Making the welfare-to-work transition just a little easier
Two women garner honors for helping people find employment
by Torie Knight
Barbara Clutter and Sharon Weaver have more in common than being age-old friends. When it comes to compassion and trying to help others, their efforts may also be unmatched. This time the duo is working on opposite sides trying to help welfare recipients find jobs.
Weaver works mostly behind a desk in a cluttered cubicle in the Clarksburg federal office complex as the designated Welfare-To-Work coordinator for the West Virginia Small Business Administration in Clarksburg. Last year, she convinced 757 small businesses in the state to make commitments to hire re-trained welfare recipients. In just three months this year, 254 more businesses made the commitment. Its everybodys job to do Welfare-To-Work, Weaver said. Clutter is one of those business owners who provides the jobs.
She hired seven welfare recipients to work for Senior Care of North Central West Virginia Inc. in Nutter Fort to provide temporary child respite care. She then employed eight women of low income to work at Ra-Mar Florist in Clarksburg, her business of more than 20 years.
These two women say they just want to see the gratitude in anothers eyes or the smile on anothers face. Their efforts with Welfare-To-Work were honored by the Small Business Administration this year.
Weaver, 55, won the Welfare to Work SBA Associate of the Year title. Clutter, 57, won the Welfare-To-Work Small Business Owner of the Year award. Clutter also won in the regional level and will advance to national competition. Welfare-to-Work means that in my business I am hiring and helping people to get off welfare, Clutter said.
Then, her eyes start to twinkle as she thinks about the self-esteem and the independence so many have found working for her companies. They are individuals. They want to feel free and do for themselves, Clutter said.
Weaver said it is a self satisfaction that makes her enjoy her work. She can help people start a business or find employment and make dramatic lifestyle changes. I just like helping people, she said. I think Im a people person.
Bonnie Higginbotham, president of Clarksburg Business and Professional Women, nominated both women for the awards. She said the efforts of both are amazing. Higginbotham said Weaver is fundamental in all the different programs at the SBA.
As for Clutter, Higginbotham has to take a deep breath. This woman is tremendous. She amazes me. She never slows down. She just keeps coming up with new ideas, Higginbotham said.
Some of those new ideas include adult day care for the elderly and respite care for children, both of which have become instrumental in Welfare-To-Work programs.
At the adult day care center, welfare recipients can find a job caring for the elderly. The child respite programs provide a day care facility for the parents.
Its free thats the big thing, Clutter said. Anybody that wants to better themselves and doesnt has no excuse.
The new welfare programs vary but basically include educational and skills training. The first step is to help recipients get a GED if they have not graduated from high school. The next step is teaching them how to dress, apply make-up, style their hair, as well as personal hygiene. One of the last steps is interviewing skills.
In addition to free services, Clutter tries to make getting a job even easier for welfare parents. As part of the child respite care program, she will send workers into homes to take care of children when parents go on job interviews, work evening shifts or go to the doctor. The workers will even stay over 24 hours if an emergency occurs.
Another added bonus is the food pantry at the Nutter Fort senior care facility. Clutter doesnt only feed the hungry, she also gives food to those in transition from welfare to work.
The children also benefit. The respite program teaches children basic skills like cooking. Workers also serve as mentors, tutors and counselors. When parents pick them up and take them home, they can have quality time together. Everything else is done, Clutter said.
Weaver said it is programs like those started by Clutter that make new welfare programs a success. Churches and chamber of commerce organizations also get heavily involved.
National statistics report that 3.3 million people dropped from welfare rolls since Aug. 22, 1996, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Both mothers and grandmothers, Clutter and Weaver said they want to help others with families. They also know that it doesnt matter what age one starts. They can still make a difference. Clutter completed her nursing degree at age 52.
More and more middle school
students have eating disorders
by Gail Marsh
Counselors and teachers at two Harrison County middle schools say eating disorders are no longer reserved for college and high school students. Students in their early teens are beginning to exhibit problems, they say, thanks in part to a national obsession with thinness.
The number of eating disorders has been increasing throughout the school system in the last few years, said Wendy Imperial, a counselor at Bridgeport Middle School.
School nurses went to Bridgeport Middle School in February to discuss eating disorders with students because of teachers concerns that more students at that school are exhibiting eating related problems. Imperial blames the increase on the magazines that students read and the movies and television programs they watch.
If you look at teen magazines and television programs, theres a real push to be thin. Kids learn at an early age that to be accepted, to have approval; its important to have that perfect body, she said.
Teachers and counselors in Harrison County are observing students who suffer from either anorexia, not eating, or bulimia, eating and then throwing up. Imperial said the problem is a two-edged sword.
An eating disorder can be a physical affliction, but it often has an emotional basis. In order to address the problem, its often necessary to work in conjunction with a physician and with a counselor, she said.
To help students sort out the issue of what constitutes a healthy body image, Donna Moore and Becky Dean, Harrison County Schools nurses, went to Bridgeport Middle School and discussed eating disorders with eighth-grade girls. They first taught the program last year at Washington Irving Middle School, following the request of Barbara Iaquinta, a social studies teacher at WI.
There were some concerns by teachers at the middle school level that a small number of students were showing signs that they might have eating disorders. We felt it was important to take a proactive stance and talk to all the students about problems that could occur, Moore said.
The nurses talked with the students at Bridgeport about the importance of good nutrition and explained how improper eating can cause physical problems, including heart irregularities. The nurses also covered some of the complex causes behind eating disorders and the different types of treatment available.
When the program was first presented last year, Imperial said she wasnt aware of any students with an eating disorder. This year, there are a number of students who are experiencing difficulties, she said.
Ive had a number of students who came to me worried about a friend. Its a courageous thing to do, to bring it out in the open so the student can get some help, she said.
Bridgeport High School held a similar program in early March for both male and female students. Matt Harki, a senior nursing student at West Virginia University and a Bridgeport High School graduate, co-conducted the presentation for male students.
Though its not as common in boys, it can sometimes affect athletes who want to drop weight or students who are worried about their looks, he said.
Harki told the students that a person with an eating disorder may be looking good on the outside, but he stressed the damage to the inside of the body, including possible ulcers, internal bleeding and damage to major organs.
The whole idea about anorexia is that you dont see it until its too late. A lot of damage can already be done, including permanent damage to the heart, he said.
Barbara Judy, a counselor at Bridgeport High School, said eating disorders have been in the school for years since the advent of Twiggy but they probably didnt have a name until a few years ago.
When students come to me, I encourage them to talk with their parents and I let them know there are resources available to help them, she said.
Locally, the United Summit Center offers individual and family therapy for those who suffer from eating disorders. Vicky Elkins, supervisor psychologist at the center, said an eating disorder can often be a family problem.
Adolescence is a difficult time when children are intensely concerned about their looks and about how they are perceived by others, Elkins said. Changes happen rapidly in adolescence and children may attempt to control their eating as a way to feel they have more control of their lives, she said.
Elkins said a good first step for parents to take if they are concerned that their children are losing too much weight or may be eating too much and throwing up afterward is to take the child to visit a family physician.
If you are concerned about your childs behavior, its good to see a doctor to rule out any physical problems first. Then the doctor can help you decide where to go from there, she said.
Elkins said parents or students can call the United Summit Center to ask questions or to set up a time to meet with a counselor. A crisis hotline answers 24 hours a day at 1-800-SUMMIT0.
Parents critical of restrooms at Gilmer High School
by Gail Marsh
State and local officials reacting to rumors of student violence and complaints about unsanitary bathrooms at Gilmer County High School say they found little evidence to substantiate the claims.
A state Department of Education employee conducted an unannounced inspection of the high schools bathrooms on March 8, after several parents complained of their deplorable conditions. The state department employee said he found very few problems with the 40-year-old bathrooms.
I went in every stall and checked every fixture and found them to be clean. The bathrooms are old, but they were acceptable for being located in a building that is undergoing major renovations, said Bill Elswick, coordinator of School Transportation and Facilities for the state department.
The county school system is conducting a $4.5 million renovation to the high school, connecting the east and west wings with a new media center, administrative offices and commons area. All the classrooms will have new ceilings and floors and all the bathrooms will be replaced. In the meantime, students go outside the building to change classes, tracking in mud and dust when they return.
When you get up to the second floor away from the construction area the hallways and bathrooms were much cleaner. Theyre doing pretty good for what they are working under, Elswick said.
JoAnn Rutherford, parent of a senior at the school, disagrees. At one point she tried to take pictures of the bathrooms but was denied access, she said.
I was told by the administration that the students cause problems with ripping off the doors or using the commodes as spittoons. But if thats the case, then the staff needs to get a handle on the kids and take care of the problem, she said.
Jane Evans, the parent of two students, routinely goes to the school and signs out her children to take them to a clean bathroom. She said she believes more can be done to keep the bathrooms in shape.
Ive seen it so bad at ballgames that Ive even stopped to pick up trash and flush the commodes. Someone should be taking better care of the restrooms, she said. Debra Nagy, parent of a student, said the bathroom problems started long before the renovation began. I had to complain last year because there was no soap in the bathrooms, and the bathrooms werent clean. I know many students who just wont go in there, she said.
Some students, stopped in the hallway Thursday during school, said the bathrooms arent in the best condition and could be cleaner. I dont think its a construction thing, said Sarah Frashure, a senior at the school. Maybe theres not enough janitors. I think a lot of people blame it on that.
Richard Butler, Gilmer County Schools superintendent, said no complaints have been made directly to him and he plans to hire more janitors when the renovations are completed in August.
I just dont think people have been very patient with us during the renovation. I think parents and students will be pleased when we finally get the new facilities done, he said.
Parents have also questioned whether incidences of violence at the school this year have been handled properly. Parents reported last month that an explosive device went off in one of the bathrooms.
The incident involved a plastic pop bottle with some aluminum foil and liquid inside. The thing did build up pressure and pop, but there was certainly no destruction of any kind, said John Bennett, the high schools principal.
Administrators have been unable to catch the student or students who put the device in the toilet. State police are investigating the incident. The principal also said he recently called Glenville police during a fight between an 18-year-old student and a younger student. Bennett said no one else was involved and neither student was seriously hurt. Both students were suspended, one for five days and the older student for 10 days, he said. The fight had nothing to do with school but with something that had happened the night before. We notified the police because the one student was 18, he said.
Glenville Police Chief Charles Davis said he routinely goes to the school to cite students for underage possession of tobacco. He said he has not been called out for any other violence at the school this year. I think they have their normal amount of problems, but thats the only incident I can recall where we had to go up to deal with the students, he said.
Ruling could be costly for Randolph EMS
Officials say squad could be bankrupt
if forced to pay $250,000 in back wages
by Torie Knight
The Randolph County Emergency Squad Authority may have to make up two years of back pay totaling nearly $250,000 for about a dozen employees.
But the authoritys president, Tom Pritt, said the squad doesnt have the funds to pay the employees. It caught us off guard, Pritt said. We kind of have a dilemma here about how we are going to pay this.
The state Supreme Court recently determined that workers who are on call during their time off must be paid for that on-call time because workers individual freedoms are restricted.
For the last four years, the Randolph County Emergency Squad Authority has scheduled workers for two 24-hour shifts and then three days off, with some workers on call during their days off. One employee said the authority owes her $125,000, Pritt said, because she was on call most of her days off.
To add to the authoritys financial problems, six more employees have been hired and expenses increased to prevent overtime among current employees. The authority hired four emergency service personnel for the Elkins unit and two for the Valley Unit in Mill Creek.
Pritt said this will make it even harder to pay off the unexpected debt. The authority and county officials recently sent a delegation to Charleston to talk to officials in the governors office. The authority asked for financial assistance but has heard nothing from the governor.
This week, the Randolph County Emergency Squad Authority decided to turn the matter over to the federal Labor Relations Board to decide a fair amount to pay employees. Authority officials offered employees about 50 percent of the back pay, but employees have not accepted the offer.
Pritt said the authority will have to file bankruptcy and close if it must pay the entire $250,000. To avoid bankruptcy, the authority may have to sell out to a private ambulance service or sharply increase rates, Pritt said.
The Randolph County Emergency Squad Authority is the main county emergency service and is an entity of the county commission. Randolph Commission President Andy Wamsley said the county cant go without an emergency squad system.
The county commissioners have yet to take any action to help the authority. Legally, the commission is not liable for the authoritys debt because the authority is directed by a board. The authority is, however, recognized as the countys official ambulance service.
Its our duty for health care to the people, Wamsley said. If the authority would fold up, the commission would provide the service.
Science students get to test their theories at science fair
by Troy Graham
Eva Maxwell noticed that when she asks her dad a question he sometimes doesnt hear her. Her mother, however, usually responds, no matter what else shes doing.
From that observation, Maxwell, a ninth-grader at Doddridge County High School, created a science experiment to study which gender can better concentrate on one activity.
My dad can sit and watch TV and block everything out, Maxwell told two judges Saturday at the North Central Regional Science, Engineering and Energy Fair.
For her experiment, Maxwell read two books on tape, then played both tapes at the same time, asking her subjects to focus on one of the stories. She then asked people questions about the story they selected.
She hypothesized, based on her parents, that men can concentrate better than women. Her research proved the theory correct. But, while it means men may be able to focus on one task better, for women its a good thing because you catch more, she said.
Maxwells was just one of dozens of projects presented at the regional science fair at Fairmont State College in categories for sixth through ninth grade and 10th through 12th grade.
There were the obligatory models of clouds and the universe and several projects focusing on the effects of music on plants and animals. One project even decided that the family cat became agitated when rap music was played, but was soothed by country music.
The point of the science projects isnt necessarily to find a budding Einstein, but to give the students a chance to use the empirical process, to develop a theory, test it and obtain the results, said Dr. Donald Trisel, a Botany professor and judge at the fair.
It doesnt matter how simple the project, as long as the students take a personal interest and have a basic understanding of the scientific process, he said. At this level Im just trying to encourage them, he said. Trying to keep kids interested in sciences should not be a negative experience.
There are some projects that show not only the interest of the student but represent good science, said Dr. Dwight Harris, a Physics teacher and coordinator of the fair. One project, which used dry ice to detect air flow in a wind tunnel, demonstrated a procedure that Harris had not seen used before.
Some students undoubtedly had help from their parents, but that too is fine as long as the student in fact understands what they did, Harris said.
Jordain Bush, a sixth grader from Gilmer County, deftly operated a homemade telegraph machine, constructed out of nails, electrical wire and a 12-volt battery from her dads drill. My dad helped me. Its what he did when he was in school, she said. That was about 32 years ago.
Others presented a class project, as did several students from Heritage Christian School in Bridgeport. Seventh and eighth grade students from the school turned a field trip to the Green Bank Observatory in Pocahontas County into their project, using actual data from the observatory on radio sources in the universe. The project was completed by a KNex model of the huge dish from the observatory constructed by student Ryan Pujals. Now we know whats going on out there in the universe, said seventh grader Caitlin Frum.
Her classmates, Joshua McCray and Maria Delpinal, were split on their enthusiasm for science. McCray, who expressed a preference for the sciences, said he was nervous, hoping they would win a prize at the fair.
Delpinal, even after the visit to Green Bank, still likes the letters better than the sciences. It was fun to go and visit but I wouldnt want to work there, she said of the observatory. The simple, basic things are enough.
Police probe hit-and-run death of teen
Suspect questioned, but no arrests yet in death of RCB High senior
by Troy Graham
An 18-year-old Harrison County man was killed early Saturday morning when he was struck by a car on Interstate 79 near the Anmoore exit.
Lorin Scott Williams, a senior at Robert C. Byrd High School, was a passenger in a car that struck the exit sign at Anmoore just before 2 a.m., police said. After getting out of the car, Williams was hit by a second car, which then left the scene.
Williams later died at Ruby Memorial Hospital.
Police reportedly identified the driver of the car that struck Williams but have not yet made an arrest. There were no skid marks to indicate the driver of the second vehicle tried to stop, officers said.
Lt. Dave Crawford and Deputy Tim Ankrom, both from the Harrison County Sheriffs office, are investigating the accident. Neither were available for comment Saturday.
Witnesses to the accident ran to the Anmoore Fire and EMS station to alert the paramedics, said firefighter Dave Kennedy. The station is only about a hundred yards from the exit ramp. When we got up there there was one car and a group of bystanders that were helping him, Kennedy said.
Paramedics checked on the flight time for a helicopter to arrive from Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, then decided to take Williams to United Hospital Center. Williams was stabilized there, but was in critical condition when he was flown to Ruby, Kennedy said. Williams had multiple injuries, including serious head trauma, he said. An official at Ruby confirmed that Williams had died from his injuries but could not give the time of death.
Counselors and ministers will be at Robert C. Byrd Monday, or at least on call if they are needed, said Principal Leon Pilewski. Because the accident happened over the weekend, some may come to school Monday and not know what happened, he said.
The school has dealt with two deaths in the last year, including one student who died of cancer and one who died in an accidental shooting. The accidental shooting was one of several deaths involving high school students that happened recently within days of each other in Harrison and Marion counties.
I just hope this isnt another rash of those types of tragedies, Pilewski said. Well deal with it like we did with the other two.
There were two other people in Williams car at the time of the accident, but authorities did not identify them and it was unclear if they were also Robert C. Byrd students.
He had lots of his friends stop in here to ask about where it happened, said Jeanne Edmond, the president of the Anmoore paramedics.
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