Troy Elementary School February-March 2015 Awards
(L-R) pk-Erin Stoddard, K-Liza Broome, 1-Katy Frymier, 2-Dalton DeJarnette,
3-Emilee May, 4-Henry Brown, 5-Mark Sponaugle, 6-Zack Collins
Most Improved Award
(L-R) PK-Chloe Wilson, K-Savanna Greenlief, 1-Tyler Harper, 2-Cadon Jones,
3-Jesse Finley, 4-Tommy Spada, 5-Joe Lilly, 6-Brianna Burkhammer
Student of the Month
(L-R) PK-Mason Stitt, K-Rylea Campbell, 1-Shanta Milk, 2-Abigail McIntyre,
3-Kamdin Fox, 4-Briar Taylor, 5-Sam Rose, 6-Avery Brown
Best Class Attendance for February/March—4th Grade Class
Top Trojan Award for the PK-2 include: Caleb Emerson and Cassie Hinter
Top Trojan Award for the 3-6 include: Aaron Frederick and Matthew Matheny
West Virginia Community Story Tells Much About School Consolidation
Editor’s note: Links are free and current at time of posting, but may require registration or expire over time.
Most school consolidations don’t happen out of the blue. Momentum builds over time as local politics, economic circumstances, and state policies change. This ebb and flow can become so much part of the life of the school and community that many local residents quit paying much attention to it.
Meadow Bridge in West Virginia has been a potential target of school consolidation for the better part of 40 years, and the community is once again in the throes of trying to protect its school.
“Since the push for consolidation started in West Virginia, the vast majority of elected Fayette County school board members have supported our community schools.” says Carolyn Arritt, a Meadow Bridge resident, retired teacher, and former Fayette County school board member.” However, in 1975, 2001, and 2010, a couple of board members who believed that economies of scale with new buildings would improve curriculum and learning have pushed hard for consolidation.”
Arritt continues, “Most of the high schools in West Virginia have been consolidated during the last 30 years, but students, according to published reports, are lagging behind. Apparently, consolidated schools are not the solution, but the state continues to focus in that direction.”
The story of Meadow Bridge has many of the elements common to school consolidation fights around the country. Arritt, who is also a fellow with Challenge West Virginia.challengewv.org, which works to improve small community schools and give citizens a voice in educational policy, shares her perspective on what’s happened. RPM distills (in the yellow inset boxes) themes that are common in school consolidation initiatives around the country. We hope this story will help readers understand some of the pressures on rural schools in their own communities and states.
The Rural Context: Meadow Bridge
Meadow Bridge is an isolated community, located at the far southeastern edge of Fayette County in south central West Virginia. It is just one-tenth of a mile from the Summers County line and nine miles from the Greenbrier County line, but 30 miles from Fayetteville, the county seat town. Situated at 2,800 feet, the school occupies the highest elevation of any school in this mountainous county. This past winter, the region received more than 200 inches of snow.
As consolidations in neighboring Summers and Greenbrier counties have moved schools more to the center of those counties, students have transferred to Meadow Bridge, making it serve more as a regional school and saving students from long bus rides in their own school districts.
|RPM Observation: Schools threatened with consolidation are often located at the edge of the county away from the population center. Smaller schools in multi-school districts are more vulnerable than schools in small districts with their own governance structures. Poorer schools in less politically influential communities are more vulnerable than other schools.
The elementary school (K–6) and the middle/high school (7–12) share adjacent campuses and together serve about 450 students. The schools are part of the county-wide Fayette County school district. Six communities in the county have high schools and nine communities have elementary schools. A little over 70% of Meadow Bridge students qualify for free/reduced lunches, the second highest rate in the county.
Consolidation: Building Momentum
“It was about 1975 when the county decided they wanted to consolidate some schools, so they got up a bond initiative [to raise money for new schools],” says Arritt. “People in Meadow Bridge didn’t want to lose our school, so enough people got involved and helped defeat the bond.”
Meadow Bridge wasn’t closed, but about a year later, the consolidation effort did result in the combining of two existing small high schools (Ansted and Nutall) into Midland Trail High School. Three additional high schools were built in Oak Hill, Fayetteville, and Valley.
|RPM Observation: Schools in which maintenance has been neglected are more vulnerable to consolidation than facilities that are in good condition. Ongoing preventive maintenance reduces the likelihood of major renovation expenses. A clue that a school is targeted for consolidation is neglect of maintenance. Some states that push consolidation deny state funding for maintenance to targeted schools.
“Now they’re saying the schools are crumbling,” says Arritt. “The buildings are in need of required maintenance, and some schools need more,” she adds. “But the buildings haven’t been maintained like they should have been all along. So that’s part of the reasoning to consolidate now.”
In response to maintenance needs at Meadow Bridge, local residents got together two years ago and painted classrooms, hallways, and restrooms, replaced needed ceiling tiles, and refinished flooring. “We couldn’t do the big maintenance items, but we did do cosmetic things to make the school look better,” Arritt explains, adding that the effort was a matter of pride and commitment to students as well as a statement of intent to keep the schools in the community.
State Facilities Process
West Virginia, like many states, requires local school districts to come up with a long-term facilities plan. The Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan (CEFP), as it is known in West Virginia, is developed in a supposedly community-based process led by a committee appointed by the local board and governed by state regulations.
“In 2001, they came up with a consolidation plan,” says Arritt, describing a Fayette County CEFP process. “West Virginia says this is a local process, but the force for consolidation is from the state.”
She continues, “The CEFP is to take into consideration such facts as student health and safety, economies of scale, and demographics and travel. Of these three, it seems that economies of scale – middle schools of at least 450 students, or 150 a grade, and high schools of at least 600, or 200 a grade – is given more weight. The state population is said to have decreased over the last 30 years, but the numbers in the economics of scale have not decreased proportionally.”
West Virginia has set travel time guidelines for bus rides of 30 minutes for elementary students, 45 minutes for middle schools, and 60 minutes for high schools.
“Apparently Fayette County’s CEFP Steering Committee did not take student health and safety or the demographics and travel time into consideration,” says Arritt.
Consolidation of schools within districts is a “local school board decision” in most states. But many state departments of education encourage, push, or force local districts to close smaller schools and sometimes tell the local board they have to close schools for academic or economic reasons or to be eligible for certain funding streams.
|RPM Observation: The facilities planning process in most states involves a mix of both state guidance and local planning. This process is an important one in which consolidation decisions can be set in motion or averted. Many planning processes include regulations that bring subtle pressure to consolidate on communities without their knowledge. Learning the state’s facilities rules is one of the most important actions that local residents can do to protect and plan for their school’s future.
In larger multi-school districts, there is usually some tension over consolidation. Often, residents of larger towns in no danger of losing their schools believe that consolidation will bring more opportunities or resources into their places and so they support it. New school construction can mean money, sales, and jobs for some local firms and residents, so some interests view consolidation as a means for generating short-term construction activity. Pressures from the state to consolidate exacerbate and often skew these tensions away from important local considerations that residents hold in balance.
In some cases, state pressures are slow and steady, in some cases quick and extreme.
Fayette County’s consolidation pressures have been both steady and more extreme.
“The bond initiative for the 2001 consolidation plan didn’t pass, 86% of the people didn’t want it,” says Arritt. That’s when things really began to get difficult. “There was a new superintendent brought in just to push consolidation,” she says.
Bad Politics, Local Governance Chaos
For the next several years, the fights went on. Arritt was elected to the county school board in 2002, shifting the balance on the 5-member board to one that favored keeping schools in communities.
|RPM Observation: Schools are publicly governed institutions that are part of the democratic fabric, so naturally they are subject to political pressures at times. But when school politics get especially dirty or when schools become objects used for other political ends, some citizens disengage. It becomes hard for teachers and administrators to do their jobs and school morale and productivity suffer. Schools are at risk for closure when there is sustained political fighting at the district level. Citizens need to stay involved in the important education matters at stake.
But Arritt’s election didn’t end the pressures for consolidation. School politics got more heated. “In the last ten years, we’ve probably had about ten superintendents,” Arritt says. “There’s so much in-fighting, many teachers have gotten disgusted, lots of good teachers have retired, things have just been a mess.”
More State Involvement
Amid this turmoil, Fayette County began again to develop its ten-year CEFP plan in October 2008. By this time Arritt was no longer serving on the school board, but was still involved as a citizen and advocate for good schools. “The first meeting I was asked to attend was not a CEFP meeting, but a board meeting,” she says. “We were given options concerning possible consolidations. Since a Needs Project was due to the State Department of Education, another meeting was scheduled for the following week. I thought it would be a meeting to discuss possibilities, but the next week they handed out surveys about consolidation. The next thing I knew, the school Board is putting up a bond to combine four high schools together.”
“When that happened,” Arritt continues, “they quit working on the CEFP and started working to promote the bond.”
But the bond failed, with more than 75% of votes against it.
In January 2010, fifteen months later, work on the CEFP began again. Then the state took over the school system in February.
Arritt explains that all the trouble in the county school system had put Fayette County “in the spotlight” and that many local residents were not unhappy to see the takeover in hopes that it would bring some stability and direction.
But those hopes soon turned sour with the release of an Office of Educational Performance Audits (OEPA) report that included misinformation about some of the schools, including Meadow Bridge.
“The report made the school look like it has problems that it doesn’t,” says Arritt. “It said we didn’t offer classes that we do. And it had silly things, like high school students have to walk 25 feet to the cafeteria that is shared between the two schools, like that’s some kind of big problem. It seemed to us like they were trying to justify consolidation.”
|RPM Observation: The spread of negative misinformation and misleading stories about schools targeted for consolidation is common and helps build a rationale for closing a school.
Reductions in district resources make it harder for targeted schools to meet state requirements, which are used as an excuse for closure.
High-performing small rural schools are often targeted for consolidation, especially those that serve large portions of low-income or minority students.
In fact, Meadow Bridge students are doing better than Fayette County and West Virginia statewide averages in most all subjects, despite their high poverty rate, according to Arritt. “The graduation rate is over 90% (state is 78%), and the school has been asked to take at-risk students from other schools in danger of not making AYP. Attendance is also high at over 95%, and the student discipline rate is the county’s lowest. Almost 90% of students participated in extracurricular activities. The community gave six community-funded college scholarships, ranging in value from $250 to $2,500, to 2010 graduates.”
She adds, “For the last two years, U.S. News and World Report selected Meadow Bridge High School as a Bronze Medal recipient in recognition for it being a top-rated public school.”
The Meadow Bridge Local School Improvement Council quickly developed and distributed a response to the OEPA report, correcting misinformation and outlining actions the school and community had taken in response to reductions in resources. It also produced a brochure sharing strengths and accomplishments of the high school.
New Consolidation Plan
The academic strengths of Meadow Bridge High aren’t offering protection to it now. There’s a new consolidation plan; this one would send 6th to 8th grade students from Meadow Bridge to a school 23 miles away.
“High school students would be sent to a new ‘state of the art’ school whose location has not yet been determined,” says Arritt. “[One likely] area located half-way between Meadow Bridge and Fayetteville does not meet requirements for a specific school construction project.”
Travel would also be difficult, especially for the Meadow Bridge students. “The roads between Fayetteville and that location have about one curve per mile on six miles of four-lane highway,” explains Arritt, “whilte the roads between there and Meadow Bridge have approximately five curves per mile on seven miles of narrow two-land road.”
Arritt continues, “Some kids live ten miles on the other side of Meadow Bridge, many on one-lane roads, so that’s more than 30 miles for the middle schoolers – not accounting for all the bus stops. Most of our kids would be on the bus for three to four hours a day, in good weather, which more than doubles the state guidelines.”
The mountainous terrain complicates things further. “These are dangerous mountain roads our kids will have to ride the bus on,” says Arritt. “When we ask about bringing kids into Meadow Bridge from somewhere else, we’re told that ‘oh, that’s too far and way too dangerous.’ Well, what’s the difference in taking our kids out, it’s the same roads, same distance. Are our kids in less danger, or does it just matter less for them?”
The process has been so fraught with chaos, rumor, and lack of transparency that it’s hard for most residents to know where things stand. “It seems there have been multiple votes by the CEFP committee,” says Arritt. “It’s not clear exactly who’s on the committee or who can vote, and many people believe they kept bringing up the consolidation vote, with people coming and going from the meeting, until they got a majority in favor.”
And there have been other problems, says Arritt. “The way of taking votes was also different at different meetings. At some meetings the members were grouped and had to have a consensus vote from each of the groups; in other meetings each person had a vote. Also, it’s been noted that consolidations of the middle and elementary schools were never voted on by the comittee, but they are included in the final report.”
|RPM Observation: By the time a consolidation proposal is brought to vote by the local school board or to a public hearing, the decision has usually been made to close schools. It is important for small school advocates to keep their schools strong and to stay involved in and aware of school board and central office policies and activities before a consolidation proposal is made.
Earlier this month, the county held a required public hearing for the CEFP. “This was not a closure hearing, but it is the first step toward that end,” says Arritt. “The closure hearings are just a show,” she adds, echoing the observations of hundreds of rural people who have been through similar meetings around the country. “They don’t even have that meeting until the consolidation decision is made and they know they have the votes.”
It’s not clear yet how things will actually go in this troubled West Virginia school district. “We are hoping that we won’t be forced into consolidation,” says Arritt. “We have a good school at Meadow Bridge and a close knit community. Most people in the county don’t want school consolidation, you see that in the bond vote. But in those places that have lost their school and the community has died away and in those places where there’s a school that’s not really part of a community, it’s just harder for people to be connected to their school, harder to see why or how it matters.”
That’s not the case in Meadow Bridge. “Many of the people most active in response to the CEFP process have been from Meadow Bridge,” says Arritt. “The thing about a small school is that everybody knows everybody. If something happens with your child, you can rely on someone to take care of it until you can get there. The kids know someone is looking out for them, even the ones whose parents aren’t always paying much attention. That’s what makes our school successful. We don’t want to lose it.”
~~ This article appeared in the July 2010 Rural Policy Matters ~~
UHC Holds Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the Bruce Carter United Orthopaedics & Spine Center
Bridgeport, WV –United Hospital Center held a ribbon cutting ceremony at noon on Thursday, April 02 to celebrate the opening of the new Bruce Carter United Orthopaedic and Spine Center.
The new facility, named in honor of retired UHC CEO Bruce Carter, cost $15 million to build and measures 57,000 square feet, more than doubling the amount of space currently available.
When the new facility officially opens to patients on Monday, April 13, it will provide a comprehensive and one-stop experience for the most advanced diagnostics, treatment, surgical and rehabilitative services, as well as routine and follow-up appointments. The new United Orthopaedic and Spine Center provides patients with access to a wide range of musculoskeletal physician services in the specialties of orthopaedics, neurosurgery, pain, spine and outpatient rehabilitation all conveniently located on the UHC campus.
“The new facility supports and enhances advanced musculoskeletal care in the region,” said Mike Tillman, president of UHC. “This single-story facility is a patient-centric design, offering patients ease of access.”
UHC Orthopaedic specialties available include shoulder and upper extremity, adult knee and hip, sports medicine, hand, wrist and elbow. Orthopaedic specialists at UHC have also completed fellowships at some of the top U.S. medical schools and are board certified.
Rehabilitation services will anchor the new facility. United Rehab will feature a 15’ x 15’ endless pool with a treadmill and specialize in restoring health, strength and mobility with comprehensive, physical and speech rehabilitation to enhance orthopaedic, neurosurgical, and pain services.
Advanced care in neurosurgery, spine care and pain management is provided by WVU Healthcare at the new center. This team of fellowship trained board certified medical specialists in neurosurgery and pain medicine utilizes the most innovative means of medicine and technology to treat the pain from the lower back, pinched nerves in the neck, sciatica, scoliosis, herniated disks, osteoporosis and pain secondary to metastatic diseases.
The need for these services will only grow in the coming years as the population ages and more people seek ways to maintain an active, mobile lifestyle. The Bruce Carter United Orthopaedic and Spine Center at UHC, this is where you have access to groundbreaking health care.
County School System Waivers Not Needed to Meet 180 Separate Days of Instruction
CHARLESTON, WV - The West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) today voiced strong support for 180 separate days of instruction for students. The board discussed the topic during its monthly meeting in Charleston. Under West Virginia state law, all schools are required to provide 180 days of meaningful instruction.
“As board members, our job is to ensure that the state’s 280 thousand public school students receive a stellar education,“ said Gayle Manchin, WVBE president. “Students attending school and participating in engaging and innovative lessons is vital as we progress with the One Voice. One Focus: All Students Achieving vision plan. The WVBE will not waver in its support of the law requiring 180 separate days of instruction.“
In March, the board approved the development of a process for allowing counties to waive instructional days due to a high number of missed days resulting from inclement weather and other unforeseen circumstances. In some cases, school systems canceled nearly 20 days. The board asked county superintendents to review their current calendars and work with their parents, teachers and communities to determine the best options to make up lost instruction. The board considered approving county waivers that included the use of West Virginia Day and Memorial Day as well as Saturday school to make up instructional time. In total, the WVBE received 27 waivers.
“The good news is that we did not have to waive any days,“ added Manchin. “As part of this waiver process, the board learned that all 55 county school systems could reach the 180 day mark by June 25. Therefore, it was not necessary to grant waivers as school is permitted by law to be in session through June 30. In addition, the state superintendent of schools did not need to utilize the federal disaster provision.“
PEIA: Register for Healthy Tomorrows or Face $500 Increase
CHARLESTON, WV — Members of the state-run insurance system face an additional $500 deductible if they fail to register for the Healthy Tomorrows program during the current open enrollment period which ends May 15, 2015.
Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA) Director Ted Cheatham said on MetroNews Talkline the first year of the three-year program requires the plan member to get a doctor.
“There are a lot preventable diseases out there, high blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease, and we want to make people aware of that,” Cheatham said. “We’re asking them, this first year during open enrollment, to pick a primary care physician. Pick a doctor they can go to and start to manage their health.”
The second year of Healthy Tomorrows will require the participant to actually have their numbers when it comes to high blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol, while the third year requires getting those numbers to an acceptable healthy range.
Cheatham said it would be great if all 80,000 workers who are covered by PEIA would sign up for the program but he knows that won’t be the case.
“I don’t think we’re going to see 100%, we never do. I think probably the penalty needs to be a little greater, but we had to walk. People are a little scared–big brother looking in like this,” Cheatham said. “If they don’t want to play they should have to pay a little more.”
The cost may go up initially for PEIA because members may be placed on medication for high blood pressure on other high readings for the first time, but Cheatham predicts cost could go down over time.
“We’re trying to avoid strokes, people having to have to get on insulin with diabetes. We’re trying to avoid all of those long-term conditions and get people healthier,” Cheatham said.
The acceptable levels established for the third year of the program is 140/90 for blood pressure, 125 for blood sugar and 245 for cholesterol.
West Virginia News 150410
FIRE CHIEF SAYS DEPARTMENT CAN’T AFFORD TO BATTLE POSSIBLE LAWSUIT
ROMNEY, WV — For now the fire whistle in Romney will not sound between the hours of 10 p.m and 6 AM.
Romney Fire Chief G.T. Parsons said the decision to silence the whistle was made following complaints and threats of a lawsuit from a citizen. Parsons said instead of using taxpayers’ money to fight the situation they would concede to the situation.
Parsons said he posted an announcement on Facebook in order to make sure the community would be aware of the change. Parsons said with the fire whistle off it will not blow for fire emergencies, tornadoes, flooding or other natural disasters.
“When our natural disaster tone is affected our whistle would activate at night and notify the citizens of Romney but now it won’t,” the chief said. “Once we program it to be out it’s out for everything.”
Parsons said the citizen threatening the lawsuit said the whistle is harming their hearing and creating stress by not being able to anticipate when it will go off. The whistle was moved to its current location eight years ago.
Parsons said a meeting was planned with the Hampshire County prosecuting attorney Thursday in order to get legal advice on the situation.
Parsons said the fire company is entirely volunteers and budgets are tight. He said the whistle has been vital when pagers or phones don’t work to alert firefighters to an emergency call. Parsons said it is important for people to realize when that fire whistle goes off it is because someone is in need of help and they are having the worst day of their lives.
Parsons said he is truly thankful for all the support and they hope to have the situation resolved soon.
WV BOARD OF EDUCATION ADOPTS CLIMATE CHANGE TEACHING STANDARDS
CHARLESTON, WV — The West Virginia Board of Education has voted to allow classroom debate on climate change.
Two months after citizens bombarded the board with comments at a public hearing, the board voted 6-2 Thursday to approve the proposal. It is effective for the 2016-17 school year.
In January, the board scrapped changes it made to teaching requirements for education science standards. Those changes had been suggested by board member Wade Linger. Linger had said he didn’t believe it was a “foregone conclusion” that the climate is in fact changing.
The board then placed the proposal with its original language intact for a 30-day public comment period. Media outlets report that the students will be allowed to use scientific models to draw their own conclusions about climate change.
UPSHUR COUNTY’S OEM DIRECTOR ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT
Upshur County’s Emergency Management Director, Jim Farry, is retiring.
Jim Farry has served as the county’s OEM director since 2006. Prior to that, he was the county’s assistant OEM director.
Farry said his retirement is for personal reasons.
Upshur County Commission was made aware of Farry’s decision at today’s meeting.
The commission has until May 01 to find a replacement.
BEEF EXPO IN JACKSON’S MILL
Jackson’s Mill is hosting the 25th Annual West Virginia Beef Expo from April 09-11.
Thursday night, they’ll crown the 2015 Beef Queen. Friday morning at 8, they’ll start off with a trade show. Events will continue throughout the day.
Saturday, they’ll have beef sales from different breeds like Angus, Charolais, Gelbvieh, Limousin, Red Angus, Simmental and Polled Hereford.
West Virginia Arrests 150410
GILMER COUNTY MAN ARRESTED ON SEXUAL ASSAULT CHARGES
A Gilmer County man has been arrested in Harrison County on sexual assault charges.
Edward Charles Durham, 32, of Glenville, was apprehended by officers with the Clarskburg Police Department after admitting to forcing a 22-year-old woman into having sex with him.
Durham faces second degree sexual assault charges and was booked at North Central Regional Jail Wednesday.
Bail was set at $25,000.
TWO ARRESTED IN HUNTINGTON SHOOTING
HUNTINGTON–WV–Two men were arrested Wednesday in connection with a Monday shooting near the intersection 6th Avenue and 20th Street.
According to Huntington Police, Carlton Harrington, 20, of Scott Depot, met with another man to deal him marijuana when an altercation took place. A second man, Xavier Jah-Quan Holmes, 19, fired a shot inside a vehicle containing passengers. Police say the intended victim was not struck by the gunfire and ran away.
Harrington was arrested shortly after when bystanders watched him discard his pistol under a parked car. He was charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana and carrying a concealed deadly weapon. Holmes is charged with wanton endangerment.
The investigation of the incident is ongoing and more charges are possible, police said.
CHARLESTON WOMAN CHARGED WITH FALSELY OBTAINING YEAGER AIRPORT AID
CHARLESTON, WV–A Charleston woman was charged with fraud for allegedly receiving money and hotel accommodations meant to go to Yeager Airport landslide victims.
27 year old Lindsay Meadows was given a $1500 check for living expenses and was provided lodging at Red Roof in from the airport last month. According to Kanawha County Magistrate Court, Meadows falsely convinced airport authorities that she and her family were forced from their Keystone Drive home.
The airport approved her for aid, and booked her at the Kanawha City Red Roof Inn. She was kicked out of the inn for smoking in the hotel, and was moved to a second hotel.
Later last month, Kim Lewis, the assistant director at Yeager Airport, learned that Meadows didn’t live at the address she supplied. This launched an investigation by Yeager’s police department. They determined that the address was real, but the building was uninhabited and nowhere near the landslide area.
Meadows was eventually taken into custody and charged with Felony Obtaining Under False Pretense. She is being held at South Central Regional Jail.
The Airport has spent about $110,000 on hotel rooms and stipends up to this point for displaced residents. Airport spokesman Mike Plante said they’re still doing everything they can to help residents that were affected.
“We still have 10 families in hotels, and we’re looking to address that as quickly as possible,” he said.
Meadows is the first person charged with fraud in the airport’s relief efforts, but Plante said the airport is still looking into other cases where the airport may have been taken advantage of.
POLICE ARREST MAN HIDING IN BRIDGEPORT RESTAURANT FOR APPROXIMATELY SIX HOURS
BRIDGEPORT, WV – Authorities in Harrison County arrested a man Thursday after pulling him out of the crawl space of a restaurant he had been hiding in for over six hours.
Walker Lewis Corkran, 29, was arrested and arraigned on charges of breaking and entering.
According to Bridgeport Police Chief John Walker, they received a call at approximately 2 AM that a man had broken into the T&L Hot Dogs along Main Street.
“Officers were in the area so they had about a one to two minute response time,” he said. “When they arrived, they spotted the intruder inside the building. They tried to talk him out, he wouldn’t come out and actually disappeared for quite a while.”
Backup was requested from the department’s Special Response Team, the Clarksburg K9 Unit and the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department, which helped secure the perimeter quickly.
With full knowledge Corkran had no outlet of escape, officers swept the area for hours to no avail. It would take a keen eye to finally locate the suspect.
“There was some, tunnels is not really the correct word, nooks, crooks and crannies in the basement,” Walker said. “It was mostly a dirt basement and they were able to located a small area, a very small area that’d been boarded up and he was hiding in there.”
Law enforcement was finally able to pull Corkran out and arrest him at approximately 8 AM, roughly six hours after the initial response.
The motive for the crime is believed to be one related to the possibility of monetary gain.
“He was likely breaking in to basically rob the place, steal the money,” Walker said. “If they have any on the premises.”
This was not Corkran’s first encounter with the law.
“There were also two outstanding capiases for him on charges that he failed to appear on,” he said. “He had quite an extensive criminal history.”
The two warrants were related to charges dealing with domestic violence cases.
Corkran was arraigned later Thursday morning and transported to North Central Regional Jail.
Main Street in front of T&L Hot Dogs was block off for roughly three hours while the incident occurred.
West Virginia Accidents 150410
MAN STRUCK AND KILLED
PARKERSBURG, WV — A Parkersburg man was struck and killed by a vehicle Wednesday morning after falling backward into the street.
Police say David Allen Sayres fell backward into a busy Parkersburg Street Wednesday morning.
Parkersburg Police Chief Joe Martin said David Allen Sayres, 50, of Reed Street, was standing with his back toward the 7th Street and Woodrow Street area at just before 8 AM.
when he fell into westbound traffic. Sayres was struck by a car being driven by a teenage boy on his way to school. He will not be charged according to police.
Chief Martin said alcohol appears to have been a factor in causing Sayres to lose his balance.
Did You Know? 15041001
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday:
1. AP INVESTIGATION: PERIMETERS A WEAK LINK AT AIRPORTS
Since 2004, there have been at least 268 instances of people breaching perimeter security at major U.S. airports - sometimes even managing to climb aboard jets.
2. DASH CAM VIDEO SHOWS ENCOUNTER LEADING TO FATAL SOUTH CAROLINA SHOOTING
The deadly incident begins as a seemingly routine traffic stop. Then the driver gets out of his car and begins to run.
3. WHAT’S NEXT STEP IN US-CUBA RAPPROCHEMENT
Obama signals he will soon remove the island nation from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.
4. STICKING POINT SURFACES IN IRAN NUCLEAR TALKS
Tehran wants all economic sanctions lifted on the first day that any agreement takes effect. That’s not the position of the U.S. and other negotiators.
5. COST OF CARE FOR ELDERLY KEEPS RISING
The median bill for a private room in a nursing home is now $91,250 a year, according to an industry survey.
6. JOURNALIST RECOUNTS FALL OF PHNOM PENH, 40 YEARS AGO
The AP’s Denis D. Gray was among nearly 300 Americans, Cambodians and third-country nationals flown out of the besieged capital by the U.S. on April 12, 1975.
7. HOW MUCH AN APPLE WATCH WILL SET YOU BACK
Prices start at $349 - but can go as high as $17,000 for a luxury edition in gold.
8. `MAD MEN’ STAR TOOK PART IN VIOLENT FRAT HAZING
Jon Hamm was a student at the University of Texas in 1990 when the incident, which led to criminal charges, occurred, according to recently unearthed court records.
9. WHO’S VISITING HER ANCESTRAL HOMELAND
Kim Kardashian and family arrive in Armenia on a visit expected to draw attention to the centennial of the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians.
10. JORDAN SPIETH GRABS LEAD AT MASTERS
The 21-year-old Texan turns in a brilliant opening round, challenging the major championship scoring record on the way to an 8-under 64.
U.S.A. News 150410
OREGON BOOKSTORE GETS THANK YOU CARD FROM ‘BARF’ BOY
PORTLAND, OR—Workers at a Portland, Oregan, bookstore received a letter of apology and a Ben & Jerry’s gift card from “the kid that puked right next to the bathroom.“
Staff at Powell’s On Hawthorne said they cleaned up an approximately 12-foot-diameter mess March 28 when a young man suffered a nausea spell and voided his guts all over the floor.
Manager Jennifer Wicka said she and an assistant manager cleaned up the vomit and expected that to be the end of the story until April 1, when an envelope arrived at the store marked “Attention: Barf Cleaners.“
The envelope contained a Ben & Jerry’s gift card and a handwritten note reading:
“This Ben and Jerry’s card is for the people who cleaned up the throw-up of a kid on Friday the 28th. I don’t know their names, but I thank them a lot and I’m sorry again for throwing up and hope you enjoy your ice cream. From Jack, AKA the kid that puked right next to the bathroom.“
“I opened it up and read it and it totally made my day. I’m pretty grumpy about people and humanity,“ Wicka told Buzzfeed News. “Oh man, some people are good.“
$70,000 WORTH OF FROZEN BULL SEMEN STOLEN FROM MINNESOTA FARM
LEROY, MN—Authorities in Minnesota said a stolen canister akin to a “milk jug” was filled with something far more unusual—$70,000 worth of bull semen.
The Mower County Sheriff’s Office said someone went into an unlocked barn near Leroy sometime between April 01 and April 07 and stole a container filled with frozen bovine seed. The farm owner told investigators he and his employee were both away from the farm from 11 AM until 3:30 PM on Easter Sunday.
“We had one of our rural farmers report the theft of bull semen,“ Chief Deputy Mark May told KAAL-TV. “This semen was frozen in a canister, kind of like a milk jug.“
“In this case, it’s a $70,000 loss just for the semen itself,“ May said.
He said the canister of semen was the only item targeted by the thief or thieves.
“They would have to have knowledge that, yes, this particular item was in this building, and maybe the value of it, too,“ May said.
FIRST RAIL BRIDGE IN 106 YEARS BETWEEN U.S. AND MEXICO SET TO OPEN
BROWNSVILLE, TX—The first rail bridge between Mexico and the United States in 106 years is set to open in an effort that lasted more than 15 years.
The final inspection for the bridge was last Thursday and now U.S. and Mexican officials have to coordinate to set a date to begin traffic. Local governments in South Texas wanted to move freight trains outside of the city of Brownsville, Texas, which lies across the border from Matamoros, Mexico.
The new railroad bridge was built west of the city and will eliminate 14 railroad street crossings. The current railroad route would take freight trains through residential areas, neighborhood parks and commercial areas.
“The problem is that a lot of times, before the train is allowed to go into Mexico, they have to stage it. That blocks off several areas of downtown Brownsville,“ Cameron County Judge Pete Sepulveda said.
It would make it difficult for fire trucks and police vehicles to respond to emergencies, Sepulveda added.
With the new bridge, there are now seven railroad bridges between Texas and Mexico. The effort to fund and build the bridge lasted for 15 years.
“It was difficult from the standpoint that it hadn’t been done before,“ Sepulveda said. “We had a lot of difficulties from [the Department of Homeland Security, which includes U.S. Customs], because they hadn’t done another bridge in 100 years. That was pretty frustrating.“
Mexico paid $80 million for the railroad and Brownsville and Cameron County officials gathered $40 million, mostly paid for by the federal government. Traffic congestion will decrease in both Brownsville and Matamoros, which has more than double the population of Brownsville.
World News 150410
IF TWO RUSSIAN FILMMAKERS HAVE IT THEIR WAY, IT COULD MEAN THE END OF MCDONALD’S IN RUSSIA
MOSCOW, RUSSIA — A pair of internationally-renowned film-director brothers have a strategy to save Russia from the scourge of American fast food – provided the government is willing to give them a billion rubles ($18.65 million) to do it.
Nikita Mikhalkov and Andrey Konchalovsky are pitching a chain of fast-food restaurants to replace Western chains, such as McDonald’s, according to Russian newspaper Kommersant. And they plan to give this chain of native-born restaurants a pointedly fitting name: “Let’s Eat At Home.”
McDonald’s and other U.S.-based fast-food chains came under fire last year as tensions escalated between Russia and the West over hostilities in eastern Ukraine. As the West stepped up sanctions against Russia, many fast-food franchises – especially McDonald’s restaurants – were temporarily shut down for health code violations, including the original McDonald’s Pushkin Square, which opened just before the end of the Soviet Union.
McDonald’s is still slated to open more restaurants in Russia, despite Mikhalkov and Konchalovsky’s plans. But Wendy’s exited the Russian market last year, and Carl’s Jr. plans to leave this year.
Mikhalkov and Konchalovsky do not have experience in the restaurant business – though Konchalovsky’s wife, Yulia Vysotskaya, is a celebrity chef in Russia. (“Let’s Eat At Home” is the name of her cooking show and a line of frozen berry mixes she markets as well.)
Konchalovsky may be best known for directing “Tango & Cash” in 1989, while Mikhalkov directed and acted in the Russian film “Burnt by the Sun,“ which won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1995. The brothers are also descended from Russian patriotic royalty: Their father wrote the lyrics to the Soviet national anthem, and then re-wrote them for modern Russia.
Putin has already instructed his deputy prime minister to review their proposal for the $18+ million in start-up funds to get the restaurants going. According to Kommersant, the brothers believe their planned 41 “Let’s Eat At Home” restaurants and 91 “Let’s Eat At Home” stores will start to turn a profit in 4.8 years (yes, 4.8 years, not five).
No word yet on whether there will be cheeseburgers at these replacement fast-food restaurants. But only up to 40% of the “Let’s Eat At Home” menu will be devoted to regional specialties. So, there’s a chance this culinary experiment could give rise to the Russian chicken nugget.
Community Job Fair - 04.13.15 - Monday
Wes-Mon-Ty Grant awarded to Recreation Center
Gilmer County Recreation Center was awarded a grant through Wes-Mon-Ty RC & D (Resource Conservation & Development Council) to help with an erosion problem around the swimming pool and Bennett Building.
The grant was for purchasing trees and shrubs to help prevent future erosion on a project that began last year.
(L-R) Larry Sponaugle, West Fork Conservation Supervisor, Buck Stephens,
Jane Collins, West Fork Conservation Supervisor
The trees and shrubs will be planted to hold back soil erosion and ground water, and also provide some help for pollinators to thrive, along with some much needed shade.
The area that had the most erosion has been stabilized, however, the need to continue with this project is important and by planting trees and shrubs to prevent any more erosion due to environmental elements such as rain washing the soil away as it has done in the past is a high priority.
Buck Stephens, President of the Gilmer County Recreation Center was very instrumental in completing the first phase of this project last year.
Because of Buck’s volunteering of his time and watchful eye on the project, making sure the project was completed within the time frames, following up with pictures, and a completion summary, made it easy to get a second grant to complete phase two of this project on erosion.
Because of Buck’s dedication to the project and the Recreation Center, the second phase of this project was readily approved for another grant this year.
Congratulations to Buck Stephens!
Troy Elementary School Honor Roll : 3rd Nine Week Grading Period - 2014-15
More Education Not A Sure Fix
Conservatives, centrists and liberals alike say that a plausible solution to rising economic inequality centers on strengthening education so that more Americans can benefit from the advances of the 21st-century economy.
But a new paper shows (below) why the math just doesn’t add up, at least if the goal is addressing the gap between the very rich and everyone else.
Increasing Education: What it Will and Will Not Do for Earnings and Earnings Inequality
Mainstream labor economists as well as several public commentators have argued that trends in the economy over recent decades—including technological developments, globalization, and trade, among others—have weakened the relative earnings power of those with lower levels of skills, especially those without a college degree. In recent decades, the earnings of those with a college degree or more have risen steadily, while the wages of those with lower levels of education have stagnated or fallen. Furthermore, lifetime earnings of workers with a college degree are nearly twice as high as those without one, a point made by a number of previous Hamilton Project analyses, including one from this past year .
This line of reasoning leads to the view that to further the goal of widespread economic prosperity, it will be imperative to increase the skill level of many in the population, a position that a subset of us (Hershbein and Kearney) took in a recent Hamilton Project framing paper. Other commentators have objected that education is not the answer to the nation’s inequality challenge. Following up on remarks made at a recent Hamilton Project event, one of us (Summers) noted in a Washington Post interview that “to suggest that improving education is the solution to inequality is, I think, an evasion.” In this essay we clarify the different elements of the public debate and note explicitly that these positions are not necessarily at odds.
We have empirically simulated what would happen to the distribution of earnings if one out of every ten men aged 25–64 who did not have a bachelor’s degree were to instantly obtain one—a sizeable increase in college attainment. We focus on men not because women are unimportant—they clearly are important to the workforce—but because low-skilled men have seen the largest drops in employment and earnings over the past few decades, and are now considerably less likely to attend and graduate from college. We focus on college attainment because the data are readily available, but we acknowledge that it is an imperfect measure of skills, perhaps increasingly so. Despite these caveats, this empirical exercise is illuminating and sheds much needed light on an often-muddled public debate. Our analysis leads to three main takeaway points:
- Increasing the educational attainment of men without a college degree will increase their average earnings and their likelihood of being employed.
- Increasing educational attainment will not significantly change overall earnings inequality. The reason is that a large share of earnings inequality is at the top of the earnings distribution, and changing college shares will not shrink those differences.
- Increasing educational attainment will, however, reduce inequality in the bottom half of the earnings distribution, largely by pulling up the earnings of those near the 25th percentile.
These observations will not come as a surprise to most labor economists. Those of us who argue for the imperative of increasing skills are not staking out that position because we believe it will close the gap between the rich and the middle—or between the exorbitantly rich and the merely rich. Rather, we take that position because higher levels of skills will improve the economic position of those around and below the middle of the current earnings distribution. On average, more education does translate into more-valuable skills, and the results of our simulation exercise support that view. At the same time, they make it clear that increasing the share of working-age men that have college degrees will do very little to decrease the overall level of earnings inequality.A Simulation Exercise
We conduct a simulation exercise to examine how the distribution of earned income would change if 10% of non-college educated men aged 25 to 64 were to immediately obtain a bachelor’s or advanced degree. To be clear, this would be a tremendous accomplishment. It is only slightly less than the observed increase in the college share over the entire 34-year period of 1979 to 2013. Furthermore, we apply this increase in educational attainment to workers regardless of age. Education policy that would tend to increase college attainment only for those newly entering the workforce would have different effects. This should be kept in mind when interpreting the simulated effects.
We carry out our analysis using the 1980 and 2014 March Current Population Survey (CPS) and we count as earned income wages and salary as well as own business income . We draw from the actual distribution of annual earnings of individuals with a college or advanced degree to randomly assign these observed earnings to the new graduates. We incorporate a predicted reduction in the college wage premium in response to the increase in the relative share of the workforce with a college degree. We allow the new graduates to come from anywhere in the non-college educated distribution, meaning that we do not focus on those individuals who are closest to obtaining a college degree. This will have the effect of overstating any potential reduction in inequality.
The first two rows of Table 1 report selected percentiles of the inflation-adjusted earnings distributions for all men ages 25 to 64 in both 1979 and 2013. Notably, earnings at the 10th percentile are 0 in both years—these men did not work at all. The rise in inequality over this period is evident from the declines in earnings at the 25th and 50th percentiles, and the rise in earnings at the 75th and 90th percentiles. The changes were particularly pronounced at both ends of the distribution: earnings at the 25th percentile fell by more than half and earnings at the 90th percentile increased by one-third.
Although not shown in the table, the sharp decline in earnings at the bottom of the distribution reflects a lower likelihood of men having been employed at any point during the year; this likelihood fell from 81.6% in 1979 to 77.9% in 2013. What’s more, this decline was entirely concentrated among men without a bachelor’s degree (80.2% to 73.9%).
The third row of Table 1 shows the counterfactual case if one-tenth of the men without a college degree were to be given one, raising the share with at least a bachelor’s degree from 32% to 39%. The results indicate that earnings rise across the board, but particularly so in the bottom half of the distribution. Earnings at the 25th percentile increase from $6,100 to $8,720, and median earnings increase from $34,000 to $37,060. This is enough to nearly erase the decline in median earnings between 1979 and 2013, and cut the decline at the 25th percentile by one-third.
Although earnings also rise at the 75th and 90th percentiles, the proportional increases are smaller, and it is worth noting that the absolute gain at the 90th percentile is smaller than the absolute gain at the 25th percentile.Table 1: Simulated effects of increasing college share on earnings distribution
Having shown the effects of an increase in college attainment on earnings at various points in the distribution, we now turn to an examination of the impact on inequality. Increasing the share of the workforce with a college degree will have two offsetting effects on inequality. One effect will be to decrease the wage gap between those with and without a college degree, as noted above. All else equal, this will lead to a reduction in earnings inequality. However, as a group, college graduates have a wider earnings distribution than those with lower levels of education, which will lead to an offsetting increase in earnings inequality.
A summary measure of inequality that accounts for differences throughout the entire distribution is the Gini coefficient, an index that ranges from 0, if everyone has the same earnings, to 1, if a single person has all the earnings and everyone else has none. (To interpret changes in the Gini, note that under this measure of inequality, if everyone’s income increases by the same proportion, the Gini stays constant. If income increases by a larger% at the high end, the Gini will rise.) An alternative index is the Theil index, which statistically measures the entropic “distance” of the current distribution from one in which everyone has the same income. As with the Gini, the Theil equals 0 if everyone has the same earnings; the closer the index is to 1, the more distance there is from the egalitarian position. Table 2: Simulated results on overall earnings inequality: Gini coefficient and Theil index
Table 2 shows the Gini coefficient and Theil index from the actual earnings distributions from 1979 and 2013, as well as from our counterfactual earnings distribution. Consistent with the pattern of changes in Table 1, these indices clearly show the increase in earnings inequality over the last three decades. However, they also make clear that overall earnings inequality would hardly change—and would not come close to 1979 levels—if the share of working-age men with a college degree were to increase by even a sizable margin.
Labor economists often examine the wage or earnings distribution by looking at ratios of different percentiles. Percentile earnings ratios have the advantages of being relatively simple to calculate and understand, and they show what is happening at different points in the earnings distribution. Several of these earnings ratios are shown in Table 3, both from the actual distributions from 1979 and 2013, and the counterfactual distribution from 2013. For example, the number in the first row and first column indicates that in 1979 someone at the 50th percentile, or median, of the earnings distribution, had earnings 2.64 times that of someone at the 25th percentile.Table 3: Simulated effects of increasing college share on wage percentiles ratios
As we saw in Tables 1 and 2, earnings inequality increased substantially between 1979 and 2013, and this is reflected in each ratio rising considerably. However, the results of our counterfactual exercise demonstrate that increasing the share of college graduates from 32% to 39% would reduce many of these earnings ratios substantially. In particular, the three left-most ratios in Table 3, which measure inequality relative to the 25th percentile, fall by about one-third from their actual 2013 levels, and get about half-way back to their 1979 levels. These declines in part reflect the relatively large proportional increase in earnings at the 25th percentile under the counterfactual ($8,720 / $6,100 = 43% increase).
In contrast, the p75/p50, p90/p50, and p90/p75 ratios fall only slightly, suggesting that the counterfactual does not significantly change inequality in the top half of the earnings distribution. These ratios all decline by less than 10%. Put differently, the increase in the share of college-educated workers benefits men with earnings at or above the median about the same in proportional terms.Conclusion
In this analysis we have simulated the effects of increasing the college attainment of working-age men to illustrate the likely effects on earnings and earnings inequality. Our empirical simulation supports the following general observations:
- Increasing the educational attainment of men without a college degree will increase their average earnings and their likelihood of being employed.
- Increasing educational attainment will not significantly change overall earnings inequality.
- Increasing educational attainment will, however, reduce inequality in the bottom half of the earnings distribution, largely by pulling up the earnings of those near the 25th percentile.
Our nation should aim to increase the educational attainment and, more generally, the skills of less-educated and lower-income individuals because in the long-run, this is almost surely the most effective and direct way to increase their economic security, reduce poverty, and expand upward mobility. An important observation to make on this point—not captured by the empirical analysis above—is that increasing skills does not simply mean increasing the attainment of bachelor’s degrees. Increasing skills will also mean improving K-12 education and providing more training and human capital development in the specific skills demanded by the labor force.
On the other hand, additional and separate measures will be needed to address rising levels of overall inequality, which, as we have shown, is mostly driven by changes at the top of the distribution. These are distinct, albeit interrelated challenges, and the public discourse would be much improved if it stopped conflating them.
 Oreopoulos and Petronijevic (2013) review the academic research
on the issue and conclude that the evidence clearly suggests that higher levels of education yield substantial wage and employment benefits. Some scholars, including Beaudry, Green, and Sand
(2013), have argued that the growth in the return to measured skill (education) has slowed in recent years. Nonetheless, the skill and education premium is still very large. The March CPS asks about income from the previous calendar year, so our analysis refers to income earned in 1979 and 2013. Technical note: To incorporate this relative wage response into our simulation exercise, we have drawn on the academic literature for an estimate of such a wage elasticity: we assume that the wage premium of college-educated workers decreases by 6% when the relative supply of college-educated workers increases by 10%. This relative wage elasticity comes from the consensus estimates of Autor and Acemoglu (2010), who compare college graduates to high school graduates. (Our exercise compares men without a bachelor’s degree to those with a bachelor’s degree or more, which is somewhat broader than the educational groups used in Autor and Acemoglu.) In our exercise, we effectively change the share of men with a college degree or more from 31.8% to 38.9% (this approximately 7 percentage point difference is about one-tenth of the 68.2% of men who did not have at least a college degree.) Thus our exercise increases the relative supply of the college-educated from (0.318/0.682) to (0.389/0.611), or by more than 30%. This implies the wage premium falls by more than 18% (0.6 * 30). For reasonable values of the model parameters in Autor and Acemoglu (2010), the change in the wage premium is approximately evenly split between the two groups, and this is what we incorporate into our exercise, with wages of the college-educated falling by about 9% and wages of the less-than-college-educated rising by 9%. (To keep things relatively simple, we assume a constant proportional earnings change across the distribution.) Earnings have been adjusted to year 2013 dollars using the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) deflator from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (http://www.bea.gov/iTable/index_nipa.cfm
, Table 1.1.4). If our simulations do not allow for the change in relative wages owing to changes in relative supply, the ratios do not decline by quite as much. Specifically, under that alternative counterfactual, the 50th/25th ratio is 4.37; the 75th/25th ratio is 8.13; and the 90th/25th ratio is 11.69.
~~ The Hamilton Project ~~
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