News for October 8, 1999

Clarksburg City Council OKs tax incentive package

by Shawn Gainer
Staff Writer
Clarksburg City Council passed an ordinance that would offer tax incentives to all service businesses locating within designated areas of the city, provided that they create 100 or more jobs.
The ordinance passed by a 5-2 vote at a Thursday meeting at North View Elementary School. Council members Kathryn Folio and Margaret Bailey voted against the measure, which originally targeted telemarketing firms but was amended to include all businesses locating within certain sections of the city after May 1, 1999.
Bailey, a long-time opponent of the ordinance, took one last chance to speak out against it before the vote.
"It is Band-Aid surgery for a problem that needs a doctor. It falls short of what the city needs," she said.
Mayor David Kates said after the meeting that he supports the tax incentive plan because he hopes it will bring jobs to Clarksburg.
"When we look at jobs in the downtown area versus tax revenue, I'm for jobs," Kates said. "In the next three or four years we could get hundreds of people employed in Clarksburg. I think it would be a disservice to the city not to do it."
Under the ordinance, new businesses locating within the central business district, the business and technology center, Glen Elk or any heavy industrial zone would be eligible for the following tax incentives:
-- A 100 percent waiver on business and occupation taxes for the first three years if the business creates 100 jobs.
-- A 50 percent reduction on b&o taxes if the business creates between 200 and 399 new jobs from its fourth to 10th year.
-- A 75 percent reduction on b&o taxes if the business creates between 400 and 699 new jobs from its fourth to 10th year.
-- A 100 percent waiver on B&O taxes if the business creates 700 or more new jobs from its fourth to 10th year.
On another matter, Councilman Jim Hunt said he is upset that a local strip club has been distributing leaflets within the city.
"A strip club has placed yellow fliers on telephone poles. It's against the law and it's an affront to the city and small children," Hunt said. "I want the street department to be alerted to take them down."
Also Thursday night, Council voted unanimously voted to authorize negotiations with the state Department of Transportation for a grant contract of more than $300,000 for improvements to Baltimore Avenue.
Staff writer Paul Leakan contributed to this story.

Elkins man sought in shooting of guard

by Vickie Smith
Police searched Thursday for an Elkins man charged with shooting a former co-worker to death in an apparent dispute over a Beanie Babies debt.
Jeffrey Allen White, 29, has told people he will not be captured alive and has threatened to shoot any officer who tries to arrest him, Elkins Police Chief Joe Jones said.
Harry Simmons, 63, was found by employees of Elkins Hardwood Dimension when they arrived at the lumber factory early Wednesday. He had been shot several times with a 9mm handgun.
Simmons and White had worked together as night watchmen at the plant, but White recently was fired, Jones said. Simmons had given him several Beanie Babies on White's word he would pay for them later.
Since then, the two have argued about the debt several times.
Simmons' wallet and $200 inside it were missing when his body was found.
"Jeff went there with the intention of doing him harm," Jones said. "I don't know if it was for the sole purpose of the Beanie Babies or to rob him but they had a dispute about the money.
"Jeff's name was the first one the (Simmons) family mentioned when we went to see them yesterday," he said.
White also has threatened to rob a bank and a convenience store, and to kill an unidentified person in neighboring Barbour County.
"He is armed. He is dangerous. He has nothing to lose if he harms anyone else," Jones said.
White is a particularly worrisome threat because the town of 8,000 is now in the midst of its annual forest festival, which attracts thousands of visitors.
Other people were with White at the time of the shooting, and police were seeking warrants Thursday for the arrest of more than one person, Jones said.
The rented vehicle White was driving has been seized and sent to a laboratory in Charleston for evidence testing, Jones said. Police do no know what kind of car he is now driving, but they believe he was still in the Elkins area Thursday.
White has been arrested at least twice before, once on a pending grand larceny charge and once for an open container violation, Jones said. He has no history of violent crime.
The suspect is white, about 6-foot-4 and 170 pounds, with a very slender build, brown hair and brown eyes. Police ask anyone with information about him to call them at (304) 636-0665.

Hamm retires from Red Cross

by Paul Leakan
Don Hamm doesn't know whether to be happy or sad today -- the last of many days doing a job that has absorbed his life.
After 19 years of running the Harrison County chapter of the American Red Cross, Hamm can't help having mixed feelings about retirement.
"In some ways, I don't want to let loose," he said. "It's an adjustment I'll have to make. I just have to go with the flow, I guess."
Hamm, 67, smiles as he remembers how it all began, how he became a volunteer health and safety instructor shortly after his wife dragged him to a first-aid class.
After serving as a volunteer instructor, the Tams, W.Va., native filled the vacant director's post part-time.
"They didn't find anyone," he said. "I just decided that if they'd have me, I'd be the director."
Hamm, who had previously owned and operated a carpet business, was glad he chose to stay.
"The job is not boring," he said, in between quick puffs of his pipe. "There's something new every day. When you work at this type of job, time just flies."
While time has flown by for Hamm, the challenges facing the local Red Cross have not diminished over the years. If anything, they continue to grow.
Among the obstacles, the Harrison County Red Cross could become the headquarters of one larger agency made up of chapters from Barbour, Doddridge, Upshur, Randolph and Lewis counties. The plan is part of a nationwide initiative to bring all chapters of the Red Cross up to the same level of service.
Hamm believes that a younger, more energetic leader could better handle the consolidation looming ahead, which is one of the reasons he chose to step down.
He also wanted to vacate the post so that he could spend more time with his wife, his dogs and his hobby -- making stained-glass art, lamps and windows.
But as he looks forward to easing into retirement, Hamm says he will always look back on his job at the Red Cross with happiness and pride.
"The past 19 years I've spent here have been the most meaningful, productive years of my life," he said. "I feel like I've had an opportunity to make a contribution to the community, to society."
"In this job, you have the opportunity every day just to help people."

Weston Council moves forward on municipal fees

by Gail Marsh
Staff Writer
The Weston City Council has taken the first step to try to pass a municipal fee ordinance that would help to support the city's police, fire and street departments.
During its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday evening, council approved the first reading of the ordinance that calls for a $90 municipal fee for each single-family residence. The fee would also charge landlords $90 per unit on rental property and a flat fee of $250 per commercial customer.
Weston city residents failed to pass a municipal fee on the ballot in June that would have raised more than $200,000 for the three departments. That fee would have raised residential rates for a single-family home from $54 to $120, a jump that voters were not willing to take.
 Rebecca Swisher, Weston city clerk, said in writing the new municipal fee ordinance city officials did away with a square footage charge for commercial customers, opting instead for the flat fee.
"We eliminated the square footage fee in hopes that we can retain the business and occupation tax," Swisher said.
A lawsuit was brought against the city by three businesses last year regarding the legality of the business and occupation tax that council had enacted. That case will go to trial on Nov. 15 in Lewis County Circuit Court, Swisher said.
In the meantime, Swisher said the city's budget had to be revised to take out the $200,000 the former council anticipated receiving when the fee passed. That takes $66,000 from each of the three departments, she said.
Before the ordinance goes to second and final reading at next month's meeting, council will hold a public hearing to get input on the proposed fee.
"That money is important to those departments, and I think the council is going to take its time and make sure this is the ordinance that the people can live with," Swisher said.
Council also approved a 25-cent per hour raise for the city's six police officers and the police department secretary. Weston Police Chief Rob Clem said this is the first raise the department has seen in more than five years.
"It's very helpful to have a council that is supportive of our department. The officers are appreciative of it, because every little bit helps," Clem said.

Educator named state's 1999 Art Teacher of Year

by Shawn Gainer
Staff Writer
A Nutter Fort Elementary School teacher who has been named the 1999 Elementary Art Educator of the Year by the West Virginia Art Education Association said she would not want to teach any other subject.
"My life is art," said Judy Reed, who has taught the subject for 28 years and currently instructs students in grades 3-5 at Nutter Fort. "When I'm not teaching, I do watercolor painting."
Indeed, art keeps Reed busy. She instructs aspiring art teachers on a part time basis at Salem-Teikyo University. She is also president of the Harrison County Watercolor Society, the cartoonist of "Mrs. Art" for the WVEA publication, "LOGO", and a Sumerquest instructor. Reed conducts group and private lessons in drawing and painting as well.
Though all her 5th-grade students complete a framed watercolor painting, Reed said she does not expect to see any of them selling paintings in galleries someday. However, she does feel the experience enriches her students' lives.
"I'm not trying to make a Rembrandt out of everybody. What I am interested in is teaching the skills involved in the process of creating," she said. "There are a lot of skills involved, such as hand-eye coordination and awareness of their environment. It also enriches their self-esteem.
"The marketplace demands creativity," she added. "All the great cathedrals, monuments and skyscrapers had to be visualized in somebody's mind. Also, employers want people who can be creative in problem solving."
Art is a family affair for Reed. Her father created designs for West Virginia Glass Company in Weston and frequently took her to art galleries in Chicago, his hometown. She said she feels it is important to transmit that appreciation to her students.
"It is through the arts that we teach our cultural heritage," she said.

Chamber Trio to perform Sunday

>From Staff Reports
The stirring sounds of flute, cello and piano music can be heard at 4 p.m. Sunday as the Harrison Chamber Trio begins the second season of classical instrumental music presented by the West Virginia Choral Arts Foundation.
Sandra Gore, flute; Wha Ja Chang, cello; and Don Gardner, piano, will present an afternoon of music by Rachmaninoff, Haydn, Vivaldi, Poulenc and other master composers through the century. As the Harrison Chamber Trio, this concert is the first of three to be presented at the West Virginia Center for Choral Arts, at 508 E. Pike St., Clarksburg. In January, the Miltenberger Jazz Quintet comes to town; in March, the Montclaire String Quartet of the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra.
Tickets for each of these concerts are available at the door, or may be purchased in advance by calling the West Virginia Choral Arts Foundation at 624-7282.
"We are very excited to be able to bring classical and popular jazz to our community," said Don Gardner, chair of the Chamber Music Series, and pianist with the Harrison Chamber Trio. "With the ending of the very popular Community Concert Association, we felt that we should attempt to continue to provide instrumental music for Harrison and the surrounding counties.
The Harrison Chamber Trio features three local musicians. Flutist Sandra Gore is a native of Charleston and longtime resident of Harrison County.
A graduate of Marshall University with a bachelor of music education degree, Gore has performed with ensembles in Huntington, Clarksburg and most recently the Shinnston Community Band.
Wha Ja Chang is a native of Seoul, Korea, and a resident with husband and family of Bridgeport. While in Korea, Chang earned first prize honors on cello at the Korea Nation Music Competition, and has presented numerous solo recitals in Korea and here in the United States.
Don Gardner, a native of Clarksburg, is known as choral conductor and longtime advocate for the arts in our community. He serves as director of the Madrigal Singers of Clarksburg and recently had a lead role as Archibald Craven in the ACT II Theater Company's Spring performance of "The Secret Garden."
For information about the Oct. 10th Harrison Chamber Trio concert, or the other events in the series, contact the WV Choral Arts Center.

Local and area news in brief

Paul Selby, ex-WVU law dean, dies at 75

MORGANTOWN (AP) -- Services will be held Saturday for a former West Virginia University College of Law dean who ignored the objections of an all-white faculty and hired a black man who became a Supreme Court justice.
Paul Selby Jr. died Wednesday of congestive heart failure at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown. He was 75.
Services are set for 10 a.m. Saturday at Drummond Chapel United Methodist Church in Morgantown.
Selby, dean of the law school from 1964 to 1972, hired civil rights lawyer Franklin Cleckley in 1969, despite resistance from his faculty. Cleckley went on to be appointed to the state's highest court and then returned to the law school, where he continues to teach.
Selby also helped create and defend a scholarship increasing the number of minority and female law students.
"He genuinely cared about the students," current Dean John Fisher II said.
Cleckley put it more simply: "He was the greatest West Virginian who ever lived. If I could pick a character to place in my two kids, of all the people I've met in my lifetime, it would have been Paul Selby's character."

Sinkholes appearing in Lewisburg

LEWISBURG (AP) -- A watershed association is trying to keep Lewisburg sinkholes from being filled.
An 11-foot sinkhole was discovered last week on the property of the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine off U.S. 219 when a woman tripped on an opening, said Dave Cowan of the West Virginia Cave Conservancy and Greenbrier River Watershed Association.
The latest hole is adjacent to another sinkhole that had already been discovered several feet from the school.
The sinkholes provide natural drainage that is threatened by increased development, Cowan said Wednesday.
When a landowner decides to fill a sinkhole, water will drain to the next or closest sinkhole. Ultimately, if all the sinkholes are filled, there will be no place for water to run.
The watershed association has been trying to work with the city's storm water drainage committee to find alternatives to Greenbrier County's natural drainage system. The group is also working with landowners to prevent the sinks from being filled.
Giant underground formations are common in Greenbrier County where limestone is abundant.

Preston man sentenced to life on sex charges

KINGWOOD (AP) -- A Preston County man who confessed to sexually assaulting people in his neighborhood over 23 years will spend at least 45 years in prison.
Leonard Moats, 56, of Tunnelton assaulted at least 12 victims, male and female, who ranged in age from seven to 37, prosecutors said.
Moats pleaded guilty last month to nine of the 91 felony charges on which he had been indicted. The assaults occurred between 1970 and 1993.
Preston County Circuit Judge Lawrance Miller sentenced Moats Tuesday.

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