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Delegate Boggs is key participant in WVPA’s Legislative Lookahead
By Buffty Six
The West Virginia Press Association hosted the West Virginia Legislative Lookahead at the Charleston Gazette-Mail conference center on Jan. 5 to preview key topics to be discussed in the upcoming legislative session.
The day consisted of several different panel discussions from tax reform to education. Delegate Brent Boggs was one of these panel members discussing tax reform.
Alongside Delegate Boggs was Delegate Mick Bates from Raleigh County, Delegate Eric Nelson from Kanawha County and Senator Ed Gaunch from Kanawha County. The four touched on what taxes have been introduced, which ones have been withdrawn and what new taxes could be introduced in the new year.
Delegate Boggs briefly discussed the issue of the property tax.
“Raising the property tax, to me, is not an option,” Delegate Boggs stated. “We have to move consciously, we have to continue to grow our economy and we have to make sure we grow the economy across the state, not just in selective pockets.”
Although numbers show a growth in the state’s economy, Delegate Boggs did not seem comfortable with those numbers, yet. “… the economy does appear to be somewhat bouncing back, but I don’t think six months into the fiscal year is enough to be declaring victory,” he said.
One topic that arose several times throughout the day was the state of jobs in the state. Delegate Boggs was adamant on finding ways to bring more jobs into the state.
“I certainly want our corporations to do well, I certainly want businesses to invest here, but at the end of the day, we need jobs,” he said. “We need better paying jobs, we need jobs that can support a family and educate our children.”
Senator Gaunch described Kansas as “the poster child” for what taxes can do for a state, good or bad, but Delegate Boggs also stated that “West Virginia is not Kansas and what works or doesn’t work for them, doesn’t apply to us.”
“We need to know what other states are doing, but we also need to focus on what we are doing,” Delegate Boggs said.
Senator Gaunch also said sin taxes “probably won’t be raised again anytime soon.”
A popular conversation throughout social media and the government was addressed by Delegate Nelson. He said the issue of the lack of correctional officers and their pay will be discussed in the upcoming session, Jan. 10. Delegate Brent Boggs used the example of the Central Regional Jail in Flatwoods.
“I can go down the hill to any fast food restaurant and those people are getting paid only 25 cents less than what our correctional officers are making,” he said.
Later panel discussions included topics of education, oil and gas and WV Forward.
During the education panel discussion, Delegate Larry Lowe from Kanawha County discussed the possibility of a new scholarship, the Hope Scholarship. It will be like the Promise Scholarship in that students will need to meet standardized testing requirements. This scholarship will give the opportunity for recent graduates or adults to go to a community or technical college, possibly for free. The plan Delegate Rowe proposed would “provide between $1 and $2 million dollars to recent high school graduates and about $5 million dollars for non-traditional students.” The plan will be discussed more during the upcoming legislative session.
Delegate Joe Statler from Monongalia County discussed the issue of teacher seniority. Statler said he wants to remove the mandate on public schools that forces teachers with least amount of seniority to lose their jobs during job cuts.
U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito made a surprise appearance as a guest speaker. She was asked about stirring issues of President Donald Trump and the recent book “Fire and Fury.”
“I just wish the president would stay focused on the issues” Senator Capito said. “That has been a big issue for us during this past year.”
Senator Capito also mentioned there may be some truth to the book, although it is mostly based on sensationalism.
“I am old enough to know there is a kernel of truth to some things,” Senator Capito said.
Senator Capito also addressed renewing the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP.
“I’m guaranteeing you it will get reauthorized for five years, and be paid for,” she said. “I disagree with holding this hostage.” Senator Capito claims it should have been passed in October.
More information and West Virginia Press Association posted videos of the event can be found on their Facebook page.
Fire claims 3, injures 2
An early morning fire Thursday, January 4 claimed the lives of a mother and two of her sons. The father and a family friend were rescued from the inferno by neighbors.
The alarm came into the county 9-1-1 center at approximately 7:30 a.m. reports indicated that the two story home at 2729 Elk River Road was fully engulfed in flames and there were people inside.
Quick action by neighbors who saw the blaze and assisted James Vasey, 61, and Tina Dillon, 35, to escape the flames is credited with saving their lives.
In spite of the quick response by the Gassaway Volunteer Fire Department, who arrived on scene just 16 minutes after the alarm was sounded, James Vasey wife, Cathy 57, and sons Thomas 26 and Charles 27 perished in blaze.
James Vasey and Tina Dillon were initially transported to Braxton County Memorial Hospital by ambulance. Following initial treatment they were transported to the West Penn Burn Center with what was termed, serious but not life-threating injuries.
Single digit temperatures further hampered area fire fighters who spent over 14 hours on scene extinguishing hot spots and recovering the victims.
In all nine volunteer fire companies assisted in the extensive operation. They included Frametown, Sutton, Service, Chapel, Flatwoods, Birch River, Summersville, Clendenin and Gilmer County. In addition, ambulances for Braxton EMS, State Police and the Sheriff’s Department were involved in the effort.
During the long operation, individuals, as well as Go-Mart, McDonalds, Arby’s, the Gassaway City Diner and local Red Cross proved food and services to the 35 fire fighters and others involved in the operation.
“It was a very bad situation,” stated GVFD Chief Trenton Morrison. “In addition to the problems associated with the two story structure collapsing into the basement, which made it extremely difficult to extinguish, we also had the emotional toll of the deaths and injuries. It simply was a very bad day. The only good side was the supreme cooperation we received from the assisting agencies. I can’t thank them enough,” he added.
In addition to local first responder, the six assistant State Fire Marshals were on hand. At press-time the cause of the blaze is still under investigation. The victims’ bodies were sent to the State Medical Examiner’s office.
Weyerhaeuser grant to benefit WV Envirothon
(Left to Right) Jason Trenn, Weyerhaeuser Mill Manager, Sutton; Matthew Rutherford, Weyerhaeuser Environmental Manager; Wayne McKeever, WV Envirothon Chairperson; Joe Gumm, WV Envirothon Budget Committee Chairperson; Shirley Hyre, WV Envirothon Treasurer; Jane Collins, WV Envirothon Vice Chairperson.
The Weyerhaeuser Foundation recently presented a $5,000 check to the West Virginia Envirothon Committee for first place scholarship awards. The West Virginia Envirothon is an environmental competition which educates high school students about natural resources and environmental science through competitive events around the state. Weyerhaeuser has awarded first place scholarship funds to WV Envirothon annually since the first competition in 1997.
The Envirothon provides students the opportunity to learn about West Virginia’s eco system and how they can conserve and protect the environment for future generations. Students work as a team to exhibit their hands-on environmental problem-solving skills, with the goal of succeeding on the state and national levels and winning awards, prizes, and scholarships. The next WV Envirothon event will be held at Jacksons Mill, April 19-20, 2018.
The West Virginia Envirothon is open to high school students, grades 9-12. Teams can be created through school clubs, home school groups, 4-H groups, Scout troops, and more. Participants explore current environmental and earth sciences within the framework of five disciplines: aquatics, forestry, soils, wildlife, and a current environmental topic. Additional information and registration details can be found at http://wvca.us/envirothon/
Eighth grade students receive lessons in personal finance
(L to R) Hunter Drake, Beth Ramsey, Garrett Shingler, Haley Sartin, and Amber Belknap (not pictured) helped with the State Treasurer’s program.
By Shirley Shuman
Members of the eighth-grade class at Braxton County Middle School recently participated in a program to learn about managing personal finances. These students received practice in making financial choices and then saw the results of their choices, according to Pat Facemire, BCMS guidance counselor.
Facemire explained that the state treasurer’s office provides the free program and all needed materials. The goal of the experience, she noted, is to teach students about managing money through an activity in which they see differences between what they would earn with a high school—or less—education and with a post-secondary education.
To allow the eighth-graders to “practice money management,” each received a card naming a salary. The student then moved from station to station to spend their income on items and services necessary for a family. These, according to Facemire, were listed on the cards,
Some cards showed monthly income one would earn without any post-secondary education. Others showed the higher-level income one could earn with a higher level of education. Generally, according to some observers, those with the lower-level incomes found themselves without funds before they had made all the necessary purchases. The others managed much better.
Facemire noted, “The kids seemed to enjoy it, and most took it seriously. I think that those who did take it seriously recognized that life is easier if you have a better paying job. Overall, it was an excellent day.”
One middle school participant, Levi Demastus, remarked that the exercise “was pretty hard.” He explained, “It was mostly trying to make decisions about money, and it was sometimes confusing.” He did, he noted, learn “you have to balance everything out. You can’t just buy everything that you see that you want.”
Although Facemire facilitated the execution of the program at the middle school, she did use volunteers. From the middle school, two students—Joshua Carr and Ellen Collins, had participated in this exercise at 4-H camp so she enlisted her help. She also received help from high school students Hunter Drake, Beth Ramsey, Garrett Shingler, Haley Sartin, and Amber Belknap.
The high school students, according to Drake, manned the stations during the activity. Asked for his opinion of the exercise, the senior called it “pretty unique,” and said, “They really got some kids to take it seriously. Actually, most reacted well and tried.” He felt the project was designed to let them “work on financial stability,” and, because of that, noted, “This might be better for high school students.” He added, “If they [participants] had been more mature, they could have learned more.”
Counselor Facemire incorporated the program as part of the middle school’s WV College Application and Exploration Week. “It worked in very well,” she said.
Facemire to continue as
One of the first actions of the new year for the Braxton County Commission when they met Friday, January 5 was the election of a president for the coming year. George Skidmore made a motion that Ron Facemire continue in that position which he held in 2017. The action was seconded by Lisa Godwin.
Three other items of routine business also comes with the new year. George Skidmore made a motion to approve the list of appointments of Commission representatives to set on various boards throughout the county. He was also the one who introduced action to keep the regular meeting dates of the Commission on the 1st and 3rd Fridays of each month beginning at 9:00 a.m.
Lisa Godwin made a motion to approve depository/surety bonds for City National and Premier Banks.
Dale Hall addressed the Commission as the EMS Director. He requested permission to hire Tas Z. Gialdella as a part-time paramedic at an hourly rate of $13.50 with no county benefits and Harold Ware Jr. as a full-time paramedic at an hourly rate of $14.00 per hour with full county benefits. Both will serve a 90 probationary period. Separate motion approved the employment requests.
As Acting OES/9-1-1 Director, Hall updated the Commission on the repair of the sprinkler system at the 9-1-1 facility and that he had donated food that was surplus from the flooding to local food pantries.
In other action, the probate appointments for the month of December were approved as presented.
Lisa Godwin made a motion to approve an application for correction of erroneous assessment for Roy & Tina Cottrell.
George Skidmore introduced action to approve a request to consolidate contiguous tracts of land for tax purposes for Samuel A. Jackson.
Two purchase orders were approved via separate motion made by Lisa Godwin. The Sheriff was given permission to purchase 4 tires from Franks Tires at a cost of $536.00. The County Clerk was authorized to procure record books and filler paper from Casto & Harris at a cost of $632.80.
A list of dates for holidays and time sheets submitted by the County Clerk were approved as presented.
The commission approved a list of dates and time to hold Board of Equalization meetings.
George Skidmore made a motion to authorize the use of the County Credit Card for registration fees for the CCAWV meeting on January 28-30 at a cost of $675 and pay $774.00 in hotel accommodations for the same meeting.
Following a review, Lisa Godwin made a motion to reappoint Gloria Starcher and Dennis Miller to the Flatwoods Park and Recreation Board.
Sheriff Eddie Williams explained a letter from the Town of Burnsville regarding the hiring of deputes for service as city police officers. The Sheriff explained that the procedure was authorized under state code and that the town would provide all equipment for the position so there would be no cost to the county. He added that the hiring had been approved by the Civil Service Board.
Rhett Dusenbury, representing Congressman Alex Mooney, requested permission to utilize space in the courthouse to meet monthly with the pubic. That request was approved on a motion by Lisa Godwin.
Following a review, the bills for the county, p-card and EMS were approved for payment.
The minutes of the Commission’s December 15 meeting were approved as presented by the County Clerk.
Being no further business the meeting adjourned at 9:30 a.m. The next regular meeting of the Braxton County Commission will convene on January 19 at 9:00 a.m.
Braxton Invitational Wrestling Tournament set for weekend
More than 20 teams will compete in the upcoming annual BCHS wrestling tournament, according to Coach Sterling Beane. Sponsored by Go-Mart, Inc., the tournament, which will be held in the high school gym, begins Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. and continues Saturday at 10 a.m.
Coach Beane said he looks for “a well-rounded tournament,” and named Greenbrier West, Braxton, Berkeley Springs, Nicholas, and Herbert Hoover as some of the stronger teams participating in the two-day event. “Wrestling fans should see some really competitive wrestling this year,” the coach said.