Big doings planned for Harrison’s Earth Week
Paul Leakan
Staff writer

    Dozens of area residents and organizations are getting prepared for what is considered by some as the planet’s equivalent of a trip to the beauty parlor: Earth Week.
    While millions of people around the world will be celebrating Earth Day on April 22, several Harrison County residents are planning to honor the planet for an entire week.
    The Harrison County Solid Waste Authority, the Harrison County Board of Education and the county Environmental Citizens Organization are teaming up with local volunteers and businesses to celebrate Earth Week.
    The group has planned a week of activities in the Meadowbrook Mall from April 19 to April 25. The opening ceremonies are slated for April 20 at 6:30 p.m.
    Volunteers will be passing out 6,000 free pine tree seedlings and packets of sunflower seeds. Smokey Bear will also be on hand to give fire safety tips.
    Allegheny Power and the Harrison/Rivesville region Power Station will award either a Harrison or Marion County school for actively participating in efforts to improve the environment. The winner, which will be announced April 20, will receive $200.
    Students from all over the county also wrote essays about the environment. More than 470 essays were submitted. The theme of the essay this year is “Clean me up, Country Roads.”
    Members of several area 4-H clubs will use the same theme in their designs for a poster contest. The winner’s design will be placed on the back of a Central Transit Authority bus.
    Paul Hamrick, litter control chairman of Harrison County, believes the events are a good way to remind people how their everyday lifestyles have the potential to destroy the environment. “People just have to be conscious of their waste. We’re a throw-away society. We just toss everything out.”
    Every year, the Solid Waste Authority picks up about 3,000 tires from around the county that were illegally dumped.
It costs about $2 to dispose of a tire at a designated tire disposal dealer. But, as Hamrick points out, it costs taxpayers about $4 for the Solid Waste Authority to retrieve illegally dumped tires.
    Children should also get in the act by conserving energy, Hamrick said. The solution is simple: Just get back to the simple things in life. Like enjoying the outdoors.
    “Children today just need to put away their Gameboys and Sony Playstations for a while and maybe enjoy those things that cost nothing,” Hamrick said. “They’re out there for everyone.”



Grafton Council OKs funds for Anna Jarvis home
by Torie Knight
Staff writer
 

    GRAFTON — Anna Jarvis’s birthplace in Taylor County will get a much needed improvement following grant approvals by Grafton City Council members Tuesday.
    Council approved construction bids for a $38,000 Governor’s Partnership Grant to build a welcome center near the house where the founder of Mother’s Day was born.
    The center will have necessities, such as restroom facilities and running water. It also will contain an office, a gift shop and a conference room.
    Olive Crow, an owner of the house built in 1854, said it wasn’t easy to get the grant approved. She tried for three years before the money came through. “We’re ready to get started,” she said.
    Visitors to the house have only had portable facilities in the past. Last year, the Thunder on the Tygart Foundation honored First Lady Hovah Underwood as mother of the year. She spoke at the house on Mother’s Day and had to resort to the portable facilities. Just a few months later, the grant came through. Crow said it may be a coincidence, either way she is just glad to get the money.
    The governor and his wife will come back to the Anna Jarvis’ home again this year when U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd’s wife, Erma, will be named the 1999 mother of the year. The home is a museum celebrating mothers.
    Also Tuesday, council agreed to begin a switch from manual to digital parking meters. Members also voted to increase parking ticket prices from $2 to $3. If the ticket is not paid within 48 hours, the price will go up to $5.



PSC to end water board probe
by Troy Graham
Staff writer

    The state Public Service Com-mission will drop an investigation into the Clarksburg Water Board’s management of a water district, as long as none of the groups involved in the investigation object to the findings of a March 19 report, a PSC attorney said.
    The commission’s staff members who conducted the investigation also recommended in their report that the case be dropped. The PSC had been investigating the water board’s management of the Lost Creek-Mount Clare Public Service District.
    The staff cited some “questionable practices” in the water board’s handling of the district, but did not recommend any disciplinary action.
    The water board voluntarily stopped managing the Lost Creek district last August. Last week, the PSC approved the merger of the district into the Greater Harrison Public Service District.
    In the staff report, investigators noted that many of the problems that plagued the Lost Creek district, such as high water loss and dead water meters, have been corrected by Greater Harrison.
    Because many of the problems have been addressed, PSC staff members said it was time for the Lost Creek district to “move forword.”
    The PSC will give the groups involved with the investigation — the water board, the Lost Creek district board, Greater Harrison and the Harrison County Commission — until April 19 to respond to the report.
    The county commission, which requested the investigation last year, will not object to the findings, said commission President Tom Keeley.
    The PSC scheduled a hearing in Charleston for May 4 to address the matter. But, if no one objects to the findings, the PSC will can cancel the hearing and drop the case, said PSC attorney Cecelia Jarrell.



High school students getting credits online
by Gail Marsh
Staff writer

    Six high school seniors from Harrison and Doddridge counties are spending time studying in cyberspace and getting college credit for their online efforts.
    The seniors from Liberty, Bridgeport and Doddridge County high schools are taking part in a distance learning pilot program offered by West Virginia University. The class, freshman engineering II, is being taught by Shahab Mohaghegh, an associate professor in WVU’s College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.
    Participating seniors include Jonathan Davisson, Ricky Hussman and Jessie Canon from Liberty High School; Justin Van Tromp from Bridgeport High School; and David Shaver and Holly Bode from Doddridge County High School. All the students are taking the class on their home computers.
    Mohaghegh said the electronic class is offered in two sections, with one section made up of 38 WVU freshman and the other class comprised of the area high school seniors. Except for taking the course by computer, the class has all the features of a regular class, including lectures, chapter notes, questions and answers, mid-terms and final exams, Mohaghegh said.
“We meet four times a week online, and then the students have access to numerous help sessions where they can ask questions of the staff in real time,” he said.
    Quizzes and homework assignments for the self-paced course are graded online, and students are able to log on at any time to read notes from the professor to see if there are areas where they may need extra help. “I try to do everything for the distance learning students that I would do in a regular class, but it’s in a digital fashion,” he said.
    To take part in the class, the seniors signed up for the course at Robert C. Byrd High School in January. The students came back to the school to take the mid-term exam, but they will go to WVU in early April to take the final exam. Those who pass the final will receive three hours of college credit.
    Jessie Canon plans to major in computer science at WVU in the fall. He said he has learned much more than he expected about computer language from the distance learning course.
    “I’ve taken computer classes at Liberty, but this was much more advanced. And I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to work on it any time I want to because it’s self-paced,” he said.
    Thanks to this and other college courses, senior David Shaver at Doddridge County High School will graduate with 21 hours of college credit. He also plans to attend WVU in the fall.
    “It’s been great to be able to take the class at home on my own computer. We just log onto the Internet and they have everything set up for us,” he said.



Upshur schools’ top post still open
by Gail Marsh
Staff writer

    School board members in Upshur County have yet to find a replacement for the Upshur County superintendent of schools who will retire at the end of June.
    It’s not because they haven’t tried, according to Gary Frush, Upshur County school board president.
Current Upshur County Schools Superintendent Richard Hoover, who has held the position since 1995, announced his retirement in December
    The superintendent’s job was posted after the first of the year, and the board interviewed three candidates in March, Frush said. “We had hoped to fill the position by the end of March, but the individual we wanted to hire withdrew his name from consideration. So it’s back to the drawing board,” Frush said. The superintendent’s job has been posted again and applications will be taken through Friday, Frush said.
    Upshur officials faxed a job description to every county school board in the state and to the state’s eight Regional Education Service Agency (RESA) offices.
    Frush said the board will begin reviewing applications as soon as possible to keep the process moving along.
According to state law, the job must be offered before the end of April to allow the board to offer the applicant a multi-year contract.
    “We don’t want to have to offer just a 1-year contract that doesn’t even give the person time to unpack before the contract is up. That’s why it’s important that the hiring process moves along quickly,” he said.
    Frush said the biggest challenges facing the new superintendent will be dealing with a continued decline in enrollment and a budget deficit in the $400,000 range.
    A levy election is slated for May 15 that could raise $1.4 million a year for five years to help the school board overcome the deficit and fund some essential services, including the purchase of textbooks and needed building repairs.
    “Once the levy vote is in, we’ll know more about what we’ll need to do in order to take care of the deficit,” Frush said. “Right now we’re just working to get this position filled,” he added.



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