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Bakers Run gets reprieve
At least for now, Baker Run Campground seems to have dodged the bullet. Rumors have been rampant for weeks, mostly on social media, regarding the possibility of the US Army Corps of Engineers closing one of the two large campgrounds on Sutton Lake. While many of the rumors were inaccurate the threat did exist. According to Sutton Lake Resource Manager Tanner Peacock-Clark the possibility came about when President Donald Trump told the agency that the Corps would not be funded to the extent they had been in previous years.
Under the threat, the Corps prepared a list of hypothetical cuts, if the budget constraints were enacted. According to local sources, Bakers Run made that list for a number of reasons. Usage of the facility has declined in recent years; accessibility is difficult; extensive cleanup is required after flooding.
“Of course our primary responsibly is flood control,” explains the Recourse Manager. “We must protect the citizens of Braxton County and downstream, but we also want to provide the best possible recreational facility for our visitors. We here at Sutton, do not want to see Bakers Run or any of our facilities close,” he concluded.
If closure does occur, the decision will not be made on the local or district level. According to officials, any decision of that magnitude will be decided in Washington.
However, Bakers Run appears safe at least for the time being. Inquiries from the Braxton County Commission regarding the threat were answered by Senator Shelly Moore Capito’s office. Commission President Ron Facemire read the response to a capacity audience that was on hand at last Friday’s meeting. The response from Todd Gunter, Field Representative for the Senator read, “I just confirmed with Senator Capito’s Legislative Director that both the US Senate and House have fully funded the Army Corps of Engineers in their budget, which means the Corps will not have to close Baker’s Run due to budget cuts. The Corps’ funding was cut in the President’s budget and they were requested to come up with hypothetical cuts, but thanks to Congress that will not be necessary.”
Former GHS graduate issues challenge to
By Shirley Shuman
Attention Gassaway High School alumni!! Craig Gerwig, graduate of the GHS Class of 1948, has issued a challenge to all other alumni. Gerwig will match donations, up to $100,000, to the GHS Scholarship Fund through September 2018.
Currently a resident of Texas, this generous individual, who prefers no publicity, explained why he has issued this challenge. “I think education is very important,” he said, “and I want to help the kids in the (Braxton County) area.” Gerwig is a graduate of West Virginia University and had a career with Massey-Ferguson Corporation.
The Gassaway High School Scholarship Fund is actually relatively new. Hazel Beall initiated it in 1999 with a $2,000-donation along with a pledge to donate $1,000 annually.. Since that time, 45 high school graduates have received scholarship money, ranging from $1,000 to $3,000, from the fund. The most recent recipients were Savannah Payne and Ian Conley, 2018 BCHS graduates.
Scholarships are awarded to “worthy and qualified students who reside in areas originally served by Gassaway High School and who are desirous of pursuing a college education but may not otherwise be able to afford to do so,” according to the scholarship guidelines.
There are, of course, other requirements for possible recipients: have a 3.5 or higher GPA, meet college entrance requirements, and agree to attend a college or university in West Virginia.
The number of scholarships awarded each year and the amount of each is determined by the balance in the GHS Scholarship Fund checking account, according to Nancy Carr, co-treasurer of the organization. The money in that account comes from donations; therefore, for the years in which more people donate, more students receive scholarships, and the awards are higher. For example, one year four students received financial help from the fund. For most years, the number is two.
One of the main ideas behind this particular scholarship is that students who begin college and “make it through” the first year will be likely to stay in school. That $1,000, or sometimes more, they receive, can actually make a difference.
Craig Gerwig has issued a challenge, and he has $100,000 waiting to cover that challenge. Since the number of recipients and the amounts they receive are based on the balance of the fund’s checking account, GHS alumni might want to consider how many young people might be helped if that balance were to increase by $200,000 before next spring.
Prince, Rhodes, Long, Nunes head
to prison, others have day in court
Several Braxton County Circuit Court sentencing hearings have recently been completed by the Honorable Judge Richard A. Facemire. In the court hearings on June 5, the state was represented by Braxton County’s Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Bryan S. Hinkle and for the hearings on May 3, Prosecuting Attorney Jasmine R.H. Morton represented the state.
On June 5, Mark Allen Prince came before the judge for sentencing on the charge of attempting to commit nighttime burglary. He was represented by Timothy Gentilozzi who requested some type of alternative sentencing for his client. The state stood silent as per the plea agreement. Based on the seriousness of the offense and the likelihood the defendant would engage in further criminal activity, the court denied the motion. Prince was sentencing to one to three years at the state penitentiary.
Emilie Rhodes and her attorney Bernard Mauser appeared before Judge Facemire for a sentencing hearing on the charge of deliver of a controlled substance-alprazolam. Also present was Jacob Foster from the Braxton County Probation Office. The defense requested she be re-admitted to some type of alternative sentencing and the state requested she be sentenced to one to three years but also be permitted to participate in a suitable long term inpatient substance abuse treatment program. The court believes Rhodes has a serious drug problem and wants to blame others for her criminal conduct and therefore denied the request. She was sentenced to one to three years to the state penitentiary.
James David Long along with his attorney Gentilozzi, came before the court for a sentencing hearing. A motion for alternative sentenced was made by the defense and the state remained silent per the plea agreement. The motion was denied by the court based on his lengthy criminal history and the seriousness of the offense. For the felony count of possession of a controlled substance with the intent to deliver-heroin, Long was sentenced to one to fifteen years.
Kathleen Marie Nunes appeared before the court to face sentencing on the charge of delivery of a controlled substance-methamphetamine. She was represented by Clinton Bischoff, who made a motion for alternative sentencing. The state stood silent per the plea agreement. The court stated the defendant had failed to take responsibility for her actions, refused to admit to her substance abuse problem, maintain regular employment, and had failed to benefit from alternative sentencing in the past. Her request was therefore denied and Nunes was sentenced to one to five years in the state penitentiary.
Shaun Michael Bennett and his attorney Gentilozzi came before Judge Facemire for sentencing on the felony charge of driving while license revoked for DUI-3rd offense. The state stood silent while the defense made a motion for alternative sentencing. The motion was granted by the court and his one to three years sentence was suspended. Bennett was placed on five years of probation.
Mark Bill Green came before the court for a sentencing hearing. He was represented by Eric Hensil. The state requested an additional day or two to respond to post-trial motions filed by the defense which were not received until May 31 even though it was due on May 11. The court ordered the sentencing hearing continued until June 11.
Vincent Franklin Harris and his attorney Eric Wildman appeared before Judge Facemire for a competency hearing. The competency evaluation the court had received from Clayman and Associates stated Harris was competent to stand trial. The jury trial was set to begin on June 12.
On May 3, Sherry Lynn Davis appeared before the court with her attorney Timothy Rosinsky for a sentencing hearing. Tyler Morlan was present from the probation office. The defendant requested probation and stated she had made a terrible mistake and no one to blame but herself for her choices. The state remained silent per the plea agreement. On the charge of driving revoked for DUI-3rd offense, Davis was sentenced to one to three years, but the motion for alternative sentence was granted. Her sentence was suspended and she was placed on five years of probation.
Leonard Allen Carroll and his attorney Andrew Chattin came before the judge to face sentencing on the charge of forgery. Also present was Foster from the probation office. A motion for alternative sentencing was made by the defense with state standing silent per the plea agreement. The court found the defendant in need of correctional treatment in a correctional setting due to his extensive criminal history and serious drug abuse problem and therefore denied the motion. Carroll was sentenced to one to ten years.
Belinda Dawn Riffle appeared before Judge Facemire with her attorney Jonathan Fittro along with Foster and Morlan from the probation office for her sentencing hearing. The defense requested she attend a diagnostic and classification evaluation to address her issues of co-dependency. The court determined there was insufficient information to determine sentencing and order her to under a complete medical and psychological evaluation. The evaluation was to focus on her substance abuse issues, co-dependency issues, and her likelihood to re-offend. Her sentencing hearing was scheduled for August 13.
Jesse Jay McCourt and his attorney Jeffrey Davis came before the court for sentencing. Foster and Morlan were also present. A motion was made for alternative sentencing and the state stayed silent per the plea agreement. McCourt stated that his actions that led to the charges were the biggest mistake he had ever made and he was very remorseful for those actions. After reviewing the pre-sentence investigation report, the court found there was insufficient evidence to determine sentencing. Judge Facemire ordered the defendant to undergo a diagnostic and classification evaluation to be completed focusing on his substance abuse issues and the likelihood to re-offend. The sentencing hearing has been scheduled for August 13.
Commission hears concerns
about Bakers Run Campground
It was standing room only at last Friday’s Braxton County Commission meeting. Most in attendance were there concerning rumors of the closing of Bakers Run Campground in the Centralia area of Sutton Lake. David Berry served as spokesperson for the group. He outlined the extensive efforts of volunteers to maintain and clean the facility. He also spoke to the economic benefit it proposed for the area. Representatives of Congress Alex Mooney and Senator Joe Manchin were also on hand to hear the nearly thirty minute discussion.
After hearing the concerns all three Commissioners voiced their support for keeping the facility open. President Ron Facemire read the statement for a staffer of Senator Shelley Moore Capito stating that the Senate and House had passed budgets that fully funded the Corps and there would be no need to close Bakers Run at this time. (That statement in its entirety is contained in a front page story about Bakers Run.)
Mary Beth Smith, representing Prosecuting Attorney Jasmine Morton requested permission to advertise for a vacancy in their secretary staff. Smith also said that their office had outgrown their space and needed more room to story files that must be kept according to state law. After granting permission to allow Morton to place an advertisement to fill the vacancy, the Commission told Smith they would look for more space in the Annex building including the old 9-1-1 center.
Laura Wilson gave the Commission an update on the activities of the Day Report Center/BC Testing. She stated that her agency had conducted 130 drug screenings during the month of May. She added that 3 individuals had completed the terms of their home confinement and had been released.
John Hoffman, OES/9-1-1 Director gave the Commission a month report on the activities of his agency. That report revealed that the center had received a total of 845 calls for assistance during the month of May.
Rodney Pritt, Manager of the Flatwoods Canoe Run Public Service District came before the Commissioner to inform the body that pre-engineering for the Holly Gray Park sewer expansion project was underway. He requested that the Commission commit to reimbursing the PSD for the $25,000 cost if the project does not materialize. He added that he is optimistic that the project will be funded. George Skidmore made a motion that the Commission intended to support the project but since the funding, if needed would not come in this budget year, the Commission could make no further commitment.
A motion by Lisa Godwin approved the short form settlements for the following individuals as presented by the Fiduciary Supervisor: Roy Dale Brown, Mildred M. Casto, Arthur Cleo Helmick, Walter Lynn Hutchison, Nelva Jordan, Kenneth Karl Kniceley, James D. Simmons, Mary Louise Simmons, Paul Clifford Starcher, Alice Carol Vaughan, and Catherine Wine.
George Skidmore introduced action to approve applications for correction of erroneous assessments for Cody & Stephanie King, Rodney & Patricia Nutter and S. Sue Cutlip.
Two purchase orders were approved on separate motions. One allowed the County Clerk to purchase record books and filler paper from Casto & Harris at a cost of $729. The second authorized the Sheriff to purchase tax statements from Casto & Harris costing $1,501.50
George Skidmore made a motion to allow the Commissioners to use the county credit card to pay for rooms and $300 each registration fees for the County Commissioners Association of West Virginia’s Annual Meeting at the Bridgeport Conference Center July 28-31.
Separate motions approved external and internal budget revisions for various county agencies.
George Skidmore made a motion to postpone a hearing on the estate of Ernest W. Lockard until July 20 at 10:00 a.m.
The Commission approved moving forward with advertising for interested persons to fill a vacancy on the Burnsville Park & Recreation Board.
Wilda Skidmore was reappointed to a four year term on the Braxton County Solid Waste Authority.
Lisa Godwin introduced action to reappoint Sissy Price and Julia Rose to 3 year terms on the Braxton County EMS Board.
Following a review, separate motions authorized the payment of county and EMS bills and the minutes of the Commission’s June 1 meeting.
Being no further business the meeting adjourned at 10:02 a.m. The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Braxton County Commission will be on July 6 beginning at 9:00 a.m.
Board of Education meets at
The Braxton County Board of Education held their most recent meeting at Davis Elementary. President Jill Cooper called the meeting to order at 6:00 pm. Vice President David Hoover led those in attendance to a non-denominational prayer after the pledge.
Davis Elementary School
The first to speak to the board was Davis Elementary Principal Dr. Tony Minney. He provided the board with folders containing the data from the LSIC meetings over the past school year. His presentation delivered information about what the focus of the LSIC was and what they did. Dr. Minney also gave the board members the growth data for reading and math at Davis during the presentation.
Melissa Duckworth, LSIC Chairperson and fifth grade teacher, told the board about the Veteran’s Day event the school held to honor the counties veterans. The school hopes this program continues and grows.
Next to speak to the board were Rick Simon, Chief Executive Officer for Community Care of WV, and Dr. Kevin Junkins, Child Psychiatrist, with the Community Care Annual Report. Currently, their organization covers nine counties and provides services to over 42,000 patients in central WV. Braxton County added Sutton, Burnsville, Little Birch, and Flatwoods Elementary schools to the Health Centers network in January 2018, which brought all schools in the county into the program. Over 3000 Braxton County students received primary care visit for the 2017-18 school year and over 2000 received mental health care. The behavioral health services that was offered for the first time this year was a pilot program developed by Community Care to help schools with behavioral and mental health issues. Other counties now want to join the program after the success shown at Braxton County. According to Dr. Junkins, the level of cooperation between the school system and Community Care has led to the success of the programs offered.
Kevin Gregory was the next to come before the board. He wanted to speak on behalf SOBCS, Supporters of Braxton County Students. This group of parents wants to raise money to be used by the FBLA students who are attending Nationals at the end of the month in Baltimore, MD. After a discussion with the parents involved, BCHS Principal Jessica Pierson and Assistant Principal Flora Cox, it was decided the parents would donate any money they make in their upcoming fundraising efforts to the FBLA for the trip to Nationals. Based on this conversation, the board pulled the fundraising request that was submitted from the others when the fundraisers were approved.
Leatha Williams, Director of Technology, brought to the board’s attention the use of the professional email accounts for staff and volunteers. According to the information she had received from Microsoft concerning the use of their programs, only full-time employees are allowed access. She was also concerned about the insurance coverage since non-employees are not covered under the current policy. Superintendent David Dilly said he would investigate who could have professional emails with the state department before they would proceed on revising the policy. Director Williams stated she was going to work on deactivating accounts that were not in use.
Under regular business the board approved the following items with different motions: consent agenda items-approval of May 15 meeting minutes, payment of bills, budget transfers and supplements, transportation requests and reports, and treasurer’s report; termination of contractors for substitute service personnel due to not working 50% of call-out for 2017-18 school year per Policy 3700 for LaVaughna Goad, substitute custodian and substitute aide, Daniel Skipper, substitute custodian, and Marsha Hacker, substitute cook; employment/reassignment for Dawn Jo Ward, summer interventionist, 3 locations as needed, Vickie Conant, summer interventionist, 3 locations as needed, William Hamilton, PE/Health/LD/BD/MI/AU teacher, Sutton, Catricia Martin, fifth grade teacher, Little Birch, Lisa Brady, summer interventionist, J.D. Drake, High School Credit Recovery teacher, BCHS, Sharon Desper, 21st Century High School Credit Recovery teacher and/or Site Coordinator, BCHS, Amy Perkins, 21st Century Project Site Coordinator, Flatwoods, Cynthia Miller, 21st Century Positive Youth Behaviors/Healthy/Lifestyles Instructor, Flatwoods, Carmen Skiles, 21st Century STEM instructor, Flatwoods, Lindsay Harman, 21st Century STEM instructor, Flatwoods, Neda Shaver, cook, BCMS, Jessica Huffman, 1/2 time cook, Flatwoods, Beverly Rollins, cafeteria manager, BCHS, and Gloria Belknap, summer school custodian, Flatwoods; mutual consent per Policy 5000 for Jennifer Knowles, from 5th grade to 2nd grade, Little Birch, Catricia Martin, from 5th grade to 3rd grade, Little Birch, and Erica Toler, from 3rd grade to 5th grade, Little Birch; request for leave of absence for Mary McCumbers, unpaid leave May 29 and June 6; rescission of transfer 2018-19 school year for Kathy Facemire, special education supervisory/instructional/transportation aide (itinerant), BCHS; resignation for Allan Copenhaver, Boys’ Basketball Coach, BCMS; approval of Head Start Cost of Living Grant; permission to use driver’s education car for student driving tests; and resolution to teachers employed as of 2018-19 school year to attend summer 2018 trainings with pay and seniority.
The Superint-endent’s Evaluation was tabled and a special meeting was scheduled for Monday, June 18 at 6:00 pm at the board office to finalize the evaluation.
Superintendent Dilly requested the board approve the payment of late fees. The phone and internet were out at the board office for a few days, not allowing for the proper payment of bills. The board approved the request. He also reported on the upcoming trainings at the board office for the professional development.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:33 pm. The next two meetings are special meetings. The first one scheduled for June 18 is for the Superintendent’s Evaluation only. The second one is at 5:00 pm on June 27 at the board office is for budgetary items only, including bills. The next regular meeting will be July 2 at 6:00 pm at the board office. As always, members of the Braxton County community are encouraged to attend regular board meetings. Anyone wishing to speak as a delegate or with public concerns may do so by signing in up to 15 minutes prior to the start of the meeting.