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Just Because You Are the Higher Seed…..

Just because your team is the higher seed in the high school football playoffs, doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee you’re moving on to the next round!

When the 1st round of the 2019 West Virginia High School Football Playoffs began last Friday night, we had 48 teams that had earned the right to move on to the second season.  With that weekend now behind us, we have half that number moving on to playoff round #2, or better known as the quarter-finals.  Of the top eight seeds in Class AAA, only six will be playing this weekend.  In a battle of the 8/9 seeds, #9 Spring Mills defeated #8 Greenbrier East 28-27.  The other upset occurred when #11 Capital went on the road and raced by #6 Wheeling Park by a final of 45-21!  In Class AA, there was only one upset last weekend as #10 Mingo Central fought off #7 Shady Spring 13-7 in a very good game that was played at H. B. Thomas Field in Shady Spring.  The Class A schools were exactly like the AA schools as they had just the one upset as #10 Wheeling Central Catholic scored with less than :30 seconds left in the game to defeat #7 Tolsia!

So, what does the quarter-final round hold for this weekend?  To start with, we will have 5 of the 12 games played on Friday night with kickoffs slated for 7:30 and that will leave 7 games to be played on Saturday afternoon at 1:30!

In the Friday night games, Class AAA will feature #11 Capital traveling to Spring Valley to battle the 3rd seeded Timber Wolves.  Those two teams met in the regular season on October 4th and in that game, Spring Valley proved too much for the Cougars and shut out the boys from Kanawha County 41-0!  Head Coach Jon Carpenter’s team seems to be playing much better right now and seem confident the end result this time around will be different.  In the other Friday night game this week, #7 George Washington will travel to Ona to meet up with undefeated and 2nd seeded Cabell Midland.  Since becoming a high school in 1994, the Knights of Cabell Midland have met up with George Washington only 10 times with the last meeting coming back in 2015.  The Knights have defeated George Washington 8 of their 10 previous matchups with the Patriots last win against Cabell Midland coming in 2002!  The Saturday afternoon games in Class AAA will find #9 Spring Mills traveling the 9 miles across town to take on the #1 ranked Bulldogs of Martinsburg.  In an earlier meeting this year on October 11th, Martinsburg beat Spring Mills 77-0.  Over the years, the two teams have met 7 times with Martinsburg winning all seven games and outscoring Spring Mills 423-14!  Also on Saturday, #5 Musselman will make the 4 hour bus ride to Parkersburg to battle the 4th ranked Patriots of Parkersburg South.  Over the years, Musselman has faced Parkersburg South five other times and the Patriots have won 4 of those 5 games.  The last encounter between the two schools was back in 2012!

In Class AA this weekend, there will be two games played Friday night and two on Saturday afternoon.  The Friday night games will feature #8 Frankfort traveling to Fairmont to take on the #1 Polar Bears and #5 Keyser making the trip south to battle #4 Bluefield.  For the Falcons, they have only played the Polar Bears three other times and all three times, Frankfort came out the winner.  The last time the two teams met on the football field was 2013.  For Keyser, their strength all season long has been their defense as they have shut out 8 of the first 11 opponents, including last week’s 1st round win over #12 Liberty Harrison 53-0.  The Bluefield Beavers have relied heavily on their offense this season and easily defeated #13 Man last week 48-16.  Keyser and Bluefield have met only twice before and both times were in the playoffs and both times, Bluefield was victorious.  In 2004 Bluefield defeated Keyser 36-7 and last year, the Beavers defeated the Golden Tornado 35-0 in round two of the playoffs.  This Saturday afternoon, Class AA #10 Mingo Central will travel to Bridgeport to battle the #2 ranked Indians.  The Miners come into this weekend’s game with a (9-2) record while the Indians will counter with a record of (10-1)!  These two fine teams have never met on the gridiron before.  The other Class AA game on Saturday afternoon will feature two undefeated ball clubs as #6 Oak Glen (11-0) will travel to Poca to take on the (11-0) Dots.  Both teams have explosive offenses and that has been the strength of each team this year.  Just like Bridgeport and Mingo Central, Oak Glen and Poca have never met before in football.

In Class A this weekend, the quarterfinal round will get underway with only one game on Friday night and that game will feature #5 Williamstown traveling to Charmco, WV to take on the #4 ranked Cavaliers of Greenbrier West.  Williamstown comes in with a (9-2) record having lost to Wheeling Central and Doddridge County, both of whom are still in the playoffs and Greenbrier West will enter the contest with an impressive (10-1) record and that lone defeat coming at the hands of Class AA James Monroe.  Over the years, Williamstown and Greenbrier West have never met on the gridiron!  The other three Class A games in the quarter final round will be played on Saturday afternoon at 1:30 all all three games should be good ones to watch.  The Doddridge County Bulldogs are ranked #1 in Class A and they will welcome #8 East Hardy – #2 Ritchie County will entertain #10 Wheeling Central Catholic and #3 Pendleton County will welcome #6 St. Marys!  Of these three games, only Doddridge County and East Hardy have ever met in football before and that game happened way back in 1991 when East Hardy defeated Doddridge County 24-6!

Don’t forget, coming up this Friday night we will have another edition of GAMENIGHT and we will have the scores of the five games played on Friday, plus take an indepth look at the seven games coming up Saturday afternoon!  Look forward to talking with you then!!

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Mountaineers eager to improve on quick turnarounds

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia is off to the start it desired having won each of its first two games.

Now the Mountaineers, fresh off Friday’s 68-53 victory at Pitt, face their first quick turnaround at 7 p.m. Monday against Northern Colorado at the WVU Coliseum.

West Virginia finished 5-11 last season in games played with two or fewer days between them.

“Last year, a lot of times we turned around into a quick game and didn’t play the same,” sophomore forward Emmitt Matthews Jr. said. “Regardless of who we play, we have to play the same way. If they’re not in our jerseys, we have to go 100 percent to beat them. 

“A quick turnaround is good, because when tournament play comes you can have back-to-back-to-backs.”

Monday’s matchup, which is part of the Cancun Challenge, is the first meeting between the Mountaineers and Bears (2-2).

West Virginia welcomes Boston University on Friday, before departing for Riviera Maya, Mexico, where it will face Northern Iowa and an opponent to be determined Nov. 26-27.

Coming off a 15-point road win against the Panthers, the Mountaineers play their first of three non-conference games with two or fewer days of preparation.

“These quick turnaround games are going to be big, especially going into conference play,” Matthews said. “Knowing how to take care of your body, making sure you’re getting the right fluids and eating vegetables. Maintaining a healthy mind to be able to go out there and play right physically.”

That will be particularly important for freshman phenom Oscar Tshiebwe, who posted his first double-double at West Virginia in the win at Pitt. Tshiebwe actually had done that by halftime with 12 points and 12 rebounds en route to a dominant, 20-point, 17-rebound effort.

“Make sure you’re treating your body like the machine that it is, especially (Tshiebwe) getting (nearly) 20 and 20 and working his tail off,” sophomore point guard Jordan McCabe said. “He has to recover and learn what it’s like. 

“We’re not playing high school basketball. You don’t get the whole week to rest and think about the next opponent.”

In Friday’s win, West Virginia held Pitt to three second-half field goals as the Mountaineers turned a one-point halftime lead into a runaway rivalry win. Matthews scored 11 of his 17 points in the second half, while Sean McNeil added 11 and made three three-pointers in a reserve role.

“Our team is deep,” Matthews said. “We have guys that have responded and when they come in the game, they’re ready to play intense and pick it up for however long they’re in for. Depth is going to be big for us.”

Matthews leads four West Virginia players averaging double-figure scoring with 15 points. Tshiebwe (12.5) and fellow starters Derek Culver (10) and Jermaine Haley (10) aren’t far behind.

Tshiebwe is also the team’s top rebounder with 22 boards through two games and has four of the team’s 10 blocks.

After being slowed by foul trouble that limited Tshiebwe to 12 minutes in the season-opening win over Akron, the prized recruit had a discussion with his head coach in advance of the Pitt game.

“The conversation we had was about good players do what they’re good at doing,” Bob Huggins said. “If you can really run, and Oscar can really run, then run. Don’t trot. 

“(Against Pitt) he got our other guys open shots cause he ran and collapsed the defense. (Against Akron) not in a selfish way, he was looking to score instead of doing what he does. He rebounds the ball as well as probably anybody in college basketball.”

Northern Colorado will have the quicker turnaround having suffered a 77-72 overtime loss at Northern Iowa on Saturday.

The Bears, who finished 21-11 a year ago, were led by Jonah Radebaugh’s 24 points.

Bodie Hume added 17 in the loss, and the 6-foot-6 sophomore guard leads the team with an average of 17.5 points. 

Northern Colorado has already played a team from the Big 12 Conference having opened its season with a 69-45 loss at Texas.

“I really don’t know what to expect from our guys,” Huggins said. “We need to play some games.”

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With signature win, Neal Brown gets supporters back on the wagon

COMMENTARY

MANHATTAN, Kan. — On the eve of Neal Brown’s biggest win at West Virginia, his most vocal believer outside of the Milan Puskar Center happened to be the drunkest guy at the bar in the team hotel.

We’ll get back to that guy in a minute. First, an explanation of how this lone wolf came to be.

In the wake of West Virginia’s humiliating defeat against Texas Tech, even those who fully invested into the concept of trusting the climb realized it might be awhile before they saw some real progress.

Sure, they still believed. Maybe things would come together in the 2020 season opener against Florida State. After all, the Seminoles will be breaking in a new coach. Finally the Mountaineers might have an edge going into a game. It was hard to visualize an instance where that would be true this season.

Those were the optimists.

Others were prone to more serious doubts.

Quite a few of them were in Las Vegas, where West Virginia was a 14-point underdog to Kansas State. Most bettors saw that as easy money, with 71 percent picking the Wildcats to cover according to Covers.com.

In some corners of the internet, a tiny but vocal minority questioned whether Shane Lyons should have hired Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell instead of Brown. Fickell had the Bearcats ranked, after all.

Needless to say, morale was at its lowest ebb since Brown was hired to mass acclaim in January.

Which brings us to the gentleman simultaneously holding court with no one and everyone at the hotel bar in Manhattan.

He was convinced that West Virginia was going to beat Kansas State on Saturday afternoon – although it wasn’t exactly because he was bullish on Brown. He was a diehard Wildcats fan concerned about his own team’s prospects against the Mountaineers due to their wardrobe.

“Why would you wear a throwback helmet from an 0-11 team?” he very loudly wondered about K-State’s helmets for the game, which featured a script “Cats” worn in the winless 1988 season. “It’s bad luck!”

Everyone else in the room laughed him off, as is tradition when someone appears to be approximately four sheets to the wind. They probably weren’t laughing after the game.

The moral of this story?

Never again will a random guy at the end of the bar be the only person convinced that a Neal Brown-coached team has a chance to win its next game. This was the signature victory Brown and his West Virginia program desperately needed to prove it isn’t a pushover and bring some positive momentum into the offseason.

The win helped West Virginia avoid the specter of ending the season on an eight-game losing streak. No matter how inspired a coach’s vision may be, it’s pretty difficult to build momentum for the coming spring when no one on the team can remember what it’s like to win. Given the boisterous volume of the celebration escaping from WVU’s locker room Saturday evening, it’s safe to say that’s no longer a concern.

The Mountaineers are still long shots to reach a bowl. They’ll be underdogs in must-win games against Oklahoma State and TCU. But no longer can those games just be written off as automatic losses. Perspective changes when you’ve beaten a ranked team on the road.

It’s not just the fact West Virginia won that’s encouraging. It’s how the Mountaineers did it. Some of the biggest plays were made by guys who showed they’re fully invested even if this program won’t peak until they’re gone.

Senior receiver George Campbell helped ease the transition for his roommate, new starting quarterback Jarret Doege. He was Doege’s favorite target, catching five passes for 92 yards.

Senior cornerback Hakeem Bailey saved the game with an A+ effort. Initially beaten on the final play for Kansas State’s offense, he hustled to erase a would-be touchdown pass and snag the game-winning interception on one of the best plays of his career.

And then there’s senior defensive back Josh Norwood, who sacrificed his own career to help contribute to the win. Showing no regard for his own safety, Norwood leaped up for a highlight-reel interception that demanded a crash-landing on his collarbone.

Any of those guys could have checked out by now. When seniors on a losing team are fully bought in, it’s a sign that the program itself is in healthy shape.

The next signature victories will have to be on the recruiting trail, but overall the future remains bright for Brown and the Mountaineers. And after Saturday’s win, you don’t even need a pair of beer goggles to see it.

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Italian-American tradition, Marion County come to the silver screen

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A film on an Italian-American Christmas tradition also serves as a reflection of the upbringing of director Robert Tinnell and his family’s roots in West Virginia.

“Feast of the Seven Fishes” opened last Friday in select theaters in the United States and England as well as iTunes, Amazon Prime, Google Play and Vudu. The film’s premiered Nov. 1 in Fairmont.

Tinnell, a Fairmont native, said on a recent episode of MetroNews “Talkline” the film explores various aspects, including family, growing up in Marion County and living in the 1980s.

“I was sort of bulletproof from cliche because no one had really done Seven Fishes in a movie, so I had some new territory there,” he said. “We have such a distinct culture, both Italian-American as well as traditional West Virginia culture. It’s different from New Jersey and what we are typically force-fed. I was able by being sort of true to exactly how I remembered life back that.”

The film’s title comes from an Italian-American celebration held on Christmas Eve involving a diversity of fish dishes.

Tinnell’s family has Italian heritage, which he used as inspiration for the film’s characters.

“They are very much my grandfathers and my great uncles and my great-grandmother,” he said. “There’s a lot of it. It’s very true.”

Parts of the film even take place at places familiar to Tinnell; shooting locations include his grandparents’ house as well as spots in Fairmont and Rivesville.

Tinnell said people have been able to relate to his own experiences.

“I’ve been sort of shocked at how much audiences laugh. It’s funnier than what I thought it was going to be,” he said.

“I was surprised by how many people cry as well as laugh. That keeps getting me.”

Skyler Gisondo, Madison Iseman and Josh Helman star in the film.

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Martinsburg drug house ordinance is cleaning up neighborhoods

Walk around any troubled neighborhood in any West Virginia community and talk with folks who live there. They know where the drug dealers live.

For that matter, the police often know too, or at least they suspect certain locations because of the number of complaints they receive.

Three years ago, the city of Martinsburg, fed up with its inability to tamp down drug dealing, passed the Drug House Ordinance. The code change empowered the city police department to shut down drug houses, and it’s working.

The city has shut down 59 drug houses, confiscated drugs and guns, evicted tenants, arrested 89 suspected drug dealers and required that replacement tenants undergo thorough criminal background checks to prevent new drug dealers from replacing the old ones.

Martinsburg Police Chief Maury Richards says closing the drug houses has led to a drop in crime on those city blocks compared with the year prior to the shutdown.

“Violent crime has dropped by 51 percent, property crime by 35 percent, drug calls of all kinds by 52 percent, public nuisance by 34 percent and overdose calls by 54,” Richards said on Talkline last week.

“Not only is it making a difference for those who live in that house, but it’s also making a tremendous public safety difference for that entire block, cleaning it up, giving the decent citizens a better quality of life,” the chief said.

Richards told me most of city’s landlords are cooperating with the police.  In some cases, the landlords are calling the police themselves and asking for them to step in and chase out the drug-dealing tenants.

However, a few landlords are outliers, and that’s an ongoing problem. The city has released the names of ten landlords that are repeat drug house ordinance violators.

Richards says nine other West Virginia communities have adopted similar ordinances because of the success in Martinsburg.

The battle against the drug crisis has multiple levels.  Prevention and treatment are critically important, but so is enforcement.  The law enforcement community is always trying to figure out new ways to shut down drug trafficking and respond effectively to citizen complaints.

Martinsburg’s Drug House Ordinance is a good example of a practical strategy that has proven to be effective in cleaning up neighborhoods.

 

 

 

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Ski & snowboard season opens this week in West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — You won’t have to wait for a white Christmas in West Virginia.

With help from the weather, Snowshoe Mountain Resort in Pocahontas County is offering a white Thankgiving to skiers and snowboarders looking to make their first turns of the season.

Trails open to the public at Snowshoe this Friday, Nov. 22 at 9 a.m.

“It’s been a really cold November. It’s been the coldest November we’ve had in quite some time, so snowmaking has been very successful this year and we’re feeling really good about opening up this week,” said Shawn Cassell, Snowshoe’s public relations manager.

Typically, the goal has been to launch the ski and snowboard season at Snowshoe on the day before Thanksgiving, if the weather allows for it.

“This year, Thanksgiving was a little late, so we decided to bump it up to the Friday before,” Cassell said. “It’s a little bit of a gamble when you make that call in August, but now we’re looking good.”

Snowshoe will start the season just a few days after the scheduled sale of another ski resort in West Virginia, Timberline Four Seasons Resort in Tucker County.

Timberline won’t be opening for the season.

A Tuesday auction had been planned in Philadelphia, Pa. with a minimum bid of $2.5 million set for the Timberline ski area and the resort’s real estate development.

The auction date followed a previous order from U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Last year’s ski season at Timberline abruptly ended in February.

In April, Timberline filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

On Wednesday, Judge Jean K. FitzSimon, a U.S. bankruptcy judge in Philadelphia, will consider a motion to convert the case to Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Nearby in Tucker County, Opening Day for skiing and snowboarding was planned for Dec. 14 at Canaan Valley Resort.

Nine fan guns, four tower guns and five moveable guns have been added to the snowmaking arsenal at Canaan along with more water pumps, resort officials said, to assist with faster snowmaking at longer durations as conditions allow.

Parking has been expanded and there are additional lift ticket purchase locations at the Davis site.

At Winterplace Resort in Raleigh County, snowmaking operations were underway last week ahead of a projected opening date in the middle of December.

Resort officials indicated that date could be moved up, weather permitting.

Snowshoe’s Silver Creek Area was also tentatively scheduled for a Dec. 13 opening.

The ski and snowboard season usually continues into March in West Virginia.

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Goodwin on steps following use of force: ‘What we’re trying to do is bring everyone together’

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Charleston Mayor Amy Goodwin is pushing a message of building bridges in the aftermath of a use of force incident in October.

Goodwin’s remarks during an appearance last Friday on MetroNews “Talkline” followed an announcement about steps the city is taking to address what happened, including referring the incident to the FBI for an independent investigation and a possible citizen advisory council to be a liaison between the police department and public.

“This is not police against community or administration against the police or community,” she said. “Most important, what we’re trying to do is bring everyone together because the community has to understand what the police officers are doing, why they are doing it and why they are doing, and vice versa.”

Goodwin and the police department have faced pressure to enact policy changes since the Oct. 14 incident; Patrol Officer Carlie McCoy and Patrolman Joshua Mena tried to arrest Freda Gilmore outside of the Family Dollar store on the city’s West Side. Video captured Mena punching Gilmore several times in the head.

McCoy and Mena were placed on administrative leave during a police department investigation, which found both officers acted within department policy. Goodwin said on “Talkline” the officers are on duty.

During a forum earlier this month, Goodwin and Charleston Police Chief Opie Smith faced criticism for the current policy as well as a push for change.

Goodwin said there is a nationwide feeling of mistrust toward police officers, which she wants to address at a local level.

“We need to have better communication and open communication,” she said. “If members of the community say that they don’t feel safe and they don’t trust our officers, we need to do a better job.”

Goodwin announced the series of actions on Thursday during a hectic press conference; the city merged its press conference with announcements from councilmembers, police officers, clergy members and the Fraternal Order of Police.

“We really started to recognize none of us are doing a great job with communication. We’re not,” Goodwin said on “Talkline.”

“Community members are upset. They are hurt and they want to be heard.”

Retired Police Officer Eric Smith appeared on “Talkline,” criticizing Goodwin’s reaction as well as the decision to refer the matter to the FBI.

“It’s clear this was a clear use of force. It is clearly within policy, within bounds, and is not a crime,” he said. “The community during the forum demanded an external investigation into the use of force be conducted knowing that these officers committed no crime at all … and that there was not a policy violation.”

The FBI could refer the matter to the U.S. Attorney’s Office or the Kanawha County Prosecutor’s Office.

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Three W.Va. educators unions aim legal challenges of omnibus education bill at charter schools

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia’s three unions for educators are lining up to challenge charter schools in court.

So far, the West Virginia Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers-WV and the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association have been acting individually in filing 30-days notice of their intent to sue the state.

But over time their legal challenges may be consolidated into one case in West Virginia’s court system.

File Photo

Dale Lee

“My guess would be the court would put them together,” said Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association.

And, although charter schools were part of a much broader bill, the legal challenges are likely to hone in on that issue. A major part of that legal strategy would be attempting to ensure that other aspects of the bill, such as increased financial support for the public school system, would not be sacrificed.

“I think when you file the actual suit it will be clearly defined,” Lee said.

The school service personnel union filed its 30-days notice to sue on Oct. 31. AFT-WV has been preparing its notice, with leaders saying it will be filed soon.

The WVEA filed its intent to sue over a broad-ranging education bill in July but has not yet actually filed suit.

The WVEA was poised to challenge a range of issues in an omnibus education bill that was passed by the state Legislature and signed into law by the governor in June.

That bill included a variety of changes to the state education system, including pay raises for educators, increased support personnel for schools, open enrollment, incentives to fill in-demand positions and financial support for small or struggling counties.

The WVEA’s intent letter described constitutional issues with several aspects of the bill. It actually takes issue with the entire bill in the sense that it challenges whether it violates the constitution’s “single object” rule.

“We made it broad because the attorneys at that point weren’t sure what we were going to be looking at,” Lee said. “We wanted to make sure it wasn’t going to be kicked back for overlooking something.”

But in time, Lee suggested, WVEA is likely to focus on the charter schools issue. He said the union has held off on actually filing suit until the optimal moment.

“Our attorneys are in continued discussion, and we expect a decision to be made very soon on the proper timing,” he said.

“We contend the charter schools issue is not constitutional also. But the question is, do you have to wait until the policy goes into effect? Do you have to wait until the policy is issued? Do you have to wait until there is an application? So that a judge wouldn’t kick it out and say there has been no harm done yet.”

Proposed rules surrounding charter schools were unveiled this week by the state Department of Education. State school board members suggested the public might need longer than usual, 60 days instead of the usual, to weigh in with comment.

No charter schools may operate until the 2021-22 school year. Three charter schools may open initially then three more in 2023, then three more every three years.

Any charter school would be part of the state’s public education system, but would be exempt from most statutes and administrative regulations. Schools that fail to meet standards could lose their charter.

Any group or entity with 501(c)3 status — or that has applied for that status — could submit an application. Charter schools could be authorized by county school boards.

Each charter school would be run by a local governing board.

The notice of intent by the School Service Personnel Association aims to challenge charter schools on constitutional grounds, suggesting they would use public resources to set up schools outside the normal system.

That section of the constitution says:

No independent free school district, or organization shall hereafter be created, except with the consent of the school district or districts out of which the same is to be created, expressed by a majority of the voters voting on the question.

The expression of voters is a key part of that.

Joe White

“They can do that with a vote of the people in question. We feel it disenfranchises the citizens of West Virginia to create this type of school without their participation,” said Joe White, president of the school service personnel association.

White said the organization he leads has long opposed charter schools in West Virginia, dating back at least a decade. He said any lawsuit by the association would focus on the charters issue.

“We will object to being joined with lawsuits any broader than the charter schools aspect,” White said. “But it’s ultimately up to the courts to decide.”

The focus on charter schools, White said, could help avoid affecting the many other aspects of the bill.

“We took a stance here: we don’t want to do harm to some of the good,” White said. “We have fought for some of this stuff to help. There are still some things the school system needs, and it’s very important.”

Fred Albert

AFT-WV has described a similar approach. Fred Albert, president of that union, spoke last week on MetroNews’ “Talkline.”

Although AFT-WV had not yet filed its intent to sue, Albert described focusing on the constitutional requirement requiring a vote of citizens before establishing any any school system outside the existing one.

“We feel it is unconstitutional because what that allows is an independent school system from our public schools, and we feel if that is going to happen it needs to be put out for a referendum to allow the people’s voice to be heard even further.”

Albert suggested establishing charter schools, even when approved by county school boards, could draw resources from the existing system.

“Why would we risk taking any resources from our public schools to create another layer within our public schools?” he said. “That’s our argument.”

AFT-WV President @AlbertFralbert joins @HoppyKercheval to discuss their lawsuit challenging charter schools. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIAoe1 pic.twitter.com/sDAjFj1nag

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) November 14, 2019

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Superintendents set to make their pitches before state School Building Authority

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — School superintendents from more than two dozen counties will make their best pitches before members of the state School Building Authority Monday and Tuesday in the latest round of NEEDs grant funding.

The SBA could have as much as $50 million to hand out in school construction projects. There will be lots of projects to choose from.

Each superintendent has 10 minutes to talk about their projects. In past years the SBA has favored projects that come with local funding.

MORE see proposals here

Fayette County has had a multi-year school facilities that has been backed by the SBA. This year the county is seeking more than $20 million for a new regional school at Meadow Bridge that will include grades Pre-K through 12. Fayette County does not any local funds to go with the project. Superintendent Terry George will make the county’s presentation Monday.

The funding request from Brooke County is just more than $500.000. Superintendent Jeff Crook will seek funding for a new wastewater treatment plant at Brooke Intermediate South School. The county does have $25,000 in local funding.

Tuesday’s presentations will include a plan from Nicholas County Superintendent Donna Burge-Tetrick to construct safe school entrances for three elementary schools and Nicholas County High School. The county is seeking $1.6 million from the SBA with a local contribution of $100,000.

Marion County will end the two days of presentations with a request for more than $1.5 million for an eight classroom addition for Pre-K and Kindergarten students at East Dale Elementary School. Superintendent Randy Farley will tell the SBA the county has another $1.5 million in local for the project. The work will enable Marion County to close Meadowdale Annex.

The SBA will make its funding decisions at a meeting scheduled for Dec. 16-17.

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Raleigh County leader hopeful Legislature will provide jail bill relief

BECKLEY, W.Va. —  Following a recent meeting with state House delegates and county officials in southern West Virginia, Raleigh County Commission President Dave Tolliver said he is cautiously optimistic about the chances for legislative action to offset spiraling incarceration costs at regional jails.

Under current state law mandating a per diem rate for each inmate arrested and jailed, virtually all costs following an initial arrest by local authorities or by West Virginia State Police are absorbed at the county level. Tolliver told MetroNews he would like to see, at a minimum, passage of a bill requiring municipalities to cover the expenses associated with the first day of an arrest by city police.

“Most people who are bonded out of jail, it’s usually done within two days,” he explained.

Raleigh County Commission

Dave Tolliver

Alternatively, Tolliver said he and a coalition of county commissioners, including those in Fayette, Boone, McDowell, Wyoming, Summers, Mercer, Monroe and Nicholas, want state lawmakers to allow counties to charge a sales tax similar to the 1 percent municipal sales tax permitted by the expansion of West Virginia’s Home Rule Program, which began in 2007 as a pilot initiative, allowing Huntington, Charleston, Wheeling and Bridgeport to enact laws, ordinances and policies without regard for the state code, under certain restrictions.

Although Tolliver said he understands the reluctance among many House delegates to pave the way for additional taxes being imposed on their constituents, he noted the City of Beckley’s adoption of a 1 percent tax under the Home Rule and predicted there would be general public acceptance of a levy intended to avert what otherwise would be a financial crisis impacting those same constituents.

“I said, ‘Well, you added the (municipal) tax to the people that live outside of Beckley.’ I mean, let’s get real, most people in Raleigh County come to Beckley to spend their money,” said Tolliver.

Of the $2.5 million budgeted by the Raleigh County Commission for the fiscal year beginning in July, more than $880,000 has been spent to process, house and feed inmates in the county, according to Tolliver.

“If our jail bill continues to be $220,000 a month, then, this time next year, when we set the budget for 2020-21, there’s no way in the world we can keep up,” he said. “If this continues, there’s going to be some drastic cuts in Raleigh County.”

Tolliver warned of an impending fiscal crisis in which the commission would have no choice but to reduce expenditures drastically, including eliminating positions within the county government, in order to prevent escalating jail costs incurred at Southern Regional Jail and other facilities from engulfing the budget. To do otherwise, he said, would jeopardize Raleigh County’s allocation of the coal severance tax, the coalbed methane gas severance tax, and reallocated tax money, all of which would be redirected by state auditors to the county’s jail bill, in the event of a deficit.

“If you get behind, then the auditors, they will send you a letter stating, ‘What is your plan of correction? Are you going to cut budgets? Are you going to lay people off?’ They’re going to get their money, one way or the other,” said Tolliver.

During their annual meeting in August, members of the County Commissioners’ Association of West Virginia echoed Tolliver’s concerns, attributing most of the escalating jail costs to West Virginia’s drug abuse epidemic.

The association has advocated for the passage of a bill requiring all revenue generated by a county-level tax be used for regional incarceration expenses.

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Source: WV MetroNews