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City of Grafton prepares for Y2K problems
by Torie Knight
STAFF WRITER
Grafton City Council members are thinking twice about the Year 2000 computer problem.
Council voted Tuesday to buy two generators — one for city hall and the other for the city’s water pump stations. City Manager Donna Hoyler said it wasn’t just because of the Y2K bug, but also for any emergency electrical situation the city may have.
If a power outage lasts more than 24 hours in Grafton, the city water pump stations could run out of water. That, Hoyler said, is a bad scenario.
“It’s not just Y2K, it is something we have really needed,” she said.
Tuesday night, council said it is taking back Fetterman Park and its pool.
Council hasn’t been in control of the pool for several years. Last year, it was leased to a private group, which ended the year with a $6,727 deficit. The group has asked the city to take back operation of the pool.
“I’m in favor of keeping the pool open, but not paying another person’s debt,” said Councilman Beryl Riley.
A decision to help the private group with the debt will be made later. Members plan to try and find ways to make the pool and Fetterman Park more profitable. They hope the recent construction of the Castle Creek Playground may help do that.
“It will probably never be self-sustaining. We know that,” Mayor Thomas Horacek said.
Also Monday, council discussed the need to start working on downtown parking problems and the mayor asked members to consider municipal fees and utility taxes.
Several residents have written letters complaining about a lack of parking spaces in downtown.
“We are going to have to bite the bullet,” Horacek said. “Parking in downtown needs looked at.”
Municipal fees and utility taxes may be needed in the city, the mayor said. Council members will have to make that decision soon. Horacek said without pay raises for some city employees, especially the police force, many will opt to go to other jobs.
“We are losing our police whenever they can get a job elsewhere,” Horacek said. “We need to do something.”
In other actions, council opened employee health insurance proposals from 18 companies and opened a sewer cleaner bid. Members approved a Mother’s Day Shrine brochure, paid bills, accepted a budget revision, renewed the dog warden’s salary and denied a request to abandon a portion of Howard Street. The abandonment request was denied because of utility lines in the area.


Two Harrison English teachers receive honors
by Gail Marsh
STAFF WRITER
At its regular meeting Tuesday evening, the Harrison County Board of Education recognized two of its own who were chosen as the 1999 English Language Arts Teachers of the Year.
Marguerite S. Hickman, Liberty High School, and Carol A. Curotz, Wilsonburg Elementary School, were honored by the county at the secondary and elementary levels.
“I am always looking for ways of doing things in an innovative manner. I enjoy my students very much and am glad to have the opportunity to teach them,” said Hickman, a ninth-grade English teacher.
Rosalee Dolan, principal at Wilsonburg, said Curotz often designs projects to help immerse her third graders in reading, writing and literature.
“Her students begin to project a more positive image toward reading as they participate in her class,” she said.
The board also heard from Harrison County Commissioner Roger Diaz, who presented a check from the commission for $5,000 to the school system’s Foster Grandparents program. The program, which trains volunteers to work with children in local elementary schools, plans to use the money to recruit more volunteers and to expand their work to the middle schools.
“I commend the board for their foresight in putting such a useful program in place,” Diaz said.
The board also heard a report from Jim Eschenmann, county school technology coordinator, who told how the money from two recent grants will be used in the local school system.
The first grant for $42,000 will be used to fund a multi-media project at Bridgeport Middle School, called “March Through the Millennium, a Biographical Journey Through Time.” The money will buy 15 computers, video equipment and software.
The second grant for $193,000 will be used to start a central training facility for teachers at the school board office located on E.B. Saunders Way.
In other business, the board agreed to budget $15,000 for the 1999-2000 Artist-in-Residence program for Harrison County Schools. The local artists, Anna and Steve Pisher, who have extensive experience in Italian culture, will hold workshops at various schools during the school year.
The next school board meeting will be held on Feb. 16 at 6 p.m. at Lincoln High School.



 

Suspension of 2 Lewis Co. students angers parent
by Troy Graham
STAFF WRITER
As Alex Stapleton’s daughter got off the school bus at Robert L. Brand Middle School in Weston last Friday, two older girls began calling to her, he said. She ignored the girls and kept walking toward class.
“Eventually they got mad because she wouldn’t come to them and they attacked her from behind,” Stapleton said.
The girls threw Stapleton’s daughter on the ground and kicked and punched her, leaving the fifth-grader with a concussion, black eyes and bruises, he said.
“They just kept doing it until they realized a teacher was coming and they took off,” Stapleton said.
The two girls, a sixth- and seventh-grader at Bland, were suspended for five days. Stapleton’s daughter was taken to the emergency room and has been recuperating at home this week.
On Monday, Stapleton went before the Lewis County Board of Education to ask why the girls were not more severely punished.
“They attacked her from behind,” he said. “I wanted them expelled.”
Board officials said the school system’s disciplinary policy was followed in this situation, although board members only learned of the attack at Monday’s meeting.
“At the next meeting, we’ll ask for a report to see what was done and if it followed the policy,” said board member Cline Craig. “Mr. Stapleton’s contention is the policy needs to be changed to put more bite in it. The policy was followed as far as we can tell.”
Craig, who was board president when the policy was drafted, said it is actually more stringent than the state guidelines under the Safe Schools Act.
But Stapleton, who is studying at Glenville State College to become a teacher, said more supervision of students is needed, as well as more severe punishments for violence.
“I don’t want our school system to get out of hand. I don’t want our school system to look like New York’s,” he said. “I’m not trying to be vindictive to these girls, but it has to start somewhere. If we let this go on the other kids may say, ‘Well, they only got a five-day suspension.’”
A forum, scheduled several weeks ago, will be held on Feb. 27 at Lewis County High School to discuss the disciplinary policy. The forum will look at the policy to see if any changes need to be made, Craig said.
Stapleton is urging other parents to attend the meeting.
“We want this to be a flourishing community, but no one is going to bring their kids to a school where they fear for their lives,” he said. “More parents need to speak up.”
Craig said the policy has so far achieved its purpose.
“This was a pretty well-put- together policy that has most times served pretty efficiently,” he said.


Cross-burning case ends in conviction
Wildman faces 10 years in state
penitentiary and $5,000 fine
by James Fisher
STAFF WRITER
Fannie Parker sighed deeply, put her head in her hands and wept Tuesday when the jury announced that it had convicted Michael Vernon Wildman of violating her family’s civil rights in 1997.
The jury deliberated about 30 minutes before finding the 20-year-old Harrison County resident guilty of civil rights violations and destruction of property for pouring and then lighting gasoline in the shape of a cross on the Parkers’ front lawn in Quiet Dell.
“You hate to see anyone’s child put through this,” Parker said after the verdict was read. “He’s young and had his whole life ahead of him, but what he did hurt me and my family.”
At his March 17 sentencing, Wildman faces up to 10 years in the state penitentiary and/or up to a $5,000 fine for the civil rights violation. He also faces up to 1 year in the county jail and/or up to a $500 fine for the misdemeanor destruction of property charge.
The verdict ended 1 1/2 days of trial before Harrison County Chief Circuit Judge Thomas Bedell, during which witnesses testified that Wildman lit the cross after a night of drinking at a nearby party.
Wildman and his attorney Eric Wildman were unavailable for comment immediately after the verdict.
Several of Fannie and Raymond Parker’s co-workers attended Tuesday’s hearing, but all declined to comment about the verdict.
Raymond Parker said the verdict will bring closure to the incident for his family.
“Now we can get everything back in order and put this behind us,” Raymond Parker said. “We’ll never forget this, but we have to go on with our lives.”
Eric Wildman called just two witnesses Tuesday. Before the jury returned the verdict, Wildman said he had intended to call more witnesses, but he changed his mind when prosecutor Larry Frye cut short his witness list Monday.
Michael Wildman was not called to testify.
Both attorneys called for the jury to draw on their own life experiences and use common sense when deliberating.
Eric Wildman contended that the incident was simply bad judgement on the part of a group of teen-age boys who were drinking, not a felonious assault on the Parker family.
Frye, however, called the incident a “hate crime,” and noted the long-term effects on the family.
Raymond Parker said his family leaves lights on at night. Family members also said they don’t sleep well and that any small noises easily wake them.

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