| Last Monday, September 9, the phone was ringing off the hook. Emails started coming. The hot bed of concern was State Road action up Reed Fork in Procious, about ¾ of a mile on past Andy Adkins’property. Two callers confirmed that State Road crews were installing new culverts and graveling on private property. One caller made mention that her family had asked County Road Superintendent Clark Samples to remove a big tree because it could fall and damage property or hurt someone. Another caller phoned and gave regular updates on the taxpayer funded private property improvements. People were ‘ot’to say the least. Now keep this in mind as you read the next paragraph. Nothing was posted on the clayberry.org web site, nor had anything been printed in the paper.|
Five hours after the first calls started coming in and just after an ace cub reporter drove past the construction site for a first hand look, an email arrived stating something along the lines of, “lark Samples is supported and the gravel and culvert help me as I back in to that spot to turn around.”It was a letter of support without first seeing a story of concern or a story that pointed a finger at our state road boys and girls. Pretty cool! A response for something we hadn’ even done yet!
We spoke with Mr. Samples later about the private property work. Samples, “rs. Fisher, a bus driver, needed it. She got a bigger bus. We just extended on our own pipe. That’ our ditch. We are also going to put rock in there under the tree. They may call it private work but what it is, water is going over and washing under the tree.” As for the family wanting the big tree cut down or back for safety reasons, Samples, “ick and them wanted it cut but I didn’ feel like we could get over there and cut it.”And finally, from Superintendent Samples, “nd where we’e got water coming off there, I am thinking that we might have to extend that pipe there, the ditch pipe. The creek switches back and forth and it’ causing a wash out. Rick and them are afraid that the big tree is going to fall on their trailer. They want us to cut it, but we can’ actually get over on that man’ property and cut that. I think what you got is a little feud between some people up there, but no, we are not into no private work.”Over on the front page is the County Commission generated meeting about the ambulance service going down the tube. Something else REAL interesting happened during that CCC gathering September 12. The Lizemorettes were there asking a bunch of questions about getting water service to their section of the county. With few answers given, a conference call was made to Randy Plum from RUS, a funder for both the regional water plant project as well as the various water line extension projects around the county. Plum raised all eyebrows when he told the listening peanut gallery, RUS funds for the town of Clay Water Project were STILL available. That’ $3 million that most in the county felt had been withdrawn and sent to some other county, a county that wasn’ dragging its feet. The confusion came when the WV Infrastructure Council pulled their loan and grant dollars back in early May 2002. Since then, leaders were told that the Infrastructure dollars had also been spent elsewhere as well. For us county bumpkins, we thought ALL the $ were gone for a plant. Wrong...we’e got $3 million left to do something with.
Ever hear of the Clay County Solid Waste Authority? Other than a brief skirmish last spring when Boardsters were concerned about money matters, business practices and the like, and Donna Salisbury resigned, few have heard of the CCSWA. The CCSWA is alive and well in their new digs located above the old Kings Jewelry store on Main Street. Head Solid Waster is Kelly Fulkerson, who is ably assisted by LeaWanda Whaling, Harald (Potty Mouth) Fields, and Peter Triplett. The big news is the group received an $18,000.00 grant to, first, educate the masses on how not to trash the place and, second, how to pick up the trash. A county coordinator has to be hired (about $13500.00 for that) and hired real soon. Half of the grant award has to be spent by January 2003. Get in line folks, here’ a real part time job that about anybody can do. Have your resume in by September 25. The full info and address is listed in the classified section of this paper.
Our local side walk superintendents are concerned about parking meters removed from the alley beside the new welfare office in the alley just off Main Street. 10 meters were removed so building owner Clinton Nichols could pave the new parking area for the building. During the September Town Council meeting, Mayor Arthur Jarrett said the 10 meters would be re erected along the alley. To date that hasn’ happened. Lets see now, the town is hard up, that’ 10 meters, each could have been drawing maybe a dollar per day, 10 times a dollar times 30 days ( so far)…even with Linkamathematics, $300.00 is still a bunch of money
| Also over in the town, we have a new Chief of Police. Miles Slack resigned Friday, September 13 and was replaced by Tom Myers, according to Mayor “ing”Arthur Jarrett. The good Mayor said that Myers had a background in security work since he had worked at the dog track in Cross Lanes.|
| Back in May 2002, the owner of that little paper over in Clay printed a story of how mean the Clay County Bank had been to him, how if he had been given just a little more time, he could have come up with the money to make a gob of mortgage payments and such. The bank had foreclosed on him and 40 properties or so were on the auction block for liquidation. Sale dates were listed. Extensions were made on the sale dates. The months passed by. Seemed the comments made in May had no substance to them. Late in the afternoon on September 12, and just one day before the next planned sale date, Clinton and Beverly Nichols filed for bankruptcy protection. On Friday, September 13, bank attorney Wayne King said there would be no sale today and the thing was being rescheduled for October 11 at 10 am. In bankruptcy and rescheduled? |
Boy we had a hot story last week. Early last Thursday, the word on the street had it that Prosecutor Jeff Davis had overdosed on oxycontin, that ambulance crews had responded. By 9 am that morning the story changed to overdosing on 100 aspirins.
We caught up with the near dead Jeff Davis at 9:45 am as he was buying pop, smokes (legal ones) and a biscuit at Go Mart. Davis said his phone had been ringing off the hook and even his mother had had that story. Davis was peeeeeed BAD. He didn’ like it that the stories followed his kids into the school setting. Davis said those stories have been circulating around for years and he didn’ know how to combat them. Davis was firm when he commented that he does NOT do drugs and has NEVER, NEVER, done drugs. We asked if that included even a little teeny weenie doobie years ago. Response: Absolutely, he has NEVER done drugs and he is adamantly against drug use! So how does the chief law enforcer of the county shake the stories? Davis issued a challenge: if somebody else wants to pay, he will submit to drug testing and/or a polygraph test any day, any time.
PUNKINEER DAY IN COURT
‘unkin’Ridge resident Melissa Postelwait has been on the trail of getting water service for her part of the county for nearly a year. Postelwait has attended meeting after meeting, asked questions, and, at times has been ticked off, at other times has real hacked off various local leaders. Her efforts, as well as the response of other ‘unkineers’in the community, are starting to show results. The water line extension project has been put on the front burner, engineering work has been completed, and grant requests have been applied for. Not too shabby for a young house wife and mother of a toddler.
Along the way, Postelwait began to see patterns of behavior and problems, open meeting law violations, apparent favoritism with who gets water service and who doesn’, records coming up missing, and untrained Clay Roane PSD board members operating behind the scenes and away from public scrutiny. After filing complaint after complaint with the WV Public Service Commission (PSC), the issues were brought before Judge Tom Trent September 9 during the hearing held in the county commission room
With Postelwait sitting up front, and without an attorney to aid her, the sides were in place. The PSC brought in attorney Leslie Anderson, engineer Jim Weimer, and analyst Jim Boggess to defend their position. Clay Roane PSD had their attorney Tom Whittier to speak for them. Trent and a court recorder were up front in the air conditioned comfort as the witnesses were called.
Here’ a cute one readers. Making sure that all the players were there for her questions, Postelwait subpoenaed Lefty Summer, Jennifer Traub, T.G.Cruickshanks, Garrett Samples, Dale Deems, Gary Whaling, and J.D. Morris. All, with the exception of Cruickshank who came in late, sat through the entire 3 hour proceeding.
Her questions were extensive. Judge Trent gave her some leeway in the questions since she did not have an attorney to guide her. Questions included: What happened to the original ‘unkin’Ridge money that was suppose to provide for the water line extension 20 years ago; what happened to all the records; Mr. Morris were you living in your new house when water service was given you as others in the county waited and waited for similar service; Who gave you the OK for water service; did you even pay the tap fee and fill out an application before getting water service? With each volley of questions and answers, the PSC folks worked hard to dispute any statements made and cover their collective butts.
Glenn Sutton was asked about the June 13 Clay Roane PSD meeting where Chair Gary Whaling and Boardster Garrett Samples behaved inappropriately. Where Whaling tried to stop the Postelwait questioning. Where Whaling refused to even listen to the questions.
After three hours of thrashing things about, some of the charges raised by Ms Postelwait were tossed out by the court. But, not all of them. Judge Trent is quite aware of the goings on in Clayberry and on other occasions stated the he nor members of the staff support some of the actions by the Clay Roane PSD. In WV PSC correspondence this year, the WV PSC itself has written that the PSD has been less than business like, that responses have been less than timely, and at one point, hand delivered important letters to others in this county at PSD expense when the locals wouldn’ even pick up their mail regularly!
If Postelwait has a shot at getting any of her demands, the hopes lies in the knowledge held by Judge Trent.
Postelwait formally asked that Boardsters T.G., Gary, Garrett and Lefty be removed by the Judge; that the PSD be forced to follow Open Meeting Laws, and that J.D. Morris’ water service be disconnected until the Clay Roane PSD follows the rules and those that have waited the longest be given service as well as those that petitioned for service over the years of the water moratorium. Will she get her demands? Will she get any of them? Judge Trent will issue a ruling shortly. What ever the outcome, the efforts of one housewife have not been in vain. Already, two Boardsters have resigned, the PSD has voted to comply with sunshine laws, and the PSC has said J.D. Morris’water tap will have to moved, the right of way issues will have to be corrected and more! Progress is slow but don’ ever underestimate the resolve of even one person. AW
CAEZ ANNUAL MEETING
Central Appalachia Empowerment Zone (CAEZ) held the bylaws mandated annual public meeting September 10 at 6 pm. CAEZ is an 8 year old grass roots agency that serves all of Clay County and parts of four adjoining counties. The matter before the public was a vote to change several portions of the group’ bylaws. Eight residents from the zone attended. In addition to the 8 from the area, the 11 attending board members voted.
During the meeting, CAEZ Chair Michael Martin gave an update on the progress made in the region during the last 12 months as well as the losses suffered. On the bad side was the Filcon debacle . Martin said they had bent over backwards in attempts to get the filter manufacturer on his feet. Martin,” Mr. Kuentzer was given every opportunity….. It just didn’ work.” As for the bylaw changes, major discussion centered around a change in the needed quorum during an emergency meeting of the Board of Directors as well as how the revisions complied with key areas of the state’ “unshine Laws”and the posting of meeting notices. At one point during the discussion, some members of the Board felt that what was on the table for voting was not what they had recommended for passage. None the less, the vote was taken with the Board of Directors all voting ‘ye’and four from the public casting the ‘ay’votes. Motion passed, and now an emergency meeting can be called, one person show up, and the lone vote cast will affect the entire zone.
After the dinner and public meeting, a regular Board meeting was held. Central to Clay County was discussion on a Housing Committee recommendation that a town of Clay home be given a $12,075.00 loan at 3% interest. The money would cover the cost of new siding, roofing, windows , doors and carpet. A young family with toddlers owns the residence. It didn’ fly readers. After viewing a picture of the structure, several boardsters said they would never vote for such a loan since the house was worth so little to begin with and currently has a $27,911.00 mortgage in place. After much debate and attempts to gather more info for the Board to reconsider the loan later, something happened. Burl O’ell , from Nicholas County, came back strong with , “’ not going to put $12,000.00 on a $5,000.00…” Seconds later, after a remark by Clay Rep Lynn Drake, O”ell, now red faced, “I’ not being smart with you!” Interesting enough, a $11,000 loan on a Nicholas County trailer sailed through the passage stage without much comment and without anyone seeing a picture of that structure. So what does it take to get our rep, Commissioner Matthew Bragg to attend? Well, certainly not the good food provided by Legacy Catering. Again, Bragg was absent leaving this county with one less voice at the money table.
The last two weeks have been scary ones for parents in the Bomont/Glen area of the county. From phone to phone word spread quickly of the outbreak of meningitis in students of H.E. White Elementary School. It appears the first diagnosis of the condition was confirmed a week before school officials reacted.
For many, word, when it did come about the situation, was not adequate. For others, word came in the form of a TV 8 news story September 13, that listed three confirmed cases of virile meningitis. For many, that snip-it of news coverage was just enough to make them worry even more for the children that attend the local school. To date, the only info provided by the school administration was a brief note, NOT from the school, but from the local Health Department. That note listed two telephone numbers to dial for info. Neither number was answered on Saturday, September 14 nor Sunday September 15. The parents scare rapidly turned into rage as they realized the people entrusted to care for their kids appeared to be less than forthcoming with information in a timely manner.
During the September 16 PTO meeting, parents were given cursory answers. Many in the crowd, armed with information they gathered from the internet, openly challenged the remarks made by the health officials and school administration. They were told the investigation was continuing. Of course, for several days this week, Health Department Director Karen Dawson and RN Teresa Morton were away at a conference.
As the PTO meeting opened, H.E. White Elementary Principal Joe Paxton did little good when he remarked something along the lines of, “ hope we can act like adults here…”The guess is, his intentions were good but the choice of words did not set well with the assembled. A can of worms was truly opened. In serious situations like this, parents need to have information in a timely manner. The info also needs to be delivered in a courteous, forthright manner. Many at that meeting said that didn’ happen. Many remarked that the info provided was almost condescending in nature, almost as if Morton and Harper were amused by the locals’remarks.
Questions remain a full two weeks after the first confirmed case was reported in the area. When the parents asked for a source for information, they had to wait. When info was finally provided September 16, many felt the offering was less than adequate. As a mother hen would do, Moms kept their kids away from the danger by keeping them home. Of the 105 enrolled there, only 41 attended class at the beginning of the week.
The parents did the only thing they could do without information. They kept the kids away from school. That was the right thing to do.
On Wednesday, September 18, Principal Paxton provided a brief update. As for the latest word, Paxton, “here are absolutely no new cases to report. Most of our students are back and things are going good.” Was the infection really meningitis or was it something else? Mr. Paxton, “ am not a doctor, so it would be hard for me to speak on that. I know that virile meningitis falls under a big category and in a lot of circumstances, it is just a glorified flue. So I don’ know.” Have any new cases been reported? According to Mr. Paxton, no.
For many in the Bomont area, the days following this hazardous situation will be long remembered for the foot dragging and lack of leadership.
Clay County “Sturgous”Hello Clay County, I=m PCK. I am one of the newest members of the Clay County Communicator. I deliver, and now here is my first attempt as a reporter.
I was recently one of the bikers at the 5th Annual Poker Run, given by Vicki and Alan Ramsey. This is not a race, folks, it is a scenic run through the hills of Clay County. You play poker throughout the run, drawing cards at certain stops. Best hand wins at the end of the run.
This is my own personal account of the activities and goings on. I personally don=t own a 4 wheeler, but AMy@ good morning man has one, and he and I went together, and we enjoyed ourselves and had a Great time. Though we got a little wet there for awhile, it didn=t seem to dampen our spirits, or the spirits of all who were there - we were thankful for the rain. The dust from that many bikes was choking us to death. Masks, sunglasses, and safety glasses were available for riders if they wanted, before the run.
There were a few of our friends there - Mary Mary and her man David, Bobby and Tonda, friends from Calhoun County, family, and many more friends. We stopped to dry off and watched as people flew by. There were all ages, shapes, sizes, and personalities. We saw wavers, nodders, shruggers, and whoopees. There were all kinds of bikes - small racy ones, workhorses, and big huge thumpers. Most were the regular hunting/all terrain ATV. Colors too numerous to name. I tell you the truth, you want to see an awesome sight visualize a bottom the size of Bradley Field and the bus garage with wall to wall 4 wheelers.
There were numerous groups parked along the way having their own personal good time. All along the way we spotted several bare >tushes= and rows of men lined up with their backs to us. When you got to go, folks, you got to go. Personally, I think women aught to carry score cards like at the Olympics, and rate as they pass! Get real guys - find some bushes or a tree!
There is a big mud hole at the end of the run available to the brave few who would like to test their skills. I think they just wanted to get dirty, there was $25 for the dirtiest one at the end. Is it worth it? Maybe to some, but not to this camper.
The food was scarce, >Good Morning Man= and I ate slaw on a bun for lunch. Because they ran out of hotdogs we were really looking forward to the pig roast. Well, we were disappointed. We were the second group in and all we got was a piece of cornbread and some pork. So folks, if you would like to attend, do what the Boy Scouts say - ABe prepared.@ Our hosts were very gracious, and I=m sure that as time goes on the kinks will all be ironed out. You all can understand that it is no small task to put an event like this together.
Yes, there are a few that partake in the alcoholic beverage - it is no secret, folks, so don=t blow a gasket! The people I came into contact with were very well behaved. In any event such as this there will be a few idiots and dumb-dumbs, but don=t let them ruin a nice time and help for a worthy cause. You can have a good time with people like yourself, just find the group that suits you. They=re not all partaking.
There were a few who had some problems with following the law of the land. It was their own inability to comprehend that you don=t tempt the law, not even for this. Let=s keep it real, folks. Those people are just doing their jobs and trying to let us have our fun and moment in the sun, trying to keep all from harm. So, don=t think you got away with anything - they were just trying to keep you from killing yourself or someone else. If the truth were known, that=s probably what they told you. They let you continue to have a good time, don=t be fooled - they were being very nice.
Our hearts and prayers go out to the few who had some accidents during this run. People we all know. To put that many people on that many bikes, well, there will be a few accidents. So, we hope that everyone is well on their way to recovery. Could this be Clay County=s only ASturgous@? Only time will tell. It seems to be getting bigger every year, folks.
So guys, this was my first commentary, what do ya think? Get to know these people. All they have on their minds is to help those in need. In case ya=ll don=t know, Sturgous is the giant bike rally in South Dakota.
Thanks again to AMy= good morning man for taking me. I had a blast. This is PCK, have a good one.
LIZEMORE QUESTIONS @ CLAY COUNTY PSD MEETING
Now it was almost sociable enough during the questioning, but the barbs that make Clay County PSD Chair Keith King famous surfaced none the less. Clay County PSD met in a rescheduled session September 17 at 10 am. Before the juice, the facts. Present, Chair Keith King, Boardsters Homer Triplett, Earl Long, Lizemorette John Humphry, and one other in the cramped peanut gallery. Since the June fire which consumed their office building on Main Street, Clay PSD has occupied the basement area of the old courthouse building.
Beginning balance for the largest in-the-area water provider, $2771.78; Income for August, $24,994.31; Expenses for August $26,484.55; and the ending balance for last month, $1281.36.
As for work in the field, Sam Taylor and crew worked on four road bores near the new state road garage at Triplett Ridge and moved all the customers off the old 4 inch line to the new and improved 8 inch pipe. There is now 35 lbs of pressure at the new garage facility.
The PSD coughed up $210.00 for two truck loads of surplus tables and chairs and stashed them until a new office can be found, built, rented or whatever.
Here’ something readers. The PSD voted to hire Chapman Technical to find another water supply . Currently they buy water from the town of Clay. Keith King, “ think due to their experience, Chapman would do a better and quicker job..” Triplett, “re we talking about completely by-passing the town of Clay?”Long, “We have to.”King, “hat’ what this study is all about. We have to do something.”Triplett, “hat is our sources?”King went on to say that they may be able to get water from Spencer, another possibility is from Braxton County, and the third is to build a new water plant maybe at Hartland. Mr. King said that Gauley PSD does not have the capacity to supply the PSD with water. King, “e’e fooled around with Clay long enough.”Hear that? Chair King has finally made public what many in the community have known for months. The back up plan is for the Clay PSD to build the plant with the money designated for the town of Clay.
Homer Triplett asked about getting a fire hydrant closer to his home. Maintenance man Sam Taylor said there isn’ enough water pressure to support hydrants in that area, that the water pressure is “ust a dribble.”Hmmm… wonder who engineered that section of Triplett Ridge?
And now the fun. John Humphry asked for information from the “ing”. Providing information to the public is not Chair Kings’strong suit. Humphry’ community, Lizemore/Indore has never had municipal water service and for many in those communities, local wells provide water unfit for even flushing commodes.
Humphry, “I just came to ask questions and to see where we stand in Lizemore. We’e been around the horn now for a long time….. Wells are going dry…It’ something we are concerned about and we decided to come to these meetings and try to get some information.”In reply Mr. King talked more than he ever has in his life as he gave Humphry a history of the dismal performance by government officials as they tried to get water service years ago. Mention was made that Gauley PSD originally planned to supply water, the efforts of Bobby Lewis back then , the efforts of then Commissioner R. T. Sizemore, and how the town of Clay has most recently been the hold up in the effort to get water to Lizemore. King felt that it was “oolish”for Procious PSD to have not paid the $18,000 bill to the contractors years ago which resulted in that PSD ending up in bankruptcy. As for the town of Clay, Betty Murphy, Mayor Okey Burroughs, “They were in many, many meetings with us . Never the first time did they indicate that there was a problem. But the very moment that we were ready to go , after the Procious deal was settled, they stepped in and said we don’ want to build a plant….”King read from a PSC letter that said in part: The town of Clay continues to be an impediment to progress, blah blah blah.…
King did admit that they did not have the WV Health Department permit needed to extend water lines into the already funded Lizemore/ Tucker’ Bottom projects. King “he public health department will not approve it.”As Humphry questioned the King comments, the King that we all know came to light. King to Humphry, “It kind of disappoints me. Did you not know that I have been working on this? Why didn’ you all come and talk to me about this?”Humphry said the citizens decided that they would go any means to get water. Humphry, “What we was hearing was that you wasn’ giving out any information. Some of them have tried to talk to you. We paid our dues to Gauley Bridge almost ten years ago… then we paid again to Clay in 1998. .. Water is a necessity to sustain life… We can go to the moon and people can’ get decent water. There is something wrong.. We’e been bumped around for years.”King, “hat disappoints me when his neighbors and friends are kicking him in the teeth and not even come and asked questions. I’ give you all the info.. We haven’ been sitting on our hands.”And then what makes King so dear to the hearts of this paper. King said he would not go into details, “Because of the so called news media is here. But I could tell you what happened..”Humphry pressed on, “e are trying to get facts.”King, “hy didn’ you come to the source and get the facts?”Humphry, “e tried to get the info” King, “No one came to me!”Humphry, “We are going to have another meeting the 26th. You’e welcome to come to it.” King, “here’ no use of me coming to that, I’ just wind up getting my….”Humphry interjected, “o. We’e not radicals. We’e just people trying to get water.”King, “In the first place, the reason you all need to come here, this PSD has jurisdiction over there… I have jurisdiction.” Humphry, “We came here when we first organized to get information that we never did get. I know that for a fact.”Acknowledgement was made that the PSD had received a letter from the group a couple months back. Humphry, not yet realizing that the “tall”was on, “We’e just trying to get information.”King, “ou could have gotten that a long time ago from right here. I’ not hiding from you.”Trying to salvage something from the encounter, Humphry, “hat does it look like right now?”Appearing hesitant to supply any info to the public, King reluctantly supplied some info. King said that according to the engineers, they can go to construction in the spring of 2003 on the water line extensions and build THEIR new plant in 2004.
Stepping not so gingerly, Humphry, “t’ been ten years. There should have been a ditch dug. There aught to be something.”King, “t’ not our fault… I’l tell you one thing….. No, I’ not going to.”King comments indicated that the town of Clay is being stingy with their water plant, along the lines of: the town don’ care about the county.
King tried to enlist support from the Lizemorette Rep with, “here are some things we can do if you all will get behind us instead of going off on another tangent.”Humphry told the trio that very few of his group want anything to do with water being supplied from Clay. King, “ want to work with you…If you want to work with us fine, if not…” Humphry again invited King to the Lizemore meetings. King said he had spent hundreds and hundreds of hours, and miles on his automobile.
As Mr. Humphry finished up, King provided a little more insight into their plans for the water customers. King said a possible site for the new plant would be Hartland. That site is 13 miles from the existing Procious water plant and the digging would be “ard diggin”with few year-round customers along the river road. Hear that? It’ beginning to sound like all the Elkhurst Road residents that live just past the existing plant may be left in the dirt again.
King, “ want to work with you.”Humphry, “We thought you would be at our meetings..”King, “ didn’ even know about them.”Humphry, “hy... I put signs up all over the place over there.”And then one final note, and after prodding, King said that all the talk about not being able to build the plant with town customers is FALSE. King said all they need is the “ource”for water. He went on to say that he wouldn’ even drink the town of Clay water, that it was good to flush a commode.
And, one last volley between the two. King, “Just call me. Come visit me….”Humphry, “ou come down and visit me.”King, “ou’e the one wanting an installation... If you would just ask…”Humphry, getting up to leave “ appreciate your time.”And one last little jab from the Chair, “ou could have had it a long time if you had just asked.”As for what’ going on with a new office for the PSD, King said they are looking for a new piece of land to buy. King, “e’e trying to buy some property right now. We can’ tell you yet. We don’ know.”He said that the new holding would be in the town of Clay.
There you have it readers. Finally a meeting where King provided at least some limited information. It took some prying but some info is better than none. Wonder what Mr. King meant with that line, “he so called news media?” AW
September School Board Meetings
On Tuesday, September 3, the Clay County Board of Education met for the first of their twice monthly regular meetings at their administrative office building in Clay. All members were present: Board President R. B. Legg, Jr., O. Gene King, David Pierson, Fran King, and Scott Legg, along with administrative staff, and 11 attending to view the proceedings.
Legg offered prayer and called the meeting to order at 6 P.M., and the Board quickly moved down the 24 item agenda approving the following: the agenda with the addition of Randy Holcomb, Delno Coen, and Mike Evans to speak during discussion time and names added to the student transfer list; the previous meeting minutes; payment of current bills; increased receipts of $135,393 - Superintendent Jerry Linkinogger explained that part of the money was pre-school discretionary money, and the rest was from various grants; the resignation of Resource Teacher Nancy Updegrave - Linkinogger began to explain Updegrave=s reason for leaving but was interrupted by Fran King with a motion to accept the resignation; the resignation of Handyman/Truck driver Arthur Smith, effective immediately; employment for Suzanne King as Resource/LD Teacher at H.E. White Elementary (Jackie Higginbotham=s previous job); employment for Megan Paxton as Resource Teacher at Lizemore/ Ivydale Elementary Schools (Nancy Updegrave=s previous job); employment for Lisa Dolan as Tech education Teacher at Clay Middle School (CMS) - Dolan has a one year out-of-field authorization (Kenton King=s previous job); employment for Earl Tanner as Handyman/Truck Driver effective immediately, successful bid (Arthur Smith=s previous job); the employment of Bobby Stover, Elizabeth Taylor, Stephanie Salisbury, and Marcy Skeens as substitute teachers for the 2002-2003 school year; transfer for Jason Nichols to LD Teacher at Clay County High School (CCHS), successful bid; transfer for Helen Duffield to Pre-School Aide at Lizemore, successful bid; transfer for Cheri Burdette to Special Education Aide at Clay Elementary, successful bid; removal of Wilma King and Darrell Boggs from the substitute custodian list. On the agenda Marshall (Morgan) Triplett was also listed. Board policy is to remove names from the list if the subs haven=t been working. Several spoke up about Triplett, who also works as an EMT, hadn=t been able to sub when called because he was working, but really wished to stay on the list and would sub whenever he could. King found another job, and Boggs has been unreachable. Board will keep Triplett on the list; approved a contract with Linguacare Associates, Inc., for speech therapy services - as Linkinogger began to explain the contract he was again cut short by Fran King with a motion to accept, and a quick second from Gene King; approved the syllabus for the Spanish course at CMS. Linkinogger said the course is partially paid for by a federal grant. Mr. Cole, the instructor, spends mornings at the elementary schools and afternoons at CMS; purchase of a 1998 GMC Safari van from state surplus for the computer technician (Andy something who lives in Elkview) for $5,900; the transfer of 78 students into Clay County schools from Nicholas, Fayette, Kanawha, Roane, Calhoun, and Braxton Counties, and 5 Clay students out of county. All motions passed unanimously.
Business Manager/Treasuer Loretta Gray presented the August financial update. She said money received in August included Budget Digest dollars, Faculty Senate funds, vocational monies, and CSRD payments for grants awarded. Expenditures for the month included payout of School Building Authority (SBA) funds and payment for in-service training sessions with the staff. Board had no questions for Gray.
New Fitness Center Director Sue Jones gave an update on the center. Jones, who started at the center August 1, said she=s trying to spruce the place up and has been working on public relations by sending information packets through the mail and home with students. Fees will stay the same, and she is opening the center on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a trial period. Jones said attendance is picking up, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays being the busiest days. The front of the building is to be power-washed. Jones passed on some requests from patrons - 120 lbs. worth of dumb bells and floor mats for classes. A dance class is planned for October. She told the Board she=s had no complaints since she started, and she=s had no problems. R.B. Legg told Jones he=d had nothing but positive comments since she started.
Under discussion topics, bus driver Randy Holcomb told the Board the reason he was there was to talk to them about how new employees go on the list to do extra curricular trips. He told them the list was to go in seniority, and the only glitch was where the new employees were being placed. Holcomb said they should go to the bottom, not somewhere in the middle. When asked who creates the list, Holcomb answered that the Clay County Bus Drivers association had made and controlled the list until two weeks before (apparently some changes were made then?), but his only question was with placement on the list, which he was told rotates. Holcomb said the Board was ultimately responsible, and could be liable for back pay for 2 years.
The Bus Drivers Organization vice-president, Delno Coen, first told the Board this was service personnel stuff and should be done in closed session. Scott Legg explained that if it=s an individual they go into session. Coen said for 15 years there had been no problems, but now...problem.
He explained that if you drive today you fall to the bottom of the list, it had nothing to do with seniority, it was a trip list. He said they (Board) owed them a few weeks - that they=d find out from the state agency. R. B. Legg said that county union rep Dave Mullins had asked to address the issue but couldn=t be present. He offered that they should wait to hear from Mullins.
Mike Evans said that he was over the “ray Ghost” didn=t want to take anyone=s job, but had asked every year to be on that list, and was told he had to be certified. He pointed out that he=d driven over 20 years to ball games, extra trips, and asked how do you get certified? Linkinogger explained that to drive a truck, you had to be hired as a truck driver, which has its own category. Fran King asked if they couldn=t hire Evans as a truck driver at the next meeting. Linkinogger said if they did it for one driver they probably should do it for them all, which would be hiring them as multi-categorical which gets a higher scale. He said one of the perks for the handymen was getting to be a truck driver, and if all drivers got on there would be less work and no perk for working as a handyman.
No decisions made, Board asked to see the list and Legg said he=d ask Mullins to come to the next meeting.
Last on the discussion list, Vicki Dobbins Shaffer, who stated she had a complaint; as the complaint involved an individual student she asked to go into executive session, and agreed to allow school administrators Danny Brown and Phil Dobbins into the session. Board moved into executive session at 6:52 after a short break. Gene King returned around 7:30, and the remainder of the Board returned at 7:50, without Shaffer, and the meeting was adjourned.
The Board met for the second of their monthly meetings on September 16 at their administrative office building. A notice had been posted on the door above the agenda stating the meeting time had been changed from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Start time was delayed, apparently waiting for Fran King. All other Board members were present, and after offering prayer, R.B. Legg called the meeting to order at 7:17 without King. About 10 others were in attendance, along with central office administration with the exception of Assistant Superintendent Larry Gillespie.
Board approved: the agenda with the addition of Dave Mullins; previous meeting minutes; employment for the following: Kim Workman as Behavior Disorder Teacher at CCHS; Mike Kearns as Behavior Disorder Teacher at CMS; and, Telford Cruikshank as substitute teacher for the 2002-2003 school year; accepted the resignation of Tina Coleman as substitute teacher, effective immediately; a $600 contribution to help pay for cheerleader warm-ups at CMS. Linkinogger said the cheerleaders had raised $500 and needed $600 more; the voluntary removal of Willard Lane from the substitute bus driver=s list, who has gone to work full time for the State Road; the transfers of 28 students from Braxton, Calhoun, Kanawha, Nicholas, Fayette, and Roane Counties into CMS. All motions passed unanimously.
Under discussion, Linkinogger said that Mountaineer Housing is getting out of the business. The Board has a built house, and Linkinogger was told by Greg Gency, who he said was on the Mountaineer Housing board or something, that they might be given the lot it sits on in lieu of payment for the house. He said Gency also said the Board maybe given an adjoining lot, if they had to. Linkinogger said the building ed student would have to finish the house, then they could sell, auction, or whatever. He asked for permission to give Gency the go ahead to proceed with the arrangements, and Board generally agreed for him to pursue that.
Linkinogger gave the Board a proposed contract with the Ambulance Authority from B. J. Willis, to provide ambulance service during football games. He said ambulance employees, since they now worked for someone else, would no longer be allowed to donate their time for the games, and would have to be paid. Board will look over the contract and take action on it at their next meeting.
Dave Mullins, rep for the county service personnel, addressed the Board on the complaint made concerning the drivers extra trips list at the previous meeting. He said the majority of drivers had no quarrel with the board on extra trips, and that he=d been to Charleston to the state agency and was told by Mr. Legg and attorney John Roush they were doing things right and according to code.
Mullins explained that the trip list starts with seniority and if after the list is set up someone volunteers to do extra curricular activities trips, the policy is that they go on the list after the last person who went out - that=s the bottom of the list. He said the list makes a circle before the new person goes out (Mullins drew a diagram on the chalk board to demonstrate). Mullins told them that if 2/3 of the drivers agree on the policy, and the Board ok=s it, the drivers can make their own decisions. He noted that they=d had this policy for 15 years, had generally worked well, and relieved the Board of having to approve a driver for every extra trip that came up. No one could remember when the original ok had been given for the drivers to make the policy, so R. B. Legg suggested they probably should do that. Mullins said he, Dave, and Dude said they=d write it up for them.
Mike Evans asked the Board if they had made a decision on the “ray Ghost” Linkinogger responded to the question with, AI=m encouraging the Board not to do that. We threw truck driver in with handyman to get them. If we spread that out it would be hard to get a handyman...@. Evans said he=d asked 4 years ago, since then four had been hired, and he didn=t think it was fair to the rest that wanted to get on that list. Dave Pierson suggested that Evans bid on a handyman position. Evans said it didn=t pay enough, and asked how to get certified. Dave Mullins pointed out that Evans was certified (to drive a truck), just not classified. Scott Legg initially was showing some support for Evans= position until Linkinogger explained that, other than first year expenses, handymen don=t cost the Board anything for raising their classification - the state picks up extra cost after that first year. After about 10 minutes of discussion within the room and at the Board=s conference table, Evans said he still didn=t think it was fair. Linkinogger said it would be less fair to the handymen. (Fran King arrived about here) Evans, to Scott Legg, AYou found out you=re getting all that work for nothing.@ Somewhere in all the discussion it was figured that handymen are making $2.33 an hour for the time they put in. Meeting adjourned at 8:10 p.m. TK
| This & That|
| * NiSource, owner of Columbia Gas Transmission Corp. and Columbia Natural Resources, has canceled the health insurance coverage for striking workers – union members of Locals 5-628 and 5-327. Along with them, a group of disabled union workers who cannot return to work, including Ovapa resident Larry Rogers, have received cancellation notices leaving their families without health insurance. Rogers, a 22-year employee of Columbia Gas, was injured July 16 on the job when he was struck in the face by a piece of conduit. Rogers has undergone reconstructive surgery to rebuild parts of his face. 530 members of the two locals, including 151 Kanawha County employees, went on strike August 28 after working for months without a contract.|
* Last week Governor Bob Wise announced that Global Contact Services, the first tenant in the Mount Hope Industrial Park, will be adding 200 new jobs at the Summersville insurance call center.
|· A visit to the Clay Development Corporation’ senior’ activity day on Friday, September 13, revealed that quite a few folks are making use of the center. About 20 were playing Bingo, and no doubt about it, they were having a good time. Activities Director Elly Davis said about 40 people had been there earlier for lunch (food served was very tasty) and turn out for the activity days and trips have been good. Davis, it should be noted, did not get a raise as the activities director, just a new title on those days. A road trip to view the fall colors is being planned for October. There’ no charge for seniors to eat lunch and participate on activities days, and all are invited to attend – no income guidelines. As one sprightly, over 90-years-old, Bingo player proclaimed as she won the last game – “EE-HAW!!” |
??? DID YOU KNOW ???
|1. The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin.|
2. Nationwide, 46 percent of low income students go to college.
3. A study shows that in five of the last seven years the largest number of job cuts were announced between September 1st and December 31st.
4. The Federal Center for Disease Control reported 7,867 cases of confirmed Whooping Cough during 2000.
5. Between 2 and 3 million Americans have heart failure.
6. 22 percent of nearly 111,000 Americans over 65 say they have skimped on their prescribed medications to save money.
7. The number of children who died in highway traffic accidents last year was the lowest since the government started keeping records in 1975.
8. The Dept. of Education will spend just half of the states $2.93 billion general revenue this year.
9. In the last two years Columbia Gas Transmission has been fined $600,000 for pipeline violations.
10. Across the United States, there are more than 3.3 million miles of interstate, intrastate and local pipelines.
11. The flu kills 200,000 people per year in the United States.
12. Nearly 8 percent of babies born at the end of the decade in southern suburbs had low birth weights.
13. The Consumers Office of Technology is pushing ahead with projects to make more government services available over the Internet.
14. More than six in ten households in the Charleston business districts don’ have a vehicle, according to the 2000 Census.
15. Cigarette sales in New York plummeted almost 10 percent in July after the city raised the tax on each pack from 35 cents to $1.50.
16. Statistics from the Insurance Institute for highway safety reports that 90 percent of bicyclists killed in 2000 weren’ wearing helmets.
17. Voters 65 and over accounted for 19 percent of all votes cast in 1998.
18. Only about a third of parents give their children a regular allowance, a report shows.
19. Words are mere bubbles of water, but deeds are drops of gold.
20. Remember, happiness doesn’ depend upon who you are or what you have, it depends on what you think. LMM
Last edition’ quotes from Sheriff Harald Fields concerning Fran King sure sold a bunch of papers for us. We must have caught Fields on a day that wasn’ going too well. Although he did tell us he wanted every word in the story ,and some of them underlined to boot, his choice words were not what the public normally hears from the 2 term law enforcement official. Fields felt King was prying into law enforcement matters where she didn’ belong plus he raised issues of high prices charged for long term stored vehicles impounded by his office.
Since that publication we spoke to Ms King, owner of Kings Wrecker Service. King was a little more choosey with her words in response. According to King, she doesn’ have to say much, “I don’ have to respond, he’ done enough. He took care of public opinion himself.”
QUEEN SHOALS PSD UPDATE
For the most part, little is heard of or about the Queen Shoals PSD. The supplier of water in the Bomont Glen area of the county is overlooked by most in Clay County. Maybe it’ because they haven’ asked for a rate increase recently, maybe because they operate in the black, or maybe because the southern end of the county is forgotten about, but what ever the reason, the PSD is not mentioned much until water quality issues surface.
The PSD met in regular session September 16 at 7 pm with Chair Tom Martin in charge and Boardsters Shirley ?? and Toon Mitchell in attendance.
During the recent outbreak of virile meningitis in the area, locals have wondered if the illness could have been water related. Queen Shoals PSD provides water to HE White Elementary school just a ¼ mile up the road from their office. According to Martin and clerk Judy O”ell, all water samples have come back clear. As for relating to a problem in the water supply, Martin,”No” Discussion turned to TV reports on the outbreak and the meeting going on over at the school at the same time as the PSD meeting. Martin, “You would think the Principal over there would let the people in our community ….. would put flyers out on that special meeting regarding that… they should have been notified sooner.”Discussion ensued on the three affected kids still not over the meningitis and why couldn’ the county come in and spray the area around the school. O’ell,”…What concerns me is the creek , the junk vehicles over there by Derby that holds water. I think all that needs cleaned up, that might help the situation.”Agreeing with the others, Toon Mitchell, “hey emphasized that heavily on the news, to even clean your gutters, bird baths, anything that holds water that could become stagnant. That’ were the threats are.” Summing the situation up, again Mr. Martin,”There is nothing detrimental in our system.”Earlier this month, the public was informed of coliform bacteria found in the water system. In July the WV Department of Health issued a ‘oil Water Order’for low pressure areas on the system. According to O’ell, the storage tank was cleaned last week and lots of crude was removed during the clean up.
With the meeting opening about on time, Martin asked if anyone knew what was going on in the way of progress with the various water line extension projects and the regional water plant project. With no new info, Martin, “We are still pursuing the expansion that we have the money for, the grant moneys….. I have been trying to get in touch with Jim Hildruth …”Martin went on to say that a family has donated a site for a new water tank. Mention was made of the ongoing reluctance of Bill Naylor to provide a site for a new higher elevation tank which would improve water pressure in the system. On the issue of taking the Naylor property, Mr. Martin, “If push come to shove we would go ahead and take it but right now if there is any way of getting around it, without taking him to court, I’ rather do that. The Queen upgrade calls for installing pressure reducing valves and a new tank. All that is still… I haven’ any progress on that…. We’e the only water district that has been solvent since the concept. I understand they [the other county PSDs] are still in a mess, that others are now in debt also.”On finances, Martin, “e have good paying customers. Very few customers are in arrears.” O’ell, “We don’ have any that don’ pay at all.”Beginning balance for August was $894.09, income $4754.; spent $4571, leaving a balance of $1078 at the end of August 2002. At meeting time, the Board approved paying $2135 in bills and had a balance of $2343. Martin, “We have always been able to pay our bills. As for the sad shape of water service in general in the county, Martin,”This is all over Procious. This seems to drag on and on. We try to run a good system here.” Martin confirmed that when the Clay Roane PSD rate increase is put on the bills, Queen Shoals PSD will in turn have to raise their rates. Martin,”I don’ know how they justify their rate increases. We have no alternative. W e have to pass the rate increase on to the customer base. We can not operate in the red. We would be trying to operate with no money.” The consensus among the group was , many Queen customers will be forced to revert back to using wells and cisterns after the increases are reflected on monthly statements in the near future. Currently Queen Shoals has 149 customers.
Sort of summing up the bleak financial outlook of water service, Toon Mitchell commented on the high cost of using lawyers, “You know, over the years, we’ had enough money to put that tank in!”All sighed in agreement.
The board meeting ended around 7:25 pm
08-29-02: Ellyson – Elvis Dawson, wanton endangerment, hearing set 09/17.
08-26-02: Belt – John Clinton Roger, Sr., failure to maintain control, received letter from attorney, wishes to contest citation.
08-28-02: M.A. Elswick – Jeffrey Allen Conrad, driving revoked, appeared 09/06, ROB.
09-03-02: Larry Legg – Linda Rhodes, fail to send child to school, summons issued; Larry Legg – Emmett Rhodes, fail to send child to school, summons issued; Slack – Victoria Taylor Williams, battery, summons issued.
09-05-02: Slack – Jonathan Sizemore, brandishing deadly weapon, summons issued; Lizemore Exxon – James P. Shaffer, WC, warrant issued.
09-09-02: Slack – Brad Stone, petit larceny, warrant issued; Clay Supermarket – Hollis Talkington, WC, warrant issued (paid 09/12), and Roy W. Brown, WC warrant issued.
09-10-02: Slack – Jerry Cash II, trespassing, arrested, ROB.
09-12-02: Connie Rogers – Dimple Rogers, peace bond, summons issued.
09-13-02: Clay Supermarket, Inc. – Jimmy R. Keith, WC, appeared, ROB.
09-03-02: Carma Holcomb – James Rogers and Loretta Stewart, wrongful occupation, 09/09 possession of property awarded to plaintiff; George Ward – Nancy Masters, wrongful occupation, subpoena; George Ward – Christina Pauley, wrongful occupation, subpoena; Kelly Moore – Don Moore, money due.
09-04-02: Orpha McKinney – Jerry Williams, money due.
09-05-02: Clay County PSD – Melissa Conrad, Michelle Cottrell, Bessy & Sandy’ Café, David Douglas, Marvin Hively, Todd Matheney, Donna Burdette, Mitchell Adkins, and Jennifer Dwier, all for money due.
Notices issued –
09-03-02: Carma Holcomb – Loretta L. Stewart (paid 09/09).
09-04-02: Lizemore Exxon – William L. Adkins, Jr.
09-11-02: Lizemore Exxon – Tadd H. Legg.
09-12-02: Clay Supermarket – Telenia G. Hanshaw-Starcher; Ernest G. Carte (paid 09/13); Jimmy Keith; Mary Sue Murdock.
09-13-02: Gino’ – Rodney W. Johnson; John Cunningham X 2.
08-28-02: State Police – Jeffrey A. Conrad, driving on suspended/revoked; Eric Lee Myers, MVI and registration violations.
08-29-02: State Police – Ernest Lee Moore, improper passing.
08-30-02: State Police – David W. Haynes, speeding; Roger Lee Roe, Jr., speeding.
08-31-02: Sheriff’ Dept. – Vanessa McGlothlin, registration violations and MVI.
09-03-02: State Police – Johnnie L. Taylor, registration violations.
09-04-02: State Police – Joshua Grose, MVI.
09-05-02: Sheriff’ Dept. – Thomas W. Liveasy, driving on suspended/revoked and registration violations; Cheryl A. Metheney, registration violations and MVI; Joseph W. Underwood, no POI and driving on suspended/revoked.
09-06-02: State Police – Patrick Blankenship, MVI and seat belt violation; Clarence T. Coleman, speeding; Sheriff’ Dept. – Jeremy Scott Boggs, no POI; Chester K. Legg, speeding.
09-07-02: State Police – Benjamin S. Butler, left of center; Sheriff’ Dept. – Amy E. Jones, speeding; Gerald D. Wipe, possession marijuana less/15 grms.
09-08-02: State Police – Patrick Blankenship, no child restraint.
CLAY ROANE FINANCES TIGHT
Clay Roane PSD met in regular session September 12 at the courthouse in Clay. Boardsters present: Chair Gary Whaling, Lefty Summers, Glenn Sutton, Garrett Samples, and Roy Ellis along with a handful in the peanut gallery. As the meeting opened, new man on the board Glenn Sutton mentioned that he hadn’ been informed of the meeting. There seemed to be some tension between Sutton and other members as Summers fired back something along the lines of, “Who said they have to call you.”Hmmm...
During the vote to pay bills, it came to light that the water service provider had just $1791.00 to their names with payroll coming due soon. Discussion over the not yet approved rate increase included that Boardsters Samples and Summers believe the rate increase will actually hurt the finances of the long troubled agency. According to Summers, when the new increase is added on in the very near future, some bills will actually decrease since the new rates allow for low use customers to pay less. Others in the crowd appeared skeptical that income would go down since the Clay Roane’ wholesale customer , Queen Shoals PSD, will see their rate for purchase more than double. Speaking about the low water use customers, Garrett Samples, “It’ not going to come in!”and followed by Lefty Summers,”We’e going to loose, that’ what I’ trying to say!”Base rates before the increase is around $28.00.
And again the rift between Sutton and Summers emerged when Sutton questioned how you could loose money when the rates are going up and the amount of base rate water is going down from 3000 gallons to 2000 gallons per month. A warmed up Summers to Sutton,”I don’ know how you think!…”Sutton came back with “t will all balance out”when the 264 new customers over in Roane County are added on after the extension line is laid over there. Summer, “You can’ count that in now to pay the bills!”Samples, “You can’ look down the road to pay this month’ bills if you ain’ got the money to pay them…” No decisions made on the tight straits the PSD is in and no once knew when the rate increase would show up on the customer’ monthly bills.
According to Chair Whaling, the PSD is paying out about $22,000.00 per month. Samples,”On August 11th we had $303.00 in the bank” So far in September the agency has spent $ 6800.00. Ms Traub forwarded that monthly payroll is around $7,200 per month. So how does a PSD get in such bad financial shape after two rate increases in 2001 and another one coming this year? Chief Water Operator Jennifer Traub explained that the plant was operating around 16 hours a month and purchasing costly water ($3300.00 last month) from the town of Clay to keep the hours of operation of the plant low.
Next on the agenda was the resignation of Harold Lefty Summers from the board. Summers mentioned the poor health of his wife as the reason for his departure. The Board voted to accept his resignation unanimously. Interesting to note, the resignation was accepted at that time and not for the end of the meeting, although Summers continued to vote on matters before the Board
Planning for the future, Board motioned and passed to set up a new checking account to keep track of the federal dollars coming soon ( they think) to pay for the Amma/Left Hand water extension line project.
Whaling brought to the floor discussion of making long time contract laborer Dale Deems a full time employee with benefits. Whaling and Samples both recommended Deems for the spot. Whaling said Deems needed $12.00 per hour to come to work. Currently Deems draws Social Security and works for the PSD for $6.00 per hour. Samples,” I think he is deserving. I make a motion that we postpone our decision until we can account for the money we have going out. You need to figure out what it’ going to cost us down the line….The cost for everything.”Whaling was concerned that if hired as a $12/ hour maintenance man, he would be drawing more than the certified operators rates. On Deems, the PSD postponed the hiring
From the peanut gallery came the question of the group reopening the WV PSC case which allows for changing the water purchase agreement with the town of Clay. Eyebrows went up as they said they knew nothing about such a case which was dated September 5, 2002. The info from the PSC web site says that the change in the agreement would allow customers in the future to be moved from buying water from the town source to another Clay Roane PSD source after a new plant is built. Whaling,”Where did you get that?? From the fat guy in the audience, “How can that happen? I never heard the Board to ask for anything new.”Whaling, “e haven’. .. I don’ know.”
On another subject, five residents from the ‘unkin’Ridge area of the county have paid their tap fees as they wait for their water line extension project to get off the ground.
Punkineer Melissa Postelwait asked that the Board keep more accurate meeting minutes in the future and maybe even record the meetings as other government agencies do in the county. Note: Just three days earlier Postelwait had the Board on the carpet during the WV Public Service Commission hearing over allegations of open meeting law violations and brought the inaccurate minutes during her testimony. Still smarting from the hearing, Whaling sounded a little terse when he replied to Postelwait with, “We’l try to dot all our ‘’’and keep you happy.” With funds lacking, with Summers gone, a need for a new full time maintenance man, and the big time rate increase still a pipe dream, the meeting adjourned at 7:35 pm. Notice we said adjourned … not over because as they say on TV, BUT WAIT THERE’ MORE!
As the masses left the County Commission room of the courthouse, board members Summers, Samples, Whaling, Ellis lingered behind. Around 7:45 pm, those standing around outside made mention that maybe the Board was still holding a meeting inside and away from the public. Boardster Glenn Sutton ( standing outside and jawboning) was made aware of this and returned to the meeting hall. Almost as soon as Sutton returned to the courthouse room, all five exited the building.
Some time after the meeting, Sutton was asked what was going on as he entered the ‘fter session’session. Sutton said as soon as he got back into the room, all discussions stopped.
Always fun to attend the meetings in Clayberry readers. AW
AMBULANCE FINANCES CRUMBLE
That bit about it being quiet before a storm may hold true with the county based Clay Ambulance Service. Since WV EMS took over operating the service January 22, 2002, little information about the agency has made the news cycle. On the few occasions of information, the financial picture seemed to be improving. That appears to have changing quickly with the revelations made during the September 12 County Commission meeting.
On the agenda was the following one line posted: #5 Discuss and make final decisions to do with the ambulance service. The scary part may be the word “inal” Behind the scenes it appears much discussion has been going on to shut down the current operation in favor of a for profit company and located in another county. Jan Care has been mentioned on the street.
The following is an accounting of the discussions between County Commissioners Matthew Bragg and Jimmy Sams. Oh, need we say that Commissioner Tim Butcher was not present? Butcher was seen doing remodeling work just two days earlier.
The County Commission room was nearly full. Key players in the discussion were long time paramedic Mary Hanshaw, EMT Patty Mollahan, Ambulance Director B.J. Willis, and past 911 Director Paige Willis. The discussion began 45 minutes into the meeting.
Sams, “ets get to number 5, we’e got B.J. here.”Willis said he had done “ome”research but had no final conclusions. He continued that he now has some part timers available and that he did not have the $ available to advertise for the spots in the newspaper. As for hiring a costly second crew to keep up with the demand, according to BJ, there isn’ enough money to do that either. His figures indicate that the agency is currently missing about 30 calls a month to outside companies and that isn’ enough to cover the costs associated with hiring more personnel. As for getting more money , a new billing company has been hired ( MCA, they’e been here before) and in a few weeks, additional money “hould”come in with proper billing procedures. Mr. Willis, “ut that won’ fix the problem…. In a county this size with no more call volume than what you have, I don’ know anybody running an ambulance service without a subsidy.” And then the bomb shell. Clerk Judy Moore commented that the service has but $4323.00 in their account, and payroll is coming due—there are three payrolls in October. B.J. , “ets face it, we’e still paying off a $125,000.00 debt.”The Director was talking about the debts that were never paid by the County Commission appointed Ambulance Authority which operated the service for the five years before WV EMS took over. “e’e paying that off while at the same time we are trying to operate the existing ambulance service.” Here’ a cutey.. Commissioner Sams asked about the $100,000.00 loan incurred last June 27 by the Ambulance Authority (CCEAA) . Sams, “Who made that loan? There’ nothing in the minutes. Barbara [Schamberger ] has looked into it.”Willis, “I have no idea on that.” Well, Duh. Willis wasn’ here last year, but Sams and Bragg and Butcher were! Everyone knows that past Ambulance Authority Treasurer Joyce White asked for the loan from the Bank of Gassaway and did so without a directive from the CCEAA. Only much later was that made known to the public. Now back to the meeting.
So how bad is it? B.J. said last Sunday there were no ambulances operating and mechanic Dana Holcomb came to the rescue and cannibalized one unit to get the other one back on the road! Willis went on say that he is trying to pay the bills under 90 days old. Sams, “Something will have to be done.. It don’ look good, can we hang on until November?”Sams was referring to a review team that will come into the county in November and report on what should happen to the Clay County Ambulance Service.
And then from the peanut gallery, Patty Mollahan, “s county commissioners you were responsible for a county service. This was a working service until the appointed Ambulance Authority let it go [down hill]. The three commissioners are responsible. It is viable to run it if you weren’ in so much debt! The service has always been viable. We have volunteers that go out all the time…” Mollahan reminded the two that the CCC had subsidized the group for years. Sams, “It was when it was going good…. The County Commission is in such a shape now that we can not do it. IT CANNOT GO ON. WE POURED THE MONEY INTO IT.”Mollahan continued, “Because the Authority YOU appointed let it get in bad shape. They were appointed by you…”Sams, “We’e going to have to fix it and do it the best way we can. When that review team comes in and tells us we cannot do it..”Patty, “hat’ what you are wanting! To do away with it.” Sams warming up, “hat is NOT what I want. There is going to be an ambulance service here, a quality ambulance service here in this county. If WE can’ do it then someone else will!”Bragg remained quiet.
Mary Hanshaw waded in with concerns of what will happen when Jan Care comes in to the county for pick ups. “If that ambulance is needed some where else they will table it!”Mollahan reminded all that many volunteer hours are still being provided by locals and that will stop when a for profit company enters into a contract with the County Commission. Mollahan kept the finger pointing at the Commissioners for the screwed up mess they are currently experiencing.
Sams, starting to squirm and all but said the ambulance service will be done away with after the review team comes into the county. The peanut gallery was smelling something rotten. It felt like the decision to do away with the service was already made and the public would be the last to know. Sams, “We’e looking at different options..” Hanshaw, “So you are saying that come November, we know what they are going to say? You are waiting for them to say that and THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT YOU ARE PLANNING ON!”Sams, “If it is that, we are going to have a plan in place.”Nobody knew how long it would take to get the report back from the review team. Sams said he didn’ think they could hang on until the end of the year. A fat guy in the audience reminded the ‘wo’Blind Mice that this same review team was promised to the county last December and that never happened!
See where we are readers? Once again the County Commission has waited until their backs are in the corner and are forced to make decisions under extreme circumstances. Again? Yep, again. It wasn’ but 6 years ago that a 911 big wig ,a Mr. Marsh Tucker, came to town and forced the CCC to form an oversight committee ( the ambulance authority) to manage the service or face the immediate shut down of it. The CCC complied. EMT Toney Long asked why the County Commission was not subsidizing the local service. Hanshaw chimed in with, “Will you subsidize Jan Care?”Sams, “No, it’ not needed. I’l tell you right now it is not needed.”Sams said he had already spoken with a private company about contracting for the local business and he had asked them to keep the local workers if they take over. Mollahan, “If they can come and run this for a profit ,…Why can’ we?” Let’ see now... Sams has talked to the private company. Sams feels the private company can make it in Clay County without any government assistance. Hmm.. Doesn’ that sound like the County Commission has failed as administrators? One other thing - how is it that Commissioner Bragg , sitting next to Sams, has said little? How has he stayed away from the exchanges?
And then fit to hang on the ice box door: on the issue of finances going bad, Sams, “No one has come in here and told us it’ going bad!”Oh, boy, you could see the veins starting to pop. Mary Hanshaw, “ou know that is not true and YOU KNOW IT BECAUSE YOU BOTH TALKED TO ME ABOUT IT!!” Mollahan, “We were here at every meeting.” Boy, isn’ it a shame that some local paper didn’ cover all the CCEAA screw ups, the illegal Christmas bonuses , the finances in shambles, the $37,000.00 loan, the $100,000.00 loan, the fights. Why didn’ some local paper take the CCEAA to court…. Oh forgot…. we did.
With things getting good, a 20 minute break was called.
Finally, Bragg spoke up. He said that when he took office the CCEAA was 2 1/3 million dollars to the good. On various occasions, he addressed the situation pretty rough. The old ambulance fee helped keep things going. “ am not going to bash Jimmy but before the [$25] ambulance fee was made voluntary , it generated a lot of revenue…” On the bashing part, Sams retorted, “No, cause you was in here too, you’ be bashing yourself!”In reply, Bragg, “You all came up with that before I came on board!” Folks, it went on and on. The need for the emergency service is great in the county. After much discussion, and with Bragg shaking his head side to side, County Commission agreed to cough up $20,000.00 to help make payroll for the next few weeks until their decision is made public to close the local doors and have out of county private providers working the roads. Although Bragg said he wanted public input on the subject, Commissioner Sams commented : There isn’ enough time for public input!
How many times have articles ended with the following one word, pitiful. Well here it is again and this time, double pitiful!
The Epidemic That Wasn't .......…
On Monday, September 16, H.E. White Elementary School had its open house PTO meeting. Free eats from 5:00 to 5:30, parents meeting with teachers from 5:30-6:30, PTO general business, election of new officers, etc., at 6:30. All went according to plan until 6:30 ... rather than the standard handful of parents in attendance, there was standing room only. Mr. Paxton, H.E. White's principal, had invited several guest speakers, including Terry Taylor, RN, Connie Harper, RN, Teresa Morton, Communicable Diseases Specialist and Larry Gillespie, Assistant Superintendent, Clay County Schools. Normally, PTO doesn't have guest speakers. Especially so many from the medical field.
Why the sudden interest in PTO matters? Actually, the overwhelming attendance had nothing to do with PTO. It had everything to do with that dirty "M" word that's running around rampantly through the Bomont community - Meningitis.
As early as September 6, rumors were flying that there was a nasty, contagious "flu bug" going around at H.E. White. Nobody really knew what it was, what caused it, what the symptoms were or where it came from. Yet the rumors continued to fly, kids continued to get sick, speculation abounded and one could almost hear the incessant buzzing of phone lines as parents called one another.
By the following Wednesday, parents were starting to panic and still, there was no official word from anybody in a position to offer anything "official." When I got to school to pick up my kids Friday afternoon, there was Scott Roberts, Channel 8 News, thrusting his microphone in my face, wanting to know if I was upset over the delay in notifying parents about the "meningitis outbreak." Upset over the delay?? Meningitis?? Outbreak?? I STILL don't know about it at this point. I'm certainly not going to let Channel 8 News broadcast my ignorance, though, so outwardly, I hedged - inwardly, I seethed.
We, the parents of H.E. White students, found out about meningitis through a non-informative, very generic, information sheet from the Clay County Health Department, attached to a brief memo from Connie Harper, RN., Clay County Schools Health Nurse, distributed at the close of school on a Friday afternoon, 7 days after the first symptoms began to show themselves. A memo that states, "Due to concerns and questions about a recent illness of viral meningitis ...." A case. As in 1. Singular. By the time we received this memo, Channel 8 was reporting that there were 3 confirmed cases and several children were displaying symptoms.
At the meeting on Monday, Ms. Morton attempted to give the parents some concrete information to dispel some of the rumors, fears and misinformation being shared. Five minutes into Ms. Morton's spiel, outraged parents were contradicting the information she was touting with information they'd obtained from various Internet websites. While Ms. Morton may have known exactly what she was talking about and while her information may have been backed up by years of education and experience, she was in no way alleviating any fears or offering much reassurance.
Several parents tried to ask questions: If it's not contagious, why are so many of our kids getting sick? According to the Internet information, the virus could be contracted from water, soil or vegetation - why wasn't an investigation underway? If this information is true, why does the Health Department information say it's spread person-to-person? Why wasn't our school being closed so it could be thoroughly cleaned and this virus could die a quick death?
Some of these questions were answered: Our school isn't being closed because this is a common, non-fatal virus. The kids who ended up in the hospital were being treated for dehydration and being given antibiotics to keep them from picking up any other viruses (meningitis compromises the immune system). An investigation isn't feasible, as the virus could be lurking anywhere - doorknobs, desks, pop bottles ... anywhere. Additionally, though the information obtained from the Internet may have been accurate, it did not pertain to the cases in question - it addressed issues and concerns regarding bacterial meningitis, whereas H.E. White's confirmed cases were all viral, which is a completely different scenario altogether.
Also - and this was a huge issue - the reason for the delay in contacting the parents was addressed at this meeting. Apparently, when a case of meningitis is confirmed at a hospital or other medical facility, the policy is for that facility to contact the county health department in which the affected person resides. In bacterial meningitis cases, this notification happens immediately. In viral
meningitis cases, which are much more common and much less severe, the notification takes place only once per week.
CAMC hadn't yet contacted the Clay County Health Department about these confirmed cases when the rumors first began. In fact, it was Mr. Paxton who made the first phone call, based on the information he was getting from the parents of the afflicted children. He contacted the Health Department and they, in turn, contacted Women's and Children's Hospital. Only after all the proper confirmations had taken place did the Health Department notify the parents via the memo sent home on the 13th. Neither the Clay County Board of Education nor the Clay County Health Department subscribes to a policy of notifying the public based solely on rumors, speculation or unconfirmed diagnoses. It's only after verifiable proof is obtained that any public notification is issued.
The scary part is that we could theoretically all take our kids out of H.E. White for an undetermined length of time, keep them quarantined in the comfort of our own homes for that same undetermined length of time and still, they could pick the virus up somewhere totally unrelated to school. Maybe it came from the mailman. Maybe the milkman. Maybe the person sitting beside you right now. Who knows?? Currently, according to the Health Department, there are suspected cases of this exact same type of meningitis under investigation in both Roane and Braxton counties. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "The viruses that cause viral meningitis are contagious. Enteroviruses, for example, are very common during the summer and early fall, and many people are exposed to them. However, most infected persons either have no symptoms or develop only a cold or rash with low-grade fever. Typically, fewer than 1 of every 1000 persons infected actually develop meningitis. Therefore, if you are around someone who has viral meningitis, you have a moderate chance of becoming infected, but a very small chance of developing meningitis. ... The incubation period for enteroviruses is usually between 3 and 7 days from the time you are infected until you develop symptoms. You can usually spread the virus to someone else beginning about 3 days after you are infected until about 10 days after you develop symptoms."
Additionally, according to the Meningitis Foundation, "Meningitis can also develop as a result of infection with herpes simplex, measles, polio or chickenpox."
Which means, even if H.E. White were to close, 1 kid with the virus would be contagious for up to 10 days. If that kid has a brother who picks it up on the 9th day of its contagious period, then the brother runs into another kid 9 days later at the grocery store, the school would have to be closed for a solid month to cover all 3 kids, right? & so on & so on & so on.
Mr. Paxton pointed out that this is a very bad time of year for something like this to hit - 'tis the season for allergies, colds, flu ... just because a child displays flu-like symptoms consistent with meningitis and just because meningitis has visited our school, that doesn't mean your child has meningitis. Bear in mind, too, that cold sores are a symptom of "herpes simplex" - we can't allow the entire community to panic every time a kid (parent, teacher, delivery person) shows up at school with a fever blister.
Over the past 3 days, I have spent the bulk of my day at H.E. White Elementary and witnessed first-hand the steps being taken to eradicate this virus. Drinking fountains are being scrubbed with bleach, as are bathrooms and cafeteria surfaces. Every teacher has hand sanitizer on his/her desk and the children are encouraged to use it freely, especially before lunch, after bathroom visits, and after recess. Every classroom is armed with Clorox disinfecting wipes that the teachers are using diligently on desktops and other surfaces the children come into contact with. Frankly, though I should be ashamed to admit such a thing, H.E. White Elementary is far cleaner than my own home at this point and, I would venture to guess, far more germ-free than most of our homes.
The bottom line at my own personal household is that life will continue as usual. The Cantrell children will attend H.E. White according to schedule and I don't feel negligent as a parent in allowing them to do so. Certainly, parents who aren't comfortable with the safety level at school - H.E. White or any other - should keep their children home as often and as long as they feel necessary. H.E. White teachers have offered to send assignments home for kids to do in the comfort and safety of their own homes and nobody is pressuring these parents to compromise their children’' health in any way.
There does, however, need to come a day when all parents feel comfortable sending their children back to school. For more information on viral meningitis, try the following websites: www.cdc.gov/ncidod (Centers for Disease Control); www.musa.org (Meningitis Foundation of America); or www.niaid.nih.gov (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases).
Concerned (yet informed) Parent
of 2 H.E. White Students