News for November 1, 1999

State to finish audit of city's finances in December

by Paul Leakan
Staff Writer
Even after taking a three-week break, officials from the state auditor's office could complete their audit of the City of Clarksburg's finances by sometime in December.
Auditors worked until Oct. 22 and have since begun a previously scheduled vacation, said Frank Ferrari, Clarksburg's finance director and acting city manager.
"A large percentage of the work has been done," said Ferrari, who has been through 24 audits prior to this one.
Work on the audit should resume on Nov. 15, and Ferrari said the report could be given to city council members by sometime in December.
Since Sept. 13, state auditors have been reviewing the city's financial records to see if they are in order and properly documented.
The process includes checking into whether the city is in compliance with all state codes, bond ordinances and state and federal government grant requirements.
"This is all normal stuff that's done no matter who the auditor is," Ferrari said.
Officials are auditing the city's financial operations during the fiscal year beginning July 1, 1998 and ending June 30, 1999.
The city has an audit of its finances performed every year by either the state or an independent accounting firm.
It has been several years, however, since the state auditor's office has performed an audit in Clarksburg, Ferrari said.
The state auditor's office will charge the city about $46 per hour for the audit, with a total cost not to exceed $14,500.
Council members voted 3-2 in support of the audit during a regular session in July.
Councilwoman Kathryn Folio originally called for the audit, seeking to determine whether the city has "good financial, fiscal responsibility" within its books.
The audit was sought despite the fact that a report by a private firm had given the city's finances a clean bill of health. Tetrick and Bartlett delivered their report to city council this March.
Several council members have questioned the need for the audit.
In September, former City Manager Percy Ashcraft expressed his concern about how one of the council members allegedly negotiated a price for the audit. Ashcraft cited the incident as one of the reasons he resigned from his post.
"I think there's political overtones here that have really blurred the intent of the way government should operate," Ashcraft said in September.

Stonewood Police asking for help, urging precautions after pair of break-ins, attack

by Gail Marsh
Staff Writer
Local and county law enforcement officials are continuing to investigate the break-in of two houses and the sexual assault of an elderly woman that took place in Stonewood early Sunday morning.
According to Capt. Rick Miller of the Stonewood Police Department, the first break-in took place between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. at a home on Woodland Avenue.
Miller said four family members were asleep at the home when a suspect reportedly entered through an unlocked door. The suspect proceeded to a bedroom where he sexually assaulted a 77-year-old woman who lived at the home.
The woman was injured in the attack and was taken to United Hospital Center for treatment, Miller said. No details of her condition were released.
A second incident occurred at a home just three blocks away on Oakwood Avenue around 4:30 a.m. Miller said a family of four was asleep in the home when a suspect entered through an unlocked door and entered the bedroom where a husband and wife were sleeping.
"The wife at first thought it was her husband standing in the room, but when she rolled over and realized that her husband was asleep beside her in the bed, she really panicked," Miller said.
Before the woman had a chance to wake up her sleeping husband, the suspect fled, leaving the door wide open. Miller said it is believed at this time that both incidences are related.
The suspect is described as a white male between 20- and 30- years-old, between 5 feet 7 inches and 5 feet 9 inches, with short hair and a long, thin neck. He was wearing a striped, short-sleeved shirt.
"This is such a serious crime and such a violation of this woman and of these families. We'll be working round-the-clock with several law enforcement agencies to do all that we can to solve this," Miller said.
Miller said his department is looking for help from residents who may have heard or seen something in the area at the time of the break-ins. People can contact the Stonewood Police at 623-2919 or the 911 Dispatch Center business line at 623-6559.
Miller said his department is also asking residents to take extra precautions since the break-ins took place.
"I want to stress to people how serious this is and to tell them to lock all their doors and windows and to call us if they suspect any problems. Nothing like this has happened in my 18 years as a policeman in Stonewood," he said.
 The Stonewood police officers were assisted in their investigation by Nutter Fort police officers and the Harrison County Sheriff's Department.

Many variables affect how well domestic violence laws work

by James Fisher
Staff Writer
While many candidates for governor have said that there is not much that government can do to prevent domestic violence, at least certain aspects of the domestic violence laws seem to be working in Harrison County.
Still, those who deal with domestic violence on a daily basis believe more needs to be done to curb incidents of violence.
One side of the law that some officials say needs to be stronger is the punishment for violating a final protective order.
Between January and July, Harrison County magistrates granted 380 domestic violence petitions. These petitions normally contain a paragraph prohibiting the two people involved from being in contact with each other.
During that same time period, 26 people were charged with violating a domestic violence petition. That means about 7 percent of the time, someone violates the order.
Although complete figures on the number of petitions granted from August through October were not available, 47 warrants are on file in the magistrate court for violating a protective order.
"Usually we don't see a lot of serious violations, but it does happen," said Harrison County Chief Magistrate Mark Gorby. "Most of the violations, it seems like, are for just having contact with the person and not physical violence, but it still violates the order."
Of the 47 violations, 21 cases have been completed as of Friday. Twelve defendants either pled no contest or guilty or were found guilty and sentenced. One person was found not guilty by a magistrate, six cases were dismissed by either the state or the defense, one case was dismissed by a plea agreement and one was dismissed with no reason noted.
Although not technically completed, one case was forwarded to the Harrison County Circuit Court.
Of the remaining 25 cases still pending in magistrate court, 13 are set for trial in the coming weeks, four warrants have not been served and one defendant failed to appear for a hearing Oct. 12. No records were available for the last seven cases.
On the completed cases, each defendant was fined $250, the minimum, and assessed court costs. Jail times ranged from 24-hours, the minimum, to 6 months.
Half of the defendants received 24-hour jail terms, while the remaining six were sentenced to 44-hour, 48-hour, 7-day, 30-day, 60-day and 6-month sentences, respectively.
According to state law, punishment for violating a protective order is a mandatory 24 hours in jail but not more than one year and a fine of $250-$2,000.
Gorby said the jail time normally is an indication of how severe the violation was. However, he said the small number of violations show how seriously the magistrates view domestic violence.
"I think it's so low because we make it clear they are not to violate the orders," he said. "I think people really take them seriously."
At least one magistrate thinks that the law is not working, though, because many people have learned how to manipulate the system to their own advantage.
"We don't want to get used to seeing that sort of person because we may miss the ones who truly need help," said Harrison County Magistrate Tammy Marple. "That's the scary part, is that we may miss someone."
Marple said there are people who have learned what to do to obtain a domestic violence petition and then hold it over the head of the other person.
Harriet Sutton, spokeswoman for Hope, Inc., said the easy solution is to not grant those "iffy" petitions.
 "The law is spelled out very clearly, but there is still human interpretation," she said. "Some cases are not truly domestic violence, but magistrates may be granting these petitions."
However, Sutton acknowledged that magistrates oftentimes are put in difficult situations and must make the decision they think will be of most benefit.
"Magistrates have a very difficult job, especially where there is abuse on both sides," she said. "Overall, I think the magistrates do the best job they can. I think they err on the side of being careful. They don't want to take the chance of ruling that something's not domestic violence when it may turn out to be."
Another factor affecting the effectiveness of domestic violence laws is the sheer complexity of the proceedings. Domestic violence can be punished both criminally -- with charges of domestic assault, domestic battery and violating a final protective order -- as well as civilly with domestic petitions, temporary custody and restraining orders.
The number of charges, as well as the amount of paperwork involved with each charge, just add to the magistrates' challenge when it comes to potential domestic violence.
"Domestic situations are very complicated," Marple said. "We have more forms for domestic violence than any other thing. The other big thing is that the situations are often very volatile and emotions run very high."

Good Hope church toasts harvest season

by Gail Marsh
Staff writer
There may not have been any costumes or trick-or-treating, but there were plenty of pumpkins, puppets, games and other goodies on Sunday evening at Harvest Evangelical Methodist Church in Good Hope.
"This is not an alternative to Halloween, but a celebration of the harvest season. From olden times in the Bible, everyone got together and celebrated at the end of the harvest," said Pastor J.R. Dean.
More than 75 children and adults came out for the Hallelujah Party that featured a puppet show by the Hallelujah Express, a bonfire and wiener roast, gospel singing and numerous games, including a pumpkin toss.
Children lined up in the spacious field behind the church and took turns to see how far they could throw the aging pumpkins. Nine-year-old Jonathan Jett turned out the winner.
"My pumpkin was really big, and I didn't think it would go that far," Jett said after the contest, while a number of little boys were busy smashing the pumpkins that lay splattered on the ground.
The celebration started out with a puppet show by the Hallelujah Express, featuring characters such as Elvis, Michael Jackson and Laverne and Shirley singing popular songs with a gospel message. More than 40 puppets were employed during the 35-minute performance.
The six-member puppet troop from First United Methodist Church in Shinnston has been performing in the area for the last 15 years.
"We love having the opportunity to do this, to bring the Gospel message and to meet people from other churches," said Candy Karnis-Fiorito of Shinnston.
Before the night ended, the gospel group, "Yesterday Soul" performed. The group features Dean's son, Matthew Toothman, on keyboard, along with Jason Adams, drums, Jonathan Adams, bass, and Joey Knight, guitar.
The party go-ers were treated to a wiener roast and more games, and a few got the chance to throw a pie at the pastor.
"It's just a good chance to let the kids have some fun and to thank the Lord for His goodness to us," Dean said.

Lost Creek church designates November 7 as Veterans Appreciation Day

by Gail Marsh
Staff Writer
With Veteran's Day just around the corner, one area church congregation is setting aside next Sunday to honor the men and women who have served in the Armed Forces.
Horizons Church in Lost Creek has designated Nov. 7 as Veterans Appreciation Sunday, with plans to take a portion of its 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. services to recognize area veterans.
The Rev. Quint Pitts, founding pastor of the 2 1/2-year-old non-denominational church, said he has a special place in his heart for veterans.
"My father was a World War II veteran, my older brother served in Vietnam, and I was a chaplain in the Navy Reserves. Also, one of the elders in the church is a lieutenant colonel in the National Guard, so we wanted to set aside a time to just say thank you to our veterans," Pitts said.
During both the early morning and mid-morning services, the choir from the Heritage Christian School will perform a medley of armed forces songs. The color guard from Robert C. Byrd High School will present the colors, along with a V.F.W. color guard, Pitts said.
Each veteran in attendance will receive a certificate of honor, called the Religious Freedom Award. In addition, each veteran will receive two free tickets to a Veterans Appreciation Banquet to take place on Thursday, Nov. 11, at Bel Meadow Country Club.
Horizons Church is currently meeting in the Seventh Day Baptist Church, located just off Interstate-79 at the Lost Creek exit. For more information about the service, people can call 624-7325.

Area news in brief

Flu vaccine available from Health Department

The Harrison-Clarksburg Health Department has received the flu vaccine, and beginning on Wednesday it will be available to the public from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. until supplies are exhausted.
From 9 a.m.-noon on Friday, the department will offer the vaccine at the Harrison County Senior Center.

LeRose believes he earned leniency for cooperation

CHARLESTON (AP) -- The former Summersville mayor who was sentenced last week on fraud charges sought leniency for cooperating in a probe that brought down a state senator on corruption charges, according to court documents.
Steve LeRose, who also served as chairman of the West Virginia Republican Party, believed he earned leniency for not tipping off then-Sen. Randy Schoonover, D-Greenbrier, that he was targeted in a probe, says an Oct. 20 filing by prosecutors.
LeRose's brother, Rodney LeRose, paid Schoonover $2,725 to seek business for a towing company with the West Virginia Parkways, Economic Development and Tourism Authority.
Schoonover has since resigned and pleaded guilty to public corruption.
Prosecutors say LeRose "had absolutely no involvement in the undercover investigation of Senator Schoonover."

Officials examine open admission at W.Va. colleges

CHARLESTON (AP) -- Open admissions policies for students who require remedial courses at West Virginia's colleges and universities are due for an overhaul, top education officials say.
A freshman enrolled in a developmental course has about a 50 percent chance of graduating, state Superintendent of Schools Hank Marockie said. Two or more remedial classes cut the odds for graduation to about one in 10, he said.
State education officials should consider open admissions at some schools and eliminate the practice at others, said Charles Manning, chancellor of the University System Board of Trustees.
Such a policy, adopted by some states, could lead to a multilevel college and university system with different school missions and admissions standards.
Three four-year colleges -- Marshall University, Glenville State and West Virginia State -- accepted everyone who applied.

Art student wins award for card design

ELEANOR (AP) -- A Putnam County high school senior tied company pride with season's greetings to wrap up a design award from Toyota West Virginia for its 1999 Christmas card.
Corissa Hundley, 18, who studies commercial art and advertising design at the Putnam County Technical Center, conceived the design that won her $500.
Her card and those submitted by her four classmates in the advanced design class won kudos from David Copenhaver, general manager of administration.
The message will be sent worldwide to customers, suppliers, Toyota affiliates and business, government and community leaders, Copenhaver said.
The company will print and send 1,000 of the cards, spokeswoman Laura Gandee said.
"We would have been proud to use any of the designs for our card," he told students at a Technical Center student assembly last week.
The plant staff selected the class members to compete for the award.
Copenhaver praised Hundley's design for its "creative way to display the product we make at our plant."
A poster-size version of the card displayed at the assembly showed a four-cylinder and a V-6 Toyota engine enclosed in traditional snow globes, the type used as decorative accents or paperweights. Sparkling, computer-generated flakes descend around the engines.
The message on the front reads, "Neither rain, nor hail, nor sleet nor snow..." and continues inside the card, "Can stop a Toyota engine. Season's Greetings."
The message will be sent worldwide to customers, suppliers, Toyota affiliates and business, government and community leaders, Copenhaver said.
The company will print and send 1,000 of the cards, spokeswoman Laura Gandee said.
Like many greeting cards now, the Toyota holiday message is a creation of photography and computer design, commercial art teacher Lynne McNiel said. Others cards incorporate hand-drawing with computer work.
After Hundley's concept was selected, she worked with a professional photographer and graphic artist to select and arrange the props for the camera work, pick the type and fonts and complete the computer work.
Toyota has invited Hundley, a Hurricane High student, and the other four advanced design students to observe the printing of the cards, McNiel said.
The other students who submitted designs, all high school graduates, were Casey Pauley and Charles Smith of Buffalo High, Lisa Mack of Poca High and Chris DeLoach from Nitro High.
Hundley eventually plans to study commercial art at a college.
But the teen has other plans for the $500.
"I'm going to save it and try to get a computer," she said.
Her father, T.J. Hundley of St. Albans, promised, "She'll have some help."
In the meantime, he asked if she could print copies from a school computer.
"I'd like to have it to take to work," said T.J. Hundley, who works at Rhone-Poulenc. "I'd like to show it off."
Her mother, Anna Hundley of Culloden, seconded the wish. A home care giver with the Putnam Aging Program, she also attended the announcement and award ceremony at the Technical Center.

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