JANUARY 9, 2004

2003: A Year in Review
How’ Your Health…Insurance?
CCHS Team Dances at Citrus Bowl
Should Have Been Magoffin Gap
Fran King Resigns from School Board

2003: A Year in Review

        Sometimes we have to go back and take a sit down look at the previous 12 months. For small town America, 2003 was a year to remember. Most striking was the changing of the guard. The blue bloods. The ones that ran the county from behind closed doors, well, for the most part, they’e gone. Read on for the highlights of 2003.
WINTER, January through March
        January 2003 was cold but with little snow. As the new year opened, Peter Triplett and Daniel Grindo descended the stairway as public office holders. Triplett replaced Tim “o Show”Butcher on the County Commission while Grindo replaced resigned Prosecutor Jeff Davis. New man Grindo entered the county with lots of finger pointing followed by a lawsuit. The young attorney entered the top spot position with no court room experience and accepted the position after quickly changing his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat. The lawsuit part started when court papers were filed by Assistant Prosecutor Barbara Schamberger January 6th. Schamberger alleged that the entire selection process for the prosecutor’ spot was political and flawed.
        January 7th: Central Appalachia Empowerment Zone (CAEZ) paid the Clay County Sheriff $1000 to gain possession of the Filcon, Inc. filter making equipment. The odd lot of has-been, run down, out of date apparatus was moved to storage in Roane County shortly after gaining ownership. On several occasions, CAEZ Director Jerry Sizemore had valued the equipment at well over a million dollars. Judge Alsop gave CAEZ attorney Sproles double ‘’for operating away from his directions.
        Over in the Town of Clay leaders were told the entire year’ police department budget was already depleted; Town Cop Tommy Myers was laid off; CDC was told they couldn’ have free parking on Main street; Council discussed ways to increase revenues like a B&O tax and increased parking meter rates; and the employee fraud investigation continued with attorney Schamberger misplacing boxes of documents after being tossed out of the Court house. She had been the assistant prosecutor.
        During the first meeting of the new year, County Commission President Jimmy Sams told his fellow commissioners there was lots of work to do, water plants to build, and “hey got to get on some toes” Garrett Samples resigned from the Clay Roane PSD Board. CCC hired an outside attorney, Johnny Brown, to represent them in Schamberger vs. CCC.
        January 9th: Melissa Postelwait ascended the throne as Clay Roane PSD Chairperson. Word spread that Clay Roane had been operating the plant and service vehicles without insurance coverage. Doug Burdette came to the January meeting and expressed in no uncertain terms, he was completely unhappy with Clay Roane water quality, service, and attitudes.
        Also in January, WV Technical Support Network (TSN) provided the county with a professionally done report providing a road map for keeping the Clay County Ambulance Service alive and in the black. In addition to lots of detail changes, TSN recommended an annual levy of $424,000. The report was never seen again in 2003.
        Random Notes: Earnie Sirk passed a petition around the county to remove Commissioner Sams and Sheriff Fields from office ….. Jeff Davis announced Clay County Bank’ plan to foreclose on his home and holdings was “ff”….. In the Business Development Authority’ lawsuit against the Clay County Bank to regain title to the Filcon property, the suit was amended to include Wayne and Sandy King…. Commissioner Sams resigned from the BDA … During two January BDA meetings much time was spent behind closed doors…... Clay County PSD oked the purchase of a new $22,800.00 pick up truck and a new $57,900.00 office building….. After questioning by this local paper, it was made public that key employees of Clay Development Corp. (CDC) received major Christmas bonuses in 2003. CDC Chair Gary Whaling asked (and the Board agreed) that their meetings be once again open to the public and be held monthly…. King Grocery store robber Jonathan Cook was given a sentence at Anthony Correctional Center for youthful offenders… the Peggy DeBoard welfare fraud case continued in Judge Facemire’ courtroom as new Prosecutor Daniel Grindo admitted a thick envelope of new evidence…. In the State vs. Robert J. King case, the defendant stood accused of running over a half dozen Cozy Corner patrons with his monster gumbo mudder truck tires. After hearing eye witness testimony, the jury found King not guilty of anything. Grindo had lost his first (and only) court case.
        On a cold February 3rd morning, Judge Charles Haden sentenced Clay County’ power broker to Federal incarceration for 18 months and 4 years supervised probation, the lightest sentence possible. With his voice breaking, Morris apologized to about everybody except the people of Clay for his actions, Morris, “I brought shame and embarrassment to my family, my wife, my daughter… I am very sorry for my short comings… I am especially sorry for the negative public relations brought to the state school board.”For Clay County, the throne was empty. The pivot man for all Clayberry politics had fallen. The guard was changing.
        In early February, with Queen Shoals PSD $10,000.00 behind in payments to Clay Roane PSD, Clay Roane took over the QSPSD operation. Attorney Tom Whittier advised against the deal but those pleas fell on deaf ears. Clay Roane thought they were getting a cash cow. They didn’!
        February 19th, ousted from power, CDC Chair Earnie “ide Glide”Sirk filed a lawsuit against CDC. Sirk alleged the actions of the CDC Board of Directors, employees, and general membership committee were illegal.
        February Clay Roane PSD meetings were packed with spectators as the public found out the water provider was over $30,000 in past due debt and could not meet monthly obligations including federal taxes. Customers came in with complaints of brown water. Boil water orders were issued February 19.
        The financial woes of the Ambulance Service continued as General Ambulance made an offer to take over emergency service operations for the county. Our Commissioners replied, no thanks. Our legislative delegation headed by Senator Shirley Love provided Lizemores Fire Department with a working and in good shape 1967 fire truck. Patricia Taylor was fired from the Clay County PSD. Water lines continued to break in the Newton area of Clay Roane PSD. During February meetings of the group, fingers were pointed at the contractor Jack Whittaker. J.D. Douglas, from the State Dept. of Health, reminded Clay Roane they had just 45 days to straighten up the mess in the Queen Shoals service area. Clay County PSD’ long stalled Lizemores/Tucker’ Bottom water line extension remained stalled. Town and Country Diner opened for business on Main Street.
        March brought war in Iraq and locals talked on the streets. WV soldiers headed over seas. Most believed President Bush’ reports of weapons of mass destruction.
         Clay Roane PSD meetings stretched to over 4 hours as they fought to keep the doors open while repairing more leaks. On March 14th, all insurance coverage for the PSD was cancelled. Engineer Jim Hildruth told the PSD they needed another rate increase! Secret meetings became common within the PSD. Local rumbling started over the crappy job recently hired County 911 Director Dave King did during the February snow storms and power outages. Sirk was back in court on the 17th for his lawsuit against the CDC. The Lizemores ambulance station was closed during March by the County Commission. The Big Otter Ambulance office trailer was sold at public auction. With the ambulance service insolvent, emergency service was at an all time low. Even after hearing of a Taylor County Senior Center being forced to comply with state open meeting laws, our local Clay Development Corp said they didn’ have to! Joe Paxton was named the new assistant principal at Clay Middle School (CMS) for the coming year. The swinging bridge on Elkhurst road was closed. J.D. Morris reported to jail March 19 at 2pm. The CCHS Dance team prepared for National Finals competition. Gardeners got out the lettuce seed and potatoes only to find them covered with late winter snows. Lawn mowers were prepared for the summer season. With war raging, Clay County grew quiet.
                 For those keeping track of Clayberry happenings on the world wide web, clayberry.org went kaput as another dot.comer went bust leaving 800 viewers a day without a source of info. The site was down for 14 days.
                 SPRING April through June 2003
          Ahhhh, Spring - warmer weather, short sleeve shirts. Molly Moochers were popping up as the body count in Iraq mounted. Clayberry was glued to the TVs. Government controlled nightly updates looked promising. One little sign was posted at the Courthouse: Just say no to George W. Bush, Killing babies for oil is wrong; Spending billions of your tax money to steal oil is wrong; Self defense is OK, this war is not self defense!! The sign was removed after just two days on the courthouse window.
                 Prosecutor Grindo stepped to the plate and got the thumbs up on 27 indictments during the Spring Grand Jury. The Peggy DeBoard welfare fraud case was tossed March 27th when juror Eric Pierson got caught talking to the defendant. Pierson was arrested on the spot, Judge Alsop got HOT!!
                 During Town Council meetings, locals raised ‘’over poor Thompson Cable Co. performance, the new sewer plant continued to loose money and suggestions were made to increase sewer rates. Buckshot Butcher was hired as Town Cop near the end of March by Mayor Arthur Jarrett. When asked what Butcher would be paid as Chief of Police, Mayor Jarrett responded, “It’ none of their d*** business.”Shortly thereafter, vandals stole 3 hand carved wooden owls from Jarrett’ front yard at Two Run.
         Expensive, treated, Town of Clay water continued to run out of the Maysel booster station and straight into the close by creek.
                 Clay Roane PSD asked water operators to take a pay cut. Overtime was eliminated. PSD records disappeared late one evening from the Procious Water Plant office. Matt Mullins raised sexual harassment charges against the PSD secretary. The Amma/Left Hand water line extension stalled again as not enough potential customers could be found to justify the project cost. PSD Chair Postelwait was told to stop being so rude during public meetings.
                 With Spring in the air a long standing family feud erupted once again as gun shoots were heard. Elvis Dawson and David Starcher were at it again. Yellow ribbons went up on county buildings in support of the war effort. Cars were seen tooling around the county with flags affixed to antennas.
                 During April Clay Roane meetings, finances got worse. By mid April, the PSD was “25,000 in the hole”according to Boardster Larry White. Total debt load rose to $46,000. Locals came out in force to protest high water bills and crappy water unfit for consumption. Tracy Metheney said that he wasn’ about to pay a $84.00 water bill. Others complained about being charged for air in the lines instead of water. Chair Postelwait confirmed that air running through a meter will be charged as if it were water. The wired haired lady from Newton yelled out, “OU ARE THE WATER PROBLEM! YOU’E WASTING THE TAXPAPYER’ DOLLAR!”
                 On April 12th, local panhandler and Prestera client Danny Workman was arrested for begging on the street. After running from arresting officer Miles Slack, Prestera (formerly Shawnee Hills) refused to go his bail and Danny was thrown in the slammer. 38 year old Danny “row”Smith died shortly after being beaten in the head repeatedly by street thugs. Regional media outlets picked up on the story and once again, Clay was in the news. No charges were ever filed against the rock yielding thugs. With the weather warming, fights broke out in the Rite Aid parking lot. James McCune took it on the head. For the first time ever, Clayberry was beginning to feel the fallout from the local underground drug trade. With vehicles being stolen in broad daylight and thugs walking the streets and vandalizing homes at night, locals locked front doors for the first time.
                 Long time Courthouse janitor Ann Osborne quit her job. Valley Fork Principal Mike Schoonover announced he’ retire at the end of the school year and Roger Miller from Roane County was hired to fill his spot. Laverne Taylor was named as the new principal at H. E. White Elementary in the coming year. Clay County Commissioners filed a formal protest against Clay County PSD over their purchase of a high dollar double wide trailer. Commissioners gave the final word to General Ambulance’ offer to come in and provide service for this county. From Commissioner Sams, “ight now, we don’ need you.”
                 With J.D. Morris sentenced and in jail, on April 24th the Clay County Bank was again ordered to make major changes as a cease and desist order was issued by the Federal regulators. The feds said lending practices must change now, bank officers have to be paid less, bank officers have to be trained or fired…. The once 9th strongest bank in the nation was shaken. The pillar of the community struggled in 2003. The “hanging of the Guard”continued.
                 The Town of Clay Water system faltered and they issued a Boil Water Order April 18th, people went out ramp digging, kids headed for the river for some early fishing fun, and Bentree Grocery burned to the ground in a suspicious fire. Town of Clay leadership told Clay Roane PSD leadership, pay your water bill, we can’ carry you, or we’l cut off your service. The Town supplies some of Clay Roane’ water needs.
                 April 29th. Tattoo Vince got his day in Court. Vince Golosaw was found guilty of brutally murdering Judd Reid and was sentenced to life without parole. During the trial, Vince sat reading copies of the Communicator. After the trial, as he was being escorted to a waiting Correctional Authority van, Vince gave an evil look to one guy standing outside taking pictures of the event.
                 By the middle of May, Clay Roane PSD had a change. Just weeks earlier, the PSD said they had enough signatures to proceed with the Amma / Left hand project. On May 8th, they retracted that statement and the long overdue project stalled once again.
                 In June, Town of Cop Buckshot Butcher along with several local merchants showed the goodness of Clay County when penniless Edward Hernandez appeared in the town destitute. Locals gathered money and clothes for the young man. Butcher bandaged his bleeding feet and gave him a pair of sneakers before buying Hernandez a Greyhound bus ticket for home and putting $200 in the lad’ pocket..
          Mack Samples won the top prize at the 27th Annual Vandalia Gathering in Charleston. Salaries went up at the Health Dept. On the 9th, Filcon Inc’ filter making equipment sold at auction for les than $2500.00, a far cry from the CAEZ authored $1 million appraisal. Fist fights continued in the Town of Clay as Butcher and State Police Officer Bailey separated Jerry Cash II and Orville Hilderband. Both were sent over to Magistrate Court. Three people were charged with operating a Meth lab over in Leatherwood. All three were later released when law enforcement figures out the warrants were flawed.
         SUMMER, And the Livin is Easy
                 The Town of Clay changed leadership on June 10th as long time politicians were turned out to pasture. Mayor “ing”Arthur Jarrett retained the throne as did Betty Murphy and Sally Legg. Cast asides included Joyce Gibson, Cathy Butcher, Paige Willis, Wanda Chambers, and Okey Burroughs. New faces voted into office: Dwana Murphy, Frank Childers, Billie Jane Zegeer, and Phil “atman”Morris. The guard changed!
                 During the summer months, new money came to the Central Appalachia Empowerment Zone. Micro loans were handed out to start up businesses without benefit of good collateral. One business got a loan by tying up an old PC and 10 year old Chevy Carry All.
                 In an attempt to cut corners and limit liability, our Commission reduced $ for Fire Department insurance coverage. During a summer CCC gathering, Clay Roane PSD announced the purchase of $8500 in computer software and had lost 2 years of financial records. Other records were found in a duffle bag!
                 In the summer our 13-14 year olds captured the District 8 Junior League Championship. Things didn’ go so well for the guys in Charleston on the state level. Trooper Ellyson made a presentation before the Grand Jury July 11th and Tonya Salisbury was indicted for second degree murder. Danny Workman made the news again by being arresting for weenie waving in front of the Clay County Bank. Due to years of bad faith and little desire to improve their service, the WV Public Service Commission asked for Circuit Court intervention and place Valley, Beechy, and Wagner Gas Companies into receivership.
                 So how much does it cost to make water at the Procious Water plant? The Board found out in July 2003, $4.33 per 100 gallons.
         Conflicts continued within Clay Roane PSD all summer with employee strife and poor Board relations between Jennifer Traub and Boardster Dave Saulsgiver. By fall, our Board of Education OK’ turning one perfectly good first floor classroom at Clay Middle School into a weight room.
                 In the heat of the summer Mayor Jarrett asked Town Cop Butcher to resign. In this paper we called it getting fired. Within two weeks, Butcher +was back on the job. Over in Widen, the locals decided they would rather have high dollar water from Birch River PSD piped into their community instead of their own cost efficient system which would have cost them pennies a day. So much for a good idea from community activist Darlene Morris! During July the School Board learned they were still in the black budget-wise, but continued to worry about next year due to the hefty wage increases for teachers that completed the Master’ program at H.E. White. Superintendent Jerry Linkinogger was very displeased that Senator Randy White had failed to snag them some money from the Budget Digest: “f Jim Dawson had that seat we wouldn’ have that problem.” On July 28th, WV Water came to a County Commission meeting and said they could probably solve our water problems but before they would enter the Clayberry arena, the county would need to come up with a 10 year business plan, a plan that would lay out where we wanted business growth and housing start ups. At year end, the CCC had done nothing in the way of a much needed strategic plan. By mid July, Clay County PSD was in their new double trailer on Main street. Clay Roane PSD raised the salaries of Boardsters to $100 per regular meeting and $75for special meetings.
                 In August Procious Water operator bobby Burdette was suspended from duty for falsifying reports on time he was at the plant. While absent from duty, the water continued to be treated without an adult around. CAEZ meetings got a little more lively in late summer with operations continuing without a formal budget. Jerry Sizemore became a part time Director and Connie Luperdas was added to the staff on a more permanent basis as tourism development person.
                 Clay Mt. Housing disappeared from Main Street deeply in debt. The Lizemores “e Want Water Group”continued to meet and work toward getting water service in their area of the county. The School Board decided to offer teachers $100 next year if they go a whole semester without an absence in hopes the incentive will save money on substitutes.
                 Doing some slick maneuvering, the Town of Clay was allowed a $1 million dollar grant to upgrade the existing water lines, tanks, and booster stations. Slick? For 6 years, the Town leaders had fought over building a new high dollar water plant, a fight that left many hard feelings, and a fight that affected the entire county. Grant, readers, no pay back.
          In late summer law enforcement from around the state were on a hunt to find bodies floating down the Elk. The rumor of the bodies was just that, nothing more. Hundreds of man hours were wasted. Back in 1999, 74 year old Bob Thorne had the stuffings beat out of him by military garbed State Police Officers. His police brutality lawsuit was settled in the summer of 2003. The exact settlement amount was not disclosed but the guess was, a bunch! As Winter, Spring, and Summer wore on, Commissioner Matthew Bragg continued his habit of missing meeting after CCC meeting. Over in court room land, Braxton County resident and appointed Prosecutor Daniel Grindo got his butt chewed by Judge Facemire for failing to have a case ready for trial costing the county $9000 of wasted time. Grumbling continued over the Prosecutor not being available for service. Grindo asked the Commission to hire Dan Dotson as an Assistant Prosecutor. He didn’ get the help!
                 In the land of economic development, by late summer, there had been a change. Beginning in May, Jerry Sizemore from the CAEZ and others began to speak about developing a tourism business base and get away from trying to lure a smoke stack industry into the county. Talk came and went on an ATV trail, river excursions, camping spaces, and using the Elk River as a draw to get people into the area to spend money. Talk, that’ about all. Our Business Development Authority planned their court strategy to regain control of the Filcon, Inc. site from the Clayberry Bank.
                 From out of the blue on September 16th the youthful Greg Gency took control of the Clay County Bank when 30 year veteran Scott Legg resigned after a Tuesday Board meeting. The county went into shock. Few could believe that 54 year old Legg had bailed out. Rumors went rampant. Some felt that he was tossed out to comply with Federal Regulators. Older folks once again felt insecure. New interim President Gency said Legg retired for health reasons. One more brick in the armor of small town America had been removed.
                 As the leaves started to change color, Clay Roane PSD made the news again when State Health officials made it clear, problems in the Queen Shoals area MUST be corrected or else the system would be turned over to the Feds for correction. 9 months into the new year, still no new water lines laid, and more Boil Water Orders were issued. Local customers began to fume over high water rates and unusable water for much of the time.

                 The shotgun pellet riddled body of Leon Runnion was found at his home. Foul play was not ruled out by county law enforcement. During the Apple Festival, vandals used razors to slit tires. Prosecutor Grindo’ practice of dismissing cases continued. Out on bond Tonya Salisbury flunked several drug tests and the Court considered revoking her bond, After a compassionate plea from attorney John Mitchell Sr., the Court gave her one more chance.
                 Continuing the pattern from the last 3 years, Clay County Bank finished another quarter in the red. Clay County PSD filed a formal complaint against the Town of Clay Water operation for water purchased from the wholesaler. In Magistrate King’ court, a jury ruled that it was illegal to ride a four wheeler without a license. Later Circuit Court Judge Rick Facemire sat aside the ruling and sent it back to magistrate court for another try.
                 Clay County PSD raised the price on water tap security deposits and had a beginning balance in October of $224.96. County Commission took it on the nose during the WV PSC Commission hearing on the PSD purchasing an expensive double wide trailer against CCC wishes. CCC attorney Grindo never raised an issue before the judge.
                 Misc Notes: Town clerk Dwana Murphy took a reduction is salary to settle a dispute between her and maintenance man Terry Traub. Petitions circulated around the county asking for better law enforcement in the town of Clay. Seeing their winky in the wringer, Clay Roane PSD asked the CCC to reform the old Queen Shoals PSD Board of Directors. Chuck Blankenship and Chad Salisbury were remembered. Our County Commission purchased $15,000 in 911 computer software. Clay County Schools announced they’ been awarded a $500,000 Distance Learning Grant. Bad news was the county is down 80 students this year, which will mean $346,000 less in the school budget next year.
                 As October ended, the Shamberger vs. County Commission lawsuit was heard before Judge Wilson. Schamb presented her case and asked many questions of the under oath Commissioners. Mums the word! No one seemed to be able to remember a word. Did this happen? I don’ know. Is the sky blue? I don’ know. Do you have a backbone? I’ not sure! No decision was made by Wilson.
                 In November, storms and flooding ripped through the county leaving many with water in places it had never been before. Another storm came to the Bank of Gassaway. The Feds had cracked the whip. The bank agreed to make major operation and lending practice changes and comply with the Federal regulators. Many of the words in the Gassaway agreement mirrored one signed earlier by the Clay County Bank.
                 The parents of Chad Salisbury hired Dan Dotson ($10,000.00) to replace Prosecutor Grindo. Dotson would represent the State in the Tonya Salisbury 2nd degree murder case. During the proceedings the Judge ordered Ms Salisbury into police custody and off to jail for failing more drug tests. Outside the Courtroom, Tonya’ Mother said, “on’ write nothing bad about my baby in that paper.”Father of the deceased Jimmy Salisbury retorted, “he can visit her daughter anytime… I can never see my son again.”
                 Changing of the Guard: Bank of Gassaway Branch Manager Fran King was fired Nov. 21, 2003. Her termination letter stated that she had exposed the bank to faulty loan practices.
                 After missing nearly as many meetings as he attended, Commissioner Bragg was given a nickname, H.A.C., Matthew “e Ain’ Comin”Bragg. Bragg was upset and told this paper and that little ace cub reporter, “ou better not step over the line!”as he threatened a lawsuit to take everything the Communicator had (1 computer and three reams of paper).
                 Notes: Nov. 19th, another shooting out Grannies Creek after a truck had been stolen, shot at, and burned a week earlier. The Henry Clay Hotel was robbed of its cash register. The Clay County Bank foreclosed on one time Prosecutor Wayne King’ home and land. A few weeks later it was revealed that King had two formal complaints against him at the WV Bar Association. Elk Power applied for a “ass through”rate increase. No one complained. In the most current edition of The Nation’ Report Card, WV schools performed at or near the bottom in reading and math skills. 76% of WV’ 4th graders scored at basic or below basic proficiency . For reading, WV kids, along with those in Texas, Tennessee, and Mississippi ranked at the bottom.
                 And then came the year end holidays. For Clay County, West Virginia taxpayers, we lost $90,000 in hard earned cash in December as a jury, for all intents and purposes, gave the Filcon, Inc. property to the Clay County Bank. After the two day trial BDA vs. Clay County Bank, bank attorney Kevin Duffy said, “ told you all you should have settled.”
                 The School Building Authority announced they will fund a new school in Clay County that will combine Valley Fork and Ivydale Elementary Schools at a cost of $4 million.
                 In County Commission land discussions centered on floating an emergency service levy to support the volunteer fire departments and the ambulance service. Most were hesitant on the prospect of county taxpayers supporting the ambulance folks. Ambulance Service Director Mitzie Adkins penned her resignation letter citing family illnesses and the need to spend time with them. Our local Health Department explained to their governing board a need to cut back on services.
                 In the Earnie Sirk vs. Clay Development Corp. (CDC) case, the testimony finally came December 11th. Although no decision was made that day or as of this printing, Judge Alsop seemed to be leaning in favor of Sirk’ claim: CDC was operating as they darn well pleased and without regard to their own bylaws.
                 Near the end of the year, many customers lost water service in the Queen Shoals and Clay Roane service areas of the county. Day after day they had no way to wash, clean, bath. Christmas dinners were cut back due to no water to do the dishes.
                 With an election just around the corner, 2004 has all the promise any reporter would enjoy. The year past was truly the “hanging of the guard”year for this small community. The vacuum left by the departure of key figures is waiting to be filled.                                                                         
         —AW and TK
-Law Enforcement Called-
                 It’ been a while readers since we’e had a rowdy Clay Roane PSD meeting but it came Jan 8th. At one point law enforcement was called to remove one irate water customer from the gathering.
                 With over 30 folks in the peanut gallery, Clay Roane PSD opened their regular meeting Jan 8th at 7:10pm. Board Chair Melissa Postelwait was surrounded by Glenn Sutton, Larry White, Dave Saulsgiver, and Gary Whaling. Also in attendance were newly appointed Queen Shoals PSD (QSPSD) Board members Jimmy Kearns and Ann Anderson who sat back in the gallery with regular people. So how important was this meeting? Well, all three county Commissioners were present!
                 Briefly, minutes approved, bills paid, and the PSD decided to table the purchase of a backup generator for the plant and booster station ( too costly). After a 34 minute secret time to discuss maternity leave for the office manager, the action began. The issue: bunches of QSPSD and Clay Roane water customers spent days and days without water or without water suitable for drinking. The water outage was a result of several water line breaks which began for most customers on Dec 17th and continued thru Jan 2nd. Many in attendance brought with them samples of brown, slimy water from their home taps. Rose Cantrell brought a five gallon jug of water she received directly from the Procious Water plant faucet. The bottom two inches of Cantrell’ jug was full of brown swirling stuff. Not too pretty readers and certainly not fit to drink.
                 Clint Salyers was first to speak. Salyers brought a 2 liter jug full of brown yuck and said he had been dealing with crappy water for years, wasn’ going to put up with it anymore , and “0 years is enough to put up with this stuff, I’ tired of it” The Board agreed to change the water tap set up at his Elkhurst Rd home in hopes of eliminating the sediment problem.
                 Teresa Davis showed the Board bath towels that had turned yellow as a result of using the Clay Roane water in her washing machine. Davis, “hat’ going to be done!!”She went on to say, when water was flowing to her home, the smell of chlorine was very strong and the plant’ treatment chemicals in the water would destroy commode gaskets in a matter of weeks. She also informed the Board of little Boil Water Order (BWO) notice provided. On the issue of BWOs, Boardster Gary Whaling suggested that calling circles be set up.
                 One older fellow went up front and showed documentation of water bills tripling in the last 12 months. Board agreed to check out his meter.
                 How would you like to be paying for air instead of water readers. One person asked if air in lines could cause a water meter to give false readings. Long time water operator and now Board member Dave Saulsgiver shook his head Yes. Hands went up everywhere. One guy. “We got to pay for what? Air?” The crowd got twitchy. Must have been about the same feeling Gen Custer got a few years back!
                 Rose Cantrell told the Board she wasn’ about to pay for water like the stuff she brought from the water plant in a big blue jug. Not yelling but certainly assertive, “’ not paying for water like that… There better be some pro rating…. When we did have water it was mostly air!”The Mother of two also expressed concerns over her kids in HE White Elem where BWOs are often NOT observed. She told stories of the school’ only water open being left on exposing all students to possible serious health issues during Boil Water Order times. Cantrell was assured that the schools are always notified and it was the schools that chose to expose kids to the dangers of bad water. Postelwait explained she asked Superintendent Linkinoooger to adopt a county wide policy for such times. Postel, “Why they don’ act is beyond me.”
                 One fellow in the back mentioned one of our favorite people, WV Public Service Commission engineer Jim Weimer. According to this fellow, Wiemer was directly responsible for blowing out a water line by shooting 100 gallons of water per minute thru a line without first “lowing off”the line, “here’ Weimer Tonight???” Some in attendance complained of times during the last three weeks when water was in the system and their water valves were NOT turned on for days. Postelwait, “The PSC has no idea of what’ going on…the just screw it all up!!”
                 With many hands still in the air, with mumblings going on through out the crowd, one lady in the back got started. The ladies last name was Caldwell and this reporter thinks Jeanna goes with that last name. We’l just call her Caldwell…
                 From out of the back Ms Caldwell was not happy. She pretty much told Postelwait to keep her pie hole shut and let other Boardsters speak for once. Postelwait tried to cut her off with , “Now You Listen!!”didn’ work. Caldwell, “O YOU LISTEN!!!”Postelwait, “YOU AREA DISRUPTION, YOU CAN WALK OUT NOW. LEAVE!!!!”Didn’ happen. Caldwell said Postelwait that she had threatened her Mother and didn’ like it one bit.”And then And then. Caldwell;; went over the line and pretty much threatened to whip Postelwait’ butt ( Boy that would be a job readers). That was it and Postelwait told the woman to high tail it out of there or she would call the cops. Caldwell said she wasn’ afraid of being escorted out of a meeting one bit! With phone in hand, “his is Melissa Postelwait and I need someone to remove a disruptive lady from a public meeting.”
                 Loudly Caldwell told all not to take any crap from Postel and showed the gathered her $53 water bill. As Deputy Belt and Chief of Police Butcher were coming thru the double glass front door, others in the crowd continued with stuff like, “ou aught to cut our bills in half!”and “E AUGHT TO SEND YOU [ the PSD] A BILL!”and something along the lines of: Where’ that pen head Jim Weimer??
                 Ms Caldwell was escorted out of the CDC building without incident. As she was being removed, others in support of her, left as well. The heated debate continued. Commissioner Mathew Bragg, dressed in his black police outfit, stood and addressed the crowd. Bragg explained he had asked WV Water to come to a last summer CCC meeting and explain what the water giant could do to improve water service. Bragg, “I was about to get strung up just for inviting them!!… Clay County wants no outsiders.”Lefty Summers commented ,”Politicians don’ want it!”
                 Back and forth.. hot water tanks blowing up, price of the water doesn’ match the quality of the water, we’e paying for air in the lines, the water is brown, why pay high rates for that crap, who’ responsible for this mess????? On and on. The ever feisty Cantrell lady shot back, “YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS!”She then detailed how customers can file for a roll back of prices at the WV PSC. After Boardster Larry White explained the many problems may take years to correct, Jimmy Kearns came back with, “ow Larry, that’ not good enough.”Glen Sutton left the building.
                  Maintenance man Dale Deems got all fired up. Celia Coon suggested that Queen Shoals should just take back their system and operate it themselves. We could go on, instead we close with this. From WV PSC data, for 4500 gallons of water, WV Water Co customers pay $46.23; Clay County PSD customers pay $50.28; Queen Shoals PSD customers pay $47.98, and Clay Roane PSD customers pay $46.60. Of the 420 water providers in the entire state, Clay Roane, Clay County and Queen Shoals are in the top 10 highest charging water providers! Who’ the cheapest? Marianna PSD in Wyoming County at $2.00 for 4500 gallons of wa wa.
                 It’ a new year with the same old pee poor water at nearly the highest rates in the state. Note: Watch for Queen Shoals to take back and operate their system in two weeks!                                        AW
         How’ Your Health…Insurance?
By Jim Chafin

                 The following is a letter sent to AARP Chief Executive Officer, 601 E Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20049, dated November 25, 2003.
                 Well, you finally did it – chose between the best interests of your subscribers and the inner-beltway society of which you have become a part. I refer to your announced support of the Republican junta that has produced THE most potent attack on our Medicare system since it was put in place in 1965. Those people were brought to the table back then, kicking and screaming, and they have fought ever since against EVERY social program that has been introduced in Congress that purported to help working folks and the poor and disabled. And this current attack on Medicare is the most strident that I can ever remember. And AARP joins in on the side of those whose every public statement reads like a scripted play, choreographed from the Oval Office. An administration, by the way, that was not elected in the constitutional sense, but coronated by five Republican judges on the Supreme Court – an illegal and unconstitutional act if I ever saw one. And you support this kind of law made by man. I disagree with you, and I oppose what is now being perpetrated upon the seniors of this nation.
                 Did you know, or are you aware that the Administrative Department of our government is supposed to be separate and independent from the legislative section? Did you know that political parties have no constitutional role in the affairs of this nation? Did you know that the different branches of government are supposed to have equality? And, do you know that none of the above is a reality in this nation today? Do you ever consider the consequences of what is going on in Washington, D.C. each and every day? Do you know that the lies and half-truths are hurting this country in its ability to live up to the promises made by those who crafted our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution? Do you know there is a warfare going on in “he land of the free and the home of the brave?” Well, there is! And it’ a war being waged by the rich and powerful against the working class and the poor.
                 Oh, yes, it’ true – this nation is a virtual clone of long ago Rome, with its perversions of law perpetrated against an economically deprived citizenry. Shame, shame, on this society for the frauds committed against a major segment of its population!
                 FACT: People are not poor in this country by choice. Poverty is created in the boardrooms of America’ corporations who make decisions without due consideration for those who will be affected; i.e., employees, individuals, and/or communities. These people have inordinately large inputs into any and all legislation by virtue of their constant presence in the legislatures of this nation through paid lobbyists, while working Americans are busy just being able to put food on the table. And that is where AARP should be – constantly in the face of those whose duty it is to enact equality into the nation’ statutes. However, AARP has become a middleman in the sale of insurance. AARP has become a wealthy organization on the backs of the poor. AARP has joined the ranks of America’ elite corporations and has developed near-sightedness in its policies towards those who pay its wages. AARP has lost its sense of direction.
                 As for me and mine, AARP has already priced itself out of my reach, and has been deaf to my complaints. To my knowledge, AARP does little to police or control the policies of those for whom it sells insurance – those corporation policies seem to be no different from any other with which I have had contact. In reality, I have found that insurance companies are so embedded in the law that they do not have anything more than a fat politician’ view of its own clients. I submit that most insurance companies do not give a big rat’ tail whether an individual buys their product or not. Sometimes I get the impression that less is more in the insurance business.
                 America is getting raked over the coals by the coalition of healthcare and insurance industries! Their policies are designed to protect wasteful practices, and do little to encourage efficiency in this aggressive and bloated enterprise. This nation deserves better treatment from this industry to which so much has been given.
         BOB CLARKE
                 The great Irish satirist , Jonathan Swift [1667-1745], an Anglican clergyman, was a figure who moved on all social levels, from the royal court to the streets of Dublin and London. Many are familiar with his most famous work, Gulliver’ Travels [1726], arguably the world’ most well-known satire. There is no other work like it in western literature. Taken as a novel, it can be read as one of the world’ most delightful children’ stories. Lemuel Gulliver, a rather dim-witted voyager, travels to Lilliput, a land inhabited by tiny people, about six inches tall. This part of the story, beloved by generations of children, has inspired legions of graphic illustrators, especially the scene when Gulliver, after a sound sleep, finds himself tied down, surrounded by his tiny captors. Swift’ purpose, however, is not merely to entertain: he means to teach. On another level, the term “illiputian”comes to mean narrow-minded.
                 A lesser known episode in Gulliver’ Travels is our hero’ voyage to the land of the Houyhnhnms. This is word coined/invented by Swift to imitate the sound of a horse whinnying. The Houyhnhnms are a race of horse-like creatures with reasoning power and human virtues. This part of the story may well be the origin of the term “orse sense.” These are creatures to whom any form of violence would constitute an abuse of reason. When Gulliver tells the leader of the Houyhnhnms about the never-ending wars in Europe, as well as about the many devices of human destruction such as canons and firearms, his listener is stunned in disbelief. He says: You have said the thing that is not.” The message here is that the horse-creatures, who live in a world that is ruled by logic and reason, have no word in their vocabulary for “ie.” George Bernard Shaw, another Irishman, said: “ look at the world as it is, and I ask: ‘hy?’ I look at the world as it could be, and I ask: ‘hy not?’
                 Another one of the creatures to be found in Swift’ multi-leveled stories is the repulsive, disgusting, unsanitary “ahoo.” The less that is said about this creature who combines the form and all the vices of man the better, except that the Yahoo can be found everywhere we look. There is undoubtedly one on your street. Poor old Lemuel Gulliver may be dense, but he has a good heart. When he returns to his homeland, he writes countless letters to many newspapers, lecturing on the evils of the human race. Months later, he expresses bewilderment that the world does not seem to show promise of reform. Swift’ masterpiece is Sui Generis [one of a kind].
                 It seems to some of us that the current administration has been particularly adept at saying “hat is not.” If we don’ fight the “vil-doers”on the streets of Baghdad, we will be forced to fight them on the streets of New York, Philadelphia, Boston, etc. Does anyone actually believe this? It was a spin going around while Saddam was at large, but rarely used as a reference to Osama bin Forgotten. It is the height of absurdity that the hardliners are still babbling about Iraq’ weapons of mass destruction. Count Otto von Chaney is still talking about it whenever some enterprising reporter can find out where he’ hiding. Cheney must have an ego as large as the Grand Canyon if he believes that, if anything dire happens to him, the Republic will collapse. And, speaking of Saddam Hussein, the ignominy of his capture defies description: it almost leads to the question: Whatever happens to arch-villains? Perhaps we could simply remark that villains aren’ what they used to be. Brutus fell on his sword. Hitler and Goering did themselves in, while the so-called Butcher of Baghdad, the New Saladin went meekly, destroying any possibility of remaining a totemic symbol to his followers. He must be a deep disappointment to all the potential mad dogs of the world.
                 There can be no satisfaction in suggesting that Osama bin Ladin will prove to be a far more difficult nut to crack. The wild and mountainous terrain is far more hospitable to him than to those who hunt him. Moreover, if we are to believe the press, the Taliban leader has supporters around the globe. With the understanding that it is dangerous to praise one’ enemy, but that it is even more dangerous to underestimate him, consider the following assertion. Osama is a superb psychologist. He understands the concept of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Look what he’ done to us. 9/11 virtually destroyed our economy: it pushed the nation into a constant state of fearful apprehension. Ridge’ silly color code warnings notwithstanding, bin Ladin knows that the intangible is always more frightening than the tangible. An interesting sidelight for those with a long memory, is that when the 9/11 attack occurred, bin Ladin denied having participated in it. Later, he took credit. We may never know his motives, but later historians may find other, or at least more, sources for that dark day.
                 Those of us with a jaundiced view of the administration are tempted to suggest that Bush’ Thanksgiving appearance in Iraq, armed with a plastic turkey, yet another photo-op for the coming election is a perfect symbol for the whole gang now in power. It is a small episode in what has become the Success Offensive. Daily, the media trumpets: “he economy is booming!”and, you query: How do we know this? The good old gross national product [GNP] is at 8.2. It is doubtful that this news will bring a spring to the step and joy to the hearts of the nine million people who are unemployed, including the almost three million people who have lost their jobs during Bush’ three years in the White House. It has been reported that the Department of Labor has been instructed to stop keeping employment statistics. What the masses don’ know will, in this case, hurt them. Oblivion affects voting patterns. The numbers cited above do not even include the uncounted multitudes who have given up hope of gainful employment. But the GDP is rising, the stock market is up, and there is joy across the land among the fortunate few.
                 We are dealing with different realities here. Tell John Q. Public, who has been out of a job for two years and whose unemployment compensation has expired that the GDP has gone up, and the new has about as much meaning as an advanced concept in quantum physics. Here is a more authoritative source:
                 …Gross domestic product is an interesting number, but since the mid-1970’, it has not correlated with the well-being of most Americans; in fact, almost the entire increase in GDP in that period has gone to the upper quintile of the income distribution, whose average income is now over 10 times that of the bottom quintile.
         In addition:…Increasing the income of the already rich or spending money abroad has almost no effect on unemployment. –William F. Schreiber, Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
                 Nevertheless, the talking heads on TV news, those who have been scraping by on annual salaries of $3 million up, have been chortling happily over the airways in the attempt to dispel the myth of a bad economy. In terms of the 2004 election, FOX, MSNBC, and even CNN might as well as considered branchy offices of the White House.
         The Pentagon’ Inspector General conceded that the Defense Department cannot account for 25 percent of the funds it spends.
         From 1992-2002 Lockheed Martin contributed $10,049,997 to congressional and presidential campaigns.
         The surface of American society is covered with a layer of Democratic paint, but from time to time, one can see the old aristocratic colors breaking through.
                  -Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
         America’ destiny is not power, but light.
                                 -Benjamin Franklin
         Earlier this year Antonin Scalia gave a speech in Chicago. His topic was the importance of the First Amendment. Reporters were barred from his speech.
         The Pentagon spends more than a billion a day, but the soldiers who went from cave to cave in Afghanistan in 2002 trying to root out al Qaeda forces, had to buy their own gloves, cushioned socks, cargo belts, flashlights, padded rucksacks, straps and other equipment.
         Two years ago in Cairo, Colin Powell stated that Iraq posed no threat to its neighbors, and possessed no “ignificant capability”in weapons of mass destruction. When confronted with this comment, Powell’ lame reply: “t was early in the administration.”
         Let’ hear it for vulture capitalism!
          Do-It-Yourselfers Take Heed Selling Your Home or Property!
          Selling real estate is like writing - it looks easy to those who have never done it. April 25,2003, Realty Times
          Many people think that selling a home is very simple. A sign goes up in the yard, and a few weeks later (or months, sometimes) the sign goes down. How hard can it be? Well, let's just look at a typical agent's job description.
          l. Analyze the value of your house to come up with a salable price. This entails researching the market through the local multiple listing system, local real estate listings and court records to find what has sold that matches your property. Then a price is determined either as a cost per square foot or model type, taking into account the amenities and features of the house.
          2. Consult with the owner to get the house in shape. Have the gall to tell the seller that the mauve walls just won't work and to paint them all cream. Replace the carpet. Rent a storage unit and take about 25-50 per cent of the household items out of the house to make it presentable.
          3. Construct a marketing campaign to get your house in front of enough people to attract offers from qualified buyers. And pay for the marketing up front with her/his own money. Agents spend thousands of dollars a year marketing real estate, some up to 25-35 percent of their revenue, on newspapers, real estate publications, web sites, pagers, handheld devices, cell phone expenses, computers, free gifts to sellers and/or buyers and a plethora of other expenses to market real estate.
          4. Now she's (or he) going to show the property at the convenience of the buyer, not the agent's schedule. If you're working full time and trying to sell your house, when will you take off to show the property to potential buyers? And how will you know if they are qualified to purchase the house without asking a lot of personal questions, that frankly, they should not be answering to the seller? Let's say you get a contract; now the agent is going to negotiate this mulit-page document loaded with a lot of legal requirements (statutary and regulatory). Are you sure you have completed all the necessary local, state, and national requirements? What are you going to do when you have owners complaining about inoperable equipment in their recently purchased house? It is hard to roll back the hands of time!
          Think before you do something that could cost you in the long run! The title of the article was: Do-it-yourselfers take heed selling your home of property. Would it not be wise to obtain the services of an experienced agent who has between 80-120 hours of state required course work? In addition, one who has gained expertise and knowledge outside the classroom to
         handle your real estate procedures when selling your house. Just like the saying, selling your real estate looks easy to those that have never done it. Play it safe and hire an experienced real estate agent who can help you before you get into costly problems.
         This article is brought as a public service to you by
         Dave Derby, Sales Associate, Greenlee Properties Inc.
         GMAC Real Estate: Clay Office.
          Tell the commissioners if they are so concerned, all of a sudden, about the Queen Shoals water problem and nobody having water for Christmas and New Years, and no sanitation, why are they against us trying to improve the quality of our area by seeing if WV American Water will take us? This would upgrade a forgotten part, a dead area so to speak, and the last to get anything for the people.
          We, at Queen Shoals, have to take our future in our own hands if we want to improve anything. If there was any communication at all, within the commission, Mr. Bragg would have known about the problem. But, being from a different district, he wouldn't or couldn't do anything. That is the problem with all of Clay County, we still live in the l800's, there is no communication at all. It's like know one has a telephone or anything else. At least in the l800's the Indians had smoke signals, and the people had a telegraph! That's how they prospered, and became a nation and city, and factories grew from there, but we don't have any of that. I know this to be a fact, because we don't have any cities with businesses and factories, and there isn't any plans to put any in, because to do this you have to do something, like get out of your chair, and go to the Capitol, and lobby for the good of the county. To me this is part of a commissioners job! Need I say more?
                  Frank Kish
                  Queen Shoals,
                  Bomont Area
         CHATTER 2
          Finally good news for our Nation! President Bush’ order, changing the U.S. Clean Air Act rules, that were going to be effective week before last have been blocked from going into effect by an order issued by the three Judge panel of The Federal U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for The District of Columbia. The Bush changes presented a real and immediate threat to the Health and Welfare of U.S. Citizens.
          The Federal Judges rightly said the twelve States, New York City, Washington DC, San Francisco, New Haven and a host of other Conneticut Cities that are challenging these New Air Rules have; “Demonstrated the irreparable harm and likelihood of success”of their case.
          We all know that more pollutants in our air is a BAD thing. Federal Judges saying this will cause “rreparable harm”is our advance warning that this administration does not have the best interests of the public in mind or heart.
          What kind of a President would do this to U.S. Citizens? We must insure that Bush is a one term president in order to have clean air that sustains life.
                 Fred Sampson, President
                 West Virginia Environmental Council
                 1324 Virginia St. E.
                 Charleston, WV 25301
                 304-346-5905, H-304-286-2204
         CHATTER 3
                 I am thirteen years of age. I would like to know why it isn’ against the law to get an abortion. I ask this because it is against the law to kill someone and when you get an abortion you are killing one of God’ people. Did you know that there are about 4,000 to 5,000 babies murdered a day? I am a kid and even I knew that. But you know what? I know exactly why you didn’ know that, because you don’ care pastors. Also to all you mothers out there how can you kill your own child and not feel guilty? Furthermore, why can a person get an abortion and not go to jail? I also think that why they are killing their kid, it is because most of the murders are around sixteen or younger and is afraid of getting in trouble by their parents. If you killing mothers are brave enough to have sex then you should be brave enough to have a baby. One of these days you will have to stand before God and what are you going to tell him? My frog ate it, I don’ think so. So next time you go to get an abortion what are you going to do when judgment day comes? Finally, next time when you also get an abortion think to yourself of what you are doing to our community. So please try to stop people from getting abortions. You can be one of those many people that can save lives. Also remember you can make a difference.
                                         Thank you,
                                         Evelena Ann Fugate
         CCHS Team Dances at Citrus Bowl
          On Saturday, December 27, when the Clay High School Dance Team left for Orlando, Florida, the only thought on the girls minds was FUN and GAMES and PERFORMING!!! Even when we stopped in St. Augustine, Florida and climbed the lighthouse, we were excited about sightseeing. Then on Monday the ESP Tour took us to Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom and we were in the fun and games mode.
          But Tuesday morning on a practice football field in the beautiful hot 80 degree sunshine, reality set in. Dancing and performing is very hard work. Tuesday's practice was 8 hours long. That evening, even
         our blisters had blisters and our 45spf was long gone with everyone sporting a sunburn. Wednesday's practice began at 8a.m. on the same field with the same weather, thank goodness it was only 7 hours long. Wednesday evening, suffering from blisters, sunburn and compete exhaustion, we boarded the tour buses for Universal Studio's New Year's Eve party. The first buses going back to our hotel would leave at 10 p.m. The biggest fear of the chaperones was that the girls would want to stay until the midnight bash. Luckily the girls were too tired and we were able to leave on one of the first buses. The general consensus at that time was, "They are trying to kill us!"
          On Thursday, January 1st, we had breakfast at 6 a.m. in full makeup and costumes. Afterwards we boarded tour buses to the practice field and had full dress rehearsals until 11a.m. At that time we boarded our buses and headed to the "real field" where the Citrus Bowl was being played. The weather was 90 degrees and bright sunshine everywhere. We were melting in our makeup and long-sleeved, high neck lycra costumes, tights, shoes and socks. But when all 1,500 of us went onto the field to perform and 65,000 people were cheering us on - it was all worth it! We decided then and there, we would do it again in a heartbeat!
          Eight girls from Clay County, West Virginia represented the entire state. There were girls from all 50 states, in all sizes, shapes and colors. Each girl was awarded a commemorative plaque, back pack, t-shirt, ESP patch and the title of All American Athlete to be used for college and scholarship purposes.
          The girls from Clay began fundraising in June. Many cars were washed, hot dogs were sold, gospel sings, spaghetti dinners, auctions and yard sales were
         held, candy bars and candles were sold and T-shirt ads were offered as part of the effort to fund the trip to Capitol One's Citrus Bowl. Without the generosity of the people of Clay County, none of this would have been possible. Because of the businesses who donated food for our coolers, we had enough food for the entire week and the trip home. Thank You Clay County!
         Should Have Been Magoffin Gap
         By Nancy Lea Collins
          I know it is not your fault, for that is what the sign says on top of the hill. A guy who worked for DOH about 35 to 40 years ago made a mistake, because he could not spell very well, and had a sign made for Magoffin Gap and spelled it McColgin Gap.
          The Magoffin family owned the top of the hill long before the Civil War and moved on to Kentucky and had a whole county named for them. I think they left about 1790 or 1800 to go West in the wild new part of the country. I grew up listening to the tales my grandfather told me about towns and history of the county. In his day, people came to ask him about things that happened in the county.
          His name was Patrick Henry Butler. He also told me about how Valleyfork was named. It was called the valley of forks by the Indians, or forked valley, for when it rained creeks came out of everywhere. It was officially named Valleyfork, one word, back in the 1800's. Then in 1960 it was changed to two words. But the school was named Valleyfork just like the community in 1958 when I was in the very first grade that got to go
         to the new school. The school has taught our students
         Wrong for many a year now on how to spell the school name. My mother, Mary Butler Wayne, was the very first PTO President and she had the final say on the name of the school.
          Valleyfork, in the beginning, started at Shed and Vera James bottom land going towards Clay and ended where now the State Police headquarters sits. Most of Wallback was taken by I-79. I know this because my great grandfather, C. Rogers, owned a store in Wallback and then his son Abby Rogers, who later gave it to his son, Paul Rogers, had a store in Valleyfork right across from the new Wallback Post Office which is in Valleyfork. Uncle Abby built his store down the road from his dad's. His dad's store was right in front of the Wallback United Methodist Church.
          My little son is in the 2nd grade at Valleyfork now and I try to correct him on the correct spelling and names of places and buildings in the area so that at least one person will know the truth about things around us in Clay County. So many new people move in and are told or read incorrect information. And to think a mountain got a new name from a DOH employee who could not spell well and Valley Fork was changed by a person who loved making a CAPITOL F instead of a lower case one.
          Now the post office is trying to take away Valleyfork completely because of 911 rules. I would rather be from Valleyfork than Wallback any day, for Wallback got its name from crooks in the old days. It was a good place to put your back up against the wall when the law was after you. The code was for the bad people to go to wallback for they will never find you there and it was not calling yourself a crook. That also happened back around the Civil War time, instead of saying have your back up against the wall.
          My grandparents gave us grandkids oral history like what was passed down by the old timers. Many tales were passed down to my sister and me for they babysat us a lot when we were little. They came from big families - Grandpa P. H. Butler was one of 16 live births and Grandma was one of seven children. Her name was Clara (Carrie or Katie) Rogers Butler.
          Sorry this is so long, but I get tired of people getting the facts wrong and trying to make me list my house, that has been there since 1956, to now say I live in Wallback. I hate it. Nancy Lea Collins is a resident of Valleyfork and I will always be as long as I live in Clay County.
         Fran King Resigns from School Board
                 The Clay County Board of Education held their regular board meeting at their administrative office building in Clay on Monday, January 5. All five members were present: Board president R.B. Legg, Jr., Scott Legg, Fran King, Gene King and David Pierson.
                 Business conducted by the Board included: approving previous meeting minutes and payment of current bills; employed Lorna Truman as a substitute teacher; approved a partial payment of $1,000 for equipment to be used by the Clay County High School (CCHS) basketball teams (the athletic department and Athletic Boosters also made payments on the equipment); approved transfer of a Calhoun County student to Ivydale Elementary; adopted a resolution that states that Clay County Schools has no policy preventing prayer in the public schools, a requirement of the No Child Left Behind Act; approved payment of the $499 fee for the West Virginia School Board Association (a one time assessment from all county boards in the state); and, approved an advertisement for substitute bus drivers. All motions passed unanimously.
                 Business Manager/Treasurer Loretta Gray gave a quick financial update for the month of December. She reported that December would be their last really good tax collection month until the end of February. Receipts also included a large payment from Title I, and money from the Gear Up grant. Some expenses for the month were payments for planning periods, insurance payments, and travel expense payments.
                 Following a lengthy discussion on a site for the new, combined Valley Fork/Ivydale elementary school (covered elsewhere in this edition), the last item on the agenda was to accept the resignation of board member Fran King, effective immediately. King, in her second term on the board and one of the first women elected to the board (Carol Pierson was also elected that year, but resigned a short while after), announced that she was leaving to run for the County Commission in this year’ election. King, “t’ been great serving with you guys.”
                 Next regular meeting of the Board will be Tuesday, January 20 at Clay Elementary School, 6:00 PM.                                         TK
                 Welcome news for Clay County came last month, particularly for folks in the Valley Fork and Ivydale areas, when the School Building Authority (SBA) agreed to fund a $4 million school to replace and combine Valley Fork Elementary and Ivydale Elementary. The announcement was made at the December 15 regular Clay County Board of Education meeting, held at Valley Fork. Although an architect’ drawing of the new school was presented, no mention was made of the actual site where it would be built. It was assumed by those attending that meeting that the location would be in the Big Otter area, close to I-79, as was proposed in the school system’ 10 year facilities plan adopted in 2000. That might not be the case.
                 During the January 6 Board meeting, held in Clay, Superintendent of Schools Jerry Linkinogger led a discussion on the site for the new school. A handful of people from Valley Fork, who Linkinogger said he’ invited to the meeting, were present, as well as the principals of Valley Fork and Ivydale schools.
         Linkinogger said that when the new school was proposed the logical site was Big Otter (the county’ only interstate access within county borders, and sort of a midway point between the two schools, 10 miles from
         Valley Fork to the Big Otter exit and about 7 miles from Ivydale to the exit.) He said three sites in that area had been considered – 4 acres owned by Harold Tanner, which was not large enough to meet SBA requirements; 9 acres owned by Doc Boggs near the old clinic site which is in a flood plain, a definite no-no with the SBA; and Murphy Hollow, which was the site used in the proposal submitted to the SBA requesting the funding for the school.
         Linkinogger explained that he used that site in the proposal as he had to meet the SBA’ deadline for offering a proposal. It is also the reason the SBA has given only $500,000 of the awarded $4 million this year – the rest will come next December if the site is ready for construction. But, the Murphy Hollow site also has problems. Fixable problems, but the fixes would cost around $900,000.00
         A major problem is the one lane road. It would have to be upgraded from the Laurel Nursing & Rehabilitation Center to the site, 6/10 of a mile. Linkinogger said that when the Central Appalachia Empowerment Zone (CAEZ) looked at the property as an industrial site they were given a $1 million estimate to upgrade the road. He said engineers have given him an estimate of $267,000.
         They must have three phase power, which is there but would have to be brought further a mile, cost $96,000.
         The site is at the end of the water line and water pressure would be a problem. A heated (to keep it from freezing) water tank would have to be put up and be maintained to support the school’ sprinkler system, costing $150,000 to build.
         An engineer said it would cost $400,000 to develop 10 usable, but rolling, acres at the site. Linkinogger said he’ been in contact with Keith Bartley of Fola Coal, and they will do what they can to develop the site, but he couldn’ say what effect on the cost that would have, and didn’ explain why Fola was willing to help out.
         Linkinogger said the site has to be ready by December 2004 to get the remaining SBA funds to build the school, and he didn’ think they could get it (the money to prepare the Murphy Hollow site) in 11 months.
         Instead of locating the new school in Big Otter, Linkinogger proposed a site in Ivydale, property owned by Bill Boggs – on the left as you turn off Route 4 toward Big Otter across from Cunningham Motor’ in Ivydale. He said this site has three phase power, good water, and costs the same as the Murphy Hollow site - $150,000. Linkinogger, “’ looking for some direction from the Board,”and again reminded them they had to be ready for construction in a year or give the money back to the SBA.
         After Linkinogger’ presentation, Board members David Pierson, Gene King and Scott Legg voiced their preference of locating the new school in Big Otter. Pierson, “ think it should be in the Big Otter area.” King, “’ like it to be seen from the highway (I-79).” A general discussion on alternate sites in the Big Otter area ensued, and the old lumber company and the Susie Boggs property were mentioned. Gene King pointed out that the Board of Education has the power to condemn property if they needed to. A minimum of 6 acres is required to build the school.
         Board member Fran King, who lives in the Ivydale area, asked about how the site affects the students from the Dille and Widen areas that will be going to the new school, inferring that they’l have a shorter bus ride to Ivydale. Linkinogger responded that either way (Big Otter or Ivydale) those students will have a shorter ride than they currently do going to Clay Elementary.
         The group from Valley Fork asked a lot of good questions on the SBA funding, deadlines, and bus times. Time on the school bus for Valley Fork students, if the school is built in Ivydale, was a major concern, especially for those in the Grannies Creek and Ovapa areas. It was pointed out that those students were only 8 miles from Clay Elementary, and even H.E. White Elementary in Bomont was closer for them than Ivydale. (Numbers matter to the SBA, and it’ believed that all the students in the Grannies Creek, Ovapa, Dille, and Widen areas are needed for enrollment at the new school. The SBA funded the school even though it does not meet their usual “conomies of scale”enrollment quota.) Linkinogger told the group that even if their children traveled longer to Ivydale they would eventually love going to their new school. A woman from the group agreed with him that the kids would love a new school, but questioned how their parent’ involvement with the school would be affected by such a long distance. Overall the Valley Fork group was very supportive of the new school and eager to keep the funding for it. Valley Fork Principal Pam Mullins, speaking for the parents of her school, “e urge you to take time, not rush…Valley Fork wants a voice on where the school will be.”
         Board members R. B. Legg, Scott Legg, David Pierson and Gene King decided to meet on Saturday and “o out for a look”at potential sites for the new school. Linkinogger assured everyone there was still plenty of time to make a decision.
         Since the January 5 meeting, it has been learned that prior to the meeting Board members were given copies of an offer from Bill Boggs to sell them his property in Ivydale. His offer would sell it to them for $150,000 plus transfer of property to him of the present Ivydale Elementary school. The Board has until January 20 to respond its intention to exercise the purchase offer. The offer is dated December 26, 2003 (see copy of the offer elsewhere in this edition).
         If the Board must make a decision on the Bill Boggs Ivydale site within 10 days, it doesn’ leave much time to search for an alternative site or to look for additional funding to make the Murphy Hollow site a reality. Either the search will be on in earnest or it’ already over. Might be wise for interested parties to grab the nearest Board member soon and voice their opinion (not Fran King, though – no longer on the board). The next regular Board meeting is Tuesday, January 20, also last day of the offer, so expect they may call for a special or emergency meeting to deliberate on the offer.
         ??? DID YOU KNOW ???
         1.        The seeds of great things are often small.
2.        The United States had a trade deficit of $35.5 billion with Canada in August, meaning the United States imported $35.5 billion more from Canada than it exported there.
3.        Nursing is America’ largest health-care occupation, employing about 2.2 million people.
4.        A recent University of Virginia study shows that poverty can erase a number of points from a child’ IQ score.
5.        The state’s annual timber harvest is now about 1 billion board feet, and contributes about $3.2 billion to the state’s economy.
6.        According to the State Fire Commission, 94 percent of fire departments are volunteer compared with 73 percent nationally.
7.        About 1.5 million Americans are affected with some form of autism.
8.        Through November, General Motors reported 31,447 total Hummer sales.
9.        About 11.2 percent of employed West Virginia residents cross state lines to get to their jobs.
10.        Wyoming leads the nation with 90.2 percent of residents 25 and older having graduated from high school.
11.        According to the State Governors Highway Safety Program, child passenger safety seats are 71 percent effective in preventing deaths in automobile accidents.
12.        From 1997 to 2000 paint-ball related injuries nationwide climbed from 926 to 2,780 with up to a third occurring in children under 15.
13.        Currently 1,085 massage therapists are licensed in West Virginia.
14.        When San Diego based Petco surveyed its customers online more than 85 percent said they would buy their pets a holiday gift.
15.        In West Virginia men make up just about 25 percent of educators, but are 62 percent of the principals and 78 percent of the county superintendents.
16.        Nationwide, as many as 2 million seniors are abused, exploited or mistreated, according to the National Academy of Sciences.
17.        Nationwide, one in 10 children or adolescents have a mental disorder serious enough to cause impairment.
18.        West Virginia is one of only 10 states or territories to meet a new federal requirement to have a statewide-computerized voter registration in place by the beginning of the new year.
19.        The Chevy Cavalier was the top-selling car in West Virginia in 2003.
20.        In mid January, fourteen miles of interstate in and around Charleston will be dark while contractors replace light poles believed to be damaged by rust and age.                 LMM

12/29/03: Belt – Jerry Lee Smith, wanton endangerment, arrested, ROB 12/30.
01/02/04: Bailey – Billy J. Jones, manufacture and possess marijuana, arrested 01/03, ROB 01/05; Bailey – Adam N. Jones, manufacture and possess marijuana, arrested 01/03, ROB 01/05.
12/27/03: Elswick – Fred A. Workman, DUI and obstructing, arrested, ROB.
12/29/03: Slack – Patrick Morris, reckless driving, summons.
12/31/03: Slack – Gary Lee Ramsey, violation of protective order, warrant.
12/30/03: Heilig Myers – Harley Nottingham and Dixie Nottingham, money due.
12/31/03: Monogram Credit Card Bank Georgia/Lowes – Carole L. Buckner, money due, subpoena.
01/02/04: Randy Schoonover – John Cochran, money due.
Worthless Checks
Notices issued –
12/23/03: Wilma Pringle – Jason Davenport.
Citation Register
12/11/03: Sheriff’ Dept. – Jimmie Dale Miller, defective equipment and seat belt violation.
12/16/03: State Police – Robert G. Belcher, speeding; James L. Estep, Jr., speeding and no POI; Tonya F. Vincent, speeding.
12/31/03: Sheriff’ Dept. – Terry M. Phillips, MVI.