grants awarded annually has jumped more than 50% on an inflation-adjusted basis, reaching $134 billion last year.

The $16 billion sent last year to students at colleges that graduated less than a third of their students was nearly 20% of all the loans and grants to students at four-year institutions.

The overall graduation rate for four-year colleges is about 59%. About 11% of students at four-year colleges who started repaying their loans in 2011 defaulted by the end of 2013.

“It’s a national scandal that we’re pouring huge sums of money into schools with very, very low graduation rates,” says Richard Vedder, an economist at Ohio University and director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, a think tank.

At a Senate hearing Wednesday about the accreditation process, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.) said lawmakers have a duty to make sure students spend their federal aid at good colleges. “We need to find a way to make accreditation work better,” said Mr. Alexander, chairman of the Senate committee overseeing higher education.

Schools owned by for-profit college operator Corinthian Colleges Inc. COCOQ -16.67% were accredited until the company filed for bankruptcy in May. Corinthian wasn’t part of the Journal’s analysis because it primarily awarded two-year degrees.

The Gilmer Free Press

The Obama administration said last week it will forgive federal student loans owed by thousands of Corinthian students at a potential cost of $3.5 billion.

“The collapse of Corinthian Colleges shows that we all need to do more for students to ensure that quality is verified, students are protected and taxpayer dollars are well-spent,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.) at Wednesday’s hearing.

The six regional accrediting organizations oversee more than 3,000 colleges. In the past 15 years, those accreditors have rescinded the membership of 26 educational institutions, including 18 four-year colleges.

The average graduation rate for four-year colleges that lost accreditation was 35% in the year before their removal. Those colleges had an average student-loan default rate of 9.3%. When accreditation was yanked away from a college, the move usually was for the college’s own financial problems, accreditors say.

To compare colleges that lost accreditation with institutions that still have it, the Journal examined federal data that track students seeking bachelor’s degrees at more than 1,500 four-year colleges accredited by the six regional organizations. Part-time and transfer students aren’t part of the government’s data, and colleges with fewer than 25 entering students weren’t included in the Journal’s analysis.



Hundreds of accredited four-year colleges have low graduation rates or high student-loan default rates, but their accreditation enables students to keep getting federal aid.

How Accredited Colleges Stack Up? Click H E R E


Through public-document requests, the Journal also reviewed the latest accreditation reports from more than 50 colleges with low graduation rates. Accreditors typically don’t make their reports public or disclose who evaluated a specific college.

At 11 colleges that have an accreditor’s seal of approval, the graduation rate was below 10% in 2013, the latest year for which figures are available. Twenty colleges had a loan default rate of at least 20% from 2011 to 2012, the most recent two-year period that is comparable to the average default rate at schools that lost their accreditation.

David Bergeron, a former acting assistant secretary for postsecondary education in the Obama administration, says graduation and default rates reflect “things that matter in the real world” and a college’s overall value.

The numbers are especially important given the shortage of data about job placement and earnings after college, he adds. Mr. Bergeron now is a vice president at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank.

Accreditors say self-oversight is the best way to protect quality in higher education, because academics have the necessary expertise and frame of reference to judge quality. The groups liken their role to unpaid consultants who keep colleges on track to meet their own goals.


A one-size-fits-all, government-driven approach would stifle the diversity that has made U.S. higher education successful, accreditors say.

“I want the federal government not to do this, so I am going to be as rigorous and objective and fair as possible,” says Sandra Elman, president of the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, overseer of more than 150 institutions.

Colleges with some of the worst graduation and loan default rates in the U.S. have received glowing reviews. “Students consistently reported, ‘we love this place,’ ” reviewers wrote about the University of Maine at Augusta in 2007, citing “the caring and supportive faculty and staff.”

The Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges renewed the college’s accreditation through this year even though the graduation rate for students seeking bachelor’s degrees hasn’t topped 20% since 2004.

Barbara Brittingham, the accreditor’s president, declines to comment on the review. The University of Maine at Augusta’s interim president, Glenn Cummings, says the low percentage reflects the college’s commitment to low-income, nontraditional students. “America is worse off if you stop investing in people who are fragile but want the opportunity,” he says.

The Gilmer Free Press

At Bluefield State College in West Virginia, accreditors from the Higher Learning Commission suggested in 2011 that new electronic signs on campus might be difficult for students to read while driving, according to a copy of the report. The report didn’t mention the college’s graduation rate of 25% or less since 2006.

Barbara Gellman-Danley, president of the Higher Learning Commission, declines to comment on the report. Bluefield State President Marsha Krotseng says the numbers “don’t tell the whole story” because transfer students who graduate from Bluefield State aren’t counted toward its graduation rate.

The accrediting panel’s visit to Kentucky State took three days. Faculty members and administrators from other small colleges showed up on behalf of the Southern Association, interviewed teachers and staff members, reviewed reports and concluded that Kentucky State was up to their standards.

That made the historically black public college’s students eligible for federal loans and grants through 2019. Kentucky State students got $21 million in federal aid last year.

Ms. Williams, who moved to Frankfort from her tough Chicago neighborhood in hopes of a career in law, says the college’s low graduation rate leaves many students with little to show for their investment.

“When I look back on it, I realize they were mostly interested in my money,” she says. Kentucky State wouldn’t comment on Ms. Williams.

Asked if a college with a 10% graduation rate can do a good job, Ms. Wheelan, the Southern Association’s president, responds: “It can be a good school for those 10% who graduate.”

In 2008, Edison O. Jackson, then president of Medgar Evers College in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, led the review of Coppin State University in Baltimore. Coppin State’s graduation rate is 14%, while Medgar Evers has a graduation rate of 15% among students seeking bachelor’s degrees. Medgar Evers offers two- and four-year degrees.

Mr. Jackson says his experience at colleges serving mostly low-income, minority students helps him understand the challenges of similar colleges and provide useful advice about how they can improve. Officials at the two colleges say they are trying to boost the percentage of students who graduate.

  Arthur Rothkopf, a former president of Lafayette College, says the relationship between accreditors and schools can be too “cozy.” While he was leading the Pennsylvania college, he was assigned by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education to review the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, NY.

Mr. Rothkopf says he was friends with the West Point superintendent at the time, and the two men had stayed in each other’s homes. He is now an adviser to the Education Department and has advocated for breaking the link between accreditation and federal aid.

Elizabeth Sibolski, president of Middle States, says accreditors don’t allow colleges to choose reviewers but do seek advice from the colleges on who is best-equipped to do a peer review. Conflict-of-interest policies prevent reviewers from being assigned to a college where they have close ties, she adds.

In April, a Journal reporter observed an accreditation review at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green after agreeing not to disclose the content of the discussions. The reviewers were serious and focused, and the atmosphere was collegial.

Western Kentucky delivered souvenir-filled gift baskets to evaluators’ hotel rooms and treated the reviewers to steak dinners. “We didn’t do anything at WKU that I haven’t seen done at other institutions,” said Richard Miller, vice provost at Western Kentucky, where the graduation rate is 50%.

The Gilmer Free Press

Stephen Roderick, former provost at Fort Lewis College in Colorado, says he now has misgivings about his 2013 review of Glenville State College in West Virginia for the Higher Learning Commission. The review team wrote that the college had a “responsible program” to minimize default rates and “demonstrates a commitment” to evaluating graduation data.

Glenville’s graduation rate is 30%, while about 22% of students defaulted on loans from 2011 to 2013. Both percentages rank near the bottom 10% of accredited four-year colleges. David Millard, assistant to Glenville’s president, says the figures reflect the opportunity offered by the college to students in one of the poorest parts of the U.S.

Mr. Roderick says accreditors are inclined to see the best in colleges like Glenville, but that might not be the best for students. “Sometimes I feel that we’re doing more harm than good,” he says.


The Department of Education recognizes 38 accreditors as gatekeepers of federal aid to students. About 90% of accredited four-year colleges are overseen by an accreditor one of six geographic regions.

Other colleges are overseen by faith-based accreditors or groups that review vocational schools. Separate accreditors scrutinize individual programs.

The Gilmer Free Press


As part of its review of the college accreditation process, The Wall Street Journal analyzed data on colleges approved by one of six regional commissions. Those groups accredit about 90% of all four-year colleges in the U.S.

Lists of accredited colleges are posted on the accreditors’ websites. For each of those colleges, the Journal then examined Department of Education figures on graduation rates, student aid and loan default rates.

Colleges where students got no federal aid weren’t included in the analysis, which also was limited to four-year colleges that primarily offered at least bachelor’s degrees. Community colleges and graduate-level institutions weren’t included in the analysis.

Graduation rates reflect students who began in 2007 and graduated within six years, and the figures exclude part-time or transfer students and colleges with fewer than 25 entering students. A college’s graduation rate can be hurt by students who transfer out, and there is no public data available to adjust the figures.

Some colleges with multiple locations report graduation rates by campus. The Journal combined data for each of those campuses into an overall graduation rate for the college.

Federal student-loan default rates are released annually by the Education Department. The figures reflect federal Stafford Loans only. Default rates released in 2014 are based on students who entered repayment in 2011 and defaulted within a three-year period, while data for previous years are based on two years.

To compare currently accredited colleges with institutions that lost accreditation, the Journal used the latest available two-year percentages, which usually are lower than the same college’s three-year data.

For colleges that were stripped of accreditation, the Journal analyzed the loan default rate released the year before the college lost its accreditation and the graduation rate calculated during the same year, unless those figures weren’t available.

Federal student loans and grants are for the 2013-14 award year. Each college’s total includes programs such as Stafford Loans, Parent PLUS loans, Pell Grants and Federal Work-Study. Campus-based programs like work-study include portions of funding provided by the college. Aid can be aimed at graduate or undergraduate students.

~~  Andrea Fuller and Douglas Belkin WSJ - June 17, 2015 10:30 PM ET ~~

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~~~ Readers' Comments ~~~

Now is the time to determine out how to fix GSC as if were a business on the verge of closing.

Positive change won’t occur with more false claims and constructing more buildings either. People call the new buildings monuments to misaligned priorities.

GSC must have high quality academic programs to attract and keep students. Criminal justice and sports are obviously not the answer.

Positive change must be achieved by developing a viable plan by involving especially qualified higher education experts or GSC is doomed for elimination.

It is a disgrace to GSC’s leaders, including its present and past Board of Governors, when the College’s problems have become bad enough to be addressed in the world’s most prestigious financial publication.

By Roger Williams  on  06.29.2015

Watchdog has no teeth and not even much of a bark either.

Roger Williams is correct, but first those in charge, need to admit their failures, actually recognize that GSC has a problem.

By Will They ?  on  06.29.2015

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UHC Cancer Center Receives Care Package Supplies

Bridgeport, WV – The Cecil B. Highland, Jr. and Barbara B. Highland Cancer Center at United Hospital Center recently received a donation of chemotherapy care package supplies from Brandy and Adelyn Moyer of Roanoke, WV.

Instead of toys and other presents for Moyer’s first birthday, the family requested that friends and family members provide supplies for chemotherapy care packages.

The Gilmer Free Press
(L-R) Brandy Moyer, Adelyn Moyer, and Peggy Johnson, RN, BSN
at United Hospital Center.

An abundance of blankets, socks, toiletries, activity books and snacks were the result.

The family drew inspiration based on their own experience. “Our family has been greatly affected by cancer the last few years, and this was a great way to fight back,” said Moyer.

“We are extremely thankful for donors like the Moyer family,” said Peggy Johnson, RN. “Care packages help to give cancer patients the comfort they deserve while providing them with the peace of mind that someone is wishing them hope, strength and patience as they endure the tribulations of cancer treatment.”

Schools Must Meet Suicide Prevention Law Mandates Soon

The Gilmer Free Press

MORGANTOWN, WV — Middle school, high school and college administrators must meet new state regulations designed to prevent suicides among teens and young adults.

Jamie’s Law, passed by state legislators in March, specifically requires school systems to have detailed suicide awareness and prevention programs.

Higher education leaders who attended a recent college safety summit in Charleston were schooled on HB 2535 this week.

Al Kasprowicz, Ph.D, Director of the WELLWVU Carruth Center for Psychological and Psychiatric Services was a panelist who spoke to nearly 130 summit participants from across the state.

“The hope is that the state as a whole is more concerted, more integrated, in its approach to reduce the risk of suicide,” Kasprowicz said.

In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported suicide was the second leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24. Suicide followed unintentional injury, the leading cause of death across the country for the same age group.

Jamie’s Law was named for Michelle Toman’s brother. He committed suicide many years ago. Toman worked with Delegate Mike Caputo (D-Marion) and Delegate Barbara Evans Fleischauer (D-Monongalia) among others to get a law passed to reduce the rate of suicides statewide.

“Although it’s a fairly dire type of topic, when you’re working with people who are really in difficult places there’s a lot of optimism that comes from how this legislation just coalesces efforts throughout the education system. That’s a great thing throughout the state,” Kasprowicz shared with MetroNews affiliate WAJR-AM.

By September 1 and even earlier for West Virginia middle schools and high schools, a number of requirements of Jamie’s Law must be in place.

Public middle and high school administrators must share suicide prevention and awareness information with students and open discussions on the topic.

“It’s the desire that to recognize that not only the students in college but students in middle school and high school will have been well aware and had these conversations as part of their development,” Kasprowicz explained.

University and college leaders must have policies in place to advise students of available programs both on and off campus about depression and suicide. Incoming students must be provided with resources as they begin their college careers.

At WVU, the Carruth Center disperses information in countless ways.

“We have social media campaigns. We use twitter accounts. We’re on facebook. Their i.d. cards have the center information on them. There are a whole variety of resources available to students,” Kasprowicz said.

A final part of Jamie’s Law also requires the Bureau for Behavioral Health and Health Facilities to post on its website suicide prevention awareness information.

~~  Sunshine Wiles ~~

G-LtE™: Regards the Gilmer School Special Meeting of the Board June 01, 2015

The Gilmer Free Press

There can be little doubt this meeting has garnered a lot of attention both in and out of Gilmer County.

The edited video was a topic around Glenville during the past Folk Festival.  Overheard discussion people were wondering the “real why” GFP edited it?

Those discussing it claimed to have heard from a reliable source (name withheld), that both the local board president and state superintendent were totally out of control.  Reported that one individual was taken by the arm and led or walked out near end of the meeting.  The actions and profanity that took place, it was said, in the private sector, people likely would have been fired.  Are such actions by public school officials to be tolerated?

Of course Simons is elected and he cannot be fired until the next election.  Resignation appropriate.  Devano is under West Virginia State Board of Education employment,  so he is their problem?  But only if they see him as that?  The recent renewal of his contract would create the impression that is not the case.  Just the contrary.

I would suggest to you Mr. Ramazon, considering the many public comments, discussion, and interest the video has produced, that Gilmer Free Press go forward,  issue a language disclaimer, then publish the edited portions of the meeting video.

The citizens of Gilmer County have a vested interest to see and understand where, under state forced intervention, our school system has been led, yes directed even.  The public fully understands that Gilmer Free Press is not the cause of this issue, only a messenger of truth and transparency.

Gilmer Free Press can let those in the video speak for themselves,  offer them the opportunity to explain their actions.  Free Press can invite their public response in order to clear the air prior to the next board of education meeting.  It would be appropriate for citizens to see apologies and some humility from those who are out of place.  They are setting a poor example for our children not to mention being poor representatives of Gilmer County.

~~  Author on File ~~

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~~~ Readers' Comments ~~~

Somewhere in the WV code, isn’t there something about “Sunshine laws”?  ANY school board meeting that is not about personnel or the name of a student being disciplined should be public, able to be filmed, and a transcript of the meeting available to the public, the press included.  We elected our school board.  We did NOT elect the state Board of Education or the Superintendent that board imposed upon us.  Not only should the entire, unedited video be available to the public, something needs to be done about “taxation without representation” here.  We, the people, did NOT have input into, or vote for, new schools in this county.  We actually voted against them.  Whatever happened to freedom?

By Karen Pennebaker  on  06.29.2015

It is very clear when Simmons told the GFP reporter at the end of the June 1 meeting that the reporter knew this was “wrong” he did not want the video shown.

It is very clear from community conversations with Simmons that he has no desire to be a “board member”.  His goal was to be county Superintendent and since that was short circuited the man feels his only equals would be the Superintendent or his superiors in Charleston. How many times has he made the public statement “I am not a full time Board Member nor do I intend to be”?  With this attitude the question must be why is he on the Board at all?

It is very clear from the May video that Simmons had instructed Armour to prepare the April report which upset the Principal leading to her preapproved rebuttal/personal attack.

It is crystal clear that Superintendent Devono has no intention of complying with the agreed upon Memorandum Of Understanding between the W V State Board of Education and the Gilmer County Board of Education. Such actions show there is no oversight of the WV State Board of Education employee. It would seem fair to say this is probably SOP for all appointees of the state.

On video after video Mr Devono repeatedly informed the Gilmer Board and the public that the only two things they do not have control over is personnel and the new capital project fund 51. Yet when it comes to a simple though expensive rental agreement the Superintendent and board President agree it should only be discussed in executive session. Clearly they agreed before the meeting ever took place.

Less than a quorum of members of any Board of Education including the President may not have private face to face meetings with a Superintendent on any matter to avoid holding a properly noticed meeting and a series of phone calls does not constitute a proper meeting. There is case law to support this.

It is clear the expenditure of tax dollars is being decided behind closed doors.

By What Is The Logical Conclusion?  on  06.29.2015

Watching the numerous videos that are available now, not hard to see both the board president and superintendent have the same agenda.

Also not hard to see that as far as professionalism, knowledge, and protocol, both are in way over their heads.

By video proof abounds  on  06.29.2015

My state was near the top in spending on class room computers. Test scores did not rise as expected. Zero correlation as a matter of fact.

We began a new program in our district that got results. Each time a request came in to purchase computers there was a requirement to provide a good plan to follow to accurately measure pre-and-post achievement testing results.

We held administrators accountable for obtaining and reporting on the results. There was stiff resistance at first, but we held firm and our test scores soared 25.43%.

After we took our stand research results have been in reputable national education journals to back the concept that just because money is spent on computers don’t expect better learning results to automatically occur.

Computers must be used correctly just the same as for any other sophisticated tools. They never will be panaceas to replace what good teachers are capable of doing in classrooms.

What meaningful evaluations will be done in your school district to determine if the 200 new computers aided in improving learning outcomes?

A teacher said at your meeting that without the new computers it would be impossible to teach math. What did the individual do before computers were available?

By James McMasters  on  06.29.2015

Link above is the US Dept of Education ESEA site with W.V. waivers, various letters and panel review data. Some weaknesses cause grave concern. 
QUESTION:(From ESEA (Elementary & Secondary Education Act) flexibility request review form)

2.A.i.a   Does the SEA’s accountability system provide differentiated recognition, accountability, and support for all LEAs in the State and for all Title I schools in those LEAs based on (1) student achievement in reading/language arts and mathematics, and other subjects at the State’s discretion, for all students and all subgroups of students identified in ESEA section 1111(b)(2)(C)(v)(II); (2) graduation rates for all students and all subgroups; and (3) school performance and progress over time, including the performance and progress of all subgroups?

Weaknesses, issues, lack of clarity   It is not clear that WVDE addresses graduation rates for subgroups.

Four classifications of schools (highly effective, effective, needs improvement, and targeted for support) and then three labels required by ESEA flexibility (priority, focus, and reward schools) may be confusing to stakeholders (p. 69).  The value of sustaining state categories as well as federal ones is not clear.

Of particular concern is how an improvement of only 4 median percentiles from 49 to 53 transforms the multiplier from .50 to .75.

The weight of adequate growth — 10 percent in elementary/middle schools split between English/language arts and math and 5 percent in high schools split between English and math — is justified in the narrative (p. 77), but may not reflect appropriate expectations for all students to meet college- and career-ready standards.

The second metric is that adequate growth contributes 10 percent for elementary/middle schools and 5% for high schools.  This appears to be a type of growth to standards (expectations) design using the observed growth. It is unclear how the Student growth percentile (SGP) and the targeted SGP expectation is calculated for 11th grade students (see Table 2.7).  Here, WVDE does not provide a rationale for awarding large changes in the multiplier for some ranges.
Peers question whether defining effective as the 50 percentile rank (60 at the high school level) increases rigor (p. 84).

Part B:  Is the SEA’s (STATE’S EDUCATION AGENCY) plan likely to lead to all students, including English Learners, students with disabilities, and low-achieving students, gaining access to and learning content aligned with the college- and career-ready standards?

Weaknesses, issues, lack of clarity   WVDE has identified a number of professional development opportunities along with expansion of access to accelerated learning opportunities for students.  A coherent approach to implementation would assist in resource allocation in this area.

By State BOE Don't Ask, Don't Tell  on  06.29.2015

Is this a matter of whether or not a County Board of Education agrees with the State Board of Ed when under intervention?  No board can truly be called a board or operate as a board if that is the criteria for their actions. That is clearly the manner in which the appointed Superintendent is proceeding and the required result to obtain his personal approval of any board action is agreement by unanimous vote with no discussion.

A school board member is not elected to be a rubber stamp for any agenda.  They are elected to proceed legally and ethically in a direction that will move education forward and for the betterment of the students under its jurisdiction. Certainly they should be willing to discuss and evaluate any one position presented to them, make an informed decision on all matters and vote accordingly.

Every school system deserves the opportunity for growth and improvement. Until the inexperienced superintendent of Gilmer County acquires independent knowledge of the responsibilities of his position this will not happen.  The same may be said for the county board president whoever that may be.

By Unwise To Edit The Facts  on  06.29.2015

3 or 4 years back, Governor Tomblin and the legislature commissioned a survey-study of the WVBOE.

Were any of the many recommendations ever implemented?

Is there any report of public school improvements as a result?

Seems its was a costly survey?  Several hundred 1000 dollars?

By survey  on  06.30.2015

The DADT posting is what we need more of in WV. The way education information is controlled in Charleston, important details are kept from the general public similar to the way a secret underground society operates.

If citizens don’t know about the existence of information how can they be expected to ask questions? The common response from Charleston bureaucrats is that WV citizens don’t care and they wouldn’t understand it anyway. We have news for them!

One of the best ways for improving K-12 achievement in WV would be to eliminate the mystery Charleston generates and to inform the public what is being done and how the State is doing with achieving results.

Our problem relates to need for accountability, something WVDOE bureaucrats nimbly avoid. Thanks for your help DADT, and keep WV posted with additional high quality and timely information.

By Ross Sypolt  on  06.30.2015

If the West Virginia Board of Education would preface each and every document, meeting, and their every action, with these few words, a LOT of their problems would cure themselves.

Speak with honesty.  Think with sincerity.  Act with integrity.

By comment  on  06.30.2015

Simmon outa be thankful the video was edited. His arrogance is talk of the town. You would think the least he could do is apologize to public for what he did. He was participating in an illegal activity led by Devano. He should be thankful to Hurley and Armour for trying to keep him out of trouble and cuss the heck out of Devano. Shouldn’t he?

By Travis312  on  06.30.2015

Dr. Simmons should apologize to public, but he will continue to run his mouth repeating the same ol crap like a broken record, collecting his pay plus fringe benefits for running around. What a shame.

By be real!  on  06.30.2015

GSC has no problem creating jobs for those who just run around. Maybe they can do the same for Bill. He is good at doing that.

By How about it GSC?  on  06.30.2015

Sad when elected officials have no shame.
Worse when the WVBE appoints them?

If you have no self respect, you will have no respect for anyone else.

Does the duo have any self respect?  Certainly are not embarrassed watching themselves on video, or they would resign?

By smearing those who hold PhD's  on  06.30.2015

Dr. Cynthia Daniel started off to be involved with the Minnie Hamilton controversy.

She will be bombarded with specious rationale for why spending in excess of $150,000 more than being spent now just for the first two years is a top priority justification to benefit Gilmer County’s children.

Let us hope that Dr. Daniel has the resolve to do what it takes to stop the madness when Gilmer County has other higher priority needs to improve educations of our deserving children.

Charleston should ask one question and it is——how would the MH expenditure benefit the children and how is it justified as the highest priority need among an array of needs in Gilmer County?

By Durt Bailey  on  06.30.2015

ALL FOUR of the local GILMER BOARD members should DEMAND old President Simmons IMMEDIATE RESIGNATION, as President, for setting Dr. Armour up like he did, and then sitting quietly by and condoning the resulting attack on Dr. Armour.

Dr. Armour was the ONLY honorable man at that meeting.

Will Simmons’ legacy match that of the WVBOE?

By no confidence vote needed  on  06.30.2015

Simmons tells us all about ADA and says that’s why they HAVE to move to the Health Center KNOWING it is a lie. KNOWING that under the Americans With Disabilities Act if the building is first floor handicap accessible, citizens can get what they need and changing it puts the owning government agency (County Commission) under undue financial hardship the conditions at the Annex are fine. He can still read? The act is clear on the subject.
If he’s willing to spread tales about that in support of the Superintendent what won’t he do?

Little doubt in town the pair’s trying to come up with how the move will save the Board money.What local contractor do you believe will give an estimate on what the cost is for remodeling?

There’s no point saying I’m sorry when it’s not sincere. It would be a waste of everyone’s time.

By C D Roupe  on  06.30.2015

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What Digital Learning Looks Like When Third-Graders Use It All Day

Glued to the Screen:
Inside a 3rd Grade Classroom
Where Kids Spend 75% of the Day on iPads

The Gilmer Free Press

INEOLA, NY — When the 24 third-graders in Morgan Mercaldi’s class arrive at the Jackson Avenue School every morning, they take their iPads out of their backpacks and put them on their desks. The tablets will remain there, or in hands and laps, until the children put them in their packs to take them home.

Last year Mercaldi had her students stash the iPads away when they weren’t using them. But she has abandoned that. “Putting them away serves no purpose. We use them constantly,” Mercaldi says.

Mercaldi’s class in Mineola, NY, is in the fifth year of a district initiative that now provides iPads to all students in grades three through nine. At Jackson Avenue, which houses the third and fourth grades, all 417 children, including those in special education, have their own tablets, and they spend about 75% of their instructional day on the devices, more than many other schools that have embraced digital learning.

Despite a lack of hard data on how digital learning affects student achievement, Mineola, a fairly affluent New York City suburb, is betting heavily on technology to help children meet an array of tough Common Core standards. By embracing iPads while keeping the traditional model of one teacher working with 20-some children, the small school district offers a vision of what the future of digital learning might be.

Here’s a typical day in a third-grade classroom.


10 – 11:20 AM

At around 10 AM on a late-winter day, Mercaldi’s students sit scattered around the sunny classroom, some at their desks, some perched on a shelf running along one wall and some on the bright blue rug. All the children have their iPads out as they read and do English language arts exercises. Many use eSpark, which creates a “playlist” of education apps geared to each student’s needs.

After about 25 minutes, Mercaldi calls the students together to revise the first-person pieces about frogs that they each researched and wrote. Like so much in the class, the assignment has had digital and paper elements. Mercaldi’s students received their iPads in October, and now move smoothly from pencil to touch screen and from paper to tablet. The children did their frog research both online and in books, organized the materials on their iPads, and did their writing on paper.

Now, Mercaldi tells the students to begin revising their narratives. “I want you to work on communication skills with a partner,” she says. The children leave their iPads on their desks and sit on the floor in two concentric circles. Working in pairs, they alter words in their texts. One suggests changing “scary” to “frightening”; another, “animal” to “creature.”

At 10:45 AM, after a short snack break, the students take out their iPads for the first of several math lessons that Mercaldi will sprinkle throughout the day. Today, the main topic is finding the area of rectangles and the multiplication needed to do that.

As Mercaldi stands at a large interactive whiteboard, the children follow along on their tablets, trying to figure out the area of a 7-by-13 rectangle. “Do we know 7 times 13 just like that?” she asks the students. Most agree they do not, and so break the number down, eventually coming up with 3 times 7 plus 10 times 7.

Staying with math, the students then use their iPads to answer questions Mercaldi has posted on Edmodo, which helps students and teachers communicate electronically and lets Mercaldi see the children’s answers. (Last year Mercaldi used regular email and was bombarded with messages. She finds Edmodo “more efficient … a little more teacher-student.”) Reviewing the students’ work, Mercaldi says, lets her assess whether every child is meeting the standards and, if not, where he or she needs help.

Now in her second year with the iPads and her seventh year as a teacher, Mercaldi seems unfazed by the technology. “I kind of grew up with technology. It’s the future,” she says.

~~  Gail Robinson - The Hechinger Report ~~

West Virginia News

The Gilmer Free Press

West Virginia struggles with road conditions

CHARLESTON, WV — West Virginia leaders aren’t thrilled by suggestions to raise taxes, tolls and fees to fix the state’s roughed-up roads, particularly as they approach a feisty election year.

But with federal highways cash still running dry, some top officials won’t completely rule out increases for the next legislative session starting in January.

“We have to consider everything,” said Senate President Bill Cole, a Mercer County auto dealer and the top Republican candidate for governor. “To just make some blanket statement that, ‘No that’s off the table,’ I learned in business a long time ago: Never say never. Never is a long, long time.”

For West Virginia, transportation woes seem to be less about the gridlock gripping metro areas nationwide and more about structural complaints.

According to U.S. Census data from 2013, workers in the Huntington metro area take 23.8 minutes to commute to work, while Charleston metro commuters averaged a 23.1-minute trip. The national average was 25.8 minutes.

The Martinsburg-Hagerstown, Maryland metro area topped the national commute time average by about four minutes. In that area, however, more than 1 in 5 workers are traveling out of state to their jobs, including Washington commuters. Workers who carpooled averaged a 38.2-minute ride, while those hopping a train or other public transportation were on it for 76.8 minutes on average.

Last month, the West Virginia Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways assembled by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin dealt what could be an unsavory set of revenue-raising suggestions before a testy election next year.

House of Delegates Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, cautioned against raising more money.
“It would be difficult for the people of our state to bear additional tax burdens, so we need to make road funding a priority within our budget and work toward creative solutions,” Armstead said.

The governor’s panel suggested that tolls continue on the 88-mile turnpike that runs through four southern counties instead of disappearing in 2019 as scheduled.

It also calls for toll increases of 10% to 25% effective July 2016, depending on the amount of bonds sold, while rates for passenger cars with E-ZPass accounts would remain unchanged for five years. Turnpike drivers now pay $2 at each booth, and commercial vehicles pay $6.75.

The report suggests hikes to other taxes on drivers, several of which haven’t been raised in decades. It also calls for a 50-cent increase to the cigarette tax.

Altogether, the commission called for $419.8 million more each year in the state road fund. That’s still short of the extra $1.7 billion annually the report says could be needed to maintain and expand the highway system.

“It’s going to take a buy-in from both parties,” said Tomblin, a Democrat who is hitting his two-term limit in office. “It’s going to take a buy-in from both houses of the Legislature.”

Cole and Armstead said the Republican-led Legislature is going to comb through a new audit of the Division of Highways it ordered this year. First and foremost, lawmakers are going to look for misuse or abuse of taxpayer money to free up cash for roads, he said.

However, road and infrastructure needs are too critical to slam the door immediately on any option, Cole said.

The Blue Ribbon report said more than one-third of West Virginia’s major roads are either in poor or mediocre condition. About 35% of 7,000 bridges need repair, improvement or replacement.

Driving on rough roads costs state motorists an extra $400 million annually, or $333 a year per driver. That accounts for faster vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, using more gas and tire wear.

Vietnam Memorial Wall replica coming to Point Pleasant Regatta

POINT PLEASANT, WV - The West Virginia Vietnam Memorial Wall will be on display at the Riverfront Park in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, from July 2 through July 5, during the Point Pleasant Regatta.

The wall includes the names of West Virginians who were killed in action, were prisoners of war or are listed as still missing in action during the Vietnam War. The wall includes the names of more than 732 West Virginians. West Virginia had the highest casualty rate in the nation during the Vietnam War.

The wall will be open 24 hours while on display, and there is no charge to view it.

A ceremony is planned for 1 PM Saturday, July 04, at the Riverfront Park with a 21-gun salute, taps and speaker WV Delegate Jim Butler, R-Mason.

Fumich’s grueling race brings in $85,000

CLARKSBURG WV — Pushing his body as far as it could go, Frank Fumich’s race to raise awareness and money for the family of WVU student Ryan Diviney by biking more than 3,000 miles from coast-to-coast ended Saturday afternoon about 500 miles short of his goal.

But that didn’t matter to those Fumich inspired during the past 11 days. About 100 people waited for him outside Dave’s T&L Hot Dogs on Old U.S. Route 50. They held signs, sang songs, chanted his name and rang a cowbell in honor of his difficult journey. They also had hot dogs waiting for him.

It was a hero’s welcome upon his return to Clarksburg, as his awareness campaign had raised more than $85,000 for the Diviney family. Fumich hugged his grandmother and sister, shook hands with small children, and when he finally, mercifully stepped off his bike for the final time, he embraced Ryan’s father Ken Diviney.

“Anybody can do anything if your motivation is great enough, and I certainly went further then I would have had it not been for everyone’s help,” Fumich said.

The Race Across America cyclist rode more than 2,500 miles from Oceanside, Calif., to Chilicothe, Ohio, where he hit his 43rd time station. Soon after, Frank conceded what his body had been telling him for days. Between the limitless rides, incomprehensible sleep deprivation, and even occasional hallucination, Frank’s body had finally given out.

“I want to thank everybody for all the thousands of messages on Facebook and e-mails and following,” Fumich said. “I had no idea it was going to be that huge, and I felt the people behind me.”

So Fumich decided to end his race early and continued biking along U.S. Route 50 with his team in tow until he finally arrived in Clarksburg.

Fumich, not a professional cyclist by trade, pushed his body beyond what most would consider reasonable. At times, he would ride for 27 consecutive hours only to pause for an hour’s sleep. But it was all for a singular purpose: to raise awareness and money for former WVU student Ryan Diviney.

“I biked every night straight through the night to try to make the time,” Fumich said. “I did it for Ken and Ryan.”

Fumich was inspired to raise money for the Divineys after hearing of the tragedy six years prior. It had been a late night in November when a seemingly trivial dispute over baseball nearly ended Ryan’s life. Like Ryan, Fumich attended West Virginia University while hailing from northern Virginia. Something about the Divineys’ plight struck a chord with him.

“What Frank has done is so substantial and so difficult and so noteworthy that it brings both money and recognition to my son,” said Ken Diviney. “And it keeps my boy, Ryan Diviney, relevant.”

Nearly six years after Diviney’s story shocked the state, Fumich still drew motivation. During the final harrowing days where Fumich was unsure how much more punishment his body could take, his teammates began riding behind him and reading off donations and messages from supporters.

“Maybe the last three nights they’d get behind me and on a loud speaker read the donation site, the amount of money people donated, and the message they gave to me just to keep me going because it was so hard going,” Fumich said.

Before he ever raced, Fumich, having never met the Diviney’s before, contacted Ken Diviney with a wild idea–he would bike across the country in what is officially the “World’s Toughest Bike Race” and raise money and awareness for Ryan. Admittedly, Ken was skeptical at first. But then Fumich and Ken met in person.

“I didn’t put much stock in it because sometimes people are over-ambitious,” Diviney said. “But then he called me again and persisted and I looked into it, and I though sure enough this is a guy who might be able to pull something like this off.”

After they met, Fumich saw first-hand the dedication Ken offered in the care of his son, now in a vegetative state after the assault. Both men knew they could commit to this intrepid goal of racing across America. Ken knew Fumich was serious, and Fumich knew he’d have to dig deep down to have any chance at finishing a race that sees only a small portion of its participants ever reach Annapolis within the 12-day time frame.

“He said it’ll motivate it him through the race,” Ken Diviney said. “Every now and then he said ‘it’s for Ryan’ and not for him, but today is for him.”

Helping people isn’t particularly out-of-character for Fumich. After the Boston Marathon bombings, he similarly went to the aid of a family in need in New England.

“It’s just his character,” said Fumich’s sister, Sheila Liljenquist. “He is always helping somebody.”

Though Fumich’s ride ended with a “DNF” next to his name on the leaderboard, he knew he assisted a family and inspired an untold amount of people.

“If you combine your passion for helping others you can really make a difference in the world,” he said..

Fumich didn’t rule out another ride but he admitted it would take “a lot” to get him back on the bike for another go at the Race Across America–most notably the unlikely approval of his wife.

At the very least, after 11 grueling days and topping well over 200 hours on a bicycle in that span, he can finally enjoy one of those hot dogs.


Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) released the following statement on the five-year anniversary of Senator Robert C. Byrd’s death.

“It is hard to believe it has been five years since we lost our beloved statesman, Senator Robert C. Byrd. Throughout his life of service, he was a force in the United States Senate, a champion of our Constitution and a proud West Virginian, who devoted himself to his family, his state and his country. His contributions and dedication to our state and nation are truly unparalleled, and his influence stretched far beyond the Capitol building and the mountains of West Virginia. Although his shoes can never be filled, it has given me great honor to follow in his footsteps in the United States Senate. We miss him dearly, and today, may we all honor the legacy of Robert C. Byrd and reflect on his extraordinary life and memory.”

WV State Police make changes to cover Nicholas County

BECKLEY, WV — Law enforcement manpower will take a hit July 1 in Nicholas County. The cuts enacted in the 2015-16 fiscal year budget take hold then and about seven deputies will be cut from the county sheriff’s department.

The West Virginia State Police learned of the cuts three months ago and wasted no time filling the gaps. Troopers have been working an adjusted schedule in the county and have already increased their presence and enforcement in the county ahead of the anticipated loss.

“Without getting into the specifics, what we’ve done is combined the resources of the Summersville Detachment and the Richwood Detachment,” said Captain Brad Mankins, Area Commander. “In the past those detachments would work their area. We’ve combined them to where they’re now communicating and responding in both parts of the county.”

There were several reasons the two detachments were separate for many years. The main reason was the difficulty in maintaining radio communication in the rugged terrain. That’s no longer a problem according to Mankins.

“With the topography up there, there would be places in the county where troopers in Summersville were unable to communicate with troopers in Richwood,” he said. “That’s no longer an issue, we’re able to take care of that. Instead of running a detachment based area, we’ve regionalized it.”

The effort so far has received positive reviews. The Nicholas County Commission recently penned a glowing letter which praised the state police work there to Colonel Jay Smithers.

There’s no real increase in crime anticipated according to Mankins, but they want to make sure there is plenty of help respond in an emergency and to back up one another when it’s necessary.

“Safety of our troopers is always a concern,” said Mankins. “The shifts are about the same, it’s just putting people in different places and getting away from the customary hours of 8-4 and 4-midnight. We’ve given the guys a little bit more freedom on what hours to be out to get some extended coverage.”

The troopers will be available anywhere in the county 24/7 according to Mankins.

Did You Know?

The Gilmer Free Press

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday:


Convicted murderer David Sweat is shot and taken into custody in northern New York, days after police kill his accomplice and three weeks after the two escaped prison.


Hundreds of thousands of people pack pride events from New York City to San Francisco, reveling in the U.S. high court’s endorsement of gay marriage.


The developments throw into question Greece’s financial future and continued membership in the 19-nation shared euro currency - and even the European Union.


The rocket was set to resupply the International Space Station and it’s the third cargo mission to fail in eight months.


The June 17 church massacre in Charleston, SC, by a self-described white supremacist leads states around the region to take down rebel flags, but some ask whether it’s a sign of real social change.


Negotiators remain apart on issues including how much access Tehran should give to U.N. experts who would monitor compliance if a deal is reached to keep Iran from building nuclear weapons.


One worrisome hint is that research shows a notorious Alzheimer’s-related gene has a bigger impact on women than men.


There are currently 14.2 million Jews in the world, and another 2 million who identify as partly Jewish, The Jewish People Policy Institute says.


“If you want to make crime pay - `Go to Law School,‘“ the former crime boss, now serving two life sentences, instructs three high school girls who wrote to him for a history project.


Nearly nine of 10 Americans - 89% - support a bid to host the Olympics somewhere in the United States, according to an AP-GfK survey.

U.S.A. News

The Gilmer Free Press

High court says gov’t seizure of raisins is unconstitutional

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Supreme Court ruled last week that the government can’t force raisin farmers to give up part of their annual crop for less than it’s worth, a victory for conservative groups that hailed the decision as a win for private property rights.

The justices ruled 8-1 that a 1940s-era program born out of the Great Depression is unconstitutional because it allows federal officials to seize personal property from farmers without fully compensating them, even though the goal is to benefit farmers by stabilizing market prices.

The court sided with California farmers Marvin and Laura Horne, who claimed they were losing money under a program they called outdated and ineffective. They had been fined $695,000 for trying to get around it.

Writing for the court, Chief Justice John Roberts said the government must pay “just compensation” when it takes personal goods, just as when it takes land away.

Roberts rejected the government’s argument that the Hornes voluntarily chose to participate in the raisin market and have the option of growing different crops if they don’t like it.

“‘Let them sell wine’ is probably not much more comforting to the raisin growers than similar retorts have been to others throughout history,“ Roberts said. “Property rights cannot be so easily manipulated.“

The case was considered one of the most important property disputes to reach the high court since 2005, when the justices ruled that the city of New London, Connecticut, could use the power of eminent domain to hand private homes or businesses to developers to help stimulate economic improvement. That case sparked a backlash in many states and led more than 40 state legislatures to pass laws protecting property rights.

By contrast, last week’s ruling in the raisin case was seen as a decisive win for property-rights advocates seeking to limit government power.

“The decision confirms what should be obvious: the government cannot come and take your personal property without compensation, whether raisins or other property, on the ground that the taking is for your own good,“ said J. David Breemer, attorney for the Pacific Law Foundation, a conservative group that backed the Hornes.

The program was authorized by a 1937 law that allows the U.S. Department of Agriculture to keep prices for raisins and other crops steady by helping to manage supply. A 1949 marketing order allowed farmers to form a committee that decides how much of the raisin crop handlers must turn over to the government each year.

These raisins would be placed into a reserve pool to be sold outside the open market, used for the school lunch program or given away to charities and foreign governments. Any profits from these reserve sales would go toward funding the committee and anything left over went back to the farmers.

The Hornes refused to participate in the program in 2003, when farmers were required to give up 47% of their crop but received far less in return than their costs of production. They also refused to cooperate in 2004, when other farmers gave up 30% of the crop in 2004 and were paid nothing.

The Hornes’ lawyer, John O’Quinn, called the ruling “a personal vindication” for the couple and “an important win for personal liberty.“

Raisin prices have been stable recently, and farmers have not been ordered to put crops in reserve since 2010.

Only a small number of other crops are regulated in the same way, though federal officials say most programs are not active. Those include California dried prunes, California dates, California almonds, tart cherries, walnuts and spearmint oil.

A USDA spokesman said agency officials were reviewing the ruling and had no immediate comment.

Roberts said the government could have restricted raisin sales by limiting production, which is how the vast majority of crops programs work.

In a separate opinion, Justice Stephen Breyer agreed that the Hornes were entitled to be properly paid for their crops, but he said the case should be sent back to a lower court to decide whether they would have been owed any money had they complied with the program.

Breyer’s separate opinion was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan.

Justice Clarence Thomas took issue with Breyer’s point and wrote separately to say that sending the case back to figure out compensation “in this case would be a fruitless exercise.“

Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the only dissenter. She said the program did not deprive the Hornes of all property rights, it just limited the amount of potential income they could earn from it.


Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) released the following statement on the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the Obergefell v. Hodges case.

“America is a nation of laws, and we must respect and abide by the Supreme Court’s decision.”

Man steals hearse with body inside from Georgia hospital

ATLANTA, GA—Police on Sunday said they apprehended a man accused of carjacking and crashing a hearse containing a dead body.

The suspect drove the Ford Flex hearse from Willie A. Watkins Funeral home off a loading dock at Grady Hospital in Atlanta after workers moved a corpse from the hospital’s morgue to the vehicle.

According to police, the suspect, who has not been named, damaged the vehicle as he rammed the morgue entrance gate before eventually abandoning the hearse and carjacking another Ford Explorer a few blocks away.

Police located the suspect and took him into custody. They say he did not show a firearm when stealing the hearse.

Similar incidents played out late last year. In December, a man who police suspected was mentally ill stole a hearse containing a casket and body from outside a Baptist church in Los Angeles, and the previous month, a 49-year-old man with dementia who had wandered from a nearby nursing home stole a hearse that held the body of a human rights lawyer in Sydney, Australia.


The Gilmer Free Press

World News

The Gilmer Free Press

P5+1 and Iran Have Settled Framework for Sanctions Relief Timing, Says Iranian Sources

Contrary to public posturing on the timing and pace of sanctions relief, a framework for handling this critical matter of the nuclear deal has been resolved, according to Iranian sources.

Iranian officials have on numerous occasions insisted that sanctions relief must come immediately upon the signing of an agreement. This has been at direct odds with the position of the U.S. government and its allies, who insist that relief only can come after Iran has taken numerous steps limiting its nuclear activities.

As often times is the case in diplomacy, the solution was found in a combination of a play with words and practical measures.

This is exactly what the diplomats did to reconcile the Iranian insistence on front loaded sanctions relief and the Western position of relief being provided only after the International Atomic Energy Agency has verified Iranian steps to curtail its nuclear program.

According to Iranian sources, the agreement is divided into three phases. The initial phase—called “adoption of agreement”—takes places as the two sides agree on a final deal. This phase will kick in in the next few days—if a deal is reached.

The next phase—the operationalization of the agreement—will begin once the domestic political processes of various parties have conclusively approved the agreement. This phase has been added primarily as a result of the US Congress passing the Corker bill, in which the American legislature gave itself the right to review and vote on the nuclear deal.

The timing of the second phase is directly related to the duration of the Congressional review process. If the two sides come to an agreement prior to July 10, the review process is set at 30 calendar days, in addition to 22 calendar days for Congress to pass a resolution to accept or reject the deal and for the President to use his veto, if need be. If the two sides fail to reach a deal by July 10, the Congressional review process increases to 60 calendar days.

While other states in the negotiations may also initiate some form of internal review and approval process, none of them are expected to take as long as the Congressional review. As such, the U.S. congress has significantly delayed the implementation of a presumptive deal.

Once the deal has survived the Congressional review—whether through a resolution of affirmation or the failure to pass a resolution of rejection—the Iranians will begin implementing the first steps of their commitments after the US side has provided iron clad guarantees that sanctions will be lifted. This is phase III. The initiation of the implementation of their end of the deal must then be verified by the IAEA, after which the US and its allies will begin relieving sanctions. It is at this point that the deal will be “signed,“ enabling the Iranian demand for sanctions relief to occur upon signing of the deal to be upheld.

The exact timing of this schedule depends on the date the deal is adopted, the duration of the Congressional review and the time it takes for Iran to implement the first steps of the agreement. But at best it will begin a few months after the adoption of the deal. This is reflected by President Hassan Rouhani’s statement earlier in June that he expected relief from sanctions within a “couple of months” after an agreement is reached.

While agreement on these principles of the process is a very important step forward, some question marks remain. What kind of a binding commitment will the U.S. and its allies make to reciprocate Iranian implementation of the deal, as the first steps taken will be Iranian? At what point will the UN Security Council adopt a resolution that affirms the deal?

While these are important details that must be settled, it is more important that the framework for the process has been agreed upon.

China issues report attacking U.S. human rights record

China accused the United States on Friday of being “haunted by spreading guns” and racial discrimination, in its annual tit-for-tat rebuttal to U.S. criticism of China’s human rights record.

In a lengthy report carried by the official Xinhua news agency, China’s State Council Information Office said the United States “violated human rights in other countries in a more brazen manner, and was given more ‘red cards’ in the international human rights field”.

“The U.S. was haunted by spreading guns and frequent occurrence of violent crimes, which threatened citizens’ civil rights,” the report said.

The China section of the annual U.S. State Department report on human rights conditions globally, released on Thursday, said that “repression and coercion were routine” against activists, ethnic minorities and law firms that took on sensitive cases.

Human rights have long been a source of tension between the world’s two largest economies, especially since 1989, when the U.S. imposed sanctions on China after a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

While senior leaders periodically promise China’s citizens democracy and human rights, the last two years under President Xi Jinping’s administration have been marked by a sweeping crackdown on dissidents and activists.

China has long rejected criticism of its rights’ record, saying providing food, clothing, housing and economic growth are far more relevant for developing countries, pointing to its success at lifting millions out of poverty.

The State Department report came in the same week that the United States and China held three days of high-level talks in Washington DC.

The Chinese report, which was mostly compiled from U.S. media articles, said “racial discrimination has been a chronic problem in the U.S. human rights record”, adding that the United States suppressed the voting rights of minorities.

It cited a USA Today report that said preliminary exit polls showed that voters of African origins accounted for 12% in the 2014 midterm election, down from 13% in the 2012 presidential election.

“In 2014, multiple cases of arbitrary police killing of African Americans have sparked huge waves of protests, casting doubts on the racial ‘equality’ in the U.S. and giving rise to racial hatred factors,” the report said.

The report also criticised the U.S. for conducting surveillance on world leaders and civilians and for allowing a few interest groups to influence the government’s decision-making.

Groups Want Congress To Stop Net Neutrality “Sneak Attack”

The Gilmer Free Press

CHARLESTON, WV – More than 60 civil rights and public interest groups have sent a letter urging Congress to protect the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to keep the Internet open.

They’re protesting a rider attached to a must-pass government-funding package.

Timothy Karr, senior director of strategy for the open media group Free Press, says the provisions, buried inside a spending bill 150 pages long, would take away money the FCC needs to enforce net neutrality rules.

“This is one of the more sneaky ways to do it, is to actually slip a couple lines of language into a budget appropriations bill,“ he states.

Advocates claim that by eliminating the FCC’s ability to protect net neutrality, the appropriations bill would have a chilling effect on First Amendment rights and the economy.

The American Library Association, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation were among the groups sending the letter.

In February, the FCC responded to nearly 4 million public comments with a decision to protect the fundamental openness of the Internet – no fast lanes for corporations and slow lanes for average citizens.

Karr says since the ruling, an entrenched phone and cable lobby has worked to punish the FCC in the courts and now in Congress.

“The public, on the issue of net neutrality, has been overwhelmingly in favor of open Internet protections,” he stresses. “So we’re seeing the backlash of that decision.“

Karr adds that the funding package is inching closer to a vote before the full House, but there’s still time for members to remove the provisions.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

West Virginia News

The Gilmer Free Press

FirstEnergy crews prepare for inclement weather, outages that follow

CLARKSBURG, WV — Summer storms continue to crop up–making power outages a regular occurrence this time of year.

First Energy Spokesman Todd Myers said it may have started a little earlier this year, but that these persistent storms require their attention.

“It just seems to be the weather pattern that we’ve been in lately where we get this cold fronts coming through and some fairly significant thunderstorms are coming through and causing significant damage,” he said.

As we delve deeper into the summer months, the storms are going to be more frequent. On days of bad storms, like this past Father’s Day, crews from Mon Power often work 16 hour days.

“We do work around the clock to get this outages repaired,” said Myers.

Myers said they’re already preparing for the possibility of further inclement weather creating outages on Thursday.

“It’s something that we contend with, and we’ll work around the clock and address it,” he said.

The biggest concern is always with the distribution network–power lines that could be hit by trees after heavy winds. Mon Power is spending $72 million in 2014 on tree trimming.

“We do that precisely for this kind of weather,” Myers said. “We cannot prevent some outages from occurring. It just won’t happen unless we cut such a wide strip of vegetation and trees that nothing can possibly come in contact with the line, and we can’t do that.”

Another concern is heavy saturation of rain. Myers said those trees become fodder for the wind when they’ve dealt with heavy rain.

“It doesn’t take much wind–and we’re going wind with these storms–to begin to push over trees when their roots are all saturated and everything’s a swampy marsh,” he said.

Myers said that he feels fortunate that the storms haven’t been out-of-the-ordinary–citing the damage caused by the derecho during the summer of 2012.

“What we’re having right now–even though it’s keeping us busy and unfortunately it’s inconvenient to customers–we know that,” he said. “But these are, what I would call your typical garden variety storms that we experience in the summer time.”

Former High School teacher convicted

MARTINSBURG, WV —A former Hedgesville High School teacher faces more than a decade in prison after a jury found him guilty of sexually abusing a student at the school after a six-day trial.

A jury found 31-year-old Erin Thomas guilty of one count of sexual abuse by a person in a position of trust.

He was found not guilty of four other counts of sexual abuse by person in a position of trust and not guilty of third-degree sexual assault.

A single count of second-degree sexual assault was dismissed by the prosecution prior to the trial.

Berkeley County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Gregory Jones tells The Herald Mail Thomas is scheduled to be sentenced August 21.

He faces not less than 10 nor more than 20 years in prison.

Thomas, who was placed on administrative leave without pay last summer, was terminated September 30 by the Berkeley County Board of Education.

FBI to investigate WV inmate’s death at hospital

BLUEFIELD, WV - The FBI plans to investigate the death of a Mercer County woman who died at a Charleston hospital several days after being briefly held at the Bluefield City Jail.

Supervisory Special Agent Chris Courtright said there’s no timeline for when the investigation will end.

Bluefield resident Connie Hambrick was arrested by police June 04 on an outstanding warrant from Tazewell County, Virginia. That night, she complained about a bad headache and was taken by to Bluefield Regional Medical Center. Hospital personnel told police Hambrick had a stroke and needed to be transferred to another hospital. She was taken to the Charleston Area Medical Center the next day and died June 17. The cause of death is under investigation.

WVU to pay nearly $1 million in attorney’s fees

MORGANTOWN, WV - West Virginia University will pay West Virginia Radio Corp. nearly $1 million for a partial reimbursement of attorney fees related to a recently settled media rights lawsuit.

WVU officials released the settlement agreement in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

As part of the agreement, WVU will pay WVRC about $937,000 as partial reimbursement for attorney fees and costs associated with the case.

The settlement also bans either side from commenting on the case for five years.

In 2013, WVRC filed a lawsuit against WVU, the WVU Foundation and several individual defendants. The lawsuit alleged violations of procurement rules for the awarding of university media rights and the purchasing of scoreboards for Milan Puskar Stadium and the Coliseum.

West Virginia leaders don’t love tax and toll hikes for roads, but some won’t rule them out

CHARLESTON, WV - Entering an election year, state officials aren’t thrilled by suggestions to raise taxes, tolls and fees for roads.

As federal money keeps fizzling, some aren’t dismissing the idea.

West Virginia’s problems appear to be about upkeep, not necessarily congestion.

U.S. Census data from 2013 shows Charleston and Huntington metro areas had commute times about two minutes lower than the national average, almost 26 minutes. The Martinsburg-Hagerstown, Maryland, area exceeds the average by four minutes but includes Washington commuters.

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s highways commission suggests adding $419.8 million for roads annually, including tax, toll and fee increases.

Senate President Bill Cole, the top Republican candidate for governor, said everything needs consideration but focus should be on cutting wasteful spending.

Republican House Speaker Tim Armstead expressed concern about raising taxes.

Police: WV woman, son beat man who didn’t pay bill

BECKLEY, WV - A Wyoming County woman and her son have been arrested after police say they beat a man who had refused to pay his full utility bill.

The 39-year-old Anita Gail Cecil and 20-year-old Christopher Cecil were arrested and charged with battery.

Police say Anita Cecil attacked the victim in his vehicle after he told Covel Water Works owner Pete McBride he wasn’t paying his bills because service had been interrupted. McBride is Anita Cecil’s father.

The complaint says Cecil and her son then followed the victim home and began hitting him.

McBride was not charged.

Documents show the Cecils were taken to Southern Regional Jail, but have since posted bond.

It is not clear if they have an attorney.

U.S.A. News

The Gilmer Free Press

Colorado man wakes to find black bear nibbling ankle

DENVER, CO —A resident of a Colorado mountain town woke from a nap on his deck to find a black bear nibbling his ankle, but later rejected a request by wildlife officials to put a trap on his property, a local newspaper reported.

Peter Rizzuto, 77, told The Aspen Times he thought at first the creature was a large dog. He said last week’s encounter was very brief, and the skin on his ankle was not broken.

Rizzuto contacted the Colorado Parks and Wildlife department the following day, but then declined to place a bear trap in his backyard in the ski resort of Snowmass, near Aspen.

“I’m worried it might trap the wrong bear,“ Rizzuto said.

A parks and wildlife spokesman, Mike Porras, told the newspaper that the bear had not returned since last Wednesday’s incident, but it was likely that it would.

“If it is walking up to humans and doing this, it would not be a big surprise if it did it again,“ Porras said.

Colorado is home to about 12,000 black bears. Attacks on people are rare, but typically happen when hungry bears lose their fear of humans, wildlife authorities say.

Porras said Rizzuto’s small yard is open, and that children come and go in the area. He said the department might lay a trap on a nearby public area if one is available.

“No one wants to put a bear down,“ Porras said. “But when a bear is not afraid of humans or is approaching humans, that is a cause for concern.“

IRS incompetence blamed for lost tea party emails

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Investigators are blaming two IRS workers at a computer center in West Virginia for erasing thousands of emails related to the tax agency’s tea party scandal, impeding congressional investigations into the treatment of conservative political groups.

The workers might be incompetent, a lead investigator said Thursday, but there is no evidence they were part of a criminal conspiracy to destroy evidence.

House Republicans were incredulous.

“It just defies any sense of logic,“ said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “It gets to the point where it truly gets to be unbelievable. Somebody has to be held accountable.“

J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration, testified before the committee and was joined by one of his deputies, Timothy Camus.

Camus said two “lower-graded” employees at the IRS center in Martinsburg, West Virginia, erased 422 computer backup tapes that contained as many as 24,000 emails to and from former IRS official Lois Lerner. The tapes were erased in March 2014, months after congressional investigators requested all of Lerner’s emails.

Lerner has emerged as a central figure in congressional investigations into the treatment of conservative groups when they applied for tax-exempt status during the 2010 and 2012 elections.

Camus said the workers did not fully understand an IRS directive not to destroy email backup tapes. He did not name the workers.

“When interviewed, those employees said, ‘Our job is to put these pieces of plastic into that machine and magnetically obliterate them. We had no idea that there was any type of preservation (order) from the chief technology officer,‘“ Camus told the committee.

Camus said interviews, sworn statements and a review of the employees’ emails turned up no evidence that they were trying to destroy evidence.

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-KY, asked Camus if incompetence was to blame for the tapes being erased.

“One could come to that conclusion,“ Camus said.

In a statement, the IRS said it repeatedly alerted employees starting in May 2013 that they must save all emails, computer tapes and other records related to investigations by Congress and the Justice Department.

“The IRS recognizes there was a clear breakdown of communication in one part of the organization regarding the need to preserve and retain the backup tapes and information, although (the inspector general) concluded this wasn’t intentional,“ the statement said.

George is an independent investigator who was nominated by former President George W. Bush. He has been investigating Lerner’s lost emails for about a year. He is expected to issue a report as early as next week. He and Camus summarized the report’s findings at Thursday’s hearing.

George set off a firestorm in 2013 with an audit that said IRS agents based in a Cincinnati office were improperly singling out tea party and other conservative groups for extra scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status.

After George’s report, much of the IRS’s top leadership was forced to retire or resign, including Lerner. The Justice Department and several congressional committees launched investigations, which continue.

Lerner used to head the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt status.

Congressional investigators have shown that IRS officials in Washington knew that tea party applications were being singled out for delay. But they have not disclosed any evidence that anyone outside the IRS knew about the targeting or directed it.

Investigators were hoping that Lerner’s lost emails would advance their probe. George said his office was able to uncover more than 1,000 new Lerner emails, but none was relevant to the investigation.

“This investigation has squandered tens of millions of taxpayer dollars in a failed scavenger hunt for any possible evidence to support wild Republican accusations against Lois Lerner, the IRS, and the White House,“ said Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the committee’s top Democrat.

New shark attacks reported off Carolina coasts make 6 this month

AVON, NC —Two additional shark attacks were reported in the Atlantic Ocean off the Carolinas Friday, authorities said—adding to the fear among vacationers there in the wake of several other attacks this month.

One man sustained leg and lower back injuries when he was attacked off the coast of Avon, NC, and another was treated for minor injuries after his attack off Hunting Island, SC Friday’s incidents follow at least four other shark attacks in the region this month.

On June 14, a 12-year-old girl and 16-year-old boy were attacked in the same location near Oak Island, NC, within an hour of each other—and both lost part of an arm, officials said. The type of shark or sharks involved in the attacks were not specified.

Shark attacks are somewhat common along coastal areas between May and September, particularly because the number of swimmers rises sharply in the summer months. Many times, experts say, humans are attacked in shallow water, measuring five feet deep or less, close to the shoreline.

Humans aren’t typically targeted by sharks, but swimmers—particularly surfers—are often mistaken for animals that they do prey on in their natural marine habitat, such as seals.

Earlier this month, a group of boaters off the coast of New York captured startling footage of a great white shark feasting on the carcass of a dead whale—which, much like the famous 1975 horror film Jaws, only tends to add to some people’s fear of sharks.

Despite numerous reported shark attacks in the United States every year, few people are ever killed by the animals. Of all the reported attacks in the last calendar year, 65% involved surfers or wakeboarders and 32% involved swimmers, Time magazine reported.

Governor Tomblin: No Prevailing Wage July 01 due to Lawmakers

The Gilmer Free Press

CHARLESTON, WV — Blaming inaction by state lawmakers, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s administration says the state’s prevailing wage will disappear July 01 for a short-term lapse that is creating uncertainty for the construction industry.

On Thursday, the Democratic governor’s spokesman, Chris Stadelman, said WorkForce West Virginia couldn’t calculate the rate for public construction projects by July 01, the deadline in a new law passed by the Republican-led Legislature this year.

Earlier this month, a legislative committee voted not to extend the deadline to September 30, an extension WorkForce requested. Once the wage is recalculated, it will be reinstated.

Republicans have disapproved of how the administration sought to calculate the wage, saying it was incomplete and didn’t meet the law’s requirements. They said federal data must be used, questioned the use of a survey and disapproved of the inclusion of fringe benefits. Democrats said the administration followed the law.

Still, WorkForce sent out surveys to more than 5,000 businesses earlier this month and will continue that process in the next couple of weeks of follow-up.

Until WorkForce finishes the new wage, there will be no low mark on how much contractors are paid for many public projects. All federal projects, including the bulk of highway work, are still subject to a federal prevailing wage.

“It’s unfortunate that the Legislature’s actions will create uncertainty for businesses and local governments in West Virginia, and we urge legislators to reconsider that action,“ Stadelman said.

Republican lawmakers have stood firm. In a letter to WorkForce West Virginia late last week, GOP leadership urged Tomblin’s administration to recalculate the rate the way lawmakers consider correct under law.

Otherwise, the leadership wrote it will continue evaluating “all options available” to ensure legal requirements are met.

“As evidenced by the questions of many of the lawmakers in attendance, the Joint Committee on Government and Finance is disturbed by the rather lackadaisical and cavalier approach that WorkForce West Virginia has exhibited in performing its statutory duties under S.B. 361,“ Cole and Armstead wrote to WorkForce West Virginia Acting Director Russell Fry.

Steve White, executive director of Affiliated Construction Trades, said he’s unaware of major contracts coming up that could be affected. But he’s unsure what will happen in the short term.

“Now we’re on another rollercoaster causing a lot of disruption in the industry,“ White said.

Last legislative session, Republicans started out by pushing for the complete elimination of the prevailing wage. They settled on letting WorkForce West Virginia team with Marshall University and West Virginia University economists to change the wage’s calculation.

They also instituted a cap, eliminating the prevailing wage for projects using $500,000 or less in public money. That change has already taken effect.

The prevailing wage changes don’t apply to contracts that were established before the new requirements’ effective dates.

West Virginia News

The Gilmer Free Press

Utility tells WV likely costs of converting power plants

CHARLESTON, WV — Appalachian Power says it could cost up to $65 million in upgrades to convert recently retired coal-fired plants to natural gas.

The estimate was submitted to West Virginia regulators, according to the Charleston Gazette.

Additionally, the utility told the Public Service Commission why units at four coal-fired plants couldn’t be reopened and why three of the plants weren’t considered for natural gas.

Age is the reason for the closures of the three plants, as well as their inability to meet federal pollution standards, according to Appalachian Power.

New group backs gas pipeline through VA, WV and NC

RICHMOND, VA — Business and labor groups are uniting in support of a proposed 550-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a natural gas project aimed at bringing the fuel to the Southeast.

Called “EnergySure — Standing Up for Reliable Energy,“ the coalition claims the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, state building and construction trades and others. The group says its membership tops 100 organizations and businesses representing workers in Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina.

Organizers say the group is standing behind the $5 billion project proposed by Dominion Resources and its partners, including Duke Energy.

The pipeline would deliver natural gas from wells in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania to the Southeast. Its proposed route through Virginia has stirred pockets of opposition and given rise organizations aimed at stopping it or altering its route.

Bear killed in Huntington, deemed safety threat

HUNTINGTON, WV — A bear was shot and killed on Huntington’s south side Thursday evening after it was wandering the streets.

Both Huntington and West Virginia State Police tried to usher the bear to safety while urging residents to go indoors.

Police initially meant to tranquilize the bear but as the bear became more irritated and unpredictable, and people refused to go inside, it created a safety hazard.

The bear was put down with a shotgun a short time later, according to WSAZ-TV.

ON TRAC and Main Street communities and volunteers honored

CHARLESTON, WV — An awards ceremony was held Thursday evening at the Culture Center at the Capitol to honor the governor’s Main Street and ON TRAC award winners.

The two programs aim to revitalize towns and cities and to promote economic growth.

“We spend a lot of time on economic development trying to get companies to relocate here,” said State Secretary of Commerce Keith Burdette. “Downtowns are surprisingly one of the first things a new company looks at to see if there’s life in a community; to see how much vigor is in a community.”

Main Street is a national program geared toward larger cities, while ON TRAC is geared toward smaller towns. Point Pleasant won first place for small towns, and Morgantown’s Main Street won for large communities.

“These communities that are part of Main Street and ON TRAC have financially and organizationally committed to making improvements in their downtown, to make them more livable, more attractive and more enticing to visitors,” Burdette said.

First Lady Joanne Jaeger Tomblin also joined the ceremony, which honored volunteers statewide as well as cities that have excelled in the program. Burdette praised the Capital for its effort in the Main Street program, particularly in the East End.

“Charleston has been one of those communities that gets it and understands that creating a vital, forward-thinking downtown area is important to their overall plans for their city,” he said.

West Virginia’s ON TRAC communities include Charles Town, Parkersburg (the largest city in the program), Belington and Kenova.

Accredited Main Street communities include Charleston’s East End and West Side, Morgantown, Martinsburg, Wheeling and White Sulphur Springs.

West Virginia leaders don’t love tax and toll hikes for roads, but some won’t rule them out

CHARLESTON, WV - Entering an election year, state officials aren’t thrilled by suggestions to raise taxes, tolls and fees for roads.

As federal money keeps fizzling, some aren’t dismissing the idea.

West Virginia’s problems appear to be about upkeep, not necessarily congestion.

U.S. Census data from 2013 shows Charleston and Huntington metro areas had commute times about two minutes lower than the national average, almost 26 minutes. The Martinsburg-Hagerstown, Maryland, area exceeds the average by four minutes but includes Washington commuters.

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s highways commission suggests adding $419.8 million for roads annually, including tax, toll and fee increases.

Senate President Bill Cole, the top Republican candidate for governor, said everything needs consideration but focus should be on cutting wasteful spending.

Republican House Speaker Tim Armstead expressed concern about raising taxes.

U.S.A. News

The Gilmer Free Press

Brave kitty stares down mountain lion in viral Colorado video

DENVER, CO—A video of an unfazed, fluffy house cat staring down a large mountain lion as the predator paws at a Colorado kitchen window has gone viral, receiving nearly 1 million views on YouTube in just a couple of days.

The footage, recorded at a home in the Rocky Mountains about 10 miles west of Boulder, shows the cat sitting on the windowsill and meowing as the much-bigger mountain lion looks into the house, its eyes glinting gold in the light.

The video was posted on Sunday and by mid-morning on Tuesday it had already been watched more than 945,000 times.

It was filmed by Tom Mabe, a Louisville, Kentucky-based comedian who says the stand-off came during a visit his family made about a month ago to friends in Colorado.

In the video, the mountain lion repeatedly paws at the window as Mabe can be heard calling his wife to see.

“Is that crazy or what?“ he says. His wife can be heard asking where the kids are, and Mabe jokes that they are “out back,“ before reassuring her that they are still in bed.

After about 30 seconds, the mountain lion stalks away, pausing on a nearby rocky slope to gaze back at the home.

In the comments posted below the video, Mabe joked that he was hoping to get sponsorship from a double-glazing window company. He declined to reveal exactly where the video was shot, saying that his friends are trying to sell their home.

It was the second wild animal saga to make headlines in the Boulder area this week. On Monday, police released photos of a young female moose that wandered onto the city’s main pedestrian Pearl Street shopping area, attracting a crowd of onlookers.

Other legal challenges to health overhaul remain

WASHINGTON, D.C. — If you thought the legal fight over the health care overhaul was finally over, think again. At least four issues related to the Affordable Care Act still are being sorted out in the courts, although none seems to pose the same threat to the law as the challenge to nationwide subsidies that the court rejected on Thursday, or the constitutional case that the justices decided in favor of the law in 2012.

Among the pending lawsuits:

—House of Representatives v. Burwell: House Republicans are spearheading a challenge to some $175 billion the administration is paying health insurance companies over a decade to reimburse them for offering lowered rates for poor people. The House argues that Congress never specifically appropriated that money, and indeed denied an administration request for it, but that the administration is paying it anyway. The House says this amounts to unconstitutionally co-opting Congress’ power of the purse. The administration insists it is properly relying on an existing pot of money. A trial judge is considering the administration’s claim that the House lacks standing to bring the lawsuit.

—Sissel v. Health and Human Services Department: A unanimous three-judge panel of the federal appeals court in Washington rejected a conservative group’s claim that Congress imposed new taxes unconstitutionally when it created the Affordable Care Act. The lawsuit filed by the Pacific Legal Foundation and small-business owner Matt Sissel argued that the “Obamacare” legislation was a bill for raising revenue and that it violated the Origination Clause of the Constitution because it began in the Senate, not the House. The Constitution requires that legislation to raise revenue must start in the House. The appellate panel said that rather than being a revenue-raising device, the health care law was intended to increase the number of Americans covered by health insurance and decrease the cost of health care. The full appeals court in Washington has yet to rule on a request to rehear the case.

-West Virginia v. Health and Human Services Department: West Virginia says the White House has undertaken a series of illegal changes and delays to the law. A lawsuit filed in federal court in the District of Columbia points to a November 2013 decision by President Barack Obama to allow insurance companies to offer people another year of coverage under their existing plans even if those plans didn’t meet the requirements set out the health care overhaul. Obama acted in response to mounting frustration over cancellation notices sent to Americans whose health plans didn’t meet the law’s coverage standards. West Virginia officials said they too support allowing people to keep their health plan, but object that Obama took action without seeking congressional action or inviting comment before any changes took effect. There has not been a court hearing or order since the lawsuit was filed 11 months ago.

—Contraceptive mandate cases: Dozens of religiously affiliated colleges, hospitals and other not-for-profit groups do not like the compromises the administration has put forward to allow women covered under these institutions’ health plans to obtain contraceptives at no extra cost, among other preventive services required by the health care law, while still ensuring that groups that hold religious objections to contraceptives do not have to pay for them. The government says the groups have to fill out a form or send a letter stating their objection, but non-profits say that still makes them complicit in providing contraceptives. Four federal appeals courts have sided with the administration, but other cases are pending and Catholic organizations in Pennsylvania have asked the Supreme Court to decide the issue.

World News

The Gilmer Free Press

Vatican signs treaty with “State of Palestine”

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican signed a treaty with the “State of Palestine” on Friday, saying it hoped its legal recognition of the state would help stimulate peace with Israel and that the treaty itself would serve as a model for other Mideast countries.

Vatican Foreign Minister Paul Gallagher and his Palestinian counterpart, Riad al-Malki, signed the treaty at a ceremony inside the Vatican.

Israel expressed disappointment when the Vatican announced last month that it had reached final agreement with the “State of Palestine” on the treaty regulating the life of the Catholic Church in the Palestinian territories.

It repeated that regret in a Foreign Ministry statement Friday, saying the move hurt peace prospects and would discourage the Palestinians from returning to direct negotiations. It warned that it would study the agreement “and its implications for future cooperation between Israel and the Vatican.“

Gallagher, though, said he hoped the Vatican’s recognition “may in some way be a stimulus to bringing a definitive end to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which continues to cause suffering for both parties.“

He said that he hoped the treaty could serve as a model for the church in other Mideast countries, where Christians are a minority and often persecuted.

The Vatican had welcomed the decision by the U.N. General Assembly in 2012 to recognize a Palestinian state and had referred to the Palestine state since. But the treaty marked its first legal recognition of the Palestinian territory as a state.

Al-Malki called the treaty an “historic agreement” and said it marked “a recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, freedom and dignity in an independent state of their own, free from the shackles of occupation.“

The United States and Israel oppose recognizing the Palestinian state, arguing that it undermines U.S.-led efforts to negotiate an Israeli-Palestinian deal on the terms of Palestinian statehood. Most countries in Western Europe have held off on recognition, but some have hinted that their position could change if peace efforts remain deadlocked.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon called the treaty itself one-sided, saying the text ignored “the historic rights of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel and to the places holy to Judaism in Jerusalem.“

WV Higher Education Community Joins Forces to Address Campus Safety

The Gilmer Free Press

Charleston, WV – The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (Commission) hosted a statewide Campus Safety Summit focusing on some of higher education’s most challenging issues.

More than 140 representatives of the state’s public four- and two- year colleges and universities, along with independent institutions, gathered to discuss awareness, prevention and response surrounding suicide, sexual violence and communicable diseases.

“These individuals are on the frontlines at colleges and universities across West Virginia working to not only educate and inspire students – but also to protect those students and everyone on our campuses,” said Governor Earl Ray Tomblin. “These subject matters are difficult to manage, and they are certainly difficult to discuss. But our statewide higher education community has the power to turn these challenging issues into stories of greater awareness, successful prevention and effective responses.”

Liz Seccuro, victims’ rights activist and author of Crash Into Me: A Survivor’s Search for Justice, provided keynote remarks regarding her story of survival and how West Virginia campuses can prevent and respond to campus sexual violence.

The Gilmer Free Press

“Liz bravely shares her story of survival and her own fight for justice, and we were grateful to welcome her to West Virginia,” said Paul Hill, the Commission’s Chancellor. “We must be ever vigilant about the issue of campus sexual violence – and protecting students, faculty, staff and our entire campus communities on multiple fronts.”

Additional panelists included: Barri Faucett, West Virginia Adolescent Suicide Prevention and Early Intervention (ASPEN) Project; Dr. Al Kasprowicz, WELLWVU Carruth Center for Psychological and Psychiatric Services at West Virginia University; Katie Clifford, J.D., The NCHERM Group; Lois Manns, West Virginia Foundation for Rape and Information Services; Dr. Guy Sims, Bluefield State College; Dr. Rahul Gupta, State Health Officer; Sharon Lansdale, Center for Rural Health Development; and Dr. William Pewen, Marshall University.

The Gilmer Free Press

Liz Seccuro is a victims’ rights advocate and the founder of STARS (Sisters Together Assisting Rape Survivors), a donor-advised fund that assists all survivors of rape, sexual assault, and incest. Seccuro also teaches a few classes a year at Georgetown University’s Graduate School of Journalism on how to write responsibly about sex crimes and the art of interviewing victims of violence.

As documented in her 2011 memoir Crash Into Me: A Survivor’s Search for Justice, her story began in 1984 when she was drugged and raped by a fellow student, William Nottingham Beebe, as a 17-year-old freshman at the University of Virginia. The university did nothing to aid her in seeking justice and offered no official remedy, leaving her on her own to pick up the pieces. It wasn’t until 2005—after receiving a letter of apology from Beebe inviting her to contact him so that he could explain what led him to rape her and, ostensibly, help her heal—that she was able to take action against him. Following a frightening and eerie email correspondence with her rapist, she submitted her evidence to the Charlottesville Police Department, who arrested Beebe. He was ultimately sentenced to 18 months in prison and required to perform 500 hours of community service, including speaking on college campuses about sexual assault and substance abuse. To this day, there is no record of this condition of parole being met.

Since the publication of Crash Into Me, Liz Seccuro has appeared on a multitude of national television shows, radio shows, blogs, and magazines. Most notably, a three-part excerpt of her book was featured in Marie Claire magazine, both nationally and abroad. In 2011, she received the Shining Star/Vision Award from Boston’s Victim Rights Law Center and in November 2012 she was honored by SAVI/NYC of Mt. Sinai Hospital for her advocacy, joining past honorees such as prosecutor and author Linda Fairstein, Trisha Meili (the “Central Park Jogger”), and actress Mariska Hargitay of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. In January 2013, she was named to the national advisory board of the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) and continues to lobby on Capitol Hill with RAINN on behalf of survivors of violent crime. A frequent contributor to The Huffington Post, she is at work on a number of magazine articles on the scourge of military sexual assault and the NFL’s culture of violence.


EducationNewsWest Virginia(2) Comments

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~~~ Readers' Comments ~~~

Gilmer county cordially extends an invitation to author Ms. Seccuro. 

While here, please do a little investigative work and add another chapter to your book.

By who knows? yes YOU do!  on  06.26.2015

Knowing what I know about all the RAPES at Glenville State College, this promotional announcement almost offends me, for you know the governor has to know about horrid crimes and unpunished RAPES at GSC that have been going on for years—- And endorsed by someone I feel is completely and totally dishonest and that would be Gerald B Hough Gilmer County Prosecutor.

The only consolation is that Wilke Perez a former QB for the football team at GSC accused of RAPE will be doing three years in federal prison for another crime.

It is also interesting to note that concerned citizens had mentioned him, the rape and the cover ups by Mr. Hough to the FBI just about the time they started looking into the wrong doing of Wilke Perez. His VICTIM Anita Phillips Wiseman we just did a detailed interview with (conducted by Lawrence J Smith)and the crime will now have a new focus.

By the way the victim of that sexual assault that Perez was arrested for in Gilmer County is now a federal prison corrections officer.

By Council of Concerned Citizens  on  06.27.2015

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West Virginia Company Among Winners in $100,000 Shale Gas Innovation Contest

The Gilmer Free Press

Fairmont Brine Processing, LLC is one of four winners of the Shale Gas Innovation Contest. Each winner receives a check for $25,000.

The Shale Gas Innovation Contest is designed to encourage the development of new technologies from the Marcellus and Utica shales and enhance environmental responsibility. West Virginia’s Fairmont Brine Processing entry was an evaporation and crystallization process that fully treats wastewater, extracts reusable byproducts, and has the ability to also formulate fracture stimulation fluids to meet an operating company’s completion design.

The other three winners – Appalachian Drilling Services, EthosGen and PixController — hail from Pennsylvania. The Shale Gas Innovation Contest — previously limited to Pennsylvania entrants — was able to expand to include West Virginia for the first time in 2014, thanks to a grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. 

Martirano Calls Low School Attendance “Unconscionable”

The Gilmer Free Press

CHARLESTON, WV — The state superintendent of schools admits he’s “disappointed” with school attendance in parts of West Virginia during the latter part of the 2014-2015 school year.
Dr. Michael Martirano

In some counties, Dr. Michael Martirano said the official attendance numbers reported to the state Department of Education were as low as 66% as the year stretched far into June.

“For me, anything below 90% is unconscionable and we shouldn’t have those low attendance rates,” Martirano said.

The school year ended in West Virginia on Wednesday, June 24, when the last of the public schools still open in the Mountain State closed in both McDowell County and Wyoming County.

The 2013 education reform law, which included a mandate for 180 separate instructional days, allows the school year to continue through June 30, if necessary, to meet that mark.

This was the first year for its enforcement.

“Overall through the month of June, we were in the high 80s for our attendance rate and we have a lot of our classrooms where great instruction was occurring, but in some portions of our state students weren’t showing up,” Martirano said.

While acknowledging West Virginia is in a transition from an expectation of 180 days of instruction to a requirement, Martirano promised he would not waiver on the mandate and, he said, he told county superintendents as much during a Wednesday meeting.

School calendars must be built with days included for any necessary makeups due to weather to ensure student’s are getting proper instruction for the required amount of days, according to Martirano.

“We can’t have our cake and eat it too. We can’t have two weeks off for Christmas break. We can’t have a full week off for Spring Break. We can’t have a full week off for Thanksgiving,” Martirano said on MetroNews “Talkline.”

“We have to make certain that we’re building calendars that have flexibility in there.”

The 2015-2016 school year in West Virginia will begin as early as August 06 in some areas.

~~  Shauna Johnson ~~

EducationNewsWest Virginia(5) Comments

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~~~ Readers' Comments ~~~

Unconscionable is a wonderful choice of words.

Unconscionable is a great description of how intervention counties are treated.

By We Agree its Unconscionable  on  06.26.2015

Mr. Martirano, the children missed more days than were put into the school calendar due to an act of God, the weather. Some schools and homes may not have had electric, heat or water. Roads may have flooded.  The children were not truants. The parents did not decide to keep them home just because they felt like it.  The decision to close the schools was made by Superintendents and Transportation Directors in all counties who made that determination based on weather conditions being such it would be unsafe to put buses on the roads.

W.V. Code §18-8-1. Compulsory school attendance; exemptions.

(a) Exemption from the requirements of compulsory public school attendance established in section one-a of this article shall be made on behalf of any child for the causes or conditions set forth in this section. Each cause or condition set forth in this section is subject to confirmation by the attendance authority of the county…….

To continue with information relative to the subject at hand:  It is further stated:

(e) A child is exempt from the compulsory school attendance requirement set forth in section one-a of this article if conditions rendering school attendance impossible or hazardous to the life, health or safety of the child exist.

Sir,  it makes no sense to FORCE children to attend school year round because you can not control the weather.
Your attitude unreasonable, even unthinkable. You have been with us such a short time. Are you already under the spell of the WVBOE? Are you now omnipotent?

Many counties came respectfully before the state board asking for a waiver from the hardships compliance would place on students and families.

By Mrs. Manchin Said No  on  06.26.2015

Martirano, who’s the “we” you keep talking about as in, “We can’t have”?  You should be talking to “YOUR” Superintendents.YOU don’t exercise any oversight of YOUR employees. Quit trying to run the counties from Charleston’s bully pulpit. That doesn’t work.

By R Easton  on  06.26.2015

Another problem created by the bureaucratic problem that can’t solve their own problem?

By here we go again  on  06.27.2015

Dr. Martirano, come to Gilmer County and meet separately with elected board of education officials and regular people to get their take on what has happened with intervention.

You speak with the WVBOE and the local mind guards too much to be out of touch. Did you rehire Devono and do you supervise him?

Something strange. Gilmer knew about his coming here before the WVBOE even had its meeting to discuss the subject. Who really is in charge to cut deals behind the scenes?

By Ed Baskins  on  06.27.2015

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WVU Graduation List: Spring 2015

The Gilmer Free Press

MORGANTOWN, WV – West Virginia University has released its Dean’s and President’s list and Graduation list for the spring 2015 semester.

A total of 5,099 students were named to the Dean’s list for spring 2015.

Out of these students, 1,839 were named to the President’s list after receiving a perfect 4.0 grade point average.

Those on the Dean’s list received a 3.5 GPA or higher.

A total of 4,301 WVU students graduated following the 2015 spring term.

Following are the graduates from the area Counties:

Last Name First Name City County
Delauder Emily Belington Barbour
Gray Trinity Belington Barbour
Jones Shannon Belington Barbour
Phipps Sarah Belington Barbour
Post Emma Belington Barbour
Price Dereck Belington Barbour
Riccio Jonathan Belington Barbour
Ware Jonathan Belington Barbour
Zirkle Christina Buckhannon Barbour
Howdershelt Seth Moatsville Barbour
Crickenberger Samuel Philippi Barbour
Foster Tasha Philippi Barbour
Norris Lauren Philippi Barbour
Saas Barbara Philippi Barbour
Schiefelbein Lauren Philippi Barbour
Chapman Chance Duck Braxton
Berry Tiffany Flatwoods Braxton
Tyo Jacob Frametown Braxton
Foster Marshall Gassaway Braxton
Rollins Katie Gassaway Braxton
Frame Macy Sutton Braxton
Zaras Theodore Sutton Braxton
Houchin Ashley Arnoldsburg Calhoun
Moore Melissa Chloe Calhoun
Johnson Mandi Grantsville Calhoun
Dorsey Chelsie Clay Clay
Dorsey Chelsie Clay Clay
Shearer Michael Clay Clay
Chapman Tashauna Duck Clay
Ross India Duck Clay
Brown Savanna Maysel Clay
Paxton David Maysel Clay
Cole Kelli Wallback Clay
Mitchell Kayla West Union Doddridge
DeMarino Hannah Glenville Gilmer
Estep Gregory Glenville Gilmer
Abruzzino Brittany Bridgeport Harrison
Alvarez Laura Bridgeport Harrison
Burlas Corrie Bridgeport Harrison
Cavallo Carrie Bridgeport Harrison
Conley Sarah Bridgeport Harrison
Critchfield Dami Bridgeport Harrison
Garrett Kurtis Bridgeport Harrison
Gherman John Bridgeport Harrison
Gray Wendi Bridgeport Harrison
Gruber Michael Bridgeport Harrison
Gruber Michael Bridgeport Harrison
Guirguis Marilyn Bridgeport Harrison
Henderson Regan Bridgeport Harrison
Hinkle Deanna Bridgeport Harrison
Iaquinta Brittni Bridgeport Harrison
Jafri Shane Bridgeport Harrison
Kroll Colleen Bridgeport Harrison
Lantz Justin Bridgeport Harrison
Lilly Kathrine Bridgeport Harrison
Mashta Mohamad Bridgeport Harrison
Murray Kevin Bridgeport Harrison
Patterson Jessica Bridgeport Harrison
Rudy Nicole Bridgeport Harrison
Sabbagh Osama Bridgeport Harrison
Seamon Zachary Bridgeport Harrison
Sellas Maria Bridgeport Harrison
Shanesy Joelle Bridgeport Harrison
Smith Brandon Bridgeport Harrison
Smith Elizabeth Bridgeport Harrison
Spadafore Joseph Bridgeport Harrison
Strogen Emily Bridgeport Harrison
Swanson Kayleigh Bridgeport Harrison
Thi Brian Bridgeport Harrison
Tomasik Nathan Bridgeport Harrison
Trickett Jessica Bridgeport Harrison
Trickett Jessica Bridgeport Harrison
Warne Andrew Bridgeport Harrison
White Garrett Bridgeport Harrison
Ferree Allen Bristol Harrison
Gillespie Corey Bristol Harrison
McKeen Martin Bristol Harrison
Brown Corey Clarksburg Harrison
Brunetti Samuel Clarksburg Harrison
Cain Emily Clarksburg Harrison
Carbacio Megan Clarksburg Harrison
Casteel Richard Clarksburg Harrison
Casteel Richard Clarksburg Harrison
Chancey Kendall Clarksburg Harrison
Clark Meaghan Clarksburg Harrison
Coffman Fletcher Clarksburg Harrison
Folio Christopher Clarksburg Harrison
Franz Morgan Clarksburg Harrison
Freeman Tiara Clarksburg Harrison
Givens Elizabeth Clarksburg Harrison
Greene Emily Clarksburg Harrison
Greene Emily Clarksburg Harrison
Hamilton James Clarksburg Harrison
Hayhurst Jacob Clarksburg Harrison
Heflin Stanley Clarksburg Harrison
Jougras Cameron Clarksburg Harrison
Lawrence Karley Clarksburg Harrison
Long Morgan Clarksburg Harrison
Marra Jacob Clarksburg Harrison
Mazza Madison Clarksburg Harrison
Moore Patrick Clarksburg Harrison
Noss Shay Clarksburg Harrison
Payne Gabrielle Clarksburg Harrison
Shaw Kathryn Clarksburg Harrison
Shingleton Kelsey Clarksburg Harrison
Smith Virginia Clarksburg Harrison
Stamm Christopher Clarksburg Harrison
Tetrick Alaina Clarksburg Harrison
Varner Mary Clarksburg Harrison
Altizer Dylan Jane Lew Harrison
Turner Ryan Jane Lew Harrison
Turner Ryan Jane Lew Harrison
Bartlett Tyler Lost Creek Harrison
Casto Chantelle Lost Creek Harrison
Matheny Dustin Lost Creek Harrison
Williams Cole Lost Creek Harrison
Wright Makinsey Lost Creek Harrison
Wright Makinsey Lost Creek Harrison
Wright Makinsey Lost Creek Harrison
Davis Brandon Lumberport Harrison
Wilkins Leigh Lumberport Harrison
Wilkins Leigh Lumberport Harrison
Weaver Heather Meadowbrook Harrison
Denny Andrew Mount Clare Harrison
Devericks Troy Mount Clare Harrison
Epperly Andrew Mount Clare Harrison
Wilson Gabriel Mount Clare Harrison
Fluharty Jordan Salem Harrison
Trent Savanna Salem Harrison
Williams Joel Salem Harrison
Harlow Joshua Shinnston Harrison
Jones Erin Shinnston Harrison
McCoy Matthew Shinnston Harrison
Prahl Jeremy Shinnston Harrison
Watkins Emily Shinnston Harrison
DeFazio Bryanna Stonewood Harrison
Lopez Eric Stonewood Harrison
Gooden Alaina West Milford Harrison
Mooney Ariel West Milford Harrison
Swiger Timothy Alum Bridge Lewis
Jackson Ryan Horner Lewis
Dunlap Amber Jane Lew Lewis
Garrett Diana Jane Lew Lewis
Jerden Jeremy Jane Lew Lewis
Skaggs Rebecca Jane Lew Lewis
Tinney Randi Jane Lew Lewis
Hardman Brianna Weston Lewis
Helmick Juliana Weston Lewis
King Carnell Weston Lewis
Metheny Lauren Weston Lewis
Miller Mallory Weston Lewis
Minney Sean Weston Lewis
Riffle Kassey Weston Lewis
Santalucia Nicholas Weston Lewis
Whetsell Kathryn Weston Lewis
Wood Melissa Weston Lewis
Barker Angela Canvas Nicholas
Hinkle Jessica Canvas Nicholas
Isabell Andrew Craigsville Nicholas
Williams Amanda Craigsville Nicholas
Mazzella Larry Fenwick Nicholas
Antoline Kristopher Mount Lookout Nicholas
Chapman Stephonie Nettie Nicholas
Alford Steven Richwood Nicholas
Adkins Amber Summersville Nicholas
Adkins Melissa Summersville Nicholas
Bennett Katelyn Summersville Nicholas
Bishop Mason Summersville Nicholas
Blankenship Julie Summersville Nicholas
Keiffer Courtney Summersville Nicholas
O’Dell Patrick Summersville Nicholas
Short Joshua Summersville Nicholas
Smith Brooke Summersville Nicholas
Sproles Nathaniel Summersville Nicholas
Summers Autumn Summersville Nicholas
Wharton Rachel Summersville Nicholas
Bosley Terry Weston Nicholas
Hupp Erika Belmont Pleasants
Arnott Lydia Saint Marys Pleasants
Hickman Christian Saint Marys Pleasants
Ash Ian Waverly Pleasants
Lauderman Claire Waverly Pleasants
Mathews Brandon Waverly Pleasants
Jackson Torie Pennsboro Ritchie
Stemple Jessica Pennsboro Ritchie
VanScoy Taylor Pennsboro Ritchie
Amos Jenna Pullman Ritchie
Smith Alexandra Saint Marys Ritchie
Izat Samantha Newton Roane
Allen Phillip Spencer Roane
Atkinson Rhett Spencer Roane
Berkhouse Leah Spencer Roane
Cottrill Anastashia Spencer Roane
Cox Mary-Katherine Spencer Roane
Garrett Alexandra Spencer Roane
Hildreth Katlynn Spencer Roane
Mitchell Ian Spencer Roane
Patton Preston Spencer Roane
Propps Chelsea Spencer Roane
Stover Carly Spencer Roane
West Amanda Spencer Roane
Lemasters Tyler Alma Tyler
West Hannah Friendly Tyler
Talkington Mark Jacksonburg Tyler
Curfman Rosemarry Middlebourne Tyler
Fletcher Dirk Middlebourne Tyler
Loy Victoria Paden City Tyler
Myers Joni Paden City Tyler
Cochran Ashley Sistersville Tyler
Garrison Ethan Sistersville Tyler
Kehrer Boone Sistersville Tyler
Lowe Cory Sistersville Tyler
Wable Michael Sistersville Tyler
Wells Emily Sistersville Tyler
Floyd Aaron Buckhannon Upshur
Frashure Rebecca Buckhannon Upshur
Kirk Justin Buckhannon Upshur
Lanham James Buckhannon Upshur
McLaughlin Matthew Buckhannon Upshur
Mendicino Michael Buckhannon Upshur
Newbrough Layla Buckhannon Upshur
Reed Barbara Buckhannon Upshur
Squires Timothy Buckhannon Upshur
Tenney Camron Buckhannon Upshur
Wentz Joshua Buckhannon Upshur
Anderson Adam French Creek Upshur
Sanders Michalla French Creek Upshur
Perrine Grant Cowen Webster
Schrader Kayla Diana Webster
Lake Rachel Webster Springs Webster
Kuhn Dalton Burton Wetzel
Kuhn Shane Burton Wetzel
Baxter Stephanie New Martinsville Wetzel
Bridgeman Madeline New Martinsville Wetzel
Cain Lindsay New Martinsville Wetzel
Cain Lindsay New Martinsville Wetzel
Cypher Amanda New Martinsville Wetzel
Dieffenbauch Lindsay New Martinsville Wetzel
Dieffenbauch Luke New Martinsville Wetzel
Fuller Christopher New Martinsville Wetzel
Fuller Christopher New Martinsville Wetzel
Hinerman Alicia New Martinsville Wetzel
Horner Abbey New Martinsville Wetzel
Murdock Corinne New Martinsville Wetzel
Patterson Emily New Martinsville Wetzel
Patterson Rebecca New Martinsville Wetzel
Patterson Rebecca New Martinsville Wetzel
Pefferman Matthew New Martinsville Wetzel
Potts Jakob New Martinsville Wetzel
Roush Kathryn New Martinsville Wetzel
Schmalz Drew New Martinsville Wetzel
Simmons Drew New Martinsville Wetzel
Taylor Jessica New Martinsville Wetzel
Toman Amy Paden City Wetzel
Ueltschy Coleman Pine Grove Wetzel
Ueltschy Coleman Pine Grove Wetzel
Sell Bryan Reader Wetzel
Lowe Sadie Smithfield Wetzel
Cox Emma Elizabeth Wirt
Knicely Reba Elizabeth Wirt
Murray Tyler Elizabeth Wirt
Shaffer Andrew Belleville Wood
Beeson Matthew Mineral Wells Wood
Cottrill Joseph Mineral Wells Wood
Marozzi Joseph Mineral Wells Wood
Province Benjamin Mineral Wells Wood
Radcliff Curtus Mineral Wells Wood
Scarberry Lindsay Mineral Wells Wood
Snyder Talor Mineral Wells Wood
Albrighton-Vanway Olivia Parkersburg Wood
Allen Chelsie Parkersburg Wood
Allen Chelsie Parkersburg Wood
Blake Stacy Parkersburg Wood
Clegg Aric Parkersburg Wood
Cordonier Sarah Parkersburg Wood
Cordonier Sarah Parkersburg Wood
Davies Amanda Parkersburg Wood
Davis Shannan Parkersburg Wood
Decker Jared Parkersburg Wood
Dowler Blair Parkersburg Wood
Dye Jeffrey Parkersburg Wood
Farrah Thomas Parkersburg Wood
Ferguson Dylan Parkersburg Wood
Fleenor Janet Parkersburg Wood
Gandhi Ishan Parkersburg Wood
Gonzales Katherine Parkersburg Wood
Hair Elliott Parkersburg Wood
Harmon Joshua Parkersburg Wood
Hewetson Craig Parkersburg Wood
Higgs Laken Parkersburg Wood
Hooper Amanda Parkersburg Wood
Hupp Charles Parkersburg Wood
Hupp Charles Parkersburg Wood
Johnson Amanda Parkersburg Wood
Johnson Kelsey Parkersburg Wood
Johnson Kyle Parkersburg Wood
Kepple Jennifer Parkersburg Wood
Kepple Jennifer Parkersburg Wood
Kiger Samuel Parkersburg Wood
LeMasters Staci Parkersburg Wood
Lockney Elizabeth Parkersburg Wood
Lockney Elizabeth Parkersburg Wood
Marlow Morgan Parkersburg Wood
Marlow Morgan Parkersburg Wood
McCarthy Katie Parkersburg Wood
McGinnis Holly Parkersburg Wood
Morehead Jordan Parkersburg Wood
Padden John Parkersburg Wood
Patterson Ryan Parkersburg Wood
Raber Justin Parkersburg Wood
Rempel Austin Parkersburg Wood
Sealey Jeremy Parkersburg Wood
Shaver Merritt Parkersburg Wood
Staats Erica Parkersburg Wood
Starcher Rebecca Parkersburg Wood
Stockdale Brian Parkersburg Wood
Stover Nathan Parkersburg Wood
Stump Alfred Parkersburg Wood
Ware Kayla Parkersburg Wood
Waters Luke Parkersburg Wood
Wheeler Jeremy Parkersburg Wood
Wolfe Charles Parkersburg Wood
Bailey Erica Vienna Wood
Bond Brittany Vienna Wood
Boone Lauren Vienna Wood
Greene Zachary Vienna Wood
Huggins Ashley Vienna Wood
Jones Ryan Vienna Wood
Knost Courtney Vienna Wood
Leach James Vienna Wood
McPherson Brandon Vienna Wood
Rose Stefanie Vienna Wood
Shockey Sarah Vienna Wood
Stevenson James Vienna Wood
Arnold Laura Walker Wood
Bunner Kylie Walker Wood
Mueller Joel Walker Wood
Bibbee Erika Washington Wood
Boso Jason Washington Wood
Cunningham Mary Washington Wood
Deal Bethany Washington Wood
Ellison Ryan Washington Wood
Ellison Ryan Washington Wood
Hall Jennifer Washington Wood
Hall Jennifer Washington Wood
Hanlon Alexandria Washington Wood
Huggins Abbi Washington Wood
Keller Cassidy Washington Wood
McCauley Kyle Washington Wood
Moore Hannah Washington Wood
Sams Lindsey Washington Wood
St Clair Tara Washington Wood
Zell Craig Washington Wood
Cullum Loren Williamstown Wood
Garcia Michael Williamstown Wood
Goodnow James Williamstown Wood
Knight Autumn Williamstown Wood
Ninan Sharath Williamstown Wood
Postlewaite Samantha Williamstown Wood
Saunders Taylor Williamstown Wood
Stephan Paul Williamstown Wood

WV Division of Culture and History is Now Accepting Entries for the WV Juried Exhibition 2015

The Gilmer Free Press

CHARLESTON, WV – The West Virginia Division of Culture and History (WVDCH) is now accepting entries for the 19th biennial West Virginia Juried Exhibition. The show will be on display at TAMARACK: The Best of West Virginia in Beckley.

Submissions of slides or digital images on CD will be accepted through Friday, August 07, 2015.

Artists may submit two pieces for the exhibition with a limit of three slides/digital images per entry.

Entry forms and properly identified slides/images must be accompanied by a non-refundable fee of $20 per piece. Make check payable to West Virginia Division of Culture and History.

Slides/digital images can be mailed to WVDCH, West Virginia Juried Exhibition (WVJE) 2015, The Culture Center, 1900 Kanawha Blvd., E., Charleston, WV 25305-0300, or can be hand-delivered to the Culture Center at the State Capitol Complex.

Eligible entries include works created in the past two years in the areas of painting, sculpture, printmaking, drawing, photography, mixed media and crafts.

Entrants must be over the age of 18 and must be residents of, and maintain a permanent residence in, West Virginia. Entrants also must complete a WVDCH Artists’ Register form and submit six slides or digital images representative of current work for the file. Images submitted for the Artists’ Register are not used in jurying entries into the exhibition.

A prospectus for the exhibit is available online.

The division will present up to $33,000 in awards for the exhibition. The awards are made available through the West Virginia Commission on the Arts and the WVDCH through funds appropriated by the West Virginia Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts. Awards may include three $5,000 Governor’s Awards (purchase awards), seven $2,000 Awards of Excellence (purchase awards) and eight $500 Merit Awards (non-purchase awards). Works receiving Purchase Awards become part of the West Virginia State Museum’s Permanent Collection of Art.

The exhibit will open at Tamarack with an awards ceremony and reception at 4 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015, and remain on display through February 21, 2016. The exhibit showcases the work of state artists and craftspeople and provides the public with a comprehensive view of art and craft activities in the state.

For more information, contact Cailin Howe, exhibits coordinator for the division, at 304.558.0220.

West Virginia News

The Gilmer Free Press

Race Across America Cyclist Hit By Vehicle While Passing Through West Virginia in Doddridge County

WEST UNION, WV — The Doddridge County Sheriff’s Department has confirmed that a cyclist is in critical condition after being struck from behind by a vehicle during the Race Across America bike race Wednesday night near Sherwood Forest on U.S. Highway 50.

A man was flown to Ruby Memorial Hospital with unknown injuries and is now listed in critical condition. That man is believed to be Danish cyclist Anders Tesgaard.

Someone posting on Tesgaard’s Facebook page announced that he suffered a fractured skull and has been placed in a medically induced coma.

The Sheriff’s Department is asking that all motorists be aware of the possibility of cyclists along U.S. highway 50 during the coming days as Race Across America cyclists enter the Mountain State.

The 3000-mile race began in Oceanside, California and ends in Annapolis, Maryland.

Fayetteville bike farm offering camping, craft beer to open

FAYETTEVILLE, WV — A new biking, camping and local craft beer destination is coming to Fayetteville.

The Register-Herald reports the Arrowhead Bike Farm will offer a variety of trails, onsite camping, bike rental, access to the New River Gorge National River and a German-themed Biergarten.

On the 37-acre site, owners Adam Angelona and Rich Ireland have converted an old farm house into a bike shop.

Plans are to develop a Biergarten off the farm house that focuses on only high quality, local, premium craft beer.

Ireland says the bike farm will be a destination for mountain bikers who are looking for onsite trails and access to park service trails.

The farm’s bike shop is expected to be open soon, and Ireland hopes to have a public trail ready for riding in September.

woman arrested after setting trash cans on fire at UHC

BRIDGEPORT, WV — A Marion County woman has been arrested after Bridgeport Police used security footage to identify her setting fire to trash cans at United Hospital Center.

Heather Michelle Jones, 30, of Mannington, is alleged have to set three separate trash cans ablaze on the hospital’s campus Tuesday night before leaving the scene. The Bridgeport Fire Department responded to the scene at approximately 10 PM to put the fires out before they could spread.

Using security footage, police were able to place Jones at the scene just before the fires started.

She was identified at a nearby Sheetz later that night, arrested and booked at North Central Regional Jail on Wednesday where her bail is set at $50,000.

In addition to an arson charge, Jones faces a separate charge of fraudulently using an ATM card, according to the West Virginia Regional Jail Authorithies.


CHARLESTON, WV – Attorney General Patrick Morrisey issued the following statement today responding to the U.S. Supreme Court’s King v. Burwell decision which upheld subsidies under the Affordable Care Act:

“I am disappointed in today’s ruling by the Supreme Court,” Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said. “The plain text of the Affordable Care Act says that subsidies are only available for health insurance purchased on an exchange established by a state. President Obama has ignored this statutory text in an effort to save this flawed law.

“The Supreme Court missed an important opportunity today to require the President to follow the law and reduce government burdens on everyone,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “This is the second time that the Supreme Court has chosen to rewrite the Affordable Care Act to save it from fundamental legal and drafting defects. As Justice Scalia said, ‘We should start calling this law SCOTUScare.’ ”

West Virginia joined Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia, Nebraska and South Carolina in filing an amicus, or friend of the court, brief arguing that the law passed by Congress clearly said that the federal government could not provide subsidies in states with federally run exchanges.

Fairmont State to host honors academy for high schoolers

FAIRMONT, WV — Fairmont State University says about 200 high school juniors will be on campus for the 2015 Governor’s Honors Academy.

A grand opening ceremony is set for Sunday. The academy runs through July 19.

The program is administered by the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts. Students are enrolled in courses during the day. In the evenings, they participate in cultural activities organized around the academy’s theme. This year’s theme is “the Sustainable Life.“

WV gov to discuss juvenile justice reform in Huntington

CHARLESTON, WV—Governor Earl Ray Tomblin is outlining a new push to overhaul West Virginia’s juvenile justice system.

Tomblin will be in Huntington on Thursday afternoon discussing reforms that passed last legislative session. The event will be at the St. Mary’s Center for Education.

With the law, truancy diversion specialists will be in every county and youth reporting centers will expand statewide. Substance abuse recovery services, mental health programs and family therapies will grow.

Tomblin has said a task force’s suggestions, which shaped the bill, would reduce state juvenile justice facility populations by at least 40% by 2020, while reducing projected costs by more than $59 million.

He has put a $5.4 million price tag on the project.

The law incorporated research and technical assistance by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

21 dogs, dogfighting paraphernalia seized

KEARNEYSVILLE, WV - Authorities have seized 21 dogs and dogfighting paraphernalia from a residence in Kearneysville.

The Humane Society of the United States says the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department’s seizure of the dogs stemmed from an investigation of a suspected dogfighting operation.

The society said Thursday in a news release that some of the dogs have scars consistent with dogfighting. An area suspected of being used for staging fights was found at the residence.

The society and Jefferson County Animal Control helped with removing the dogs from the residence. The dogs will be held at a temporary shelter.

WV governor says he ‘appreciates’ health care ruling

CHARLESTON, WV - Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s office says he “appreciates” a U.S. Supreme Court ruling letting 28,000 West Virginians keep receiving federal subsidies for health insurance plans bought from a federal marketplace.

The Democrat’s spokeswoman, Shayna Varner, says the ruling lets West Virginians who count on the Affordable Care Act’s tax credits continue buying insurance through the private market.

About 28,000 of the 33,000 West Virginians using the exchange receive credits.

More than 6 million people nationwide risked losing subsidies because they live in states without their own health insurance exchanges.

Subsidies were threatened in 34 states that relied on the federal health insurance marketplace, including West Virginia.

Republican U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito says she’s disappointed in the decision and committed to health care reform other than the Affordable Care Act.

Man arrested on sex assault charge involving children, dog

CHARLESTON, WV - Police have accused a West Virginia man of forcing children to perform sexual acts on each other and a dog.

Multiple media outlets report that 40-year-old Michael Anthony Parrell III of Charleston was arrested on Tuesday on a first-degree sexual assault charge.

According to court documents, investigators say Parrell last week dared the child to put peanut butter on his body and allow Parrell’s dog to lick it off of him. When the child refused, police say Parrell forced the child to undress, perform sexual acts on another boy and use a sex toy.

Police say more charges are likely to be filed.

Court records indicate that Parrell is a suspect in a separate sexual assault investigation involving a minor.

It is not clear if Parrell has hired an attorney.

Did you Know?

The Gilmer Free Press

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday:


Ruling 6-3, the court rejects a major challenge to the health care law and upholds financial aid to millions of Americans to help pay for insurance premiums.


Even as his presidency comes to a close, Obama’s recent legal and legislative victories are a vindication of his policy priorities.


In eulogizing 70-year-old Ethel Lance, a minister says: “When Sister Lance praised the Lord, you had to strap on your spiritual seat belt.“


A two-pronged attack in northern Syria includes a sweep into Kobani that puts Kurdish forces on their heels.


The network says it will pull the plug on its Spanish-language coverage of the Miss USA Pageant over comments the GOP presidential candidate made about Mexican immigrants. Trump has financial ties to the pageant.


Angry French taxi drivers smash cars and set tires ablaze in a nationwide strike against Uber.


For the first time, the pod-like, two-seat vehicles are being allowed on public roads.


She and her months-old infant drink coconut water to stay alive during their four-day ordeal.


It will be the second child out-of-wedlock for Palin - who says she doesn’t want any lectures.


The Timberwolves can add the Kentucky big man to a young roster featuring Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins, who was picked first last year.

U.S.A. News

The Gilmer Free Press

Federal agencies are wide open to hackers, cyberspies

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Passwords written down on desks. Outdated anti-virus software. “Perceived ineptitude” in information technology departments.

The federal government, which holds secrets and sensitive information ranging from nuclear blueprints to the tax returns of hundreds of millions of Americans, has for years failed to take basic steps to protect its data from hackers and thieves, records show.

In the latest example, the Office of Personnel Management is under fire for allowing its databases to be plundered by suspected Chinese cyberspies in what is being called one of the worst breaches in U.S. history. OPM repeatedly neglected to implement basic cybersecurity protections, its internal watchdog told Congress.

But the departments of Treasury, Transportation, State and Health and Human Services have significantly worse records, according to the most recent administration report to Congress under the Federal Information Security Management Act. Each of those agencies has been hacked in the last few years.

“Last year, across government, we the American people spent almost $80 billion on information technology, and it stinks,“ said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “It doesn’t work.“

Congress can hardly escape all blame. While President Barack Obama’s latest budget plan called for a $14 billion increase for cyberdefenses, the House proposed a budget in March that didn’t include specific funding for cybersecurity. Nor has Congress imposed much accountability on agencies that suffer breaches.

The security lapses have persisted even as cyberattacks on government networks have increased. The federal government dealt with 67,196 cyber incidents in the last fiscal year, up from 57,971 incidents the year before, according to the White House report card, which was published in February. Missing from that document is an accounting of how many hacks were successful and what was stolen.

It’s not a new problem. The Government Accountability Office has labeled federal information security a “high-risk area” since 1997. In 2003 it expanded the high-risk designation to include computer networks supporting the nation’s critical infrastructure. This year, it added “personally identifiable information” to the list, just in time to see hackers steal the Social Security numbers and other private information of nearly every federal worker.

But agency managers haven’t been punished for failing to secure their networks, and little sustained attention has been paid to the many intrusions.

“No one is ever held accountable,“ said James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Unlike in the corporate world, where the CEO of Target resigned last year after a breach of customer data, “it’s been penalty free, and senior leadership doesn’t really care about this.“

The OPM debacle may change that. It has dealt the United States a major national security blow, experts say, by exposing the personal information, and foreign contacts, of millions of people with security clearances. OPM’s director, Katherine Archuleta, told a Senate hearing on Tuesday that an “adversary” gained access to the agency’s records with a credential used by a federal contractor.

After the OPM attack, the federal chief information officer, Tony Scott, ordered agencies to speed implementation of new security measures and fix vulnerabilities.

But many agencies seem incapable of good security practices, say industry experts, who call for a new approach that moves beyond perimeter defenses and into sophisticated analysis of network behavior.

Scott embraces that idea. But as the government deploys new technology to discover hacks, he said in an interview, “we’re going find out some things previously unknown. It’s going to feel like the problem is getting worse, but it’s actually getting better.“

If so, evidence is thin on the ground. Last year, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Oversight Committee published a scathing report chronicling the sorry state of federal computer defenses.

“Data on the nation’s weakest dams, including those which could kill Americans if they failed, were stolen by a malicious intruder. Nuclear plants’ confidential cybersecurity plans have been left unprotected. Blueprints for the technology undergirding the New York Stock Exchange were exposed to hackers,“ the report began.

All of that was due to government lapses, the report said. In many cases, the negligence was incredibly basic. The report chronicled a failure to use sophisticated passwords, to patch software and to keep anti-virus software up to date.

While anti-virus software alone won’t stop hackers from a foreign intelligence agency, the government often has also failed to take the harder steps that could deter those intruders, such as requiring a combination of smart cards and passwords for network access, and encrypting sensitive data. OPM stored Social Security numbers in unencrypted form.

Yet OPM’s poor cyber hygiene is part of a government-wide pattern. One of the agencies that rank lowest on the annual cyber report card holds some of the most sensitive data — the Department of Health and Human Services, which keeps records on health care billing, anti-poverty benefits and child abuse.

In April, an audit found that the agency’s main information technology office didn’t track and manage its computer inventories effectively, failed to patch software vulnerabilities, lacked a policy to secure USB port control access, and didn’t manage its anti-virus security controls effectively.

A separate audit last year found security lapses were on the rise among Medicare contractors. A third report warned of “high-risk security vulnerabilities” at 10 state Medicaid agencies.

Another potential cyber disaster area is the State Department, which had to shut down its email system this year in an attempt to clean out spyware linked to Russia. State’s inspector general said in a heavily redacted report that the department is consistently failing to comply with minimum cyber standards.

The Russian spyware may be impossible to fully remove without replacing all department computers, according to a former federal law enforcement official and a private expert briefed on the situation, both of whom declined to be named because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

“We continue to find security control deficiencies in multiple information security program areas that were previously reported” each year since 2010, the State IG report says. “Over this period, we consistently identified similar control deficiencies in more than 100 different systems.“

The IRS, which holds data on Americans’ income and spending habits, met federal standards in just 5 of 11 cyber security areas, the Treasury Department’s inspector general latest audit concluded.

“Until the IRS takes steps ... taxpayer data will remain vulnerable to inappropriate use, modification or disclosure, possibly without being detected,“ the report said.

That was September. In May, the agency disclosed that hackers breached the IRS website and gained access to about 100,000 tax accounts. The intruders stole Social Security information, dates of birth and street addresses.

The Pentagon Admits it Used Race-Based Chemical Weapons Testing on Humans in WWII

The debate around Charleston and the Confederate battle flag has forced the topic of racial trauma into daily conversation. How fitting, then, that the Pentagon was called out for its own contribution to our racist history on the same day South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley called for the flag’s removal from the State House.

World War II was ugly for soldiers of color. The atrocities they witnessed were rivaled only by their degradation at the hands of their commanders — forced segregation, confinement to menial tasks like cooking and cleaning for white soldiers and unpleasant work like burying the dead.

But NPR has uncovered another function they served: Determining how the human body reacts when put in contact with mustard gas.

When discrimination is part of service: After a long investigation, NPR reports that black, Puerto Rican and Japanese-American soldiers were part of a Pentagon program, made public in the early 1990s, wherein 60,000 enlisted men were experimented upon to see how the chemical impacted them physically. White soldiers were experimented upon as well, but they served as control subjects, NPR found: “Their reactions were used to establish what was ‘normal,‘ and then compared to the minority troops.“

Susan Matsumoto, whose husband, Tom, was a Japanese-American subject in the experiments, told NPR that her husband “was OK with the testing because he felt it would help ‘prove he was a good United States citizen.‘“ (Tom died from pneumonia in 2004.)

NPR adds that at least one researcher believes the segregated testing of black, Puerto Rican and Japanese-American soldiers may have been used in a search for an “ideal chemical soldier” — a racial group that could be deployed on the front lines during combat to absorb chemical attacks while white soldiers hung back and waited.

Testing on Japanese-American soldiers was also used to project how a U.S. mustard gas attack might impact Japanese forces.

The chemical testing incorporated three methods. According to NPR, these were “Patch tests, where liquid mustard gas was applied directly onto test subjects’ skin; field tests, where subjects were exposed to gas outdoors in simulated combat settings; and chamber tests, where men were locked inside gas chambers while mustard gas was piped inside.“

These experiments aren’t as far behind us as we might want to believe. Some of their victims are still alive today. One — 93-year-old Rollins Edwards of Summerville, South Carolina — used to carry around a jar of his own peeled skin, which still flakes off more than 70 years after the experiments, to prove to people what happened to him.

The Pentagon has acknowledged these experiments and insisted that the Department of Defense would never perform them today. But their survivors testify to a persistently relevant fact:

Even the forms of racism we thought we left behind are still here to haunt us. Just because we don’t see them every day doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

U.S. judge temporarily blocks new fracking rules on public lands

Wyoming—A U.S. judge in Wyoming on Tuesday granted a request by four states and several energy industry groups to temporarily stop new federal rules on hydraulic fracturing on public lands from taking effect on Wednesday.

The Interior Department rules would require companies to provide data on chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and to take steps to prevent leakage from oil and gas wells on federally owned land.

U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl granted a stay to the new rules until July 22, said a representative from the Independent Petroleum Association of America. He said the judge’s decision on a preliminary injunction sought by IPAA and other opponents of the rules is now expected in mid-August.

IPAA and the Western Energy Alliance were joined by Colorado, Wyoming, North Dakota and Utah in seeking to stop the new rules from taking effect.

“We are pleased the court agreed that the new BLM regulations present serious and difficult questions that justified a stay of these rules’ effective date,“ Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said in a statement.

Fracking involves injection of large amounts of water, sand and chemicals underground at high pressure to extract fuel.

Environmental groups and some neighbors of oil and gas wells have linked fracking to water pollution and some have linked it to increased earthquake activity.

Industry and oil- and gas-producing states have long opposed federal rules on fracking. Preferring to keep regulation in state hands, IPAA and the Western Energy Alliance filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Wyoming challenging the rules minutes after they were issued in March.

The groups said the rules were “arbitrary and unnecessary” burdens for drillers.

Wyoming and Colorado soon followed with their own lawsuit, arguing that the rules would infringe upon their sovereign authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing. North Dakota also intervened in the case against the regulations.

The groups and the states argue that allowing the rules to move forward before the resolution of the legal challenges would harm industry and waste state resources.

The Interior Department was not immediately available for comment on the judge’s decision.

In its brief opposing the injunction, the department argued that companies would only be affected by the rules if they choose to engage in fracking on federal lands.

Supreme Court upholds key Obamacare insurance subsidies

The U.S. Supreme Court handed President Barack Obama a major victory on Thursday by upholding tax subsidies crucial to his signature healthcare law, with Chief Justice John Roberts saying Congress clearly intended for them to be available in all 50 states.

The court ruled on a 6-3 vote that the 2010 Affordable Care Act, widely known as Obamacare, did not restrict the subsidies to states that establish their own online healthcare exchanges. It marked the second time in three years that the high court ruled against a major challenge to the law brought by conservatives seeking to gut it.

“Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,“ Roberts wrote in the court’s decision, adding that nationwide availability of the credits is required to “avoid the type of calamitous result that Congress plainly meant to avoid.“

Roberts was joined by fellow conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy and the court’s four liberal members in the majority.

Shares of hospital operators, health services providers and insurers rallied broadly following the court’s decision to uphold the subsidies. Top gainers included hospital companies Tenet Healthcare Corp., up 8.8%, and Community Health Systems Inc., up 8.5%.

The decision means the subsidies will remain not just in the 13 states that have set up their own exchanges and the three states that have state-federal hybrid exchanges, but also in the 34 states that use the exchange run by the federal government.

The case centered on the tax subsidies offered under the law, passed by Obama’s fellow Democrats in Congress in 2010 over unified Republican opposition, that help low- and moderate-income people buy private health insurance. The exchanges are online marketplaces that allow consumers to shop among competing insurance plans.

The question before the justices was whether a four-word phrase in the expansive law saying subsidies are available to those buying insurance on exchanges “established by the state” has been correctly interpreted by the administration to allow subsidies to be available nationwide

Roberts wrote that although the conservative challengers’ arguments about the plain meaning of the statute were “strong,” the “context and structure of the act compel us to depart from what would otherwise be the most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase.”


Justice Antonin Scalia took the relatively rare step of reading a summary of his dissenting opinion from the bench.

In his reading of the statute, “it is hard to come up with a reason to use these words other than the purpose of limiting credits to state exchanges,“ Scalia said.

“We really should start calling the law SCOTUScare,“ he added, referencing the court’s earlier decision upholding the constitutionality of the law. SCOTUS is the acronym for the Supreme Court of the United States.

Conservative Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito joined Scalia’s dissent.

The ruling will come as a major relief to Obama as he seeks to ensure that his legacy legislative achievement is implemented effectively and survives political and legal attacks before he leaves office in early 2017.

The current system will remain in place, with subsidies available in all 50 states. If the challengers had won, at least 6.4 million people in at least 34 states would have lost the subsidies whose average value is $272 per month.

“The subsidies upheld today help patients afford health insurance so they can see a doctor when they need one and not have to wait until a small health problem becomes a crisis,“ said Dr. Steven Stack, president of the American Medical Association.

Rich Umbdenstock, head of the American Hospital Association, said the subsidies have allowed people to more easily seek care, calling the ruling “a significant victory.“

A loss for the Obama administration also could have had a broader impact on insurance markets by deterring younger, healthier people from buying health insurance, which would lead to premiums rising for older, less healthy people who need healthcare most, according to analysts.

The Democratic-backed law aimed to help millions of Americans who lacked any health insurance afford coverage.

The Obama administration has hailed the law as a success, saying 16.4 million previously uninsured people have gained health insurance since it was enacted. There are currently around 26 million people without health insurance, according to government figures.

Leading up the high court’s ruling, Obama warned of far-reaching consequences of overturning a law that he said had become “woven into the fabric of America.“ In a June 9 speech, Obama said taking away health insurance provided under the law to millions of people who need it the most “seems so cynical.“

Conservatives have fought Obamacare from its inception, calling it a government overreach and “socialized medicine.“

Opponents repeatedly but unsuccessfully sought to repeal it in Congress and launched a series of legal challenges. In 2012, Roberts, a conservative appointed by Republican President George W. Bush, cast the deciding vote in a 5-4 decision that upheld the law on constitutional grounds, siding with the court’s four liberals.

The current case started as a long-shot legal challenge by conservative lawyers that oppose the law. Financed by a libertarian Washington group called the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the lawyers recruited four people from Virginia to be the plaintiffs. The lead plaintiff was a self-employed limousine driver named David King.

The plaintiffs said they were “deeply disappointed” with the ruling. The law “unfairly restricts the health insurance choices of millions of people, and it threatens their jobs as well,“ they added.

A district court judge ruled for the government, as did the federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia. But the Supreme Court then agreed to hear it.

The challengers said that the four-word phrase in the law indicates that only people who have bought insurance on state-established exchanges qualify for the tax-credit subsidies.

The Obama administration, backed by the healthcare industry, said other provisions in the law made clear that Congress intended the subsidies to be available nationwide regardless of whether states set up their own exchanges or leave the task to the federal government.

The case is King v. Burwell, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 14-114.


Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) released the following statement on the Supreme Court’s ruling in the King v. Burwell case.

“I have always said that this law is not perfect, and that we need to repair it, not repeal it. After all, it is simply unacceptable to go back to the days when millions of Americans, including about 250,000 West Virginians, went without health insurance, or when we spent more than any other country in the world on health care but still ranked only 43rd in the world in health and wellness.

“The Affordable Care Act does some things well, including expanding access to preventative care,  protecting those with pre-existing conditions, and closing the Medicare Part D prescription drug donut hole, but the law has many flaws. That is why I have supported legislation to define a full-time work-week at forty hours instead of thirty, grandfather in existing plans that Americans are happy with, repeal the burdensome 1099 requirements on small businesses and fix a technical error that unduly harmed volunteer firefighters. We should be working together to identify which parts of the law are broken and need to be fixed. We may learn that some parts of the law can’t be repaired, and we should eliminate those parts entirely.

“Now that the Supreme Court has ruled to uphold the Affordable Care Act, my sincere hope is that we can put the political divisiveness behind us and start working on the necessary improvements to make this law work better for all Americans.”

World News

The Gilmer Free Press

Designer wheat fails to repel aphids in initial field test

HERTFORDSHIRE, England—The quest to create the world’s first pesticide-free designer crop is stalled after the genetically modified wheat failed its first anti-aphid field test.

Typically, designer crops are programmed to work in concert with pesticides. Or more accurately, they’re designed to withstand the chemicals used to kill pests. But scientists at England’s Rothamsted Research Institute were aiming to create a wheat strain not reliant on pesticides.

But there’s a problem, the wheat crop—five years in the making—doesn’t repel aphids.

It all seemed to going as planned in the lab. The designer crop successfully produced the EBf pheromone, the chemical signal necessary to repel the aphids. In lab experiments, the sap-sucking insects stayed away from the designer wheat.

The real world was a different story, however.

“In the field trials there was no statistically significant difference in aphid infestation between the GM wheat and the conventional wheat used as a control,“ the researchers acknowledge in a new paper on the test, published in the journal Scientific Reports.

“As scientists we are trained to treat our experimental data objectively and dispassionately, but I was definitely disappointed,“ study co-author Huw Jones said in a statement.

The work of Jones and his colleagues has been a source of controversy and target of derision by activists opposed to GMOs in the United Kingdom.

“We had hoped that this technique would offer a way to reduce the use of insecticides in pest control in arable farming,“ added Jones. “As so often happens, this experiment shows that the real world environment is much more complicated than the laboratory.“

The researchers say all hope is not lost. They’re treating the test as a valuable learning experience, and will not go back to the drawing board.

The failure doesn’t negate the urgent need for a solution to the growing problem of agriculture’s over-reliance on insecticides.

“We are in urgent need of new ways to control insect pests on crops, with very limited options available from pesticide sprays and conventional breeding,“ said Ottoline Leyser, a researcher at the University of Cambridge. “This field trial is an excellent example of the sort of work that is needed.“

Sexless starfish live longer

GOTHENBURG, Sweden—A life without sex might sound boring, but for starfish, it’s the secret to a longer life. A new study finds starfish that reproduce via cloning age less quickly than starfish that opt for the more traditional propagation strategy.

Researchers at Sweden’s University of Gothenburg recently studied both Mediterranean and Atlantic starfish (Coscinasterias tenuispina) populations to gauge the pros and cons of asexual and sexual reproduction.

By analyzing the species’ telomeres—repetitive nucleotide sequences located at the ends of chromosomes that shorten with age—researchers were able to gauge the health and lifespan of different creatures.

Scientists found a strong link between longer telomeres and clonality, suggesting those that divide themselves in order to reproduce, as opposed to mating, tend to live longer.

“According to the researchers, this rejuvenation of the telomeres in connection with the formation of new tissue during cloning is probably one of possibly several explanations behind the particularly good health and long telomeres of clones,“ researcher Helen Nilsson Skold explained in a press release.

Similar findings have been made in lab studies involving flatworms.

“The strengths of our study are that we have confirmed these results in a completely different animal group, and that our data comes from wild populations,“ Helen added.

GSC Awards Scholarships to New and Continuing Students

The Gilmer Free Press

GLENVILLE, WV – Twenty-five upcoming Glenville State College freshmen from throughout West Virginia have been awarded scholarships from the GSC Foundation for the 2015-2016 academic school year.

Berkeley County resident Desiree Payne of Hedgesville received the Helen E. Hunter and Alice M. Singleton Scholarship and the John C. Shaw Scholarship. She will be majoring in General Science.

Braxton County residents among the scholarship recipients include: Emily Bleigh of Sutton and Logan Stump of Gassaway. Both received the Lorena Hefner Scholarship and the John C. Shaw Scholarship. Bleigh will be majoring in accounting and is the daughter of Regina Bleigh. Stump will be enrolled in a four year u ndeclared program and is the daughter of Larry Stump and Kim Dennison.

Calhoun County residents among the scholarship recipients include: Autumn Cunningham of Big Bend and Erica Jones of Big Springs. Cunningham received the Leonard and Gladys Marshall Scholarship and the John C. Shaw Scholarship. She will be majoring in behavioral science. Jones received the 2014 Queen Flora Pageant Scholarship, Jean Adams Smith Scholarship, Gracie Viola Bosley Scholarship, General Meritorious Scholarship, John C. Shaw Scholarship, and Honors Academic Scholarship. Additionally, Sarah Lane of Arnoldsburg received the Emma Gale Reynolds Hedrick Scholarship. Lane is a senior at GSC majoring in elementary education and is the daughter of Maxine Lane.

Fayette County resident and GSC junior Kennedy Cochran received the Dr. Richard N. Butler Memorial Scholarship. She is majoring in elementary education and is the daughter of Clinton and Lisa Cochran.

Gilmer County residents among the scholarship recipients include: Matthew Montgomery of Linn and Katelyn Benson, Sharon McCumbers, Trevor Wright, and Clair Gilbert, all of Glenville. Montgomery received the Fred H. and Lucy Francis Killingsworth Scholarship, Gilbert Reed Scholarship, Herman W. Vannoy Scholarship, Howard Burk Scholarship, and the John C. Shaw Scholarship. He will be majoring in chemistry and is the son of Mark and Charlene Montgomery. Benson received the Espy W. Miller and Rosales Poling Miller Scholarship, the John C. Shaw Scholarship, and the Honors Academic Scholarship. She will be majoring in English and is the daughter of Neal and Renita Benson. McCumbers received the Helen E. Hunter and Alice M. Singleton Scholarship, William Torlidas Scholarship, Earle Bennett Scholarship, John C. Shaw Scholarship and Fine Arts Education Scholarship. She will be majoring in music. Wright received the Helen E. Hunter and Alice M. Singleton Scholarship, the Robert Leroy Davis Scholarship, John C. Shaw Scholarship and the Fine Arts Education Scholarship. He will be majoring in social studies education and is the son of Willard and Michelle Wright. Additionally, GSC senior Clair Gilbert received the Virginia West English Scholarship. She is majoring in English and is the daughter of Tom and Kathy Gilbert.

Jackson County resident Clayton Swisher of Ripley received the Fine Arts Education Scholarship and the John C. Shaw Scholarship. He will be majoring in music and is the son of Greg and Melanie Swisher.

Kanawha County resident Maura James of Saint Albans received the Honors Academic Scholarship, the Dr. Paul and Virginia Caltriader Scholarship, and the John C. Shaw Scholarship. She will be majoring in chemistry and is the daughter of Scott and Rebecca James.

Lewis County resident Mitchell Queen of Weston received the John and Ida Warder Ray Scholarship and the John C. Shaw Scholarship. He will be majoring in natural resource management and is the son of Stony and Deborah Queen.

Logan County resident Megan Thompson of Chapmanville received the Fine Arts Education Scholarship and the John C. Shaw Scholarship. She will be majoring in music and is the daughter of Chris and Heather Thompson.

Nicholas County residents among the scholarship recipients include: Ashley Mangold and Justin Woods of Summersville and Daniel Bailey of Craigsville. Mangold received the Honors Academic Scholarship. She will be majoring in behavioral science and is the daughter of Brent and Tracey Cavendish. Woods received the Joel T. and Grace March Creasy Scholarship, the Nicholas and Pocahontas Counties Scholarship, GSC Board of Governors Scholarship, Academic Scholarship, and the John C. Shaw Scholarship. He will be majoring in biology. Bailey received the Fine Arts Education Scholarship and the John C. Shaw Scholarship. She will be majoring in music and is the daughter of Jennifer Bailey.

Raleigh County residents among the scholarship recipients include: Briannah Todd of Lester and Luke Carpenter of Glen Daniel. Todd received the Gracie Viola Bosley Scholarship and the John C. Shaw Scholarship. She will be majoring in history and political science and is the daughter of Brian Todd. Carpenter received the General Meritorious Scholarship, the Honors Academic Scholarship, and the John C. Shaw Scholarship. He will be majoring in accounting and is the son of Kevin and Kimberly Carpenter.

Roane County residents receiving scholarships included: Cassidy Taylor of Newton and Karlee Nutter of Spencer. Taylor received the Stephen S. and Carolyn Dotson Taylor Scholarship, Ella Murray Orr Scholarship, Virginia Smith Hamric Memorial Scholarship, Lela Brooks Baily Scholarship, and the John C. Shaw Scholarship. She will be majoring in multi-categorical special education and is the daughter of Ron and Marilyn Taylor. Nutter received the 2013 Nicholas County Fourth of July Jamboree Teen Queen Scholarship and the John C. Shaw Scholar ship. She will be majoring in business and is the daughter of Kevin and Phyllis Nutter.

Tucker County resident Catherine Chambers of Parsons received the Helen E. Hunter and Alice M. Singleton Scholarship and John C. Shaw Scholarship. She will be majoring in math and is the daughter of Margaret Chambers.

Wood County resident Taylor Broadwater of Vienna received the General Meritorious Scholarship, the D. Banks Wilburn Scholarship, and the John C. Shaw Scholarship. She will be majoring in health promotion and is the daughter of Terri Broadwater.

The Lorena Hefner Scholarship is named for Lorena Hefner who was born on September 03, 1908 in Burnsville, West Virginia and was one of eleven children. She graduated from GSC in 1941 and began her teaching career in Braxton County at the Bragg Run School. While never forgetting her roots, she established the Lorena Hefner Scholarship for students attending Glenville State College who are from Braxton County.

The John C. Shaw Scholarship was established in 1985 by John C. Shaw, who was the President of Glenville State College from 1901-1908. This scholarship is awarded to academically talented freshmen from West Virginia.

The Helen E. Hunter and Alice M. Singleton Scholarship was established by the two sisters in 1997 to show appreciation for the education that they received from GSC. The scholarship is awarded to students who are entering, or who are already enrolled in, the teacher education program at Glenville State College who show academic promise.

The Leonard and Gladys Marshall Scholarship was established in 1998 through the generosity of Leonard B. and Gladys (Tripett) Marshall. Graduates of Calhoun County High School receive financial assistance through this scholarship. Students must demonstrate academic promise and have financial need.

The Jean Adams Smith Memorial Scholarship was established in 1996 by Dr. David W. Smith and the family and friends of Jean Adams Smith to provide scholarships to students from central West Virginia majoring in Early Childhood Education. Preference is given to students from Gilmer County.

The Gracie Viola Bosely Scholarship was established in 2005 by the estate of Gracie Viola Bosely. Applicants are required to submit an essay to the Scholarship Committee for review. Awards are made in the following priority: graduates of Grafton High School, other Taylor County residents, and then any other West Virginia resident.

The Meritorious Scholarship Fund was established through the GSC Foundation to award scholarships on the basis of academic qualifications.

The Honors Academic Scholarship is a component of the GSC Honors Program and is designed to help selected students develop scholarship, creativity, critical thinking, leadership, civic engagement, and academic enrichment in the classroom and beyond. To be eligible, students must have an ACT composite score of 24 or higher and a cumulative high school GPA of 3.5 or higher. Students who successfully complete the GSC Honors Program will receive special distinction on their transcripts and during graduation ceremonies.

The Emma Gale Reynolds Hedrick Scholarship was established in 1999 to support students of Glenville State College. The recipient must have a minimum 3.0 grade point average and show promise of leadership. Scholarship recipients must plan to pursue a teaching career in elementary education and have the support of at least three Glenville State College faculty members.

The Richard N. Butler Memorial Scholarship was established in 2009 in recognition of Butler’s commitment to education and the preparation of teachers. It is to be awarde d annually to an outstanding third year teacher education student at Glenville State College and will to be chosen by the teacher education faculty. The scholarship can be renewed if the student remains academically qualified in their senior year.

The Espy W. Miller and Rosalea Poling Miller Scholarship was established in 2011 to honor the memories of the late Dr. and Mrs. Espy Miller. Dr. Miller retired from GSC in 1976 after 30 years of service. He was Chair of the Department of English and Foreign Language. She was also an educator in Gilmer County. The scholarship is awarded to a Gilmer County High School graduate in the upper one-third of their graduating class. The student must be an English or English Education major at GSC and maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA. This scholarship will fund the difference between the student’s available aid package and actual full costs including tuition, room and board, books, and other fees. Because these students will more than likely reside in Gilmer County, if the students choose to commute, then a stipend for transportation will be paid each semester.

The Fred H. and Lucy Francis Killingsworth Scholarship fund was established in 2000 to be used for educational purposes and granted to worthy students chosen by the Glenville State College Scholarship Committee. Preference is given to students who reside in Gilmer County.

The Gilbert Reed Scholarship was established in 1981 by Mr. Reed’s wife, Gladys and other family and friends. It was meant to honor his commitment to the young people of central West Virginia as a friend, teacher, and principal. The scholarship is given to students from Gilmer or Braxton counties who have unmet financial need.

The Herman W. Vannoy Scholarship Fund was established in 1999 by his wife, Viola Virginia Vannoy and two sons, Robert R. and Donald C. Vannoy. Herman W. Vannoy graduated from Glenville State College in 1934. While at GSC, he excelled on the football team. Mr. Vannoy had fond memories of his time on campus and wished to give other students an opportunity to obtain a higher education and participate in sports. Recipients for this scholarship must be from either Ritchie or Gilmer County.

The Howard Burk Scholarship was established in 2009 in memory of A.M. Burk who taught for 25 terms at Gilmer County High School and in memory of Cora D. Burk. This scholarship supports graduates of GCHS who are pursuing coursework in pre-engineering or pre-medicine at Glenville State College.

The William Torlidas Scholarship was established in 2008 by Mr. Torlidas’ daughter to honor his long career in education administration. Mr. Torlidas, a 1951 GSC graduate, retired after many years as Superintendent of Schools in South Park, Pennsylvania. This scholarship is for any student with financial need.

The Earle W. Bennett Memorial Scholarship was established in 1990 in memory of Earle W. Bennett who attended Glenville Normal School from 1911 to 1914.

The Robert Leroy Davis Scholarship was established in 1992 to support students graduating from Gilmer County High School with preference given to mature students coming back to school who want to be teachers. This fund was established by Oleta Collins Davis.

The Virginia West English Scholarship was established in 1998 to honor Miss Virginia West, Professor Emeritus, who served as Professor of English and Chairwoman of the Language Division at Glenville State College. The recipient must be an upperclassman majoring in education who shows academic potential, demonstrates leadership abilities, and is ready to enter the student internship.

The Dr. Paul G. and Virginia Caltrider Scholarship was established in 1998 by Dr. Caltrider who was a 1956 graduate of Glenville State. Because of his ‘fond memories, the quality of education provided by the institution, and the interest and encouragement received by the faculty,’ Dr. Caltrider and his wife, Virginia, established a scholarship to benefit WV students in the Science and Math Department.

The John Warder Ray Scholarship fund was established in 1992 in memory of John Warder Ray by Ida Warder Ray. Its purpose is to support worthy, talented, industrious, and needy students graduating from Lewis County High School in Weston, West Virginia.

The Joel T. and Grace Marsh Creasy Scholarship was established in 1998 by Joel T. and Grace Marsh Creasy who graduated from Glenville State College in 1948 and 1954, respectively. This scholarship is to be awarded to students graduating from Richwood and Nicholas County High Schools.

The Nicholas and Pocahontas Counties Scholarship fund was established in 1979 by John H. and Ann H. McCutcheon of Summersville, West Virginia. The scholarship is awarded to deserving and needy students who have graduated high school (or its equivalent) in Nicholas and Pocahontas Counties.

The Stephen S. and Carolyn Dotson Taylor Scholarship was established in 1996. This endowed scholarship provides assistance to students who attend Glenville State College; with first priority given to students from Roane and Ritchie Counties, then Gilmer, Doddridge, and Calhoun Counties. Academic promise and financial need, as well as participation in high school, extra-curricular, community, and church activities are all taken into consideration. The scholarship is renewable for four years given that the student demonstrates acceptable academic performance.

The Ella Murray Orr Scholarship was established in 1985 in memory of Ella Murray Orr for scholarships to be used in her field of special education. Mrs. Orr was a 1934 graduate of Glenville State College.

The Virginia Smith Hamric Memorial Scholarship was established in 1980 in memory of Mrs. Hamric by her husband, Edward. It is awarded to a student majoring in Elementary Education, with preference given to students from Roane County and the surrounding area.

The Lela Brooks-Bailey Scholarship was established by Ms. Bailey, a 1953 GSC graduate, to repay the debt of gratitude she feels for the opportunities she gained in life from her education at Glenville State. It is intended for a West Virginia student majoring in education.

The D. Banks Wilburn Scholarship fund was established in 1977 by Dr. Berlin Chapman to honor Dr. D. Banks Wilburn who retired from Glenville State College having served 13 years as president and providing 42 years of service to the public education system in West Virginia. This fund supports special college activities, scholarships, and faculty/staff development. Special consideration is given to Health and Physical Education majors.

For more information about Glenville State College Scholarships, contact the GSC Foundation at 304.462.6380.

Green Banks WV: The Town That Banned Wi-Fi

‘Electrosensitive’ people are flocking to the WV home of a deep-space telescope,
attracted by the rules prohibiting phones, TVs and radios.

The Gilmer Free Press

Up and up the roads to Green Bank went, winding into the West Virginian hills as four lanes thinned to one. It was early March and snow was still spattered on the leaf mould between the firs and larches. Hip-hop and classic rock radio stations were gradually replaced by grave pastors and bawdy men twanging banjos and, eventually, they too faded to crackling white noise. The signal pips on my phone hollowed out. I was nearly there.

Over a crest in the road was the cause of the electronic silence: the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), an array of radio telescopes set against the indigo vastness of the Blue Ridge Mountains. These giant white ears are cocked to interstellar whispers: the formation of stars, nebulae and supernovae. So sensitive are the devices, and what they are listening for so faint, that even tiny signals nearby can be disruptive: a badly fitted microwave or a faulty electric blanket. It’s like trying to eavesdrop across a room while listening to heavy metal in your earphones.

In the same zone is another telescope, run by the National Security Agency (NSA), and there is a chance some of your Facebook messages may have passed this way. But if that scheme caused international outrage, then the Green Bank telescope has been more controversial locally. Thanks to the unusual lack of interference, the town has become a haven for those looking to escape electromagnetic radiation and over the past decade, as many as 40 people have moved here.

It might not sound much, but Green Bank’s population was only 120 or so to begin with. Imagine two million people moving to London and demanding the city be ghost-proofed, and you get an idea of the scale of the disruption. There have been reports of tensions in the town: tales of threats and abuse unfitting to a sleepy mountain village. And it is all the stranger when you consider that no serious scientific study has been able to establish that electrosensitivity exists. According to the World Health Organisation, “EHS [electromagnetic hypersensitivity] has no clear diagnostic criteria and there is no scientific basis to link EHS symptoms to EMF [electromotive force] exposure. Further, EHS is not a medical diagnosis, nor is it clear that it represents a single medical problem.”

When I arrived there was not much sign of anything, let alone simmering social unrest. Past five o’clock everything was shut for the night. The air was freezing. For $30 I got a room in a motel where I was the only guest. “Leave the key on the bed when you go,” said its owner, before driving off herself, leaving her business in the care of at least six cats. The next day I headed for the main drag, which was not hard to find in a town with one road. Green Bank is not a metropolis. Along with the telescope, there is a school, church, library and craft shop, as well as Henry’s: a petrol station that quintuples up as a supermarket, public toilet, restaurant and general hub, and where I went in search of breakfast.

“You’re not from round here, are you?” said Mary, my waitress. The staff were engaged in trying to balance a green plastic St Patrick’s Day hat on a stuffed moose head. Other diners arrived, heavy-set men in fleece and camouflage. Everyone knew everyone by name and I was the only person without a pickup truck. I confirmed Mary’s suspicions, and asked her about the migration.

“People come here because they say they can hear the electrics,” she replied. “I don’t know if it’s a real condition or not. But the electro- sensitives swear it is, so… to each their own, I say.” She didn’t look convinced. “I don’t really mind not having a cellphone,” she added. “You get used to that. And a lot of us have Wi-Fiin our homes anyway, so that’s OK.”

Hang on, so in The Town Without Wi-Fi, there is in fact quite a lot of Wi-Fi? I worried that this would not make for as catchy a headline as I had hoped. “Not publicly, but at home some of us do. It’s not illegal, but the observatory has a truck that can sense it. They’ll come round and ask you to turn it off.”

At the library I met Arnie Stewart, a longtime resident and retiree. He had an easy manner, and the air of someone who had been asked these questions before. He pitched himself as a conciliatory figure, a diplomat between two warring tribes. “The serious migration has been going on for about six years,” he said. “It depends on the person, but almost all of them are affected by cellphone towers. They’ll be driving along and have to pull over because they have blurred vision, confusion, or their skin will break out in rashes. I think it’s something that everyone is sensitive to, in some degree: I sit in front of a computer for a couple of hours and my face starts to feel warm.”

Stewart said he was sceptical about electrosensivity until he tried an experiment. He held a meeting with some electrosensitives, and didn’t tell them he had a mobile phone in his pocket. “They noticed at once. After that I was convinced. If you’re sick, who am I to shun you? And mostly the electrosensitives have realised that they have to fit in, and it’s been fine,” he adds. “But one person created some tensions.”

That person was Diane Schou, one of the first electrosensitives to migrate to Green Bank, and their unofficial local leader. She moved in 2007, after her life was made unbearable by a new cellphone mast at the research farm in Cedar Falls, Iowa, that she shared with her husband, Bert, and their son. She began suffering terrible headaches, along with blurred vision and skin rashes. At first she didn’t know why.

“I got the symptoms of radiation sickness,” she told me. Her tone was patient, like a veteran teacher explaining old truths to young students. “I went to the doctor and he wasn’t able to diagnose it. Eventually I established that I was reacting to a buried cellphone tower. US Cellular was the brand – I didn’t react to AT&T, Spring or Cellular One towers.” She reeled off the names as if it would be the most normal thing in the world to have a brand-specific allergy. With her home life increasingly unbearable, she began to travel across the USA and even further afield, to Scandinavia and Nicaragua, in search of somewhere more peaceful. Sweden is one of the few places to recognise electrosensitivity as a disability and the government will help sufferers insulate their homes. “In Scandinavia there were places where electrosensitives gathered, but they didn’t go far enough to prevent the signals,” Schou said. “Farmers still used electric fences for their sheep, or people would use cordless phones.”

At last she settled on Green Bank, the “best of the worst,” even though some residents still have local Wi-Fi, and power lines run above ground. “At least they speak English here,” she said. Bert stayed behind in Cedar Falls. “He would move if I asked him, but he gets bored here.” Surely such a move has been difficult for their marriage, I asked? “It has been a challenge, for sure. We used to have three meals a day together, and now we only see each other every few months.”

In an effort to make Green Bank more navigable, Schou made some requests of local businesses. A Dollar Store was opening, but its fluorescent and halogen lights would be intolerable. She asked that they were changed. “They wouldn’t do it. And without the light it gets very dark in there, so they’re not willing to turn off the power.” She took to eating her meals in the senior citizens’ centre, where a gap in the lighting gave her some peace. But walking to collect her food entailed exposure to problem bulbs, so she would ask others to wait on her.

Things came to a head. A town meeting was called. “She became very demanding, asking other people to turn their lights off or replace their bulbs,” said Stewart. “It was too much. And Schou was encouraging other sensitives to move here, and this is not a town with many jobs or houses to begin with.”

Where the locals might have been happy to tolerate one or two of the sensitives, the mass migration was beyond the pale. Another sensitive who moved to Green Bank was reported to have flown into a rage at the library, denouncing the “dumb hillbillies”. “People tell me to stop encouraging others to move here, and to stop bringing them into stores,” Schou confirms. “The hostility continues.” People would walk towards Schou with concealed electronics, in an effort to provoke a reaction. A meeting she and her husband organised to help educate the others about electrosensivity descended into a slanging match. Schou, who has called herself a “technological leper,” said the ill will went further: “I had a visitor staying, a fellow refugee, and the air was let out of our car tyres overnight.”

She felt the hostility was best explained as a kind of conspiracy between the ill-informed and Big Telephony. “I believe that there are some people here who used to work for the telephone industry, and are trying to support the industry by getting rid of me.” Schou seemed to accept that her role as a pioneer will ruffle a few feathers. Charlie Meckna, by comparison, was more reserved. Friendly but quietly spoken, he wore blue jeans and white trainers, in that style unique to middle-aged American men. His view is that “attention-seeking” behaviour by “certain individuals” is a distraction from the real issues. This is an argument I heard several times from those with EHS, that their particular condition was real, while others’ were purely psychosomatic.

Meckna moved to Green Bank last July, after years trying to work out what was making him sick. In particular he found that he was sensitive to cordless phones and public Wi-Fi. “I would feel dizzy and nauseous, and get a bad ringing in my ear. People would find me passed out. It’s not perfect in Green Bank at all, but otherwise it was going to kill me. There are a lot of ignorant people who don’t understand. You’d have thought the population would be more sympathetic, given that 70% of them have diabetes and more than 20 people have cancer. I always say: ‘Do you think I want this?’ No.”

None of which gets round the core issue: if EHS is real, I asked Diane, then why has it not shown up in formal experiments? “I encourage scientists to go to where we are and measure the environment,” she replied. “Don’t try to pretend that you’re God and expose us to different frequencies in a lab. That’s like taking someone and breaking their legs and asking how much it hurts.”

For Sarah Dacre, the head of the 1,000-strong Electrosensitivity UK, the lack of proof from major studies is merely evidence of a conspiracy between interested parties. “Conventional government-funded science isn’t a reliable indicator of health defects,” she told me. “There’s a vested interest in keeping the truth out of circulation. But the independent science isn’t sceptical about it at all.” Her society was on the verge of exerting great influence on public policy, she added, although progress had been hindered by infiltrators, who were leaking information back to the government and phone companies. “Like spies?” I asked. “Well, they don’t call themselves spies.” No, I said, I supposed they didn’t.

Like Meckna, Dacre felt that there were people claiming to be electrosensitive who were nothing of the sort, who were queering the pitch for the others: “You can tell at once who is just pretending,” she said. After I spoke to her, my inbox was deluged by fellow sufferers who had been alerted to this article, linking to the independent studies that support their claims.

Perhaps surprisingly, Green Bank was a hard place to leave. After the initial difficulty of organising interviews without a mobile or the internet, I had quickly settled into a slower pace. In my motel I read until I fell asleep. I woke at dawn to the pale light sharking through the windows. It was easy to see how this place could provide solace, even to the non-electrosensitive. Part of the problem, I suspect, is that few of us doubt the behavioural or environmental threats of technology; our endless distractibility, the constant beeps and whirrs and notifications of modern life. You might argue that electrosensitivity is simply an extreme reaction to a whole range of bewildering stimuli. Dacre told me that many come to her after a bereavement or other illness, even a bad insect bite – something that knocks the world off-balance. It is well documented that psychosomatic conditions can provoke real symptoms, and nobody would wish to mock the afflicted.

Or at least, not much. As I prepared to make tracks, Charlie Meckna pointed up at some slivers of grey cloud that hung in the vast powder-blue sky.

“See those?” he asked.

“Aeroplane trails?”

“Not contrails – chemtrails,” he said. “The government sprays the air – it gets in the atmosphere.” He paused and looked me in the eye. “The world needs to know what’s happening here.” I drove off, slightly too quickly, eager to refresh my feeds.

~~  Ed Cummings - Guardian ~~

USDE Approves WV as One of Eight States to Receive Flexibility

The Gilmer Free Press

Charleston, WV—Building on the significant progress seen in America’s schools over the last six years, the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) announced today that West Virginia and seven other states have received multiple years of continued flexibility from provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The seven other states approved today are Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Missouri, Nevada, New York and the District of Columbia.

“We are pleased the USDE is acting to give West Virginia the continued flexibility we need to move forward with our state-developed accountability system,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Martirano. “We are committed to every child graduating prepared for college and careers. I am hopeful Congress will take action this year to make this type of flexibility permanent for our schools and students.“ 

Over the past four years, the USDE has partnered with state and district leaders to provide flexibility from some of the most unworkable provisions of NCLB in exchange for taking bold action to improve student outcomes and ensure that every child has the opportunity to get a great education.

Flexibility has led to a greater focus on ensuring that schools have the same expectation of college- and career-readiness for every student. States are focusing resources on comprehensive, rigorous interventions in the lowest-performing schools while ensuring that all low-achieving students have the supports they need to catch up to their peers. Flexibility also has had the effect of improving teacher and principal effectiveness across the country with a focus on creating feedback systems that give evidence of the impact teachers and principals are having on student learning and shining a light on best practices for supporting teachers’ development.

Since the USDE began offering flexibility, 42 states and the District of Columbia have all taken advantage of the opportunity. Demonstrating that states see the value of these partnerships and are continuing to make progress, every single state whose initial waiver is expiring has submitted a request, or committed to submitting a request by the end of this month, to recommit to the innovative work they began under ESEA flexibility.

The eight states approved for flexibility today are on track to fully meet their commitments under the flexibility program. They were invited to participate in an expedited review process developed with input from states which included submitting their renewal requests by March 31, 2015. West Virginia will have a three-year flexibility renewal through the 2017-18 school year.

In granting flexibility, the USDE set a high bar for reform but left states ample flexibility in how to achieve their goals. Examples of work going on in West Virginia include:

    •  Implementation of a program that provides continuous support for priority schools, utilizing dedicated state-level school improvement coordinators who meet weekly with school leadership teams to determine the specific needs of each school and to provide a customized approach to school improvement

    •  Implementation of the Educator Evaluation System statewide, which includes training approximately 1,000 teacher-leaders through the state’s Teacher Leadership Institute

The Teacher Leadership Institute focuses on integrating student learning goals as integral components of instructional planning, delivery and assessment. Educators are able to receive customized professional development based on their needs as determined through self-assessments and their evaluators’ performance reviews. The new focus is on personalized support for teachers, with the goal of improving instruction and learning outcomes for all students.

In the event that Congress reauthorizes ESEA, the USDE will work with states to help them transition to the new law. Letters to the eight states that have been approved for ESEA flexibility renewal are available on the ESEA flexibility page.

EducationNewsWest VirginiaUnited StatesPolitics | Government | ElectionState-WVUSA(1) Comments

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~~~ Readers' Comments ~~~

All show and no go.
The heading logo, the four largest print words.
Accountability.  Transparency. 
Waivers.  Accessibility.

Waivers are simply an end run to accountability.
The WVBE demonstrates little or no transparency, accessibility, nor transparency to any intervention county.

Then notice how small the print is for:  success, local, and goals.

By total horse manure  on  06.25.2015

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The Gilmer Free Press

CHARLESTON, WV — Attorney General Patrick Morrisey today announced his Office recently reached a $2.4 million settlement with Virginia-based Dominion Management Services, which does business as CashPoint, to resolve allegations it engaged in a wide variety of unlawful debt collection practices.

As part of the settlement, the company has agreed to forgive more than $2.36 million in consumer loan debt, as well as release its liens on vehicle titles for 435 West Virginians, most of whom live in the Eastern Panhandle. While it admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement, the company has pledged to uphold all state and federal consumer protection laws in the future.

“Our Office is pleased with this settlement that will help hundreds of West Virginia consumers,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “It is important to know that companies you are dealing with are fair and honest, and we take very seriously our duty to protect consumers from businesses engaging in unscrupulous practices. This is a win for West Virginia.”

Morrisey said his Office’s Consumer Protection Division had received several complaints from consumers regarding CashPoint’s debt collection practices in recent years. Hundreds of West Virginia consumers had crossed the border into Virginia to obtain title loans from CashPoint.

Title loans involve a person using their vehicle’s title as collateral to secure a loan. While these short-term, very high-interest loans are legal in Virginia, they are prohibited in West Virginia under the state’s usury laws.

“Even though title loans are not legal in West Virginia, some citizens opt to go over state lines to obtain them,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Consumers should be cautious about getting these loans, no matter how cash-strapped they may be, because of the high interest rates and very real danger of losing their cars.”

Some CashPoint customers reported that they had endured continuously harassing phone calls, had personal debt-related information wrongly given to third-parties and had vehicles seized by companies not licensed to do business in West Virginia. While the company denied it engaged in these practices, it has agreed to refrain from them in the future.

Additionally, as part of the agreement, CashPoint pledges to:

    •  Comply with all state and federal consumer protection laws.

    •  Refrain from contacting consumers repeatedly or continuously by telephone with the intent to annoy or harass them.

    •  Refrain from wrongfully disclosing a consumer’s alleged indebtedness to their employers, neighbors, relatives or other third parties.

    •  Refrain from contacting third parties, except for the limited purpose of obtaining location information.

    •  Refrain from employing people to seize vehicles from West Virginia residents unless those individuals or their companies are licensed to do business in West Virginia.

CashPoint will also cancel all delinquent balances that were allegedly owed as of September 30, 2014. This will result in the cancellation of $2,360,189.95 allegedly owed by 435 West Virginians. The company will also release its vehicle liens and return clear titles to all 435 of those consumers. The vast majority of these consumers live in towns in the Eastern Panhandle, including Martinsburg, Charles Town, Inwood, Romney, Keyser and Moorefield.

In addition, the company will pay $85,000 to the State of West Virginia, which will be used by the Attorney General’s Office to promote various consumer protection programs.

A copy of the CashPoint settlement is available H E R E.

Years into Common Core, Teachers Lament Lack of Materials

The Gilmer Free Press

The learning standards were new. The textbooks were not.

So curriculum director Tammy Baumann and her team took the books apart, literally. Then they rearranged lessons, filled in holes with outside material and put it all together in what will be the K-2 math curriculum in the fall at her district in East Lansing, Michigan.

It was a time-consuming but necessary response, Baumann said, to what appears to be a near-universal lament of teachers as they page through textbooks and websites: a lack of high-quality teaching materials aligned to the Common Core Learning Standards that have been adopted by most states.

“We literally created our own curriculum ... essentially creating it from scratch — creating the homework, creating the student achievement challenges,“ Baumann said at the end of a school year spent collecting feedback and refining the materials.

Five years into the implementation of Common Core, standards meant to steer students from rote memorization toward critical thinking, 45 percent of school districts reported “major problems” finding good aligned textbooks, and another 45 percent reported “minor problems,“ an October survey by the Center of Education Policy found.

“The need for standards-aligned curricula is undoubtedly the most cited implementation challenge for states, districts and schools,“ said a May report by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

Publishing industry executives said some education publishers produced materials more quickly than others, but other factors have been at play. Most significant are the shift to digital learning and the lingering effects of the recession, which left many school districts without money to replace textbooks published before the new standards took hold.

Nevertheless, the appearance that standardized tests were aligned to Common Core more quickly than textbooks has added to the distrust of the more rigorous standards, which teachers largely support, said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.

“Overwhelmingly,“ the union leader said, “the biggest cause of stress among teachers is not just class sizes but mandated new curriculum that are imposed without any real materials or training.“

“If you’re changing to standards that are eliciting deeper thinking and more rigor and asking kids to explain what they’ve learned, then you have to create curriculum and curricular units that are aligned with that and are engaging,“ Weingarten said, “and then you have to give teachers the time to work with them and tailor them to their classes.“

Even some textbooks that say they are Common Core-aligned aren’t necessarily so, analyses have shown.

“Not only do they not cover what they should, but they cover a lot of stuff that they shouldn’t,“ said William Schmidt, director of the Center for the Study of Curriculum at Michigan State University’s College of Education.

Schmidt’s analysis of 34 widely used math textbook series found that those released after 2011 were, predictably, better aligned to Common Core than older ones but still left out about 20 percent of the standards.

Such findings have given rise to a nonprofit website funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,, which reviews materials for alignment and quality.

Schmidt and others said publishers appear to have been slow to fully invest in Common Core, perhaps while waiting to see whether the standards would last, especially given the political debate that has led some states to drop them.

“I’m sure there were publishers who did say, ‘Let’s think about this,‘“ said Jay Diskey, executive director of the PreK-12 division of the Association of American Publishers, “but others went quickly into the Common Core transition,“ developing instructional material off of the grade-by-grade standards.

“Frankly, the prospect of the entire nation, schools in all 50 states, swapping out reading and math for new Common Core materials represented the largest market opportunity ever in United States K-12 education publishing,“ Diskey said. “It hasn’t fully materialized yet, simply because of some of the political issues and the still-lingering effects of the recession in some of these school districts.“

In the meantime, the so-called OER movement — short for open educational resources — continues to take hold, with anyone from teachers to states making curriculum available for free or for sale online.

The biggest such effort is the EngageNY website created by that state’s Department of Education with federal funding. The free site includes complete K-12 English Language Arts and math curriculums, including downloadable lessons that can be printed out.

State data showed more than 20 million downloads of material from the site as of early June, with a third of downloads initiated from outside New York as districts like Berkeley, California, adopt it.

“That, to me, is a pretty good proof point that no matter where you are, teachers and school districts are just not that happy with the quality of material that’s available to them through traditional commercial publishing routes,“ said Robert Pondiscio, a senior fellow at the Fordham Institute.

AFT’s teacher-fed “Share My Lesson” site has attracted 750,000 teachers and has seen more than 9 million downloads of materials since launching in 2012, Weingarten said.

Buffalo-area teacher Karen Jones’ curriculum offerings on the paid website Teachers Pay Teachers now bring in more income than her teaching job.

“Some of the popularity of sites like Teachers Pay Teachers is the lack of resources that teachers had to work with,“ Jones said. “We were expected to teach these standards, but we weren’t really given the tools to teach them.“

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We have the same problems in Gilmer County, but Gabe Devono won’t listen and he spends money on purposes he cannot defend. More computers for the GCHS is a prime example. Gilmer County needs to have a way to set defensible priorities for K-12 education and to stick with the program.

By A. C. Schofield  on  06.25.2015

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West Virginia News

The Gilmer Free Press

Man drowns in Greenbrier River while trying to help 2 others

HINTON, WV — Authorities say a man drowned in the Greenbrier River while trying to help two other swimmers.

Crews recovered the 18-year-old victim’s body on Tuesday afternoon. His name hasn’t been released.

Richie Miller with the Division of Natural Resources tells media outlets that the victim was with a group of people swimming in the river just outside Hinton.

Miller says two members of the group got tired and began to struggle while swimming across the river. He says the victim and three other members of the group went into the water to help. The victim then disappeared.

He says none of the swimmers was wearing a life jacket.

DMV Partners with the Secretary of State to Offer Electronic Voter Registration

CHARLESTON, WV—The West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles, in cooperation with the Secretary of State, announced today that a statewide electronic voter registration program has been installed at each of the 24 DMV regional office locations.  Customers may now electronically register to vote when they visit any DMV regional office for the purpose of issuing or renewing a driver’s license or identification card.

DMV Commissioner Pat Reed said, “I am pleased to partner with Secretary of State Natalie Tennant on a project that will provide convenience for our customers during credential issuance at regional offices, and allow us to meet the National Voter Registration Act requirements.”

Customers that want to take advantage of this new program will simply answer voter registration questions on the signature tablet used during the driver’s licensing/ID card process.  DMV locations will continue to offer the paper voter registration applications for customers who do not wish to register electronically.

Data will be securely collected through the electronic process, and provide measurable voter information directly to the Secretary of State’s Office.  According to Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, “The new system will strengthen the voter registration records in the state and allow for voter registration applications to be processed in a more expedient manner. It is a privilege to collaborate with the DMV. I am proud of the work of the DMV and Secretary of State’s Office. This project is another example of two state agencies that are being accountable, efficient and cooperating to provide convenient services to the people of West Virginia.”

A continuation of this initiative between the two agencies will be unveiled fall 2015 when online voter registration will be available not only at DMV offices but also on a personal device.

For more information regarding DMV services at regional offices, please contact the DMV Call Center at 1.800.642.9066.

HEPC chairman “comfortable” with tuition rate hikes

MORGANTOWN, WV — A day after the Higher Education Policy Commission agreed to raise tuition and fees by 9.7% at WVU, the chairman said leaders must make college affordable.

“I am comfortable with the change in tuition and fees for all three institutions,” Dr. Bruce Berry said in a Tuesday interview on MetroNews “Talkline.”

The commission voted 5-2 to approve the cost hike at WVU, a $672 annual increase that takes effect this fall.

The university reports that the tuition hikes are necessary because its state appropriations have decreased by $22.8 million since 2013.

Two other colleges also were approved for tuition and fee increases—8.1% at Potomac State College (an additional $288) and 7% at West Virginia State University (a $434 increase).

University leaders can implement increases up to 5% without approval from the commission. Before tuition increases further, Berry said the commission needs to keep low income college-bound students in mind.

“We also need to be cognizant of the fact that we need to stay as low as we can to get these kids in school and get them out.”

At $7,632 for regular tuition and fees at West Virginia University for the 2015-2016 academic year, a university spokesperson shared, “When you compare us to other Big 12 schools, we have the lowest in-state tuition. We are talking $7,000 here; $38,000 at places like Baylor and TCU. Kansas Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and K State range from approximately $9,000 to $10,500 annually. Iowa State and Oklahoma State tuition is about $500 more than WVU’s.”

Some HEPC members had enough concern to oppose any increases. However, a WVU initiative to help students prepare for professional careers in four years helped convince Berry to vote for the requested increase.

“They’re looking at a new Project 168 which is going to bring students into the institution. It’s going to give them a great deal of insight from everything from their scheduling to loan financing to everything they might need,” Berry said.

Berry said the Promise scholarship helps curb costs. The state reportedly ranks eighth nationally for aid provided to college students WVU noted only 62% of the students who graduated in 2013 had loans.

When President Dr. Gordon Gee addressed the HEPC, the presentation included the proposed hiring of a dean of completion to increase four-year graduation rates.

“We think that alone will be a cost saving to every student in West Virginia,” Berry projected.

Both commissioners and WVU leadership indicated tuition increases are necessary in a no-win situation for keeping costs from elevating.

State Board Members Visit the Kentucky Board of Education

Charleston, WV — The West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) visited the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) on June 2 and 3 to engage in informal discussions with Kentucky board members and to observe a KBE meeting. In an article dated May 08, 2015, the Wall Street Journal reported the following: “Kentucky is in its fourth year of testing linked to Common Core State Standards, at a time when most other states are counting the tests for the first time. While students here were slow to show improvement, scores on standardized tests have begun to pick up”.

“Kentucky has succeeded in improving student achievement by staying the course,” said WVBE President Gayle Manchin. “It is confirmation for us that we must be persistent in giving our standards time and allowing our students the chance to demonstrate achievement. Kentucky’s success is one of the reasons why our board was interested in engaging in a mutual sharing session with the KBE and the Kentucky Department of Education.”

During the two meetings, board members found commonalities in the demographics and geography of the two states as well as the key education issues of standards and assessments. The members shared ideas on various topics including accountability strategies to increase academic achievement; effective communication techniques; increasing parental involvement; the use of technology to augment instructional days; and effective strategies for standards implementation.

Manchin expressed her appreciation to the Appalachian Regional Comprehensive Center for organizing and facilitating the discussion. She highlighted the initiatives that were of particular interest to the WVBE members, including a report on the Non-Traditional Instruction Initiative from the Kentucky Next Generation Schools and Districts and the 2015-16 KBE Plan.

Roger Marcum, KBE chairman, expressed the desire to continue the dialogue electronically and suggested a reciprocal visit to a future WVBE meeting.

The KBE has 12 members; the governor appoints 11 voting members, 7 representing the Supreme Court districts and 4 representing the state at large. The additional member, the president of the Council on Postsecondary Education, serves as a non-voting member. West Virginia state board members are also governor appointments.

Agency investigates death of WV man who fell from tower

VERONA, VA - The state is investigating the death of a West Virginia man who fell about 30 feet from a water tower in Verona.

Augusta County Fire Battalion Commander Jeff Hurst said the man fell from a ladder attached to the unfinished water tower at Mill Place Commerce Park.

Augusta County Service Authority deputy executive director Oscar Beasley identified the victim as 47-year-old Gregory Jamison of Franklin, West Virginia.

Jamison was an employee of the authority.

The accident occurred Saturday morning. Beasley says Jamison died on Sunday.

Other details weren’t available.

The Virginia Occupational Safety and Health Safety Compliance Program is investigating the incident.

Nurse sentenced for stealing drugs intended for patients

BECKLEY, WV - A former Raleigh General Hospital nurse will spend eight months in prison for stealing painkillers intended for patients.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin says 31-year-old Olivia Dixon of Midway was sentenced on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Beckley.

Dixon had pleaded guilty in March to obtaining hydromorphone and morphine sulfate by fraud.

Goodwin says Dixon admitted stealing pain medications for personal use on November 10, 2014.

Woman unloading groceries run over and killed by her SUV

CHARLESTON, WV - Police say a Kanawha County woman died after she was run over and dragged by her SUV as she unloaded groceries.

Kanawha County sheriff’s Sgt. Brian Humphreys identified the victim as 49-year-old Cynthia Adams of Charleston.

Humphreys says in a news release that the accident occurred around 1 AM Wednesday in a driveway in Davis Creek.

He says the 2012 Nissan Rogue’s engine was off but the vehicle had been left in gear. The keys were in the ignition.

As Adams was unloading groceries, Humphreys says the vehicle rolled backward and over her. The vehicle then rolled down the driveway, dragging Adams, and went over a small retaining wall.

Lewis County Bendale Bridge CLOSED Due to Pothole

WESTON, WV—Lewis County 911 dispatchers are advising drivers the Bendale Bridge on Route 19 southbound is closed due to a 2 foot hole in the bridge.

Drivers are asked to use Interstate 79 exits 96 and/or 99 as alternative routes to Weston.

Dispatchers said the bridge may open sometime Wednesday, June 24. The closure is until further notice.

Did You Know?

The Gilmer Free Press

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday:


In court, the Boston Marathon bomber breaks two years of silence and apologizes to the victims and their loved ones.


State senator and pastor Clementa Pinckney becomes the first African-American since Reconstruction to rest in honor in the South Carolina Rotunda.


The alliance is adding air, sea and special forces units to its multinational Response Force.


Gene Palmer is suspected of delivering tools inside frozen meat to the two inmates, who remain on the loose, authorities say.


They say Obama, in changing a long-held U.S. policy, is essentially letting relatives take actions the government has long said put Americans at risk.


Lawmakers clear a measure that will strengthen the president’s hand in global trade, capping the end of a back-and-forth struggle that played out over months.


Louisiana’s Republican governor, squaring off against better-known rivals, is pitching himself as a “doer” in a field of talkers.


The upscale Whole Foods supermarkets overcharge by routinely overstating the weight of prepackaged meat, dairy and baked goods, New York City’s consumer chief alleges.


Since she was found unresponsive in a bathtub in her home in January, the condition of the 22-year-old Brown, Whitney Houston’s daughter, “has continued to deteriorate,“ a family member says.


Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor are the big men from the powerhouse programs, obvious top picks in the annual draft.

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