Clarksburg upgrades parking garage
by Paul Leakan
Maybe its the yellow caution tape thats wrapped
around the stairwell. Maybe its the elevators growl. Or maybe its the
fear of the unknown lurking in the shadows.
Whatever it is about Clarks-burgs Hewes Avenue
parking garage, some motorists have become leery about parking there.
I wont use the elevator, said Tonya Stonestreet, who owns a monthly
space on the third floor of the garage. And Im concerned about walking
up and down the stairs. Its just so narrow.
I know a lot of people who say the elevator doesnt
work half the time, said Helen Cantarelli, another monthly parker at the
lot. If its not safe, you dont want to be in there.
Many of the those fears, however, may be erased
once the city completes a handful of upgrades to the aging parking garage.
The city began upgrading the more than 20-year-old
parking deck in early March. The upgrades are being funded partially from
revenue generated when the city increased on- and off-street parking rates
in July 1998. The total improvements are expected to exceed $900,000.
The city contracted Carl Walker Construction Group
Inc. of Pittsburgh, Pa., to repair structural damage to the stairwell.
Workers are almost done reinforcing all five floors of the concrete stairwell.
The work on the stairwell, when completed, should
keep it structurally safe and secure for at least another 18 years, said
Ken Camella, superintendent of the project for Carl Walker Construction.
The stairwell should be completed by early next week, Camella said.
Once the stairwell is done, Millar Elevator Service
Company of Pittsburgh will begin repairing and replacing parts in the elevator.
Workers will shut down the elevator for around seven
weeks, according to Anthony Bellotte, manager of the parking garage. Workers
will also pressure wash the deck, fill in any cracks and coat it with a
clear sealant. The decks exterior should be a cleaner, whiter color once
the work is completed, according to Bellotte. The city also plans to have
additional drains installed to control water run-off. The new drains and
sealant could keep structural damage from developing in the future, Bellotte
Perhaps the biggest improvement, however, will be
the new lighting and security cameras. Sometime in mid-April, workers will
install new metal halide lights throughout the building, Bellotte said.
The lights cast more of a white glow than the current lights, which cast
a less bright orange glow.
Workers will also install security cameras on every
floor. A parking employee will use the cameras to monitor the floors for
any theft, vandalism or other crimes.
The security cameras and improved lighting are much-needed
improvements, Stonestreet said. Sometimes when youre up there, youre
the only one up there. So security cameras would be a real blessing as
long as theres somebody up there to look at them.
Motorists should experience some headaches while
the repairs are being made, Bellotte said. Some monthly parkers must temporarily
switch floors. But, once all repairs are made, all monthly parkers will
retain their spaces. Stonestreet can hardly wait for that moment. I think
they need to take a whole weekend, haul butt and get it done.
N. Central W.Va. has
many kids in poverty
by Troy Graham
Nearly a third of all children in North Central West
Virginia live below the poverty level, with the number of poor children
soaring since 1980, a recent study found.
Overall, the rate of children living in poverty
across the state is one of the worst in the nation. But this region, along
with the southern coalfields, has one of the states highest concentrations
of poverty-stricken children, according to the West Virginia Kids Count
Thirty percent of children in Harrison County live
in poverty, the recently published profile said. Meanwhile, more than 30
percent of the children in every county bordering Harrison, except Marion
County, live in poverty, the study said.
Margie Hale, the executive director of Kids Count, said the rate of
poverty is due to the proliferation of low-paying jobs, not a high rate
of unemployment. Most poor people work. People dont realize this, she
said. One shouldnt work and be poor.
The counties that border other states fared better
than the pocket of counties in the north central region. Of the 29 counties
that had child poverty rates at or below 30 percent, only five were not
border counties, including Marion and Harrison counties.
The better conditions in border counties may be
due to state residents crossing into other states for better-paying jobs,
while the central counties tend to be more isolated, Hale said. They may
be in close proximity to states with better medium incomes or better paying
jobs, she said. You could speculate that out-of-state wages may be higher.
The Kids Count Data Book calculated poverty based
on U.S. Census Bureau figures, using its threshold for poverty. A family
of three, for example, is considered to be living in poverty if that familys
income is below $13,360, Hale said.
The data book compared child poverty rates from 1980 with figures from
The rates for:
Barbour County rose from 25.1 percent to 37.3 percent.
Braxton County rose from 27.5 percent to 36.5 percent.
Doddridge County rose from 27.1 percent to 32 percent.
Gilmer County rose from 20.5 percent to 44.9 percent.
Harrison County rose from 17.9 percent to 30 percent.
Lewis County rose 19.8 percent to 37.1 percent.
Randolph County rose from 15.8 percent to 32.9 percent.
Ritchie County rose from 22 percent to 34.9 percent.
Taylor County rose from 19.5 percent to 34 percent.
Tucker County rose from 20.4 percent to 26.4 percent.
Upshur County rose from 19.7 percent to 35.8 percent.
Puppies, prisoners growing together
by Torie Knight
A sense of independence inside a correctional center.
A little bit of extra responsibility. A chance to care for someone else.
Thats just a few of the reasons why Mary Beth Hill
enjoys training a 7-month-old labrador puppy, Buttons, in her room at the
Pruntytown Correctional Center.
Four lab puppies just celebrated six months at the
center. The dogs will remain until the end of October or first of November
when they will be taken to a guide dog school.
For now, the puppies are learning to sit, to lay,
to bark on command and other basic tricks. The inmates, however, are getting
a much greater experience.
Pruntytown Warden Jim Liller said the puppies have
improved morale at the facility. At times, the care givers often forget
the bars that restrict their freedom as they devote all their attention
to the animals, he said. Its made a difference in the whole prison,
Liller said Wednesday during a meeting of the Grafton Rotary Club. It
has a calming effect.
Hill spends 24 hours a day with Buttons. He lays
by her chair in the lunchroom. He works with her in the state shop. He
sleeps next to her at night.
And, in October, the two may get to have another
experience together. Hill goes before the parole board about the same time
Buttons is sent to guide school.
Hill has another six months to spend with Buttons.
Moments shell treasure. It kind of keeps my mind off things in here,
she said. Thats six months of my time that has flown by.
Back on the street, Hill said she will watch for
Buttons and hope that someday she sees him guiding a blind person.
At home, however, she has a daughter to devote her attention to and
wont be as lonesome without the golden lab.
Chris Smith, West Virginias liaison for the Pilot
Puppy Project and a pilot dog owner, said that the dogs need to be able
to handle any situation and a crowd of people both of which they can
learn in the prison setting.
I put my life in his hands every day I step off
the curb, Smith said of his dog. Very few individuals have the time needed
to devote to training dogs for the blind. It is important the training
mirror situations in real life. My dog is with me all the time, he is my
A guide dog for the blind works for about 10 years
before retiring. Smith may keep his dog just as a friend after it retires.
The Pruntytown Correctional Center already has more puppies on the
way. Its been a good program for my unit, said Unit Manager Brenda Thompson.
The four dogs at Pruntytown, three golden labs and
one chocolate lab, work with their care givers in not just the state shop,
but also in the library, washing cars and mowing the lawn.
Sally Cockey, a trainer with the Greater Clarksburg
Kennel Club, said that exposure makes these dogs extra special. They are
constantly being trained and constantly being in places where they have
to be trained, Cockey said.
Then, after a look at the 7-month-old puppies lying
by their trainers instead of trying to chew on table legs at the Rotary
Club luncheon, she heaved a big sigh. These women should be proud, Cockey