Barbour waste facility on hold
by Torie Knight

    State officials on Thursday froze the permitting process for an infectious medical waste facility proposed for the Philippi Industrial Park, because they believe the proper paperwork hasn't been sent to the state Division of Environmental Protection and other agencies.
    Joan Ohl, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources, sent a letter to Barbour County commissioners Thursday saying clouded circumstances and missing pre-siting notices would further delay a long-overdue report on the proposed facility.
    "All the secretary has done is asked the county commission to reconfirm that the proper pre-siting was filed," said Henry Taylor, commissioner of the DHHR Bureau for Public Health.
    Joe Wyatt of the Bureau of Public Health has been working on a report responding to public comments on the infectious medical waste facility proposed for Philippi by Virginia developer Doyle Payne. Payne has proposed building the first commercially operated Rotoclave-type facility in the nation that could be capable of sterilizing medical waste such as towels, sheets, gloves and syringes.
    Ohl's announcement Thursday will hold that report and put off granting a constructional permit for the facility until county commissioners and Payne can verify that pre-siting notices were filed properly.
State law requires the filing of four pre-siting notices.
    The Department of Health and Human Resources and the Barbour County Commission received the notices, but the Division of Environmental Protection and the Barbour County Solid Waste Authority may not have received the notices.
The Concerned Citizens of Barbour County hired Clarksburg attorney Thomas Michael to help sort through the permit and sent a letter to the state stating it believed the pre-siting notices were not filed properly.
    The citizens claim that the DEP had a certified mail receipt in its files, but no notice. The solid waste authority did not have a notice, they said.
    The state agency is asking the Barbour County Commission to confirm the pre-siting application. The state also wants to know if the DEP or the Solid Waste Authority received pre-siting notices.
    "It's a very long process. We feel like we have hit a snag here that needs addressed," said Mark Ferrell, spokesman for the Bureau of Public Health.  "Until that matter is cleared up, it doesn't make sense to go ahead with the permitting process."
Both Payne and Barbour County Commissioner Kenneth Dadisman declined comment.
    Mary Poling, a member of the Concerned Citizens of Barbour County, hopes that the DHHR's decision will get members of the group closer to a vote on the proposed infectious medical waste facility.
"Our hope is this will be set back to where he has to start over with the pre-siting notice and we can file a referendum," Poling said.
    Only the county commissioners can decide whether or not to put the facility on the ballot. They have asked the prosecuting attorney to make a decision on whether they should allow a vote. The residents missed the 60-day deadline to require a referendum themselves.

Hopes for 3rd circuit judge revived
by Troy Graham

    CHARLESTON- Two local senators have resurrected an amendment to a bill that would allow a third judge in Harrison County.
    A House bill passed earlier in the session would realign several judicial circuits and add a judge to a circuit in the eastern panhandle and one in the southern part of the state.
    Sen. Joe Minard amended the bill last week in the Senate Judiciary Committee to include an additional judge for Harrison County as well. Committee Chairman Bill Wooton, D-Raleigh, killed the amendment, however.
    The state Judicial Association conducted a survey and ranked 10 circuits in need of another judge. Harrison County ranked eighth on that list.
    Minard, D-Harrison, argued that the data was incorrect and the growth of Harrison County and the heavy caseload there warranted an additional judge.
    Minard and Sen. William Sharpe, D-Lewis, introduced the amendment to add a judge in Harrison County again Thursday, this time successfully, when the bill was introduced to the entire Senate.
    Wooton did not offer any opposition. But he reminded the senators of the cost of an additional judge and that the Judicial Association ranked Harrison County eighth on its list.
    "They recommended 10 new judges. I'm told the cost of a new judge to the state alone is about $300,000," Wooton said. "No one disputes the accuracy of the ranking order. The question is, do we need 10 new judges?" The amendment passed, as well as the bill, which was unanimously approved.  The passage of the bill does not guarantee that Harrison County will get another judge.
    Because the House passed a bill that added only two judges, and the Senate passed a bill with three new judges, the differences in the two bills will have to be worked out in a conference committee with members of both chambers. The conference committee could still take out Harrison County's third judge.
    "I'm trying to get appointed to conference," Minard said. "Although that doesn't mean we'll get it, at least it gets me in the room."

Sharpest spellers in the region face off
by Gail Marsh

Speculate. S-p-e-c-u-l-a-t-e. Speculate.
    By correctly spelling speculate in the contest, Jesse Darby of Gilmer County became this year's Region VII Spelling Bee champion.
    Darby, a 10-year-old who attends fifth grade at Normantown Elementary School, beat out 19 other contestants from Gilmer, Doddridge, Harrison, Marion and Tucker counties to claim the top prize. He is now eligible to compete in the national spelling bee in Washington, D.C., in May. "I was pretty confident and was hoping I could win, but it was still a surprise," Darby said.
    His mother, Theresa Darby, was more surprised. "I really didn't expect him to win. He's a good speller, of course, but he's only in the fifth grade," she said.  Darby's brother, Bryan, 12, also competed.
    The contest, co-sponsored by The Clarksburg Exponent and Telegram and RESA VII (Regional Education Service Agency), was open to students in fourth through eighth grades who had won spelling bees in their home counties. The competition was held at Robert C. Byrd High School Thursday night.
    With parents, family members and teachers looking on, the students took nearly one hour to narrow the contest down to the two top contestants. Words such as cavernous, husbandry, pensive, horizontal, quill, barren, fathom and niche knocked out the contestants one by one.
    This year's runner up, Jessica Cana, a fifth-grader from Sand Fork Elementary, also hails from Gilmer County. She and Darby competed one-on-one over a number of words, with both faltering on vagueness, erasable, aggressor and colossal.
"It got hard at the end. But I did pretty well," Cana said. She was accompanied by her parents, Robin Hakes and Clinton Howes.
    When Darby missed a word, Cana then had the chance to spell the missed word and one other word correctly in order to win. The lead went back and forth several times, but when Cana missed the word imperial, Darby went on to spell it correctly, and followed it with the correct spelling of speculate to clinch the title.
    Every student received a new dictionary, while Darby and Cana also received trophies. Cana was given a CD-Rom version for her school library, while Darby got a larger dictionary for his library that he will use for study.
Darby said he and his brother studied every night for the competition, but said he'll increase his study time for the national contest. "I'll be using the big dictionary, so I'll be putting a lot more time into it," he said.
    Joseph Paull, executive director of RESA VII and moderator of the contest, said this year's contestants were especially well prepared.
    "This was one of the toughest competitions we have had in a long time. Our students did very well, and Jesse has a lot of potential. I expect he will do well in Washington," Paull said.


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