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Drama competition proved fascinating

The recent competition was very rewarding for the Dani Girl cast and crew .

By Shirley Shuman
Four young actors. A tragic situation. Music. Comedy. These are the components of the hour-long play the Landmark Youth Theatre Ensemble performed during the Southeastern Theater Conference in Lexington, Kentucky in early March. Their performance not only provided entertainment for their audience but also provided valuable experience for cast members.
The play, Dani Girl, is a musical which features Dani, a nine-year-old-girl suffering from acute leukemia, her hospital roommate, her mother, and her imaginary friend/guardian angel. According to director Becky Conrad, the play projects a wide range of emotions, from sadness to comedy. According to cast members, it provided them with these emotions plus definite challenges. They all proudly declare they overcame those challenges.
Preparing to play Dani, Siarah Conrad explained she faced two challenges. “It was kind of complicated starting off playing a girl seven years younger than I really am,” she said. Then she faced the challenge of playing a cancer victim. “I didn’t know any kids with cancer,” she commented, “and that made it pretty complicated.”
She added, “Overcoming the challenges was a rewarding experience. Playing this role definitely opened my eyes to how some kids with cancer see it. Obviously many are depressed, but my character, Dani, made it as happy as she could.” The young actor definitely learned “Cancer makes you lonely!”
Robert Boyce played Dani’s roommate, another terminally ill child. He, too, faced portraying someone much younger than he. “I had to get my mind set on what it would be like for someone much younger and much less healthy,” he said. “Having to stay in a [hospital] room all the time and trying to find things to detract from what [the two children] were going through was pretty hard,” he added.
Boyce noted that his biggest problem in this role was “getting in the mindset” and described it as “probably the most difficult role I’ve ever played.” He, was, however, satisfied with what he did.
Of her role, Taylor Conrad explained the difficulties she faced. “Playing the mother was extremely difficult for me. I had to try and feel the pain that mothers with children who have cancer feel. You can’t even imagine the pain,” she said. She added, “To prepare myself, I had to see Siarah as my daughter with cancer. I had to feel it every day at least once.” Taylor continued to say that she “asked Mrs. [Lorie] Stover questions since her son had been recently diagnosed with cancer.” Stover, according to director Becky Conrad, met with the cast to help them prepare for their roles.
Although the roles these three teens played definitely offered challenges, Connor Capron may well have had the most difficult of the four roles in the play. Capron played four different characters, and one of those wandered into many others. His main role was as Rath, Dani’s imaginary friend and guardian angel. As Rath, he went into multiple characterizations to go along with Dani’s fantasies. In this role, he also interacted with Dani.
Playing God was “probably the hardest,” Capron said. “God gave [Dani] what she needed to hear. That was one way she coped,” he explained. His other role, Cancer, was difficult, too. “Cancer was really a ubiquitous character,” he noted. “Cancer showed up when you didn’t want him to and brought the mood down.”
Conrad, the director, explained that 15 theaters competed in Lexington, and the Braxton group was the only one with an all-teen cast. She commended not only the cast but also all of those in the support group. One she mentioned in particular was music director Marjy Foster.
In addition to their performances, those attending the conference had opportunities to attend discussions of all different aspects of theater. They took advantage of those opportunities. Taylor said that she enjoyed the workshops but she also really liked “being able to watch [productions] by so many different groups.”
One interesting “extra” was that seniors attending the conference had the opportunity to audition for scholarships. The Landmark group’s director noted that “over 100 colleges had representatives in one room for the auditions.” Taylor, who chose to audition, said that she was required to have a monologue of no more than one and one-half minutes and a song. Since her audition, she has been contacted by 12 schools, including West Virginia Wesleyan and Fairmont.
Although the Landmark Youth Feeder Ensemble did not advance in competition, they and their director feel that their participation was a truly worthwhile experience. Of course, those in the cast of Dani Girl see that participation as an uplifting adventure.

Prosecutor resigns;
Assistant appointed temporarily
Commission seeks permanent replacement

County Commission President Ron Facemire (3rd from left) congratulates temporary Prosecuting Attorney William A. McCourt, Jr. after he was appionted to replace Kelly Hamon McLaughlin at an Emergency County Commission meeting Thursday morning. Also pictures County Commissioners Lisa Godwin (left) and George Skidmore (right).

Kelly Hamon McLaughlin, who has served as Braxton County Prosecuting Attorney since January 2009, abruptly resigned Wednesday, March 15. The County Commission wasted no time filling the position on a temporary basis. “The Judge said the position needed to be filled immediately due to ongoing court proceedings,” explained President Ron Facemire in calling an Emergency Meeting for the Thursday morning.
At the special meeting President Facemire read the following from McLaughlin’s letter of resignation dated March 15, 2017, “Please accept this letter as notice of my immediate resignation from the office of the Prosecuting Attorney effective March 15, 2017. It has been an honor and pleasure serving the citizens of Braxton County,” McLaughlin wrote.
Lisa Godwin made a motion to accept the resignation.
The Commission had a brief discussion with Assistant Prosecuting Attorney William A. McCourt, Jr. during which they ask him if he would serve in the position of Prosecutor for the temporary 30 day period as outlined by state code. McCourt requested that the Commission wave the requirement of no outside employment due to his small private law practice in Nicholas County. That request was granted on a motion by George Skidmore. Godwin introduced action to appoint McCourt to the vacancy which received the unanimous support of the Commission.
It was also Godwin who made a motion to advertising the position in accordance with State Code for interested parties to be appointed to serve until the next regularly scheduled election set for 2018. That individual must be a registered Democrat.
The resignation was part an agreement with the state Lawyers Office of Disciplinary Counsel. McLaughlin appeared before that three-judge panel on Thursday to answer a complaint filed against her. That allegation alleges that McLaughlin improperly handled a complaint against a family member that arose in August, 2013. Policies and procedures mandate that the PA should have recused herself from the investigation and requested the Prosecutors’ Institute to appoint a special prosecutor.
In addition to the resignation, McLaughlin has agreed to forfeit her law licenses for 3 years and not run for the office of Prosecuting Attorney in the future. The panel’s recommendations will now go before the Supreme Court who will ultimately make the decision regarding the fate of her law license.
The original officer who investigated the complaint is no longer employed by the Sheriff’s Department. In October 2015 the State Police’s Crimes Against Children Unit notified McLaughlin that they had been presented with allegations of a young girl being sexually assaulted in 2013. The Prosecutor told the investigating officer that “she thought the Sheriff’s department had taken care of that” and that the case had been referred to Webster County. To date, no charges related to the individual in question, have been filed.

County Commission meets new
local Red Cross Volunteer Leader

One of the first orders of business at last Friday’s Braxton County Commission meeting was for Sharon Kesselring, Executive Director of Northwest Chapter of the American Red Cross, to introduce their new Community Volunteer Leader Amanda Criner. Kesselring outlined the many services provided by the Red Cross and explained what had been done to directly assist local residents. She stated that with the addition of Criner, she was very optimistic that additional services would be coming to the County.
Rodney Pritt, Executive Director for Flatwoods Canoe Run PSD, was first to address the Commission. He explained that the Commission had pledged $50,000 to the Exchange Waterline Extension Project. He said that while he appreciated the $9,500 paid in February 2015 and again in December of the same year there was still a balance due on the commitment of $31,000. “The District is at a point in the project of proceeding to the Public Service Commission of West Virginia within the next 60-90 days and we are required to have all contributions deposited into the project account prior to proceeding to the PSC,” he explained. President Ron Facemire told Pritt that the Commission would look at the current and upcoming budget and figure out a way to “make it happen.”
Sheriff Eddie Williams introduced Andrew Levi Groves to the Commission and requested permission to hire him as a Deputy Sheriff trainee. Permission was granted on a motion by George Skidmore.
Laura Wilson of the Braxton County Testing Center gave an update of her organizations’ performance for the month of February. She stated that the center had conducted 150 drug screenings and that all billing to the DHHR was up to date. She added that six individuals have successfully completed the terms of their home confinement and been released.
County Clerk Sue Rutherford requested permission to hire Lindsay Nicole Myers as a Deputy County Clerk to replace Christine Cool who had accepted a position in the Circuit Clerk’s Office. In separate motion, made by Lisa Godwin, the commission approved the hiring of Myers and the transfer of Cool to the Circuit Clerk’s office. Both will be paid $20,000 per year and receive full county benefits. Myers will serve a 90 day probationary period.
Cherie Jenkins represented OEC/9-1-1 Director Mike Baker who is recovering from shoulder surgery. She requested permission to change the status of Kenneth Zirkle from part-time to full-time due to the resignation of J.D. Whitsel. She also requested permission to advertise for part-time personnel at the emergency communications center. Both requests were granted on separate motions.
Sam Mace, EMS Director, asked the Commission for permission to hire Keith Queen as a part-time paramedic effective March 17. Mace explained that Queen would be paid $13.50 per hour and serve a 90 day probationary period. George Skidmore’s motion granted the request.
In other action, short form settlements for the following were approved as submitted by the Fiduciary Supervisor: Donald P. Barnett, Johnnie Lee Carder, Geraldine Lea Coffman, Arlene Beatrice Crites, Cherrie Dale Dean, Shirley A. Hamrick, Dolly D. Jack, Matthew Josiah Jarrett, Charles O. Lively, Lorraine Y. Lunceford, Lillian Jean May and Hazel Helen Wine.
Applications for correction of erroneous assessments were approved on a motion by George Skidmore for the following: Steve Evans, David Everson, Jeanie & Mark Bragg and Robert Bourn.
A single purchase order was approved to allow the 9-1-1 Center to purchase three chairs from James and Law at a cost of $1,536.
Separate motions approved internal budget revisions for the OES and Circuit Clerk.
The Commission reviewed a request for funding from the Braxton /Clay Adoptive Parent support Group. Lisa Godwin made a motion to table the request pending additional information.
Following a review of a letter from Assessor Edie Tincher the Commission granted authorization for the staff at the Braxton County Animal Shelter to collect dog taxes on behalf of the Assessor’s office.
The Commission discussed the success of local contestant in the Statewide County Commissioners’ Association Essay Contest. The three Commissioners, joined by Citizens’ News Publisher Ed Given, volunteered to personally provide $100 each for prize money and to again sponsor the local portion of the competition.
The Commission discussed a recent public notice of a rate increase to Flatwoods Canoe Run PSD sewer customers. George Skidmore made a motion to request a public hearing to better inform local citizens concerning the substantial rate hike.
The Commission reviewed a letter from the Town of Gassaway’s acting recorder in which they recommended that Jeff Skidmore be appointed to the Braxton County Development Authority to represent the city. That request was granted on a motion by George Skidmore.
The Commission reviewed bids for fire proof doors for the Assessor’s office. Following that review the low bid from 84 Lumber was accepted.
Following a review, the county invoices, p-card vouchers and EMS bills were approved for payment as presented on a motion by George Skidmore.
After reviewing the minutes of the March 3rd Commission meeting, Lisa Godwin made a motion to approve them as presented.
The Commission approved a work session for Tuesday, March 21 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. to work on the budget and a special meeting on March 23 at 9:00 a.m. to approve the proposed budget.
Being no further business the meeting adjourned at 10:16 a.m. The next regular meeting of the Braxton County Commission will be on April 7 beginning at 9:00 a.m.

Father/Daughter Ball set for April 7

The Braxton County Healthy Families Healthy Children Coalition cordially invites all young ladies and their fathers to enjoy an enchanted evening of dinner, music, dancing & fun at the First Annual Father Daughter Ball. This royal affair will take place Friday, April 7, 2017 from 6:30 – 8:30 pm at the Braxton County Senior Center Royal Ballroom.
All ages are welcome and princesses may be escorted by dad, grandpa, uncle, or any other special male who fits the father role. This will be a special evening to make memories that will last a lifetime.
Tickets are on sale now and must be purchased in advance. The cost is $20/couple (If more than one child, it is $10.00 for each additional child). We also have a few sponsored tickets that are available on a need basis. Space is limited so please call the Braxton Community Coalition at 304-644-2828 to secure your spot ASAP. Deadline to purchase tickets is March 29.

Braxton County High School 2017 Top Ten

By Shirley Shuman
He holds the school record in the shot put and last year finished second in that event in the state meet. Lucas Bonnett, ranked eighth in the 2017 graduating class at Braxton County High School, is a three-year member of the track team and has qualified for state competition all three years. He is also a four-year starter for the football team where he has earned All-LKC honors and was named Honorable Mention All-State last season.
Bonnett’s accomplishments and interests, of course, go further than the athletic area. As many of his classmates and probably his instructors will tell you, he thoroughly enjoys a good “debate.” Not surprisingly, he hopes one day to enter the political arena, and he has his route planned.
Anticipating a career in law, Bonnett wants “to defend people” and would prefer to do that “in big time cases.” After completing his undergraduate degree with a major in political science and a minor in criminal justice at West Virginia Wesleyan College, he anticipates completing his education at an Ivy League law school.
As he considers those who have helped him in his education, Bonnett has chosen two instructors—John Frazier and Charles Toumazos, as his favorites. He referred to Frazier as “one of the most compassionate teacher’s I’ve ever met,” and said, “He’s always there to help the kids. He has helped me many times.” He admires Touzamos because he “has a good way of putting everything into perspective.” He added, “Mr. T provides us with real-world situations.”
“Getting so close to my friends this year and how the year has brought us so close together is my favorite memory [from high school],” he explained. Then he added, “Probably the best memory of all is looking back at every memory and how far we’ve come.”
In addition to academics and sports, Bonnett enjoys playing video games, lifting weights, and watching “The Grateful Dead.” The son of Jimmy and Karen Bonnett of Exchange, he also probably enjoys envisioning himself in the governor’s mansion or perhaps even the White House.

West Virginia FFA to continue
Food Bank fundraiser

The West Virginia FFA State Officer team has decided to pack bags again ¯ bags filled with food for children across the state.
In 2016, WV FFA raised $10,000 to purchase, package and donate food packages for Back Pack programs in West Virginia. The program was a large success, which included a huge packing event at Cedar Lakes with more than 200 FFA members joining in.
West Virginia FFA members wish to host a food packing event at the 89th Annual West Virginia FFA Convention. This year, WV FFA will be partnering with Mountaineer Food Bank in Gassaway and Facing Hunger Foodbank in Huntington to once again raise at least $10,000 to help feed the hungry in West Virginia.
“This service project has the potential to feed over 16,000 people across West Virginia! It will be a great opportunity to give back to the great state of West Virginia,” Andrew Hauser, WV FFA President. FFA will need $10,000 in sponsorship to secure enough food to pack 4,000 backpacks of food to send home to 4,000 West Virginia families. “I have no doubt that the West Virginia FFA Association will be able to raise funds to provide food to our communities,” Erin Kidwell, WV FFA Secretary. West Virginia FFA is seeking individual, group and corporate sponsors to ensure this event is a success.
“Our programs geared toward ending child hunger are so important to your state”, said Chad Morrison, Executive Director of Mountaineer Food Bank. “More than 1 in 5 children in West Virginia live in food insecure households, so they don’t know if they are going to have a meal every night.”
Any individual or organization that would like to support the WV FFA Association by serving as a sponsor for this event at the 89th Annual WV FFA State Convention may contact Mountaineer Food Bank at 304-364-5518 or Facing Hunger Foodbank at 304-523-6086.




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