The Free Press WV

Parkersburg, WV – The Parkersburg Area Community Foundation and Regional Affiliates (PACF) announces the availability of vocational/technical scholarships for students from throughout the Foundation’s service area (Wood, Calhoun, Gilmer, Doddridge, Roane, Wirt, Ritchie, Jackson, Mason, and Pleasants Counties in West Virginia and Washington County, Ohio). Students can access information about scholarships by visiting the Foundation’s website at

The Foundation uses one consolidated online application for most scholarships. To access the application and apply, visit   and select the PACF’s General Online Scholarship Application Form. The application deadline to apply is March 03, 2016.

The Foundation administers more than 175 scholarship funds, some of which include vocational/technical scholarships. The following scholarships are offered to include students seeking a vocational or technical degree:

• Dave Couch Memorial Scholarship
• Hino Motors Scholarship
• Parkersburg-Marietta Contractors Association Scholarship
• Dr. David Monroe Ritchie Scholarship
• West Virginia Nurses Association District #3 Scholarship
• Mary K. Smith Rector Scholarship
• Harrisville Lions Club Scholarship
• William Reaser Scholarship
• Chester H. Bruce Scholarship
• Robert Storck Scholarship
• “Sig” and Kate Barker Memorial Scholarship
• Dave Elmo Memorial Scholarship
• Little Kanawha Area Community Foundation Scholarship
• Marcus McPhail Memorial Scholarship
• Marbie McCartney Smith Memorial Scholarship
• Nancy C. Barton Scholarship
• Doddridge County Vocation Scholarship
• Andrea Bailes Honary Scholarship

For additional information, please contact PACF’s Regional Scholarship Officer, Rachel Brezler, at 304.428.4438.

Did You Know?

The Free Press WV


The arrests of Ammon Bundy, 40, and five other members of the group occupying a national wildlife refuge follow a traffic stop and gunfire that leaves one person dead, authorities say.


Given Bernie Sanders’ surge, Hillary Clinton’s middle-aged female fans are trying to understand how her once-decisive lead in Iowa could be at risk once again - eight years after she was toppled by Obama.


The country’s health minister says Brazil is sending some 220,000 troops to battle the mosquito blamed for spreading the virus.


Ethan Couch will return to Texas to face charges against him in the coming days, his Mexican lawyer says.


The pontiff, holding talks with Iran’s president at the Vatican, says Tehran must join the fight against terrorism.


The battle to retake Ramadi, though successful, highlighted the troops’ lingering shortcomings, experts say.


All adults, including pregnant women and new mothers, should be tested for depression as a routine part of health care, an advisory group recommends.


JPMorgan Chase is rolling out a new class of ATMs where customers will need only their phones to withdraw cash.


The actor played the over-the-hill detective Phil Fish in the 1970’s TV series “Barney Miller” and the doomed Mafia soldier in “The Godfather.“


The QB is caught by NFL Network cameras saying that the Super Bowl “might be my last rodeo.“

In West Virginia….

The Free Press WV

►   Organizers Want to Make Naloxone More Accessible

Community leaders will come together to discuss ways to make naloxone, a drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, more available.

The Ohio County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition and Wheeling-Ohio County health officer Dr. William Mercer will bring key community stakeholders together Wednesday in Wheeling.

Representatives from health care, pharmacies, treatment centers and schools in Ohio and Marshall counties are expected to attend the meeting.

Mercer says organizers are working to issue naloxone in nasal spray form to various community organizations. Naloxone kits also could be distributed to first responders, law enforcement, Ohio County schools nurses and to family members who receive training on how to administer the drug.

Organizers believe greater access to the kits will decrease the number of drug-related deaths.

►   Company to Pay Ex-Employee After Discrimination Lawsuit

A mining company with operations in West Virginia has agreed to pay $62,500 to a former employee who was terminated.

Former employee Michael Jagodzinski had filed a lawsuit against Rhino Energy WV, accusing the company of failing to take action to stop harassment against his Polish ancestry.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said in a news release Wednesday that Jagodzinski was subjected to ethnic slurs and had offensive graffiti written about him in the workplace.

According to the lawsuit, the company unlawfully fired Jagodzinski in retaliation for his complaints.

Rhino Energy WV also entered into a five-year consent decree last week, stating it must implement a policy prohibiting harassment, discrimination and retaliation.

►   Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich to speak in Wheeling

WHEELING, WV — Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich is set to speak at Wheeling Jesuit University.

Gingrich’s speech about the 2016 presidential election is scheduled for Tuesday at the school’s Troy Theater in Wheeling.

During his visit, Gingrich and his wife, Callista, also plan to attend a reception hosted by the Most Rev. Michael J. Bransfield, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.

In 2009, Gingrich spoke to the West Liberty University Economic Club in Wheeling.

Gingrich served as House speaker from 1995 to 1999.

►   Mair Foundation gives $125,000 donation to WVSU

INSTITUTE, WV — West Virginia State University received a $125,000 donation from the Mair Foundation Monday.

The money will be put toward the Allan L. McVey Scholarship Fund for in-state students attending the university, according to officials.

“This generous donation will further expand higher education access and opportunity for Yellow Jackets yet to come,” said West Virginia State University President Brian O. Hemphill in a news release.

Hemphill said the donation will bring the total endowment of the scholarship to $200,000.

“The primary focus of the Maier Foundation is to further higher education in West Virginia,” said Maier Foundation President Brad Rowe in the release. “Through supporting programs like the Allan L. McVey Scholarship Fund, the Foundation is fulfilling its mission by enabling more West Virginians to be able to attend college.”

McVey credited WVSU professors and scholarships he received during his education.

“This gift exercises what I have always believed: one should give back to the people and organizations that helped an individual to succeed. That is what this does for West Virginia State University, the Maier Foundation and for me individually,” McVey said.

The Maier Foundation, based in Charleston, is a private, non-profit, charitable corporation.

►   New South Parkersburg Library scheduled to open soon

PARKERSBURG, WV — The new South Parkersburg Library is scheduled to open soon.

The Parkersburg News and Sentinel reports a grand opening for the new library will be held Saturday.

The new library branch will be open from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. with a ribbon cutting and official ceremony at 11 a.m.

Brian Raitz, executive director of the Parkersburg-Wood County Public Library, says there will be stations set up to provide information about library services. Refreshments will be provided.

The 5,000-square-foot library will replace a smaller, older facility. Construction began last March.

South Parkersburg Library Manager Lindsay Place says the new space will feature more public computers for patrons as well as more programming and activities.

►   Ohio County Schools to Hire New Super in February

Ohio County Schools plan to hire a new superintendent next month.

Board of education members approved a time frame Monday for hiring the next superintendent. The final selection will take place at the board’s February 22 meeting.

The board also agreed not to retain legal counsel to oversee the superintendent search. They’ll instead pay for the assistance of the West Virginia School Boards Association in selecting the school district’s next leader.

A town hall meeting on the superintendent’s search is scheduled for Friday at Wheeling Park High School. The public will be able to complete an online survey about selecting a superintendent before the meeting.

Susan Nolte, human resources director for Ohio County Schools, said Monday that three candidates had applied for the position so far.

►   Alpha Issues Layoff Notices to 886 Miners

Alpha Natural Resources says it plans to lay off 831 miners and dozens more support staff in southern West Virginia as a result of the downturn in the coal industry.

Bristol, Virginia-based Alpha announced Monday it has sent 60-day layoff warning notices to Boone and Raleigh counties.

The announcement includes 468 miners and 40 support staff at five underground mines at Marfork Coal Co. in Naoma and Whitesville, and 363 miners and 15 support staff at three underground mines at Elk Run Coal in Sylvester and Whitesville.

The notice says the layoffs will occur around March 25.

Alpha says the layoffs are the result of an oversupply of coal in the marketplace and dramatically reduced demand that has driven down prices to “unsustainable levels,“ particularly for central Appalachian coal.

►   Supreme Court of Appeals Justice Benjamin to seek a second term

CHARLESTON, WV — Supreme Court of Appeals Justice Brent Benjamin officially filed on Tuesday to run for a second 12-year term on the court.

“I am honored and humbled by the trust West Virginia voters have placed in me,” said Justice Benjamin before filing candidacy paperwork. “For me, the most important goal for a judge is to act in a way which strengthens the public’s trust in their courts. That trust has grown significantly in the past decade as we have restored stability and predictability to our courts, and I don’t want to see it erode in the future.”

Benjamin was first elected to the Supreme Court of Appeals in 2004 and has twice served as Chief Justice.

Prior to his election he was a principal attorney with Robinson and
McElwee, PLLC in Charleston.

►   At Tuesday’s Broadband Day at the Capitol, bill passes Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

CHARLESTON, WV — At Tuesday’s Broadband Day at the Capitol, a bill to create a $72 million dollar state-run broadband network was advanced by the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

The legislation would allow the state to build a 2,500-mile fiber-optic loop aiming to improve Internet service and drive down prices for both business and residential customers.

“The bill is general revenue neutral,” explained Putnam County state Senator Chris Walters on how it would be paid for. “So zero from general revenue. And the reason why is if the network can prove to be self-sustaining, then we can get a performance bond. If it’s (not self-sustaining), there will be no bond.”

Walters explained that West Virginia has a reputation for poor broadband service, affecting hospitals and students using the Internet for their homework.

“West Virginia has the largest homework gap in the nation. When a kid goes home to do homework, they can’t access the internet to do that,” he said. “There are hundreds of millions of dollars through the federal government available to close the homework gap.”

According to a report released by the FCC last January, West Virginia ranked 47th in access to broadband internet, with 57 percent of the population not having access to the 25/3 speed benchmark of 25 megabits per second for downloads, and 3 megabits per second for uploads.

Only Montana, Arkansas and Vermont had a worse percentage.

“This is a marathon, it’s not a sprint,” said Clay County Delegate Roger Hanshaw. “We’ll be on this topic for a while. When we talk about the notion of improving internet access across our state, this is but one of a number of things the legislature is looking at this year with respect to how we make sure people are served.”

Walters felt that opponents of the bill weren’t in favor of the competition it would create.

“They’re against it because they don’t want increased competition,” Walters said. “This bill would give an interstate system so competition could increase. If you look at (Charleston) or (Morgantown), where you have one cable company provider, that’s not how it is in the rest of the United States.”

Walters pointed out that Parkersburg, which has more than one cable provider, has the fastest and most affordable internet access in the state.

“This bill would increase competition, which is what we need,” Walters said.

The legislation now moves to the Senate Government Organization Committee.

In USA….

The Free Press WV

►   Tribe asks feds to stop armed group’s free travel at refuge

The Burns Paiute Tribe wants federal officials to bar armed activists from traveling back and forth to a national wildlife preserve they are occupying in southeastern Oregon, fearing tribal artifacts will go missing or the group will disturb burial grounds.

The small group took over buildings at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge more than three weeks ago that store over 4,000 archaeological artifacts and maps detailing where more items can be found. Members of the group, who are occupying the site to oppose federal land use policies, recently posted videos to social media that show them looking at some of the relics and criticizing the way the federal government has stored them.

The artifacts belonged to ancestors of the Burns Paiute Tribe, which works closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to preserve prehistoric sites and artifacts at the refuge.

The tribe has “grave concerns regarding the present handling of the occupation as well as the prosecution of the militants,“ tribal chairwoman Charlotte Rodrique wrote in a letter Friday to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and FBI Director James Comey.

Federal authorities have taken a hands-off approach so far and say they want a peaceful resolution. One of the group’s leaders, Ammon Bundy, has been in contact with an FBI negotiator and local law enforcement.

FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele said Monday that she couldn’t comment because of the ongoing investigation.

Members of the group have been able to come and go from the refuge, at times buying supplies at a local grocery store and occasionally meeting with government officials. Authorities have stayed away from the property, setting up their operational headquarters nearly a half-hour’s drive away in Burns. Officials there didn’t immediately return requests for comment.

“Allowing the militants free passage to and from the Refuge must stop,“ Rodrique wrote.

The activists also have built a road through part of the refuge and taken down a fence, she noted.

“We fear that the demolition and construction activities of the militants may have harmed our burial grounds and disturbed Tribal artifacts,“ she wrote.

There is a robust black market for Native American antiquities, she said.

“We fear that our Tribal cultural patrimony provides an all too easy funding source for the militants,“ Roderique wrote.

Two leaders of the group didn’t immediately return phone messages requesting comment.

But Ryan Bundy said about a week ago that the group was not interested in the artifacts and would turn them over to the tribe if asked. He also said the protection of prehistoric sites at the refuge should take a backseat to grazing and logging rights.

The federal government’s approach to the activists has increasingly frustrated some residents. Counterprotesters have begun to gather on the refuge with signs telling the group to go home.

Divisions also are starting to appear among law enforcement entities. The refuge is in Harney County, where local officials have been working closely with state and federal authorities.

Glenn Palmer, the sheriff of neighboring Grant County, recently endorsed some of the group’s demands, including releasing two local ranchers imprisoned on arson charges and sending home the FBI.

“The government tis going to have to concede something” to end the occupation, Palmer told The Oregonian newspaper.

Malheur County Sheriff Brian Wolfe, who has been helping Harney County and federal officials, said Palmer’s position is not helping.

“If anything, it hampers the effort to end this,“ Wolfe told the newspaper.

►   Sex Might Spread Zika Virus

The Zika virus spreading panic across Latin America may be spread by more than mosquitoes, experts warn. Research suggests that the virus can be found in semen after it disappears from blood, meaning it can be transmitted through sex, though cases are rare, the New York Times reports. Colorado State University insect expert Brian Foy says he became infected with Zika during a mosquito study in rural Senegal in 2008, and he believes he infected his wife after returning to the US. He tells 9News that they had sex before he showed symptoms, and since none of their children became ill, he believes intercourse is the only way she could have been infected. Both of them made a full recovery.

Experts say that as the virus—which causes birth defects and possibly paralysis—spreads through the Americas, researchers should make it a priority to discover all the ways it can be transmitted. Foy tells the Times that he has been trying to obtain funding for a study but there was little interest until very recently. For now, “if I was a man and I got Zika symptoms, I’d wait a couple of months before having unprotected sex,“ Zika expert Scott Weaver of the Institute for Human Infections and Immunity at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston tells the Times. “If my wife was of childbearing age, I’d want to use protection, certainly for a few weeks.“ (The WHO warns that the virus is likely to spread to every country in the Americas except Canada and Chile.)

►   Lawsuit: Disney Illegally Replaced Tech Workers With Foreigners

Disney and two outsourcing companies abused immigration law by colluding to bring in foreign workers to replace Americans, according to lawsuits from two tech workers. Leo Perrero and Dena Moore say that before they were laid off with around 250 other people in 2014, they had to train lower-priced replacements who were brought in on H-1B visas, reports the Orlando Sentinel. H-1Bs are temporary visas for high-tech workers, and the lawsuits accuse the companies of lying under oath on visa applications when they declared that “similarly situated employees would not be adversely affected,“ the Sentinel reports.

The lawsuits filed Monday, which both seek class-action status, mark the first time Americans have sued outsourcing companies and former employers for abusing the controversial H-1B system, the New York Times reports. Disney issued a statement saying the “lawsuits are based on an unsustainable legal theory and are a wholesale misrepresentation of the facts.“ “I don’t have to be angry or cause drama,“ Moore tells the Times. “But they are just doing things to save a buck, and it’s making Americans poor.“ She says that at 53, starting over at a new company has been tough—and her 13 grandchildren definitely miss the free Disney passes.

►   Obama Bans Solitary Confinement for Juveniles

President Obama thinks solitary confinement does far more harm than good when it comes to juvenile offenders, and he’s now banning the punishment outright in federal prisons. The president laid out his reasoning in a Washington Post op-ed, declaring that “the United States is a nation of second chances, but the experience of solitary confinement too often undercuts that second chance.“ Instead of rehabilitation, it’s more likely to result in long-term psychological damage, he said. Obama also ordered federal prisons to restrict the use of solitary confinement with adult prisoners and to expand treatment of inmates with mental illness. USA Today notes that the juvenile ban won’t affect many kids: It covers only federal facilities, which house few juveniles. As of December, 71 juveniles were in Bureau of Prisons sites, and only 13 of them had spent any time at all in solitary in the previous year.

Still, Obama writes that he hopes the federal action will “serve as a model” for state and local facilities, where the vast majority of juvenile offenders are held. “How can we subject prisoners to unnecessary solitary confinement, knowing its effects, and then expect them to return to our communities as whole people?” he writes. “It doesn’t make us safer. It’s an affront to our common humanity.” In a statement, Amnesty International called the reforms “a momentous break with this shameful legacy, and an acknowledgement that tens of thousands of human beings should not be condemned to live in a cage.“ In a separate story, the Washington Post notes that at least 12 states have taken steps in the last year or two to curb solitary confinement, sometimes as the result of lawsuits.

►   14 Citadel Cadets Disciplined in ‘KKK’ Flap

Fourteen cadets have been dismissed, suspended, or are serving on-campus punishments at The Citadel after several of them appeared in photos with pillowcases on their heads similar to Ku Klux Klan garb, the military college’s president announced Monday. The photos of seven freshmen cadets dressed in white pants and shirts with the pillowcases surfaced on social media last month. An investigation found they were ordered by upperclassmen to sing Christmas carols while they were dressed in costumes as part of a “Ghosts of Christmas Past” skit, the AP reports. “The investigation found that the cadets did not intend to be offensive. However, I am disappointed some recognized how it could be construed as such but didn’t stop it,“ college President retired Lt. Gen John Rosa says in a statement.

The song sheets contained only the words to carols and nothing offensive and “at the outset, not all of the freshmen understood that the costumes could be construed by some as offensive,“ he says. Rosa says while the skit had no ill intent, “it did show poor judgment. It demonstrates that we must integrate an even higher level of diversity education into cadets’ daily activities.“ He announced formation of a task force comprised of representatives from the school and the community to study and make recommendations on the campus climate for minorities, enhancing the curriculum to promote greater understanding of ethnic backgrounds, and increasing diversity among students and staff. School officials said one junior has been dismissed from the college. Two upperclassmen were suspended and must leave for a semester. The other cadets are being punished by marching back and forth in the barracks shouldering guns for 50 minutes at a time. Some will have to march tours for three weeks, others until the end of the semester.

►   Mizzou professor Who Called for ‘Muscle’ Charged With Assault

The Mizzou journalism professor who stepped down after video surfaced of her calling for some “muscle” to force a journalist away from student protesters has been charged. Melissa Click, who was seen pushing away a journalist’s camera on the video, was charged with third-degree misdemeanor assault Monday, NBC News reports. She faces up to 15 days in jail. Though Click resigned her professorship at the journalism school after the incident, she still has an associate professorship in the media department, Mediaite reports. Many have called for her ouster, but ABC 17 reports that the school’s interim chancellor says she’s keeping her job as a task force investigates the incident and determines whether she’ll get tenure.

►   Leaders Behind Planned Parenthood Videos Are Indicted

A Houston grand jury investigating undercover footage of Planned Parenthood found no wrongdoing Monday by the abortion provider but instead indicted anti-abortion activists involved in making the videos that provoked outrage among Republican leaders nationwide, the AP reports. David Daleiden, founder of the Center for Medical Progress, was indicted on a felony charge of tampering with a governmental record and a misdemeanor count related to purchasing human organs. Another activist, Sandra Merritt, was also indicted on a charge of tampering with a governmental record. Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson didn’t specify what record or records were allegedly tampered with in a statement announcing the indictment.

“We were called upon to investigate allegations of criminal conduct by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast,“ Anderson says. “As I stated at the outset of this investigation, we must go where the evidence leads us.“ The Center for Medical Progress is the anti-abortion group that released covertly shot videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of aborted fetuses for research. A phone message left with the group wasn’t immediately returned. Planned Parenthood officials swiftly hailed the indictment as just. “This is absolutely great news because it is a demonstration of what Planned Parenthood has said from the very beginning, we follow every law and regulation and these anti-abortion activists broke multiple laws to try and spread lies,“ says spokeswoman Rochelle Tafolla of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast.

In The World….

The Free Press WV

►   Rare Cold Snap Kills Dozens in East Asia

The US East Coast wasn’t the only place struggling with winter weather over the weekend: An unusually cold weather front has been blamed for killing 57 mostly elderly people in Taiwan’s greater Taipei area. The cold wave abruptly pushed temperatures to a 16-year low of 39 degrees Fahrenheit in the subtropical capital where most homes lack central heating, causing heart trouble and shortness of breath for many of the victims, a city official says. “In our experience, it’s not the actual temperature but the sudden drop that’s too sudden for people’s circulatory systems,“ a city spokesman says.

The cold front also left 3.5 inches of snow on Taipei’s highest peak Saturday and stranded vehicles as people headed into the mountains to see the snow. The same polar front closed schools Monday in Hong Kong, where temperatures fell to 34 degrees Fahrenheit, the lowest in nearly 60 years, the BBC reports. Over the weekend, “frost chasers” headed to the territory’s highest peaks, and more than 200 of them, many suffering from hypothermia, had to be rescued by firefighters, reports the Hong Kong Free Press. (In the US, the weekend blizzard may be followed by a baby boom.)

►   Now in South Africa: Scholarships for Virgins

A South African mayor has awarded college scholarships to 16 young women for remaining virgins to encourage others to be “pure and focus on school,“ her rep said Sunday. Each year the mayor’s office awards scholarships to more than 100 promising high school and university students in the eastern KwaZulu-Natal province, mayoral spokesman Jabulani Mkhonza said. The young women who applied for the scholarships voluntarily stayed virgins and agreed to have regular virginity tests to keep their funding, Uthukela Mayor Dudu Mazibuko told South African talk radio station 702. “To us, it’s just to say thank you for keeping yourself and you can still keep yourself for the next three years until you get your degree or certificate,“ Mazibuko said. The grants will be renewed “as long as the child can produce a certificate that she is still a virgin,“ she said.

The scholarships focus on young women because they are more vulnerable to exploitation, teenage pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases, she said. “I think the intentions of the mayor are great but what we don’t agree with is giving bursaries for virginity,“ said chairman for the Commission for Gender Equality Mfanozelwe Shozi. “There is an issue around discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, virginity, and even against boys. This is going too far.“ Virginity testing is not against South Africa’s constitution but it is essential that it is done with consent, said Shozi. Some activists want virginity testing banned in South Africa, describing it as sexist and invasive. Those defending the cultural practice say it preserves tradition and has been modernized to teach girls about their reproductive health and HIV and AIDS.

►   Sole Survivor of Forgotten WWII Disaster Has Died

“For 58 years, no one asked me about the Struma,“ David Stoliar told the New York Times in 2000, “and I felt that no one cared.“ But experiencing the worst civilian maritime disaster of WWII never left him. “I carried the memories in my head as if it happened yesterday.“ The Times on Saturday published an obituary for Stoliar, who died May 1, 2014 at his home in Bend, Ore. The Times had prepared an obituary, but just learned of Stoliar’s death on Friday. On December 11, 1941, Stoliar, then 19, was aboard the Struma as it left Romanian Black Sea port of Constanza, bound for British-controlled Palestine, with more than 790 Jews fleeing persecution. The 150-foot steamer was “a squalid, leaky former cattle boat,“ the Times writes. The engines failed. They were repaired, then failed again. Turkish tugs towed the Struma into the Bosporus, the strait dividing Europe and Asia.

The Struma was interned offshore for more than two months as Turkish officials, worried about angering the British or the Germans, decided what to do. Ultimately, the Turks towed the boat back out to the Black Sea and set it adrift. The next day, a Soviet sub torpedoed the helpless vessel. Stoliar was the lone survivor, clinging to debris in frigid waters for 24 hours before being rescued by a Turkish ship. The ordeal continued: After being hospitalized with frostbite, Stoliar spent six weeks in a Turkish prison. Stoliar finally reached Palestine. He fought in the British Army in Egypt and Libya, then with the Israeli Army in the war of independence. He was an oil executive in the 1950s; and later, per the Oregonian, he and his wife, Marda Stoliar, created a successful shoe-manufacturing business. “He went on to have an amazing life,“ she tells the Oregonian. Read Stoliar’s fascinating story H E R E.

►   Here’s Brazil’s Plan for a Zika-Free Olympics

From polluted waterways to terrible planning, organizers of the 2016 Summer Olympics set to take place in Rio de Janeiro have faced plenty of challenges. The latest: the mosquito-borne Zika virus that has been linked to serious birth defects in newborn babies. Authorities in Brazil—home of the largest-known outbreak of the virus, which has spread through Latin America and the Caribbean—have announced plans to prevent Zika’s spread during the Games, the BBC reports. Measures include:

  • Inspections starting four months before the Games to wipe out breeding grounds.
  • Daily mosquito sweeps during the Games.
  • Fumigation on a case-by-case basis.

Also, officials say, August is a cooler, drier month, when mosquitoes are less common.

►   Probe: Nothing Shady About PM’s Mystery $681M Gift

Malaysia’s attorney general said Tuesday that $681 million channeled into Prime Minister Najib Razak’s private accounts was a personal donation from Saudi Arabia’s royal family and cleared him of any criminal wrongdoing, the AP reports. The announcement capped months of uncertainty for Najib, who has come under intense pressure to resign over the financial scandal in his biggest political crisis since he took power in 2009. But the announcement by Attorney General Mohamed Apandi Ali did not clear up the mystery over the money, as he did not say why the Saudi royals made the donation to Najib or give details on what the money was to have been used for.

Apandi—whose predecessor was fired while investigating the prime minister—said investigations by the country’s anti-corruption agency showed that no criminal offense was committed, as the $681 million transferred into Najib’s accounts between March 2013 and April 2013 was “given without any consideration” by the Saudi royal family as a personal donation. He said Najib returned $620 million to the Saudis in August 2013; he didn’t say what happened to the remaining $61 million. There was no immediate comment from Najib. In August, massive street rallies called for Najib’s resignation after leaked documents suggested that the $681 million was deposited into his private bank accounts from entities linked to indebted state investment fund 1MDB.

►   Putin Bashes ‘Delirious’ Soviet Founder Lenin

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday criticized Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin, accusing him of placing a “time bomb” under the state and sharply denouncing brutal repressions by the Bolshevik government. The harsh criticism of Lenin, who’s still revered by communists and many others in Russia, is unusual (though not unheard of) for Putin, who in the past carefully weighed his comments about the nation’s history to avoid alienating some voters. Putin’s assessment of Lenin’s role in Russian history during Monday’s meeting with pro-Kremlin activists in Stavropol follows on attacks last week on the anniversary of Lenin’s death, notes Newsweek. He denounced Lenin and his government for brutally executing Russia’s last czar along with his family and servants, killing thousands of priests, and placing a “time bomb” under the Russian state by drawing administrative borders along ethnic lines.

As an example of Lenin’s destructive legacy, Putin pointed at Donbass, the industrial region in eastern Ukraine where a pro-Russia separatist rebellion flared up weeks after Russia’s March 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. He said that Lenin and his government whimsically drew borders between parts of the USSR, placing Donbass under Ukrainian jurisdiction in order to “increase the percentage of proletariat” in a move Putin called “delirious.“ Putin also blasted the Bolsheviks for losing World War I in their quest for power. Putin’s recent criticism of Lenin could be part of his attempts to justify Moscow’s policy in the Ukrainian crisis, but it also may reflect the Kremlin’s concern about possible separatist sentiments in some Russian provinces. Despite his remarks, Putin signaled that the government has no intention of taking Lenin’s body out of his Red Square tomb, warning against “any steps that would divide the society.“

►   Banksy’s Newest Target: Tear Gas Used on Refugees

Two giant sheets of plywood now cover Banksy’s latest mural opposite the French embassy in London—though developers of the building it’s spray-painted on say they’re trying to keep it safe, the BBC reports. Never one to shy away from controversy, the artist borrowed the girl who famously appears in promos for Les Miserables and added tears streaming down her cheeks, ostensibly due to the tear gas canister at her feet. It’s Banksy’s statement against the so-called “Jungle” camp in Calais, France, where authorities have reportedly used tear gas to try to evict hundreds of refugees so they can raze part of the camp, per the Guardian. The mural is high tech, too, in what the paper says is a first for Banksy’s street displays: Viewers who scan the QR code in one of the corners will be taken to a video that seems to show refugees in the camp being bombarded with rubber bullets and tear gas in an early January raid, per the BBC.

The mural, which showed up on the side of what the BBC calls a “large complex” on Saturday, isn’t Banksy’s first artistic protest against the European refugee crisis: He’s also behind the Steve-Jobs-as-Syrian-refugee mural that recently showed up in Calais, as well as a re-creation of the 19th-century painting The Raft of the Medusa, showing survivors on a raft trying to flag down a luxury yacht, per the Guardian. A Calais police rep told the paper last week “it’s not in our interest to use tear gas unless it’s absolutely necessary to restore public order, and it is never used in the camp itself,“ but skepticism remains. The director of the property group in charge of the building where the mural appears tells the BBC the company is “discussing future plans for the artwork”; others are simply raving about the beauty and importance of such a piece. “To see interesting art, you don’t have to go to a gallery; you just have to walk the streets,“ Suzanne Moore writes for the Guardian. “Street art reminds us both of what we have to fight for, and what we have lost.“

►   Sloth Tries to Cross Road, Gets Save From Cop

We all feel a little sluggish on Mondays, but the struggle was real for this sloth trying to cross a newly opened highway in Ecuador. Per Jalopnik, a transit cop found the creature—referred to locally as an “oso perezoso,“ or “lazy bear,“ WLS-TV notes—terrified and wrapped around a guardrail. The sloth was apparently pried off its safe space and taken to a vet, where it was deemed OK to be returned to its habitat, per the transit authority’s Facebook page. Now all we’ve got left of the incident are the photos—and the debate seems to be over whether the sloth is irresistibly cute or maybe, if you’ve never seen a sloth up close, a little creepy. More pics at WLS-TV.

Area Closings and Delays on Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Gilmer Free Press
Status of Area Closings and Delays on Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Glenville State College    
Gilmer County Board of Education    
Gilmer County Courthouse  
Gilmer County Health Department  
Gilmer County Senior Center  
Minnie Hamilton Health System, Glenville Office Clinic
Gilmer County Schools 2 Hour Delay  
Braxton County Schools 2 Hour Delay  
Calhoun County Schools 3 Hour Delay  
Doddridge County Schools    
Lewis County Schools All Closed  
Ritchie County Schools    
Barbour County Schools All Closed  
Clay County Schools All Closed  
Harrison County Schools 3 Hour Delay  
Nicholas County Schools    
Pleasants County Schools    
Roane County Schools    
Tyler County Schools    
Upshur County Schools 2 Hour Delay  
Webster County Schools    
Wetzel County Schools    
Wirt County Schools    
Wood County Schools    


Please Send us your closings and delays:  ‘’  or   304.462.8700

Area Closings and Delays on Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Gilmer Free Press
Status of Area Closings and Delays on Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Glenville State College    
Gilmer County Board of Education    
Gilmer County Courthouse  
Gilmer County Health Department  
Gilmer County Senior Center  
Minnie Hamilton Health System, Glenville Office Clinic
Gilmer County Schools All Closed  
Braxton County Schools All Closed  
Calhoun County Schools All Closed  
Doddridge County Schools 2 Hour Delay  
Lewis County Schools All Closed  
Ritchie County Schools 2 Hour Delay  
Barbour County Schools All Closed  
Clay County Schools All Closed  
Harrison County Schools All Closed  
Nicholas County Schools 2 Hour Delay  
Pleasants County Schools 2 Hour Delay  
Roane County Schools All Closed  
Tyler County Schools    
Upshur County Schools All Closed  
Webster County Schools 2 Hour Delay  
Wetzel County Schools All Closed  
Wirt County Schools 2 Hour Delay  
Wood County Schools 2 Hour Delay  


Please Send us your closings and delays:  ‘’  or   304.462.8700

Every WV Citizens Needs To Call Their WV Elected State Politicans Today

‘Middle Mile Bill’ on broadband
could become West Virginia’s saving grace

The Free Press WV

West Virginia is the glorious state I call home. Much like many of the other West Virginia residents, I want to see the state grow and succeed. The lack of technology has been an enormous deterrent to the progress of West Virginia.

West Virginia ranks 52nd in connectivity behind Guam and Puerto Rico, 51st in technology behind American Samoa and 47th in competition per the FCC. With those numbers, West Virginia is not competitive in bringing jobs to the state to diversify our economy in this 21st century global economy.

A few Internet providers have a monopoly on large portions of the state with their services. Stunningly, 56 percent of West Virginia residents lack access to high-speed Internet. It was telling when Rob Hinton, executive director of the Upshur County Development Authority, pointed out that more than 1.1 million West Virginians do not have access to broadband as defined by the FCC.

The broadband expansion bill, nicknamed the “Middle Mile Bill,” is being supported by both AARP and Generation West Virginia. The bill will provide West Virginia with the fastest and most affordable fiber optic backbone in the United States, and taxpayers would not have to pay a dime.

The bill would be funded by federal grant money and performance bonds. The 2,500 miles of fiber would cost $78 million to be constructed. The fiber network would operate like an interstate through each of the counties. The private service providers would then pay a rental fee to extend their services from their networks to the rural areas.

An economic study completed by West Virginia State University showed that within the first year, the broadband bill would bring in 4,000 permanent jobs to the state and nearly $1 billion for the state’s GDP.

Job opportunities and a new economic income source are desperately needed for the state. In today’s economy, this is the only way to diversify and accelerate job creation.

The economy and job force are not the only areas this legislation would benefit. West Virginians’ health and education would greatly improve from the passing of this bill. Health clinics in rural areas of the state have been equipped with cameras that allow for health specialists to observe and interact with patients without the patients having to travel out of their local area. Multiple cameras are currently inactive though because the Internet connections in our rural areas are too weak.

The problems do not end there. West Virginia’s education is crumbling. The FCC has stated that West Virginia has the largest “homework gap” in the nation. The “homework gap” is when a student goes home and cannot access the Internet to do homework. The broadband bill would bring high-speed Internet to the youth in the state and close the gap.

It will also help individuals complete online college courses to increase higher education in the state.

With employment, economics, health and education on the line, I am taking the necessary actions to push the “Middle Mile Bill” in both the House and the Senate. To discuss broadband further, I can be contacted by email at or my office number, 304.357.7866.

To show your support for the broadband bill, you can attend broadband day at the Legislature Jan. 26, or you can contact your local delegates and senators.

~~  Senator Chris Walters, R-Putnam -  Chair of the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee ~~

K-12 Science Teachers in Dire Need of Professional Development

The Free Press WV

Sustained professional learning opportunities are needed to help science teachers teach new science standards, according to a new report

K-12 science teachers are often left to deal with a lack of coherent and sustained professional learning opportunities that researchers say are needed to support science teachers inside and outside of the classroom, particularly as they strive to teach new science standards.

As researchers’ and teachers’ understanding of how best to learn and teach science evolves and curricula are redesigned, many teachers are left without the experience needed to enhance the science and engineering courses they teach, according to a Jan. 20 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

This issue is particularly pronounced in elementary schools and in schools that serve a high percentage of low-income students.

Science teachers’ professional learning occurs in a range of settings, both in and outside of schools, including teacher-organized and teacher-led study groups, coaching from more experienced teachers, and professional development programs that are often at summer institutes. Professional learning in online environments and through social networking holds promise, although evidence from research and practice on the outcomes and value of these modes is limited.

Recommendations to connect science teachers with more professional development

Elementary, middle, and high school science teachers are required to participate regularly in professional development, but these activities are often generic and unevenly distributed across schools, districts, and regions.

The study also reveals that little attention has been devoted to how to systematically structure science teachers’ learning in ways that support cumulative learning over time. While high school teachers have more access to relevant professional development opportunities, middle and elementary school teachers have less. The situation is especially difficult for teachers in schools that serve high percentages of low-income students, where teacher turnover is higher, and the workforce is relatively inexperienced. Since teachers spend the majority of their professional time in classrooms and schools, more learning opportunities should be built into the work day.

As part of ongoing efforts to improve the quality of science education in the U.S., many states are adopting the Next Generation Science Standards, which are largely based on the 2011 Academies report A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. The standards outline key scientific ideas and practices that all students should learn by the time they graduate from high school, and they entail shifting away from memorization of facts and information presented by teachers to student-led investigations and in-depth examination of core ideas.

“The Next Generation Science Standards are a motivating factor for us to think differently about learning opportunities for both students and teachers,” said Suzanne Wilson, committee chair and Neag Endowed Professor of Teacher Education at the University of Connecticut. “Many science teachers will need to alter the way they teach to achieve this new vision of the science education of K-12 students. Closing the gap between the vision of teaching science exemplified in the NGSS and current instruction in many schools will require creating a system of policies and practices that support individual and collective teachers’ needs, allowing them to deepen their own expertise, while challenging their students to learn, enjoy, and appreciate science.”

The report committee issued a number of recommendations to help implement policies and practices at the school and district levels, which are crucial locations for investments in the science teacher workforce, including:

  • Districts and schools should design a portfolio of coherent learning experiences for science teachers that reflect their individual and context-specific needs.
  • In collaboration with teachers and parents, district personnel and school principals should identify specific learning needs of science teachers in their schools and develop a multiyear plan for their development that is linked to the school and district strategy for students’ science learning.
  • Consider both specialized professional learning programs outside of school and opportunities for science teachers’ learning embedded in the workday.
  • Design and select learning opportunities for science teachers that are informed by the best available research.

The committee found that more research is needed to understand the path from professional learning opportunities to changes in teacher knowledge and practice to student learning and engagement. It identified several areas of research to inform the work of school leaders in supporting ongoing teacher learning, including:

  • Focus research on linking professional learning to changes in instructional practice and student learning
  • Invest in improving measures of science instruction and science learning
  • Design and implement research that examines a variety of approaches to supporting science teachers’ learning

The study was sponsored by the Merck Foundation. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine. They operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln.

~~  Material from the new report was used in this report ~~

Tom Campbell: WV Needs To Shift To ‘Inside/Out’ Mentality Regarding Education

The Free Press WV

My view of Fayette County is shaped primarily from my 16-year legislative experience. I enjoyed working with the many delegates and senators from Fayette County over the years. They were all loyal West Virginians and we shared many “battles” working for our part of the state.

I also gained a lot of knowledge about Fayette County as I got to know the good citizens of Western Greenbrier over the years. In my mind ALL Fayette County citizens take a great deal of pride in their communities and in their county. They have shown that by passing fire levies and one of the very few of West Virginia’s 55 counties to pass a 100 percent school levy to support their schools.

Now they ALL share the frustration of schools that are not meeting the needs of the Fayette County students.
West Virginia’s system of education over the last several decades has been based on the outside/in mentality. If we regulate and standardize and consolidate and force feed our students what they need, by golly they will learn! Well, that is not working, and Fayette County is the poster child for that.

Fayette County and West Virginia deserves better. I think it is time to shift to the inside/out mentality. In just reading Senator Byrd’s autobiography, I was touched by how much his community nourished him and he was inspired to learn on his own. West Virginians get community, and we get it well. So let’s set up a system of education that nourishes the body and soul of our young people from the inside and inspire them to learn. What do we have to lose?

Let’s start by giving Fayette Countians an opportunity to vote on a bond that keeps the schools they have in place – ALL of them. Matched with money from the School Building Authority, Fayette County could have very good buildings, but more importantly they will maintain the communities needed to nourish and inspire the children.
West Virginia now spends up to $400 million on transporting children out of their communities. We move children away from support of family and friends, we tire them out going to and from school and then we expect them to learn. Because of our heavy dependence on busing, we cancel schools so often that truly the only way get the time on task we need is to go year round. It just does not make sense.

With technology today, I know students can be connected to curriculum anywhere in the world from almost anywhere in West Virginia (that has cell service). So let’s do what worked for Senator Byrd and many others. Let’s find a way to strengthen our community schools and let’s start in Fayette County.

~~  Tom Campbell - A member of the West Virginia Board of Education ~~

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