|1. In a recent study, researchers found that toddlers exposed to two or more dogs or cats during their first year of life were on average 66 to 77 percent less likely to have allergies, compared with children exposed to only one or no pets during their first year.|
2. A survey by West Virginia Prevention Research Center says 5.2 percent of schools do not send children outside for recess.
3. Researches say increased cell phone use has led to more crashes, caused by drivers on the phone, but the value people place on being able to call from the road roughly equals the accident cost.
4. The number of homeless families sleeping in shelters has more than doubled from 4,429 at the beginning of 1998 to 8,925 last month.
5. Eight of the state’ top 10 lottery retailers are located in the Northern panhandle.
6. The color of money is changing, and could be in circulation as early as next fall.
7. West Virginia has 51,358 reservists on active duty.
8. What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from. TS Eliot
9. The American Cancer Society estimates that less than 25 percent of Americans eat 5 o more fruits and vegetables per day.
10. According to industry estimates, the average American household will spend $460 this year on it’ pets and about 85 percent of all households include their pets in holiday celebrations.
11. Attendance at the 50 most visited “heme parks”in North America this year was 170 million. Down from 173.2 million in 2001.
12. “lue Smoke”salsa won “est Salsa”in the Americas at the Americas Food and Beverage show in Miami, FL earlier this month.
13. At least 325 of America’ 46,000 priests have been removed from duty or resigned this year because of “olestation”claims.
14. A September poll of 500 registered likely voters, showed that 67 percent supported a $1.00 per pack increase in the states tobacco tax.
15. Public employees will see their insurance premiums increase by about 23 percent next year.
16. Ninety percent of West Virginia’ 18-year-old men are registered with the Selective Service.
17. The number of alcohol related deaths on US roads rose last year to 17,448, up almost 900 from the previous year.
18. Fatal alcohol related crashes involving drivers too young to legally drink dropped by more than half over the past two decades.
19. “Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.” Benjamin Disraeli
20. Studies have shown, people who didn’ finish high school are more likely to smoke than those who graduated. LMM
DON GREENE: WV Radical
OVERRATED IN WV
I always find comparisons like this stimulating so I thought that maybe we would all enjoy this little exercise. In no particular order these are, in my opinion, “verrated in WV” 1. Coal mining, as an industry, an employer, and a source of fuel will be long gone by the middle of this century. The amount of time, money and effort dedicated to this dying industry earns it a slot; 2. Chemical producing plants can be built, and workers can be taught to run them, anywhere in today's world. We can expect to see them fade away, too. For those reasons they belong on this list; 3. Coal-fired electric generators are going to disappear soon and leave many of our citizens without jobs. For not planning for the future or accepting the change, they have to be listed; 4. The WV Development Office is so unproductive, so Byzantine, so unanswerable, so costly and so politicized that it should be at the top of any list reflecting poor performance for great expenditures; 5. MU football has little to do with the quality of MU and nothing to do with life in WV in general, but due to its' exposure it has to be included on the overrated list; 6. Malpractice insurance is a combination of two things that I have little sympathy for, millionaire doctors whining about being overcharged by billionaire insurance companies - the self-importance of both these robber barons places them on my list; 7. Career bureaucrats, who by my experience, don't even consider themselves as servants of the public, have to be called overrated at the least; 8. Patronage workers, who can be synonymous with # 7, are so overrated in their importance that they nearly need a category of their own. If they repay their political friends like they perform their tax-paid jobs it's a wonder that anyone ever gets re-elected; 9. Our Legislature is little more than an expensive tool for numbers 7 & 8 to feather their own nests with and calling them overrated is being extremely kind; 10. The fabulous Toyota plant and its' little low-paying spin-offs may still become an actual benefit to WV but, until there are real figures showing that, I will call it an enormously expensive overrated example of how not to bring prosperity to WV.
Overrated also-rans include: the two biggest wastes of time, money and effort of the last half-century - golfing and mowing four or five acres of alleged yard. Overrated in every way except the quality of education is our education system from bottom to top. The need for a state as rural as WV to have tax-exempt, overgrown, so-called Wildlife Management Areas has to be called something, maybe overrated in their importance. WV's alleged concern for our children is reflected honestly by the fact that WV has the least number of child psychiatrists per child in the nation, which I'm sure connects with the drop-out and special education rates. Next time: Underrated in WV.
WVBC ORDERS CLEAN UP
Is it ever untimely to see what went wrong at the Clay County Bank? The public first found out about the serious financial crisis in April 2002. In reality, the Clay County Bank Board of Directors knew of the coming doom in April 2001. Ever wonder if J.D. Morris and Senior Vice President Scott Legg were paid too much? The Banking Commission says they were. So who got a $1,000,000.00 loan without an asset check? So who in Clayberry would get big time loans under two different names? The following is the complete Cease and Desist Order given to the Clay County Bank by the WV Banking Commission (WVBC) just two days after long time Bank President J.D. Morris abruptly tendered his resignation on April 23, 2002
ORDER TO CEASE AND DESIST
On this day the above-referenced matter was brought before me, Larry A. Stark, Commissioner of Banking of the State of West Virginia, for action compelling compliance with the provisions of Chapter 31A of the West Virginia Code. Upon a review of the records and documents obtained from the Clay County Bank, together with the reports of examination and materials submitted by the staff of the Division of Banking of the State of West Virginia (hereinafter “ivision”, I hereby make the following findings of fact:
1. Clay County Bank, located in Clay, West Virginia (hereinafter referred to as "Bank") is a state-chartered financial institution supervised by and under the jurisdiction of the Commissioner of Banking of West Virginia.
2. The Bank’ deposits are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and consequently the Bank is under the additional supervision and jurisdiction of the Atlanta Regional Office of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (hereinafter “DIC” which acknowledges the issuance of this Order.
3. Examinations of the Bank have been conducted by the Division and the FDIC. After each such examination, a Report of Examination is prepared and provided to the Bank. Each Report of Examination details the findings of the examination, including unsafe and unsound practices and any violations by the Bank of state and federal laws, rules, and regulations.
4. Previous examinations of the Bank have revealed a pattern of unsafe and unsound practices as well as violations of state and federal laws, rules and regulations.
5. On June 29, 2001, the Bank entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the FDIC and the Division wherein the Bank agreed to take certain actions
and conform its practices to state and federal laws, rules, and regulations. This Memorandum of Understanding followed a joint examination of the Bank which found a number of unsatisfactory conditions.
6. The Division of Banking conducted an examination of the Bank, prepared as of December 31, 2001, which revealed continued serious deficiencies in the operations of the Bank and substantial noncompliance with the Memorandum of Understanding. It also documented violations of state law, FDIC regulations, the Joint Agency Policy Statement on Interest Rate Risk and the Interagency Policy Statement on the Allowance for Loan and Lease Losses.
7. Specific areas of noncompliance with the terms of the Memorandum of
a. The formal review of management required by paragraph 1 of the Memorandum of Understanding has been inadequate. The summary sheets for each officer listed only biographical information, education and work experience. There was neither a discussion of any weaknesses or exceptions requiring any redress nor of employee strengths and attributes. The Board also neglected to address both management and board succession.
b. The Bank’ budget for 2002, as approved by the Board, is inadequate since it projects an increase in income without setting forth supporting assumptions. A pro forma balance sheet for year-end 2002 was not developed and there was no supporting documentation for management’ review of income and expense accounts or the review of officer compensation and other overhead expenses.
c. The Board’ methodology for assessing the adequacy of the Allowance for Loan and Lease Losses (ALLL) produced inaccurate results, which required an additional provision for loan losses of $1,000,000 that was unanticipated by management or the Board.
d. The Board failed to develop and submit to the Division and the FDIC specific plans to reduce and/or improve all credit relationships greater than $50,000 that were adversely classified or listed for Special Mention at the prior examination.
e. The Board failed to develop and approve procedures to improve loan administration.
f. Numerous internal control deficiencies reflect continued inattention to the internal audit function. Board minutes do not reflect a review of the internal audit program or the provision of any additional training for the internal auditor.
g. Numerous technical exceptions reflect a continuing lack of an effective system of loan documentation.
h. The loan review coverage required by the Board’ Loan Policy is not being attained.
Violations of State law and FDIC Regulations include:
a. A violation of the state legal lending limit set by W.V. Code 31A-4-26 by lending to two entities that are in reality a “ommon enterprise”as that term is defined by state regulations.
b. A violation of 12 C.F.R. 323.3(d) by failing to obtain appraisals by a state certified appraiser before making loans greater than $1,000,000.
c. A violation of Appendix A to Part 364 of the FDIC standards for internal routine and controls. Specifically, risk assessment procedures are lacking due to repeated failure to maintain an adequate ALLL; there is no independent loan review and grading system;
there is insufficient monitoring of interest rate sensitivity and liquidity; operational and regulatory reports are deficient due to an inadequate ALLL and insufficient procedures for handling non-accrual loans; and the deficiencies previously noted in the internal audit system remain uncorrected.
d. A violation of Appendix A to Part 364 of the FDIC standards relating to officer compensation. Given the weak financial condition and performance of the Bank, the salaries and bonuses paid to the President and Senior Vice President during 2001 are excessive.
9. The Bank has continued to violate the Interagency Policy Statement on the Allowance for Loan and Lease Losses. Substantial additional provisions for loan losses have been required at the last three examinations.
10. The Bank's failure to strictly comply with all the provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding, its continued failure to promptly correct violations cited in prior examinations, and violations of state law and federal regulations found at the most recent examination reveal a pattern of disregard for the safe and sound operation of the banking business in detriment to the Bank and its depositors.
THEREFORE, in order to maintain the stability, integrity and security of the Bank, I, Larry A. Stark, Commissioner of Banking of the State of West Virginia, pursuant to my authority under W. Va. Code § 31A-2-4, do hereby ORDER the Bank, its directors, officers, successors and assigns to cease and desist from the following unsafe or unsound banking practices and procedures detrimental to the Bank and its depositors:
A. Failing to provide adequate supervision and direction over the affairs of the Bank by the board of directors of the Bank to prevent unsafe or unsound
practices and violations of laws and regulations;
B. Operating the Bank with management whose policies and practices are detrimental to the Bank and may jeopardize the safety of its deposits;
C. Operating the Bank with an excessive volume of adversely classified assets;
D. Engaging in credit administration and loan documentation practices that expose the Bank to excessive loan losses and inadequate income;
E. Operating in contravention of the Interagency Policy Statement on the Allowance for Loan and Lease Losses; and
F. Failing to operate the Bank with adequate internal audit controls and accounting systems to prevent unsafe and unsound practices, as more fully described in the December 31, 2001 Report of Examination.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Bank, its directors, officers, successors and assigns take the following affirmative actions:
1. Within thirty (30) days of the effective date of this Order, the Bank shall formulate and submit a management plan to the Commissioner of Banking of West Virginia (“ommissioner” and the Regional Director of the FDIC Atlanta Regional Office (“egional Director”. The plan shall contain, at a minimum, the following:
a) A review of each existing officer's job responsibilities, performance and abilities. The review shall focus on an assessment of the duties performed by the president, senior vice president, all vice presidents and the internal auditor and shall result in a formal determination of the ability of each individual to perform competently his or her assigned duties. The primary purpose of this review shall be to aid in the development of a management structure suitable to the Bank's needs and that is adequately staffed by qualified and trained personnel. If existing personnel do not satisfy the Bank's needs, they should be terminated and replaced with personnel who can perform the duties on an interim basis while the Board conducts a personnel search from outside the Bank.
b) The designation of a qualified chief executive officer who shall be given specific written authority by the Board of Directors for implementing all lending, investment, and operational policies in accordance with sound banking practices and who shall be the senior officer in terms of overall responsibility for the daily management and operation of the Bank.
c) A determination of the appropriate level of compensation for each remaining officer reviewed. This determination shall be made to conform with the considerations set forth in Appendix A to Part 364 of the FDIC’ Interagency Guidelines Establishing Standards for Safety and Soundness - Officer Compensation.
d.) The Bank Board’ current plans regarding management succession. These plans should consider scenarios for both anticipated and unforeseen turnover.
Such management shall be provided the necessary written authority to implement the provisions of this Order. The qualifications of management shall be assessed on its ability to (i) comply with the requirements of this Order, (ii) operate the Bank in a safe and sound manner, (iii) comply with applicable laws, regulations and statements of policy, and (iv) restore all aspects of the Bank to a safe and sound condition, including management effectiveness, asset quality, earnings, risk management, and internal audit controls. As long as this Order remains in effect, the Bank shall notify the Commissioner and the Regional Director in writing of any changes in senior management. Such notification shall include the names and qualifications of any replacement personnel, on either a permanent or interim basis, and must be provided at least thirty (30) days prior to that individual assuming the new position so that both the Commissioner and Regional Director can give prior approval of any change in senior managers.
2. Within thirty (30) days from the effective date of this Order, the Bank shall prepare and submit to the Commissioner and Regional Director the detailed assumptions for its projected income for 2002 or, alternatively, a revised projection of earnings with supporting assumptions, a pro forma balance sheet for year-end 2002, and documentation supporting management’ review of income and expense reports, overhead expenses and officer compensation. As long as this Order remains in effect, the Board shall continue to submit to the Commissioner and the Regional Director annual budgets no later than January 31 of each year.
3. Within sixty (60) days from the effective date of this Order, the Bank shall submit to the Commissioner and the Regional Director a written plan of action to reduce and/or improve each loan or line of credit which was adversely classified by the Division as of December 31, 2001, and which aggregated fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) or more as of that date. Such plan of action shall thereafter be implemented by the Bank and monitored, and progress reports shall be submitted by the Bank to the Regional Director and the Commissioner concurrently with the other reporting requirements set forth in paragraph 12 of this Order. As used in this paragraph of the Order, "reduce" means to (i) collect, (ii) charge off, or (iii) improve the quality of such assets sufficiently to warrant removal of any adverse classification by the FDIC or the Division.
4. (a) Effective the date of this Order, the Bank shall not extend, directly or indirectly, any additional credit to or for the benefit of any borrower who has a loan or other extension of credit with the Bank that has been charged off or classified, in whole or in part, "Loss," "Doubtful" or "Substandard" and is uncollected, except as provided in paragraph 4 (b) of this ORDER.
(b) The Bank may extend additional credit, directly or indirectly, to or for the benefit of any borrower who has a loan or other extension of credit with the Bank that has been classified, in whole or in part, "Substandard," and is uncollected, provided that a majority of the Bank's board of directors first:(i) determines that such advance is in the best interest of the Bank; (ii) determines that the Bank has satisfied the requirements set out in paragraph 3 of this ORDER as to such borrower; (iii) determines that the extension of credit is in full compliance with the Bank's loan policy; (iv) determines that all necessary loan documentation is on file to determine the borrower’ ability to repay the extension of credit, including, but not limited to, current financial and cash flow information and satisfactory appraisal, title and lien documents; and (v) approves such advance. A written record of the board of directors' determination and approval of any advance under this paragraph 4 (b) of this Order shall be maintained in the credit files of each affected borrower as well as in the minutes of the board of directors.
c) The requirements of this paragraph 4 of this Order shall not prohibit the Bank from renewing or extending the maturity of any credit already extended to the borrower, provided such action is in accordance with both federal and state laws, rules and regulations, and further provided that all interest due at the time of such renewal or extension is collected in cash from the borrower.
5. Within thirty (30) days of the effective date of this Order, the Bank shall arrange for appraisals in compliance with the requirements of 12 C.F.R. 323.3(d) of all property securing loans or lines of credit in excess of $1,000,000.
6. Within thirty (30) days of the effective date of this Order, the Bank’ Board shall develop and adopt procedures to improve loan administration and review. At a minimum the procedures shall include the following elements:
(a) A requirement that before advancing any loan the Bank must obtain, analyze, document and verify credit information which will be sufficient to identify a source of repayment and support for the scheduled repayment plan as per the loan policy;
(b) A requirement that all collateral documentation, including proper appraisals by qualified appraisers where needed, be obtained and reviewed before loan proceeds are disbursed;
(c) A requirement for the maintenance and review of complete and current credit files on each borrower with extensions of credit outstanding;
(d) A requirement that each extension of credit have an appropriate repayment plan;
(e) A requirement for the establishment of criteria and guidelines for the acceptance and review of financial statements;
(f) A requirement that all secured loans contain sufficient written documentation establishing the current value of the underlying collateral; and
(g) A requirement that all loans over $65,000 be subject to this review annually and that other loans be reviewed on a random basis so that no less than 30% of the total loans in the Bank’ portfolio are subject to annual review.
7. Within sixty (60) days from the effective date of this Order, the Bank will cause all internal routine and control deficiencies cited in the past reports of examinations to be corrected. The Bank’ Board shall conduct a review of the internal audit program to ensure it contains the proper control environment and promotes accuracy and efficiency in the operations of the Bank. The Bank’ Board shall also ensure that the internal auditor receives any additional training necessary or advisable.
8. Within thirty (30) days from the effective date of this Order, the Bank shall enter into a contract with an independent accounting firm to provide an evaluation of the Bank’ internal audit scope and procedures. The contract shall require the firm to provide the Bank, the Commissioner and the Regional Director a written report detailing the findings of the evaluation and any recommendations for changes within ninety (90) days of the date of the contract.
9. Within sixty (60) days from the effective date of this Order, the Bank shall certify to the Commissioner and the Regional Director that the following procedures designed to improve management of the Bank’ exposure to market risk will be incorporated into the Asset Liability Management Committee’ (“LCO” standard operating procedures. At a minimum: The ALCO shall meet quarterly to review all asset/liability management decisions made by the Bank, paying particular attention to whether each decision was made in accordance with approved policies. All exceptions to the policies shall be documented by the ALCO as to the reason for the exceptions and the continuance of the exceptions, taking into account the Bank’ overall goals, strategies and financial condition.
The ALCO shall ensure that all securities held in the Bank’ investment portfolio with embedded call options are properly and accurately slotted in the model used to assess the Bank’ exposure to changes in market interest rates. The ALCO shall maintain full and complete minutes of its actions and shall provide quarterly written reports to the full Board of Directors to enable the Board to make informed decisions regarding the Bank’ management of market risk and liquidity.
10. Within ninety (90) days from the effective date of this Order, the Bank will develop a plan for improving the Bank's earnings and submit that plan to the Commissioner and the Regional Director for their review and comment. The plan should specifically address improving efforts to reduce overhead expenses, and increasing the net interest margin.
11. Within thirty (30) days of the effective date of this Order the Board shall establish a target past due ratio, begin a monthly review of all past due and non-accrual loans and ensure that the Bank’ management information system accurately identifies such loans. The results of the review and efforts to collect past due amounts shall be documented in the minutes of Board meetings. The Bank’ target ratio and past due loan calculations shall be submitted by the Bank to the Regional Director and the Commissioner concurrently with the other reporting requirements set forth in paragraph 12 of this Order.
12. By May 31, 2002 and within thirty (30) days following the end of each calendar quarter while this Order is in effect, the Bank shall furnish written
progress reports to the Commissioner and the FDIC Regional Director detailing the form and manner of all actions taken to secure compliance with this Order and the results of such actions. Such reports may be discontinued when the corrections required by this Order have been accomplished and the Commissioner and Regional Director have released the Bank in writing from making further reports. All progress reports and other written responses to this Order shall be reviewed by the board of directors of the Bank and made a part of the minutes of the appropriate board meeting.
13. Following the effective date of this Order, the Bank shall send to its shareholders or otherwise furnish a description of this Order (i) in conjunction with the Bank's next shareholder communication and also (ii) in conjunction with its notice or proxy statement preceding the Bank's next shareholder meeting. The description shall fully describe this Order in all material respects. The description and any accompanying communication, statement or notice shall be sent to the Commissioner, for review at least twenty (20) days prior to dissemination to shareholders. Any changes the Commissioner may request shall be made prior to dissemination of the description, communication, notice or statement.
14. The provisions of this Order shall become effective on April 25, 2002 and shall be binding upon the Bank, its directors and officers, and any successors and assigns thereof. Further, the provisions of this Order shall remain effective and enforceable except to the extent that, and until such time as, any provisions of this Order shall have been modified, terminated, suspended, or set aside by the West Virginia Division of Banking, acting in consultation with the Regional Director.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED THAT the provisions of this Order shall not bar, stop, or otherwise prevent the Division of Banking or the FDIC from taking any other action affecting the Bank or any of its current or former directors and officers, or successors and assigns thereof. AW
Justice: Civil Procedure or Subject Matter? By: Jim Chafin
Government is likened to the helm of a ship that, supposedly, keeps the ‘hip of state’headed in the right direction. However, as any able seaman knows, the helm can do nothing unless there is a helmsman with a compass and an accurate vision to chart unfamiliar waters. Government then, itself, needs guidance; after all, it is only the helm and not the entire ship. The helm is only a minute part of the totality that is the complexity of the master of the ocean. When any organization becomes obsessed with it’ own beginning, it loses sight of the ideals etched in the visions of its importance, and government is no exception to that rule. When that happens, it begins to make arbitrary decisions based solely upon it’ perception of what’ best for government – the machine, not the mechanic – and not necessarily what is good for the citizen. This is where we find ourselves today; an increasingly big government with an insatiably huge appetite for more and bigger ‘hings’that is covering our Constitution with layer after layer of manmade edicts, thereby substituting a system of ‘rivileges’in place of the ‘aw of liberty’given to us by Holy Writ, encoded by the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. We suggest that legislatures, executive, judiciary, and lower-case bureaucrats from top to bottom, all are making laws that impede freedom for individuals. On paper, their rhetoric may look good, until we read the fine print. They may proclaim the constitution to the high heavens, but possessing its provisions for us is quite another matter.
One never knows the difficulties of obtaining our rights, built into the law, until we attempt to take possession of them; and that usually happens when we are brought to a position of great need. Too late, then, we find that ‘ights’are an elusive goal – a light dimly seen – with a road filled with obstacles and hindrances – vaguely defined! And as a society, our tolerance of the conditions described herein paves the way for more of the same. Seeing no real resistance being mounted by an alarmed citizenry, the deceivers are free to work their will in matters that are to the detriment of all United States people(s). Wake up, Leroy, the ship of state needs a righting!
The outward symbol of government’ action as visibly seen by the people is the Admiralty flag. It is so omnipresent that most folks take no notice of it; but the difference in modes of operation between the Admiralty flag and the Title 4, United States Code, Section 1, Flag of Peace, is stark indeed. The difference being “nnocent until proven guilty”(Title 4, Flag of Peace), and “uilty until proven innocent”(Admiralty flag). The Admiralty flag is a symbol of martial law, a military flag, and every veteran of military service should know this. Under the Admiralty, government agencies ranging from the military, INS, Bureau of Land Management, FEMA, etc., local and state agencies, all can declare ‘mergencies’and call for martial law – ‘eed’depending upon the whims of an already predisposed thought pattern; paranoia running rampant as it is today. As the saying goes: “t’ them, or us!”As a retired citizen, I am vitally concerned about justice for this segment of our society, and how lack of access to the judiciary affects us. Some questions I would like answered are: When did constitutionally guaranteed rights become a commodity for sale in this country? How did this occur? And why? Why should anyone have to pay the court, the legal profession, or anyone else, for rights mandated by the Constitution? Commercialization of ‘ights’by this society effectively excludes an entire class of people from due process and equal protection of the law – And we would like to know why this is happening! The elderly and disabled of this nation are the most abused, misused, and manipulated of all in this society. If children were treated in this manner, there would be a cry heard around the world – heads would roll, and someone would go to jail. We are saying to the government and all concerned: Stop It!!
School Board Meets at Valley Fork
The Clay County Board of Education met Monday, December 16, at Valley Fork Elementary for the second of their twice monthly regular meetings. The board travels to each of the county’ schools once during the school year, conducting their regular meeting there, to meet with the school’ Local School Improvement Council (LSIC), as they are required to do every year. Other than the board members, central office administrative staff, and a few service personnel reps, the meeting was poorly attended with only a few Valley Fork staff members and parents present.
Board president R. B. Legg, Jr. invited everyone to join him as he offered prayer, and then called the meeting to order. Members present: Gene King, Fran King, David Pierson, and Scott Legg.
Business conducted: approval of the agenda, previous meeting minutes, and increased receipts of $109,460.58. Superintendent Jerry Linkinogger explained that the money was a $108,000 Title I grant to Lizemore Elementary, and the rest for hepatitis B vaccine for substitutes; accepted the resignation of Eric Cole as Clay Middle School’ head football coach; employment of substitute bus drivers, pending successful completion of all required training by June 6, 2003, Aaron David Belt, Robert David Belt, Stephen Lee Butler, Dustin Allen Fitzwater, Gary Lee King, Allen Dale Legg, John Paul Rogers, and Miles Julian Slack; approved a notice for bids on the design of mechanical and electrical engineering work to be done at Clay Elementary putting a heating and air conditioning system into the old part of the building. Linkinogger said the work would be done during the summer after school is out and would be paid for with School Building Authority (SBA) money received last year; approved changing the soft drink policy at Clay County High School (CCHS). Linkinogger said state regulations have changed, that soft drinks may be sold from the vending machines, but not during breakfast and lunch times. He said 75% of the money collected goes to the faculty senate. Gene King humorously commented that he didn’ see anything wrong with the new policy, and it might save on bottled water. All motions passed with little discussion unanimously.
Linkinogger announced that Lizemore and H. E. White Elementary schools had recently passed on-site accreditation visits from a state school department team, and there were no findings at either school. Assistant superintendent Larry Gillespie reported that H.E. White had received 9 commendations and Lizemore 6.
Valley Fork Principal Mike Schoonover named the LSIC members at the school, followed by a power point presentation on Valley Fork. Highlights included improvements made during the last year – new flooring, carpeting, and shelving in classrooms, playground improvements made with $7,500 of budget digest money, and 10 new computers. SAT 9 percentile scores were reported to have gone up during the previous 6 years for grades 3, 4, and 5 in reading, math and language. It was noted that last year the school had been sited for lack of parental involvement which was explained as really a lack of documentation of parental involvement. Parent Sarah Bragg said, “e did a survey…my personal opinion: if you don’ come, it’ your own fault, unless they’e at work.” Character education was sited as the number 1 push, Schoonover noting, “e’e used the concept here for years.”
LSIC requests of the board were for an additional 30 computers to replace those removed last year due to being obsolete, a new playground swing set as the current one is rusting, dry erase boards, and a dusk to dawn light at the entrance to the school grounds. Schoonover said they’ requested the light last year, and have a pole set for it, but have had a ditch digging problem for the lines. The LSIC also suggested that the board hire a county-wide grant writer.
The board presented an award to the Valley Fork principal and LSIC as the school was named an exemplary school, along with H.E. White Elementary. Linkinogger said all Clay’ schools received full approval except those two which received exemplary approval. To receive that the school must have 75% or more students in grades 3-11 score in the 3rd quartile, have an attendance rate of 94% or above, a drop out rate less than 3%, and have 20% or more score high enough on the writing assessment.
Linkinogger said Kenneth Tanner (Administrative Assistant) was their grant writer, and he hoped to get the computers. David Pierson told Schoonover he would see about getting a ditch witch to dig the ditch for the dusk to dawn light.
Meeting adjourned at 6:45. Next meeting of the board is January 6 at the administrative office in Clay. TK
12/09/02: Delk – Michael T. Butcher, changing a manufacturer’ serial number, receiving or transferring stolen property; Travis Welch, grand larceny.
12/15/02: Belt – Dwain E. McQuiston, possession of stolen vehicle.
12/20/02: Belt – Joseph Underwood, arson.
12/21/02: Belt – Joseph Underwood, attempt to escape from custody.
12/04/02: Bailey – Jimmy Jackson, destruction of property.
12/08/02: Belt – Clarence Coleman, domestic battery.
12/10/02: Clay Lion’ Club – Billy J. Deems, WC.
12/17/02: Connie Brown – Lena M. Lunsford, WC; Clay Farm Cooperative – Donna Tryon, WC.
12/19/02: Chief Deputy Rider – Jerry W. Cash II, obtain credit card from another; M.A. Elswick – Jeffery Mollohan, DWR/DUIA 2nd offense.
12/20/02: M.A. Elswick – Michael E. Lanham, battery; M.L. Bailey – Michael E. Lanham, battery; Belt – Joseph Underwood, obstructing.
12/21/02: Belt – Joseph Underwood, battery on fire fighter.
12/24/02: Light – Mildred Hinkle, domestic assault.
12/26/02: Clay Supermarket – Arthur G. Samples, WC; Bailey – John E. Phillips, shoplifting, battery; Rider – Ell Edward Deems, domestic battery.
12/09/02: Clay Supermarket – Jody Pierson, money due.
12/20/02: Jennifer Smock – Chris Stutler, money due.
12/26/02: Clay County Bank – Crystal L. Green, breach of contract; Wesley A. Adkins, breach of contract.
Notices Issued -
Clay Supermarket – Kristina M. Williams, Jennifer Grose, Tonya Sayre, Teresa Tackett; WV Tax Department – Wayne King; J&S Grocery – Darlene Daniels (paid 12/19/02), Jacqueline R. Keener (paid 12/19/02).
12/05/02: State Police – Melissa D. Vaughn, MVI and operator’.
12/07/02: County Sheriff’ Dept. – Raymond G. Hershman, registration violations.
12/11/02: County Sheriff’ Dept. – Eddie Wayne Grey, fire arm violation.
12/12/02: State Police – Cletis Wayne Holmes, no proof of insurance.
12/13/02: County Sheriff’ Dept. – Clifton C. Grose, Jr., speeding; Richard A. Roop, Jr., MVI and no proof of insurance.
12/20/02: Dept. of Natural Resources – Daniel Lee Kovalesk, littering.
12/21/02: County Sheriff’ Dept. – Richelle Robertson, expired temporary.
Clay County Board of Health Meets
The Clay County Board of Health met December 11 at the health center on Main Street in Clay for their quarterly regular meeting. Board president Mary Lou Devlin, members Connie Harper and Loretta Bird were present. Members Lynn Sizemore Romano and Jorretta Gray did not attend. County health officer Doc Boggs also did not attend.
With a quorum established and the tape recorder on Devlin called the meeting to order at 7PM. Board approved previous meeting minutes and expenditures for September and November as submitted. Health Department Director Karen Dawson gave a year to date financial report and asked to move some money around within the budget, which board allowed her to do after asking for some specifics: $8,000 from the equipment budget to office expenses where they are over budget, and $8,000 from software maintenance to accounting and auditing to pay for the audit.
Dawson updated the board on threat preparedness. In essence, Clay is not very prepared for things such as bio-terrorism, and they have a long way to go. She said when they started they didn’ even have an Emergency Services Director, but do now and have had a council formed that has met. With these things in place she said funds could be captured. She noted that it is always ambulances, fire, and police thought of during emergencies, but the Health Department will be taking the lead in some areas. Dawson has met with other counties – Braxton, Nicholas, Webster, and Lewis – and asked the board to allow her to develop mutual aid agreements with them. One problem is the liability issue. State code says the health department is confined to the boundaries if Clay, but they are hearing that the Board of Health approves of their going across county lines. Devlin asked about the 24/7 (apparently about reaching the health department at all times), and Dawson said she, Teresa Morton, and the head of medical waiver are all carrying pagers and cell phones, and that 911 has all the information to reach them. Board approved continuing with the threat preparedness and to proceed with the mutual aid agreements.
Sanitarian Teresa Morton briefly updated the board on the Clean Indoor Act and reported on the complaint received in mid November from a courthouse employee who claimed smoke coming from the prosecuting attorney’ office exacerbated her asthma. She said no court cases have yet been settled on the issue.
Board hired two registered nurses – Amy Osborne for the Medicaid Waiver Program (Sandy moved to health education) and Jay Carper, hired in October initially for the Medicaid Waiver, will do the threat preparedness, and in the future will be sent to sanitarian training. Currently Sandy and Jay are attending Public Health 101 in Charleston.
Dawson said they have three vehicles that are not being used and are in bad shape, a 1993 S-10 truck, an Astro van, and a 1995 truck. She asked to get rid of two of the vehicles and buy a new one. She said Telford’ Chevrolet had given her some prices which included trade in and rebate amounts if the did it before the end of the year. Otherwise they would have to sell the vehicles at auction and probably get very little for them. After discussion on how the new vehicle would be used, what type would be best (truck/car), and did they have money to do it (office manager Linda Klotzbach said they would have to take it out of reserves), board voted to trade the van and S-10 and purchase a Chevy 4 door auto from Telfords.
Dawson gave a report on the small pox vaccine – initially response teams from hospitals, health departments, and front line EMT’ will receive the vaccine (1 million people nationally), then other first responders (10 million people nationally), then the population in general.
Meeting adjourned around 8PM. Next board meeting: Wednesday, March 12, 2003 at the health department at 7PM. TK
CLAYBERRY 2002 A YEAR IN REVIEW
News wise, Clay County West Virginia, 2002, will go down in the history books as a year marked with change, scandal, lawsuits, arson, audits, and more and littered with the carcasses of long time pillars of the community . Sit back, take your shoes off and remember back this year of events that filled the papers and conversations over the last 12 months.
| JANUARY 2002, End of the CCEAA Reign of Insolvency|
Cold was the month but with very little snow. On the second day of the year, the Clay County Commission (CCC), the Clay County Emergency Ambulance Authority (CCEAA), and 911 Director Paige Willis received their summons to appear in court. The issue centered on the closing of the Big Otter and Lizemore Ambulance Stations and the closing of the local radio dispatch center in the county. Bob Mullins served the paperwork. The plaintiffs wrote that Commissioner Jimmy Sams was the culprit behind the closings and sought an injunction to keep Paige Willis from removing the radio equipment from the stations. The hearing was held January 22 in front of Judge Jack Alsop. Despite the rambling garble of plaintiff Joyce White, including calling Matthew Bragg, Jimmy Sams, and Tim Butcher the ‘hree Blind Mice’ the case was tossed. None of the allegations were proven and there was no evidence found to support the contentions that the CCC was required to keep three ambulance stations open in the county.
January 19 couldn’ have been any better for the School Board gang. There were tons of snow and ice on the roads and it was Election day for the excess school levy. With state road crews slow to respond to the icy conditions, voter turnout was low. Even after a public relations blitz and strong arm-twisting by the powers that be, a low voter turnout was needed to insure passage of the tax burden. They got just that. Only one other levy had passed in Clayberry and that passage was with a margin of just 31 votes. With well over 300 on the school system payroll, plus that many more spouses, add to those the aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, moms and dads, all willing to vote YES to see their family members keep their jobs, the levy passed with 71% saying Yes.
While one group was suing the CCC in the courts, County Commissioner Sams brought the public up to date on the dismal financial condition of the Clay Ambulance Service. Sams, also a member of the Clay County Emergency Ambulance Authority, said, “e’e tried to make cuts… all overtime was cut… At the two outlying stations, the ambulances have been parked….. After January 10, there will be no dispatchers [local] …. There’ about $9000.00 in the budget with payroll soon…. We need an audit…”After years of mismanagement by the CCEAA, the CCC voted to have an audit done to see what happened to over a ¼ million dollars in tax dollars.
Over at the low income housing project, Maysel Manor, concerns were raised on changes in policy, changes in lease agreements, and residents being turned out. This paper commented first hand on the rude management at the taxpayer-funded facility.
The Wilderness Café shut down; after reports of toilet paper like stuff in the water, the town of Clay ‘oil Water Order’was lifted January 10; locals commented on the amount of smoke at the Lion’ Club Bingo Casino on Main Street, and on January 8 school was held with less than 1/3 of the kids making it to class.
Town leadership opened the New Year with a hotly contested battle to fill the mayor’ slot. The contest was between Glen Nichols (supported by Helen Morris and Dave Derby) and Arthur Jarrett (supported by Betty Murphy, Sally Legg, and Wanda Chambers). Tempers heated when acting mayor Betty Murphy cast the deciding vote for Jarrett. Councilperson Derby cried “OUL”to no avail while candidate Nichols pledged a lawsuit. The town’ year also started off with a computer crash. That’ the computer that held all the check writing information. As for the missing thousands of dollars from 4 months earlier, still no audit.
Under threats of a state mandated shut down, our County Commission voted (Jan. 22) to do away with the 6 year in-the-red, always controversial, Clay County Emergency Ambulance Authority and pay WV TNS $2000.00 a month to manage the local operation. One more saga in Clayberry had come to an end. And, and, the first inkling was made public that many, many outstanding Ambulance Service debts had been held under the table and away from public scrutiny. County Commission agreed to assume all old debts incurred by the CCEAA. As for public accountability of WV TNS… TNS Director Denny Nurkiewicz made it crystal clear, the public would have no say in the operation, “his is NOT a Democracy!” Central Appalachia Empowerment Zone (CAEZ) did not have enough board members for a quorum during their January gathering. Those present heard Director Jerry Sizemore say he received a $2000 check from Filcon, Inc., a partial payment on the long overdue $140,000.00 CAEZ loan. That check bounced from wall to wall.
Over in Clay Roane PSD land, things got steamy as it became public that the PSD had put in for another rate increase and did so without a public vote. Chair Cruickshank commented that no vote was needed. The issue of a meter reader not reading meters for years and costing the system thousands surfaced again. No one appeared interested in retrieving the lost $. January marked the opening volley from a group of Pumpkin Ridge residents, the ‘unkineers’ and the quest to have safe drinkable municipal water.
Readers, all this and in just the first month of the 2002!
FEBRUARY 2002: Linkinogger: “t was so scary!!”
Smoke and water issues filled the county in February 2002. As for the long stalled Bee Run Dam at Wallback, community activist Fred Sampson continued his letter writing efforts. The Sampson endeavors appeared to be working as response letters from DEP were encouraging in nature and the public support for the Fola Co Inc. mitigation fund project may be just enough to actually get the recreational lake on the front burner. Fingers were crossed!
With nearly everyone in the county knowing that Manfred Kuentzer was a crook, our elected and appointed leaders began to whisper out loud the same. During the February 2002 CAEZ meeting, long time Nicholas County Rep. Red Deering was one of the first, “ suggest that we foreclose on the man!”Director Jerry Sizemore insisted that the group have signed a third lien on the Filcon collateral (equipment) held by the group. Replacing Commissioner Jimmy Sams (never came to a meeting in 11 months), Matthew Bragg made his one and only trip to a CAEZ meeting. CAEZ announced that they received $249,166.15 from an ARC grant for business development.
G.O. Young sold thousands of acres of coal holdings to Fola Coal and avoided paying property tax transfer fees by saying the holdings were valued at les than $100.00. Prosecutor Davis commented that the loss might amount to $15,000.00.
With barely enough money to make ends meet in January ($573.00), Clay County PSD gave pay raises to employees as their most recent Boil Water Order for Hartland was lifted. Our Health Department issued critical violations to Ramona’ Pizza(2); Bessy and Sandy’ Café (3); Clay Foodland (3, 10 day notice given); Ginos/Tudor (2); Go Mart (3); Laurel Nursing (1);
Over in CCC land, the elected ones said they would not put Sunday hunting on the ballot upon the request of 2 people. Punkineers Celia Coon looked them straight in the eye and asked for an update on getting water service to Punkin Ridge. She got little back from the three blind mice. Ambulance service employees under the direction of B.J. Willis and WV TNS, were told they were no longer county employees nor would they have benefits of such.
With Arthur Jarrett seated as mayor, faces turned blue with rage as it was announced attorney Jim Lane had turned in bills totaling over $9000.00 for services done after being fired months earlier. Mayor Jarrett considered hiring a bounty hunter for Town Cop. As for the $45,000.00 in damage done to the Pisgah area railroad tracks during construction of the sewage treatment plant, Mayor “ing”Arthur side stepped the discussion with, “’ trying to get around that..”Jarrett had recently received a thick manila envelope containing background info on the topic and a letter demanding the RR tracks be put back in good condition and free of “ontaminants” Jim Weimer called the town and again asked the elected ones to give up ownership and operation of their water plant. Again, the sides were divided with Helen Morris and Dave Derby strongly supporting giving away the town’ only source of income. The month ended with the town sharply divided on the subject of building a new high dollar water plant and the county continued in a “talled mode”with many using unsafe water supplies for drinking purposes. During the month of February, Vera Beasley reported on serious deficiencies in water supplies nationwide.
In February, Clay Schools Superintendent Jerry Linkinogger, along with the Clay County Sheriff’ Department, made the Charleston newspapers due to their response to a WVU Freedom of Information Act audit. Linkinogger said the request for a copy of his employment contract was “erie and scary”and the Sheriff ran a license plate check on the auditor, who left Clay without the information he’ requested. The school board had upset parents to placate after their child was put on the wrong bus and left at a home with no one home. The child was discovered screaming on the roadside by a fortunately kind man who found someone that knew the child and got her to her family. The bus driver did not follow procedure checking for the student’ pass, and received a letter placed in his personnel file.
Things got smokin’during February’ Health Dept. Board meeting when Prosecutor Jeff Davis gave the board double ‘’with both barrels in their quest to include criminal penalties to a long planned tougher, cleaner indoor air rule for the county. Davis, “ou cannot enforce criminal liability!!!!”Boardster and non-smoker Lynn Sizemore Romano spoke out against the total ban on smoking in the county. Many questions were sidestepped like, “ho gets the ticket, the smoker or the business owner?” Lead person in the charge, County Sanitarian Teresa Morton said the vote to implement the new regs will take place March 27, 2002. Private Citizen R.T. Sizemore cautioned the group and said maybe after this law goes into effect, the next one may deal with banning ugly people followed by bans on fat people!
Clay County’ most notorious non-profit organization, Clay Development Corporation (CDC) got going real good during the cold months of January and February. In January, Board Chair Earnie Sirk decided all meetings of the group should be held in secret and tossed out two members of the public and called in State Police Trooper Travis Foreman to remove that ace cub reporter from the premises. In February, Earnie (Chair, Czar, Osama bin, Wide Glide) Sirk cancelled the CDC meeting when the Mel Gibson look alike, in attendance, refused to leave the by laws mandated public meeting. Sirk, “ am asking you to leave right now and not return at ANY OTHER time to a PUBLIC meeting or I’l go right now and I’l take out a warrant for you trespassing!!!!!!!!!! IT’ BEEN DECIDED BY THE BOARD THAT YOU ARE NOT TO BE HERE!!!” Clay Roane PSD Boardsters felt the heat of over 30 Punkineers during their February meeting. Locals, darn near all of Punkin Ridge, demanded that they be given water service and right now!!! Board Chair T.G. Cruickshank was feeling the pressure from Punkineers and the CCC for the first time.
MARCH 2002 WATER AND CDC BLOW UPS
Since 1995, much of Clay County was under a WV PSC imposed water moratorium preventing any new water service. In November of 2001, that moratorium was lifted. During the moratorium years, lists were compiled of those wanting water service. At one point, the long list of names was misplaced by Procious PSD. An Administrative Law Judge wrote, “t appeared to be criminal like in nature…”In March 2002 it was discovered that long time Clay County Bank President J.D. Morris had received water service from Clay Roane PSD to his new home. While many in the county were using frog scum for drinking water, Morris received preferential treatment by being the first to receive water service and service without filling out an application, nor paying tap fees. This special treatment was given to Morris by PSD Chairman T.G. Cruickshank. The private deal was confirmed and the county went ballistic. As the news spread around the county, J.D. hurriedly paid up the state mandated fees to PSD water operator Jennifer Traub. Dale Deems was sent out to cut off the service, and Deems was sent a packin and the water remained on! Sam Taylor did the installment and later commented, “ knew this was going to come back and bite me.”Upfront and honest Trina Neff with Clay Roane PSD commented during the public scrutiny, that Mr. Morris, in addition to receiving water service in front of others, was never given a bill for water service,“ have never once lied for anybody down here.. If I have to loose my job of saying he shouldn’ have it, fine!”Shortly there after, Ms Neff resigned her position. All eyes were on T.G. Cruickshank and J.D. Morris.
Long thirsty Punkineers went wild and filed a formal complaint seeking water service. Punkineers demanded a special meeting of the PSD where T.G. Cruickshank got real testy toward Melissa Postelwait and “er attitude”toward the PSD and her efforts to get water for the community. While Morris was preparing to sip water at his nearly complete mansion, the town of Clay water plant was cited with 10 significant water treatment violations.
Long time business owner and all around straight talking guy, Jerry Procious, died while sitting in his gas station March 2, 2002. The county mourned.
Requests for figures on how levy dollars were being spent on the four rural Clay County schools, all threatened with closure if the levy did not pass, still had not been satisfied. The requests came before the levy election and Superintendent Linkinogger had promised to provide the information. Clay County Schools sent their proposal in hopes of acquiring the federally funded Head Start Program, previously run by now-in-bankruptcy Multi-Cap. And, Linkinogger had to inform the board that they would need to come up with an additional $300,000 next year to pay the increased salaries and fixed costs of 41 teachers that would be getting their Master’ degree when they finished the grant funded program at H.E. White Elementary in December. State aid will not kick in to meet the increased salaries until the following year. Plans were discussed to seek budget digest money, and it was hinted that having former board president J.D. Morris on the State Board of Education as president was a plus.
CAEZ elected new officers to their board. Candidates for the VP spot were John Gibson and Elizabeth Sampson. With Darlene Morris the only supporter of Sampson, Gibson ascended the throne. Also, 911 Coordinator Paige Willis resigned his volunteer position after amassing over $170,000.00 in the 911 fund.
Efforts to shove down our throats a high dollar regional water plant were stepped up. The WV Public Service Commission (WVPSC) pulled some word games as town leaders did their own end run play. The town would get out of the water business if they could also get out of the sewer business, a debt laden business which had lost money since it’ inception. Paperwork passed back and forth, strong resistance to both games was felt. The finger was pointed at Town Council as the sole problem and reason why the county did not have adequate water service. Town Council also felt a public outcry for an independent audit to find out how much money was stolen by an employee 7 months earlier. King Arthur announced that Randy Holcomb asked to be the next town cop.
In an attempt to make recent board actions legal, throwing the public out of Clay Development Corp. (CDC) meetings, a hastily called General Membership meeting was called to change CDC by laws and end the 35 year tradition of holding open meetings. The General Membership of the CDC is made up of employees, family members of employees, and close supporters of employees for the most part! Additionally, the vote was taken and passed to reduce the number of boardsters present to make a quorum. Boardster Gary Whaling asked that Andy Waddell be removed from the general membership roles. With Sirk in charge of the ongoing secret mission and barring the public from meetings, the task was accomplished in short order. Sirk had the loyal and unwavering support of the office staff in this endeavor for them.
In March, and under the management of WV TNS’ B.J. Willis, our Ambulance Service continued the struggle to stay alive. Major cuts in service were made as ambulance after ambulance was removed from service. CCC asked that a second duty crew be put on duty. B.J. Willis made it clear that the money was “ust not there”for such a labor-intensive addition. Volunteers at the Big Otter Fire Dept. said no to an agreement where they would provide drivers for the local ambulance sub station there. Talk turned to saving the service by asking voters to float a levy. County commissioners hesitated on the idea and many in the county felt they instead wanted to give the rolling stock and supplies to a private for-profit ambulance company. Long time ambulance employees were told by WV EMS NOT to speak out, NOT to express their views, and two of them, Mary Hanshaw and Patty Mollahan, were given written reprimands for their efforts to save the local service.
Knowing that Clay Roane PSD Chair T.G. Cuickshank was the “rease”man behind J.D. Morris getting water service ahead of all others in the county, Punkineers led the charge to have Cruickshank removed from office. Celia Coon and Ms Postelwait led the charge to stop the preferential treatment afforded a select few… J.D. Commissioner Sams seemed sympathetic to the removal and said removal of PSD members who had not been properly trained would be on the next CCC meeting agenda. The power of the people was felt by the CCC.
During a loud March 12 Clay Roane PSD meeting, WV PSC Engineer Jim Weimer publicly said “hings had been done”by the local PSD board. Weimer spoke to the boardsters in private after the tension filled meeting. The small water plant meeting room was packed wall to wall with locals standing outside. The locals were angry over the documented preferential treatment given J.D. Morris! Punkineer Postelwait filed a formal complaint against the Clay Roane PSD. The complaint centered on years of mismanagement and deceit by the appointed leaders.
The March 27 Health Department Board meeting was wild. The meeting agenda had been changed less a day earlier. Boardsters Joretta Gray and Lynn Sizemore Romano openly challenged other members of the board and Director Karen Dawson. The vote on the proposal did not happen, but pay raise discussions did. Center of the controversy was Teresa Morton who was hired to replace retiring sanitarian Roger Hannah. Morton wanted more money. Chair Mary Lou Devlin got heated up reaaal quick as she replied to terse questioning by Romano and Gray.
Strong emotions mired down the discussion and even the new year’ budget was not approved. It appeared that the Board of Directors was split down the middle with half walking in lock step with Director Dawson. County Medical Director Doc Boggs summed up the pay raise issue with, “t’ not who you know or blow!”Morton did NOT get her raise!
APRIL 2002 IT’ ELECTION SEASON!
April was the month for all important SAT 9 testing, and the board sent a letter to the state complaining about having the test day on Monday following the change to daylight savings time. Clay Elementary was given a $500,000 grant from the School Building Authority (SBA) for new heating and air conditioning. The board was required to pass a bullying, harassment, and intimidation policy, and did so with concerns that the new policy gave the superintendent and principals authority to suspend students, normally something only the board can do. The budget for 2002-2003 was approved - $13,656,813.00 plus $447,408.00 excess levy dollars.
The upcoming May primary election was different. With the exception of the school board race, the only county wide race on the ballot was for County Commission. On the Democrat side, contender Peter Triplett was up against incumbent Tim Butcher. Little was said in April; few signs went up for either candidate. With the exception of Tim Butcher tearing down other people’ signs, it was quiet. One time Commissioner, Republican Ronnie Haynes was unopposed on that ticket.
A turf battle broke out at Bentree Church of God. New-to-the-church members padlocked the doors, removed equipment and changed the deed to the property. Assistant Prosecutor Schamberger handled the court proceedings.
With Arthur Jarrett at the helm, the water war continued at Town Council meetings. The chief concern was whether the town should give away a perfectly good, money making water plant and comply with strong arm tactics of the WV PSC. Threats of costly lawsuits were made.
Town Council continued to fight over staying in the water business. Previous Mayor Joyce Gibson aided by then council person Jeff Krauklis orchestrated and passed an ordinance to give away the water plant. After Gibson’ sudden resignation, the council voted (split vote) to NOT get out of the water business. In April 2002, the vote was on an ordinance to allow the voters of the town to decide the issue. The April discussion got heated quickly with Dave Derby and Helen Morris strongly supporting the original plan to get out of making water. They both knew if the locals had a chance to vote on paying higher $ for water service, it would never happen. After heated exchanges, the first reading of the ordinance to put the issue to the voter passed. Miles Slack was hired by King Arthur to be the Town Cop.
During the first CCC meeting of the month, again there were calls to remove T.G. Cruickshank from power. Commission President Bragg felt that a public meeting was needed. Bragg wanted to speak with each of the Clay Roane board members. Commissioner Butcher asked that they do nothing, that any hearing might jeopardize getting water projects started around the county.
In April it came to light that the old Ambulance Authority had been overcharging the federal government for services and that money, over $10,000.00, would have to be paid back.
Over in Clay Roane PSD land, Trina Neff’ resignation was OK’d. Jennifer Traub was given a pay raise (now makes $15.50 per hour), Engineer Jim Hildruth told the Board that he was working on the engineering plans for Punkin Ridge. With the water moratorium lifted 5 months previous, only 7 people had signed up for new service. When asked if anyone other than J.D. Morris had had a water hook up without first paying the required fees, Lefty Summers, “E’E NOT GOING TO DO ANYMORE OF THAT!!” It was made known, after some prodding by the public, that Clay County PSD was considering building the long stalled regional water plant. With an ending balance of $5,253.09, the PSD voted to buy a new computer and software. There went the money.
April was not good for Filcon, Inc. Commissioner Butcher’ pipe dream, Filcon, was over in Magistrate King’ courtroom over not paying his rent to Clinton Nichols.
Joe Braley was shot and killed April 9th by 21 year old Mathew Keener. Keener then turned the shotgun on himself. Pierson Lumber burned. After holding on to the funds to build a regional water plant for years and years, the WV Infrastructure Council pulled $2,832,000.00 from the project.
And the first mention was made of serious financial conditions at the Clay County Bank by this paper. First mention was made that the pillar of the community, long time Clay County Bank president J.D. Morris resigned April 22, 2002. The county went into shock. Rumors spread that he had stolen a bunch of money. For most in the county upon hearing such, they commented, No way!. Not J.D. Morris! He may be pompous and arrogant but he’ not a thief! Others in the community openly said, “orris will leave that bank when Wilson Funeral Home backs the hearse to the side door!”In April, Clay County did not know Morris was a common thief. Scott Legg was selected as interim president.
WVU Extension Agent Steve Zaricki was fired April 30th. Commissioner Bragg, also a Summersville police officer, asked the Clay County Sheriff’ Dept. if he could do some work part time. Also in April, jurors found James L. Pawlack, Jr. innocent of statutory rape of 13 and 14 year-old girls. Jeff Davis handled the state’ case.
Clay Roane PSD Chair T.G. Cruickshank resigned his position April 25 stating that he didn’ have enough time to do the job. Most knew Mr. Cruickshank had been caught by the Punkineer bunch. Over at the Business Development Authority, Chair Paige Willis said the group was looking at an unnamed site near Big Otter for an industrial park. Filcon, Inc., partially funded by the BDA, was being forced out of their Main Street digs and onto Frank Murphy’ property at Maysel. Filcon workers went without pay.
Ambulance Service employees were told they were once again county employees covered with the full benefit package including hospitalization. County Commissioner Tim Butcher stated that the CCC was still in full support of the mega million dollar regional water plant.
MAY 2002 All H Breaks loose
May elections favored incumbent board members Fran King, David Pierson, and Scott Legg over challengers Fran Naylor and Charles Vance. With no changes made on the board business proceeded as usual. Parents of a child who had allegedly been beaten unconscious during a fight on a school bus raised concerns on student safety while on the buses. The incident was captured on the bus’video camera, and the parents viewed it with the board in closed session. Nothing further was discussed concerning the incident, and it’ assumed the parents dropped their complaint. A roofing job at the school bus garage raised questions on whether the job should have been bid and prevailing wages paid. The job went to a local construction outfit reported to be owned by a relative of the board president. Linkinogger announced that he’ talked with State School Superintendent Dave Stewart about the money needed next year to pay the soon-to-have Master’ degrees teachers, and they were able to reduce the amount needed by $100,000. Stanford 9 test scores came in and were reported to have either gone up or stayed the same. No school was placed on probation, as has been the case the past two years, but the Charleston Daily Mail was soon reporting that Clay had two schools on the ‘o Child Left Behind Act’list – Lizemore and H. E. White Elementary schools. No comments or mentions of this from school administration or board. Board member David Pierson saved the Clay County High Prom by providing generators when the power was off in Clay for most of that day. Special Education Director Dixie Jarvis retired.
With Tim Butcher the front man on fallen Filcon Inc., Peter Triplett ( got 930 votes) romped all over incumbent County Commissioner Tim Butcher during the May Primary election.
May 15ths Health Board meeting made front page news. During previous Board meetings a major rift was prominent. Members Sizemore and Gray were on one side of several issues including pay raises and smoking bans for the county while Chair Mary Lou Devlin, Loretta Bird and Connie Harper were on the other side of the heated debates. One big issue May 15th was a pay raise for Teresa Morton. In what appeared to be an end run play by the Health Dept, the WV Civil Service Board came up with some new job duties and descriptions for Morton resulting in a reclassification to a RN III pay grade which mandated a 10% pay increase. Gray and Sizemore maintained that since Morton was hired as a Sanitarian, not a nurse, the pay raise should not be given. Tempers flared to say the least. Morton salary was raised to $32,800.00. Sizemore voted no. During discussion of other contentious issues Dave Morton, husband of Teresa, made reference to a conversation made by Ms Gray which involved some heavy duty foul thoughts. Faces turned red. Heads went down. Heck of a meeting to say the least readers!
Work began on the 2002 – 2003 County Commission budget. Due to lower tax estimates, one person from each department would have to be eliminated. Similar cut backs did not materialize in Dec 2001. Workers hoped for the best in ‘2.
In May everything went sour at the Clay County Bank. With the hasty resignation of JD Morris, the bank foreclosed on Filcon Inc as well as long time struggling Clintooon Nichols, owner of that little paper over in Clay. Word spread that Prosecutor Jeff Davis’assets were next to be seized by the bank for not making payments on $313,000.00 worth of loans. Others in the county with big time loans had bunched up shorts. Who would be next? The FDIC web site listed the Bank with $64,093,000.00 in liabilities. The bank was loosing money big time and in Dec 2001 it was reported that the Bank had over ½ million to bad loans. It was noted that the Bank paid out $1,051,000.00 in salaries and benefits. Long time bank customers ran to get their money. Interim President Scott Legg assured the public that everything would be OK. During the third week of May, Charleston and Newspapers picked up on the JD Morris story and ran hard with new details of the underbelly of Clayberry dealings. Bank rating services downgraded the worth of the institution.
In addition to Morris on the front page of the Charleston Gazette, on a Monday, the media brought to light the many questionable dealings with Filcon Inc and it’ relationship with the Clay County Bank. Despite a background check by Jerry Sizemore before any money was advanced Filcon owner Manfred Kuentzer, Charleston newspapers reported Kuentzer’ dirty background of writing over $700,000.00 in bad checks, arrest warrants, and being confined in prison in his native land, Germany. Clay County politics and leadership was once again an embarrassment to the world. By the end of that week , even that little newspaper over in Clay, ($500,000.00 in debt to the bank), had made the front page of the State’ largest newspaper. First mention was made of attorney Wayne King’ role in the financial quagmire. Mention was made of the land swap deal between our Business Development Authority and Filcon. After a week of media attention, the CCC voted without discussion to continue using the Clay County Bank as the county’ sole depository of funds!
The never a dull moment Clay Roane PSD meetings continued even after the resignation of Cruickshank. Big time issues surfaced on bidding contracts to lay new water connections. Punkineer Postelwait, after doing some investigative work on her own, came up with some pretty heavy duty questions relating to work time turned in by the employees, meter readers that were paid but never read a meter, wasting money at the plant. Newly appointed PSD Chair Gary Whaling, got hot real quick as did his wife.
The Town of Clay was ordered by the WV PSC to provide water to the Clay Roane PSD or face a $5000.00 penalty. Folks fearing the complete loss of a local ambulance service asked the CCC to seek passage of an Emergency Services Levy. Commissioner Sams spoke in favor of bringing up the initiative in the fall. The Welfare secretly negotiated a new building contract for office space in downtown Clay. The 25 year lease on the new building raised rent from $1800 a month to nearly $6000.00 per month. Tommy Ratliff won a $65,000.00 lawsuit against Dr S.S. Jamie. Locals coughed up over $200 so “left in the dust”Filcon employee, Willie, could have bus fare back to New York. Clay Roane PSD received their third rate increase within 24 months .
JUNE , JULY AUGUST 2002, The Quiet Months of Summer
Ahhhhh … Summer time. Warm temperatures, sunny skies, and a laid back atmosphere. WRONG. The summer months for Clayberry were newsworthy. Here’ the skinny.
During the first part of June it became public that the Clay Development Corp (CDC) was being investigated by the Feds. The FBI boys came to Clay with subpoenas in hand. Boxes and boxes of records were seized . Earlier in the year Melissa Drake plead guilty to Medicaid fraud, a felony. By summer, Lenoris Coen was indicted on similar charges.. Sirk’ prying eyes were looking to closely at the CDC operation. His investigation was uncovering some shady dealings. Long time employee Pam Taylor was fired June 7th and a formal reprimand was put in Director Betty Stalnaker's personnel file. CDC Czar Earnie Sirk was seen as a threat to the empire of CDC and Sirk had to be removed. On June 18th, the insiders tried to topple Wide Glide Sirk from power. Didn’ happen, Sirk out maneuvered the inside crew. Several General Members of the CDC were given their walking papers. On July 15th Sirk formerly asked Judge Jack Alsop to put the CDC into receivership. Behind the scenes, fired employee Pam Taylor worked to get rid of Sirk and get her high dollar job back!.
Her efforts paid off when a second Special General Membership meeting was called in July. In a well orchestrated display, CDC Chairman Earnie Sirk was tossed out of office. Within days of the ousting of Sirk, Pam Taylor had her old job back with back pay. Gary Whaling was appointed CDC Chairman of the Board. Don’ look for the hiring or rehiring to show up in any meeting minutes, it’ not there!
County Commission voted to do away with the long controversial $25.00 ambulance fee. Brett Stover resigned from the Business Development Authority as the BDA sued the Clay County Bank , where Stover worked, in an attempt to stop the Bank from selling the Filcon property at Ovapa/ValleyFork. The law office of Wayne King burned to the ground June 13th. That’ Wayne King, the Bank’ attorney, Filcon’ attorney, the guy that reviewed Filcon land agreement for the BDA, and the same guy that had an interest in the land sold to the BDA. Also destroyed in the fire was the Clay County PSD office space.
Over in the Circuit Clerk’ office, a lawsuit was filed against Clintooon Nichols by the Clay County Bank which indicated that Nichols owed the bank nearly ½ million in debts and bad checks Solid Waste Authority secretary Donna Salisbury resigned her paid spot as did Board member Vicky Neeley. Boil Water Orders continued off and on through out the county, through out the summer. Arson along the Elk River continued through the summer months with the torching of summer camps a common occurrence. Two arson cases were investigated at the Clay Farm Store.
Tensions continued at the Clay Roane PSD meeting every time Melissa Postelwait discovered other “ddities”in the water service provider’ operation.
After operating for at least hours, maybe 24 hours, without any chlorine in the system, another Boil Water Order was mandated June 25. The finger pointed at the Town of Clay Water Plant. Clay County PSD’ system, which feeds from the Town’ plant, showed 0 chlorine. Zero! As for the Town Clerk Dwana Murphy alerting the media of the dangerous BWO condition, Little Murph refused! By mid summer a new group of folks, the “E WANT WATER”gang, from Lizemore, organized in an attempt to gain water service in their end of the county. During the summer months and after the Wayne King fire, Clay County PSD Chair Keith ( Mr. Happy) King refused to let the public know anything about the public agency’ plans on rebuilding the office or even if insurance covered the loss.
Clay All Stars won the District 8 Championship; Another Boil Water Order issued for the Queen Shoals PSD service area; The Lizemorette’ “e Want Water”group continued to meet, grow and come to public meetings. Sometime during the summer a new, behind the scenes plan was found out by the public. The scheme was to go around the Town of Clay and have Clay County and Clay Roane PSD’ build plants of their own and then later force the Town to give up it’ customer base. Prior to this revelation, WV PSC officials had questioned whether Clayberry could afford even one new water plant and now the same folks were pushing for TWO new plants!
Deputy John McKown resigned from duty after admitting he gave confiscated bottles of whiskey to an underage woman. Deputy Kevin Delk was suspended without pay for his involvement. In August Town Council voted to give 9 dollar an hour Terry Traub a 2 dollar per hour pay increase. First mention was made by Town recorder Betty Murphy that they should consider a B & O tax on municipal merchants. Also, Town leadership also voted to pursue a fraud audit in an attempt to reclaim 5 to 10,000.00 in stolen funds.
In June teacher Jenny Sirk was appointed as the new Special Education Director. Coaches at the schools received pay raises and a new policy forbidding them to coach two or more varsity sports. Linkinogger reported that they were ending the fiscal year in the black.
August brought changes for the contract bus route drivers. They will only be paid for days they actually make their runs instead of a contracted number of days. They were told they would not loose money as snow days have to be made up since 180 days of school with 75% attendance have been mandated, unless the regular buses run and the contract still cannot due to bad road conditions. The drivers worried that some contracts may make their runs on dangerous roads just to be paid. Linkinogger warned the board that they’ been told to look for a 10% budget cut next year due to the state’ predicted budget deficit.
As far as CCC action in August, after a testy discussion, our Commission decided NOT to put a Sunday Hunting vote on the Nov 2002 election ballot. Translation: Clay County will continue to have a choice to either hunt on Sunday or not. As for Commissioner Tim Butcher in the summer of 2002, he was no where to be found. While continuing to receive his $18,500.00 a year County Commission salary, Tim Butcher did not attend ANY summer meetings, ANY!!!
As summer ended, new bank numbers came in indicating another bad quarter was experienced by the Clay County Bank In Dec 2002, the bank had $102,000.00 in past due loans over 90 days out. By the end of the first quarter in 2002, the number was up to $429,000.00.
FALL 2002: CLAY BLUE BLOODS SHAKEN!
Parents at H.E. White were upset with the response from school officials and the Clay County Health Department when several children contracted viral meningitis in September. They complained that they received conflicting information, and were poorly informed of the outbreak by school officials. Spanish was offered at Clay Middle school this year, and the instructor was traveling to the elementary schools to teach Spanish. Several board meetings had discussions on how extra duty bus trips were rotated among the drivers after a driver questioned the policy, but no changes were made. The board had to have a contract this year and pay for ambulance service during football games, as ambulance employees were no longer allowed to volunteer their services. Clay received $108,000 from the ‘o Child Left Behind’Act to provide transportation or tutoring to students at the schools on the list of impaired schools. Questions arose over whether parents understood the options available to them, such as transferring their child to a school not on the list.
The ambulance service bombshell hit in Sept, the group had just $4323.00 to their name and a payroll was coming due soon. County Commissioners openly questioned a 2001 $100,000.00 loan from the Bank of Gassaway to the disbanded Clay County Emergency Ambulance Authority. Mentioned was made that no meeting minute records existed on who Oked the loan nor a vote to secure the loan was ever made by the CCEAA. CCC voted to give the ambulance service $20,000.00 to keep the doors open a little while longer. Commissioner Butcher continued to remodel his Center Street home instead of attending CCC meetings. His name changed to Tim “No Show”Butcher for much of the county.
As for tight finances, Clay Roane PSD started the month of Sept off with just $1791.00. On August 11th, the PSD had $20,000.00 in bills and just $303.00 in their bank account
During the Sept CAEZ Annual Meeting, citizen’ in attendance raised H over the Board’ planned by law changes which allowed just two people to hold a Board meeting and make decisions. Despite a public outcry, the Board over voted the public’ wishes and done as they darn well pleased. So much for the public in the public’ grass root organization!
The “E WANT WATER “group sent community activist John Humphry to the Clay County PSD Board meeting in Sept seeking answers. He got none from the ever so tight lipped Chairman, Keith King. The discussion turned into a confrontation. King won no popularity contests Sept 17th.
Miles Slack resigned as part time Town Cop Sept 13th and was replaced by Tom Myers. Rumor spread like crazy in Sept that County Prosecutor Jeff Davis had overdosed on drugs. We caught up with Mr Davis while he was buying pop and munchies at Go Mart the next day. Davis had heard the rumor and was very mad. He went on to make a challenge. According to Davis, he would take any drug test, any day of the week, to PROVE that he never does illegal drugs nor NEVER DID drugs in his life. Davis later posted a sign on the front door of his office: The news of my death have been greatly exaggerated!
OCT & NOV 2002 THE EMPIRE CRUMBLES
Merchants raised some much stink Oct 1, Clay Town Council backed off plans to pass a Business and Occupation tax on local store owners.
With reports surfacing on bogus invoices and receipts, Filcon Inc owner Manfred Kuentzer was no longer considered a bad business man, he was now a THIEF. Invoices were found totaling $1000’ of dollars used to gain grant and loan dollars from the county by Kuentzer! One such bogus invoice, from a local concrete company, amounted to $33,390.00!
River side camps continued to be burned as arson continued in the county.
In Oct a state auditor’ report revealed that the now defunct Ambulance Authority not only performed poorly, some actions were criminal in nature. The report indicated that the CCEAA had over spent their annual budget by upwards of $100,000.00 during the last three years of their existence. The audit revealed that time sheets were signed after checks were written, prescriptions were paid for from public funds and given to employees, some employees had private contracts totaling $1000’ of dollars. The report including the findings of criminal activity was given to the County Commission who chose do nothing with the findings.
The State Fire Marshall began to investigate the rash of arson cases in the county including the June 13th fire that gutted Wayne King’ office.
In Oct Commissioner Bragg and Sams was asked if they knew why Commissioner Butcher continued to draw his salary and NOT attend Commission meetings. Bragg promised to ask Butcher to either come to meetings or resign
And then it hit…. Resigned Bank President JD Morris was indicted by the Feds for embezzling $172,000.00 from the Clay County Bank. The news hit the Charleston papers Oct 11th, JD’ birthday. The county was in disbelieve! Morris had met with the US Prosecutor’ Oct 4th, signed the “nformation”document, and went on with life as if nothing had happened. He attended State School Board meetings, State School Building Authority meetings, ate dinner out every night and even told little kids how they should be model citizens! Morris didn’ even tell his wife until media reporters starting calling on the phone Oct 11, 2002. That’ 6 days after admitting to being a thief!
The investigation went back only 5 years! The $ were stolen from college loan fund accounts and interest bearing accounts at the bank according to Charleston newspaper accounts. Just one day prior to signing the guilty plea, Morris sent a check to the Bank in the amount of $172,000.00. Morris must of thought by returning the $, the criminal part would just go away! JD Morris, the most powerful man in the county, had gone from legend to common thief.
Our struggling Ambulance got a change in leadership as the County Commission voted to toss WV TNS, the contracted folks managing the service since Jan 22 2002 and install a local to run the service. Long time EMT employee Mitzie Adkins accepted the challenge.
On Oct 17th State and Federal Law enforcement officials quietly entered the county and retrieved the body of Judd Reid from Pisgah Ridge. Clad in military style clothing and gear, the Feds told local law enforcement was told to stay clear of the investigation. For days the secret investigation continued. With helicopters in the air, Vince Golosow was arrested on drug and weapon charges at his Tarrif Road farm in Roane County. Additionally, Clay County , Murder Mountain resident Richard Cummings was picked up . A burned vehicle was found out Granny’ Creek Oct 18th. Still no word from law enforcement on whether Golosow and Cummings were the killers of Reid. Cummings was released on bond. Golosow was later charged with the murder of Reid while Cummings and a woman turned state’ evidence solidifying the case against Golosow. The county was scared. Over in Roane County law enforcement drained Golosow’ farm pond and dug holes with heavy equipment searching for other remains.
October shocked about everyone when former State School Board President J. D. Morris admitted to embezzling from the Clay County Bank and stepped down from his position on the State Board of Education. Any help Clay schools hoped for from Morris evaporated. Tension arose between board member Scott Legg and CCHS Principal Cindy Willis when he sponsored a float for CCHS students, including his child, during the Golden Delicious Festival after Willis had refused to allow the school to sponsor the float.
2002 DRAWS TO A CLOSE
Talk about a year full of surprises! After threats of a Court battle to have “o Show”Butcher removed from office, “o Show”showed!. When asked during the meeting about his unexpected return, Butcher promptly returned, “Back by popular demand!”On Nov 22nd 10 year veteran Clay County Prosecutor Jeff Davis announced his resignation from office effective Dec 31, 2002. Davis mentioned the decision was a financial one. The political forces went into high gear to find the right replacement for Davis.
Queen Shoals PSD announced during a public meeting in Nov, their intentions to raise water rates. For the average family using 4500 gallons of water a month, the new charge would be close to $50.00 a month. Many in the area commented that they would have to disconnect from the water provider due to the cost of service.
On Dec 2nd, Clay County Business Development Authority (BDA) filed a lawsuit against the Clay County Bank, Filcon Inc., and Wayne King for their part in the Ovapa /Valley Fork industrial site fiasco.
Founding member of the BDA, Norman Wilson, resigned from the economic development group Dec 6th saying that there was too much secret stuff going on behind the scenes.
On Dec 12th with emotions running high, County Commission showed up for a meeting and motioned to have Daniel Grindo appointed to the Prosecutor vacancy. Mathew Bragg refused to go along with the appointment and voted no to the motion. Commissioner Sams floated the decision over Bragg’ head and Braxton County resident Grindo accepted the $37,000.00 a year spot. Tension filled the room as Asst Prosecutor Barbara Schamberger raised serious issues with the appointment, issues that could cost the county $1000s. Despite Schamberger concerns and despite attorney Hiram Lewis reading the State Code to the CCC that stated an election had to be held to fill the spot, the decision was left standing! Mr. Grindo accepted the Oath of Office Dec 30th.
Things got fired up during the Dec 4th County Commission meeting as county resident Ann Anderson spoke out against elected officials in the Courthouse breaking the No Smoking Rule. Cougher and Smoker Jeff Davis gave it right back to Anderson, and Health Dept reps commenting that the Health Dept agency does NOT have power to invoke criminal penalties! Darn nice meeting!
To round out our 2002 Year End Wrap up, a couple of notes:
When Jeff Davis commented that he needed to make more money, he wasn’ kidding. The Clay County Bank foreclosed on his property near the end of the month. The guess is, on the Jan. 2003 auction block will be Davis’Trailer Park, his home as well as the home of his parents. It appears that Davis owes the Bank over $300,000.00.
Also to note, CDC Chair Gary Whaling commented in Dec., the CDC office staff received Christmas bonus's and no mention of that would be found in the board meeting minutes.
On Dec 30th new County Commissioner Peter Triplett was sworn into office.
This recap was just the highlights, or maybe the low points, for 2002, an action packed year. 2003 has all the markings of a banner time as well. Happy New Year and keep reading! AW & TK