News for October 10, 1999
Harrison Health Dept. ailing from bout of financial woes
by James Fisher
Even if the Harrison-Clarksburg Health Department didn't have to vacate
the Harrison County Courthouse Annex to clear space for the county's third
circuit judge in 2001, there would still be problems.
But the existing financial problems of the department are being compounded
by the impending move.
Since last year, the department has lost more than $565,000 in total
funding. While state aid and money from the county's vital services levy
are projected to actually increase for fiscal year 2000, the department
has taken a huge hit in funding from federal Medicare and Medicaid.
The funding problems have gotten so bad, according to administrator
Randy Moodispaugh, that the department has been forced to lay off three
nurses, two aides and a clerk since July, including one nurse and one aide
on Friday. Department officials will look at their situation again in three
months to decide if more layoffs are needed.
Aside from the layoffs, two nurses have retired and four more quit
their jobs at the department this summer.
"I think they could see what was happening financially," Moodispaugh
said. "The handwriting was on the wall and they decided to look for work
Since July, the staff has dropped from about 50 workers, including
nurses, aides, clerical staff and administrators, to 33. While some of
the remaining workers are shouldering an increased workload, some of the
layoffs have resulted from a decrease in patients.
And that has many nurses concerned.
"We're scared," said Cindy Reep, who has worked for the department
for eight years. "We never know when we come in if we'll have a job or
who's going to be gone."
Assistant Nursing Director Nina Sutherland said that although the financial
problems are adversely affecting the staff, the nurses are trying to band
together to make a smooth transition when the department is forced to move.
"It affects the whole, not knowing," she said. "We're trying to pull
together. We just don't know what the future holds for us."
Where has the funding gone?
The decrease in home health patients over the past three years is causing
the majority of the funding problems, Moodispaugh said. According to the
1999 projected budget, the department was counting on nearly $1.8 million
in Medicare and Medicaid funding from home health. For fiscal year 2000,
that number has dropped to just over $1.1 million.
Moodispaugh said the decrease can be traced to stricter Medicare rules
concerning certain home health care procedures and who is covered.
"We also can't keep patients as long," he said. "Certain services have
been taken away and there has been a stricter enforcement of Medicare as
far as the doctors are concerned in giving the orders and certifying the
need for home health care."
Moodispaugh said that one of the primary criteria is that the patient
"I think the doctors are being more cautious about people who may or
may not quite meet the federal standards and so they are not referring
them to us for home health care," he said.
Moodispaugh also said there is a general feeling among health care
providers that hospitals and private firms offering home health care are
taking patients away from county health departments.
"One of our main financial supports is in home health and that's been
hit hard nationally by budget cuts," said the department's director, Dr.
Paul Gordon. "We're a fraction of what we used to be in terms of self-support."
While state and county funds have increased, Clarksburg's contribution
to the department has dropped. And despite the fact that the department
services residents county-wide, no other municipality in Harrison County
helps with funding.
"In the past, we've requested help from some surrounding municipalities,"
Gordon said. "We got one, 1-year funding (from Nutter Fort) but the others
didn't even answer our requests."
Moodispaugh said Nutter Fort gave $1,000 to the department in 1997,
but officials have met with resistance to their requests for funding from
Funding loss affects quality of care
Because of the decreased federal money and subsequent layoffs, nurses at
the department say the care given to patients is being affected.
"Patients get used to one nurse coming in and taking care of them,"
said Kavin Richardson, a home health nurse at the department for more than
"The regular nurse knows what is normal for that patient," she said.
"Then the patient finds out that that nurse isn't coming back and it's
disruptive to the care. The patients need a continuity of care and they
But that is just the home health care nurses. What about the other
functions of the health department?
Moodispaugh said that the department is down to five sanitarians, who
perform the health inspections required by the state.
"We should really have six sanitarians," he said. "There are five of
us performing the work that six should be doing. And that number was generated
before this last growth spurt, before the FBI Center came in."
Sanitarians conduct health inspections at restaurants, hotels and other
public buildings as well as other related functions. The checks are mandated
by the state and the department does receive some state funding for this,
but Moodispaugh said the money can't be used to subsidize the home health
care aspect of the department.
And the department also performs many functions in the clinic located
in the courthouse annex.
Pregnancy testing, immunizations, tuberculosis testing, a pre-natal
clinic and family planning are just a few of the services offered by the
department, Sutherland said. In addition, an on-call nurse is available
24-hours per day.
Sutherland said many people do not realize the extent of the services
offered by the department. She was unsure how services may be affected
by further financial cuts that may happen because of the impending move.
An added problem
As if the existing financial woes were not enough, department officials
were informed this summer that they must move out of their present location
to make room for the county's third judge, who will take office January
A committee has been formed to scout out potential locations for the
department, said Harrison County Commission Administrative Assistant James
Harris. Harris and Jeff Mikorski, Clarksburg's director of community and
economic development, will meet Wednesday to discuss in detail several
Harris said the committee came up with several criteria for a new department
location, including proximity to public transportation and the downtown
However, department officials are concerned about how moving out of
the county-owned space will affect their already delicate finances.
"Any place we move, we're going to need money for telephones, computers
and utilities," Sutherland said. "You can't just walk into a place and
set up a health department."
Moodispaugh estimated that the county provides about $45,000 worth
of support each year because the department is in the courthouse annex.
Currently, the county pays for utilities, garbage and telephone service
and janitorial cleaning.
Harris said department officials want assurances that the county will
continue to underwrite these services.
"I don't know what legal responsibilities the commission has to the
health department," Harris said. "It's a question we're looking into."
Department officials are also concerned that the move could present
a problem for patients.
"What may be accessible to home health may not be accessible to public
health (after the move)," Richardson said. "We service a lot of individuals
and a lot of seniors who come in here one day per week to get their blood
pressure checked. While they're here, we can perform some preventative
Gordon said the department has become a kind of haven for seniors,
who are able to come in and receive free flu vaccines, check-ups and other
While Harris agreed that the move is compounding the department's existing
problems, he said the county commission is working to make the move as
smooth as possible.
"It's becoming kind of adversarial, but it shouldn't be," he said.
"The commission has made it clear that they want to help provide the same
quality health care, just in a different location. The health department
is already spinning with issues of downsizing and financial problems and
this is just adding to their stress."
Water Board member says expenditures questionable
by Paul Leakan
The Clarksburg Water Board's policy to pay for health and life insurance
coverage for former board members, as well as its approval of overtime
payment to salaried supervisors, may be unethical and needs to stop, one
board member says.
"People work all their lives for companies and they do not retire with
benefits like this," said board member Charles O. Thayer III. "Even the
employees of the water board themselves don't get these kind of benefits.
Why should board members receive it?"
Since the mid-1980s, the water board has been paying thousands of dollars
for health and life insurance coverage for former board members.
According to records willingly provided by the board to the Clarksburg
Exponent and Telegram upon a Freedom of Information request, the board
currently pays a total of more than $550 monthly to cover life insurance
and Medicare supplements for former board member Dominick Policano. It
also pays a total of almost $280 monthly to cover health and life insurance
coverage for former board member Frank Angotti Jr.
The board also set a policy in 1995 that allows salaried supervisors
to receive up to 10 hours per pay period in overtime wages, at the discretion
of the general manager.
Both policies may be unethical and immoral, Thayer said.
"I think it's taking advantage of the public to vote yourself
benefits of this type for serving on a board," he said. "I served on council
for 11 years, and members of council didn't have anything like that as
far as benefits."
Policano said Saturday that he did not wish to comment without knowing
more about the issue. But he also said:
"There's more to this than people are telling the newspaper."
Angotti was unavailable for comment.
Clarksburg City Council members receive health insurance coverage while
they are in office. But the city does not pay for the insurance once the
council member, or any other city employee, vacates their position, said
Frank Ferrari, acting city manager of Clarksburg.
Ferrari said the city hasn't considered creating a policy that would
continue to pay for employees' health insurance after they retire simply
because of the high costs.
Patsy Trecost, general manager of the board, said the board's attorney
told him that the policies are legal.
But the big question, Thayer believes, is whether they are ethical.
The board has hired an outside law firm to give a legal opinion on
whether the policy regarding health insurance is ethical. The law firm
has yet to give its opinion.
The board may also seek an opinion from the West Virginia Ethics Commission,
Board members Pat D'Anselmi and Robert Glotfelty were not able to be
reached for comment on either policies. Glotfelty is currently in Czechoslovakia.
D'Anselmi and Thayer have turned down the board's health insurance
plan for current board members, but D'Anselmi does have a life insurance
policy paid for by the board. Glotfelty, who receives Medicare supplements
from the board, recently canceled his life insurance plan. The board had
been paying $335 a month for the plan.
The board is operating with a $400,000 deficit and has had an increase
in overall costs for operations, including costs for chemicals, electricity
and salary wages during the last few years, said Dan Adkins, the board's
director of finance.
The board has also held off from spending around $188,000 for capital
improvements and chose not to fill five vacant positions, all because of
Trecost said the board is doing the best it can to cut costs and serve
the community well.
"There's no hidden secrets here," Trecost said. "We just try to do
our jobs and save money and do the best we can."
But Thayer still believes it's important for the board to check into
all of its policies and practices, especially considering the barrage of
questions it faced following its recent water rate hike.
"I just have a strong suspicion that there have been a lot of things
that happen that shouldn't happen (at the water board)," he said. "I'm
sure the public would be outraged about some of these practices, where
advantages have been gained and benefits occurred."
Klan rallies cost cities and towns big money
by Andrew Huggins
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- When the Ku Klux Klan came to Defiance, the city
prepared for an invasion.
More than 250 police officers from several departments near the small
northwest Ohio city came to keep the peace between at least 300 protesters
and 41 Klansmen.
The hourlong rally March 20 by the American Knights of the Ku Klux
Klan was uneventful, but peace came at a cost of $17,500 in overtime and
other expenses, such as fences.
Defiance, a city of 16,000, is not alone in spending lots of money
to ensure that a relatively small number of Klansmen can safely hold a
With nearly two dozen Klan rallies so far this year, the bill for taxpayers
has reached about $800,000. In 1994, the state received reports of 32 events
involving the Klan and four involving other white supremacist groups. There
have been at least 20 Klan events this year.
Almay said rallies died down after 1994 because a pivotal Klan organizer
went to prison for beating an ex-girlfriend. The resurgence this year,
he said, is partly due to James Roesch, an outspoken 18-year-old who calls
himself Imperial Wizard of the American Knights of the White Kamellia.
Roesch said Klansmen don't ask for police protection, and anti-Klan
protesters are the ones trying to provoke fights and rioting.
"All we ask is to give our speeches," said Roesch, who lives in Rushylvania.
"There's many ways a city could save money. The way they spend money is
But even if protesters stayed away, officials say, they would have
to prepare for confrontations anyway.
"If you don't have adequate protection, things get out of hand and
you catch a lot of criticism for that. If you're adequately prepared, you
catch a lot of criticism from people who say it's overkill," said Defiance
County Sheriff Dave Westrick.
After years of refinement, the state now provides an "off the shelf"
plan to communities for dealing with rallies. The plan includes advice
on crowd control, security and how best to separate protesters, Klansmen
and the media, said Ted Almay, superintendent of the Bureau of Criminal
Identification and Investigation.
Now the state is also promising to help cut costs.
Attorney General Betty Montgomery said her office, for the first time,
will make free metal detectors and fences available for use during rallies.
Her office spent $8,000 on two walk-through detectors, six handheld
detectors and several miles of chain-link fencing.
Almay said the goal is to "ease the burden of the small towns. A city
like Columbus, we'll help with intelligence and we'll help that day get
things together, but when you go to Urbana or places like that, this is
The biggest cost to date has been in Cleveland, which said its Aug.
21 rally cost more than $537,000, mainly in overtime for police officers,
street and water department employees, and other workers.
By contrast, a May 1 rally by the American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan
in Zanesville -- population 28,000 -- cost the city $7,500 and the Muskingum
County Sheriff's Department an additional $25,000.
"It is an unfortunate waste of taxpayers' money to have to do that,
but in order to keep the city safe and officers safe, it's something you
have to do," said Zanesville Police Chief Diane Quinn.
Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala.,
said the number of Klansmen who show up rarely matters since they are always
going to draw large protest crowds, whether or not communities ask people
to stay away.
Attempts to recover the cost of rallies from the Klan itself have met
with limited success.
In June 1992, in a case involving a white supremacist group in Forsyth
County, Ga., the Supreme Court said communities that impose permit fees
for parades and rallies can't charge more for controversial groups just
because they might need more police protection.
Following a 1996 Klan rally in Ann Arbor, Mich., the city billed both
the Klan and an anti-Klan organization $72,000 for the cost of security.
The city never started collection action but hasn't ruled out the possibility,
city attorney Abigail Elias said.
Montgomery said there are real legal problems "in terms of billing
a particular group which is exercising its First Amendment rights, and
selecting out one group because we don't like it and saying, 'We'll protect
you, but we're going to charge you,' but other groups we don't charge."
A nurse's job is always changing
Technology, required skills and job supply in constant flux
by Gail Marsh
With more than 27 years in her profession, Nancy Morgan has witnessed
tremendous change in nursing.
Morgan, a nurse educator at United Hospital Center, has taught nursing,
worked in a doctor's office, was employed as a pediatric nurse and worked
in several hospitals.
Job expectations have increased, technology has changed, and accountability
has been taken to a greater level in the nursing field, she said.
"When I started in the profession, things were not nearly as technologically
advanced. So many more doors are open today and so many new fields are
available for those who choose to go into nursing," she said.
But one thing has remained the same. There's an inevitable cycle that
produces either an oversupply of nurses or a shortage of nurses.
According to a national survey by the American Hospital Association,
a professional trade organization, indicators predict a nationwide nursing
shortage in the next 10 years.
At the state level, the West Virginia Hospital Association conducted
an informal survey of its member hospitals that showed the potential for
a nursing shortage in the Mountain State.
Of the hospitals with more than 100 beds responding to the state survey,
53 percent were experiencing difficulty recruiting nurses; 100 percent
of small and rural hospitals noted difficulty with recruitment. More than
half of those responding said there were problems in retaining current
"The shortage this time will not be so much about sufficient numbers,
but about an increased demand for nurses with skills and experience," said
John Law, with the state hospital association.
Bruce Carter, president of United Hospital Center in Clarksburg, said
that other states, such as California, Arizona and Florida, are already
experiencing nursing shortages, but the supply of nurses to fill jobs in
North Central West Virginia remains constant.
"We're fortunate in that we have five colleges and two vocational schools
in our region that are supplying our area with competent nursing graduates,"
But Carter said one of the problems that may contribute to any future
nursing shortages is the nature of the profession itself.
"Twenty or 30 years ago, most women who wanted to go into a professional
field chose the traditional fields of teaching or nursing. Now that employment
is wide open and there are so many more choices, women are not as pre-programmed
to go into nursing," he said.
Dr. Deborah Kisner, chair of the School of Health Care and director
of nursing programs at Fairmont State College, said there are several reasons
to start looking ahead at trends in nursing.
"We are living in a state with the largest per-capita elderly population
in the nation, in a part of the state with the highest percentage of elderly
residents. We have to think about the demands that will place on the health
care system," Kisner said.
With the average age of registered nurses at 44, many of the most experienced
workers will be considering retirement in the next 10 years, Kisner said.
"The biggest problem we will face will be how to replace those experienced,
highly skilled workers in a declining pool of experienced nurses," she
Fairmont State admits 60 students each fall into its two-year associate
program; about 60 students are enrolled in the college's four-year, bachelor's
program. Kisner said the pool of applicants for nursing school remains
large, but not everyone who applies is suited for the profession.
"It's more than just having a strong background in science and math
and possessing good communication skills. We are looking for the highly
motivated, energetic advocate who isn't just looking for a quick job, but
for a profession," she said.
Alderson-Broaddus College in Philippi has about 100 nursing students
in its program, with 25 new slots opened each year. Dr. Sharon Boni, chair
for the Division of Health Sciences, said there have been some concern
because application numbers are down.
Boni believes that nurses, as a group, have been dissatisfied with
downsizing in hospitals and the rapid changes in health care that affect
the way nurses are able to care for their patients.
"Nurses are pulled in so many different directions, and they're not
able to give as much quality care. I don't think they are encouraging their
daughters or their friends' children to go into the profession anymore,"
Dr. Catherine Nolan, project coordinator of the North Central West
Virginia Nursing Workforce Network at West Virginia University, said her
program is in the process of collecting data from hospitals and long-term
care facilities to help predict nursing trends.
Nolan said the number of those entering four-year nursing programs
dropped more than 5 percent in the last two years, but said that drop is
not entirely from lack of new applicants.
"There have been cuts in administration in schools across the country
due to budget constraints. Faculty shortages and limited space for clinical
training sites add to the problem," she said.
Rather than a wholesale shortage of nurses, Nolan said it's more likely
that specialized nursing will experience shortages, in fields such as critical
care, neo-natal care and obstetrics.
"I think the nursing shortage may be found more in regions of the nation
rather than across the whole country. We hope to have a clearer picture
of North Central West Virginia early next year," she said.
Judy Peasak, human resources coordinator for United Hospital, said
UHC has been fortunate so far in being able to recruit and retain enough
experienced nurses. Though fewer people may be taking up the profession,
she still believes it's one of the best fields to pursue.
"The field of nursing is always changing and always growing and there
are so many ways to advance. Anyone who chooses a career in nursing will
find the field wide open as to where they choose to work and what type
of work they want to do," she said.
WWII POW: Ordeal taught me much
'Eugene' Young learned the value of appreciation, the harm of self-pity
by Shawn Gainer
In December 1944, Edward "Eugene" Young was in the wrong place at the
wrong time, which led to a harrowing period spent as a prisoner of war.
Young, a 78-year-old resident of Harrison County, was a sergeant in
the artillery component of a U.S. Army division that was holding a position
in Belgium's Ardennes Forest. There, under the cover of bitter winter,
German forces staged a desperate but devastating offensive known as The
Battle of the Bulge against Allied troops who were thinly spread through
the previously quiet area.
"My division was covering a 27-mile front when it was normal for a
division to cover 15 or 16 miles," Young said. "We had a support base at
Antwerp, Belgium, and Hitler was trying to drive there. If he had succeeded,
the war would have been prolonged six months at our expense."
Allied commanders were not prepared for the assault, and many American
units were overwhelmed despite their best efforts to hold out, he said.
"We were outnumbered nine to one and Hitler had selected SS Panzer
groups to lead the attack. They cut off our supply lines and surrounded
us," he said. "We held out for nine days without shipments of food, ammunition
or medicine. But before we could get a round off, they were lobbing shells
on us from the rear.
"We were ordered to surrender as a unit," he continued. "We took the
firing pins out of our 105mm howitzers and dropped grenades down the barrels.
Then word came down that we could take off on foot if we wanted. We did,
but we didn't get very far."
Young and several hundred members of his unit slept in barns, ate snow
for water and went four days without eating before they were captured.
German soldiers gave them meager rations of cheese before loading them
on a train, 64 men in each small box car.
"We went six nights and five days without water and food," he said.
"At night peoples' clothes would freeze to the wall."
On Christmas Day, the captured soldiers were unloaded at Stalag 9-A
in Bad Orb, the first of two prison camps where Young stayed until his
liberation in 1945.
Young said life in the camps was nothing like the hit television show
"Hogan's Heroes," in which characters portraying Allied prisoners had a
chummy relationship with their benevolently incompetent German guards.
"Every one of us saw boys killed for no reason at all. It was also
common for the guards to hit prisoners in the head with rifle butts."
General living conditions, with inadequate food, clothing, medical
care and personal hygiene, may have been the most difficult part of the
"When we were marched into Bad Orb, the Russian prisoners gave us their
portion of soup. It was made with potato peelings and rotten carrots. We
were so hungry that it tasted good, but that night we all got diarrhea,"
Young said he weighed 189 pounds when he was captured and 92 pounds
when he was set free. Typical meals included a breakfast of tea made from
bark, soup with no meat or seasoning for lunch and small portions of hard
bread that "you could knock a bull down with" for dinner. He added that
during his captivity he was not given a single chance to bathe or shave
and he suffered frostbite on both feet.
"I knew a boy who had appendicitis and they operated on him without
anesthesia," he added. "He survived. It's amazing what the human body can
Young was eventually loaded onto another train for a three-day trip
to Stalag 9-B in Seigenheim. He said those who survived did so by never
losing faith they would eventually be freed.
"The Germans broadcasted their propaganda over loudspeakers all day.
According to them, they were winning the war. But we had our own radio
tube, so we could listen to our news. We would post a guard while we were
listening, and the Germans never caught on.
"We could hear the guns and the American planes flying over on their
way to drop their bombs, too. We knew they were coming."
Young is a member of the Fairmont chapter of the Ex-Prisoners of War.
He frequently speaks about his experiences in the German camps, telling
others that it was, in some ways, "a blessing in disguise."
"It gave me a chance to evaluate life and have a different appreciation
for things," he said. "I appreciate what I took for granted before I was
a prisoner of war. I also learned to let go of bitterness and self-pity.
Either one can eat you alive, no matter how young or old you are.
"I want people to realize how blessed we are and leave my talks with
their hands held high for the fact they are Americans," he added.
The Ex-Prisoners of War estimate there are about 468 World War II POWs
remaining in the state, a number that is continually declining because
of the health problems related to their time in captivity, Young said.
"The thing I always tell the Ex-Prisoners of War when I talk before
them is that I hope we are a dying organization," he added. "By that, I
mean I hope that future generations won't have to go through this."
Jack McIntire legally blind but sees a bright future
Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of articles
for National Rehabilitation Awareness Month.
by Gail Marsh
Jack McIntire of Stonewood is nearing retirement age, but he doesn't
think much about giving up his successful vending machine route.
He says he enjoys his work too much to consider stopping anytime soon.
"I really do like my job, and I enjoy the people that I meet out on
the job. I may be past 68 years old, but I still like working," he said.
McIntire, who is legally blind, stocks and maintains vending machines
in the Clarksburg area.
He supplies the John W. Davis Government Building, the EastPointe Post
Office and the new Clarksburg Federal Building with soft drinks, juice
and snacks of all kinds.
McIntire is just one of a number of rehabilitation successes stories
affiliated with the West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services.
The month of October has been designated National Rehabilita-tion Awareness
Month by Gov. Cecil Underwood.
It's a time to remind residents of the work that the disabled do well,
sometimes with little recognition.
McIntire was born with congenital cataracts but was able to attend
Before receiving training to become a registered vendor, he worked
for Goodwill Industries in Ohio and as a broom inspector and finisher for
a broom factory once located in Stonewood.
"When I was growing up vision-impaired, if I went for a job I had to
be able to do it or else," McIntire said.
"Now there is such good help with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities
Act) that you can get the training you need to do a lot more jobs," he
With the help of rehabilitation services, McIntire said, he has been
able to keep good jobs and do interesting work.
"I see people every day who would do nothing if they could get by with
it. But me, I've always been glad for the chance to work," he said.
"That's just the way I am."
Local and area news in brief
Judge orders halt to WVU's sick leave guidelines
CHARLESTON (AP) -- A Kanawha County Circuit Court judge has ordered West
Virginia University officials to temporarily halt using the school's sick
leave policy because it is used to discipline workers.
The WVU guidelines were drawn up in the early 1980s to prevent abuse
of the sick leave policy of the University System of West Virginia Board
of Trustees, WVU General Counsel Jon Reed said Friday.
Judge Andrew MacQueen said the WVU guidelines "went further than we
needed to go," Reed said.
A group of current and former university employees sued last month,
claiming they were punished for using their sick leave. Larry Harless,
a lawyer who represents the employees, said the sick leave guidelines were
used to fire some workers.
A revised policy is to be drafted for approval by MacQueen.
Teachers welcome takeover of schools in Lincoln County
CHARLESTON (AP) -- Education officials say the state Board of Education's
decision to declare a state of emergency in Lincoln County Schools was
the right thing to do.
"Most of our members in Lincoln County thought this was the right move
to make," said Jennifer Shopes, the Lincoln representative for the West
Virginia Federation of Teachers.
The board made the decision Friday, citing low test scores, poor facility
maintenance, unethical hiring practices and mishandling of school funds.
In a 102-page report, the state Office of Education Performance Audits
detailed 213 instances of noncompliance with state accreditation standards.
The state board plans to meet with the county school board this week
to discuss the findings. During the following 60 days, a team of state
educators will perform a more in-depth evaluation of the school system
and make recommendations for improvement.
Clarksburg Publishing Company, P.O. Box 2000, Clarksburg,
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Copyright © Clarksburg Publishing Company 1999