Wednesday, Feb. 17, 1999
Two-car collision near Eastpointe kills woman
by James Fisher
Clarksburg Police are investigating the circumstances
surrounding a fatal accident at the intersection of U.S. 50 and Emily Drive
Tuesday afternoon. Police are not releasing the name of the woman killed
in the accident until her family can be notified, said Police Chief Raymond
Mazza. The other driver's identity also has not been released.
Police said the woman who was killed was driving
a Honda westbound on U.S. 50 and turned left across oncoming traffic.
As she was turning onto Emily Drive, the woman's car was struck by a Pontiac
traveling in the eastbound lane.
Police said the Pontiac had the right of way.
The Pontiac struck the Honda on the passenger side
front, spinning it across the exit lanes from Eastpointe. The Honda
came to rest against a light pole on the median.
The woman allegedly struck the steering wheel and
suffered fatal chest injuries in the accident, police said. Mazza
also noted the Honda was not equipped with an airbag, but the woman
was wearing her seatbelt.
Traffic at the heavily traveled intersection was
bottled up for more than one hour as crews from the Clarksburg and Bridgeport
Police departments as well as the Clarksburg Fire Department responded.
Although the Pontiac was blocking one eastbound lane as well as one entrance
lane to Emily Drive, the vehicles could not be moved until an accident
reconstructionist arrived on the scene to take measurements.
Harrison board nixes Lincoln grading plan
by Gail Marsh
The Harrison County Board of Education failed to
approve a request by the school improvement council at Lincoln High School
that would have allowed students to pass a subject even though they had
failing grades for half the school semester.
During its regular meeting Tuesday night held at
Lincoln High School, the board agreed with the superintendent's recommendation
to disallow a wavier to its grading policy, even though it would affect
a number of seniors.
The grading policy, revised in September of
1998, no longer allows teachers to pass students who earn two 'Ds' and
two 'Fs' by rounding the final grade up to a 'D.' For all other grade combinations,
such as two 'As' and two 'Bs,' the grade can be rounded up to the next
letter if the average is .5 or better. This is the part of the policy that
teachers find unfair, according to Karen Morgan, a Lincoln teacher.
Morgan told the board that it was unfair to round
up grades for the better students, but to fail to round up the grades of
those students who were trying their best and still not doing well enough
to get a passing grade.
"I guess it's true what I teach my students from
the book 'Animal Farm' that states that all animals are equal, but some
animals are more equal than others," Morgan said.
Robert E. Kittle, Harrison County Schools superintendent,
explained to Morgan and parents who questioned the policy that he has reviewed
student records at Lincoln and at other high schools. Kittle said he found
that most of the students affected by the policy were failing in multiple
subjects and had other problems, such as frequent absences and in-school
"We're going to have to raise standards, not lower
them, in order to help our kids succeed in school and in life," Kittle
said. In other business, the board once again revisited its revised policy
on the selection of high school valedictorians and salutatorians.
Norman Farley, an attorney representing a group
of concerned parents, presented the board with a revision that would allow
the policy to take affect with this year's senior class, instead of the
class of 2002. That revised policy allows for the selection of valedictorian
and salutatorian to be based on a 4.0 grade point average system, and does
away with the consideration of "weighted grades," those classes that are
worth more than 4.0, such as honors English or college-level classes. Farley
said he would like the board to allow the policy to take effect this year
in order to be fair to the next three graduating classes.
"We have five high schools and right now there are
at least three different ways that the policy is being enforced. We know
that the board is concerned because it has appointed a committee to look
at the problem," Farley said.
The attorney asked the board to consider revising
the policy to take effect this year so that any student with a 4.0 grade
point average would be selected valedictorian. The board considered the
request, but acting president Doug Gray said the board would make no decision
until the next board meeting.
Bernie Hurst, a South Harrison High School teacher
and president of the Harrison County Federation of Teachers, told the board
that Harrison County now has a local affiliate of the West Virginia Federation
of Teachers, AFT, AFL-CIO.
"Our membership has grown in the last two weeks
from about 25 to 100 members now. It's apparent that teachers and some
support personnel want a different vehicle to allow their voices to be
heard," Hurst said.
The new president said the local affiliate
has no real ax to grind, but the organization does plan to be a "vocal
group," he said. "We're looking for open and honest communication with
the board and with other professional organizations in Harrison County
in order to help solve problems of mutual concern," Hurst said. The next
regular school board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 2, at 6 p.m.
at South Harrison High School.
Upshur schools look for help from Charleston
by Torie Knight and Troy Graham
Upshur County school officials will turn to the voters
for the fourth time in seven years, hoping this time they will pass a levy
to pull the school system out of a $179,000 deficit. The last levy attempt,
held in November 1998, failed by about 32 votes.
But because the vote on the school levy isn't until
May, the Legislature will have to pass a bill to delay the setting of the
county's levy rates. State law requires counties to set their levy rates
The bill and the levy must pass for the levy to
be in effect for the 1999-2000 school term, according to Alan Sturm, Upshur
County assistant superintendent. The chair and co-chair of the House Education
Committee and several local delegates introduced a bill to delay the setting
of Upshur County's levy rates Tuesday.
"It's real simple," said House Education Chairman
Jerry Mezzatesta. "We've done this for several other counties."
The levy, if it passes, would last for five years and would provide
money for seven different needs, Sturm said. The levy would provide $400,000
for books and instructional material, $250,000 for substitute teachers,
$300,000 for maintenance and $160,000 for new roofs.
"We're not looking for money to do something wild,"
Sturm said. "We need to do more than put a board over a hole."
Sturm estimates the school board's deficit could be wiped out in two
years with the levy. Following recent hearings on a proposal to close two
elementary schools, Sturm believes more people know about the school
board's situation and may be willing to support the levy. "More people
are aware that we're in a dire financial situation," he said. The board
opted not to close Rock Cave and Central Elementary schools.
The special election is planned for May 15 and would
cost the school system $18,000. The Legislature approved giving the county
$11,000 in state funds, while the community has vowed to raise $7,000 for
the levy, according to Superintendent Richard Hoover.
Rock Cave teacher and faculty senate president Rebecca
DeNuzzo said she is glad to help raise the funds. She said she didn't want
to see her school close, or any others for that matter. She believes passing
a levy is one of the only remaining options for the school board.
"I really feel they have no choice," DeNuzzo said.
"Something has to give." A major concern now, she said, is to get the community
to realize that the levy is needed. The Rock Cave staff is planning a community
meeting to talk about the levy to make residents understand the school
system didn't threaten closure as a scare tactic just to get the levy passed.
Without passage, DeNuzzo said she believes the school
will have to fight against closure this September. Teachers at Rock Cave
and Central Elementary schools hope the levy will pass. "If this county
and community want to keep the schools, they don't have much choice," DeNuzzo
said. "We realize the schools are still in jeopardy."
Clarksburg street closed by water break
by Paul Leakan
A portion of state Route 20 on Buckhannon Pike in
Clarksburg will be closed today for repairs after a split water main dumped
400,000 gallons of water from a gaping hole in the asphalt Tuesday. At
about 10:45 a.m., a water main located on Buckhannon Pike between Haymond
Highway and Suan Terrace began spewing water from beneath the road, slowing
A sheet of water blanketed the road, draining down a sloping hill and
funneling into a muddy ditch.
The break blew out a section of the road about 10
feet wide and 20 feet long. The Clarksburg Water Board will spend the next
few days repairing the road. About 20 feet of the northbound lane of Route
20 will be closed until 8 a.m. Thursday morning so the water board can
pave the road.
Motorists headed in that direction can avoid traffic
jams by taking the alternate routes of Chestnut Street to state Route 98
to Nutter Fort or state Route 58 through Broadway, East View and Stonewood.
Two businesses, two residences and a part of Suan Terrace area were without
water for much of the day, according to Patsy Trecost, general manager
of the water board.
The valves that supply water to the water main were shut off at around
12:45 p.m., Trecost said.
Workers from the water board dug into the asphalt
and discovered that the break created a gash that was 6 inches wide and
12 inches long. "It's the worst thing it could have been," Trecost said.
"A crack would have been better. A bulge would have been better. "That's
the first time in my tenure of 13 years that it's split."
Trecost believes the break could have been a result
of the high sulfur content of a nearby embankment. The sulfur could deteriorate
the pipe, he said. There's also another likely culprit: the weather. "We've
been getting 20 degrees at night and 60 degrees in the day," he said. "Any
time you have a freeze, and then a thaw, that affects our lines."
Wise: Social Security needs attention now
by Torie Knight
WESTON-Now is the best of times for Social Security.
The worst of times, however, could be just around the millennium if Congress
doesn't take action, Rep. Bob Wise said Tuesday. Wise spoke before an audience
of about 50 residents at the Lewis County Senior Center in the third of
five town meetings across the Second District. Bob Gleason of the
Social Security Administration also spoke.
Their message was two-fold.
First, Congress needs to act now to save Social
Security for future generations. Second, it isn't the elderly who will
be impacted by any changes made now. It is the workers who are paying into
the system now.
That bothered one Weston resident, especially since
those coming to hear the talks on Social Security and to give their opinions
were mostly senior citizens. "I'm concerned no younger people are here,"
said Elizabeth Farrell, 61.
She expressed concern that the level of cynicism is high among young
adults and that it's unlikely they will go to the polls and vote for issues
like Social Security.
Wise plans to take Social Security issues to college
campuses in an attempt to find out what youth want to do about their retirement
money. "I have mine," Farrell said. "They don't." As of today, Social Security
is doing well. In the future, however, it will face a dilemma unless preventative
measures are taken, Wise said.
The problem with Social Security is that the number
of retirees will almost double to 70 million in the next few decades while
the number of employees working to pay for Social Security will drop drastically.
That could affect some 400,000 West Virginians, 60 percent of whom are
It will be a crisis if Congress fails to act, Wise
said. But he said he is confident that measures will be taken to save the
program. "Social Security is a commitment and it will be there," Wise said.
There are many options being considered to save Social Security, including
eliminating income caps and raising payroll tax rates, in addition to allowing
individual investment accounts and reducing the cost-of-living adjustment.
President Bill Clinton has proposed using 62 percent of
the nation's budget surplus to save Social Security, while dedicating another
11 percent to Medicare. Wise said he hasn't committed to any plan just
Gleason said the problem of Social Security hits home with many Americans.
"The importance of Social Security is just incredible,"
Gleason said. "It is virtually their only source of income."
Many of the residents attending Tuesday's meeting said they depend
mostly on Social Security. Margaret Romel, who is in her early 70s, said
she does not want to see Social Security dabble in the stock market. She
also said some of her friends can't survive on Social Security because
of increasing medical costs.
She knows Social Security recipients who have to
choose between medicine or food. That, she said, isn't right.
"I want people in Congress to realize that," Romel said.