APRIL 2, 2004

Letter to Brother Bill
Wrong Headed: Left or Right By Jim Chafin
What Do We Make?
Struggles Of A Single Parent By Melissa Seabolt

        Hold on to your wallets Clay Roane PSD water customers! Less than 18 months from the last 16% increase, a WV Public Service Commission official told the Board another one is in order. With budget shortfalls of $5000 this month alone, an 18% increase is on the table for later this spring. Here’ the details from the April 1st Clay Roane meeting.
        Absent from duty was ole sleepy Glen Sutton. At the front table were Office Manager Crystal Geiger, Chair Melissa Postelwait, Gary Whaling and Dave Saulsgiver. The turn out was slight, maybe 10 or so in the peanut gallery. After approving two sets of meeting minutes, finances came to the table next. According to the office manager on the subject of bills, “e have a huge list. We also have a new tax lien of $7979.47…. It was filed March 24th against the [water] plant..”According to the folks up front, the new debt is left over from 09/30/01 and 09/31/02 where it appears employee’s taxes were paid .                 Continued on page 3
The water provider has just $2500 to its name and over $32,000 in debt. To make matters worse, there’ not enough money to buy needed testing equipment for the Procious Plant operated by Clay Roane. To make matters even worse than that, the newly purchased 4 WHD pick up is sucking the fuel and weekly gas is averaging $100.
If there is a plus side to the finances, the PSD billed out $23,000 in water bills, which when it comes in from the customers, their shortfall will be around $7000.00
        Geiger informed the Board that different bank accounts need to be set up immediately to satisfy bond holders and money needs to be deposited in each to keep the big boys off their backs. Only one problem, there isn’ enough money to do that. Someone brought up that money was once in those accounts and was diverted elsewhere. When asked to find out where the money went, Boardster Gary Whaling asked “hy? What good would it do?” Postelwait reminded all that previous Board members could not be held responsible for their actions.
        Over to the side, the white headed Bob Deems heated things up with comments on water he recently purchased from the Procious water plant that was so muddy it was unfit to drink. When told that he wouldn’ be charged for that water, Dave Saulsgiver was heard to groan. Chief Operator Jennifer Traub responded, “ am not here to dispute that.. That water was sold after hours……It was gone when I got there….”As the tension and replies came, Traub, “f it was so bad, why did you come back the next day?” Other complaints have come in on bad water in the lines. To solve the problem of bad water complaints at the plant, water will only be sold when an operator is on duty from now on.
        On the revised meeting agenda were two little words: rate increase. Crystal started things off with: there is just barely enough money to keep our heads above …..when Queen Shoals PSD and other customers are slow to pay, things go bad real quick. Postelwait explained that they are receiving about $25000 per month and need around $32,000 to survive. She went on to say that when they received their last rate increase from the WV PSC in September 2002, the PSD actually lost money. According to the Chair, minimum bills went down and many people are now conserving water. Translation: Water cost is so high, many people are now paying the basic, minimum charge.
        Punkineer Celia Coon, “f you raise rates, I’ pulling my tap fee!!. It’ not even fair to discuss this!”Coon is waiting on water service in her community near Procious, Punkin Ridge. Employee Dale Deems, “eople can’ afford this.”
        Gert Bakker from the Public Service Commission tried to be slight and unassuming with his comments. Didn’ work readers. Rate increases of any kind are fighting words in Clayberry. He explained that if you file for a rate increase now it may take months and months and several public hearings. Bakker, “f you are in trouble now, it will be worse in a year.”Discussions got hotter with the usual topics covered: seniors, people will disconnect from service, blah, blah, blah.
        Bakker tried again as he explained that Clay Roane spends over 70% of it’ budget on salaries and electric. Which means they can only cut back in the remaining 25%. As for asking for a rate increase, “ou really don’ have a choice.”
                And then more from the assembled: The PSD gave employees raises and bonuses just 4 months back, Queen Shoals is paying their wholesale water bill late; and Postelwait was considering giving more raises until the rate increase need popped up this week. Postelwait, “e’e tried for two years NOT to do a rate increase.”
        What does Clayberry do when we get mad? Make fun of WV PSC’ Jim Weimer. Bakker defended Weimer (our aluminum siding salesman as some call him.) Bakker, “e’ gone out of his way to help…He has made some enemies…… Jim has better ideas about this system… You have to have more money….”Bakker suggested they purchase more low cost water from the Town of Clay.
        It was as if a light bulb turned on. The cost for Clay Roane to treat water is around $4.77 per 1000 gallons. The Town will sell wholesale water to the PSD for $2.61 / 1000. Last month, of the 3 million gallons needed to supply customers, only 412,000 gallons were purchased from the Town. In the WV PSC mandated and engineered water purchase agreement with the PSD, the Town is obligated to sell them up to 5 million gallons per month. Over the last several years, Clay Roane has promised to purchase more water and never lived up to that promise for a variety of reasons including the Town’ on again-off again water leak problems. One other consideration in purchasing water instead of treating their own, fewer employee hours would be needed and no part time salaries would be involved.
        After a secret session to discuss other water customer complaints, the discussions got into high gear over disputes in funding and customer base in the Punkin Ridge $600,000 water line extension project. Even Gary Whaling got fired up when words turned to returning water tap fees to disgruntled and long waiting potential customers in the Punkin area. Postelwait to Coon, “ou’e waited 30 years!… We’e got $500,000 and we’e just waiting on the rest of the money!”Coon reminded the leadership that there really isn’ enough customers signed up for the extension project to actually happen. NOTE: When this was last discussed, the Chair, a resident of Punkin ridge, hadn’ paid her own tap fee. Whaling, “o you want your money back?”Coon, “es probably!”Whaling, “hen no one will get water!… You’e d**** if you do and D*** if you don’!”To those talking in the back of the room, “hy are you here?”Dallas Hanshaw (I think) from the back fired back, “UST WAITING TO HEAR MORE LIES!”
        Some notes for our new and old readers. The Town is limited to how much they can supply Clay Roane. They use a 30 gallon a minute pump to shove water from Maysel down Varneytown and over Ovapa way and Roane County. At 30 gallons per minute or 1800 per hour, there is no way for them to supply the 5 million gallons to Clay Roane per month.
        And one last note to make you grit your teeth. Each year each government agency is required to put together a budget for the upcoming year. That was done last summer at the PSD. When asked if they had been within budget, based on the facial expressions, it looked like they hadn’ even looked at the budget since approving it 8 months ago.
        Maybe Larry White resigned just in time.                                                AW
         Last edition brought a front page news item where Michelle Deyton alleged she was threatened with job loss by Commissioner Matthew Bragg. The incident occurred March 17th when off on maternity leave Deyton came into the County Clerk’ office to show off her new born and deliver some Girl Scout cookies. Bragg and Deyton were fired up over an incident where Deyton’ Great Dane went after and killed a neighbor’ animal.
          Since that last Communicator, Bragg gave us a call and said he didn’ threaten to fire her, and for that matter, he didn’ slam the computer room door! In a telephone interview, Bragg said he and fellow Commissioners were already talking about budget reductions and as Ms Deyton was leaving he only went to talking with
          Sams and the “K Jimmy, let’ cut the budget”statement was not aimed at the long time deputy clerk. As for Deyton’ statement that he was so riled up that he slammed one of the big oak office doors… Bragg disputed that! Bragg said that Deyton and her mother were way out of line and very boisterous as they left the public building.-
    Remember Carolyn Rogers? The lady Deputy Delk and Deputy Belt gave tickets to for not having her pick up truck properly licensed? When Rogers refused to sign the ticket, Delk hauled her into the Magistrate’ Office in handcuffs and threatened to take her to jail. Shortly after, Rogers lodged ethics complaints against Delk to the County Commission; the local diner co-owner received
     another ticket for the same offense, this time from Deputy Belt. We have an update.

         Rogers, co-owner of Town and Country Diner, had her day in court last week. Rogers maintained all along that since the vehicle belonged to her daughter that lives in Virginia, she should not have to register it in WV. Magistrate Boggs agreed and tossed out both the faulty registration tickets.
         ??? DID YOU KNOW ???
         1.        Politics are almost as exciting as war and quite as dangerous. In war you can only be killed once, but in politics many times.
     - Sir Winston Churchill
         2.        West Virginia is one of the few states where the number of hunters has not been declining.
3.        The Greenbrier Hotel had thousands fewer bookings last year than expected.
4.        About 14.4 percent of babies born in West Virginia in 2002 were premature.
5.        According to research on more than 90,000 women, depression is strongly linked with a higher risk of dying from heart disease.
6.        Wallmart estimates it spent $15 billion on Chinese made products last year.
7.        Premium 8 jeans made by Wrangler and named after Dale Earnhardt Jr., number 8 car, will be out in July.
8.        An estimated 156 million roses were sold for Valentine’s Day last year.
9.        With sales of $3.6 billion in 2003, Barbie ranks as the top selling doll brand in the world.
10.         Today, Cass Scenic Railroad State Park averages 70,000 visitors a year.
11.         According to the IRS, 52 million taxpayers filed their tax return electronically in 2003.
12.         In 2003 there were 2,740 people convicted for driving with a suspended license, compared to 2,300 in 2002.
13.         Since the DNR launched its online licensing program in September 2002, more than 28,000 licenses have been sold. About 10 percent of hunting licenses are obtained online.
14.         Doctors say it’ just a matter of time until the world’s first face transplant.
15.         Various studies have found a lower risk of Alzheimer’ among people who go to the theater, read, play games such as cards, checkers or crosswords.
16.         Try not to schedule elective surgery in July or August when inexperienced medical students begin their residencies.
17.         Today, 25 percent of local law enforcement officers in the state are black.
18.         The average American eats 26.6 pounds of bananas a year.
19.         The number of females who exercise outnumbers males by about 7 million.
20.         7.3 million Americans are holding down more than one job. LMM
Letter to Brother Bill
By Evelyne McLaughlin
Dear Brother Bill: I am going to start your letter this week with one of Daddy's (William Bircher Eagle), favorite poems by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:
                A Psalm of Life

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
        Life is but an empty dream,
        For the soul is dead that slumbers,
        And things are not what they seem.
        Life is real, Life is earnest.,
        And the grave is not its goal;
        Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
        Was not spoken of the soul.
        Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
        Is our destined end or way:
        But to act, that each to-morrow
        Finds us farther than to-day.
        Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
        And our hearts, though stout and brave,
        Still, like muffled drums, are beating
        Funeral marches to the grave.
        In the world's broad field of battle,
        In the bivouac of Life,
        Be not like dumb, driven cattle,
        Be a hero in the strife.
        Trust no Future, how're pleasant,
        Let the dead Past bury its dead,
        Act, act in the living Present,
        Heart within, and God o'erhead.
        Lives of great men all remind us,
        We can make our lives sublime,
        And, departing, leave behind us
        Footprints on the sands of time;
        Footprints, that perhaps another,
        Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
        A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
        Seeing, shall take heart again.
        Let us, then, be up and doing,
        With a heart for any fate;
        Still achieving, still pursuing,
        Learn to labor and to wait.

Another month has come to an end and time just
keeps marching on. My forsythia bushes are in full bloom and so pretty. Sylvia stopped by the other evening. She seldom stays long but we enjoy her visits. Jim Molina, with the Veterans Administration, came by to inspect our newly constructed ramp and walkway. He said Robert Lanham had done a very good job. Don is still on the mend. He has been in much pain since his fall. Imogene Stalnaker thinks a big pot of her chicken and dumplings might make him feel better. Neal Dawson, of Marion, Ohio, has been on the sick list. Aunt Maycle Samples has returned home from the hospital. Donna Dawson Smyth (her house was ruined by flood waters last year) has moved to a new home. Her new place is located up Coonskin Road and as she said out of the way of high water".
        Tax time is here again. Lots of folks wait until the last minute to file. We are getting our papers out this week.
        I received a nice letter from Susie O'Dell Loomis, of Given, West Virginia. Lots of campaign signs being erected along the highways and by-ways.
        Happy belated birthday wishes to Beth Igo, of Ovapa, and Dorothy Samples, of Procious.
        Mr. and Mrs. B. J. Smith have moved into their new home near the Twistabout Ridge. Rhonda Schoolcraft and her family are planning on building
a new home on the hill at Maysel. Their spot is beautiful.
        Champ thinks his name has been changed to "Git" as that is what Don is always saying to him.
The other day I gave the dogs some chicken liver. Later in the day as I walked through the TV room I noticed a "pile" of something on the carpet. Without delay, I gave Champ a good scolding and he quickly ran and hid. As I picked the mess up off the carpet I discovered it was only the livers I had given to the dogs.
        Ran into Lynn O'Dell, of Glen, today at the Rite Aid. I think she is planning a party of some kind.
        If you need any garlic, Kevin Dennis and Rhonda, his wife, sent me a huge bucket full. I shall plant it in my flower bed. There was a tragic accident this week just above our house, near the Jess Davis property Catherine Adkins and her daughter were both killed in the accident. Catherine was the daughter of Danny and Dawn Fitzwater. Our prayers go out to the Fitzwater family and her husband, Brian. Take care, Brother Bill, you are always in my prayers. We love you dearly. Until next time, HELP US ALL TO BE BRAVE.
03/15/04: Wiles – Christopher J. Dwier, burglary (03/02/04), preliminary hearing continued to 04/01; ROB 03/24/04.
03/16/04: Wiles – Christopher Jacob Tschetter, fugitive from justice State of WV, arrested, warrant from State of NY executed, Def. committed to CRJ; Delk – Earnie Pat Dawson, sexual abuse 1st degree, arrested 03/22, preliminary hear 03/29- probable cause found, bound to Circuit Court.
03/22/04: Light – Bradley J. Stone, warrants issued for burglary and petit larceny-2nd offense.
03/24/04: Elswick – Ernest Scott Bird, warrants issued for wanton endangerment and malicious assault; Delk – Harry Miller, warrants issued for wanton endangerment X 2; Light – Ricky Junior Bishop, DUI-3rd offense and fleeing from officer while DUI, arrested, ROB 03/25.
03/23/04: Bailey – Michael T. Butcher, possession of methamphetamine w/intent man/del (03/13/04), pre-trial dismissal with prejudice upon motion of prosecuting attorney.
03/30/04: Bailey – Charles L. Hayes, forgery (01/29/04), bench trial – d/m as part of plea agreement; Def. plead to providing false info to police officer.
03/07/04: Sizemore – Alan Michael Terranova, driving suspended/revoked non-DUI, appeared 04/01, ROB.
03/08/04: Sizemore – Bryan G. Mace, registration violation, no POI and operator’, Def. called 03/25, requests hearing on charges.
03/09/04: Light – Christopher S. Walls, possession marijuana less 15 grams, prosecuting attorney to check for prior convictions; Bailey – Samuel T. Murphy, possession marijuana less 15 grams, appeared 03/29, Def. placed on 6 months unsupervised probation, assessed court costs.
03/17/04: Simms – Carol Sue Adkins, unlawful disposal of refuse/stream litter, summons; Wiles – John Allen Hively, assault, brandishing deadly weapon, domestic assault, domestic battery, trespassing, and trespassing while armed, arrested, ROB 03/19; Wiles – Bobby Gene Hall, warrants issued for obstructing and officer, driving suspended/revoked non-DUI-2nd offense, MVI, no POI, unattended motor vehicle, and registration violation X 2.
03/22/04: Light – Adam P. Gould, warrant issued for petit larceny; Light – Donald R. Peck, destruction of property and battery, summons; Light – Randall Duncan, warrant issued for domestic battery.
03/24/04: Murphy – Mark E. Cain, overweight, overwidth and overlength, letter received requesting a hearing on citation; Light – Ricky Junior Bishop, driving while revoked for DUIA, destruction of property and obstructing an officer, arrested, ROB 03/25.
03/26/04: Sizemore – Anthony D. Metheney, destruction of property and domestic battery, summons.
03/27/04: Butcher – Calvin Bert Cottrell II, underage drinking, arrested, ROB; Belt – Anthony Wayne Frazier, DUI-2nd offense, arrested, ROB.
03/28/04: Delk – Misty Dawn Winebrenner, contributing to delinquency of minor, arrested, ROB.
03/29/04: Sizemore – Bruce Bird Jr., warrant issued for destruction of property.
03/30/04: Dimple Rogers – Hazel Stewart, warrant issued for worthless check complaint; Bullard’ Exxon & Quick Stop – William Adkins, warrant issued for worthless check complaint; House’ Market – Marilynn A. Taylor, warrant issued for worthless check complaint; Bailey – Charles L. Hayes, providing false information to an officer, appeared, Def. plead no contest, assessed fine, costs and restitution to victim; Elswick – Michael Haines, possession of marijuana less 15 grams, appeared, ROB.
03/31/04: Butcher – Ronald Dennis Williams Jr., driving suspended/revoked non-DUI, summons; Slack – Dana Hall, violation of order of home confinement, warrant issued; Slack – Edward Jesse Sizemore II, battery on a police officer and obstructing an officer, arrested, ROB.
03/18/04: Clyde Myers – Latoya Shepkosky, wrongful occupation, judgment 03/26 in favor of plaintiff.
03/19/04: St. Francis Hospital – Victoria A. Browne, money due.
03/22/04: Jeanne Nottingham – Phillip “uy”Brown, money due, subpoena; Misty Barker – Margaret Bowman, money due.
03/23/04: Hannah R. Legg – Phillip Bartsch, money due; Debbie Procious – Charlotte Braley, money due, subpoena; Debbie Procious – John McKown, money due.
03/26/04: St. Francis Hospital – Lisa K. McKinney, money due; John Fogt – Kenneth F. Davis, money due, subpoena; Virginia M. Bruckner – Lisa Barnes, money due, subpoena.
Worthless Checks
Notices issued –
03/16/04: Bullard’ Exxon & Quick Stop – T.O. (Buck) Hanson (paid 03/26), Tammy Hammack (paid 03/19), Garrett D. Deems Jr. (paid 03/29), William Adkins (misdemeanor file opened 03/30), Matthew R. Butcher (paid 03/18), and Rosalie Keen (paid 03/23).
03/17/04: House’ Market – Marilynn A. Taylor (misdemeanor file opened 03/30); Larry’ Grocery – Ronald C. Pritt X 2 (paid 03/29).
03/18/04: Dimple Rogers – Hazel Stewart, misdemeanor file opened 03/30.
03/24/04: Larry’ Grocery – Ronald C. Pritt.
03/25/04: J & S Grocery – Jason Stalnaker, Ronald C. Pritt, and Ruby Elkins.
04/01/04: Clay Co. Middle School – Robin Gaskill.
Citation Register
03/11/04: Sheriff’ Dept. – Misty Dawn Barker, MVI and driving suspended/revoked non-DUI; Victor T. Dawson, speeding.
03/14/04: Sheriff’ Dept. – Matthew C. Stewart, speeding.
03/16/04: State Police – Jeffery P. Barrick, no POI.
03/17/04: State Police – Richard L. Burnside, registration violation, no POI, MVI and operator’; Sheriff’ Dept. – Darlene Joy Jackson, no POI and driving suspended/revoked non-DUI; Justin Michael Ramsey, MVI and no POI.
03/18/04: Sheriff’ Dept. – Michael B. Jarvis, no POI.
03/19/04: State Police – Keivette M. Peters, speeding and no child restraint.
03/23/04: Sheriff’ Dept. – Justin Michael Ramsey, speeding and registration violation.
03/26/04: Sheriff’ Dept. – Anthony Wayne Frazier, DUI-2nd offense.
        Michael Butcher made the news cycle three weeks ago when local law enforcement busted him in front of Clay Lumber March 13th. With a trunk full of gear perfect for setting up a meth lab, the 28 year old was charged with possession and immediately placed on bond. He had just purchased a gallon of acetone.
        Butcher will not have to stand trial for that misdeed. Before midnight March 22nd, the youthful Butcher was found dead from an overdose in a friend’ car behind the same lumber company. In the community came word that Butcher had said he wasn’ about to go back to jail. Suicide? Others said a male friend had driven Butcher around in a car for hours after Butcher had died and police were investigating the death. Local Chief of Police Buckshot Butcher confirmed Monday, March 30th, that his investigation was continuing and statements were being taken.
        Sheriff candidate Scott Legg knows how to campaign! During his March 29th speech at the Valley Fork Elem. “leece the Candidate”Chili Cook Off, Legg told the small gathering, if elected, he would be a non working Sheriff similar to the one in Fayette County. Eyebrows went up. Legg may not have done such a good job explaining his statement. In some counties, the Sheriff handles the office duties while trained badges handle the road patrol duties. Of course in Kanawha County, the Sheriff there comes out when ever TV cameras show up.
        During that same Chili dinner, Sheriff candidate Matthew Bragg brought the alligator tears with him. Each candidate was given the opportunity to explain what they would do if elected to office. Bragg chose to explain his medical conditions from 6 years ago which prevented him from attending to County Commission duties. Many thought School Board member Gene King held the crown for turning on and off the tears. We have a new King, Matthew Bragg.
        We’e just getting word that the WV Public Service Commission may be working behind the scenes on how Queen Shoals PSD may use their $60,000 grant from the Governor. Our sources say that the PSD may NOT allow the southern most water provider for the county to set up their PSD office in a board member’s home nor spend any of the $60K for equipment to operate the office . Instead the PSC wants QSPSD to consolidate the meter reading and bill paying with Clay Roane PSD. Look for resistance in the land of Queen during the Monday April 5th monthly board meeting.

        Before the March 22nd CCC meeting, a public hearing was convened to gather public comments on this year’ Small Cities Block Grant application. Instead of the usual (for the last five years) request for Nebo area water line extensions, the CCC agreed to submit a request to fund a $600,000 water line rebuild project for Queen Shoals PSD. Don’ like that? There is one more public hearing coming. With that bit of housework done, the formal meeting got under way after Commissioner Sams’prayer call.
        With 20 or so in attendance, reps from the BDA asked the Commission to appoint them as the Lead Economic Development (LED) agency for the county. With the designation comes $30,000 from the State House coffers. Currently, and for the last five years, Central Appalachia Empowerment Zone (CAEZ) has been the cash cow. There are some strings attached before getting the money. The county has to have a person certified to manage the program and that certification requires a 30 hour class. Also, the BDA (or the Commission) has to match the $30,000 with their own $30,000. CAEZ has been doing so not with cash but rather employee time, utilities, and other office expenses.
        In attendance CAEZ Director Jerry Sizemore saw the writing on the wall and agreed that the BDA should have the designation. Sizemore, “ support that whole heartedly.” Confusing it was, but Sizemore gave explanation that the vote the CCC was about to make was not for the upcoming 2004 – 2005 cycle but for the year nearly done, 2003-2004. Many scratched their heads in wonder. He explained that if the BDA wanted the LED designation for next year, they should make their request in June and not now. As for what the CAEZ has done for the county while the designated LED, Sizemore, “e have a list of projects.”When someone asked if the CAEZ had EVER provided a report on how they spent the annual $30,000, Commissioner Sams replied, “No.” Referring to 4 years of CAEZ control, Leonard Williams, “What have we got for $250,000?”No real answers were provided.
        As for reports that Commissioner Bragg had rounded up $50,000 to buy out the Clay County Bank lien on the Filcon Field site, Bragg confirmed, “ou’e got your $50,000!…. I got it last week….. It’ settled! …. Another mess straightened out!”Bragg explained that Delegate Stemple had called him and said, “ou got your money.”From the back, “’l believe it when I see it.”Bragg patted his self on the back.
        Before consolidating all the local PSDs into one mega PSD, a county wide audit is mandated by lenders. According to the CCC, that costly audit process is now on hold again.
        Mr. Sizemore gave an update on the CAEZ inspired plan to put together a firewood co-op for the county that could employ locals as they market cut stacked and wrapped in plastic firewood bundles to the east coast. He said they had applied for a $75,000 USDA grant to purchase the needed equipment and “he USDA thinks the grant will be funded.”In the deal, the CAEZ will lease ( buck a year or so) the equipment to the BDA or the co-op. From the back, Morgan Gibson chimed out, “’ even work with Andy if it brings 15 or 20 jobs to the county.”
        And then the serious stuff. The County is broke and cutbacks must be put in place to make it through the end of this fiscal year (ends June 30th) and ease the budget strain on the ‘04-05 budget. To make ends meet: CCC voted to cut off 20 phone lines in the building and effective April 1st, employees will begin making a PEIA co pay. Family plan members will shell out $100 per month while single participants will see $50 taken from their checks. Savings for the county: $2700 per month. A freeze on all none essential spending was also passed.
        And, lay offs are coming. Sams said he would not make a public announcement on how many employees would be furloughed from employment but with the new budget 19 ½ % less, it ain’ going to be pretty. Expect two employees from each department to be let go June 30th. That includes 2 from the Deputy patrol of the Sheriff’ office. Commissioner Triplett, “t’ bad. It’ real bad.”Sams, “t’ gloom and doom.”So what happened? According to those up front, back in 1999 the Legislature changed coal assessment formulas that reduced big coal’ assessment. For Clay County, that amounted to $23 million less in value or $300,000 in real money coming into the county from coal severance fees.
        NOTE: During much of this discussion, Matthew Bragg was preoccupied with a conversation (away from the bench) on changing some road name in the county.
        Bob Mullins and Jeanne Nottingham asked if the Commissioners would donate back their salaries. That didn’ go over too well.
        Ms Nottingham made the CCC aware of a June 2003 ambulance run that went sour. According to Nottingham, the Clay Unit had to stop and find a paramedic to make the run and our locals told an already in route out of county ambulance company to shag back home, that Clay could handle the call. Nottingham was speaking for the user of the delayed ambulance run and asked that the $704.00 bill NOT be subject to Magistrate Court action. Jeannie, “omething needs to be done. Dismiss the court action.”Sams said he would talk to Bev King, Clay Ambulance Director.
        On the subject of loosing two deputies in the budget crunch, State Police Sergeant Light asked the CCC to reconsider. That if they think things are bad now, wait until the thugs find out there’ no law enforcement in the county. Light, “e’e going to have major problems when the thieves find out. It’ going to be bad.”Sams, “t’ bad now.”Light said he would like to bring in more green shirts but the State Police budget was real tight too. “If I could, I would bring in 10 officers but that ain’ going to happen,”said Light. Currently there are three officers working the County of Clay and five deputies. The mild mannered Light asked the three blind mice to do everything in their power to keep law enforcement on the job.
        Sams in reply, “e have a constitutional duty to fund all the offices. If we don’ cut back, we may have to shut down offices… [this is ] not to save money, this is to survive, to make it through next year. .. 80% of the budget is salaries.”
        One time deputy and Sheriff candidate Jim Paxton put in his two cents worth for staffing the Sheriff’ Dept. Paxton, “ hope the bottom line is the needs of the public during breaking and enterings, domestics, assaults. Consider the people making the call, ‘ need help”
         Magistrate Boggs spoke on the thugs in the county, “hey know when there’ no police out here… If you ain’ got no help, what are you going to do?”
                 Up front there were no smiles. Frown lines were seen on Sams and Triplett. Note: Bragg had already left the meeting. Sams commented that many people are already down on law enforcement in the county, “ hear it all the time. They ain’ doing nothing!”
                 Any hope at the end of the tunnel? Nope. It’ getting worse. According to conversations near the end of this March 22nd meeting, our Legislature further reduced taxes this session on coal seams less than 30 inches. Translation: When this legislation kicks in… last person out of the county, please turn off the light.                                        
         Filcon in the News Again
                 Will the disputed Filcon Fields site ever get settled? Will some business ever build on the near flood prone, tax payer paid for, land near Ovapa? Some say no.
                 Here’ the skinny. After an extended court challenge, BDA once again owns the 11 acres of mostly level land. The court rules that the Clay County Bank has a valid bank lien of $147,000 against the BDA. The bank has agreed to forgive the lien for $50,000.00. The BDA doesn’ have $50,000 but Central Appalachia Empowerment Zone (CAEZ) does. Two months ago, the BDA and CAEZ worked out a deal for CAEZ to cough up the money in exchange for one half ownership. All seemed a go until the CAEZ voted overwhelmingly to not get involved with the BDA or the Clay County Bank. There are still some sore toes from that near deal.
                 Last month Commissioner Bragg told the world that he had secured $50,000 in funding for the BDA and the BDA was once again in the saddle to have exclusive ownership on Filcon Field. As of 6 pm, April 1st, that promised money has yet to appear.
                 Since the last CAEZ meeting where the BDA was shot down, another proposal has surfaced. That discussion consumed much of the April 1st BDA meeting held at the Courthouse. With Chair Willis at the helm and Boardsters Jerry Nelson, Jim Knotts, Glada Lanham, Morgan Gibson, Mack Samples, and Leonard Williams present, the hour long gathering got underway 10 minutes late.
                 Willis read from a Budget Digest letter mailed out last month by the BDA seeking $50,000 from the elected boys in Charleston. Purpose: Buy the Filcon lien from the Clayberry bank.
                 CAEZ Director Jerry Sizemore (also a BDA member) provided the economic development group with a run down on the latest CAEZ idea. In a nutshell: CAEZ Rep Llyn Drake came up with a plan where the BDA would own not a partnership, the Filcon site. The proposal includes: CAEZ will provide a forgivable $50,000 loan to the BDA. The loan would not have to be paid back if at the end of three years there are 5 full time jobs located in the proposed industrial site. If that 3 year commitment is not met, then the CAEZ would extend a promissory note to the BDA. According to Sizemore, the plan is a proposal and can be modified in many ways to suit the needs of the BDA. Continued on the next page
                 Willis went over several details he didn’ like. Stuff like who assumes any other liens against the land, what if they don’ find a business to locate there in three year, ambiguous language, etc. At every opportunity, Sizemore explained that any and all parts of the proposal are negotiable, “odify it… What is acceptable to the BDA?”Willis continued to poo-poo the idea on face value. Other members of the BDA chimed in.
                 Not realizing the BDA was not going to play ball no matter what, Sizemore worked even harder, “e can move forward…. We can cooperate together….. We’e got the same goal…” Several times, Sizemore tried to get BDA members to speak up and make counter offers on the proposal. For the most part, these folks weren’ nibbling. Still smarting from the CAEZ killing the joint ownership plan a month or more back, Leonard Williams, “It] concerns me the CAEZ will shut the BDA down again.”Morgan Gibson said he would only be interested in a joint ownership venture as he left the meeting room.
                 Trying to mend some fences, Director Sizemore apologized for misreading an engineering report and misleading the world into thinking the Filcon building was two foot below flood stage. He said he had just misread the report and in fact, the partially completed building is ABOVE flood stage by 2 feet. Sizemore, “e were dead wrong… We acted on misinformation… That was wrong.”
                 Even with apologies coming, Chair Willis shuffled his paperwork into the brief case and closed it up.
                 From the back, Fred Sampson tried to get the Team BDA to understand the deal on the table. The CAEZ was offering $50,000 in the form of a forgivable loan and the BDA would have full control of the land. Glada Lanham and Jerry Nelson left the room. His words fell on deaf ears.
                 The stragglers in the room disputed who or where a $75,000 wood distribution grant would end up. It sounded like all were convinced, the grant, if it ever comes, would go somewhere other than Clay. As an observation readers, if there is no land secured for the machinery when it’ finally available, yep, it’l go somewhere else as does many other opportunities.
                 In the end, here’ what Sizemore walked away with: The BDA doesn’ want any part of free money (forgivable CAEZ loan) and instead wants a joint partnership with the CAEZ, so the county will only own half an industrial site. Of course, with Commissioner Bragg saying $50,000 was a done deal and coming to purchase the site, with Budget Digest requests in for another $50,000, maybe there is more to the BDA shy streak than the public knows about at this time.                                         
                 While our BDA struggles to own and convert swamp land into the next home for a Toyota plant, a group of concerned citizens gathered March 30th to lay plans to develop tourism in the county. CAEZ hosted the day long meeting with a cultural heritage tourism grant. Steve Gerloff moderated the assembly and guided the band of future thinkers.
                 So what’ it take to get rich Yankees in here to spend money? Several things, things like an exciting destination, clean bathrooms and a bunch of ‘em too, stuff to do in the evenings, and a reason to be here. Gerloff said that the baby boomers , the 35 to 55 year olds are wealthy, vacation, and are choosing retirement homes. The plus for tourism is: It’ new money into the county’ economy!
                 After a couple hours of assessing the county, strengths of the area were listed. They included: natural beauty, the Elk River, we have lots of archives in boxes, good area to develop hiking trails, we have wildlife, we are strong in music and folk lore, we’e close to I 79, and we already have one festival (Apple) organized and drawing crowds        
                 And of course there are easily identified weaknesses like: strip mining, no money to work with, no political leadership, no political clout for money, lack of vision by leaders, we have a public assistance mentality, many in the county don’ give a hoot about the future of the county…. Well, the list went on and on.
                 Then came the brain storming session to come up with a short term tourism project to promote the county. From a list of 20 suggestions, the decision was made to: Promote an early Oct 2004 Fall Foliage Tour to show off Clay County. During that two week season of autumn beauty, a music show would be organized as well as a craft show and Gospel sing. Along the designated route of exquisiteness, road side venders would be encouraged to set up and hawk their goods. With one fellow offering to provide camping sites on his farm, the plan came together to try and keep the baby boomers in the county overnight to drain as much of their $ as possible.
                 It hasn’ happened yet readers, but wouldn’ it be nice to see all those $50,000 SUVs rolling through the county dropping $10s and $20s as they go, to see locals sell wood crafts , oil prints, metal works, and for that matter, see a bunch of yard sales along the route and all collecting a pocket full of Yankee bucks. It time for the fleecing!                AW
          I want you to know that Matthew Bragg only did what anyone else, myself included, would have done for a neighbor and that was give them information. It was not as if he was siding with anyone. My husband Charles grew up around Mr. Bragg and both his and Mr. Bragg's families have been in Ovapa for years. My husband only went and asked for advice after being unable to get anyone in the county to answer a phone. He figured that Mr. Bragg might be able to help since he should be knowledgeable about what is going on in the county. Mrs. Michelle Deyton and her family have tried to make this a political issue when it is not. Mr. Bragg would have offered his knowledge to her had the situation been reversed. As for calling my dog stupid. Stupid is as stupid does. Does she really believe that her dog is a smarter dog? A dog that runs loose and attacks other animals? Does she believe that the lives of my children and mother-in-law are unimportant?
          What about her newborn child? What happens if this dog decides to turn on this child or my children? My twelve year old daughter ran screaming into our bedroom on the morning of March 6, 2004, when she relaized that the Deyton's dog was attacking her dog. My husband jumped up and ran outside and shot at this dog. Our dog ran a short distance and dropped. My daughter ran the distance with him. He grasped for air and lived only a few minutes with our daughter standing over him crying and begging him not to die.
                 My dog Ruffy may been "stupid' but he was loved by three children and he was devoted to them. He got the name Ruffy because our youngest called all dogs ruffies because they said ruff. He was a faithful Sunday school dog too. Never missed a Sunday. He wanted to be there when we got out of church. He would never hurt a flea and ran away from a battle. He was mauled by the Deyton's dog last year. At that time the Deyton's offered to pay the vet's bill but we declined because we thought this would be a one time thing. Little did we know that this dog would kill ours. This dog has also attacked other neighbor's dogs.
          I asked that this dog be destroyed because I would
         have destroyed my dog had the situation been reversed. Will this dog be kept pent up? Maybe, but only for a period of time like before. Then what happens? Does it take a child being mauled or killed to get it through someone's head that this animal is dangerous? And what kind of a life does a dog have that has to be pent up?
          Keyota Braley
          Please do print this. I think the air needs cleared a little.
                 Clay County prepares to cut spending, lay off people, and add to our never ending joblessness in Clay County.
         Everyone is putting their 2 cents worth in on who to get rid of. So I’ going to put mine in also! I am only a common poor person, but still have a gift God gave us all, but some have been bought by evil and or pressure put on by their relatives and family. I still have common sense and no relatives just someone looking at the whole picture!
         There are openings for high-qualified teachers all over the United States. In one county alone in North Carolina, they need 1300 teachers. Jobs are there if you want to work and relocate. Why should you relocate? It’ simple: your leaders aren’ doing their jobs.
         Take Clay County. The Commissioners receive a lot of money for less than twenty hours a month, on the average,
         some even less. Everyone gets paid the same whether you do anything or not! They, like the directors of charities or school super’., etc, along with elected officials from our own to Washington, D. C., take pay rises when ever they get around to give themselves one which happens more too frequently while others starve!
         Why does Clay County have three commissioners, when one lady really runs it all?
         Why can’ the elected officials give themselves a pay cut and save some jobs for others?
         Why can’ the commissioners start their pay at $l00.00 a month, and when they prove they are working for the county their pay goes up the more they do? Make them earn their money, not just give them money!
         If you get a job you would have to show your employers you do good work before you get a raise, right? You also start off at the low end of a pay scale, why shouldn’ our elected officials be the same way? Something is wrong with Clay when every county around us are growing and we haven’ moved in 100 years, or so it seems.
         As far as law enforcement, you hardly ever see one. The work force should be the largest from 6 pm to 6 am, not the opposite! In this small county the sheriff should be out working. You can hire an advanced security person to the bailiff in court.
         The school superintendent and all below him should be teachers also, and work at least 1/2 a day doing what they do best, teach. Don’ create jobs for friends or family, just because other counties have these type of positions. More than one job can be done by one person. State Road supers
         should work also along with the men at least part of the week, not sit in the truck, but go out with the men and get your hands dirty. If this was done you would see an increase in productively.
         AFTER I RE-THOUGHT IT: The county commission should be cut from three to two, and if there is a tie on a vote, let the lady who really runs the county decide on the outcome! Everyone knows who this is and if it was not for her the commissioners wouldn’ know where city hall is, so to speak! Also, make their pay an hourly rate. Start out at $10.00 an hour, and pay only on how many actual hours they put in! The wage would go up from $l0.00 an hour, depending on how much progressive work they do for their employer, THE PEOPLE! They should work on how to save jobs, not get rid of them, because someone made them mad, or they are not family!
         We’l, that’ my 2 cents worth, but now I’l be on a few people’ list! That doesn’ matter anyway. We can’ ever get any work done, or help when the people really need it. Everyone is quick to jump on a band wagon and take credit for what others do! This might sound stupid to some, but if you still have common sense, this could give you some ideas of your own, like board jobs. These used to be something done for free, because they loved it; not because they received money for being on a board!
         Typical Clay County. See you at the polls!
                         Frank L. Kish, Jr.
         Queen Shoals, Bomont Area
         CHATTER 3
         Clay County was a better place 30-some years ago than it is today. I remember the 50's and 60's as a child growing up in Clay County how safe you felt. You never knew fear except when mom or dad was going to punish you for doing wrong. You were safe and secure when you went to sleep at night. You left your front door unlocked, you opened your window, the cool breeze from the night swept across your face. Your cars were never locked or car keys never misplaced because they were always in the car.
         Dad would get up at the crack of dawn to go to work. Mom would awaken you with breakfast ready, your lunch was packed, and out the door you went to catch the school bus. The schools were great and the teachers were excellent! You never had to worry about drugs and/or guns in the schools. Girls dressed like girls. Boys dressed like boys. You respected your teachers – you were there to learn.
         Dinner was on time when Dad got home from work and we would sit down together with a blessing first. We always talked and laughed about the day, never once complaining about what was on the table or saying “ don’ like that.” There were always arguments about whose turn it was to wash the dishes. After homework, off to bed you went always saying a goodnight prayer.
         What has happened to those days? Now, we live in homes that are secured with security alarms. Windows are never left opened for fear of someone climbing in. You certainly do not leave your keys in your car! And the schools are rampant with drugs! Meth labs are like candy stores. It’ “atie, Bar the door with setting the alarm, making sure your car is locked, and pulling all the blinds.” The only thing that is the same are the prayers. Thank God for those. Are you tired of “mall town ‘irty’politics and ‘mall-minded’politicians’ that only want to help themselves, never caring whether they improve your quality of life? Some even play the sympathy role, with some even asking how much money it would take for you not to run for office? Folks that you thought were your friends or your family strike out at you. They tend to forget who you are after the election, but certainly remember you during the Election process.

         Why is that? Is it because they wear two faces? Are they fearful that if they acquaint themselves with you because you might be running for office that they might lose a few votes? Is politics really worth the mud-slinging and insults? Why does it have to be “irty”politics?
         When I returned in the late 90's to the place I always called home, I find that Clay County has not moved forward at all. There were more good things happening 30 years ago than today.
         What is happening to Clay County? Are we going backward instead of forward?         I ask each and every elected official the following: Why do the police not respond when they are contacted of a possible break-in? Why hasn’ anyone been prosecuted for the vehicles that are stolen every week?         Why aren’ the elected officials doing everything possible to improve the quality of life for Clay County Residents? Why isn’ everyone paying their share of real and personal property taxes? Has any elected official ever written or applied for a grant for federal funding to help resolve the problems that exist in Clay County? Why is it when a formal complaint is filed for performing illegal background checks it is just “hoved”under the carpet and forgotten?
         Vote out the incumbents. Give the new “oliticians”a chance to show Clay County Residents what they have. If they are unable to prove themselves, then vote them out next Election Year!         GET INVOLVED AND HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE FOR WHAT THEY DON’ DO!
                 A Concerned Citizen & Taxpayer of Clay County, West Virginia
                                 Sincerely, Linda Hunt
         I am glad to see that Clayberry is going to build a tourism economy around the Elk River and the soon-to-be Dam Sampson. That is the kind of thinking that will get some things moving, start creating new jobs and avoid the pratfalls of the sucker-born-every-minute Filcon brand. A strong tourism economy will have several season-long or year-around attractions, sweetened with a couple of events, like the Golden Delicious Festival.
                 I have beat the tub for a tourism economy in West Virginia for years. My years of working in the urban East taught me some things. Those folks want to come to the country, see things and do things. Quiet little rivers like the Elk are perfect not only for fishing but for the simple joys of canoeing, slow-water rafting and tubing. So, create a series of access points with adjacent campgrounds primitive, camper and cabin, bait/tackle shops, gas/convenience stores and a few bed and breakfasts thrown in. You will create more jobs and more revenue for the county than all the get-rich-quick schemes of BDA and CAEZ rolled into one have ever come close to doing. A network of hiking trails would tie in with the river, lake and all points between nicely, and get the tourists hungry and thirsty. Hungry, thirsty tourists will need restaurants, BBQs, ice cream shops and a bunch of other “om & Pop”caliber businesses that can be started by anybody with the desire and talent to do so.
                 An aspect of tourism that creates new jobs and new money quickly is handmade crafts, furniture and art. What would work is a series of home-shops around the county, marked with a number on a map and indicated with a like-numbered sign in the yard. That way the tourists could take a drive, looking for the places that interest them most, but see, stop and spend at some others too. Each home-producer would be making money with little to no overhead and wouldn't have to wrestle with any bureaucrats while doing it. They could even join forces and tap into the e-commerce market.
                 I like to see crowded, busy, loud events, with hundreds, thousands of tourists spending money like it was going out of style. The Golden Delicious is great, but what if you had two or three similar events each year?
         The colorful history of West Virginia is another angle that, if presented right, would be a great tourist draw. You might have only one or two museums or historic attractions, but when added to the mix they will add to the growth of your new economy. There is bound to be something of historical note in Clayberry to build an attraction around. It's not brain-surgery folks. Just use the good old common sense that growing up in the country gave you, get a few things started and “ring on the tourists.” The rest will take care of its self.
         Wrong Headed: Left or Right By Jim Chafin
          Politicians, and nodding heads of the media, weld a psychological club as they seek to stunt their opposition by demeaning the character and name of otherwise upright, decent and moral people. They lambaste their opposition with such terms as right, left, conservative, liberal, and other more defamatory uses of the English language – all in the name of party politics. Because in political circles the name of the game is “ower for the party.” And each of these career pols knows the agenda, even if they seek to keep their dirty little secret from their electors. Party position is the driving force that molds their agenda, not, I would submit, the well-being of their constituents, unless one can surmise that “ssues”being discussed nationally are in the best interests of all Americans, which may not necessarily be the case. Oh, yes, such issues as Social Security, Medicare, the war, and a goodly number of other subjects are very important to the health and safety of this country; however, in most instances, wrong-headed solutions are arrived at as the system applies voodoo economics to what, otherwise are simple and straight forward needs of the people. Simple, that is, until a power-crazed system begins to smell the possibility of enormous profits for already wealthy corporations and their fat cat CEOs and investors. But when that occurs the way becomes cloudy and dim, the process becomes murky and less intelligible. Seemingly bright people suddenly lose all powers of deduction and self control, and as the Rx becomes more laden with heavy pockets filled with filthy lucre our legislators wilt beneath the tons of green. And what started out as an effort to fill very real needs now becomes an omnibus construction project that not even the original bill’ sponsors recognizes. The project becomes a test of wills between two immovable objects that are hell-bent on lining their own pockets while middle-America is being strangled to death. This is a picture of the legislative process in this United States of America in the 21st century. How very sad.
          Oh, the name calling and character assassinations, the kettle calling the pot black: lefties; spendthrifts; liberals with OUR money; soft on crime; appeasers of dictators; unpatriotic; pinkos (akin to commies); you know the type. Then there is the “rong-headed right.” You know, the party of wealth; stingy; conspirators against the tax system of this nation; all for themselves and nothing for everyone else; job-killers; enemies of the middle class; plunderers of the nation’ resources and polluters of our air land and water. Is this enough, or need we say more? It’ a ridiculous situation! In a nation where equality used to be preached from the pulpits of religious America, today we rarely hear the word. In this hour we’e more likely to hear a hallelujah speech glorifying “reed is good”ethics of the Reagan era, or “imme one dollar more.”
          The King’ English has become so polluted by the techno-nuts that one barely recognizes grammatical speech anymore. Daniel Webster himself would have a hissy-fit if he could see and hear the depths to which modern speech has fallen. The effects of all this foulmouthed (expletive deleted) rhetoric upon the legislative process and in individual lives is, I believe, to desensitize the populous and render society vulnerable to even more atrocities of the mind as we march down this road towards more debauchery and immorality. The media that once showed a high degree of restraint in the kinds and degree of vulgarity in broadcasting now, seemingly, has turned its resources over to foulmouthed spirits whose filth knows no bounds. It would appear that a return to some semblance of normalcy, conforming to doctrinaire speech is in order. And, a basic understanding of “riginal intent”(as mandated by legitimate dictionaries) should be required in all public schools. Americans should enforce proper language decorum by not allowing the kinds of indecent and improper behavior to pollute their ears and eyes. Garbage in, garbage out.
          Legitimate public issues must be discussed with an air of respect and intelligence by those on both side of the aisle. And in order to accomplish this, words with false bottoms or hidden agendas must be avoided. The Medicare legislation is just one glaring example wherein rhetoric and intent converged to produce a law so complicated that most folks have no idea just what is in the bill. We will not be able to rely upon our august members of Congress, or the insurance and medical industries, to provide honest answers. Americans, those who have the most to loose in this game of deceit and secrecy, will have to ferret out the information for themselves, hopefully, before the shock of reality sets in – two years hence. Or else the alternative will be “hock and awe”in 2006.
          What we do know now is that out of a projected cost of $400 billion, corporate coffers will receive $140 billion off the top – before the medically needy receive anything. And now we have learned that the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that another $140 billion will be added to the cost of this bill, making a total of $540 billion. Now hear this: this extra $140 billion will fall on those who use the system, in the form of higher costs for prescriptions and fees for service and insurance. The industry’ customary practice of continually raising prices would not be discouraged. Who loses? We do!
         Editor’ note: This is the 3rd installment of Mr. Chafin’ “rong Headed: Left or Right” which will be continued in our next edition.
          What Do We Make?
          Real estate agents always are considered wealthy individuals because most people think that all commission fees are given to the sales associate. Most agencies are on a profit sharing basis. This means that in most agencies the broker receives 50 % of the commission fees and the sales associate 50 %. In other agencies they have to pay monthly office fees, utilities, office supplies, and other office related expenses. Agents generally purchase advertisement materials, such as flyers, pens, buttons, seed packets, business cards, etc. These materials are used to attract individuals who want to list their property. All business travel and car expenses must be paid by the agent. So the percentage of actual profit that the agents receive is lower than the 50% because of all of these expenses. Agents are required to have yearly in-services that they must pay for each year.
          During the year, each agent must sell enough houses or property to cover the expenses. This is sometimes hard in certain areas of West Virginia, especially in Clay County where property values are generally lower than other areas of the state. This means that agents have a larger commission rate than other parts of the state and nation. It is simple math. If you sell a house in New Jersey for $200,000 at 2 % the agent would obtain a gross commission of $2,000. In Clay County you might have to sell four houses or more to receive the same commission amount. But you have the same type of paper work, tests, inspections, and documents so the property can legally be sold.
          As you see real estate agents travel around the county, think "nothing is what it seems." Real estate agents have to really working hard to make money. The real estate business has it rewards, but requires a considerable amount of work, education, expense, and time.
          This article was submitted by Dave Derby,
         Greenlee Properties Inc. GMAC Real Estate:Clay Office.
         Struggles Of A Single Parent By Melissa Seabolt
                   According to the U.S. Census Bureau, they’e estimated 59% of the United States children will live in a single-parent home at least once in their minor years. It has been reported that over 16 million children currently live in a single-parent home.
  One of the struggles of being a single-parent is dealing with the loss or separation of a spouse, while at the same time trying to make a positive environment for their children.
  Most single parents have to hold down two jobs just to make ends meet and have very little time (if any) to spend with their children. This can cause problems with the relationship between the parent and the children.
  There’ also struggles with finding the right baby-sitter. It is hard to trust anyone these days with child abusers, etc., being reported all the time. Hard being at work and wondering if your children are safe.
  Most people know the troubles with welfare. Welfare was designed to help people in need. But through people abusing the system so much, now it is hard for a single parent to get the right help they need. They work full time and still don’ get enough food stamps to get by a whole month. The more you work the less food stamps you get. This should be changed to the more you try to better yourself the more food stamps you should be allowed until you’e on your feet.
  These are just a few struggles that single parents go through everyday. As for me, I’ one of the blessed single parents. I have a family that helps me in every area of raising my child. I hope that more single parents out there have the love and support from their families as I have.
  The studies have shown more positive results in single parenting than negative. Most of the children learn responsibility at an earlier age and have a very good out look on life.
          Never think that an election season can come and go in Clayberry without questionable deeds and conduct. School Board candidate Earnie Sirk filed a formal complaint against County Commission candidate Brian Holcomb Wednesday, March 24, 2004. According to Sirk, before filing the instrument, he went to the School Board office to discuss the matter with Superintendent Jerry Linkinogger. Once there, Linkinogger was no where to be found and Asst. Superintendent Larry Gillespie listened less than attentively to the grievance, according to Sirk, and sent him on his way.
          The riled up Sirk made a bee line to the Secretary of State’ office and filed the formal complaint which follows. FORMAL COMPLAINT, Sec of State :On March 23, 2004, I was following Clay County School bus 17 driven by Ronald Tanner. The bus stopped and a child exited the bus with a campaign poster, "Brian Holcomb for County Commissioner" under one arm and a wire poster holder under the other arm. The wire the child carried I felt was a hazard to the child and to every other child on the bus with its four sharp points. I was late for a board meeting at the time but I stopped at the students home on my way back. I talked to the parents, Edsel Westfall Jr. He stated that the child's teacher Brian Holcomb had sent it home. I then investigated further and was told that on March 22 Dow Dawson another student had transported a campaign poster home on bus 2. Clint Salyers, a private citizen, has witnessed this practice on his daughters bus and had informed Mr. Holcomb that this was not a fair or ethical campaign practice several weeks ago. I was also told that Mr. Holcomb has made it a common practice to distribute badges, signs, and other election materials by and to his students. He has even given extra points to students for the wearing of his buttons. I visited the school on March 24 to find his truck parked on school property with campaign signs on both sides, and the back and cab filled with these "questionable"political signs and wires. I feel that Mr. Holcomb is using his position as a public employee for private gain and in doing so is endangering the physical well being of students. I believe that no child should be compelled to campaign for a person because of undue influence or intimidation. These are not the morals and the views about our right to vote that I want passed on to our "voters of the future." Sincerely Earnest H Sirk. NOTE: The complaint was notarized by Sec of State notaryKimberly Vogel March 24 before noon.
         Talk about raising a stink! Then the calls started to come in from the Charleston Daily Mail. A persistent reporter from Charleston snagged them.
         The complete Daily Mail article from March 29th read
: Clay teacher defends politicking on school grounds; Cheryl Caswell Daily Mail staff ; A Clay County school board candidate has complained to the Secretary of State's office that a Clay County High School teacher asked students to carry home campaign signs and wear buttons promoting the teacher's political candidacy.In the complaint, Earnest Sirk criticizes carpentry teacher Brian Holcomb and alleges he issued extra credit to students who helped promote him in his campaign for a position on the Clay County Commission. Holcomb said Thursday that some students were given political signs and badges, but no extra credit was ever offered. He said some of the students weren't in any of his classes. "Those accusations are totally and completely false," said Holcomb, a Democrat. "I never said ‘ey, take this.' That's not right. As far as I know, it's not a crime to give someone something if they want it, but I didn't give any extra credit." Principal Philip Dobbins said the school board also received similar complaints and he questioned the teacher and students."We haven't found it to be true at all," Dobbins said. "There's no truth to the complaint that there was any extra credit involved."Dobbins said students who received the political paraphernalia were all seniors who are 18 and registered to vote. But he said teachers and staff must be careful when it comes to involving students in elections, and he has asked Holcomb to hand out political materials only after school hours."We don't advocate one candidate over another at this school," Dobbins said. "And the school is not campaign headquarters. Anything involving extra credit would be absolutely over the line, unethical at least.
         Jerry Linkinogger, Superintendent of Clay County Schools, said schools face a fine line between educating students about elections, politics and the campaign process and using them to further a candidate's goals."We object to anyone taking advantage of kids during the school day in their campaigns," Linkinogger said. "We have several employees who are running for office, and we have asked them not to give students signs or buttons."Sirk said his biggest worry is that the students were seen boarding a bus and carrying the signs that have metal wire legs on them. The signs could be considered as dangerous as weapons, he said. "It scares me to death," Sirk said. "It's not a nice way for children to be done. And I'm sure there's a state law against it. I don't care about politics; I care about children getting hurt." Holcomb said, "I'd be deeply sorry, but I don't know that I did anything wrong. I'm not trying to hurt anybody." Sirk said he personally delivered the complaint to the Secretary of State's office on Wednesday. A spokesman at the Secretary of State's office said he could neither confirm nor deny whether a complaint had been received. In his complaint, Sirk said, "I was told Mr. Holcomb made it a common practice to distribute badges, signs and other election materials by and to his students. He has even given extra points to students for the wearing of his buttons." Sirk also objects to Holcomb's vehicle, which he said is covered with political signs and is parked on school property each day. "I feel that Mr. Holcomb is using his position as a public employee for private gain and in doing so is endangering the physical well-being of students. I believe that no child should be compelled to campaign for a person because of undue influence or intimidation," Sirk's complaint stated. Holcomb said other local political candidates drive through the school's parking lot daily with political signs on their vehicles. Reporter Mike Andrick also contributed to this story.Writer Cheryl Caswell can be reached at 348-4832.
                 Sirk’ angle is safety. Our school leaders have said: It’ OK to do campaigning on school property and to use students to further their private gains.
                 Since the Daily Mail’s covered, this paper received a phone call along these lines: Ms Elaine Stutler called and wanted to clarify some things concerning Earnie Sirk’ complaint on Brian Holcomb.She said the child Sirk witnessed getting off the bus with Holcomb’ campaign sign was her son, not Edsel Westfall’.She also explained that her son, a senior, is 18 years old, doesn’ have Holcomb as a teacher, was never offered extra credit, and had asked Holcomb for the sign.Stutler said that most likely Holcomb did not know her son would be riding the bus home.
                 We talked with Sirk Wednesday, March 31st. He told this paper that Linkinogger had no plans to stop school system employees from posting campaign signs on various vehicles in school parking lots. According to Sirk, he is on the April 5th school board meeting agenda to discuss the matter with our elected ones. Watch for the masses to come out Monday in support of Brian Holcomb and questionable campaign practices in Clayberry.
         By Andy Waddell
                 It’ tough to eat crow but that’ what’ happening now. The issue is our local quasi government social service provider Clay Development Corporation (CDC).
                 As a reporter for the county’ only source of news during the last 8 ½ years, we’e made it a point to attend every CDC meeting open to the public. Our long time readers remember the escapades printed. The fights, the power battles, the many times the Board has been tossed out of office by the employees and family of employees. CDC’ strategy has been, install a weak, uninterested Board and then don’ let them in on the backdoor dealings, the Christmas bonuses, the Federal investigations, and such. For the most part, such management thinking works. For CDC, when a Board member gets too nosey, throw them out and find someone else they can pull the wool over.
                 About three years ago, when Earnie ‘Wide Glide’ Sirk was in charge of the CDC operation of greed, the public was removed from CDC meetings. At one winter meeting, Trooper Foreman was called to remove this reporter from the public meeting. Later this reporter was removed from being a general member of the CDC.
                 All along, we asked questions. How much do they make? Can we see the financials? Can we see the meeting minutes? Where is it in the minutes that Pam Taylor was fired by the Board? Is it OK to take CDC lap tops and operate a private for profit business with them? Can we see the IRS mandated public record Form 990? Certainly not tough questions, nothing monumental about them. Just plain straight info the public may want to know.
                 And the response from the family run business? None of your business! We are private. Probably the most telling came from Janet Fitzwater a couple years back when she yelled out: WE ARE PRIVATE AND ANSWER TO NO ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!        
                 Such words are hard to take since all their money comes from the taxpayer. Needless to say, we fought back. We tried using the Freedom of Information request process. Didn’ work, they said they didn’ have to comply. We tried direct questions during back then public meetings. Didn’ work. We got tossed out and barred from attending any CDC function.
                 Others tried to straighten up the agency in the court system. As boards were tossed out, they headed to court land where they routinely lost battles. CDC and the Ramsey clan never lost a case until December 2003 when removed-from-power Earnie Sirk won his challenge and was reinstalled to the General Membership Committee.
                 All along, I personally thought, the CDC gang was a dirty rotten bunch of twerps illegally hiding dirty deeds. I was wrong and wrong all along. Here comes the eating crow part readers.
                 Bob Graham’ ½ million dollar a year salary has been on the front page of Charleston papers for over a month now. Graham runs a senior program just like Clay Development’ operation. News reports listed dark dealings just like the course in Clayberry and in CDC. Graham has been in the hot seat as has oversight groups like Appalachian Area Aging and DHHR, both with oversight and middle man duties for Federal funding.
                 According to a 1991 memo from the DHHR and reported March 28th in the Charleston Gazette, According to the 12 year old government memo, Graham’ salary, impressive perks, benefits, trips at non profit expense, and spending on pet projects are all within the rules because there are no rules. The DHHR Director wrote: There are currently no federal or state regulations that address how agencies can spend their reimbursement money…”
For our faithful readers, I have been wrong all along. I thought when federal tax dollars were involved, the public had a right to know how and where they’e spent. I thought that projects and services performed by CDC should be open to the entire county no matter what your last name, that when donated items came through the CDC doors, the items should be given to people other than employees, family members and the public had a right to know about such hand outs. When CDC applied for Christmas money from Charleston Newspaper’ Charity drives I mistakenly thought the requests should be made for all people in Clay County.
                 Probably the most troubling part of eating crow, I thought the public had a right to know what CDC was up to. With no federal oversight, no state oversight, and with our lily livered State Legislatures too chicken to reel in anything related to a major voting block (seniors), my apology is extended to all members of the CDC tribe. I was wrong and you were right all along. You have complete autonomous control of every tax penny and what you do with it. Many apologies extended.
          With election 2004 in full swing, illegal posters and campaign materials can be costly to the candidate and the person supplying the products. The following is the WV State Code on such advertising requirements.
         §3-8-12. Additional acts forbidden; circulation of written matter; newspaper advertising; solicitation of contributions; intimidation and coercion of employees; promise of employment or other benefits; limitations on contributions; public contractors; penalty.
          (a) No person may publish, issue or circulate, or cause to be published, issued or circulated, any anonymous letter, circular, placard, radio or television advertisement or other publication expressly advocating the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate.??(b) No owner, publisher, editor or employee of a newspaper or other periodical may insert, either in its advertising or reading columns, any matter, paid for or to be paid for, which tends to influence the voting at any election, unless directly designating it as a paid advertisement and stating the name of the person authorizing its publication and the candidate in whose behalf it is published.??(c) No person may, in any room or building occupied for the discharge of official duties by any officer or employee of the state or a political subdivision of the state, solicit orally or by written communication delivered within the room or building, or in any other manner, any contribution of money or other thing of value for any party or political purpose, from any postmaster or any other officer or employee of the federal government, or officer or employee of the state, or a political subdivision of the state. No officer, agent, clerk or employee of the federal government, or of this state, or any political subdivision of the state, who may have charge or control of any building, office or room, occupied for any official purpose, may knowingly permit any person to enter any building, office or room, occupied for any official purpose for the purpose of soliciting or receiving any political assessments from, or delivering or giving written solicitations for, or any notice of, any political assessments to, any officer or employee of the state, or a political subdivision of the state.??(d) Except as provided in section eight of this article, no person entering into any contract with the state or its subdivisions, or any department or agency of the state, either for rendition of personal services or furnishing any material, supplies or equipment or selling any land or building to the state, or its subdivisions, or any department or agency of the state, if payment for the performance of the contract or payment for the material, supplies, equipment, land or building is to be made, in whole or in part, from public funds may, during the period of negotiation for or performance under the contract or furnishing of materials, supplies, equipment, land or buildings, directly or indirectly, make any contribution to any political party, committee or candidate for public office or to any person for political purposes or use; nor may any person or firm solicit any contributions for any purpose during any period.??(e) No person may, directly or indirectly, promise any employment, position, work, compensation or other benefit provided for, or made possible, in whole or in part, by act of the Legislature, to any person as consideration, favor or reward for any political activity for the support of or opposition to any candidate, or any political party in any election. Continued on the next page
         ??(f) No person may, directly or indirectly, make any contribution in excess of the value of one thousand dollars in connection with any campaign for nomination or election to or on behalf of any statewide or national elective office, or in excess of the value of one thousand dollars, in connection with any other campaign for nomination or election to or on behalf of any other elective office in the state or any of its subdivisions, or in connection with or on behalf of any committee or other organization or person engaged in furthering, advancing or advocating the nomination or election of any candidate for any of the offices.??(g) (1) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (f) of this section to the contrary, the aggregate contributions made to a state party executive committee or state party legislative caucus committee are to be permitted only pursuant to the limitations imposed by the provisions of this subsection.??(2) No person may, directly or indirectly, make contributions to a state party executive committee or state party legislative caucus committee which, in the aggregate, exceed the value of one thousand dollars in any calendar year.??(h) The limitations on contributions contained in this section do not apply to transfers between and among a state party executive committee or a state party's legislative caucus political committee from national committees of the same political party: Provided, That transfers permitted by this subsection may not exceed fifty thousand dollars in the aggregate in any calendar year to any state party executive committee or state party legislative caucus political committee: Provided, however, That the moneys transferred may only be used for voter registration and get-out-the-vote activities of the state committees.??(i) No person may solicit any contribution from any nonelective salaried employee of the state government or of any of its subdivisions or coerce or intimidate any nonelective salaried employee into making a contribution. No person may coerce or intimidate any nonsalaried employee of the state government or any of its subdivisions into engaging in any form of political activity. The provisions of this subsection may not be construed to prevent any employee from making a contribution or from engaging in political activity voluntarily, without coercion, intimidation or solicitation.??(j) No person may solicit a contribution from any other person without informing the other person at the time of the solicitation of the amount of any commission, remuneration or other compensation that the solicitor or any other person will receive or expect to receive as a direct result of the contribution being successfully collected. Nothing in this subsection may be construed to apply to solicitations of contributions made by any person serving as an unpaid volunteer.??(k) No person may place any letter, circular, flyer, advertisement, election paraphernalia, solicitation material or other printed or published item tending to influence voting at any election in a roadside receptacle unless it is: (1) Approved for placement into a roadside receptacle by the business or entity owning the receptacle; and (2) contains a written acknowledgment of the approval. This subdivision does not apply to any printed material contained in a newspaper or periodical published or distributed by the owner of the receptacle. The term "roadside receptacle" means any container placed by a newspaper or periodical business or entity to facilitate home or personal delivery of a designated newspaper or periodical to its customers.??(l) Any person violating any provision of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than one thousand dollars, or confined in a regional or county jail for not more than one year, or, in the discretion of the court, be subject to both fine and confinement.