Australian aborigine students visit County
The aborigine students and the staff that accompanied them, dressed for their native dance which they performed at Bee Run Thursday night.
By Shirley Shuman
Twenty one Australian aborigine students enjoyed swimming and boating on the lake at Bee Run last Thursday with a traditional American picnic during a short visit to the area. The students, along with teacher Ben Lewis and other adults, came to this area because Lewis wanted them to see a part of America which he loves.
Lewis is the son of a former Australian exchange student who attended Braxton County High School back in the 1970s. He explained that his mother, who lived with Frank and Ruth Atkins while she was here, frequently returned to visit the Atkins family. She brought him several times and, once he became an adult, he continued the visits.
Commenting that he and his group were on their way to Toronto to attend the World Indigenous People’s Conference in Education, he explained why they came here. “We stopped in New York City and visited Washington,” he said, adding, “I decided that, since we were so close, we had to come here. Besides, I wanted to see Grandma Ruth again.”
The students in the group, ranging in age from 11 to 17, attend Wesley College, a boarding school in South Perth. Lewis noted that, while this was the first trip to America for all of them and the first time out of Australia for many, it was not the first time they had flown. “These students come from different remote areas, and they are flown in to South Perth to attend our school,” he noted. Students arrive at the beginning of the term and remain at the school until the end of the first term, when they return home for a break. The same is true of the second term. The school includes students from kindergarten through twelfth grade and is coed through the sixth grade.
Asked how those who are attending the conference were chosen to participate, Lewis said, “All boys had the opportunity to come, but they had to earn the money for the trip.” He also noted that, since the conference on indigenous education is held every three years, that they had three years to earn that money.
The Australian visitors share some of the interests of American teens and pre-teens, but their world is vastly different. None drive automobiles although some did mention motorbikes. A few had cellphones, but many probably do not have cell service in their home communities. Two of them explained just how different their world really is, even from rural Braxton County.
Tyros Handley, 17, lives in the remote community of Jigalong in Australia. A senior at Wesley College, he lives in an area much different from Braxton County. During the time he spends in his home community, he also lives a life quite different from local teens.
Comparing this area with that of his home, he noted that it is “a lot greener here,” and said his small community lies in a very dry area. “Desert country,” he called it. Hunting is one of his favorite activities, but his prey is definitely different from what local individuals know.
Asked what he hunts, he answered, “Kangaroo, emu, bush turkeys, and iguanas.” Just as local hunters here eat what they kill, so do those in his community. All of these animals provide food for those living in his small village. One of the adults traveling with the students explained, “They share the food with the community.”
Although he didn’t discuss preparation of any of the other meat, Handley said that the meat of the iguana is cooked “in the ground.” An adult traveling with the boys explained that his people build stone-lined pits just for cooking. He also noted that kangaroo fur is used to make coats.
One tradition of this aborigine group is a “coming of age” ritual. When the boys reach 16, they spend three months with other boys of the same age “in the bush” to prove themselves.
Asked what he had liked best about the trip so far, Handley replied, “Dancing in Times Square. We danced in Times Square in front of a lot of people to share our aborigine culture.” The students also performed at the Australian Embassy during their visit in Washington, D.C. Thursday night, they showed their ritualistic dance to those joining them at the picnic.
Another of the students, Cordell Green, comes from a town of 2000 people although he, like Handley, “once lived in a remote area.” His current town, Fitzway Crossing in the Kimberly Region, “offers more opportunity,” he said. Comparing the climate to what he had seen so far in West Virginia, Green said temperature is “about the same.” He explained that the soil where he lives is “red dirt,” and that they have “wet and dry seasons” as opposed to four seasons. Currently, it is winter—the wet season— in Australia.
Green, 15, enjoys “fishing, camping, and hunting.” His hunting includes crocodiles, which they use for food. “We have lots of crocodiles,” he said.
This young man, on his first trip out of Australia, said he had been most impressed with the Ellis Island ferry and seeing the Statue of Liberty.
The group’s visit to this area ended with zip lining Friday. Following that, they left for Toronto.
Commission hires new EMS Director
Barbara Adams, Chairman of the Braxton County Emergency Ambulance Services Authority Board appeared before the County Commission at their regular meeting last Friday, July 21. Her purpose was to propose her board’s choice for a new director of the ambulance service. Adams explained that a “tremendous amount of work and consideration has gone into this selection.” She stated that the interview committee was represented by several agencies including the EMS staff. “We had a number of excellent candidates and the choice wasn’t easy. However, we are very confident in our recommendation of Clifford Dale Hall as our next director. On behalf of my board we request that you hire him,” Adams told the Commission. She stated that Hall was an established paramedic with a number of years of field experience and was currently serving as assistant director of Webster County’s ambulance service. She further requested the Commission to pay him a salary of $45,000 per year. George Skidmore made a motion to approve the request, which received the unanimous support of the Commission.
Laura Wilson was first to address the Commission after President Ron Facemire called the meeting to order. She presented an activity report for Braxton County Testing. That report revealed that the agency has conducted a total of 156 drug screenings during the month of June. In addition, 8 clients had successfully completed the terms of their home confinement and had been released.
Wilson also reported that at the urging of the State Auditor’s office, the Braxton Testing account has been closed with $5,125.10 being transferred to the General County account.
Amy Slaughter requested that the county close two right-of-ways on her property. She stated that both were totally encompassed by her property and were unused. Commission President Ron Facemire told Slaughter that there was a particular procedure for such action and that they would check into the details and meet with her at a later date.
Mike Baker OES/9-1-1 Director requested pay raises for his staff ranging from 50 cents to $1 per hour. That request was granted on a motion by George Skidmore.
Sheriff Eddie Williams requested an internal budget revision which was approved.
In other actions, the Commission approved the short form settlements for the following as presented by the Fiduciary Supervisor: Melissa L. Belknap, Margaret S. Custin, Robert H. Custin, Mary Ruth Hacker, Matthew Josiah Jarrett, Larry Metz, Betty Renee Mollohan, Donald Arnold Pitts, Jr., and Fanny Reaser.
Lisa Godwin introduced a motion to approve the applications for corrections of erroneous assessments for the following: Dennis or Lisa Cottrill, Curt or Edna Tonkin, Christi Boggs, Matthew and Jill Fowler and Thomas and Letisha Stout.
It was also Godwin who made the motion to pay the County Commissioners and Assistant’s registration fees of $99 each for the State Auditor’s Training to be held August 20-21 at the Days Hotel in Flatwoods.
The Commission approved a request from the Gassaway Public Library to release funds allocated to that agency in the 2017-18 budget, when funds become available.
The Commission approved an adjustment to the general fund budget based on an increase of more than what was predicted in the roll-over from last year’s budget which ended July 1. The $18,656 was allocated in the following areas: $600 to the County Clerk, $10,000 to the Assessor, and $2,656 to the Courthouse.
The Commission tabled consideration of an appointment to fill a vacancy on the BC Economic Development Authority, pending a recommendation from that body.
Following a review, separate motions approved the P-Card invoices, county and EMS bills for payment as well as the minutes of the Commission’s July 7 meeting.
On a motion by Lisa Godwin, the Commission set a work session for July 27 beginning at 9:00 a.m.
Before adjourning George Skidmore commended various volunteer boards in the county for their hard work. He stated that many boards do an excellent job and put in many long hours such as the recent action of the EMS board in finding a new director. He added that it was also sad that some boards do not have members that participate. He singled out the the Holly Gray Park Board saying something was going to have to be done to address the situation in that the board which controlled one of the prime assets of Braxton County had only met twice this year.
Being no further business to consider, the Commission adjourned at 9:40 a.m. The next regular meeting of the Braxton County Commission will on August 4 beginning at 9:00 a.m.
Dam Race to help Food Bank feed
The 2017 Dam Race to benefit Mountaineer Food Bank will take place in Sutton, at 8:00 a.m. on July 29. All proceeds from this year’s 5K race stay right here in Braxton County to help Mountaineer Food Bank fund local School Backpack Programs.
The West Virginia University Mountaineer will also be there to fire the starting gun (musket) for runners and “America’s Strongest Viking” John Mouser will attempt to break a world record by pulling a construction crane across the dam!
Race day registration will be $25. Participants 60+, Veterans, and Students $20. Bring the little ones out to participate in the Kids Race following the main even. Those interested may download an entry form at www.tristate racer.com/event.
Prizes will be awarded to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places male and female overall winners as well as 1st, 2nd and 3rd in each age group. No duplicate awards will be given.
Sutton couple arrested following complaint
On July 17, Braxton County Sheriff’s Department LT B.A. Scarbro, received a call from Braxton 911 to respond to a domestic situation on Old Woman’s Run near Sutton. It was reported that an individual had been cut with a knife. The officer, along with BCSD Deputy J. Jenkins and West Virginia State Police TPR J.O. Hensley, arrived on scene to find no one was home.
According to the criminal complaint, the officers did find evidence of a domestic situation, broken windows and other broken items. One of the residents, Gary Allen Stewart, 35, arrived while the officers were still there. He stated that he lived at the residence and was involved in an incident with Brittany Tinnel, who also lived at the residence, and another individual. Stewart and Tinnel, 26, have a six year old child together, also living in the home.
LT Scarbro asked for permission to search the residence for any other suspects and Stewart granted the request. Once inside, no other individuals were found, but a large amount of drug paraphernalia was located in various parts of the home in plain view.
Items included a white substance, that later field tested positive for methamphetamine, meth smoking devices, snort tubes, as well as large knives in the child’s bedroom with the toys. The child had been taken earlier in the day to Stewart’s mother and was safe.
Stewart and Tinnel have both been charged with child neglect creating a risk of death or injury. They are both currently in the Central Regional Jail on $10,000 cash only bonds set by Braxton County Magistrate Beth Smith.
Traffic stop leads to arrest
Richard Allen Hammon, 22 of Flatwoods was arrested on July 20 after a traffic stop for expired registration. Braxton County Sheriff’s Department Deputy B. Williams conducted the traffic stop along with Deputy J. Jenkins and West Virginian State Police TPR E.D. Schoolcraft.
According to the police report, Deputy Jenkins observed Hammon in the passenger side of the vehicle. TPR Schoolcraft had a warrant out for him for the possession of bath salts and conspiracy. Deputy Jenkins conducted a pat search, when the suspect told the officer he had some marijuana and methamphetamine in a bag down his pants. He gave the bag to TPR Schoolcraft. She found money, a white crystallized substance, a small bag of marijuana, and two empty bags containing white residue. The trooper was also able to locate a set of scale with a white residue the tested positive for meth in the passenger side door.
TPR Schoolcraft also conducted field tests on the white crystallized substance in which it tested positive for meth and bath salts.
Hammon has been charged with two counts of possession of a controlled substance, marijuana and bath salts, two counts of possession with intent to deliver for methamphetamine and bath salts, and conspiracy. His bond was set at $25,000 cash only by Braxton County Magistrate Beth Smith and he is currently in the Central Regional Jail.
New GSC President visits county
Delegate Brent Boggs (left) hosted a meet and greet event at the Senior Center for area residents to get acquainted with new GSC President Dr. Tracy Pellett.
Several Glenville State College alumni, friends, staff, and government and community leaders attended an event held on Tuesday, July 18 at the Braxton County Senior Citizens Center in Sutton. The event was held, in part, to introduce Glenville State College’s new President, Dr. Tracy Pellett.
The event was sponsored by WV Delegate Brent Boggs (D-Braxton) and his wife Jean. Those who attended were able to spend time talking and getting to know Dr. Pellett, in addition to visiting with former classmates and acquaintances.
Pellett, who is GSC’s twenty-fourth president, comes to West Virginia from the College of Coastal Georgia. He took office on July 1.
Domestic incident lands Sutton man in jail
William Wright, 35, of Sutton has been arrested and charged with three counts possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance for methamphetamine, marijuana, and Xanax and five counts of obstructing an officer.
On July 21, West Virginia State Police TPR E.D. Schoolcraft, TPR J.O. Hensley, TPR W.C. Heaster, Braxton County Sheriff’s Department Deputy J. Jenkins, and Deputy B. Williams all responded to a domestic call on Hillcrest Drive in Sutton, according to the criminal complaint.
Upon arriving on scene TPR Schoolcraft saw a male subject, Wright, and a female exiting the home. Wright attempted to go back inside the residence when the officer and Deputy Jenkins told him to stop, but he refused.
TPR Schoolcraft was able to gain control of the suspect and conducted a pat search. While conducting the search she, noticed the odor of what she believed to be marijuana coming from the suspect. He informed the officer he did have marijuana in his pocket, which TPR Schoolcraft was able to retrieve. After more searching by the officers, they discovered a scale with white residue believed to be meth, a bag containing smaller bags of a white crystallized substance also believed to be meth, a large sum of money, and Xanax pills.
When Deputy Jenkins and TPR Hensley escorted Wright away from the residence to avoid confrontation between him and the female, he became aggressive toward the officers and refused to comply with their commands. TPR Heaster and Deputy Williams had to assist the other officers to gain control of the suspect to place him in the cruiser for transportation to the WVSP-Sutton Detachment for processing.
The female asked TPR Schoolcraft to escort her to the bedroom to get some of her belongings so she could leave the home for the night. Upon entering the bedroom, the officer observed a large sum of white pills, syringes, snort tubes, and empty baggies.
The officer obtained a search warrant for the residence from Braxton County Magistrate Beth Smith. The officers were then able to locate bags with the corners cut out and other drug paraphernalia.
Wright is currently in the Central Regional Jail on a $55,000 cash only bond set by Magistrate Smith.