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Wednesday, Feb. 17, 1999

Two-car collision near Eastpointe kills woman
by James Fisher
STAFF WRITER

    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
STAFF WRITER

    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 suspensions.
    "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
STAFF WRITERS

    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 by April.
    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
STAFF WRITER

    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 traffic.
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
STAFF WRITER

    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 senior citizens.
    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 yet.
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.



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Copyright Clarksburg Publishing Company 1999