Proposed Harrison school budget calls for $2 million increase.
by Gail Marsh

    New roofs, paving projects, yards of carpeting and a science lab renovation are some of the projects being considered in the Harrison County Board of Education’s 1999-2000 budget, according to a preliminary report.
    Board members spent a day last week looking over the projected $71 million budget for the next school year, which is a $2 million increase over last year.
    “We made up this tentative budget after getting input from staff throughout the county, and we feel it makes good use of our limited resources,” said Robert E. Kittle, superintendent of schools.
    Most of the increase in this year’s budget is due to the recent pay raises for state employees and increased allocations for the public employee insurance and retirement programs. The state will reimburse the county for those additional expenses.
    More than 87 percent of the budget is set aside for salaries and benefits, which leaves 13 percent to cover utilities, maintenance, transportation, food service and other miscellaneous expenses, Kittle said.
    “We try to spend our tax dollars wisely, and we appreciate the support we’ve been given from the county with the excess levy. It’s helped to provide things we couldn’t do without,” he said.
    The excess levy next year will provide more than $1 million for textbooks and nearly $1 million for teaching supplies, equipment, library supplies, science equipment, special education staffing, extracurricular activities, band and music programs and art  and technology supplies. Each school gets a share of the money based on a per-pupil allocation.
    The excess levy, which runs through 2001, also will provide more than $840,000 next year for building and facilities projects. Tentative plans call for new roofs at Lincoln High School, Washington Irving Middle School and Johnson
 Elementary School.
    The money is also slated to replace doors at a number of schools, renovate the science lab at South Harrison High School and replace carpeting at Big Elm Elementary, Nutter Fort Primary and Intermediate, Lincoln High School and South Harrison Middle School.
    Levy funds for athletic facilities total $250,000 in next year’s budget. South Harrison High School is scheduled for the biggest allocation, $108,000, to help bring the school’s football field up to Secondary Schools Activities Commission specifications. Tentative plans call for a fence to be constructed around the field, replacement of goal posts, repair of the home side bleachers, the addition of band bleachers to the end zones and an increase of 500 general seats.
“This has been a priority for us and we hope to be able to get these projects under way as soon as the budget is approved,” Kittle said.
    Other schools and tentative allocations include: Bridgeport High School, $46,000 for fieldhouse and bleacher repair and construction of a weight room; Bridgeport Middle School, $12,500 for outside restrooms; Liberty High School, $28,000 for sports equipment and gym floor refinishing; Lincoln High School, $35,000 for new dugouts and bleacher repair; and Robert C. Byrd High School, $20,000 for field maintenance and repairs.
    “We get many, many requests and we can’t fill them all, but we feel this is a good, balanced budget that does provide for a great number of those requests,” Kittle said.
    If there are funds to carry over at the end of this year, some other projects may be considered, but Sharon Haddix, board treasurer, said it is still too early to tell what the bottom line will be. Last year the school board had a leftover balance of just $100,000 out of a $69 million budget.
    “Right now we’re looking at about $400,000 as an ending balance, but we have a few more months to go. We can always make an adjustment in July,” she said.
    A copy of next year’s tentative budget will be available for public viewing after April 18 at the school board office on E.B. Saunders Way and at the Clarksburg-Harrison Public Library.
    A public hearing will be held April 28 before the board approves a final budget. A copy must then be sent to the state Department of Education by April 30 in order to obtain state approval.

North View home sustains heavy damage
by Gail Marsh

    No one was injured in an Easter Sunday afternoon fire that caused more than $45,000 in damage to a house in North View, fire officials said.
    The blaze began shortly before 2 p.m. at 1301 N. 14th Street, a 2 1/2-story, stucco house owned by Marty Antoine. Antoine reportedly lived in the home with his two daughters, Mary Jones and Kay Perry, and their three children ages 12, 12 and 7.
    According to Clarksburg Fire Department Capt. Joe Gonzalez, when firefighters arrived they found the front room on the second floor of the house fully involved.
    Gonzalez said Mary Jones was in the kitchen cooking lunch and was not aware that a fire had started on the second floor.
“As I understand it, a passerby called when he heard glass breaking and then saw the flames shooting out of the second floor. With the wind the way it was today, once the windows broke the flame spread very quickly,” Gonzalez said.
    The North View engine, which was on scene within one minute after the call, was joined two minutes later by firefighters from Central Station. Gonzalez said one crew attacked the fire from the first floor stairway while a second crew laddered to the porch roof and fought the blaze though the front windows. The remaining firefighters hosed down the roof and extinguished hot spots from the ground.
    The fire was under control within 20 minutes, but firefighters remained on scene for two hours to ensure that the fire was out. The blaze was contained to three rooms on the second floor and to the attic, while the first floor received water damage.
    The family’s pet hamsters, housed in a bathroom on the second floor, were overcome by smoke, Gonzalez said.
It is believed that the fire started in the front room of the second floor of the house, but no cause for the fire has yet been determined, Gonzalez said.
    Clarksburg Fire Inspector Bernard Fazzini began an investigation on Sunday, and the investigation will continue again today.

Clarksburg’s first Citizens Police Academy set to graduate
by James Fisher

    With the Clarksburg Police Department’s first Citizens Police Academy coming to an end Tuesday night, at least one of the students says she feels sad the sessions are over. “It’s kind of like being 18 and playing your last few games,” Mary Kay Oliverio said at the next-to-last class. “That’s not really a good analogy, but it’s the best I could think of.”
    Graduation ceremonies are set for Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., but Police Chief Raymond Mazza said this is not necessarily the end for the class.
    Class members will have alumni meetings once a month for citizens and police to interact and talk about problems and solutions, Mazza said.
    The class has met for three hours each Tuesday since Jan. 5 and class members say they have bonded with each other as well as learned about the trials and tribulations of being a police officer.
T    he 15-week course covered a variety of topics ranging from hiring officers, domestic law, firearms safety and traffic violations to court procedures and department hirings.
    The class also took field trips to many city and county law enforcement facilities as well as the Central Regional Jail in Flatwoods. “We kind of expected a classroom-type situation, but the discussions have really opened up,” said Mike Kozakewich. “On the breaks you see people talking and discussing things and sometimes getting into arguments. Then when the officers come back, they’ll ask their opinion.”
    Class discussions sometimes even take on a life of their own, he said. Members will sometimes talk about one point with the officers and each other for 15 or 20 minutes as people relate their own thoughts and personal experiences.
    This is exactly the result Mazza was hoping for from the class. In forming the academy, Mazza said his goal was to get community members more involved with problems that may exist within Clarksburg’s neighborhoods.
    People in the neighborhoods are often more aware of crime than the officers, he said, mostly because of the sheer numbers involved.
    Clarksburg’s officers are usually so busy responding to one call after another that it leaves scant time for community policing and patrolling neighborhoods.
    “We’re looking for people to become leaders in problem-solving, along with the police, in the neighborhoods,” Mazza said. He also said he wants residents to form neighborhood watch programs and help police rid Clarksburg of drug-dealers and other sources of crime. At least two of the class members have already taken lessons back to their neighborhoods.
    Oliverio and Carl Hardy are very much involved with community relations in their respective neighborhoods and say the academy has been a boost. “I’m the neighborhood contact person and now I know who to call when there is a problem,” Oliverio said. “We also have a newsletter we send out and I’ve been taking my class notes home and we sit and pull out things to share with our neighbors.”
    The police department has also felt an impact from the 15-week academy, Mazza said. Class members sharing information with neighbors and friends has resulted in officers making several arrests and becoming aware of problems in the city.
“I think the quality of life will be better in their neighborhoods and throughout the city,” Mazza said. “We’ve learned a lot and broken down a lot of barriers. Hopefully the friendships we have formed will last forever.”


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