April 19, 2001

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$60,000.00 MORE FOR TOWN
Follow ups
Magitstrate Report
Senatorial District Speculation
Utility Comparison Charts

        The Clay County Commission (CCC) met for their regular meeting April 10, 2001 at 10:00a.m. Commissioners Jimmy Sams and Tim Butcher present, Matthew Bragg absent. Sams called the meeting to order and offered prayer.
         Patty Mollohan appeared for the Big Otter Ambulance Station with a lease from G.W. Hardman for the station site. A mobile home will be purchased with a $15,000 Budget Digest grant. Mollohan requested the CCC to release $800 in matching funds they had promised - $800 was raised at a spaghetti dinner. Total cost for the mobile home will be $17,830. The lease will be in the CCC’s name and the mobile home will be added to the county insurance. Mollohan also asked that the Big Otter Fire Department (BOFD) be added to the Small Cities Block Grant application as they want to build an addition to a building. CCC agreed to do that at their next meeting.
        Next on the agenda was discussion on the proposed new water plant for the town of Clay. Clay Town Council members David Derby, Sally Legg, Helen Morris, and Arthur Jarrett were present, as was Mayor Glenn Nichols. A group from the WV Public Service Commission (PSC), led by Engineer Jim Weimer, explained the need to form the framework of an operating agreement to present to the funding agencies. Weimer said those agencies were uncomfortable with the town of Clay running the new plant, fearing the project might go into default. The PSC group proposed that the CCC combine the county public service districts (PSDs) into one regional PSD, have an operating council that will hire a professional operating manager to run the plant, and, although the town will own the plant, they would give up operation of the plant. Weimer said the engineering to upgrade the plant as a regional project could be done in 3 to 4 weeks, able to supply water to all Clay County and into Roane County. He also said that if the funding agencies see a viable project they may consider more grant money as opposed to loan dollars. Due to the timelines on the projects, it was stressed that decisions had to be made very soon or all could be lost. After a lot of talk on the issue Jimmy Sams said, “We’re going to agree that we’ll agree.” Council members will take the matter up at a Town meeting on April 16 and a special meeting April 17, and CCC will decide on a resolution to consolidate the PSDs at their April 17 meeting.
        Clay Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Davis requested, and the CCC agreed to pay former Assistant PA Brent Wolfenbarger additional monies to satisfy the terms of his original agreement. They also approved the contract he presented to hire new Assistant PA Dotson, on a contractual basis at 30 hours per week at $3000 a month.
        Tim Butcher brought up the need for a security system at the courthouse, as the courthouse was recently broken into again, and asked that it be on their next agenda.
A public hearing on the Small Cities Block Grant (SCBG) was scheduled for Tuesday, April 24th, 9:45a.m. at the courthouse.
        The CCC agreed to participate in the community service placement program (defendants sentenced to do public service), but heeded Sheriff Harald Fields’ warning of, “Don’t lock the fox in the chicken house.” Participants will be allowed to work on the courthouse grounds, but not in the courthouse. They will not be employees of the CCC and the county will not be liable for injuries or damages.
        CCC approved a request of waiver to the WV Development Office so they can apply for SCBG, and requested that Central Appalachia Empowerment Zone (CAEZ) complete their final performance reports on their grants in a timely manner and under the direction of Mr. McGarrity in the Development Office.
        A letter was signed requesting the Infrastructure Council to close on the $295,000 deferred loan to be used to get Procious PSD out of bankruptcy.
        A Clay County Emergency Ambulance Authority (CCEAA) member asked the Commissioners to put it on their next agenda to appoint Carrie Belt to that Board representing the Big Otter, Duck, Ivydale and Nebo areas. Tim Butcher asked him if there was anything in their bylaws about people missing meetings, and was told nothing could be found, but could be added. The authority member reported that their budget for next year was down $50,000, and said they will provide the CCC with a financial statement every quarter. Last, he asked the CCC for a letter of support, to be sent to the H. Ross Perot Foundation, as they are seeking a grant of approximately $10,000 for computers and billing.
The meeting was continued to Tuesday, April 17th for the Levy Order Session. All motions passed unanimously.

April 17, 2001 Meeting

        The CCC met in continued session with all three Commissioners present. Matthew Bragg called the meeting to order and offered prayer. The levy rates for the tax year 2001-2002 were quickly approved: Class I - 14.3; Class II - 28.6; Class III and Class IV - 57.2.
Discussion was held on getting an alarm system for the courthouse. Motion sensors, more outside lighting, changing locks, restricting keys, and what to do about night time meetings were all discussed. Sheriff Fields said the most important part would be to get a siren loud enough to wake the whole town. CCC asked Fields and Clay County Clerk Judy Moore to work with the other courthouse offices to determine what’s needed, and to then get quotes on cost.
        PSC Engineer Jim Weimer and David Wagner of the Waste Water Division tried to quickly bring everyone up to speed on their proposal to make the new water plant a regional project under one consolidated PSD. They had attended the Clay Town meeting the night before, and Weimer said, “We were expecting pebbles, and we got pebbles.” He said he felt there is still a majority in favor of their proposal. Weimer explained that the funding agency decided that having a regional PSD as both owner and operator was the best plan, and would relieve the town of Clay of debt. (Apparently the plan is for the regional PSD to buy the plant.) He said an advantage to the town would be that the money from the sale of the water plant could be used elsewhere to reduce the debt of the town. The town of Clay doesn’t want to join a regional PSD and wants to remain its own entity as far as rates are concerned. A problem with selling the plant is that, because it belongs to a munincipality, it must be auctioned and possibly someone else could buy it instead of the regional PSD. Sams asked if they thought the CCC should still go to a regional PSD if the town voted against their proposal. Weimer, “ Personally - always a regional PSD.” Wagner agreed saying the benefits were lower rates and that a professional staff could be hired instead of several small PSDs struggling to provide service. Wagner, “The funding agencies want a professional organization and want to get water into Clay County.” He said the new system would have a base of approximately 2000 customers, with potential for growth. Weimer said town of Clay customers would remain town customers. The town would buy water from the regional PSD and could contract with the PSD for other services such as maintenance, billing, etc., possibly reducing their costs more. Paige Willis asked about the rate hike that is pending. Weimer, “ I think that’s a dead issue.” Willis also commented that the key is having a professional manager. Laughing, Jimmy Sams responded, “Someone we can’t control, right?” CCC passed a resolution to consolidate Queen Shoals PSD, Clay Roane PSD, Procious PSD, Clay County PSD, and the areas they currently serve into Clay Regional PSD, and to include the entire county in the new PSD with the exception of the Town of Clay. A public hearing on the matter will be held Tuesday, May 22 at 9:45a.m. in the courthouse.
        Although on the agenda, the CCC did not appoint anyone to the CCEAA, nor did they discuss it. Meeting adjourned at 10:50a.m. Next regular meeting April 24.

$60,000.00 MORE FOR TOWN
        Officials with the town of Clay announced Monday, April 16, grant dollars have been forwarded to the town. This $60,000.00 grant is in addition to a $50,000.00 low interest loan received just two weeks ago. The Town’s finances have been the center of much attention during the last 7 months as the Town struggled to keep it’s doors open.
        Beginning as early as Sept. 2000, then Mayor Joyce Gibson made it public that the town had been operating in the red for some time, and, in fact had been drawing from reserve accounts. By Oct. 2000, then Council person Jeff Krauklis announced that his calculations indicated that the Town had very little time left before going under. Layoffs followed, including the Town’s Police Chief and entire street dept., along with cutting various benefits for the remaining employees. A hurry up effort by the WV Public Service Commission netted the Town much, much, higher water rates with the Case #1708 rate increase in an attempt to stop the financial bleeding.
        Even with these measures in place, the finances did not improve. The debt load hovered at $70,000.00 and, even with fewer employees, the operating cost for the Town remained about the same.
        Last month Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito secured a $50,000.00 loan from the Federal Home Bank of Pittsburgh for the town. No stipulations were attached as to how the dollars could be spent.
         On Monday, April 16, the $60,000.00 grant check arrived from the WV Community Development Office. The check included a long overdue $10,000.00 requested by ex Mayor Joyce Gibson. That $10,000.00 was to be used to buy sewer plant lab equipment, American Flags for the Town, and “Welcome to Clayberry” signs for each end of the Town. Newly appointed Mayor Glenn Nichols commented Monday that those restrictions on the money had been greatly reduced and could be used for much more general purposes.
Town Clerk Dwana Murphy attributed the loot to the efforts of John Romano and Terry Martin.
        As for the remaining $50,000.00, there are some restrictions involved. The funds have to be spent as follows: $500 Administration; $23,200. For Utility Costs; $2,000. Lab Costs; $6,000. Material Costs; and $18,000. Chemical Costs. Excerpts from the check accompanied letter are as follows: “The Town is being assisted by it’s accountant to establish new waste water rates to file an increase with the Public Service Commission. Once these are approved and set in place, the Town’s utilities will again be solvent.” The excerpt is referring to the massive sewer rate increases now being sought by Town Council less than two years after the new sewer plant was opened.
        With $60,000 and $50,000 in place, it may not be over yet. During the peak of the financial crisis, Senator Mark Burnette promised that he would try and secure money from the Legislative Budget Digest fund for the Town. The amount there is around $40,000.00. The Town has not announced any progress with that funding.

Follow ups
*     Three weeks ago Sheriff Harald Fields announced that his office would begin collecting long overdue uncollected personal property taxes that had been neglected for years. According to Fields, the efforts will include lawsuits against the parties should they choose to ignore recently mailed out notices of past due taxes.
*     As an update on the matter, the Sheriff commented April 17 that the response to the letters has been very good. Although not an exact figure, Fields felt that around $15,000 to $18,000 has already been collected. From one man came $13,000.00 as well as many smaller amounts having been accounted for. Fields, “He paid it and he has more to pay and we are going to set that up on payments. It’s working and we’ve got a lot of small ones come in too.. We’re getting a rather good response.”
*     On the street were rumors that the Sheriff’s Dept. was only collecting from a few individuals and had chosen to leave others alone. Sheriff Fields made it very clear, “I am collecting from every D@*! one of them.... I sent every one of them a letter.”

  • 40% of all union members are Republicans
  • 5% of the nation’s school students were born abroad and one in five has at least one foreign born parent.
  • McDonalds has introduced “Mighty Kids Meals” for children just a tad too old for “Happy Meals”.
  • The state received no bids to recycle used tires despite advertising in 27 papers.
  • A report in the Lancet Medical Journal, suggests that smoking destroys collagen and causes wrinkles. The same as too much sun does.
  • Astronomers surveying images of the southern sky, discovered 38 dead stars and researchers say such objects may account for more than a third of the universe’s “missing matter”.
  • Not being able to afford a lawyer, thousands of people are representing themselves in court cases nationwide.
  • At “Superstores” and grocery markets across the nation, shoplifters have been stealing powdered baby formula, sometimes dozens of cans at a time.
  • West Virginia had more than 2,700 children living in state custody last year.
  • More than 60 million U.S. citizens are Catholic.
  • About 24% of the 1,469 lakes in the Adirondacks have become too acidic to sustain fish life.
  • Only 36% of private businesses, with fewer than 10 employees, offered health insurance in 1998.
  • Mortality rates are lower for people who get eight hours sleep a night than for those who get 6 or 7.
  • The first pair of Bald Eagles in 200 years are building a nest on Blennerhassett Island.
  • Damages from deer versus car, are estimated to cost more than $100 million according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
  • A survey done in 1994 concluded that about 15,000 diggers sold Ginseng to 87 dealers across West Virginia. Three times as much was sold in the 1800's.
  • A 1999 survey, found that 93% of Americans support sex education in high school, and 84% support it in junior high.
  • Federal prison inmates will be limited to 300 minutes of telephone calls per month, under a new policy launched by the U.S. Bureau, hoping to crack down on abuse by some prisoners.
  • Research in 1998 by a University of Alabama Doctor of Optometry, found that the number of fatalities in collisions involving older drivers was higher in states that did not require vision testing.
    20.        What the world needs is a lot more love and a lot less paper work.. LMM

    Magitstrate Report
    04-05-01: McKown—Jarrod Coleman for fleeing form officer in vehicle, DUIA final order (magistrate King). Case d/m, plea agreement of no contest to DUIA 2nd offense and no contest to fleeing an officer.

    03-31-01: Guthrie—Dwayne Conrad Cline for speeding and no operators.
    04-01-01: Clay Co. Magistrate Court—Virginia Graham, Yvonne J. Tyree warrants issued for wc.
    Bentree Grocery—Franklin Overbaugh warrant issue for wc.
    04-05-01: McKown—Jarrod Coleman arrested for speeding, regis. Violations, reckless driving, DUI 2nd offense, fleeing form officer.
    Slack—Kelly Chamers Moore summons for shoplifting.
    Delk—Eric Wayne Moore arrested for DUIA with minor in vehicle.
    04-06-01: McKown—Jason Conley summons for telephone harassment.
    McKown—Peggy Conley summons for telephone harassment.
    04-07-01: McKown—Dwayne Conrad Cline for no P.O.I., leaving scene of accident, left of center & def. equip.
    04-14-01: Guthrie—Allie M. Stewart for DWS/DWR 2nd offense.

    3-26-01; State—Ricky F. Taylor for no operators.
    3-27-01: Sheriff—Sharon Rose Bosley for speeding & no operators.
    DNR—Richard Cavender for illegal poss. Of wildlife.
    Sheriff—Martin V Holstein Jr. for no P.O.I.
    3-28-01: State—Anthony W. McClain for DWS/DWR, regis., violation, MVI & no P.O.I.
    State—Debra Ellen Prather for no P.O.I.
    State—Jamie C. Truman for speeding.
    3-30-01: State—Billy Joe Keen for speeding.
    Sheriff—Jonathan F. Stutler for no P.O.I. & regis., violaiton.
    3-31-01: State—Carl James Bond for speeding & DWS/DWR.
    Sheriff—Michael W. Claypool for speeding & DWS/DWR
    State—Dwayne Conrad Cline for speeding & failing to change address.
    State—Andrea Rose Cox for speeding.
    State—Randell A. Dobbins for no P.O.I.
    Sheriff—John Goiznisk for no operators & regis., violation.
    State—David A. Jams for no P.O.I.
    04-01-01: State—Jason Scoot Gaither for speeding.
    04-02-01: State—Tonya Ann Cummings for failure to stop/yield & regis., violation.
    Sheriff—Mary Hanshaw for speeding.
    State—Christina L. Pauley for regis., violation & no seatbelt.
    State—Ronald D. Williams Jr. for speeding & no operators
    04-03-01: Sheriff—Cindy Dotson for regis., violation, DWS/DWR & no P.O.I.
    State—Paul Grose, Jr. for speeding.

    04-04-01: State—Timothy L. Burdette for no P.O.I.
    State—David A. Walker for no P.O.I.
    04-05-01: State—Michael W. Gaskin for speeding.
    State—John R. Habjan for no P.O.I. & no operators.
    State—Robert L. Nichols for speeding & no MVI.
    04-06-01: State—John H. Ghee for failure to yield right of way.
    04-07-01: Sheriff—Dwayne Conrad Cline for no P.O.I., leaving the scene, left of center & def., equip.
    State—John Eric Hunt for littering.
    State—Robert J. Hunt for failure to maintain control.
    State—Gordon Clifford Lane for speeding.
    State—David L. Moorehouse for no operators.
    DNR—Jeffrey W. Stewart for fishing w/o license.
    State—Donna L. Wilmoth for no seatbelt & no P.O.I.
    04-08-01: Sheriff—Jody Lee Miller for speeding
    04-09-01: State—William C. Burdette for no operators, regis. Violation.
    04-10-01: Dept. of Highways—Kenneth C. Harris, David E. Jarvis & Lowel T. Jarvis for overweight, overwidth &
    State—Larry D. Henry for speeding.
    Sheriff—Ershia D. Hershman for speeding & regis., violation.
    State—Jason A. McKinney for no P.O.I.
    04-14-01: Sheriff = Shawn Metz for speeding.
    State—Allie M. Stewart for speeding & no operators.
    State—Terri L. Truman for speeding.

    Rick Proctor of the Rural Community Assistance Program hosted Mr. David Pask, Senior Engineer, National Drinking Water Clearinghouse, WVU, at Widenon February 15th. The purpose of the trip was to determine the feasibility of a low cost water and sewer for the community. The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has agreed to send a team to do full testing of a proposed water source for the community. This testing is necessary to determine the treatment methods which would be required for the water source.
            Senior Engineer Pask stated that a drilled well could be more reliable than an abandoned mine source currently being considered. This would depend entirely upon the minerals encountered in such a well, as well as the rate of flow. Full testing will determine which source would be more reliable and most cost effective.
            RCAP and the National Drinking Water Clearinghouse will create a proposal for each system and seek funding for it's implementation. Clay Public Service District, Clay County Commission, and Widen Land Management will be approached for approval and cooperation in implementing each project once the proposal is completed. All three of the agencies mentioned have expressed a willingness to proceed and to help the Widen residents.
             Any water or sewer treatment system implemented under the direction of the Rural Community Assistance Program (RCAP) for the community of Widen will be low cost to build, low maintenance to operate, effective in it's purpose, and above all, affordable to it users. These are the guidelines which are being followed, and unfortunately, are part of the reason that these projects take time to develop, fund, and implement. The next logical step in this process is to host the Department of Environmental Protection team at the proposed water source and complete the full testing of the quantity and quality of the source. RCAP and the NDWC will then review the test results and integrate the results into the water system proposal. Rick Proctor, Technical Assistance Provider
    Rural Community Assistance Program

    Ephesians 4:25 Where fore putting away lying, speak, every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.

            I apologize if I caused any inconvenience or offended any one by stopping at the Widen Community Center on 2-17-01. I did not know it was a private gathering because I didn’t hear it mentioned at the Feb. monthly meeting the time or the date of this gathering. I stopped to see if food was being sold.
            For the future the board members should consider a new policy that would have a sign posted outside stating the name of the organization, the date and time of the activity and if it’s private or public. So others will not suffer the embarrassment I have suffered.
            A suggestion to the Widen Community Center Board Member: A carnival for the community would be a GREAT fundraiser, and everyone of all religions and nationalities could be there.

    Jesus, himself went into the byways and highways to share the truth and his love.

    Darlene F. Rogers
    Community Representative


            Why you may ask yourself does a sportsman like myself, say NO to hunting on Sunday? Well for one it is immoral, this is a personal reason.
            West Virginia has survived without hunting on Sunday before and it will in the future. There are enough non-sportsman who claim to be hunters, local and from out of state who abuse and damage, trespass and poach on private lands as it is. This would make it worse!
            Another reason is because there are not enough Department of Natural Resources law enforcement officers to cover West Virginia as it is now! They are under-paid for the amount of time they put in. It is close to poverty level. They have higher standards to qualify then any law enforcement agency, except for the FBI. They face more danger than any other agency, (law enforcement). They work more hours than anyone else. For goodness sake, if they were paid minimum wage at McDonalds for the number of hours they put in, they would be classed in a higher income.
            There are people and a sportswriter who dislike the DNR, but to them I say, you have either been sited before, or you only want to do things, your way, or no way. None of these people would last three months as a DNR officer. Sure there are flaws in our laws, but instead of blaming it on the DNR officers, who work long hard hours, and sometimes are a little cranky, because they are only human and the hours and days take a toll, blame it on our law makers! Not the workers.
            I personally say that 96% of the people reading this, or even hear of it being repeated, could qualify or even want to be a DNR officer. This even includes other law enforcement officers. One-it is little pay, two-education is a must, three-physically most couldn’t take the abuse, four-most couldn’t take the mental anguish and long hours.
            It takes a special breed and true love of conservation and enforcement of the laws to keep others safe in an area where everyone carries a weapon!
            So the next time you see a DNR officer in the woods or any other place, show some respect and put yourself in their shoes because those shoes probably haven’t been off their feet for a minimum of 16 hours.
            If you disagree with me that’s OK - that’s what makes America great, but the DNR laws are what keep you safe on the water and in the woods!
            So you people who want to hunt on Sunday, why don’t you spend some time with your family or a child who needs a friend, and go fishing or just talk to yours or other kids! Your time will be better spent and you could make a difference in a youth’s life.
                Frank L. Kish, Jr.
            140 Queen Road
            Clendenin, WV 25045

    Senatorial District Speculation
            Last edition mention was made of redistricting of the Delegate Districts that will be finalized this May by the Legislature. The scenario this paper presented advances the idea that Clay County will of course loose it’s Delegate but gain more representation (clout) when attached to Fayette County with their three Delegates.
            This May also brings Senatorial redistricting. For Clay County there is but one good case scenario. Since Kanawha County has lost 10,000 or so in population and since they have great “stroke”, Clay County will be put in with Kanawha County so Kanawha will keep it’s delegation. Here’s how it works. You need 105,000 ( with a 5% variant) folks for a two senator district. Kanawha has 200,000 residents. To keep two Senatorial districts they need 210,000. Clay has 10,000. Presto! Add Clay to Kanawha you’ve got 210,000 and they keep two Senatorial districts.
            Here’s the good part. The constitution mandates that if a Senatorial District crosses a county line, the Senator has to come from that County. Get it? Clay County would finally have it’s own rep in the Senate. Is this possible? Sure! Based on two things, one, our Senator ( Mark Burnette) is a junior Senator without much power yet and Kanawha has bunches of power!
            You can see it now on the 6:00pm news, Senator ______ from Clay County. But who? Remember the seat has to go to Clay but since there are thousands more voters in Kanawha County, the race will be won in Kanawha County. One more note, expect the cost of a Senatorial Campaign to be around $65,000.00.
            So who would run? Since Commissioner Jimmy Sams is already tucking his shirt tail in, Sams would run. Sams has presence in Kanawha since his business interests and 99% of his time is spent down there. Uhhhh. Just typing Senator Sams makes people shudder. One time Senatorial candidate Elizabeth Sampson’s name has already been batted around as well. Sampson’s still in reasonably good health and has strong Kanawha County connections relating to environmental issues. R.T. Sizemore had strong aspirations for Senate but is now on the wrong side of 70. However, his son Danny has already shown political interest during last election and with a pretty face, could have a shot. Don’t forget Barbara Schamberger from Bomont who ran last time and nearly whopped up on Sams in the Commission race. Other names floating include Ronnie Haynes and Republican Bob Ore.
             But, but, but… There is another name on the horizon. Senator John Mitchell from Kanawha County is up for re election this time around and it’s probably his district that will be bumped. The Mitchell family has strong roots in Clay County and still own a home on Elkherst Road. Mitchell could easily take up a Clay residency and run from this county. Since John Mitchell Jr. has top name recognition in Kanawha, Mitchell could be very electable and retain his seat!!!
    Is it all speculation? The hand will be dealt by this time next month.

            Mr. Wide Glide himself, Clay Development Corp (CDC) Chair Earnie Sirk, was in court April 16 before Judge Jack Alsop. The case to be heard stemmed from the long struggle involving CDC trying hard to keep their remaining programs in tact. Mr. Sirk has sued the Clay Nutrition Site because that organization has been using the words “SENIOR” and “SENIOR CENTER” on signs and brochures. CDC maintains that no one else in the county can use (or even breath) those words without copyright infringement. CDC claims exclusive rights to the word senior in Clay County.
            The 1:00p.m. trial started late because the attorneys were “no shows”. Instead, a telephone conference call was employed. CDC was represented by Michael Farber while the Nutrition Site ( operated by Putnam Aging) was represented by Jay Arceneaux. After 10 minutes of oratory it appears that the Nutrition Site has agreed to stop using any mention of “SENIOR” in anything and the CDC group has agreed to that arrangement. Now, there is another player in the dispute.
            The new player is Nellie Stephenson and her group called Clay County Senior Center, Inc. The Secretary of State’s office has officially given this new group the name which includes the words “SENIOR” and “SENIOR CENTER”. Two months ago, our County Commission voted to lease the Nutrition Site building ( owned by the County Commission) to the Clay County Senior Center Inc group in an attempt to stop the bickering between CDC and the Nutrition Site delegation. Didn’t work!! Now Farber and Arceneaux refuse to sign the agreement with the new group Clay County Senior Center Inc. ready to hang their new sign on the Nutrition Site building.
            Past CDC Board member Clinton Nichols’ name ( also owner of that little paper over in Clay) came up as a source of friction and agitation between the warring groups. One attorney advanced the notion that it was Mr Nichols that had been putting misleading ads into his little paper that has added to the confusion on the matter.
            Judge Alsop appeared to be pretty patient with the attorneys not showing up but it appeared that he wanted this matter settled once and for all. Alsop set a trial date for June 29 at 9:00am in Clay County. Over the phone, attorney Farber said what most in this county have felt for years about the tax payer dollars wasted by the CDC, Farber lamented about, ” All these public funds pouring into the Lawyers pockets...”
            After leaving the court room, Mr. Sirk felt that this was a done deal for the CDC and the CDC had come out on top. As to the high cost of going to court over penny ante nit picking, Sirk was adamant that they would spend every last penny the CDC had to triumph over Clinton Nichols and Nutrition Site Director Herschel Shamblin. As an indication of the stubbornness of the leader of the pack, Mr. Sirk, “IF I have to go to the bank myself and borrow money for attorneys myself, that Clinton Nichols and Herschel Shamblin , those, those.. THOSE @**% M#@!%^ F*&%@!*& aren’t going to push me one inch!!” Sirk also pledged to do battle with the Big Otter Senior Center and anybody that tried to use such wording in the near future.
            For our readers that have watched this battle of public waste continue on for three years, it appears, based on Sirk’s attitude and spoken word, the only settlement may rest in the hands of Judge Alsop June 29. It’s a pity Seniors have to be deprived their dollars for programming so Sirk can play in court!

            Procious PSD Board of Directors met April 12 at the water plant office. Boardsters are Garrett Samples and Harold Summers. There is still a vacancy on the board after Debbie Samples resigned over two months ago. Gary Whaling from the Clay Roane PSD Board also attended. The one hour meeting included the following:
            Big time discussion on all the folks that are not paying their bills and the pending shut off notices coming . The past due folks will be given 60 days before shut off. Garrett Samples read from a long list of long overdue customers. Total amount due to the PSD = $7596.00.
           Water Plant Operator Jennifer Traub was given hospitalization coverage by the PSD. Cost, about $442 per month.
    Samples and Summers signed the final paperwork for the second and most recent 6.6% rate increase for customers. $27.87 will now be the minimum bill. Bank records indicate a $16,938.00 account balance.
            Discussion on how the WV Public Service Commission is doing a “flip flop” on whether to cut off customers or not. Just a few months ago the PSC said to cut them off while now it appears they may be more lenient. Ms Traub said that may be because of the number of people that had called the PSC.
            Interesting discussion on operator Bobby Burdette getting way too much overtime while service man Rick Burdette was not working enough ( supposed to work 35 hours per week) and taking off every Friday at noon according to Harold Summers. Burdette was paid $3900.00 last pay period. PSD agreed to smack Rick’s hands and tell Bobby it’s cheaper to operate part time operators more time on the job.
            As for the number of folks wanting water and who’s name has been written on the waiting list, Jennifer Traub felt that there were less than 25.
            Has the PSC talked to the Procious PSD folks about upgrading the Procious plant? After a yes nod by Jennifer Traub , PSD Chair Garrett Samples was tight lipped. After questioning, Samples finally volunteered that there had been informal discussion by some of them with the PSC on upgrading the plant but that the Board had not decided anything. Well Duhhhhh.... In Clayberry, the public and a public vote is always done after the decision has been made in private! NOTE: this was very interesting due to the PSC saying just last week that the Procious PSD water plant would be shut down when and if the new Clay Water Plant is built. Hmmmm Does it sound to anybody else that a behind the scenes plan may be in place to upgrade the Procious plant if the Town of Clay scuttles the new plant up there? AW

            After a 40 minute delay due to lack of quorum, the Clay County Development Corp (CDC) held their often infrequent Board of Directors meeting April 17 at their Main Street office. With President Earnie Sirk absent, Freda Auxier took the helm. It was the usual everything is fine , everything is well with a few exceptions. The following update contains the “good stuff”.
            On the CDC’s emergency fund that a three member committee controls in secret, the question: How is much is left in the emergency fund and has any board member of employee or immediate family member received funds from the account. Answer: they have spent $6768.00 and have a balance of $3,121.62. As to any Board member or employee of the agency dibbling in the quiet money, Auxier,”No. Not that I am aware of.” CDC Director Betty Stalnaker, “None”.
             As to the CDC purchasing slot machines ( grey machines) to be put in the new addition at the CDC office. Freda Auxier,” I have never heard about that..” Two other Board members commented that they had never heard about such a plan. Another, “We sure don’t want that!” A CDC employee in attendance,” are you talking about a gambling machine???” To Auxier,” So no one has approached you to buy them?” Auxier,” If we would do that I can promise you right now, I’ll resign from this Board.” Again,” there is no plan to buy 8 of them?” From the CDC Staff,” I think you have the wrong meeting, you need to talk to Herschel about them!!!” Once again the staff was pointing a bitter finger at the Nutrition Site at Two Run. Director Stalnaker, “That’s the first I heard of it.”
            As to the 6 week delayed construction of the new metal addition already started beside the CDC main street office. The materials have been delivered and according to Betty Stalnaker the building will be under roof one week from start date. CDC signed a loan agreement with the Clay County Bank for the building that did NOT have a CAP on the total amount to be borrowed! There was discussion on this open ended amount prior to the entire Board (those in attendance) signing on to the arrangement. As to the Board being responsible to pay back the loan, first Ms Stalnaker,” The Board is NOT responsible for anything” and then followed by acting Chair Auxier,” We are not responsible!” Part of the completed block work for the foundation has been torn out. Cheryl Neal and others commented that the contractor Frank Murphy had messed up and forgot to put anchor bolts in while laying the blocks. To get the loan, the CDC has to put up as collateral all holdings including bonds of the agency.
            Director Stalnaker informed all that her group had been out and on the phone soliciting funds from the legislative delegation in Charleston and felt confident that they could get $50,000.00 from Budget Digest dollars.
            Boardster Peter Triplett asked about a new policy implemented recently that required care workers to buy and wear hospital style “scrub” ( spelled it right CDC) uniforms. Some of the disgruntled workers felt that if the employer required the employees to wear a uniform, then the CDC would have to pay for the uniforms. Triplett said he had talked to officials at “wage and hour” in Charleston who had confirmed his thoughts that CDC would be responsible for supplying the required items. NOT SO came the reply from Janet Fitzwater. Fitzwater, “ I called Wage and Hour and they said we do not fall under wage and hour jurisdiction. We fall under U.S. Dept of Labor because we are a 501 3 c. The told me since we pay our employees a dollar more than minimum wage.....we are not required to furnish them their outfits. Triplett ( in disagreement) asked that Fitzwater forward him a copy of that law. Director Stalnaker,”There’s about four that don’t want to buy the uniforms. They are the trouble makers of the organization anyway!!” Without waiting to see what the law required of the CDC, Cheryl Neal,” Did you tell them they could be replaced?!”
            Again the questioner himself, Peter Triplett asked about the CDC plans on paying back the $60,000 bank loan on the new building addition and from what government funds the money will be subtracted from. Quick to answer Janet Fitzwater responded that,” It will come out of Medicaid. It’s not a set - aside, It’s OUR Money.” Stalnaker,” When we make the money it’s our money..”
            As to the recent performance of the agency, around 67 clients were served in March with 3B money; 629 bus fares were recorded for March ( remember a bus fare is not the number of customers but rather the number of times the client got off or on the bus!) And March’s ending balance was $156,832.00 to their name.

    *    During the April 10 Clay County PSD meeting, the board considered using probation workers from the jail system to do manual labor jobs around the water system. Chair Keith King commented that the PSD would call for the workers on an as needed basis.
    *     Blacks account for 13% of regular drug users but 35% of drug possession arrests, 55% of drug possession convictions and 74% of all drug possession prison sentences. Also, a black defendant is also more likely to be sentenced to death than a white one who commits the same crime and the killer whose victim is white is 11 times more likely to be sentenced to death than the killer whose victim is black according to The National Criminal Justice Commission report.
    *     Signs have been taken down in the county and this time is wasn’t Gene King. Over at the Nutrition Site ( Two Run), the 4 by 8 metal sign proclaiming the home of the Clay County Senior and Nutrition Site has been taken down and sources close say that the new verbiage will read Clay County Senior Center Inc.
    *      People are scratching their heads over the wooden fire escape steps now being obstructed by the construction of the CDC metal building on Main Street. And Yes, we did say wooden fire escape steps.
    Also on that construction project, others have raised concerns that there is no plumbing or piping in the concrete pad the new CDC building will be resting on. The laugh around town is the lack of drainage behind the same building and anticipation that Spring and Summer rains will at least flood the facility if not wash it off it’s foundation!
    Long time Town street person Joey Smith (Crow) fell off his perch two weeks ago and required an extended stay at the hospital. Busted nose for sure.
    *     PSD and Town employees are wondering what will happen to them if and when the new water plant is opened. Plans call for just two operators, one clerk, and one meter reader. It appears, some of the dedicated employees will be out in the cold.
    *     On April 7 the Clay County Courthouse was vandalized again. This time it appears that someone left the back glass doors unlocked and the bad boys just walked right in. Most every office was burglarized in addition to damage done to the walls. Around $70.00 was taken from the Prosecutor’s office while the only safe actually broken into was in the Sheriff’s office.
    *     Citizen’s Telephone Company has asked the WV Public Service Commission to allow them to stop billing folks for the $2.00 per month county 911 fee when the person refuses to pay up.
    April 9 brought rain, thunder ,and lightening into the area. Over at the Filcon Manufacturing plant smoke filled the facility as fire fighters, street watchers, Town employee Dwana Murphy and Clinton Nichols looked on. The fear was that if the door was opened, the place may blow up. Filcon employee Willy went on in and found the smoke coming from one of the ovens. No big damage or loss.
    *     Word on the street is that Action Youth Care has been bought out and by a Northern company, DAU Valley.
    *     Looks like Clay County has a new business called Central West Virginia Outfitters. You can check them out on their web site www.centralwvoutfitters.com
    *     On a real sad note long time tax preparer Steve Davenport died lat week. For nearly twenty years, Clayonians made their pilgrimage to Clendenin with boxes of tax records for Steve to decide the fate of.
    *     Also past town of Clay and Procious PSD water operator Barry Metheny died in a car wreck April 6 on Elk River road. Metheney will be remembered as the guy that forced Clay County to come out of the dark ages and come up to 21 century standards of water treatment.
    *     Over at the High School on April 6 all students were treated to a play on teen sex and rape. The group doing the presentation received $300.00. Many of the students were real upset over the use of filthy language by the actors during both performances of the play. Some students commented that it was strange they had to sit through the potty mouth play while just the week before they were only allowed to see a G rated movie. Get this the movie was Toy Story II.

            Not been much mention of the Clay Roane PSD lately. Let’s correct that now. The word is RATE INCREASE!. In November 20 the Clay Roane PSD filed for a 19A water rate increase. Almost immediately the increase became controversial because the PSD Board of Directors did not vote to do so. Only after the paperwork had been mailed into the WV Public Service Commission for approval did the PSD vote on the matter.
            There will be a public hearing on the increase in rates May 15 at 1:30pm at the Clay County Courthouse.
            The WV Public Service Commission (PSC) will decide the matter after the hearing. Prior to the hearing and found in PSC paperwork dated March 1 is mention of many problems at the PSD. Here’s one revealing excerpt on the operation of the PSD by the Board of Directors: The Staff Engineer detailed several significant operational problems including an unacceptable unaccounted for water loss of 46%. The PSC has recommended that the district’s water meters be replaced with new touch type meters along with equipment to tell if the water storage is full and running over. Many in the community have witnessed the PSD’s water tank running over with clean safe treated drinking water for hours at a time. For those witnesses, it appeared that the field personnel were derelict in their duties.
             Again from the PSC paperwork: Staff also detailed its accounting adjustments for payroll, Board fees, and the increased cost of purchased water. And: Staff recommended an across the board increase of 39.3% to the districts current rates and charges.
             Here’s a cutey readers, the PSC recommended that the PSD get a $50,000.00 bank loan to purchase the new water meters!!! That’s’ before the rate increase is ever approved. Here’s what we have all been waiting for..... PSD member Gary Whaling revealed that the PSD has already accepted the loan and has the money in hand!
    Bend over Clay Roane customers and get ready!


            So important was the April 5 public meeting at the Courthouse, this paper held up publication to allow complete coverage of the event. That meeting, attended by nearly 100 people saw the 6 year old plans to build a new water plant by the Town of Clay dashed as the PSC announced the Town would not be allowed to run, operate, or manage the plant it was obligated to pay for. Why the change? The lending institutions decided that the Town and Town leadership was not responsible enough to pay back the millions in loan dollars on the plant project. During the April 5 meeting, Jim Weimer of the WV Public Service Commission (PSC) told the gathering that this new plan being presented was the best deal coming down the pike and get in gear real quick or face loosing the $12 million in funding! Weimer asked for an immediate vote to build. County Commissioner Butcher and Sams both said they supported the project no matter what the details said ,.... no matter what! The Town Council did NOT commit to the PSC.
         Apparently that “Best Deal” wasn’t exactly the best.
            Town Council and Mayor Glenn Nichols called for and held a Public Hearing April 16 to gather public comments and support for the April 5 plan. With well over 60 folks at the April 16 get together, PSC Rep Jim Weimer announced that the earlier plan had been changed. That he had just got off the phone with the lending agencies prior to coming to the meeting and now there was a better, maybe truly the “bestest” plan now for Council to vote up or down. Weimer gave a run down on this bestest proposal and was in agreement that the proposed rates were excessive in his own words. Hmmm, just last week they were the best that could be gotten! The new plan called for consolidation of all the PSDs in the county into one regional PSD but now there was a twist. As to the old plan Weimer,” That plan won’t work...” Heads turned and eyebrows raised on the faces of those that had attended the earlier proposal ( what if they had gone ahead and vote to implement that one?).
             A key change in the new PSC inspired plan called for the Town to auction off the existing plant! Seems the good ole boys from Charleston couldn’t take a chance on a perfectly good old plant remaining in the wings if the Town Council later back out of the deal. Mr Weimer told the assembled that the proceeds from the auction could be used by the Town to maintain their old water lines which they would keep under their control and not the soon to be implemented new PSD.
            As to this bestest deal less than two weeks after the best deal was laid out, Weimer,” This is the best deal we can get for the Town....Lenders want protection and rates to be low.” Weimer acknowledged that the proposed water rates based on 6 year old numbers were already too expensive for the county and said there will be new project rates. Readers, have you ever seen rates go down? Again as on April 5, the PSC asked that Town Council vote a decision real quick. And again the decision has to be made without knowing project costs, and the number of new customers the rates are based on. One lady in the back,” Later ... those rates could jump sky high!!!” Weimer tried to calm the fears by saying that accurate figures would be the base of the new water rate and,”the rates will be Real.” Also in attendance was Weimer’s boss, Dave Waggoner who stepped into by saying,” No politics will be involved.” Oh boy, you should have heard the laughter! Additional rounds of laughter came after the mention of the PSC looking out for the people.
              Here’s another switch in the new proposal, the Town would NOT even own the plant nor have any say in it’s operation. The Town would in fact have only the old metal pipes in the ground and have to maintain them in the future without a money maker, IE the old water plant. There is a clinker in the PSC plan to anoint the town with big time proceeds from the old plant auction. Anybody can bid on it according to State law. Weimer originally suggested that the new PSD would by the buyers of the old plant. After some thinking, many are now questioning how much could be gotten out of the old plant since there would be no customers to go with it. Translation: The selling price would be for scrap value and the land maybe.
    To Weimer’s defense, he did say that if this plan was approved by Council their rates would remain lower than the rest of the county ( according to six year building cost figures).
            A bunch of the dumb ole country bumpkins had soaked up the info and began questioning. Ivydale’s Dale Morris caught on real quick to the idea and challenged Weimer on the facts and figure. After Weimer’s response, Dale Morris retorted, “BULL!” Frank Murphy, after reminding the group of all the other promises, commitments, etc. of prosperity and free stuff in the past, Murphy, “ We’ve had about all this free stuff we can afford!!”
            Local businessman Joe Morris questioned where the Town’s customer base is if the Maysel and Two run customers are included in the new PSD and not remaining with the Town. Morris,” Sounds like a royal screwin!!” Weimer said that the new deal being proposed : is just a proposal and no details have been worked up, etc. For fairness, Weimer repeated throughout the 2 hour hearing, that all this was just a proposal and nothing was in concrete. After repeated questioning by Leonard Williams ( without any answers given) Williams, “You are dancing around the point..” Weimer said there are a lot of details to be worked out and,” Nobody will get a royal screwin!” Referring to the unannounced details, Morris and Williams at the same time asked out,” How do you make a decision on it?” When Morris asked about bidding out the plant work and what the costs would be, Weimer admitted he had no idea what the costs would be. Morris,” You have no idea on the costs?” Weimer,” That’s right..” Morris,” If it’s an overbid, then more funding will come?... Is that higher rates? If over run, we have to pay it?” As Weimer tried to settle the crowd and their prying questions, crusty ole Norman Wilson,” You’re trying to smooth things over, Is that a Yes or a NO?”
            Many in the crowd spoke on the distrust of the PSC and Chapman Technical, the engineers of the sewer plant and now the water project. Dale Morris and several others reminded all in attendance of how the PSC has been less than vigilant in the past and how sewer plant promises all went by the way side.
            In a nutshell, the PSC is asking the Town to agree to sign on the dotted line without the Town knowing ANY that’s right ANY detail of the agreement. Some things are for sure. They include: when the agreement is forced down the throats of Town Council, the paid for old water plant will be torn down, rates will go up, the Town will lose a money maker, maintaining the town’s old water lines will be a real liability, and life will never be the same again.
    Ahhhhhhh.. Clayberry at it’s finest.