January 25, 2001
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Affin Shelters the Needy
Did You Know?
A + Computer Guy
School Board Meets at Clay Elem.
Stumbler of the Week
CDC Bars Public
Procious Financial Peril
$11,000.00 Lost & $18,000.00 Loan Bails out CCEAA
Late Breaking News
CCC Hears from PSC
AFFIN TO SHELTER NEEDY
Clay County may be close to getting a much needed family shelter facility in the fall of this year. Executive Director Kate Whittaker with Aid For Families In Need (AFFIN) has announced plans for such a facility to aid those West Virginians in need of shelter.
This shelter is being designed specifically for families in mind. According to Ms Whittaker, The organization is dedicated to those families who suddenly find themselves homeless and in need of assistance. The staff at AFFIN will help homeless families regain their independence, while allowing them to maintain their dignity and self esteem. Whittaker continued, We are pro children. The children in our communities, especially those living in rural communities, must be given every opportunity to succeed. Without outside help, many of these impoverished and displaced children will grow up to become tomorrows impoverished and displaced adults. Our main purpose in implementing this program is to offer a safe, clean, smoke/alcohol/drug - free haven to those families who need a place to rebuild their lives.
Facility? Yes. Whittakers plans call for the construction to begin this fall on a 20 acre campus like housing complex which will include administrative offices, classrooms, day care center, library, chapel, and conference room. Also located adjacent will be a greenhouse, thrift store and food pantry. AFFIN will operate 24 hours per day, 365 days a year and be located in the Amma area of the region.
Whittaker says the program will be unique. One of the most important things is that this can be long term sheltering. This is a 12 month program. Clients will be required to sign a contract to do a long term plan of action including: getting a GED, we will offer classes to clients on site; if they are able to work, they must work either outside the shelter or in one of the 60 plus on site positions. Unique also includes the client will receive pay for their duties with 75% of income going into savings that they can get upon exiting the program. The majority of the folks will come from Braxton, Clay, Calhoun, Nicholas, and Roane Counties. The design of the facility will allow for the single men, single women, and couples who are in shelter.
Emergency shelter could be utilized in the event of floods or other disasters.
Director Whittaker said she knows of no other program in the country like the one planned by AFFIN.
Of course funding plays into the plans. Three major HUD grants are now being written to cover the construction, operation, and upkeep. Her grant applications will be in by the end of March 2001. Additionally, private granting agencies have been approached. Were looking at other grant sources as well, commented Whittaker.
To date there have been no obstacles in her way, I have had no community obstacles. I have had only acceptance, applause, and people commenting about how pleased they are and how necessary the shelter is. The only obstacle right now is just funding. Up to now, everything has come out of my pocket.
From Clay County the Board of Directors include: Frank and Kay Kish, Joyce White, and Lisa Holcomb. Another is expected soon.
Currently there are no shelters in the five county area. Continuum care contracts are being negotiated with Westbrook Mental Health, 21st Century Learning, Clay Mountain Housing, WVDHHR, Drivers for Food, Multi Cap. Clay Development Corporation, the Family Resource Network and others to from a working network for the project.
Another important aspect of the planned program calls for AFFIN to give back to the community. Whittaker explains, We are going to have a literacy and GED program that is open to the public as well as a day care center, greenhouse, thrift store and food pantry all open to the public in addition to a lunch program for seniors and for underprivileged children. College courses and vocational classes will be added later for the public to take advantage of.
To sum it all up, again, MS Whittaker, The shelter is needed in this area. There are no nearby shelters. Instead of coming in and causing problems in the community, the program will make things better.
To contact Kate Whittaker you can E-mail her firstname.lastname@example.org or you can snail mail AFFIN at PO Box_________, Amma West Virginia 25005.
The investigation into the Magistrate Jeff Boggs Judicial Ethics complaint appears to be continuing. Last week Ethics Commission examiner P M Carper stopped by the Communicator office in Smith Bottom and picked up copies of recent editions that contained coverage of the allegations Boggs.
Lots of rumor around the county that Frankie Phillips is off the hook on recent drug charges. That the felony charges with drugs have been reduced. Not so according to Circuit Clerk Mike Asbury. The case has been continued fro 30 days so lab tests can be done.
???DID YOU KNOW???
1. Currently there are 3 million truckers in the US, one fifth of them are women.
2. Researchers from the Dept. Of Veterans Affairs found this year that people who drink moderate amounts of coffee appeared substantially less likely to develop Parkinsons disease.
3. The letters on M&Ms stand for company founders Mars and Murrie.
4. 32 of West Virginias 55 counties have only two Magistrates.
5. There are 41 staff vacancies at Mount Olive Maximum-Security Prison, forcing some officers to work shifts of 16 hours or more.
6. There are 20 Special-Ed teacher vacancies posted on the Dept. of Educations web site.
7. Razor scooters have accounted for more than 30,000 emergency room visits this year.
8. Drivers bought 2.8 million SUVs in the United States through November of last year.
9. The percentage of Immigrants among Americans has increased steadily since 1970.
10. If you live to the age 75 and never cut your fingernails, theyll grow to about 13 feet in length.
11. West Virginia is the worst educated state, with only 17 % of residents holding Bachelors Degrees.
12. A panel formed to review the salaries of top state appointed officials, says their salaries are the lowest in the nation.
13. The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.... Eleanor Roosevelt.
14. There are 3 automobiles for every four people in the United States.
15. There is no time for cut and dried monotony, there is time for work, and time for love. That leaves no other time.... Coco Chanel.
A response has been filed by the town of Clay to the suit filed against them by Billie J Zegeer. The original civil suit (00-C-76) dated Dec 6, 2000 alleges that Town Council broke State Code by not adhering to 8-13-13 which requires Council to hold an election to determine if town residents are in favor of higher water rates to cover the cost of building a new water plant to serve the entire county. Additionally, the suit makes mention that Council person Jeff Krauklis voted illegally for the rate increases since he had resigned from Council and then voted himself back on Council.
The response by Council over the charges include the following. The lawsuit incorrectly names Mayor Gibson and Betty Murphy in the case. Zegeer doesnt have the right to bring the suit. They deny all charges against them. The Court lacks jurisdiction. The charges against them are vague and confusing and proof must be shown. Town denies that Krauklis should not have voted to re seat himself on Council.
In a nutshell, pretty much every charge against Council has been disputed and denied, Town has asked the Court to dismiss the whole enchilada and make Zegeer pay for all, and Town is saying that only the WV Public Service Commission has the right and the jurisdiction to hear such a matter.. Attorney Kevin Duffy prepared the response after Mayor Gibson was unable to contact Town attorney Jim Lane.
Judge Danny Cline ruled against Plaintiff James A Waddell last month in the case where Clay County Commissioners and the Clay County Ambulance Authority were charged with breaking Open Meeting Laws by having a secret meeting back in June of 1998. A Motion to Amend or Alter Judgement was filed Jan 11, 2001. In court documents the plaintiff contends that the Court erred as a matter of law in rendering previous judgment, that Open Meetings Laws do not require that the County Commission or the Ambulance Authority take an action ( in secret meeting) in order for a meeting to have taken place, because the Commission did not have discussion after the secret meeting and before they voted on the matter, and that the court found that their no showing that any action was taken by the Commission or the Ambulance Authority, is in error, as a matter of law.
March 5, 9:00am has been set for the Court date for this hearing. Judge Rick Facemire will hear the arguments. ACLU attorney Jeff Molenda is the plaintiffs attorney.
A+ COMPUTER GUY
Hello! It is Aplus Computer guy again! I am sorry for the long absence, but, school work piled up on me again, and only recently have I had enough time to sit down and write another column. This week, I will speak about the different types of connections possible to the Internet.
You all probably know about regular modems(that connect to your phone line), and they are pretty good for the average user, but, what if you just wanted some blazing speed for your Internet use? There are many options(most of them very expensive unless you live near certain metropolitan areas in the state).
The first I will write about is DSL. DSL stands for Digital Subscriber Line. It is a dedicated connection to the Internet. It uses regular phone lines for transmission, but is very expensive, and you have to live close to a calling-center to use it(it only has a range of a few miles from a hub terminal).
The next is a Cable. It is currently the 2nd fastest way to connect to the Internet(that I know of). With it, you can connect at speeds many hundreds of times faster than a regular dial-up modem. But, there are two downfalls. You have to have a dial-up connection to send data to the server (if you want to upload something), and your cable service has to offer cable modem service for your area.
Another option is the T-1 line. It is extremely quick. To get an idea of how powerful they are, the local Internet server, Hawksnet, only has(to my knowledge) 2 T-1 lines in county connected to the local dial-up server to handle the traffic, and yet, they are very easily capable of handling most of the traffic in county. Yes, there is a very high charge for using such a line, and therefore, isnt very economically practical for the average user. You have to pay the phone company to run and install it, and it can cost up in the hundreds of dollars to keep it connected(depending on your location).
The last option I will speak upon is the new type of system that is wireless. It is being used currently by the town of Salem, West Virginia, and a few other towns around the tri-state Area. You can be anywhere within the limits of Salem, and still be connected to the Internet. It is on average about 2-3 times faster than a cable connection, and it does not require a dial-up line. The only drawback, of course, is that if you arent in Salem (or the few towns that have such technology), you cant exactly use it.
If you have any questions, comments, or complaints, please contact me at the following e-mail address: email@example.com . If you wish your question/comment/complaint be in the next column, please inform me so that I may be able to do so.
School Board Meets at Clay Elementary
The Clay County Board of Education had their regular meeting on Tuesday, January 16 at Clay Elementary School. All five members were present for the meeting - Board President R.B. Legg, Gene King, Fran King, Scott Legg, and David Pierson. About 15 people attended in addition to school administrative staff.
R.B. Legg invited those present to join him in prayer and then called the meeting to order at 6:00 P.M. Board approved the agenda and the minutes from their previous meeting and an emergency meeting held on January 3. There was no discussion on the purpose of the emergency meeting.
Director of Transportation and Student Services Larry Legg was appointed as representative to the Clay County Professional Council by the Board.
The Board approved a request for $500 to help fund a dance team at Clay County High School (CCHS).
Board looked at an agreement sent to them from Columbia Mountaineer Resources (gas companies). Superintendent Jerry Linkinogger said the agreement had just been faxed that day at 5:00 P.M. Without openly discussing the content of the agreement, David Pierson said he didnt agree with #3. Scott Legg, Me either. They probably want to absolve themselves. Linkinogger said they could ask them (Columbia Mountaineer) to amend the agreement. Fran King made a motion to reject the agreement and bring it back after items #3 and #5 were changed. Still no discussion on what those items of concern were, but Scott Legg suggested contacting Habjam, owner of local Wagner and Valley Gas Companies, for input on how this agreement would affect him. ( The Board has a complaint filed with the Public Service Commission against Habjams companies due to continuing gas shortages at area schools.) Gene King said, Im not concerned about helping anyone, Im concerned about getting gas. Legg and Pierson indicated that was also their main concern. Fran King changed her previous motion, and Board tabled the item until they get Habjams input. All motions passed unanimously.
Under discussion items the Board lightly discussed the need to raise the mileage reimbursement rate due to a state increase. Linkinogger said they are presently paying 28 cents per mile, but will have to raise it at least 1 ½ cents. Gene King said, Give our people the same as the state...Im for paying our people...not right to not give it to them... David Pierson tried to remind King of deficits, but after King persisted, Pierson said, Maybe we could make cut backs somewhere else... R.B. Legg reminded them no action could be taken on the discussion item and Board asked that it be brought back next meeting for action. The amount of the increase will be decided then.
The Clay Elementary Local School Improvement Council (LSIC) met with the Board. School Principal Danny Brown gave a presentation on the LSICs objectives for the year and their progress. He named five basic goals - to improve Stanford 9 test results, increase parent involvement, healthy schools, have closed circuit TV, and increase use of technology classrooms. Just a few of the areas touched on during the presentation: Brown said they now have 3 additional classrooms for grades 1-3 to reduce the teacher/pupil ratio to 18 or fewer students per class. They will also have skilled development classes for at risk students, those students having already been identified in grades 3, 4 & 5. Brown said they targeted those grades first as studies show that if those students cannot read adequately, it will affect the remainder of their schooling. All students now take a 9 week phys ed class and keep a journal of their fitness progress. Brown said they have continued their Student Responsibility Program that reinforces positive traits for character development. Students are also taking part in multi-cultural activities and studying different cultures.
Mr. Brown noted that Clay Elementary was fully accredited this year and likely to be the only school without noncompliances.
This reporter had to leave before the power point presentation on the school was over, and doesnt know if the LSIC had any requests for the Board. Next meeting of the Board will be February 5 at the administrative office building, 6:00P.M. -TK
***USDA State Director Bobby Lewis has switched jobs. Lewis is now Director of the WV Development Office in Charleston. For years many in the county have commented that Lewis has been the one holding on to 13 million dollars for county water projects and the town of Clay water plant.
***For August, Sept., and Nov., the Ambulance Authority finished each month in the red. However, in Dec the agency showed a $96,374. balance. According to discussion during the Jan 21 Special Ambulance Authority meeting, only 6 to 7000 dollars remained according to Treasurer Joyce White.
***According to information on the WV Public Service Commission web site Jan 4, 2001, Delphia ODell asked for a waiver on the long standing water moratorium.
***For our auction seeker readers, the hottest new web site is over in Fayette County. To get there: www.WVauction.com or you can link to the auction house by going to www.clayberry.org
***Recently, Prociouss Perry Carper received a $50.00 check from the Procious PSD. Since there was no notation on the check, Mr Carper can only guess it is for an unused water tap fee 23 years ago. Thats 23 years without any interest.
***You think Clay County is weird, over in Fayette County the School Board voted 4 to 1 to allow the Superintendent discretion in closing ALL Fayettte County High Schools.
***Putnam County School Board members voted two weeks ago to allow a church to hold worship services at West Teays Elem School. Kanawha and Lincoln officials have commented that they do not allow worship services in their schools, although religious groups can use school facilities for non worship activities. According to Dana Martin from the Lincoln County school system, The thinking is that if theyre using our building for services, it would appear that the school is promoting a religion,...Once you open the door for a particular type of usage, then anyone can come forward and request your facility for like usage. According to Hilary Chiz with the ACLU, Schools may host worship services, as long as they allow ANY group to practice their religion there, be they Baptists or Buddhists, Wiccans, or Wesleyans.
***Looks like ex State School Board Superintendent Hank Marockie may not be out of the fire yet. Marockie is scheduled to testify before a Federal Grand Jury . The investigation centers around the misuse of public and private monies in Marockies charge. Additional investigations will include those on the State School Board. Marockie has already paid fines for his wrongdoings after he admitted to the charges.
***Over in Putnam County, Open Meeting Law allegations have surfaced. There, a special meeting was called to give Superintendent Sam Sentelle a hefty 13.5% pay raise. At least one Board member, Karen Houdersheldt, has stood up and complained that the meeting, the agenda, the posting of the agenda were illegal according to state code and county policy. There, it appears the dirty work was done at the special meeting to keep the public away from the public body. Anything sound familiar Clay County readers?
***Exactly one year ago this month Creative Resource Management Services (CRNS) opened their doors in downtown Clayberry with high hopes of helping to improve life through mediation. CRMS has now closed the Clay office.
***For our four wheeling buddies, you can check out the nationally famous Hatfield - McCoy trail on the web www.trailsheaven.com
***Over the last three years, boil water advisories have been issued and then reissued only to be issued again by ALL of the local Public Service Districts in the county. Many locals took the time to come to meetings and hearings to raise H over the unsafe to drink water provided. Seems Boil Water Advisories are rampant. Just last month, there were 31 of the advisories posted in southern counties alone. Many have been in affect for years with little effort to improve. According to state official Charles Robinette, they have no plans to cut off anybodys water supply.
***Not all is dismal for the center of the state. Over in Spencer a dynamo Mayor is working hard to get the downtown landscape dressed up with period lighting, park benches, and improved building facades. The program is called Main Street USA. Here in Clay, the same idea was passed over just three years ago. Also the town of Spencer is getting a new Town Hall. Cost: around $1.3 million. How do you pay for that? There, renters have already signed up for 20 year leases that will cover the cost to pay off the loans involved in construction. Ahhh, to be organized and have a plan for growth.
***Town of Clay barely made payroll Jan 16, 2001. After some telephone work and a good day from the Postal Service, enough $ arrived to cover the employees and part of the past due bills. Procious PSD was in equal dire straits on the 16th and scraped by.
***Earnie Sirk called The Communicator Jan 24th and said selling the Communicator tied him up too much and that he would no longer be selling the only source for news and views in the county. Although Sirk said he wasnt mad, many are suggesting that he got all torqued up over recent web site coverage of the secret Executive committee meetings of the CDC held Jan 23, 2001, where the public was told to stay away. During the secret meeting, the Board was reconfigured and Jimmy Duffield, Everett Eagle , and Glenna Triplett were seated.
***During the Central Appalachia Empowerment Zone (CAEZ) meeting Jan 23, the Board voted to give Clays Business Development Authority $5000.00 toward Engineering work for the Ovapa industrial site. The site is being prepared for Filcon Manufacturing Co. Heres the catch. If the county does NOT develop the land, the $5000.00 has to be returned to the CAEZ
***There are 42,979 ZIP codes in the USA
In 1999, the US Postal Service moved 632.5 million pieces of mail.
***In McCreary and Pulanski counties Kentucky, county officials are fighting a court ruling that could hold them in contempt of court if they dont remove the Ten Commandments from the courthouse walls. US District Judge Jennifer Coffman ruled in May 2000 that displays in those two counties and in the Harlan County Schools had the overwhelming effect of endorsing religion. She ordered them removed and forbade any similar displays. Officials in the counties face jail time and/or fines if the judge decides they defied her order. The displays include an explanation of the role the Ten Commandments and other documents on the walls played in the foundation of our system of law and government. (Information excerpted from the Associated Press.) Sounds a lot like Prosecutor Jeff Daviss explanation of our Commissioner Jimmy Sams Historical document wall at the Clay County Courthouse.
***It appears now that the allegations in Florida that 20,000 blacks were denied their right to vote may be true. Gov. Jeb Bush has been subpoenaed by the US Civil Rights Commission on the matter after thousands of blacks complained that they were robbed of their voting rights. Also at issue is the manipulation of the Florida voting machines. A recent Charleston newspaper article reminded readers that 20 years ago, and in Kanawha County , 15 indictments came back against County Clerk Peggy Miller when she destroyed ballots that were to be investigated. Miller was found innocent by a jury but the story still circulated that the machines could be rigged.
****In a recent Edward Peeks commentary in the Charleston Gazette, Mr Peaks reminded readers that its not just Clay County that insists on keeping local control of safe drinking water. In Putnam, Boone, and Cabell counties there has been resistance for WV water to operate the local systems even when WV Water agreed to hire the local operators and extend water lines. According to Peaks, Local control passion, from what I gather, killed a public private partnership plan last year to bring running water to thirsty residents in Jackson County, and the offer promised new customers and current customers about a $3 monthly reduction in water rates. Whats more, WV-American Water agreed to assume district debts and retain district workers.
***Since 1973, 89 death row inmates have been freed due to new DNA evidence proving their innocence. According to a recent Georgia study, assailants who kill whites are 4.3 times more likely to draw death sentences than assailants who kill blacks. West Virginia has a low murder rate and has no death penalty lending support to the argument that the death sentence is a deterrent to crime. Many low income defendants receive incompetent court appointed attorneys who do little. The arbitrary results of some folks getting the death sentence while others walk away led Supreme Court Justice William Brennan to write, It smacks of little more than a lottery system. To further highlight the atrocities of the death penalty, the finger also points at over zealous, eager to get publicity, prosecutors that have even covered up evidence to obtain a conviction and the chances to move to higher public office. Excerpts from the Charleston Gazette editorial dated Jan 18.
***Mendocino County, California has become the first county in the nation to legalize the growing of marijuana. The law was passed by a vote of the people.
***According to Salvation Army Captain Roy Williams, A 3 year old welfare child has a vocabulary of 400 words. A welfare parent has a 900 word vocabulary. A 3 year old non welfare child has a 1100 word vocabulary and their parent had a 24,000 word vocabulary.
by Eric B Goode
I was catching the Presidential Inauguration in bits & pieces on my car radio & was impressed most (in a positive way) when Rev. Graham ended his prayer with an emphatic, "In the name of Our Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ"!!!
I was afraid he was going to compromise with the non-Christian powers & just pray to God & The Lord etc. There are so many gods ya know! Of course, we respect all true & sincere attempts to Love & Worship God the Father, as do Jews & Arabs & others & Even those who seek truth in other religions as long as they are coming toward the Light(JESUS) because it is simply God's condition! The New Testament of the Blood & Body & Life of JESUS requires confessing with our mouths & believing in our hearts, the LORD JESUS, resurrected for us to be saved along with the whole creation. So, that's where the Victory is, over death & sin & satan & man's vain fruitless works & policies in attempt to save himself, with very little, if any, obeseness(reverence) to GOD & JESUS! Anyway, I was also pleased with Mr. Bush's Biblical references ,especially
to the "angel in the whirlwind" twice! Wow! AS you may know, I have a passion for the supernatural, miraculous & all things are possible attitude! In fact I (& I pray you too) are in a spiritual holywar against the "oh, it cant be done" crowd!
Of course, certain seemingly negative things have to happen to complete the vision & process of our learning what is right, making the right choice, trusting God & working with HIM to fulfill His Will for every soul, situation & all of creation!
So, let us go forth Loving HIM & those we need us, As the Psalmist said, "weeping & bearing precious seed, that we may doubtless come again, bringing out sheaves with us", in JESUS name!
Which reminds me.. Please contact me if you want to help earthquake victims in El Salvador!
Happy Laboring & what ever else you may do for Him..ok?
Pls leave me a voice mail message at 304 610 7329
> or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Love you all, bye bye!
Stumbler of the Week
By Andy Waddell
Eating Crow is always hard to do. Three editions back in this paper we accused Mayor Joyce Gibson of submitting another water rate increase in Dec 2000 to the WV Public Service Commission without anybody, including Town Council, knowing about it. (NOTE: This second rate increase is in addition to the Oct 13, two fold, water rate increase request to build the water plant that got the public all fired up and attending public meetings.)
We alleged that this was underhanded, a back door approach, and a dirty rotten thing to do. After that story came out, a fiery Joyce Gibson commented during the Jan council meeting that: she did not submit it, she knew nothing about it, Town Council did not vote to do such a thing, she would never do such a deed and that she did not like having her name smeared around.
Thats story number one.
After hearing that, this paper spoke to PSC Director of Information, Bob Teets. Mr Teets told us that the PSC and not the Town, had instituted the new rate increase request. That they were sort of acting as an arbitrator for the Town and it really WASNT a second rate request.
Thats story number two.
After listening to Ms Gibson and to Teets, we ate crow on the front page of the Communicator.
During the Jan 23 County Commission meeting at the Courthouse, Amy Swann ( a Director at the WV PSC) told the forty or so seated that the second rate increase had to be requested by the Town, that this second request is completely separate from the first one, and that Town Council had to vote on it.
Thats story number three
Town Recorder Betty Murphy commented during the Jan Council meeting, minutes do NOT reflect Council voting on the matter. Why point at the Mayor? Gibson herself said she would take care of the matter the next day.And presto chango, Poof!! All of a sudden, there is another request before the PSC
Why a second request? For those that think there are back door dealings involved, heres that scenario. The Towns first rate request is stalled by both petition and a lawsuit and maybe doomed. This new second rate increase has no petitions or lawsuits against it and is headed for smooth sailing. Without it getting much attention, it, the second request, may garner the Town its plant.
Thats story number four!
Eating crow is rough, but when the truth comes out about these four stories, spitting the feathers out may feel mighty fine.
CCC HEARS FROM PSC
With over forty in the peanut gallery, Clay County Commission (CCC) met in regular session Jan 23, 10:00am at the Courthouse. Commission President Matthew Bragg presiding, Tim Butcher, Jimmy Sams present. The bulk of the crowd consisted of PSD Board members and employees and Clay Town Council members along with Mayor Joyce Gibson.
For those interested in the long planned town of Clay Water plant construction project, read up. Although there was lots covered at this meeting, were just enough room to squeeze in the water plant issue.
First on the agenda was the issue of consolidating all the county Public Service Districts (PSD) into one.
Tim Butcher, The whole purpose of todays meeting is to see if there is anything this Commission can do to make sure that we can get the water plant...If something would happen that the Town couldnt go through with the plant, could we get one of the PSDs to pick it up...that is one of our questions, is there anything we can do. The water plant is crucial.
From the WV Public Service Commission the Director of Water and Waste water, Amy Swann spoke. She explained that the rate increase was applied for and that an appeal had been received. Swann said that the cases are moving forward and , normal processing time for a case is three to four months. Swann was referring to the rate increase requests before the PSC now.
On the issue of consolidating all PSDs into one, Swan, I am sure that everyone knows that the PSC favors consolidating. Do I think right now is the time to do the consolidation? No. Swan said you run the risk with name changing, that it becomes a new application and that application goes back down on the bottom of the list. Swan, Our interest is getting this project done and getting the water to the residents.
And for all the readers that may be against the high dollar water project, again Ms Swann, I think everybody in this room knows the plant has to go [be built] and thats what we have been working on for the last two or three years.
USDAs Jim Anderson commented that the funding is NOT in any jeopardy of being lost. Anderson went on to say that part of the hold up is lack of paperwork from the Clay Roane PSD attorney. Roane County Commissioner Larry White assured the assembled that his county is wanting the project to proceed as well and will contact that attorney, Tom Whittier.
Peanutster Charlie Osborne asked about the lawsuit and petition against the plant and would that stop the project. Swan explained the hearing process fro complaints and on the issue of the petition and lawsuit stopping the plant, Everybody is entitled to come to the PSC, and when asked again if the people could stop the plant, Swann, Id be very surprised. Sams asked about if the people would stop the plant what next. According to Ms Swann, the case can be appealed to the Supreme Court.
From the peanut gallery questions came about the second water rate increase case by the Town of Clay ( in Dec.) and each having a different name on them. Swan explained that there is no difference in the two, that its just how the PSC filed them, that the name change doesnt mean anything. Swan, Whoever filed the paperwork for the town called it the Town of Clay, and the other one they called it the Clay Municipal Water Works ... ON the issue of Town Council voting for the first rate increase and not voting on the second one, Swan at first said she couldnt answer that question but then commented,I know we received a filing. Will both cases be combined? Swan,No, both cases will remain separate. Question: Are you aware of who would have filed that second water rate case? Swan, The TOWN, There is only that one entity, the Town Council acts as the governing body for the water plant.
County Commissioners appeared to grin from ear to ear with the good news that the $4million dollar water plant and the additional rate increases to pay for it, is on track and ready to be accepted by the masses.
$11,000 LOST & $18,000.00 LOAN BAILS OUT CCEAA
Clay County Emergency Ambulance Authority (CCEAA) held two Special meetings this month to try and deal with yet another financial crisis at the Ambulance Service. Meeting one was held Sunday Jan 21 at 4:00pm while the second meeting was held Monday Jan 22 At both meetings only Chair Larry Cole, Joyce White, and Gene King attended.
Did we mention King was Hot? During meetings King mentioned that he didnt appreciate NOT being informed of an even earlier Special Meeting and that no one bothered to inform him of the Sunday Jan 21 meeting. King, My concern is, I was in Town all day long and I didnt know about the meeting until that night after it was all over..Nobody attempted to get a hold of me. King said it would be OK to have a meeting without him if they tried to reach him and couldnt.
Joyce White, Not True, Not True. You had a doctors appointment in Charleston. I called everywhere. King, I HAVE ANSWERING MACHINES HOOKED UP EVERYWHERE. JUST LIKE TODAY, A LITTLE BIRD CALLED AND TOLD ME ABOUT THIS MEETING TODAY. THIS IS NO WAY TO GET ALONG. THIS IS NO WAY TO CONDUCT BUSINESS...I KNOW D*** WELL SOME OF THEM DONT WANT ME HERE. BUT IM HERE! NOBODY TRIED TO GET IN TOUCH WITH ME YESTERDAY. I HAVE TWO ANSWERING MACHINES. NOBODY TRIED TO GET IN TOUCH WITH ME YESTERDAY OR TODAY. Cole explained that he had told Director Pierson on Friday to set up a meeting and try to get a quorum. King, WERE GOING TO CHANGE A FEW THINGS. When White chimed in that she had tried to call King for the Sunday Special meeting, King was not done yet, King, Well, who in the H*** is going to call us!! White kept up but to no avail. White commented that another member Arlie Fulks had also been contacted about the meeting. Fulks was absent for both Special Meetings.
White announced that the Ambulance Service was again broke ( down to $7000.00) to their name and they needed to OK $18,000.00 in loans to cover payroll for Jan 24th. King, We were sitting good here with about $79,000.00 last month... I know that $50,000.00 was for that new ambulance... Cole explained that salaries are the biggest expense. White felt they could go back to the Clay County Bank for more money. Last June the CCEAA borrowed $37,000.00 to make it to fiscal year end. Since then they have paid back part of that loan and the $18,000.00 is not a new loan but rather taking the original debt back up to $37,000.00.
And then, and then... Ms White announced, We have $11,000.00 which is lost.
White explained that Medicare cant find it. It appears that the checks were cut and sent out but never received by the Ambulance Service.
King brought up the need to go after the people that have received service and never paid. That amount exceeds $100,000.00. King made mention of one instance where a family owed thousands and thousands of dollars for transports and no attempt was made to collect the debt. King went off on another tangent with questions on why Randy Holcomb installed the new lights and radios on the new ambulance while the CCEAA pays Dana Holcomb $900.00 per month for that service. King also brought to light that the CCEAA has no idea of the finances for the agency
White getting back to the issue of Oking the loan. White, We dont have enough money to pay the bills without the loan.
For those that have said for years, the ambulances run too much for non emergency transports, here it comes. Cole commented that they knew full well that Medicare wouldnt cover many of the runs and those folks need to pay for the runs themselves. Cole referring to getting paid from Medicare and Medicaid, Reimbursements have dropped greatly, were lucky to get 50%.. Cole said one of the big problems stems from employees not properly filling out the paperwork for each run. Cole, We can no longer have a fleet of 6 or 7 ambulances.. We have too many vehicle bills.
King, Ill be against borrowing any more money today. White, We need money this Weds. I was told we have $6 to $7000.00. Mu suggestion is that we go back to the bank..Motion made by White to borrow money....No second....Again the motion... No second. Motion died for lack of second.
ROUND TWO SPECIAL MEETING MONDAY JAN 22 6:00
Again attending, Chair Cole, Joyce White, and Gene King present along with 6 or so in the peanut gallery. Now with financials before them the motion was made and seconded to borrow the $18,000.00.. King said he had been reassured that money fro the group will soon start coming in. Bookkeeper Marie Haynes said that she had bille d out over $30,000.00 in bills and that she was getting a response from those efforts. Discussion on what happened to the $11,000.00. No one had an answer except Ms White who suggested that it was sent to an old billing service , MCA. That service has not been used by the CCEAA since Haynes was hired.
Payroll this week is $14,000.00.
With the immediate emergency of making payroll now taken care of. Chairperson Larry Cole , We cant continue to bleed cash. Were going to stop the bleeding. If it is not directly related to service, turn off the line item..
Discussion on employees not liking the printing of their salaries recently in the Communicator, discussion on publishing names of people that refuse to pay their ambulance runs, discussion on stepping up the collection of past due bills, discussion on selectively going after folks that dont pay, discussion on stopping all runs that they know they wont get paid for, discussion on all the runs that have been made at the wrong times and the wrong dates, etc.
Folks it has taken near financial disaster to do it but it looks like cut backs are coming, Cole, To save money, we have to look at scheduling, and start cutting back... Cole was saying that layoffs may have to be made.
CDC BARS PUBLIC
Clay County Development Corp (CDC) continued the trend of not having a quorum for a monthly Board of Directors meeting Jan 16, 2001. This makes four in a row without enough boardsters to have a legal meeting. While waiting for a straggler or two to fill out the ranks, lots of discussions broke out.
Like questions on pay scales and educational requirements for the positions. That discussion ended as soon as the public showed up.
Like, questions on adding more folks to the various powerful committees. Chair Earnie Sirk encouraged them to keep the committees very small, that small committees are easier to handle and less political. Sirk also brought up the need to have an Executive Committee meeting real soon to do the work that the Board could not do since no quorum exists. Sirk gave an example of how people get on the Board and then never come back to a meeting. His example was that of Joe Murphy who according to Sirk, had answers to solve all the problems and then was gone, never back to a meeting.
Sirk gave an update on CDCs most recent court battle where they tried to get returned to them a Board of Directors policy manual and were unsuccessful in Magistrate Court. Magistrate King dismissed all charges against Vicki Lanham. Sirk now feels that Herschel Shamblin has the manual and Shamblin is now being sued in Magistrate Court. With papers served on him, Shamblin has responded that he is not guilty of having the CDC manual. Shamblin was past President of the CDC and was thrown out of office during one of the many coups experienced by the troubled agency in recent years.
Now 1:20 and still no quorum and general discussion continued.
More discussion on Executive Committee working the problems out behind closed doors and putting new members on the Board of Directors. Discussion turned to picking new Board members to fill the positions of those that do not regularly show up. When a suggestion was made to call a special meeting of the Board of Directors, Sirk retorted, Who would show up? We cant let this fold up!
Heres a cutey folks. After another few minutes of discussion, Earnie Sirk announced that every bit of this discussion should be done in committee and not out in the open meeting setting. The Executive Committee consists of Sirk, Cheryl Neal, and Peter Triplett. After saying this and reiterating that committees have all the power for the group, Sirk,Committee meetings are NOT open to the public. Catch what he is saying readers? Chair Sirk will not allow the public to sit in on the operation of a nonprofit 501C3 government agency. Behind the closed doors is the Oking of all bills paid, what gets bought, who spends what, who will be selected to be on the Board of Directors, and what direction the CDC organization will assume.All committee stuff according to the rotund one, Earie Sirk.
CDC Director Betty Stalnaker introduced the agencys new book keeper, Brenda Baird to the struggling Board.. Sirk told Ms Baird that the reporter for the Communicator is the arch enemy of CDC.
Getting the drift? No quorum, No business can be conducted for months at a time. On many occasions, Mr Sirk tried to explain why folks dont come to meetings. In the Summer, Sirk would say they are on vacation, during the winter, he would explain that its too cold to get out. With that philosophy, that means folks should only be able to show up in March and Oct to conduct business.
After much more talk on what Open Meeting Laws actually forced the Board to do and not to do, the Clay Development Corp Board of Directors adjourned again without conducting any of the agencys business or even Oking the all powerful Committee Reports.
One note. Board Member Sharon Mullins asked that something be clarified. Ms Mullins wanted to make it clear to our readers that she had volunteered to help out with the Thanksgiving Dinner (held back in November) but had been told there was enough help and she was not needed. Back then this paper reported that NO Board members helped with the dinner. While what we reported was true, Ms Mullins asked for the clarification.
One afterthought. The most secretive Executive Committee did meet on Tuesday Jan 23 and among other things, did vote to replace three boardsters. The three new folks are James A Duffield, Everett Eagle, and Glenna Triplett. With these three additions, at least two vacancies still exist.
PROCIOUS FINANCIAL PERIL
Procious PSD Board of Directors met Jan 11, 2001 at the water plant. Members Present: Garret Samples, Harold Summer, and Debbie Samples along with the usual in the peanut gallery were two from the WV Public Service Commission (PSC) in Charleston. WV PSC regulates each local Public Service District.
Financial gloom and the need for a quick rate increase was the center of discussion for the evening. Garret Samples said that the PSD had $13,266.75 in bills. The PSD had enough $ to cover the bills and voted to pay them.
Next up came the call for an interim rate increase for the PSD. Samples turned to the PSC reps for assistance. Jerry Bakker from the PSC said they had been invited there to answer questions as opposed to running the meeting. Samples told them that it was costing Procious PSD MORE to make water than what they were getting from the two PSDs that buy water from Procious. Samples figured they were losing 88 cents on every 1000 gallons made. From the PSC Jerry Bakker suggested that a class cost study needed to be done to see what the price should be. That they may need to raise the charge to Queen Shoals and Clay/Roane PSDs at a different rate than the proposed increase to the Procious customers. Queen Shoals has 132 customers while Clay Roane serves 245. Bakker, You want to make sure the retail rate is proper.
Procious will mail out the request for the study to the PSC.
PSCs Jim Wimer commented that you obviously have to do something if you are going broke. The blood has to stop somewhere....Well probably make a determination to grant some sort of a rate increase... According to the PSC , an interim increase may give the PSD some breathing room until they can get the PSC to approve the already applied for 19A Rate Increase. Bakker commented that Procious may be able to justify the interim increase by telling the PSC in a letter, how long they have to pump water daily to meet the demand and how much you are paid for it.
Garrett said that the PSD was in good shape until they had to start paying their employees a fair wage ( $12.00 per hour) recently.
General discussion was held on how tough it is to get financial information from Queen Shoals PSD as to their finances. Bakker and Wimer both replied that it is all public info. Wimer reminded the assembled that Queen Shoals water rates are already much higher than other PSDs in the county. Mention was made on how much Queen Shoals loses to leaks in the system. Additional comments brought to light that Queen Shoals has a good deal from Procious since Queen doesnt help pay for operators or maintenance of Procious. Garret, All Queen Shoals pays for is the water they use. Clay Roane pays partially on this and on that... Garrett wants Queen to pay a different usage rate than Clay Roane based on that thought. Consensus: Procious is subsidizing Queen Shoals PSD.
Debbie Samples made the motion to ask for an interim water rate increase Motion passed without further words. Thats an interim rate increase request on top of last months 19A increase request.
Procious secretary Trina Neff opened the next can of worms when she announced there is not enough money left in the accounts to make payroll Jan 16. The PSD will not be able to pay Trina Neff, Ric Burdette, and Jennifer Traub. If Queen Shoals pays their bill for water purchased, payroll can be met. Additionally, $4500.00 is needed to replace or repair a raw water pump, a roto phase 3 phase converter and a new high servicepump. The one pump alone is $2200.00. Mr Bakker suggested they get a bank loan until the interim rate is approved. Procious has some money in the maintenance accounts and the chemical purchase accounts. No motion was made to take money from those accounts to cover payroll or for the repairs. Bakker said that despite the group being in bankruptcy, the County Commission could give them some money.
During discussion on how much water people use and how they dont pay attention to the existing water moratorium, Jim Wimer commented that they only way to curb usage is to put on an economic penalty if the folks use over a certain amount of water. What they were talking about was, if you use a bunch of water to water your garden, fill your swimming pool, etc., a big time additional charge would be added to your monthly bill. Currently the PSD is back to pumping 20.4 hours per day.
After Garret samples said he was not the Chair of the PSD, an election was held, for a new Chair. Debbie Samples was elected Chair.
Ms Samples agreed to write a letter to the WV PSC and ask them to investigate Queen Shoals PSD over Queen allegedly adding on new customers while a ban against such is in place. Mr Samples commented that Queen appeared to have plenty of money since they have a new office space.
The hour long meeting came to an end without deciding how to pay the employees and how to cover the cost of replacing damaged equipment.
LATE BREAKING NEWS
County Commission President Matthew Bragg confirmed on Wednesday Jan 24th, an eviction notice has been sent to one of Clay Countys newest businesses.
According to a letter Bragg read on Tuesday Jan 23, 2001, Building owner Clinton Nichols has sent a letter to Filcon Manufacturing Co. owner, Manfred Kuntzler, that stated, Filcon was not paying the rent and the front door would be padlocked in a few days unless the past rent was paid up. Filcon is currently housed in the old Rite Aid building on Main Street, Clay, West Virginia.
The eviction notice letter was presented to Commissioner Jimmy Sams by Business Development Authority (BDA) Chair. Paige Willis before the Tuesday Jan 23 County Commission meeting. In a telephone interview on Weds Jan 24, Willis would not confirm the letter. Mr Willis did comment that no problem cannot be corrected by Filcon.
To date, CAEZ has loaned Filcon over $120,000.00, the BDA has purchased a $90,000.00 parcel of land for Filcon to be housed on, and more recently, the CAEZ and County Commission (CCC) jointly agreed to cover the $10,000.00 cost of an engineering study for the industrial land at Ovapa. Additionally this month, CCC entered into a Federal Government application process for $1.5 million dollars to get the Ovapa property out of the flood plain and ready for Filcon to build on. In that loan/grant Fed Govt. arrangement, Filcon had to commit to operating at the site.